Monday, 8 June 2015

Remains of human limb found in Kedarnath two years after tragedy

Skeletal remains of a human foot were found lying under a heap of rubble in a structure close to Kedarnath temple nearly two years after a catastrophic deluge hit the shrine and other parts of Uttarakhand in June 2013 leaving a trail of death and devastation.

The remains of a human foot were sighted on Saturday as some locals were clearing debris from a structure in a narrow bylane about 50 metres from the Himalayan shrine, Rudraprayag Superintendent of Police Barinderjit Singh told.

The remains of the human limb were cremated after conducting necessary formalities like DNA sampling and panchnama the same day, he said.

However, the official said that there was nothing curious about skeletal remains still being found from the area despite several combing operations conducted there in search of bodies since the tragedy.

"The remains of over six hundred persons that have been cremated in Kedar valley so far were the ones found on the surface. "We are yet to remove 50-60 feet of rubble lying in the area surrounding the shrine and it wouldn't be surprising if we come upon something lying underneath," Singh said.

Entire floor of buildings is lying underneath the debris. Now that locals have been permitted to remove the debris from the structures, the possibility of something or the other being found cannot be ruled out, he said.

Monday 8 June 2015

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23 bodies of Nepal quake victims still unidentified

Altogether 23 dead bodies still remain unclaimed at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in Maharajgunj awaiting identification even five weeks after the April 25 Great Earthquake.

Eight of the bodies are appendages and other body parts while the rest are whole body, according to the Nepal Police. Deputy Inspector General Kamal Singh Bam, spokesperson of Nepal Police, said all the bodies that could not be identified in the districts have been brought to the TUTH.

“Although we have put the details of the dead bodies that still remain unclaimed and unidentified on our website and trying to reach to as many people as possible, the effort seems to be of little or no avail,” said DIGBam. He said the Nepal Police has also formed a special team comprising of forensic experts to help with the body identification process.

Monday 8 June 2015

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55 more bodies pulled out in quake-hit Nepal

As many as 55 bodies, including of four foreigners, were recovered by the Nepal Army and villagers in a joint effort in Nepal's Langtang valley on Saturday and Sunday, police here said.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Pravin Pokhrel, the rescue teams of Nepal Army in coordination with local residents recovered 55 human skeletons from the village.

As many as 128 people were rescued from the village during the first phase of the rescue operation after the disaster.

Residents in Langtang area, in Rasuwa district and famous for trekking, said over 190 people were reported missing following the massive avalanche which swept away the entire village in the wake of the powerful April 25 quake that hit Rasuwa district.

Rasuwa was one of the worst hit districts in the quake, where 597 people died and 771 were injured. The worst-hit area was Langtang trekking area, one of the busiest and most admired trekking routes in Nepal.

Rasuwa district authorities have imposed a ban on travel to Langtang area, fearing landslide and avalanche. It was reopened on Wednesday following residents' demand to visit their habitation areas to search for their kin and other relatives.

The missing people include 10 Nepal Army personnel, according to Nepal Army's Laxman Thapa of Narayan Battalion posted in the area.

Officials said the search started late, as the area was cut off by road and the weather was inclement.

Search continues for scores of other villagers and tourists presumed to be missing in the region, according to the District Administration Office (DAO), Rasuwa.

A deadly avalanche set off by the devastating earthquake had wreaked havoc in the Langtang valley, a major tourist destination in the country, displacing the entire village and leaving hundreds killed.

After the killer avalanche, the local administration has shifted all 488 survivors and those affected to Kathmandu.

Residents said that along with 70 villagers, 40 tourist guides and porters, 190 people had been reported missing.

Monday 8 June 2015

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Malaysia quake death toll reaches 16, search for bodies continues

Malaysian authorities said on Sunday 16 bodies had been recovered from the country's highest peak Mount Kinabalu after a magnitude 6 earthquake caused landslides and aftershocks.

The victims were 6 Malaysians, one from the Philippines, China and Japan, and 7 Singaporeans, including children who were on a school trekking trip.

Minister for Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun told reporters in Kinabalu park that two people were listed as missing and that body parts had been found.

The search and rescue operations would continue on Monday, Manjun said.

Some climbers managed to make it down but more than 130 from 16 countries had been stranded on the mountain on Borneo island when the quake struck on Friday.

Rescue and recovery operations have been hampered by rubble and thick clouds which prevented helicopters from quickly retrieving the bodies.

"KM6.5 of the route was dubbed "river of stones" when earthquake struck early Friday which rendered the track impassable, trapping climbers," Manjun said on Twitter.

In Singapore, the prime minister's office said the children caught in the quake were from Tanjong Katong primary school.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declared June 8 a day of national mourning.

"State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast," the prime minister said in a Facebook posting.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the country needed its own earthquake monitoring centre.

"In the latest incident, no one issued any warning. It may happen again and we do not have a department responsible to monitor impending disasters here," state news agency Bernama quoted him as saying at the Kinabalu site on Sunday.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was about 54 km (33 miles) from the state capital of Kota Kinabalu.

Monday 8 June 2015

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China completes DNA collection to identify ship dead

China has completed the DNA collection needed to identify the 432 bodies recovered so far from last week's deadly Yangtze boat disaster.

The Eastern Star, mostly carrying elderly tourists, capsized on 1 June near Jianli in Hubei province.

Just 14 of the 456 passengers and crew are known to have survived.

A search is continuing for eight people who remain missing. Authorities have extended the search area to 1,000km (621 miles) downriver. The sinking was the worst maritime disaster China has seen in decades.

DNA matching

Authorities are now planning to collect DNA from family members for matching purposes.

A spokesman for China's public security ministry, Min Jianxiong, told reporters that they expect to finish matching the DNA within the next few days, and added that a number of victims had already been identified.

Meanwhile authorities have begun cremating victims so that they can return their ashes to their families for burial, as per Chinese custom.

The BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says activity has moved from the hollow shell of the capsized cruise ship to a nearby morgue.

Relatives were seen weeping as they arrived at the morgue in Jianli to have one last look at their loved ones before cremation, AP reported.

On Sunday - a week after the disaster took place - many congregated by the shore of the Yangtze to hold mourning ceremonies.

Meanwhile new pictures emerged of the interior of the Eastern Star - known as Dongfangzhixing in Chinese - which was pulled upright on Friday for search operations over the weekend.

Searchers said rooms were "severely ruined" and strewn with debris.

The top floor was crushed and rescuers had to break into rooms using chainsaws, according to Reuters news agency.

Our correspondent says questions still linger as to how the massive ship sank in just a few minutes, without anyone issuing a distress call.

Some in the Chinese state media argue that modifications to the ship's interior made it more difficult for those on board to escape in an emergency.

Others point to the possibility of human error and have questioned the decision to continue sailing in rough weather.

The Chinese authorities arrested the ship's captain and chief engineer, who were among the survivors, but they have not announced plans for a criminal inquiry into the disaster.

The cause of the sinking is not yet known, but survivors have spoken of an intense storm which flipped the boat over in minutes.

Monday 8 June 2015

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