Saturday, 30 May 2015

Perlis migrant mass grave: Post-mortem on human remains in Wang Kelian begins June 7

Come June 7, the health ministry will begin conducting post-mortem on human skeletal remains found at grave sites in Wang Kelian, Perlis.

Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the post-mortem was aimed at determining whether the skeletal remains and those found at human trafficking camps at the Malaysia-Thai border were those of murder victims.

He said for this purpose, the ministry had formed the CSI-DVI (Criminal Scene Investigation-Disaster Victim Identification) and the PM-DVI (Post Mortem-DVI) teams.

"The CSI-DVI has been stationed at the recovery site to help in the process of collecting samples, while the PM-DVI team is at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital, Alor Setar to perform the post-mortem on the remains," he said in a media conference here today.

On Monday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar announced the discovery of 139 graves and 28 transit camps abandoned by a human trafficking syndicate in Wang Kelian, close to the Malaysia-Thai border.

Dr Subramaniam said three post-mortem procedures would be conducted simultaneously to speed up the process of identifying the bodies before samples were sent to the Malaysian Chemistry Department for DNA tests.

He added the post-mortem procedures involved several small teams comprising forensic medical, forensic science, forensic dentistry, radiology and DNA teams.

On the DNA database, Dr Subramaniam said it would be conducted on all bodies found and the data would be kept by the ministry and the police.

"We cannot take the easy way out in the process of identifying the victims. As such, we will be isolating the DNA of each body for reference purposes to facilitate further action towards determining the DNA of the person found in each grave," he said.

The minister said as of last night, 15 body bags had been sent to the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital morgue.

He said the police had also provided a cold storage container which would enable the hospital to hold more bodies for the post-mortem.

Saturday 30 May 2015

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India's deadly heat wave drags on, death toll tops 1,800

Temperatures dipped marginally in southern India Friday where a deadly heatwave has killed at least 1,800 people, officials said.

The bulk of casualties were reported from the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which saw their highest sustained summer temperatures in 12 years over the past week.

At least 300 more deaths had been counted in Andhra Pradesh since noon Thursday and more than 100 in Telangana, taking the total toll in these two adjacent states to 1,774, disaster management unit officials of the two states said.

"Most of those who died are poor people who are forced to work in the open because of their livelihoods or the elderly," said Andhra Pradesh disaster management commissioner P Thulasi Rani.

Many of the deaths were reported from Andhra Pradesh's coastal districts where the mercury hovered above 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) for a week but showed a dip Friday to the high 30s (up to 102 Fahrenheit).

Another 43 deaths were reported from the eastern Indian state of Orissa, seven from Gujarat state in the west and two in the national capital, NDTV news channel reported.

The meteorological office predicted the heatwave would continue into the weekend but may ease by Monday when the seasonal monsoon rains are expected to hit the Kerala coast.

Government agencies were advising citizens to drink plenty of water, keep their heads and bodies covered to avoid sunstroke and keep indoors as much as they could.

Saturday 30 May 2015

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Italy rescues 4,200 boat migrants in Mediterranean on Friday, 17 die

More than 4,200 migrants and refugees have been rescued in the past 24 hours in the Mediterranean during 22 separate operations carried out by naval vessels and merchant ships.

The operations were coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard from its national rescue centre in Rome and involved 4,243 people being rescued from nine boats and 13 large rubber dinghies.

Seventeen dead bodies were found on one of the dinghies – migrants who had reportedly died of exhaustion, thirst, exposure, or a mixture of all three.

All the rescues were carried out in the southern Mediterranean, off the coast of Libya, as the refugees tried to reach Italian shores.

The multiple rescues represented “a complex scenario which required the involvement of numerous naval units from the Coast Guard, the Italian navy, the Guardia di Finanza (a frontier police force) and the Irish and German navies, as well as several merchant ships which were diverted by the national rescue centre,” the Coast Guard said in a statement on Saturday.

Around 250 of the migrants were rescued by a Belgian ship, which went to the aid of a smuggling boat after its engine stopped working and it started drifting.

The Belgian, German and Irish ships have been deployed to the Mediterranean as part of an expanded search and rescue operation which was ordered by the EU a few weeks ago after the Mediterranean’s worst tragedy for decades, when a fishing vessel packed with an estimated 800 migrants capsized. Only 28 people survived the disaster.

An Irish ship was heading to the port of Palermo in Sicily with 410 rescued refugees on board.

More than 40,000 migrants and asylum seekers have reached Italy so far this year. An estimated 1,800, including women and children, lost their lives during the journey.

Many of them are fleeing war, civil conflict and persecution in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Mali and Nigeria.

The EU is planning to take military action against people smugglers operating along the coast of Libya, in a campaign that could begin in June.

Saturday 30 May 2015

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