Monday, 23 March 2015

Bus pile-up kills 37, injures 70 in central Peru

At least 37 people were killed when a bus swerved into oncoming traffic in Peru Monday, leading to a multi-vehicle collision involving two other buses and a truck, authorities said.

Health Minister Anibal Velasquez, who was on his way to the crash site near the northern city of Huarmey, told local radio the accident also left 70 people injured.

Six people who were badly wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital in the capital Lima, about 300 kilometers south.

The local hospital in Huarmey overwhelmed by the number of injured, the fire department said in a statement.

Rescuers rushed to adapt other health centers in the area to accommodate the overflow, it said.

The head of the highway police, Orfiles Bravo, said a bus belonging to the Murga Serrano line had swerved into an oncoming lane on the Pan American Highway.

It was then hit by the truck and two other buses, Bravo told RPP radio.

The Murga bus "was split in two," he said.

Television images showed bodies sprawled out on the pavement after the crash.

Authorities initially gave a death toll of 22, but the health ministry said that number had increased sharply as rescue workers managed to access the wreckage.

The government declared an emergency and ordered more ambulances to the crash site, the head of the council of ministers, Ana Jara, said on Twitter.

Forty-two passengers on the Murga bus were members of a Christian evangelical church, the World Missionary Movement, who were returning from a convention in Lima.

"We are waiting for news," said church leader Roberto Perez.

Peruvian media reports said the injured and stranded passengers also included Haitian and Senegalese travelers.

Peru's roads are notoriously dangerous. In the first half of last year, 1,406 people were killed in road accidents. The full-year death toll was 3,590 in 2013 and 4,138 in 2012.

Monday's accident came as the Peruvian Congress held a forum on making the country's roads safer.

Monday 23 March 2015

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Myanmar ferry death toll rises to 69, six more victims recovered

As volunteer searchers found the bodies of six more victims of the Aung Takon 3 ferry disaster over the weekend, the Amyotha Hluttaw agreed to set up a Union-level inquiry into the sinking.

The death toll now stands at 69, though searchers believe many more bodies are still trapped in the sunken vessel off the coast of Rakhine State.

Members of the Duwunkyel philanthropic organisation, based in Kyaukpyu township, Rakhine State, began their search on March 14, the day after the ferry sank. On March 20 they found the body of a child, and five more bodies on March 22, and buried them all.

Duwunkyel announced yesterday that they would pay a K200,000 reward for the discovery of further remains.

“None of the six we found most recently were claimed by families. Some bodies have been washed up on the beaches of Kyaukpyu township,” said Ko Tun Kyi, secretary of Duwunkyel. He added that he had not seen any government officials searching.

The regional authorities said they had postponed the search because of bad weather.

Although the Rakhine State government has announced that it would pay compensation to the families of the deceased and to the survivors, the recovery teams claimed that the government had taken no responsibility for the disposition of the remains.

A survivor of the disaster, Ko Tun Win, said he believed many more bodies could be under the water. “Most people shut themselves in their cabins while the boat was sinking,” he said.

The exact number of passengers is not known, but those who were on board the vessel when it sank say it could be up to 400. Rescuers plucked 169 people from the water after the ferry went down, but the manifest showed only 214 passengers and crew.

Monday 23 March 2015

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