Saturday, 14 March 2015

Death toll rises to 19 in Russia fire

At least 19 people have been killed including a Turkish national in the fire that collapsed a shopping center in the western Russian city of Kazan on Wednesday, officials have said, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

The head of a regional branch of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Igor Panshin said Saturday that the death toll had risen to 19 from a previously reported 11.

Seventeen bodies were recovered and two bodies still remain under rubble, it was reported.

The name of the Turkish victim is Kazim Sumer, born in 1989, according to authorities in the Republic of Tatarstan, of which Kazan is the capital.

Tatarstan declared a day of mourning Saturday. The flags of Russia and Tatarstan were lowered.

A fire broke out on Wednesday in a cafe located in the mall's first floor and spread to the other two floors, the media reported.

Around 650 people had to be evacuated from the complex.

Saturday 14 March 2015

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33 dead, at least 12 missing after Myanmar ferry disaster

At least 33 people have drowned after an overcrowded ferry capsized in northwestern Myanmar, government officials said.

The vessel was carrying more than 200 passengers when it encountered bad weather and was hit by huge waves on its journey from the coastal town of Taunggok to Sittwe, capital of the western coast state of Rakhine, according to officials. The vessel called the Aung Tagun 3 sank late on Friday.

"The latest death toll is 33 -- four men including a monk and 29 women. At least 12 persons are still missing," a police officer in Sittwe town told the AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We suspect that the boat sank because it was overloaded with goods," the police officer said, adding that the ship was listed as carrying 214 passengers and crew.

But locals said they feared the ferry was packed with unregistered ticket holders who would not have shown up on the ship's manifest, a common practice on the impoverished nation's often overcrowded ferry network.

"We don't know how many are still missing because some people were on board without official tickets," Hla Shwe, a local from Ngaputhone village, which lies a few kilometres (miles) away from where the ship went down, told AFP.

Rescuers have brought 167 passengers to safety.

Search and rescue teams aided by Myanmar’s navy are scouring the capsize site for survivors.

Boat accidents are common in the country’s river deltas and coastal regions due to bad weather, cyclones and the overcrowding of poorly-maintained vessels. People in Myanmar often travel by boat because of the low cost and as many parts of the country are inaccesible by road.

According to the Associated Press, such disasters have become troubling common in the area after sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims displaced as many as 140,000 people in 2012:

In recent years, Rakhine state has been the departure point for thousands of desperate Rohingya Muslims, who crowd on to small and dangerously overcrowded boats to escape persecution, often aiming for Thailand and Malaysia. [...]

Referred to by the government as Bengali, they are largely seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even if many can trace their ancestry in the country back for generations.

In October, Rohingya rights group the Arakan Project estimated that 100,000 people have fled the area by boat in the last three years.

Saturday 14 March

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