Saturday, 14 February 2015

Mexico bus-train collision kills 20, injures 31

At least 20 people were killed and 31 injured when a freight train slammed into a packed passenger bus in northeastern Mexico, authorities said Saturday after rescue crews worked through the night to reach victims.

The collision happened on Friday when the bus was attempting to cross rail tracks in the town of Anahuac, Nuevo Leon, state civil protection chief Jorge Camacho told AFP.

The accident occurred just after 5pm at Camarones station, near the US border.

At least two children were reported among the dead, Camacho said.

Images broadcast by local media showed the bus split in half by the force of the train.

Many of the injured were taken to hospitals in the nearby border town of Nuevo Laredo, around 60km away, mayor Desiderio Urteaga told Milenio television.

The bus, which normally transports around 40 people, was traveling with 51 passengers, as it made its way from Nuevo Laredo to the northern city of Nueva Rosita.

Camacho said an investigation was under way to determine whether the bus driver was trying to beat the train when the vehicle was struck.

There was no fog or rain in the area at the time, he said.

Saturday 14 February 2015

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Nearly 6,000 bodies found in Colombia's mass graves

A total of 5,782 bodies have been found in 4,496 mass graves in several regions of Colombia over the past nine years, according to a joint report by the country's National Transitional Justice Unit and the Attorney General.

Among the bodies listed in the document, 4,527 of those killed are likely victims of paramilitary groups. The department of Antioquia, where former President Alvaro Uribe was governor, had the most exhumations with 992 cases, followed by Magdalena with 657, Meta with 494 and Putumayo with 472.

A significant number of those dug up are likely victims of enforced disappearance, and most of the graves were discovered in areas once controlled by the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), the country’s largest paramilitary group.

In 2003, former President Uribe signed a peace deal with the AUC, however other paramilitary groups remain active and control a significant portion of drug trafficking in the country.

The last three years have seen the government of Juan Manuel Santos pass laws relating to the right of victims and land restitution, as well paying reparations to victims of forced disappearances.

Authorities and forensic specialists are currently working in the department of Nariño to dig up the remains of 60 people killed by paramilitary groups over the past decade.

Saturday 14 February 2015

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Bangladesh ferry capsizes, seven bodies found

At least seven bodies were recovered after an overcrowded trawler sank in a river in Bangladesh Friday with about 150-200 people on board, a fire brigade official said.

The ferry capsized in Payra river in Barguna district after developing cracks following a collision with a submerged island, Xinhua quoted the official as saying on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, many passengers were able to swim ashore after the accident at about 1.15 p.m. But the official could not tell the exact number of missing passengers.

As ferry services in Bangladesh do not maintain lists of passengers, no one was able to tell exactly how many passengers a ferry carries.

Earlier in the day, five bodies were recovered and two people were missing.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, has an appalling record of ferry accidents, with casualties sometimes running into the hundreds. "Most of the passengers were able to swim ashore," Babul Akhter, an official at the Barguna police station near the Paira river, where the ferry sank, told reporters.

There was no immediate estimate of the number of passengers unaccounted for, although two bodies had been retrieved, he said, adding that another vessel was on the way to help the rescue effort.

Most of those on board were heading to a religious gathering at Barguna, travelling from the coastal town of Kuakata, some 30 km (18.64 miles) away, Akhter said. "Cracks developed as the boat was overloaded, and ultimately it capsized," he added.

Last August, Bangladesh arrested the owner of a ferry that sank in a river, killing about 110 people, the first time such action was taken in a country where heavy loss of life is common in shipping accidents.

Saturday 14 February 2015

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WHO: Up to 100 missing in DR Congo boat crash

Dozens of people were missing on Saturday after a collision between two boats on the Congo River in western Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) and a local official said.

The WHO said in a report that the accident occurred on Thursday along a stretch of the river about 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of the capital Kinshasa in Bandundu province and was provoked by a strong whirlwind from nearby rapids.

Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in the country's capital, Kinshasa, told CNN that the wreck occurred at a resort downstream of the town of Kwamouth, when an overloaded barge en route to Inongo collided with a boat carrying 150 people.

According to figures from local transportation officials cited by the WHO, three bodies were recovered out of an estimated 100 on board one of the vessels. Some 42 survivors made it to shore.

However the WHO said that there was no passenger manifest and that witness accounts suggest the boat was carrying closer to 150 passengers. The second boat did not sustain any known damage, the WHO said.

A spokesman for the governor of Bandundu said on Saturday that dozens of passengers were missing.

A WHO spokesman said on Saturday that the provincial governor was on his way from Kinshasa to the scene of the accident, a remote area in Congo's interior, accompanied by a WHO team with emergency medical supplies.

The Congo River runs for more than 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) and is central to commerce and transport in a country with few paved roads. Accidents are frequent due to lax safety standards.

A boat fire in northern Congo on Monday killed at least seven people, according to local authorities.

Saturday 14 February 2015

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