Thursday, 16 April 2015

Two-storey tin hut collapses into lake at Dhaka’s Rampura, death toll 11

Police said 28 people lived in the hut that stood on bamboo poles at the side of an hyancith-filled lake at Hajiparha’s Jheelpar.

The incident happened around 3:30pm on Wednesday.

“The lower storey has been sucked in by the mud at the bottom of the lake,” said Rampura Police Inspector Md Alamgir Hossain.

Eleven bodies were recovered until 9pm, he told

Four Fire Service units were taking part in the rescue operations, said control room official Md Enayet Hossain.’s Staff Correspondent Kazi Mobarak Hossain reported from the scene that three divers of the Fire Service also joined the rescue efforts.

Rescuers tried to remove the tin ceilings from the mud by cutting off the bamboo poles but failed. They later used cranes to remove the frame of the hut, which was floating. photojournalist Asif Mahmud Ovee said that tow trucks were brought in around 8pm to remove collapsed hut’s frame so that the trapped could be rescued.

Rampura Police SI Abdur Rashid said bodies of two men, aged between 25 and 30, and a woman were recovered around 4:45pm.

Doctors at the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital declared dead Nizam Khan, 45, and ‘Mizan’, 35, when they were taken there, Inspector Mozammel Haque said.

Deceased Nizam’s son ‘Sabuj’ said they lived on the ground floor of the shack.

A neighbour took his father to the hospital, he said.

Fire Service officials rescued a number of survivors and sent them to hospital.

Authorities believe the death toll may rise, as many others are still feared trapped under the rubble.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered her sympathies over the casualties, according to her office’s media wing.

Nasrin Akter, sister of deceased ‘Runa’ and ‘Jakir’, said they had moved to a room of the lower storey last month and they were about to shift next month.

“The hut was so flimsy that it would shake when someone walked. We were very scared during the storm a few days ago.

“I was on the first floor when the incident happened. My husband Khokon, Runa and Jakir were on the lower storey,” she said.

Khokon was rescued alive, but her sibling were found dead.

Akter told that at least 40 people were in the hut when it collapsed and half of them are still missing.

Readymade cloth worker Syed Ibrahim Ali lived in that hut with his wife, in-laws and three-brothers-in-law. He said that most of the inhabitants of the hut were garment workers.

“The incident happened in the afternoon, when a lot of the dwellers left for work after lunch. Otherwise, a lot of people would have died today,” he said, speaking to

A local, Jahangir Alam, said one Monir Mia had built the hut two years ago and rented it. He used to collect Tk 4,000 to 5,000 for each room. Mia is involved with the local Awami League and one of his brothers Tunu Mia was affiliated with the local BNP, according to locals.

None of the brothers could be contacted after the hut collapsed.

Thursday 16 April 2015

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Hopes for retrieval of final MH17 victims as Ukraine frontline moves in renewed fighting

Dutch-led investigators hope to retrieve the remains of the final two victims of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 disaster, after the frontline finally moved away from a battlefield where part of the airliner crashed nine months ago.

Thirty Dutch, Australian and Malaysian experts investigating the downing of MH17 are expected to head to a new search area near the village of Petropavlivka after recent changes to the front line.

The area, where investigators believe they will find the bodies of the only two victims still unaccounted for, was previously too dangerous to access, Theo ten Haaf, an air force commander in charge of security, told Reuters. It is understood to still be heavily mined.

Malaysian airlines flight 17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpa when it was destroyed over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people on board, including 10 Britons.

It was the worst single loss of civilian life in the conflict to date, and Dutch investigators say they are looking at it as a potential war crime.

Western governments believe the airliner was shot down by separatists who thought they were targeting a Ukrainian military aircraft. Separatist leaders and Russian officials have vigorously denied that suggestion, saying it was shot down by a Ukrainian jet.

The conflict in east Ukraine erupted on year ago this week, when a group of gunmen led by Igor Strelkov, a former Russian intelligence colonel, seized the police station, secret service building, and town hall in Slavyansk on April 12.

Supported by irregular civilian volunteers, Mr Strelkov's men deposed the mayor, barricaded the roads into town, and declared allegiance to the Donetsk People's Republic, at that time a haphazard and chaotic pro-Russian movement occupying the regional administration headquarters in Donetsk, the regional capital 60 miles away.

Building seizures in several more towns in the following days led to open warfare between pro-Russian and Ukrainian forces that has killed at least 6,108 people displaced 1.2 million more, according to United Nations estimates.

The conflict has caused the deepest crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War. Western governments accuse Moscow of sustaining the separatists with supplies of weapons, ammunition, and troops.

Thursday 16 April 2015

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South Korea marks ferry disaster anniversary

Grief, anger and political tension coloured the first anniversary of South Korea's Sewol ferry disaster on Thursday, with complaints of continued official indifference towards the tragedy that claimed 304 lives.

Victims' families have rebuffed efforts by government leaders, including Prime Minister Lee Wan-Koo, to pay their respects, accusing them of hypocrisy and ignoring their demands for a fully independent inquiry.

The main memorial event was scheduled for the afternoon, in a remembrance hall not far from the local high school in Ansan which lost 250 of its students when the overladen Sewol sank on April 16 off the southern island of Jindo.

The hall created for the dead teenagers has been a focus of mourning ever since, but families of the victims were threatening to boycott Thursday's ceremony to push their inquiry call and demand that the 6,825-ton Sewol to be brought to the surface.

The disaster, with the loss of so many young lives, stunned the entire country, and one year later there is still a deep sense of public grievance over the perceived inadequacy of the official response.

While largely blamed on the ship's illegal redesign and overloading, the accident laid bare deeper-rooted problems of corruption, lax safety standards and regulatory failings attributed to the country's relentless push for economic growth.

"Nothing has changed," the JoongAng Daily newspaper said in an editorial Thursday, adding that promised reforms of the government had fallen "way short of changing its often wicked ways."

An editorial in the largest circulation Chosun Ilbo also concluded that "the country remains unsafe."

President Park Geun-Hye's approval ratings have only recently started to recover from the hit they took after the disaster, but she faced fresh criticism for choosing Thursday to depart on an official South America tour.

News that Park might first travel to Jindo in the morning prompted a small group of victims' relatives there to close down a small shrine in the harbor.

"They refuse to see her," a spokesman for the families, Ju Jae-Joon told AFP.

And when Prime Minister Lee went to Ansan on Thursday morning, he was turned away at the entrance to the remembrance hall by victims' relatives.

After the scheduled event in Ansan, large crowds were expected to turn out for an evening candlelight vigil in central Seoul.

Public opinion has been largely supportive of the families, although some conservative groups say left-wing organisations have hijacked the cause in an effort to embarrass the government.

The overloaded Sewol was carrying 476 people, including 325 students from the high school in Ansan, when it sank. Only 75 students survived.

A total of 295 bodies were recovered from the ferry, but nine remained unaccounted for when divers finally called off the dangerous search in November.

The families of those still missing have spearheaded the calls for the ferry to be brought to the surface -- an operation that would cost an estimated $110 million.

More than 100 relatives took a boat to the site of the disaster on Wednesday and threw white flowers into the waters, along with yellow paper boats and sweets and snacks that their children liked.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Thursday called for the raising and salvage of the sunken ferry Sewol "as soon as possible."

"Recently, there was an announcement that it is technically possible to salvage Sewol ferry. I believe that it is now time to earnestly prepare to salvage," Park said during a speech marking the one year anniversary of the disaster, which killed 304 people.

The President said South Korean authorities would carry out "necessary procedures swiftly so that the ferry can be salvaged as soon as possible."

Thursday 16 April 2015

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