Thursday, 26 March 2015

At least 14 Vietnam workers killed in scaffolding collapse

At least 14 workers have been killed by collapsing scaffolding in Vietnam's Ha Tinh province, state media report.

About 30 other injured people were taken to hospital after the accident on a building site in the Vung Ang economic zone late on Wednesday.

Rescue workers have been searching the rubble for bodies and in case people were trapped.

The workers, all Vietnamese, were reportedly working on a port seawall project at an industrial complex.

The complex is owned by Taiwanese group Formosa Plastics and the workers had been subcontracted by a branch of South Korea's Samsung group, reports said.

One injured man said the scaffolding had started shaking an hour after they began work, and that many people had panicked and tried to escape.

"After 10 more minutes, the scaffolding which was about 20m (65 feet) high, suddenly collapsed. I quickly grabbed an iron bar but fell free," Dan Ninh Dan told the Associated Press. He was being treated in hospital for an injured hip.

"People were screaming, calling for help from the rubble," he said. "I was very lucky to survive."

A spokesman for the zone, Pham Tran De, said there had been thousands of people on the building site at the time "so the number of workers in distress is not yet accurately calculated".

"Authorities are actively removing the rubble to rescue the trapped workers," he said.

The Vung Ang zone was the scene of violent anti-Chinese protests last year amid heightened tensions over territorial disputes between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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Germanwings plane crash: Police guard site overnight to protect victims' bodies from wolves

Five police officers stayed overnight amid the debris at the Germanwings crash site to protect it from souvenir hunters, journalists and wolves.

Authorities have strengthened the security cordon at the scene in the French Alps, which is near a popular ski resort and mountain roads, L'Express reported.

There are fears that curious members of the public and press may disturb the investigation and that two wolf packs known to live in the area could be attracted to victims’ bodies.

“The aircraft was pulverised,” one rescue worker said last night. “Even the bodies are unrecognisable.”

Hundreds of police and dozens of helicopters descended on the mountains at first light today for a second day of work to recover passengers and debris.

Rescue workers have begun extracting bodies from the French Alps crash site of doomed Germanwings Airbus A320, it has been revealed.

Helicopters operating around the crash zone have begun the process of airlifting the remains of the 150 victims involved in the air disaster - in which there were no survivors.

The mountainous crash site - based at 1,500 metres altitude - can only be reached by helicopter, or a significant hike.

The body retrieval operation began this afternoon, but has since been called off for the night, according to a source close to the scene.

Flight 4U9525 was less than an hour from its destination of Dusseldorf on its journey from Barcelona when it unexpectedly went into a descent for up to 18 minutes yesterday morning.

The pilots did not send out a distress call and had lost radio contact with their control centre at around 10.50am local time (9.50am GMT), France's aviation authority said.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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80 Pct of bodies found in Mexico illegal graves since '06 still unidentified

Roughly 80 percent of the 601 bodies found in 174 clandestine graves in Mexico between Dec. 1, 2006, and Feb. 28, 2015, have not yet been identified, according to a report by the federal Attorney General's Office.

The report, which Mexico City daily El Universal obtained under the country's transparency law, states that of the 601 bodies found, 342 have been identified by their gender: 302 men and 40 women. The others have the status of "not assessable, in process and/or indeterminate."

Not all cases are documented in the report because in some states there is a lack of coordination with the top prosecutor's office, the AG's office said.

A total of 207 bodies were found in 2011, during former President Felipe Calderon's Dec. 1, 2006, to Nov. 30, 2012, tenure, or more than a third of the corpses found in the illegal burial sites.

The graves were found in 16 of Mexico's 32 federal entities - 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City); 93 of them, containing 207 bodies, were discovered in 2013 and 2014, the first two years of current President Enrique Peña Nieto's six-year term.

Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico, was the state with the largest number of clandestine graves and bodies found - 79 and 199, respectively. It accounted for 45.5 percent of all the illegal burial sites and 33.1 percent of all of the bodies discovered.

Those numbers include 38 clandestine graves containing 87 bodies that were found in the municipality of Iguala, Guerrero, between October 2014 and January of this year.

Iguala is the city where 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teacher's college, went missing on Sept. 26, 2014.

Corrupt municipal cops acting on the orders of a corrupt mayor who had connections with the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel handed over the students to the cartel's gunmen, who killed the young people and burned their bodies at a dump, according to the official account.

The students' families reject that version of events and are demanding to know why soldiers of the Mexican army's Iguala-based 27th Infantry Battalion who witnessed the police attack did not intervene.

A total of 75 bodies were found in the western state of Jalisco, which ranked second on the list with 37 clandestine graves.

Authorities discovered 15 clandestine graves and 125 bodies in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas dating back to 2007, although the vast majority (120) were located in 2011 in the municipality of San Fernando, the scene of a massacre of migrants attributed to the Los Zetas drug cartel.

A total of 53 bodies were found in seven illegal graves in the northwestern state of Durango, while the same number of corpses were found in two clandestine graves in the northern state of Chihuahua.

More than 22,000 people have gone missing over the past eight years in Mexico, with nearly 50 percent of the cases being registered between 2012 and 2014.

Mexico has been racked by turf battles among powerful drug gangs during that period, while Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2015 that "Mexico's security forces have participated in widespread enforced disappearances since former President Calderon (2006-2012) launched a 'war on drugs'" shortly after taking office.

"Members of all security forces continue to carry out disappearances during the Peña Nieto administration, in some cases, collaborating directly with criminal groups," the New York-based rights watchdog said in the report, released in late January.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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Families mark 25th anniversary of club fire that killed 87

Family members and friends of victims gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a social club fire that killed almost 90 people. At the time, it was the biggest mass murder in U.S. history.

On March 25, 1990, a Cuban refugee named Julio Gonzalez tried to win back the woman who had spurned him.

Gonzalez entered the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, which was humming with people -- mostly immigrants -- partying and dancing. His former live-in girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, was checking coats, and they had a virulent argument. Gonzalez was thrown out.

In a rage, he returned just after 3 a.m., splashing gasoline on Happy Land's only guest exit and lighting two matches. Then he pulled down the metal front gate.

Within minutes, 87 people were dead.

On the day after the fire, as firefighters carried out the bodies, an icy drizzle descended on shocked relatives rushing to find out if their loved ones might be among the dead.

On Wednesday evening, again under a chilly drizzle, about 100 people crowded around the granite memorial at the site of the club, their prayers in Spanish ringing into the night.

They were joined by firefighters and police officers whose departments had responded to the blaze.

Earlier, during a Roman Catholic Mass at a nearby church, family members stood at the altar, each reading aloud the names of those who perished.

The fire was the worst in New York City since 146 workers died in a blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in what is today's Greenwich Village. They were killed exactly 79 years earlier on March 25, 1911.

That spring night in 1990, people were smothered by black smoke or fatally burned. It happened so quickly that some appeared like frozen figures from Pompeii.

A few still had drinks in their hands. Some had torn off their party clothes, engulfed by flames. Others died hugging or holding hands. Bodies were piled up on Happy Land's dance floor in the darkness, their faces covered with soot.

Jaffrey Gotay does not treasure memories of her father. She has none, because she was only 3 when he died, and her mother was pregnant with her sister.

"A lot of it is unknown, it's missing out, not really knowing what could have been," said Gotay, whose family buried her father, Denny Alvarez, in Trujillo, a town in Honduras where others killed in the fire also are buried.

"You don't really remember, and that sucks," she said, tears streaming down her face.

The sisters grew up writing letters to their absent dad each year on Father's Day, placing them near his picture.

Gotay brought along her 17-month-old daughter, whom she'll eventually tell how her grandfather died.

In 1990, Happy Land drew a noisy, happy crowd of mostly young people. The club had been ordered closed for fire hazards -- no sprinklers or emergency exits -- but continued to operate illegally.

About two-thirds of the victims were part of a Bronx community of so-called Garifunas -- Hondurans descended from proud black natives of the Caribbean exiled by British colonizers more than two centuries ago.

In recent years, many Garifunas have fled a repressive Honduran regime and settled in New York.

That fateful weekend, they were enjoying their go-to club, speaking their own language and dancing to their drum-driven Garifuna music.

Gonzalez, now 60, sits behind bars for life in an upstate New York prison. He was convicted of 174 counts of murder -- two for each victim on charges of depraved indifference and felony murder.

A refugee from Fidel Castro's Cuba, he arrived in New York in the Mariel boatlift of 1980. A decade later, he was working in a warehouse but lost his job six weeks before the fire, police said.

Earlier this month, Gonzalez was denied parole.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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More MH17 remains recovered in Ukraine, transported to the Netherlands for identification

Dutch investigators have found more remains of victims of flight MH17 in Ukraine. A team of the Ministry of Defense and police officers recovered remains on Tuesday and Wednesday in Hrabovo in eastern Ukraine. The remains have been transferred to Kharkov. According to the Ministry of Security and Justice Wednesday, additional personal belongings have been secured.

The remains are due to arrive at Eindhoven Air Base on Saturday. A ceremony will be held as with previous arrivals of MH17 victims.

The investigating team visited an area northwest of Petropavlivka on Wednesday. Dutch investigators could not access this area previously due to the ongoing security situation. However, the mayor of Petropavlivka gave permission to secure wreckage of the plane. The Dutch have collected the wreckage and transported this evidence to Kharkov.

The Malaysia Airlines MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year. All 298 passengers were killed, including 196 Dutch nationals. So far, 296 victims of the accident have been identified.

Translated from Dutch

Thursday 26 March 2015

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South Sudan munitions explosion kills 7

A blast at a munitions depot in the South Sudan’s Unity State has killed seven people and injured a child, Doctors Without Borders says.

The incident occurred on Thursday, when the stockpile of unexploded armaments, leftover from battles between government forces and opposition militants last year, exploded in a container located in the opposition-held town of Thar Jath.

Doctors Without Borders added that the container likely exploded after local residents set ablaze dry grass nearby in a bid to clear the land for farming.

South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and the defectors, led by his former deputy, Riek Machar, around the capital, Juba.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the start of the conflict, while 1.5 million have been displaced and 2.5 million more are reported to be in dire need of food aid in South Sudan, which declared its independence from Sudan in 2011.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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Nine missing in boat sinking off northern Morocco coast

Nine people are still missing after a fishing boat sank on Tuesday in rough waters off northern Moroccan's coast, local authorities said.

Naval patrol and Gendarmerie rescue teams stopped the search operation at 2 pm GMT due to bad weather, it said, adding that five have been rescued so far.

Spanish rescue units helped in the rescue operation which took place in an area of 25 nautical miles in from the El Jebha coast in the Mediteranian.

Thursday 26 March 2015

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7 killed in train-truck collision during heavy rain in Thailand

A passenger train collided with a pickup truck in heavy rain in northern Thailand on Tuesday, killing seven construction workers in the truck and seriously injuring another, police said.

The train, bound for Bangkok, crashed into the truck at an unguarded crossing in Saraphi district shortly after departing from Chiang Mai, police Lt. Colonel Kumkaew Suyati said. He said the heavy downpour could have prevented the truck driver from seeing the oncoming train while crossing the tracks.

Kumkaew said five men and two women in the pickup truck were immediately killed and another man was seriously injured. All were members of the ethnic Shan minority, he said.

Construction jobs in Thailand are commonly filled by migrant workers or ethnic minorities.

Kumkaew said the train was not damaged and was able to continue its trip after a brief stop.

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and a popular tourist destination.

Thursday 26 March 2015§ion=international

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