Monday, 6 April 2015

Zambia: 18 die in truck accident in Mazabuka

Eighteen people have died in Mazabuka after the Monze bound Fuso fighter truck they were in rammed into Mazabuka Shoprite checkers building around 01:00 hours on Monday Morning.

The eighteen people including ten males, five females and three children died on the spot.

Both Southern Province Police Commissioner Mary Chikwanda and Mazabuka Acting District Commissioner Wilson Siadunka confirmed the death in separate interviews with ZANIS in Mazabuka.

Ms. Chikwanda says the driver of the Fuso Fighter truck Registration number ACT 2439 identified as Manuel Kabole is also among the dead .

Ms. Chikwanda says the driver of the truck lost control of the vehicle due to over speeding and careered off the road before hitting into Shoprite checkers building.

And Mr. Siadunka has disclosed that according to authorities at Mazabuka General Hospital 17 people were taken to the hospital dead while one passenger died upon arrival at the health institution.

Mr. Siadunka has further disclosed that five other passengers have been admitted to the hospital in a critical condition.

He says the hospital is planning to evacuate the five casualties who sustained broken bones to the University Teaching Hospital for specialist treatment.

Mr. Siadunka has revealed that the 23 passengers on board the Fuso truck all of whom are residents of John Laing compound in Lusaka were travelling to Lochinvar fishing camp in Monze District where they were going to buy fish.

A check by ZANIS at Mazabuka Shoprite checkers found part of the building where the truck managed to stop from completely razed with employees clearing the rabble.

The bodies of the 18 accident victims are laying in Mazabuka General hospital mortuary.

Monday 6 April 2015

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37 killed in Bangladesh storms

At least 37 people were killed when powerful storms swept Bangladesh at the weekend and left a trail of devastation in the northwest, officials said Monday.

Rescuers and villagers recovered the bodies of victims after the storms flattened thousands of houses, uprooted trees and electricity poles and damaged paddy fields across a large area on Saturday night and Sunday.

Nineteen people died in the northern district of Bogra, government administrator of the district Shafiqur Reza Biswas told AFP, adding that more than 100 people were injured.

"They died mostly after they were hit by falling trees or collapsed houses and walls," he said, adding that authorities have sent emergency relief to thousands of villagers.

In neighbouring Rajshahi district, at least five people were killed and 27 injured as the storm hit a large stretch of low-lying land, another administrator said.

"At least 6,960 mud and tin-built houses were completely damaged by the storm," said Mejbah Uddin Chowdhury.

In the western district of Kushtia two people died and around 100 houses were flattened on Sunday. Two died from lightning strikes as the storm hit the southern port city of Chittagong on Monday, government officials told AFP.

There were also fatalities in at least nine other districts, officials told local media, bringing the death toll to 37.

Storms known locally as Kalboishakhi often hit Bangladesh during the early summer in the lead-up to the monsoon, which usually begins about the first week of June.

Monday 6 April 2015

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Brazil: Little help for families of the missing

Searches for missing loved ones, families say, are complicated by Sao Paulo's troubled morgues. In the last 15 years, 3,000 bodies, all identified, were buried in unmarked graves in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

ra Lucia Marchioro recalls a morgue employee clicking through photos on a computer screen until a face appeared that could have been Luiz, her 25-year-old son who had disappeared the day before. She wasn't sure, she said, because of the swelling.

"Does he have any tattoos?" Marchioro asked.

When the employee said no, the grief-stricken mother decided to continue her search at the five other government-run morgues spread across Sao Paulo. Luiz had several tattoos, so the face on the screen that made her heart twinge couldn't be him, she thought.

Little did she know, but the 60-day search ahead of her would eventually lead back to the same morgue and body. More than a year later, however, her travails have yet to end. Morgue employees called her last March to identify the body using a photo of a tattoo on the arm, but the remains had already been buried in an unmarked grave, which authorities have refused to open.

"From what [morgue employees] have told me up until today, I don't know what I should believe," Marchioro said recently.

Government officials say they don't know how many people without identification are buried each year in Sao Paulo. In the last 15 years, the bodies of 3,000 people who had identifying documents were buried in unmarked graves here, according to the state's missing persons program.

Bodies that cannot be identified or have suffered a violent death — with or without ID — are sent to the closest Forensic Institute morgue. But regardless of where the bodies end up, members of several families in Brazil's largest city expressed frustration in interviews over the lack of resources and information they ware afforded during their searches.

Bodies held at a city morgue are usually buried after 72 hours, officials say. At the coroner's office, where there is more space, authorities try to keep corpses for 10 days, according to the agency's vice director, Dr. Carlos Augusto Pasqualucci.

The city's morgues came under fire last July when a news station broadcast images of 15 bodies lying side by side on metal tables at one morgue because all 38 refrigeration units were occupied. The situation has not only taken the dignity of the dead, family members say, but could also cause a public health problem. Hospital das Clinicas, home to the University of Sao Paulo's medical school and the central coroner's office, is less than half a block away, leaving patients there susceptible to disease-carrying flies.

"There are fewer refrigeration units than necessary, there are putrid bodies kept outside these units, there are fly catchers — I don't know how they are authorized by health inspectors — that are just like an electrified wire that zaps them," said Eliana Vendramini, the prosecutor who runs the missing persons program, which is investigating conditions in the city morgues. There's nowhere for doctors [who work overtime] to sleep."

The "identified indigents" were found following an inquest by São Paulo State's Public Ministry coordinated by Eliana Vendramini, a Public Prosecutor dedicated to finding the whereabouts of missing people in São Paulo.

It took her some time to believe that the State's own funeral system may have been responsible for the "disappearance" of thousands of people in the State capital.

The State assigns corpses to unmarked graves that are not claimed by relatives after 72 hours, even if the deceased carried identification, according to State regulation created in 1993, in Luiz Antônio Fleury Filho's State administration (PMDB - Brazilian Democratic Movement Party).

The State does this without contacting the relatives, despite having information of the deceased, leaving entire families to search endlessly for their loved ones.

Burials are carried out in partnership with the Municipal Funerary Service in two cemeteries at Vila Formosa, in the east of the city - where bodies are delivered bare, in wooden boxes with cardboard lids.

The corpses used to be buried in the Dom Bosco cemetery in Perus, in the north of the city.

Cases investigated by the Public Ministry are the responsibility of the Death Verification Service (DVS) linked to the University of São Paulo's Faculty of Medicine

The service reviews cases of natural death, where there is no suspicion of violence but that require an investigation into the cause of death.

The Public Ministry wants to find out why the State government did not look for the families of the identified deceased.

Contrary to the Prosecutors, the board of the DVS understands that the law does not require the family to be contacted.

Furthermore, it states it does not have enough staff to carry out this task and that it is willing to cooperate with the Public Ministry investigation.

The Prosecutors and the DVS affirm they did not have enough information to locate the families. "However it is possible to locate the families and this is precisely what we are doing", the prosecutor said.

Vendramini also said that, as well as the Federal Constitution, which goes over "the dignity of the human person" in its first article, the Civil Code demands the service to communicate the death to the relatives, because the body belongs to the family.

"This is obvious. Do we need a law to state the obvious? Do we need a law that says: 'Do not bury an identified body without letting the family know'?", the prosecutor questioned.

Another problem is the fact that the DVS is unknown to most of the population, who look for missing relatives through the Coroner - in charge of dealing exclusively with violent deaths or unidentified bodies.

The Public Ministry wants to end unnecessary searches and put an end to burials without notice.

First of all, the Ministry is trying to find matches for the 3,000 "identified indigents" that have gone through the DSV against the list of missing persons in the State of São Paulo.

The aim is to find out how many families are still looking for relatives to notify them of the death and clear the list of missing persons.

João Rocha was in this list and his family was the first to be contacted by the prosecutor.

In the last few weeks, Folha located four more families. None were contacted by the State services and their relatives were buried in unmarked graves.

Police stations

The Public Ministry has also identified problems with the Civil Police.

According to the legislation, the police are required to register deaths before releasing the bodies to the DVS. The police also register the disappearance of a person when relatives report an occurrence at the police station.

However, in all cases reviewed by Folha, the logs of deaths or disappearances were not cross referenced, which could have put an end to many families endless search for their loved one.

Three out of five families contacted by Folha who reported relatives or friends missing said they were ignorant of the existence of the DVS, stating this reason for not requesting the service. In these cases, relatives were either still looking or had already given up.

In one case the relative had also passed away. In another, a daughter found her father 20 days after his death, buried in an unmarked grave.

She even resorted to the help of a Pai-de-Santo - an Afro-Brazilian priest that evokes deities during rituals - to find her father.

There are still an unknown number of identified people buried in unmarked graves by the Coroner's Office that were victims of violence or accidents.


Vendramini has been working to help the families of missing people since she started the program in November 2013. There were 13,068 open cases that year. The program also assists in identifying bodies that haven't been claimed.

The biggest problem, she says, is the lack of communication among organizations involved in finding missing people. There is no way, for example, to cross-reference information held by different entities, including the six city morgues, the coroner's office, the police department and other organizations. She and her team are working on a database, scheduled to be ready in July, so that the agencies can share information.

For Marchioro, it's too late. Several of her questions are still unanswered, she says: Why didn't the morgue employee show her photos of her son's tattoos? Why was Luiz buried in an unmarked grave in Perus, a cemetery known for mass burials an hour north of the city center, 19 days after he was found when the standard is 72 hours? What happened to his body during those extra 16 days?

The treatment of bodies buried at the Perus cemetery, also known as Dom Bosco, has come into question, with one report of a casket falling open as it was tossed into a shallow grave. The city police's organized-crime unit is also investigating whether organs were illegally taken from unidentified bodies at the coroner's office to sell to medical researchers.

Marchioro says she wonders whether any of indignities could have happened to her son's body, which still lies in an unmarked grave in Perus. Government officials have refused to let Marchioro exhume the body and transfer it to the family plot.

"I'll truly believe that is my son they buried there the day they let me have him back," she said.

Vendramini hopes her work can help prevent future mistakes.

"Everyone wants to work together. But when it comes to the past, no one wants to take responsibility," Vendramini said. "We have to care. We should care. One day it could be any one of us."

Monday 6 April 2015

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Bulgaria marks 11 years since Lim tragedy

On Saturday, April 4, Bulgaria marks 11 years since the tragic incident in the Lim River.

On April 4, 2004, 12 Bulgarian kids died in a heavy road accident of a tourist passenger’s bus, which fell down in the Lim River.

At around 10 p.m. the bus slips on the slippery road Prijepolje and Bijelo Polje and falls down into a 40-meter canyon at the border between Serbia and Montenegro, in the deep water of the Lim River.

The bus was transporting a group of schoolchildren from the Bulgarian town of Svishtov.

According to information of the Svishtov mayor’s administration, there were 41 schoolchildren aged 12-19, seven teachers, one guide and 2 drivers travelling in the bus.

The rescue operations were joined by policemen and firemen from Prijepolje and Bijelo Polje, as well as by many local residents from the village of Gostun.

12 kids died in the crash, while 22 of the rescued were hospitalised in Prijepolje and 17 were sent to a hotel in Bijelo Polje.

The bodies of two of the victims were missing for about a month. They were found by divers on April 25 and May 4.

Every year on this day the parents of the victims gather at the cemetery in the town of Svishtov to commemorate the children, while the Angels from Lim Foundation organises different events to raise awareness and sent a message to the drivers and institutions in charge of the road safety.

Monday 6 April 2015

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