Thursday, 25 June 2015

Monsoon onset kills 45 across Gujarat

At least 45 people died, 36 in Amreli district alone, as Gujarat experienced the fiercest entry of monsoon in recent years, on Wednesday.

Amreli district was the worst hit by the rain fury as 13 people died when two houses collapsed in Nani Vaghaniya village near Bagasara town. "Of the 13, seven are females that include few young girls," said Pinakin Parmar, deputy superintendent of police, Amreli.

According to state flood control room, three persons died in Bhavnagar, two in Gondal and three in Surat. Official report states that 28 persons have died in rain-related incidents from June 1 to June 23.

Residents of Bagasara, famed for its gold-plated imitation jewellery, remained on the edge as the town was pounded by 636 mm rainfall in just 24 hours. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team rescued 85 stranded people in the town.

Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters air lifted 44 people after their bus got stuck in flood water on a state highway near Amreli. This was the first time that an operation to airlift people was conducted in the first spell of monsoon. Rescue teams also found bodies of two persons, who were missing along with five others from the bus.

Thousands of people have also been stranded as heavy rains triggered flash floods in rivers in Amreli, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Gir-Somnath districts. In Rajkot district, 4,121 people were shifted to safer locations from low-lying areas.

The death toll is only likely to increase as many people, who were swept away in flash floods, are reported to be missing.

Torrential rains also paralyzed south Gujarat that witnessed heavy rains accompanied by winds gusting up to 80 km/per hour. While a 42-year-old man was electrocuted in Kosambda village, a boy died after falling into a manhole near Althan garden in Surat city. In Valsad's Narwad village, a man died in house collapse while another man died in Uchhal after a tree fell on him.

Twelve relief centres were opened in Surat as nearly 1,000 people living near two creeks were evacuated. Adding to the rain worries, electricity was snapped in large number of villages of south Gujarat.

Amid reports of damage, however, there was some good news too in Saurashtra. The dams that had hit rock bottom were brimming, much to the relief of water-starved people. In fact, Bhadar dam, the region's biggest, is overflowing in just nine days of monsoon onset.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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Death toll rises to 13 in Henan apartment building fire

At least 13 people were killed and four others injured when a fire razed through a seven-storey building in central China's Henan province today.

The fire erupted on the ground floor of the building in downtown Zhengzhou, Henan's capital.

Reports said the deaths occurred on the top floor of the building, meaning the victims likely died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The building contains to some 30 to 40 households, witnesses said.

The fire broke out in an electricity meter box, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The four injured were being treated for burn injuries at an area hospital.

The fire, the cause of which remains unknown, was put out this morning.

Apartments in China are not properly maintained, and improper wiring and bad ventilation are often blamed for major accidents.

The fire broke out on the ground floor of a seven-storey apartment building in downtown Zhengzhou, Henan's capital. It started in an electricity meter box.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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Toll in Mexico nursing home fire rises to 17, arson possible

A fire that killed 17 residents at a retirement home for poor people on Mexico's northern border may have been intentionally set, the city's mayor said Wednesday.

Mexicali Mayor Jaime Diaz Ochoa said in a statement that another body had been found in the charred wreckage of the wood-structure, tin-roofed nursing home's dormitory area.

Diaz Ochoa said the area where the fire started is suspicious because there appeared to be no natural source, like electrical wires or fuel, for the origin of the fire. Other officials said it started near a perimeter fence.

"There is the assumption that it could have been intentional," Diaz Ochoa told the Televisa network Wednesday. "In the area where it started there are ... boxes, which by themselves could not have started the fire."

Diaz Ochoa also said he had been told there was a dispute between the administrators of the facility.

"We have been told by the representatives that there was a dispute for control of the nonprofit," he said.

The facility was run by the nonprofit Cultural Society for the Promotion of Social Welfare and housed poor, abandoned or formerly homeless elderly people.

Telephone numbers listed for the home rang unanswered or were disconnected.

In its government registration page, the group lists one of its functions as "giving humanitarian assistance to low-income elderly people in need, including food, shelter, clothing and medical care."

Diaz Ochoa said state prosecutors were investigating the fire. Some of the bodies were badly charred and are still awaiting identification.

One resident was still in very serious condition, with burns. Three others injured in the fire were recovering and may be released from a hospital.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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Almost 1,200 people are missing in Donbas

Almost 1,200 Ukrainians are listed as missing in the military conflict zone in Donbas, Iryna Heraschenko, a representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group and a member of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, has said.

"We have almost 1,200 Ukrainians on this horrible 'missing persons' list," Heraschenko said on Facebook on Tuesday.

Heraschenko said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officials have offered expert assistance in the search for and identification of the missing people.

She also said the Ukrainian authorities had also suggested in the negotiations in Minsk on Tuesday that the ICRC should monitor the situation with the detainees and their living conditions, including in Russia. "We again emphasized that our colleague Nadia Savchenko has been illegally held in a Russian prison for a year now," the Ukrainian official said.

Additionally, the Ukrainian officials raised in the meeting of the subgroup the issue of the Russian humanitarian convoys to Donbas, which Kyiv finds to be illegal.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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Typhoon Kujira leaves 7 dead, 4 missing in Vietnam

Typhoon Kujira, which made landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday noon, has left seven dead and four others missing as of Thursday morning.

According to meteorological agency in Vietnam's northern Son La province, some 200 km west of capital Hanoi, the flood after typhoon Kujira has swept away 23 houses.

Rainfall from Wednesday night to Thursday morning hit 219 mm. Heavy downpours in a short period of time have flooded many districts in Son La province. Flash flood occurred in some areas, local VNExpress online newspaper reported on Thursday.

Making landfall in Vietnam's northeastern Quang Ninh province ( some 120 km east of capital Hanoi) and Hai Phong city (some 90 km east of capital Hanoi) on Wednesday noon, typhoon Kujira has brought about no casualties in these two localities.

However, the typhoon has caused heavy rain in all the country's northern region.

Kujira is the first typhoon hitting Vietnam so far in 2015.

Many districts in Son La were submerged in water.

As many as 23 houses were also wiped out by flood waters. The floods also eroded a number of roads, causing traffic congestion.

Typhoon Kujira has weakened into a depression, but heavy rains will still occur in northeastern provinces until Thursday, according to the National Hydro-meteorological Forecast Center.

Thursday 25 June

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Japan Government to conduct DNA tests on more remains of war dead

The government will conduct DNA tests on more unidentified remains collected from World War II battlefields and internment areas, and store the results in a database, welfare ministry sources said Tuesday.

The move is part of an effort to identify the war dead and return the remains to aging relatives, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

DNA tests have previously been limited to remains found near personal belongings bearing names. But they are expected to also be conducted on remains without such items, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry sources said.

The ministry will also receive DNA samples from potential relatives in a bid to match them with the test results, they said.

The new database is likely to contain data on DNA samples taken from the remains of around 8,000 people found in the battlefield in the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwojima (now Iwoto) in the Pacific, as well as areas in the former Soviet Union and Mongolia where Japanese were imprisoned.

The government began collecting samples in fiscal 1999 and launched the DNA analysis in fiscal 2003. But only 2,031 DNA tests have so far been conducted on the remains of the war dead, according to the ministry.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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25 June 1975 - Eastern Airlines jet crashes at Kennedy Airport during a thunderstorm killing more than 100 people

(Originally published by the Daily News on June 25, 1975)

One hundred and nine persons were killed yesterday when an Eastern Airlines’ Boeing 727 jetliner carrying 115 passengers and eight crew members crashed and burned in an attempted landing in an electrical storm at Kennedy International Airport.

The plane, on a nonstop flight from New Orleans, struck several approach lights, crashed to the ground beside Rockaway Blvd., and burst into flames, spewing bodies and twisted bits of wreckage on a wide area.

The burning jetliner then skidded across Rockaway Blvd. and splintered, with most of the fuselage coming to rest upside-down in the eastbound lanes of the roadway. Miraculously, police said, no vehicle was struck by the flaming wreck as it careened across the artery.

As the plane swooped on low over a series of approach lights on 30-foot-tall steel towers, it struck one of the towers about a quarter-mile from Brookville Blvd. Then it smashed the next tower in line, cleared the next tower, knocked the next three down and struck the final one a glancing blow before crashing into a marshy area east of Rockaway Blvd., which was crowded with early rush-hour traffic.

The impact areas was littered with mangled bodies and twisted pieces of metal, suitcases, seats and other debris.

“It didn’t look like a plane crash site at first,” said one witness. “It looked like a garbage dump.”

Although two witnesses claimed that they had seen the plane struck by lightning as it was approaching the airport, and a ham radio operator reported that he had heard other pilots talking about a wind shear - a condition involving radical shifts in wind direction at the time of the crash - there was no official explanation of the accident.

George Van Epps, eastern area supervisor for the National Transportation Safety Board, declined to speculate on the cause of the crash.

As search crews worked under floodlights combing the crash area during the night. Van Epps said he had not questioned any witnesses and could not confirm the report that the plane had been struck by lightning.

Van Epps added that there were only two cases in commercial airlines history in which lightning had been determined as the cause of crashes. Both occurred in the early 1960s.

Herbert W. Banks, air safety investigator for the Safety Board, said the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder had been recovered from the wreckage of the plane.

Asked if officials had radio reports from the plane before the crash, which was the worst in the New York metropolitan area in a decade, Banks said: “We have not listened to the tower tapes yet.”

Sixteen survivors were rescued, but two of them died later in Jamaica Hospital. The pilot and co-pilot - Capt. John W. Kleven and First Officer William S. Eberhart, both based here - were killed. But two other crew members, Mary Ellen Mooney 28, a stewardess, and Robert Hoefler, 29, a flight attendant, walked away from the crash and were in fair condition at the South Shore Division of Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center.

“Saw Plane Coming In” “I saw the plane coming in,” said Neal Rairden, a gas station mechanic. “It was raining very hard at the time. All of a sudden, there was lightning. I looked up and all I saw was smoke and flames and no plane. I said, ‘Holy God!’ I knew that plane had gotten hit by lightning. It just exploded and shattered. I looked up and again there was no plane in the air. The next thing I knew it was gone, and that was it.”

Police said that the plane, Eastern Flight No. 66, had been scheduled to land at 3:45 p.m. and was 21 minutes late when it crashed at 4:06 p.m.

Saul Horowitz Jr., a prominent New York construction executive, and Wendell Ladner, the reserve forward of the New York Nets, reportedly were among the victims of the crash. Also believed killed were the Rt. Rev. Iverson Noland, the Episcopal bishop of Louisiana, and New Orleans investment bank Edgar Bright Sr. his wife, their daughter Mrs. Jane Hickey and her daughter, Nancy, 4.

The passenger list included 19 Norwegian sailors, who had left their ship in New Orleans and were en route back to Norway.

Joseph Dispenza, of Baton Rouge, La., and his daughters, Sandy, 9, and Tina, 7, survived the crash, but his wife, Connie, was missing and feared dead.

Moments after the plane crashed, Port Authority police put out a call for body bags as the first of many fire and disaster units arrived at the crash scene.

Rescue workers spread out a large green tarpaulin at the side of Rockaway Blvd. and began laying out bodies in rows. Each body was covered with a white sheet, which quickly became stained with blood.

Within minutes, all highways and secondary roads in the area were clogged as rubbernecking motorists tried to park and get a closer took at the flaming wreckage.

Several Persons Arrested

Firemen had the blaze under control by 4:45 p.m., but the problem of the curious walking and driving into the area persisted. Several persons were arrested after they had crossed police lines into the area.

Mayor Beame and Police Commissioner Michael Codd flew to the crash by police helicopter. They stayed there for more than two hours as rescue workers combed the marshland for bodies and clues to the cause of the crash.

“I’m numb,” said the ashen-faced mayor. “it’s a terrible tragedy.”

Eastern Airlines reported before 6 p.m. that it had set up a control center for relatives of passengers to call so that they could be informed.

Thursday 25 June 2015

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