Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Madhya Pradesh bus accident: DNA tests ordered

The remains of the people killed in a bus accident in Madhya Pradesh's Panna district will be sent for DNA test, police said on Tuesday.

The relatives would get compensation only after their DNA matches with those of the deceased.

The incident occurred on Monday after a bus fell into a ditch and caught fire. Twenty one people were charred to death.

"Since we were able to find only the skeletons because of the major fire, the identification of bodies could be done only through DNA test", district Assistant Superintendent of Police R.D Prajapati told IANS on Tuesday.

Prajapati said the samples of the bodies were being taken and they would later be matched with samples taken from their relatives.

The driver of the bus survived the accident but suffered serious head injuries.

He said the steering wheel of the bus jammed leading to the accident.

Tuesday 5 May 2015


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Nepal: Retrieving the remains of Jewish victims for burial

With the body of 22-year-old hiker Or Asraf in the airport en route to Israel, Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz, co-director of Chabad of Nepal, says the grisly work of searching for Jewish remains continues in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that crippled the South Asian nation. “Jewish families whose loved ones are missing have turned to us for help locating the bodies of their children, sisters, brothers,” explains Lifshitz, “and we are doing all we can to locate those bodies as soon as possible and get them to a Jewish burial. We call it chesed shel emet, the true altruistic kindness, because the recipients can never repay us for it.” Jewish law places a premium on bodies being buried as soon as possible after the moment of passing. In Nepal, there is an added urgency, as Hindus routinely cremate their dead, which is forbidden by halachah (Jewish law). In these chaotic times, there is a real chance of local officials simply burning remains before anyone can stop them. RELATED Related News Stories For Israeli Soldiers and Rescue Teams in Nepal, a Semblance of Home Comforting the Friends and Family of Deceased Israeli Hiker Chabad Centers Chabad House of Kathmandu Knowledge Base Kathmandu, Nepal(15) More from Chabad.org Hope in Katmandu Israeli President Rivlin Hosting Lifshitz Kids from Nepal
The work is further complicated because most countries do not have data on the religious affiliation of their citizens—let alone tourists—so Jews in need of burial are hard to locate among thousands of unidentified remains are scattered throughout the country.

Lifshitz has been flying via helicopter all over the country in search of both the living, who may still be stranded in far-flung places, and the dead, so their remains will be handled properly.

So far, he and his fellow rescuer, British-born Yehuda Rose, have brought hundreds of survivors back to safety at the Chabad House in Kathmandu, including a Nepali man who lost his entire family and all his possessions in the quake.

British-born Yehuda Rose, left, flew to Nepal after the earthquake and has worked with Rabbi Lifshitz to bring hundreds of survivors back to safety at the Chabad House in Kathmandu, including this Nepali man, who lost his entire family and all his possessions in the quake.

The rabbi sadly has some experience in locating and transporting tourists who have lost their lives in the often treacherous mountain treks. Notably, in the fall of 2013, he brought the body of Marina Muchnik—whose bus had plunged into a ravine—back to her family in Melbourne, Australia.

Earlier that same summer, George Abboudi, a 22-year-old Jewish man from Leeds, England, went missing. The Lifshitzes led a massive search effort only to discover that he had fallen into a river and died, and had been cremated by local villagers.

While the rabbi spends his days and nights choppering around the country, his wife, Chani, and a staff of volunteers continue to run extensive relief efforts, bringing meals to a refugee camp of some 3,000 Nepalis on a daily basis. Simultaneously, they serve as a home base for the Israeli rescue and medical teams that have come to the aid of the beleaguered nation.

Said the rabbi: “I wish what we offer could heal the wounded and the suffering … if not their bodies, then at least their souls.”

Tuesday 5 May 2015


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Britain’s worst rail disaster: Soldiers on way to Gallipoli were caught up in rail crash inferno

Britain’s worst rail disaster - Quintinshill near Gretna - is to be remembered at a centenary parade and commemoration service on Thursday, May 21.

The collision resulted in the death of two Bo’ness servicemen and seriously injured another as they headed south to meet up with a boat heading for Gallipoli.

The majority of those killed were soldiers travelling on a Larbert to Liverpool service, drawn largely from the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots.

The regiment had been camped at the Tryst, Stenhousemuir, for several weeks and was travelling to Liverpool docks en route to the front at Gallipoli in Turkey.

The disaster occurred at 6.50am on May 22, 1915, when the troop train travelling from Larbert collided with a local passenger service that had been shunted on to the main line.

An express train, travelling at speed to Glasgow crashed into the wreckage a minute later with horrifying and devastating results. The gas lights fitted in the train carriages, which themselves were wooden built, created an inferno.

The accident was later found to have been caused by poor working practices on the part of two signalmen, George Meakin and James Tinsley, who were subsequently jailed for culpable homicide.

The former worked night shift at a nearby signal box and was supposed to be relieved by the latter at 6am. However, the two men had an informal arrangement allowing Tinsley to arrive later, coming by train, rather than walking the 1.5 miles from Gretna.

In order to hide their malpractice they ignored the correct procedures on recording train movements leading to the disaster.

Of the two Bo’ness deaths recorded, the first was that of Thomas Barnett, a private in the Royal Scots 7th Battalion.

He was the son of George Barnett, a boot repairer, of South Street, Bo’ness.

Having been discharged from the Royal Field Artillery due to an injury, he re-presented himself for active service at Blackness Castle during a recruiting campaign for the 7th Royal Scots.

It was reported in the Linlithgowshire Gazette at the time that Thomas had married shortly before he met his death on May 22, 1915, and that his wife continued to live at Corbiehall after his untimely death.

The second death was of Andrew Williamson, also a private in the 7th Royal Scots.

He lived with his widowed mother at Cowdenhill, Grangepans, and was the youngest sone of the late George Williamson.

Andrew had previously been employed as a miner before enlisting. His age at the time of his death was given as being 19 years old.

The one local survivor was Albert Munro of 14 Mayfield Terrace, Grangepans. The Linlithgowshire Gazette reported that Albert’s survival was solely down to the fact that he was travelling in a carriage located halfway down the train and had managed to jump from a window just before the collision occurred.

Further research seems to suggest that Albert survived the war as no record can be found on either the Bo’ness War Memorial or the list of soldiers who perished during the Great war of 1914-1919.

The commemoration will take place at Larbert Church at 7pm. A parade will leave Larbert Station at 6.40pm.

After the terrible tragedy came the grim funerals...

A number of bodies were never recovered, having been completely consumed by the fire, and when the bodies of the men of the Royal Scots were returned to Leith on May 24, they were buried together in a mass grave in Edinburgh’s Rosebank Cemetery.

The bodies were escorted by the 15th and 16th Battalions Royal Scots,and the Edinburgh Pals battalions recently assembled and still undergoing training. The cortege took four hours to complete its sad task.

The coffins were laid three deep with each on the top row covered in the Union flag with the deceased being afforded a burial with full military honours.

The public was excluded although 50 wounded servicemen who were convalescing at a nearby military hospital were allowed to attend.

The ceremony lasted three hours at the end of which a volley of three shots was fired and the Last Post played.

A memorial was erected in Rosebank Cemetery in 1916.

Of the troops, 83 bodies were identified. Eighty-two were recovered but unrecognisable and 50 were missing altogether giving a total of 215 but which was later revised by the army to 214.

Among the coffins were four bodies which were unidentified. One coffin was simply labelled as ‘little girl, unrecognisable,’ and another as ‘three trunks, probably children’.

As no children were reported missing the railway company moved the bodies to Glasgow for possible identification but no one came forward to claim the bodies. The four were buried in Glasgow’s Western Necropolis on May 26 in what was reported as a ‘‘very touching service’’.

The engine crew of the troop train were both from Carlisle and they were also buried on May 26 at the local Stanwix Cemetery.

The final legal inquiry into the disaster was held on November 4, 1915, in Dumfries and was an inquiry under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry (Scotland) Act.

Tuesday 5 May 2015


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Dozens of migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean

At least 46 migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean after falling out of a rubber boat as a rescue ship approached, survivors have said.

The accident is the first major Mediterranean disaster since the drowning of about 800 migrants in mid-April. It occurred despite Italian-led rescue operations that saved up to 7,000 others over the weekend, and brings the 2015 death toll to more than 1,700 – about 17 times higher than the number of people who had died by the end of April 2014.

Dozens of would-be migrants are reported to have drowned between Libya and Sicily, the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean this spring. The increasing numbers making the perilous journey on overloaded boats has brought the issue of migration into Europe to a head. But what can be done about it?

The migrants died as they waited to be saved from their stricken vessel in the early hours of Monday morning. Standing on the edge of a packed inflatable dinghy, dozens overbalanced and fell into the sea, according to testimonies gathered by the International Organisation for Migration.

Video obtained from a crew member of the cargo ship Zeran showed migrants jumping off their deflating dinghy to catch lifebuoys tossed into the water. Other migrants use empty jerry cans as floats.

At least 91 people survived, mainly economic migrants from Gambia, Senegal, and Nigeria. They were rescued by a commercial ship, the Zeran, and on Tuesday they reached Sicily, where they told support staff of their ordeal.

Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman, told the Guardian: “They left Libya, but they don’t know where from, on Saturday night at midnight, and the shipwreck occurred one day later at about 1am on Monday. They had problems inside the dinghy and when they saw the commercial ship they tried to move.”

In the scrum, 46 migrants toppled into the sea and drowned. Five bodies have been retrieved.

The biggest Mediterranean disasters usually involve wooden or steel trawlers. But this week’s stricken boat is almost certain to have been a large inflatable dinghy, known as a Zodiac, which is designed to carry up to 24 passengers.

Libyan smugglers interviewed by the Guardian admitted they drastically overloaded these smaller boats in an attempt to make a bigger profit, and fitted them with wooden planks to make them more buoyant. Some smugglers acknowledged the vessels should not be used to cross the Mediterranean.

One Tripoli-based smuggler said last month: “It’s impossible that they reach their destination like that. But there are people who do it. They’re cheap and people know it has a slim chance.”

Another smuggler, based in the western town of Zuwara, claimed it was safe to pack a Zodiac with up to 50 passengers, but any more was irresponsible. The smuggler said: “It all depends on the build. The smaller they are, if they’re Bangladeshis for example, the more you put on. [Smugglers] who don’t have ethics put more than 50 onboard.”

Survivors of another Zodiac boat, which was carrying more than 100 migrants, said their vessel was so overloaded that passengers had little room to move. Those at the edge frequently fell into the water, and those in the middle could only relieve themselves by urinating on their fellow passengers, they said. “They pissed on all our clothes,” said Fatima Bahgar, a 20-year-old Malian student who survived a Zodiac trip last month. “I was sick of the scent.”

The IOM said the volume of boats being rescued close to the Libyan shore this week showed it was vital that the EU’s revamped rescue operations patrolled the southern waters of the Mediterranean as a matter of course. Italian naval ships did so until October, but stopped because of a lack of EU support.

The EU’s replacement mission – Operation Triton – usually operates much closer to the European maritime border. Amid public outcry at recent deaths, the EU has pledged to expand Triton’s activity, but by what amount is not yet known.

Di Giacomo said: “What is clear is that we don’t know how the new Triton operation will work and if it will patrol the area far from the Italian coast. This weekend is proof that migrants need to be rescued very close to the Libyan coast.”

The IOM spokesman also highlighted how commercial ships were being forced to carry out a disproportionate amount of rescue operations. “It’s thanks to the commercial ships that a lot of the migrants are being rescued. They’re called by the Italian coastguards, they’re in contact with the Italian coastguard – but nevertheless they’re rescuing a lot of people,” he said.

Turkey’s coastguard has rescued 636 people trying to cross the Aegean sea over the last five days, a provincial governor’s office said on Tuesday. More than 400 of the rescued migrants were from Syria, while others were from Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma and some African countries, according to the governor of the coastal Izmir province.

Tuesday 5 May 2015


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Trekkers' bodies yet to be identified in Nepal

The bodies of 100 trekkers and villagers have been found where an avalanche hit outside Nepal's capital, triggered by last month's earthquake.

Police and local volunteers recovered the bodies over the weekend at the Langtang village, 60 kilometres north of Kathmandu, on a popular trekking route.

The entire village, including 55 guesthouses for trekkers, was wiped out by the avalanche.

Authorities say at least seven foreigners are included amongst the dead, but only two have been identified.

In Australia, the wait to hear the names of the dead is excruciating.

Adelaide man Brett White says it's believed his brother Tyronne reached the Langtang region while trekking the country to explore its beauty.

A Facebook message was Tyronne's last contact with home.

He hasn't been heard from since.

"I've called companies over there, like the trekking association. I've called the Australian embassy over in Nepal. I've tried to call... even there was one other random guy that said he was going to try and get a helicopter to go up there. And I've contacted him, if he went up there, to try and actually look for my brother. Things like that. I've just tried to call anyone and everyone."

Meanwhile medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders is in Nepal, setting up medical clinics and tent hospitals in Kathmandu, and helicopter flights into remote areas.

The organisation's emergency coordinator in Nepal, Anne Taylor, says adding to the tragedy is the quake's impact on remote regions, where access is difficult.

"The problem is that the only access really is by foot, and there's a lot of slips. Well there's been some slips since that have killed people even. We're using helicopters to get teams in, but again even with a helicopter we can't land. So it's this ongoing problem that won't go away, really."

More than 7,000 people have been killed in the disaster, but Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala expects the death toll could reach 10,000.

MSF's Anne Taylor says the reality is they still cannot put together a complete picture of the damage.

"I think it's going to be extremely ambitious to be able to get to all the villages that have been, you know, have really been damaged very very severely. So it's going to be very difficult to have it quantified very very specifically."

Aid workers are struggling to help those survivors in out of reach places.

Some haven't eaten since the earthquake struck on April the 25th.

But the United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says they will reach every person in need.

"We've prepared for this disaster, so we are ahead of the game of providing the support that is necessary. What we need is to continue to ensure that we receive the resources that are required, so that no person goes hungry and no person goes without the assistance that they need."

Meanwhile the Nepalese government has begun asking foreign teams to wrap up search and rescue operations, stating hope of finding people alive in the rubble has diminished.

And the families of the missing people remain uncertain of what news each day will bring.

Brett White considers going to Nepal to find his brother, but he doesn't know if it will make a difference.

"I, yeah, I'm considering it. But still, there's so many things happening over there, I'm not sure if I would actually help or not."

Tuesday 5 May 2015


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