Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Avalanche in Afghanistan kills at least 124 people

At least 124 people have died in north-eastern Afghanistan, after heavy winter snow caused an avalanche which buried and killed residents across four provinces.

Panjshir province, around 60 miles (100km) north-west of the capital, Kabul, was the heaviest hit, as avalanches destroyed or damaged around 100 homes, said Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority.

The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers desperately used their hands to try to save those buried underneath the snow, the acting governor of Panjshir, Abdul Rahman Kabiri said.

President Ashraf Ghani sent his condolences to the families of the dead, and said he was “saddened by news of the avalanches and flooding across the country”.

He added that he had ordered urgent assessments of the extent of damage.

Heavy snowstorms which began early yesterday hampered rescue efforts, after snowfall nearly 3ft deep accumulated in some areas and fallen trees blocked roads in the Panjshir Valley.

As many as 600 families were affected by avalanches in Panjshir valley’s Dara district, according to people trying to reach the area to assist rescuers.

“People there have told me that two of my relatives have been killed and eight others are still under the snow,” an Afghan man who goes by the single name Sharafudin told reporters.

“My son and I are trying to get through to see if we can help find their bodies. But it will take us at least three or four hours to get there because of the snow and the road is very narrow, so we have to walk, the car can't get through.

”We've had no help yet from the authorities, no medicines, no machinery to open the roads so we can get to the buried houses.“

The snowfall which has covered large parts of Afghanistan and caused the tragic avalanches came towards the end of an otherwise mild and dry winter.

Meanwhile, authorities in Parwan province have closed the strategic Salang Tunnel over avalanche fears.

Power to much of the capital has been cut since earlier this week, after power cables crossing the tunnel were damaged.

However, forecasters expected snow to start melting in the Panjshir Valley and much of the mountainous north-west of the Hindu Kush range in coming days.

As Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of war, the subsequently weakened infrastructure outside of towns and cities means natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches take a heavy toll on a country.

In May, a massive landslide killed anywhere from 250 to 2,700 people, authorities said at the time. Another landslide in 2012 killed 71 people. Authorities were not able to recover the vast majority of bodies and ended up declaring the site a massive grave.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

continue reading

Seven more bodies pulled out, Padma ferry disaster deaths climb to 78

Seven more bodies were pulled out from the river in Manikganj’s Shibalay and Harirampur Upazilas on Wednesday morning.

Six of the bodies were identified and handed over to their families, Paturia river police outpost Sub-Inspector Abdul Khalel told reporters.

Authorities called off the rescue operation on Monday after the ferry was tugged to the banks.

Fire service rescuers, however, have kept up the search for victims, said Manikganj Fire Brigade’s Station Officer Jihad Hossain.

Seven people were still missing, according to their families.

The ferry, carrying 150 passengers and crew, capsized after colliding with a trawler on the river Padma. Rescuers managed to save at least 50 passengers, Harun told Reuters.

Police have seized the trawler and arrested the captain and his three crew, Harun said.

Twenty-seven of the bodies recovered were inside the ferry, Harun said. Another 43 bodies were pulled from the water on Sunday, more than half of them women and children, he said. Rescue attempts had now ended.

A similar accident on Feb. 13 killed at least seven passengers in southern Bangladesh.

Low-lying Bangladesh, with extensive inland waterways and slack safety standards, suffers regular ferry disasters. Death tolls sometimes run into the hundreds.

The ferry had been heading to Paturia from Daulatdia in Rajbari, about 135 km (85 miles) west of the capital Dhaka. Shajahan Khan, the shipping minister, told reporters at the scene that an investigation had been opened.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

continue reading

India: Camp to find missing people, identify bodies

Ten police units from the adjoining districts will come together for the first time for identifying missing people and unidentified bodies during a two-day camp at the Bhimashankar hall of Pune rural police headquarters at Chavanagar in Pashan on Wednesday.

The police teams of Pune rural, Pune city, Ahmednagar, Thane rural, Raigad, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur and Navi Mumbai will participate in the camp which will remain open for people between 10 am and 8 pm.

Manoj Lohiya, superintendent of police (Pune rural), said the aim is to identify people who were murdered. "For instance a body is found in Sangli, but a missing person's complaint is registered in Pune. The camp will help police units tally the details and share data to identify such missing people," he said.

The rural police failed to find 200 missing people in 2014 and 30 in 2015 so far. It has also failed to establish identities of 17 unidentified people found murdered in 2014 and one in 2015.

The Pune police have failed to detect 3,344 missing persons complaint in 2014 and 230 in 2015. The number of unidentified people found murdered in Pune is one each in 2014 and 2015. The camp will be inaugurated by special inspector general of police (Kolhapur range) Ritesh Kumar at 10 am on Wednesday.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

continue reading

One more AirAsia victim identified

The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team of the Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Surabaya has identified the body of a female passenger of AirAsia flight QZ8501 that plunged into the Karimata Strait, Central Kalimantan.

DVI team head Snr. Comr. Dr. Budiyono said on Tuesday that the victim had been identified as Kathleen Fulvia Linaksita, 12, a resident of Surabaya.

“We identified her by comparing her DNA with the DNA of her father, Tony Linaksita, who died in the plane accident and was identified earlier,” Budiyono was quoted by Antara as saying.

With the identification of Kathleen, he said the team had identified 97 bodies among the 103 recovered.

The plane crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28 with the loss of all 155 passengers and seven crew members.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

continue reading