Monday, 6 July 2015

Malaysia buries another 24 human trafficking victims

Malaysia provided Muslim burials Monday to 24 human trafficking victims, bringing to 99 the total number of suspected Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants laid to rest after bodies were found near the Thai border.

Noh Dahya, Islamic Religious Department director in northwest Kedah state, was cited by state news agency Bernama as saying that the seven remaining victims out of the 106 discovered last month would be buried after the Eid ul-Fitr holiday.

Eid ul-Fitr comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and is expected to fall on July 17 this year.

On June 9, police said they had recovered the remains of 106 suspected human trafficking victims from gravesites found in the town of Padang Besar along the country’s northern border.

The rituals held in the early hours of Monday morning were the fourth round of burials, and saw the remains of 24 male victims interred in a single gravesite.

The first burial of trafficking victims was held June 21, when nineteen men and two women were laid to rest in two separate graves, with the rituals attended by residents of Kampung Tualang and other villages.

The remains of 30 other victims were buried June 29, followed by another 24 on July 4.

Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar had earlier said that security forces usually did not patrol the hilly border area where the bodies were found, but began to focus there after Thai police discovered dozens of bodies belonging to Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants in May.

Following the discovery of human trafficking camps in southern Thailand in early May, authorities launched a crackdown that led to smugglers fleeing and boatloads of migrants then turning up on Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian shores, while thousands more remained at sea.

Since a tri-nation conference on the Southeast Asian boat people crisis May 20, Indonesia and Malaysia have said they will take the Rohingya in for one year, ascertain which are asylum seekers and which are economic migrants, and then the international community will find homes for them.

Monday 6 July 2015

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12 dead in China factory collapse 

Br> Twelve people died after a shoe factory collapsed in eastern China during a weekend shift. More than 30 persons were injured, officials said Sunday.

Three other people were missing in the collapse in the Zhejiang province city of Wenling, and nine people escaped.

Rescuers pulled 42 people from the rubble and sent them to a hospital, where nine of them died, the Wenling city government said on its microblog. They pulled two bodies from the wreckage on Sunday.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

More than 50 workers were in the building in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province when it came down on Saturday afternoon, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) and the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Thirty-three suffered injuries, four of them serious, the report said. Nine others escaped and three were unaccounted for.

Xinhua said earlier the cause of the collapse was being investigated.

Photos circulating on Chinese social media showed a man being carried on a stretcher by what appeared to be police officers, while rescuers and other personnel stood on top of the rubble.

Building collapses and other industrial accidents are not uncommon in China, where many structures and facilities are old, safety procedures can be lax and rebuilding has not kept up with the country’s remarkable economic growth.

China’s top safety watchdog in May blamed poor construction and weak safety standards for a fire at a nursing home that left 38 people dead. In April, almost 30,000 people were evacuated after a fire broke out in a Chinese chemical plant which blazed for nearly 50 hours before the flames were finally extinguished.

And in November, a fire at a coal mine in northeastern China killed 26 workers, in one of the country’s most highly accident-prone industries.

Monday 6 July 2015

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Colombia to exhume Medellin graves: official

Colombian authorities will this month begin the grisly task of carrying out what could be the largest exhumation of unmarked graves in the conflict-torn country's history, local media reported Sunday.

Caterina Heyck, who is overseeing the operation for national prosecutors, told El Tiempo newspaper that the exhumation would begin July 27 in the Commune 13 neighborhood of Medellin.

Investigators believe this area in Colombia's second city has a large number of corpses of people killed in the country's decades-long conflict.

Heyck said the process would be "complex" because investigators would need to match any eventual DNA samples to those given by relatives of missing people.

The South American nation is still in the grips of a half-century civil war that has drawn in left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs at various times, killing more than 220,000 people and uprooting as many as six million.

There is no official number of missing people, though estimates put the figure at between 15,000 and 20,000.

According to Heyck, Colombia has previously exhumed 5,958 bodies throughout the country, of which 3,224 have been returned to families.

The government opened peace talks in November 2012 with the largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

It has also started talks with another leftist guerrilla group, The National Liberation Army (ELN).

Monday 6 July 2015

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Philippine ferry death toll rises to 61

The death toll from a ferry that capsized in Ormoc City has risen to 61, the coast guard said Sunday, indicating that the vessel was overloaded.

Whether the ferry was carrying too many people will be part of an investigation into last week’s disaster that saw the boat’s owner and crew charged with murder.

Coast guard figures released on Sunday showed 61 people had died when the wooden Kim Nirvana capsized, with at least 145 listed as survivors.

This would mean at least 206 people were on board, exceeding the 194 passengers and crew the boat was authorised to carry.

The heavy cargo the ferry was transporting may also have played a role, authorities have said.

'The number of bodies is more than we expected,' said Captain Pedro Tinampay, the regional coast guard chief, refusing to speculate how many might still be missing.

Only 173 passengers and 16 crew were listed on the boat's manifest.

The crew have been accused of reckless behaviour, with an initial police investigation and interviews with survivors indicating the vessel turned abruptly causing it to capsize.

The police investigation is separate from a coast guard enquiry, which will primarily determine the cause of the mishap. However, the coast guard may also recommend criminal and administrative charges.

On Sunday, a coast guard search and rescue vessel transported the bodies of 42 residents of Camotes - where the ferry had been heading - back to their island home for burial.

The bodies were ferried by the Coast Guard’s BRP Batangas.

Relatives watched gravely as rescue personnel carried dozens of white coffins onto the ship.

The Kim Nirvana, which has been lifted out of the water with a crane, lay on a ramp in the background.

As well as passengers the boat had also been transporting sacks of cement, rice and fertiliser which would have weighed as much as 7500 kilos.

Pilar Mayor Jesus Fernandez Jr. said the whole town is in mourning because 39 of those killed were residents of Pilar.

The Public Attorney’s Office also reached out to the families of the victims.

In a text message, PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said the District Office of PAO in Ormoc will provide legal assistance to the victims and their families.

Monday 6 July 2015

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