Thursday, 2 April 2015

Germanwings plane crash: Investigators finish recovering body parts from the site

Investigators have finished retrieving bodies from the site of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps, where 150 passengers and crew were killed.

The recovery project has been an arduous process as the plane hit the Alps at 430mph, meaning not a single body was found intact and some remains were buried below the ground by the force of impact.

A team of hundreds have been sifting through the pieces of wreckage to find even the tiniest remains, such as a shred of skin, in the hope of DNA matching them to the passengers, crew and pilots. By Friday, up to 600 remains had been found.

Dental and surgical records, tattoos, DNA from hair or toothbrushes will also be used to identify victims of the air disaster, which is believed to have occurred when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz descended the Airbus A320 into a mountain.

The cockpit voice recorder was recovered shortly after the crash, but the second black box has still not been found.

Francois Daoust, head of the France's IRCGN national criminal laboratory in Pontoise, said forensic teams based at the crash site and in Paris had isolated 78 distinct DNA profiles from the hundreds of samples recovered at the site, leaving 72 people unaccounted for.

Mr Daoust said the process of identification could take between two and four months. He said all the families will be informed at the same time who has been identified.

"If I announced an identification as soon as I had it to a family, psychologically it's an oppression and a pressure on those that don't yet have an identification," he added.

A special unit of mountain troops, with help from German investigators, is now clearing the crash site of debris and personal effects left strewn across the mountains.

Germanwings Thomas Winkelmann, left, and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr visited the crash site on Wednesday Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr and the head of its low-cost airline Germanwings, Thomas Winkelmann, visited the crash site on Wednesday.

Thursday 2 April 2015

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Russian trawler sinks off Kamchatka with 54 dead

A Russian trawler has sunk off the Kamchatka peninsula, with 54 sailors so far confirmed dead.

Sixty-three people have been rescued, many suffering from hypothermia, according to officials in Russia's Far East, but 15 are reported missing.

The Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler had 132 people on board when it sank.

Seventy-eight of those on board were Russian and 42 were from Myanmar. The remainder were from Vanuatu, Latvia and Ukraine.

The Dalniy Vostok went down in the Sea of Okhotsk, 330 km (205 miles) west of Krutogorovsky settlement, at around 06:30 local time (20:30 GMT Wednesday).

The captain was reported to be among the dead.

"The rescue operation is going on, we are still looking for 15 people," Viktor Klepikov, coordinating captain of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky maritime rescue coordination centre, told Reuters news agency.

A captain of one of the 26 rescue ships taking part in the search said weather conditions were poor when the trawler went down, with snow, wind and waves of up to three metres (10ft) high. The water temperature was around freezing (32F).

A spokesman said survival in such waters was possible for up to 20 minutes.

"At this time we do not know what might have caused the tragedy."

Water flooded the engine compartment and the trawler then sank within 15 minutes, a local branch of the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.

The most likely theory, according to Russian investigators, is that the trawler may have hit some sort of obstacle because of damage near its engine room.

Emergency services suggested that drifting ice may have holed the vessel.

But a senior official in Kamchatka was quoted by Tass news agency as saying the boat foundered while trawling a 100-tonne dragnet.

Sergei Khabarov said that safety rules might have been flouted with cargo limits being exceeded.

The ship did not send out a distress call before sinking, according to local media.

The 15 people who are still missing are thought to have been in the ship's hold as the trawler sank, reported Tass.

Thursday 2 April 2015

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