Friday, 20 March 2015

31 killed as Indian train derails

Rescuers were using cutters to rip apart the mangled wreckage to search for trapped people.

Rescue workers pulled 31 bodies from the wreckage, said Ashwini Srivastava, a spokesman for the railways, and at least 50 more were injured.

The engine and two coaches of the Janata Express jumped off the tracks near Bachhrawan village in Uttar Pradesh state.

Several people were feared trapped in the wreckage, and rescue efforts were focused on bringing them out alive, said Ram Murath Yadav, a police official at the site of the accident.

One of the derailed coaches was crushed by the impact and most of the casualties were in that coach, he said.

The federal rail ministry has ordered an inquiry.

The driver of the train escaped unhurt and was being questioned, Mr Srivastava said.

Friday 20 March 2015

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New World Trade Center Victim Identified by Medical Examiner

A New Jersey executive of technology at a Wall Street financial firm was identified Thursday as the latest victim of the 9/11 attacks, the Medical Examiner's office announced Thursday.

Matthew David Yarnell, 26, of Jersey City, N.J., became the 1,640 victim identified in the World Trade Center disaster in 2001.

Yarnell worked as an assistant vice president for the technical group of the Fiduciary Trust Co. and was remembered as a prankster who used to call his mother as a salesman trying to sell her random products, according to the New York Times.

The Medical Examiner identified Yarnell after they retested DNA samples from remains recovered during the recovery efforts in 2001 to 2002. There's still 1,113 victims from the attacks reported missing but have not been identified, the Medical Examiner said.

The remains of the unidentified victims were placed in a repository in the basement of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which 17 families fought to stop in 2012.

The repository is only accessible to workers from the Medical Examiner's office, who periodically retest the DNA samples off-site to identify them, according to the 9/11 Memorial.

Friday 20 March 2015

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Argentinian passenger plane crashes in Uruguay,: 10 killed, 3 bodies recovered

An Argentinian plane carrying eight passengers and two pilots crashed in Uruguay late Thursday, killing all 10 people on board, media reports said, citing Uruguay's air force.

The small passenger plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Laguna del Sauce International Airport in Punta del Este, Sputnik News reported. The aircraft reportedly caught fire after going down in a shallow lake near the airport.

The twin-engined Beechcraft B-90 King Air was carrying executives of an Argentinian company to Buenos Aires following a business meeting in the eastern resort city, Canal 10, an Uruguayan network reported, citing a fire services spokesperson.

Three bodies have so far been recovered from the wreckage.

Friday 20 March 2015

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More than 600,000 migrants expected to get ID cards ahead of Thai deadline

Interesting article on how the Thai Government aims to address the issue of undoumented migrant workers. It it thought that the majority of the still unidentified Thai victims of the 2004 tsunami were undocumented workers from Myanmar. Family members did not report their relative missing in fear of arrest and prosecution for being in Thailand illegally (editor).

The government hopes to dole out more than 640,000 “certificates of identity” in a new attempt to legalise undocumented Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand ahead of an impending deadline, according to officials from Myanmar’s Department of Labour.

Department of Labour director general U Myo Aung said the Thai government has warned Myanmar workers to get the identity certificates before March 31 or face possible arrest.

The number eligible for the certificate – which remains valid for two years – represents just a fraction of the estimated 3 million Myanmar migrants who work in Thailand, however.

Only holders of temporary residency cards, known as “pink cards”, that were given to migrants during a registration period that ended in October can apply.

After Thailand’s May 22 coup, the newly installed junta began tightening restrictions on the country’s foreign labour force, which is largely undocumented. Migrants lacking passports, residency cards and work permits were allowed to register for temporary documents during a June to October 2014 window. In order to extend the temporary documents, migrants’ embassies were tasked with verifying nationality and issuing identification documents by the end of March.

Of the 1.6 million total migrants who registered in Thailand by October, more than 640,000 were from Myanmar, according to the Thai Ministry of Labour figures.

The Myanmar embassy in Bangkok is making preparations to handle 600,000 applications from workers and their dependents during March, U Myo Aung said last month.

The migrant workers will be able to apply for the certificate in 21 different cities in Thailand.

Migrants who already hold a national ID as well as a Myanmar household registration document can apply directly for a passport however, U Myo Aung added.

Filing an application for the certificate will cost 30 baht (about US$1) per worker. Those who qualify will be charged another 400 baht (US$13).

However, migrant rights’ advocates said the process will not be straightforward because many pink cards contain incorrect information, including misspelled or incorrect names.

“The employer’s name might be listed as the broker’s name and that will be the problem as Thai police can arrest [the migrant] if the real employer’s name doesn’t match,” said said U Ko Tun, a coordinator for the Myanmar Migrant Workers Rights Network.

U Myo Aung confirmed this would slow down the process. He said even the names of migrant workers are sometimes spelled incorrectly on the Thai-issued cards.

“For example, we spell Myint Aung, but Thai officials might spell it Myn Ang. Then we don’t know which spelling to put on the certificate,” U Myo Aung said.

Migrant rights groups said the system, which follows several earlier attempts to register undocumented workers, will make it more difficult to work legally in Thailand.

“The registration policy generally changes with politics, so it is inconsistent. This time around it is very bureaucratic and detailed. It makes migrants and their employers have to spend time they don't feel they have,” said Brahm Press, the director of MAP Foundation in Chiang Mai.

Friday 20 March 2015

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Overloading blamed for ferry accident, as death toll hits 63

As teams of volunteers recovered the remains of those lost in the Aung Takon 3 ferry disaster of March 13, further details have begun to emerge of the events immediately surrounding the tragedy, including eyewitness accounts.

The death toll late on March 17 reached 63 as the recovery teams, led by young members of a local philanthropic organisation, continued their search and the disposal of the remains. Combined with the 169 people officials say were rescued, this means there were at least 232 people on board – 18 more than the official manifest – but survivors said there could have been up to 400 on the ferry when it went down.

Amid allegations the ferry was severely overloaded when it sunk, the Rakhine State government has formed an investigation commission and instructed the team to complete its report no later than yesterday, March 18. An earlier government statement blaming the weather has been dismissed.

Volunteer members of Duwunkyel free funeral service in Kyaukpyu are leading the search for the deceased.

On March 15, they found two bodies, which were buried in Myebon. A further 20 bodies discovered the following day were also buried in Kyaukpyu township.

“The bodies we found on [March 16] could not be identified because their state of decomposition was too advanced,” U Tun Kyi, a member of the Duwunkyel free funeral service, told The Myanmar Times yesterday. “We will find more bodies if we can search the sunken ferry itself.”

The volunteers found seven more bodies on March 17, at about 5:30pm. They were cremated on Myauk Kyein Island, the place nearest to where they were discovered, because it was too difficult to carry them to Kyaukpyu, said U Myo Myint Naing, one of the searchers.

“One of them was the captain. Some people recognised him. The bodies of two monks from Kyaukpyu were also found, and we cremated them here at once,” he said.

Captain U Hla Maung Thein was listed as missing as of March 17, but 10 crew members survived, rescuers said.

Of the 169 people the authorities say were rescued, most have gone home, and 33 were accommodated temporarily at the Basic Education Middle School 4 Kyaukpyu, while some of the injured are in the local hospital.

It has emerged that the ferry left Kyaukpyu port bound for the state capital, Sittwe, at about 4:30pm. Flooding began at about 7pm as it entered the waters between Naung Daw Gyi and Naung Daw Lay islands, which are notorious for treacherous currents. Attempts to stem the flooding failed, and the vessel sank at 8:15pm.

Preliminary reports estimated the death toll at 34, out of 214 passengers and crew officially listed. But ferries in these waters are known to be chronically overcrowded, as passengers pay only K2500 per ticket, instead of the K15,000 charged by private ferry companies. The Aung Takon line was owned by the government.

Survivor U Tin Win, of Toungup township in southern Rakhine State, told The Myanmar Times that the waves were just 60 centimetres (2 feet) high when the flooding started, just after the vessel had passed Naung Daw Gyi island.

“The crew asked the passengers to help bail out the water, but it just kept pouring in. Crew members were trying to lighten the load by throwing 80-pound [36.3-kilogram] bags of lime overboard. It was no good,” he said. “When I went looking for my little daughter, the ferry tilted to the left. Within 10 seconds, it went down.”

The government said the ferry was authorised to carry 120 tonnes of goods and 176 people. Survivors have told reporters there were about 400 passengers on board. Survivors have said they witnessed excessive loading on board, including bags of lime and other goods stacked on deck, as the ferry left port.

U Maung Maung Ohn said that the ferry sank because it was overloaded. Meteorologist U Tun Lwin has questioned a government statement issued on March 14 that the ferry sank due to bad weather, dismissing this claim as impossible.

The Rakhine Chief Minister said the regional government would take responsibility for the care of children who had lost their parents, and had also assumed responsibility for helping survivors now staying in Kyaukpyu to return to their families and jobs. The regional government has also paid K1.2 million to the families of the deceased and K500,000 to each survivor.

Friday 20 March 2015

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