Monday, 9 March 2015

Many MH17victims not yet buried (translated from Dutch)

Relatives of 29 identified victims of the plane crash with the MH17 have the remains of their loved ones still not returned.

Yahoo! News reports that, based on its own research that of the 298 victims of the plane crash in Ukraine have been 295 identified. That alone does not mean that every body that was found is returned to the family. In the morgue of the General Oudheusden Barracks in Hilversum are still remains of 29 victims. The remains are identified in the barracks.

Of the 29 victims, very few remains are present, sometimes only a few skeletal remains. The relatives are hoping and waiting for more. "People want to do as much of the body back," said the leader of the identification team Arie de Bruijn. According to him, the relatives are finding this difficult. Especially since nearly everyone on board the plane has been identified as portrayed in the press.

There are also dozens of survivors who have loved ones buried or cremated because later remains were found. "Some now choose a reburial. Others wait until the end of the process," says De Bruijn against RTL News.

Currently, 90 percent of the remains found have been investigated. Fifteen people are still at work in the barracks.

Monday 9 March 2015

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Bolton remembers 33 who died in Burnden Park disaster

Bolton Wanderers fans are today remembering the 69th anniversary of one of football's biggest tragedies.

The flag flies at half-mast over the Macron stadium today in remembrance of the 33 people who died in the Burnden Park disaster on March 9, 1946.

They were crushed to death in the crowd at a Bolton Wanderers home match at the club’s former Burnden Park stadium, which is now the site of an Asda supermarket.

A massive 85,000 people had crammed into the terraces to watch the FA Cup tie against Stoke, with many climbing over walls to get into the ground when the turnstiles were shut in the hope of seeing Stoke star Stanley Matthews in action.

The overcrowding at the Embankment end forced the barriers to collapse and bodies fell on top of each other and on to the pitch, suffocating many fans.

The dead and injured were laid out on the pitch as players were ushered back to their dressing room, but the scale of the disaster was not realised at the time and officials, fearing trouble if the game was abandoned, resumed the match.

Bolton Wanderers' club chaplain Phil Mason said: "The flag, as always, is lowered and the memorial book at the front of the ground will be opened He added: "It is important that we do not forget — it remains one of the biggest football disasters in history, which led to new legislation being passed.

"It unites us with other clubs who have gone through similar tragedies, and it intertwines the club with Liverpool."

He added: "At the memorial service at the end of the season the names of those who died in the Burnden Park disaster will be read out."

Wanderers will mark the 70th anniversary of the disaster — on March 9 next year — with the release of a custom designed third kit for next season.

The Macron-manufactured limited edition shirt will have the names of the 33 people who died that day printed in the fabric.

A total of 1,000 shirts will be made available for purchase, with £10 from each sale being donated to a Bolton-based charity chosen by the supporters.

The Lancashire rose and date of the Burnden Disaster — 09-03-1946 — will also feature on the reverse and collar of the shirt.

Keen Bolton Wanderers supporter Cllr John Walsh said: "I think it is very important Bolton reflects and remembers. It had a huge impact on the club and the town.

"Families suffered terribly and financially. There were fundraising appeals which showed once again how Bolton pulls together.

"My mother was at the match and I remember her telling me her mother was waiting for her on the doorstep — many people at the match did not know the scale of the tragedy, while those at home had heard it on the radio."

Monday 9 March 2015

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Mounting anger over Bangladeshi ferry disasters

Recent ferry disasters in Bangladesh have resulted in dozens of deaths and mounting anger among victims’ relatives against government authorities over their criminal negligence regarding unsafe conditions in the country’s water transport system.

At least 80 passengers are dead and several still missing in the latest incident involving the ferry MV Mostafa, which collided with the cargo vessel Nargis-1 in the Padma River, west of Dhaka, on February 22. Another ferry sank on February 13 killing at least seven passengers.

The Shanghai Daily reported on February 24: “Grief over the disaster has now turned into public outcry, as survivors and relatives of the victims point an accusing finger at the government and maritime authorities as responsible for the tragedy…

“Scores of anxious and angry people, who waited over the last few days on the banks of the Padma River for the bodies of relatives, claimed that the government has been remiss in its duty to protect ferry passengers and have done nothing to prevent recurrence of such tragedies.”

In an attempt to divert this anger, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan accused the ferry captain of being “in a race” with the cargo vessel. Then, he promised 100,000 Taka ($US1,280) as compensation and additional 5,000 Taka for burial costs for each family of the dead. The Manikganj district administration also announced a nominal compensation of 20,000 Taka for each of the families of the deceased.

As in previous disasters, the Shipping Ministry and the Department of Shipping has established two committees to probe the disaster and called on “them to submit reports in 15 working days.” This report, like many previous ones will be a whitewash.

Between 80 and 90 passengers were saved—some by rescuers and others by swimming 500 metres to shore. While 27 bodies were recovered from inside the ferry when it was pulled ashore, another 43 bodies were retrieved from the river, of whom more than half were women and children. Those who survived were passengers on the upper deck.

Though the ferry was allowed to carry only 140 passengers, it loaded about 200, according to the survivors. The ferry did not have proper safety equipment.

Police have seized the cargo vessel involved in the collision on its way to a river port in Sirajganj and arrested the captain and his three crew members. While the ferry captain is reportedly missing, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion has arrested the son of the ferry’s owner.

An editorial in the Daily Star on February 24 commented: “What makes these deaths even more unacceptable is that such launch accidents have now become a norm, rather than an exception, in the country… In order to prevent such future accidents, we must not only take the people responsible for the accidents to task, but also undertake corrective measures at multiple levels, guarantee the most efficient rescue operations and ensure that faulty vessels and reckless sarengs [captains] are not allowed on the waters.”

Similar editorials have been written in the past and routinely ignored. The newspaper praised the minister’s decision to probe the incident, then declared: “In the past, however, we have noticed that most of the reports weren’t made public, and no lasting reforms were made in the sector to address the underlying structural problems.”

Citing a report by nine non-government organisations, the Daily Star pointed out that “about 500 committees had been formed since independence to probe into launch accidents and only four reports were published.” The Dhaka Tribune noted that “even these recommendations [of those reports] have not been implemented.”

The official response to the ferry disaster has followed a well-worn pattern to quell public anger: the media and politicians express outrage, limited compensation is offered, inquiries are announced and scapegoats are found. Once the outrage dies away, the government and the media buries the incident and nothing is done to improve water safety.

Following an inquiry report into the Pinak 6 tragedy last year, the authorities sacked three staff members of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and punished four others. But nothing was done about the report’s recommendations in relation to vessels’ structural and technical defects, uncertified changes in vessel design, overloading of passengers and goods, irresponsible piloting, and ignoring meteorological department advisories.

Successive governments—whether under the currently ruling Awami League or the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)—have taken no action to end the high death toll from ferry disasters on Bangladesh’s extensive river network. According to a BIWTA study, 10,436 people have died in over 20,000 ferry accidents since 1972. Four major ferry disasters, including the recent capsize of the MV Mostafa, have occurred over the past three years, with a total death toll of 396.

According to the NGO report cited by the Daily Star, the substandard design of vessels has also made them vulnerable to disasters. If correctly designed to international rules, water cannot enter into the vessels even after tilting 40 degrees. Ferries built in Bangladesh, however, can sink even when the tilt is just 15 to 18 degrees.

More than 80 percent of vessels have no form of proper certification. There are about 35,000 vessels operate on Bangladesh rivers of which only 13,000 are registered. Only five engineers and ship surveyors have the necessary qualifications to certify passenger vessels and they can only examine about 900 vessels a year.

Bangladesh has the largest inland water network in the world, with about 700 rivers and tributaries. Its inland ports handle about 40 percent of the country’s foreign trade. River transport accounts for about 13 percent of all passengers and 25 percent of freight in the country—higher than for the rail network.

Inland water transport in Bangladesh is mainly used by the poor, because it is relatively cheap. Ferry owners maximise their profits by violating safety regulations including through overloading, in league with government authorities, at the expense of passengers’ lives.

Monday 9 March 2015

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