Sunday, 14 June 2015

Niger: 18 migrants found dead in Sahara desert

The bodies of 18 migrants who likely died of dehydration have been found in the Sahara desert in northern Niger, the International Organization for Migration said Sunday.

The migrants, most of whom came from West African countries, are believed to have died on June 3 after a sandstorm threw them off their route from the northern town of Arlit to Algeria, said Giuseppe Loprete, the IOM's chief of mission in Niger.

They were part of a wave of migrants trying to reach Libya to board smugglers' boats across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

"This tragedy highlights a feared but hitherto little-known danger too many migrants face long before they risk their lives at sea," said William Lacy Swing, the IOM's director general.

"The Sahara may be as deadly as the Mediterranean for this wave. All too tragically many of these deaths go unreported," Lacy added.

The dead included 17 men and one woman. They came from Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Central African Republic, Liberia, Guinea and Algeria.

The route through northern Niger is heavily trafficked. In October 2013, Niger authorities recovered 92 bodies of migrants who died of thirst after the trucks they were traveling in broke down.

The IOM estimates that 1,865 people died this year through mid-June trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Sunday 14 June 2015

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3 more bodies found, death toll reaches 38

Rescuers on Saturday recovered three more bodies from landslides in Liwang VDC, taking the number of confirmed fatalities to 38 in the massive Taplejung landslides. Twenty-three people are still missing in the landslips triggered by downpour in the western part of the district on Wednesday night.

The security personnel from Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force pulled out the bodies of Arganath Giri, Naramaya Giri and Tikaram Giri from the landslide in Liwang-2.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Shantiraj Koirala said that 22 people from Liwang and one from Lingtep are still missing in the disaster. About 500 people from 36 households in the area have been displaced, he added. The displaced people, mostly from Liwang VDC, are taking shelter at a school building in Khokling VDC.

Chief District Officer (CDO) Damaru Prasad Niraula said that pregnant women and ill people were airlifted to district headquarters on Saturday.

The victims have been staying in pitiable condition as they are deprived of relief materials. The local administration supplied some readymade food items in the affected area only three days after the incident.

An army helicopter dropped relief materials like noodles, beaten rice, biscuits, salt, tarpaulins and blankets on Saturday.

CDO Niraula said the relief materials would be distributed to the victims from Handrung on Sunday. He said 150 sacks of rice, pulses, salt and edible oil had been sent to the area for the purpose.

Meanwhile, the incessant rain on Friday has triggered many fresh landslides in the eastern parts of the district, including Khewang, Surumkhim, Pedang, Yamphudin, Mamangkhe.

According to Bimal Baniya, a school teacher at Surumkhim, there are more than two dozen landslides in Surumkhim and Khewang alone. He said the landslides swept away a large swathe of cardamom field and damaged crops in the area. Former lawmaker Sanchpal Maden informed that a house had been swept away by landslip in Hangdewa VDC.

Locals in Yamphudin Bazaar, which lies on the way to Kanchanjungha Base Camp, have been displaced after the flooded Kabeli and Tumyakhola rivers started eroding embankment since Friday night.

Sunday 14 June 2015

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Tbilisi flooding: Death toll climbs to 10, still rising

The death toll is continuing to increase - Georgian officials have confirmed a 10th person has died following major flooding in Georgia's capital Tbilisi overnight. Several wild animals that escaped from Tbilisi Zoo, including tigers, bears and wolves, were still on the loose in city streets.

Meanwhile unconfirmed reports said 12 people had died in last night's ferocious flooding. Rescue officers were believed to be among the victims. Also, the number of people who remained missing after the floods was also increasing, said officials.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said each family who had lost a loved one would receive 10,000 GEL (about 4,500 USD) financial aid from the state. As of this afternoon, 36 people had been taken to Tbilisi hospitals. Of these, 16 remained there with broken bones and other injuries.

Several central roads remained closed and locals were being asked to stay indoors to prevent further traffic problems.

About 180 people were trapped in the Akhaldaba village, about nine kilometres from Tbilisi after a major landslide isolated the site from the rest of the district. Helicopters are due to drop drinking water, food, blankets and other vital items to the affected people as soon as possible, said a spokesperson in charge of handling the situation.

Several wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears and wolves who escaped from the Zoo after cages were damaged, still remained unaccounted for and were believed to be running loose on Tbilisi streets. Helicopters are continuing to search for the animals from the sky.

Authorities said some of the animals had been tranquilised or killed, but an unknown number were still on the loose. People were being asked to remain indoors until all of the escaped animals were recaptured.

PM Garibashvili has set up a special agency to handle the disaster. All relevant services are being mobilised by the agency, including searching for bodies, survivors and escaped zoo animals.

Meanwhile hundreds of volunteers gathered near Heroes’ Square, one of the most affected areas, and helped rescue officers to clean the city. Some parts of Tbilisi were severely destroyed.

Sunday 14 June 2015

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China ferry disaster death toll 442 as final bodies recovered from wreck

The toll from a river cruise ship which sank on China's Yangtze river has been confirmed as 442 today, state media reported, with the last of the bodies found and removed from the wreck.

The disaster is China's worst shipping accident in more than 70 years.

Only 12 people survived when the Eastern Star river cruise ship capsized during a storm on June 1, Tang Guanjun, the director of the river's navigation authority, told Xinhua news agency.

All of the dead have now been identified using DNA testing and the bodies have been handed over to relatives, he said. Of the 442 dead, 426 bodies have already been cremated, in line with Chinese custom.

A total of 454 people, mainly tourists in their 60s, were on the ship when it sank in what witnesses said was less than a minute. Weather officials said a freak tornado hit the area at the time and it is believed the vessel may have taken a direct hit.

Tang said earlier reports that 14 people had survived out of 456 had been corrected after "further check-ups and verifications", according to Xinhua.

The final toll comes after search and rescue personnel last week held a memorial for the dead with relatives who gathered from across China near the disaster site.

Information about the sinking, and media access to the site and to relatives of passengers, has been tightly controlled by the state, with online criticism of the search quickly deleted.

Teams searched the ship for days after it had been righted, going cabin to cabin. Poor weather and visibility hampered rescue efforts before the vessel was refloated. The search area was also extended to 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) of the Yangtze, Asia's longest river, in the hope of finding those still missing.

Search and rescue efforts have now been cancelled, with all attention turning to the ongoing investigation into the sinking.

Sunday 14 June 2015

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