Friday, 24 April 2015

55 dead, over 80 injured in storm-hit Bihar

The toll in the killer storm in Bihar has risen to 55 from 48 as more bodies were found overnight in the 12 ravaged districts today. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is set to tour Purnia, accompanied by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, to take stock of the situation.

A report compiled by the state disaster management department said Purnia bore its brunt with a maximum of 32 deaths.

Seven lost their lives in Madhepura, three in Madhubani, two in Katihar, two in Sitamarhi and one each in Darbhanga and Supual, the report said.

Over 80 people were seriously injured in the storm and are being treated at various government hospitals, it said.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made an aerial survey of Bhagalpur and neighbouring storm-hit areas on Thursday morning and held a meeting with officials, sources at the Chief Minister's office said.

He said there was no forecast about the storm which took the state by surprise and left a trail of devastation.

After telephonic talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Minister, the Centre had promised all assistance, official sources said.

Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi today expressed profound grief at the human casualties and damage to dwellings in Seemanchal and Koshi regions of the state.

He asked the state government to pay Rs. 4 lakh compensation to family members of the victims immediately and take up relief and rehabilitation work expeditiously, a statement issued by Raj Bhavan said.

The Governor also asked the state government to restore transport facilities, electricity and communication network in the affected areas at the earliest, it said.

The affected districts are Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Bhagalpur, Samastipur, Darbhanga and Madhubani in north and north eastern parts of the state.

Friday 24 April 2015

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Pakistan: First DNA testing lab of Sindh launched

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah inaugurated the forensic and molecular biology laboratory for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing and Institute of Bio-Medical Technology established by the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) at a ceremony held at CM House on Thursday.

This is the first DNA lab in Sindh that will help identify bodies and offenders in sexual assault cases and ascertain paternity disputes.

In their respective speeches, officials of the health department and the chief minister called it yet another milestone achieved to curb crime and ensure justice. “This new laboratory, with the help of law enforcement agencies, will solve difficult cases by getting the DNA reports within 72 hours instead of weeks or month as per previous practice,” said Shah.

Recalling the deadly bombing on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming rally in 2007, the chief minister said that the Pakistan Peoples Party officials ran from pillar to post in an attempt to get the DNA reports of their martyred workers to identify them. The samples were sent to Islamabad and Lahore, but many could not be identified that led to the burial of more than 40 people without getting identified, he lamented.

“During this incident, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had promised to establish the forensic lab in Sindh,” he said. “We have fulfilled her dream.” He explained that after coming to power, the PPP government assigned the task to the LUMHS, Jamshoro.

According to Shah, the lab will also help the judiciary by using biological specimen such as blood, semen, saliva, urine, hair, teeth and bone for DNA testing, in order to ascertain qualitative and quantitative analyses of the poisons in medico-legal cases.

Friday 24 April 2015

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24 unidentified migrants from latest Med tragedy laid to rest in inter-faith ceremony

24 migrants who died in this week’s tragedy off the coast of Libya were buried this morning after a remembrance ceremony held at Mater Dei Hospital. The victims are only a small fraction of the 700 or more people who died in the tragedy.

They were laid to rest in an inter-faith ceremony led by Gozo Bishop Mario Grech and Imam El Sadi.

A number of dignitaries attended the event, including Presiden Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil and Members of Parliament. Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos and Minister of Social Solidarity of Greece Theano Fotiou also attended.

The bouquets of flowers that were sent by Maltese people after a call made by the Mater Dei Hospital CEO were lined up in the area leading to the helipad where the ceremony took place.

The caskets of the migrants were carried into the marquee tent by members of the Armed Forces.

One of the caskets was white, and it is that carrying the adolescent migrant who was among the 24 corpses recovered. The silence was broken by the cries of several members of the migrant community in Malta. A woman, wearing a baseball cap with ‘I am a survivor’ written on it, stood out from the crowd.

"The migrants were escaping from a desperate situation, they were trying to find freedom and a better life,” Bishop Grech said during the service. “There are 24 unidentified bodies here but we know that there are hundreds more at the bottom of the cemetery that the Mediterranean has become. We do not know their names, justthat they were trying to seek a better and more peaceful life. Irrespective of religion, culture and race, we know that they are our fellow human beings.”

Mgr. Grech said that, facing this situation, politicians can either quote the law and squabble over who is responsible for the rescue operations or they can forget all of this and help those in peril. “The way of the law is not enough to tackle the emerging migrant crisis. By choosing not to hear the cries for help of those in desperate need of help the situation will deflate into what Pope Francis calls the globalization of indifference.”

Merciful love demanded a reaching out to the roots which was causing this exodus, he said. "Face the situation with the eyes of the good Samaritan," he said.

Imam El Sadi thanked the Maltese and Italian governments and people for helping migrants in distress. “All are brothers before God. All people are migrants and their life was a journey." What had happened, he said, should raise awareness, and he went on to ask whether enough was being done to help the migrants at sea.

Later, two AFM bandsmen sounded the last post and the Bishop and the Imam read out the funeral rites of both religions. The caskets where then loaded into hearses and taken to Addolorata Cemetery, where the migrants will be buried in common graves.

Friday 24 April 2015

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Death toll in China mine accident rises to 21

The number of people killed at a coal mine in northern China has risen to 21, local officials say.

The final death toll was confirmed by Datong city officials in Shanxi Province on Thursday.

Search teams and rescue workers have recovered 21 bodies from the site of the collapsed mine, located near the northern city of Datong.

The incident happened when water rushed into a shaft inside the Jiangjiawan mine on Sunday evening.

Experts say such accidents are usually caused by breaches of abandoned shafts where water has collected over time.

Of a total of 247 miners who were underground, 226 people were rescued.

Hundreds of rescuers have been trying to save those trapped underground by pumping water and drilling holes from the surface. Over 1,500 cubic meters of water has been pumped out of the mine so far.

The world’s deadliest mine accidents reportedly occur in China, although the mines’ safety record has been steadily improving in recent years as authorities have enhanced enforcement of safety regulations.

China’s notoriously dangerous mines have seen declining deaths in recent years because of safety improvements as well as a decreasing demand for coal.

Friday 24 April 2015

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