Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Pentagon still searching for lost WW2 veterans

Long dead but little forgotten, US soldiers who disappeared across the globe during World War II are being reunited with their loved ones in a push to find and bring home their bodies.

From the forests of Germany to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, US experts employed by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency -- among them historians, archeologists and forensic experts -- are the main sleuths.

When recovery of a body is possible, the Pentagon specialists turn the remains over to an ultra-modern lab in Hawaii for identification and then wait for the ultimate reward: bringing the bereaved back together with their long-lost relatives.

Stephen Johnson, a historian-investigator, recalled how a delighted woman, whose father had been found in a German forest, exclaimed: "You gave me back my daddy."

"I think of her when I work on a case," Johnson said.

The woman, now a mother and grandmother, "had come to peace" after finding out the exact fate of her father, who died when she was 18 months old, Johnson said.

Sandi Jones, who lives in Montana, said she felt immense joy when the agency called her in June 2014 to say that her uncle had been found 70 years after his plane went down in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

"I was flabbergasted," the 60-year-old said.

The uncle, whose photo Jones kept even though her grandparents refused to speak of him, was buried near the family ranch with honors in the presence of US Air Force officials.

The agency also gave the family his Masonic ring, which was discovered among the crew and deduced to be his since he was the only member of a Masonic Lodge.

Johnson said the willingness to return a soldier at any cost dates back to the nation's birth.

President George Washington, the first head of the US military, thought that "the allegiance of the Army to the nation was directly tied to the allegiance of the nation to the Army," he said.

"You don't stop being a member of the US military because you die," he added.

It is this logic that has driven the POW/MIA agency to take on a project to exhume 388 sailors and Marines who were killed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

At the time, remains of most of the crew could not be identified after spending weeks in the water, and the bodies were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Now the agency hopes to identify remains through dental and DNA analysis -- a daunting task considering that the bones are mixed together, Johnson said.

The agency, which uncovers around 70 bodies a year, has fallen short of Congress' goal of 200 bodies annually.

Meanwhile, private associations are aiding in the effort.

History Flight, whose multi-disciplinary team includes historians, archeologists and soil specialists, is searching for the remains of several dozen Marines on the Tarawa Atoll in Kiribati, from the war's Pacific theater.

The quest began in 2007 and has cost nearly $1.5 million, according to History Flight president Mark Noah, who decided to search for the missing planes after becoming interested in lost flights.

"For us, it's a humanitarian issue" said Noah, an airline pilot for 50 years, explaining that many of the children and relatives of the disappeared are still alive.

Just over 73,000 US World War II soldiers are still missing or unidentified according to official figures.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


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Survivors tell police in Sicily some 200 migrants were kept inside capsized

It is feared up to 200 migrants may have drowned after an overcrowded boat they were on capsized in the Mediterranean.

Psychologists, cultural mediators, volunteers and members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) do what they can to comfort the 367 survivors brought to Sicily by the Irish patrol boat which rescued them after Wednesday’s disaster.

If it is determined that hundreds were crammed in the hold of the iron fishing boat that overturned Wednesday, there is a real risk that numerous migrants died trapped inside, said Flavio Di Giacomo of the global Organization for Migration, a human rights group.

“The arrested are suspected of causing the confirmed deaths of 26 migrants and the presumed deaths of about 200 people who, according to witnesses, were locked in the hold of the boat that capsized”, a police statement said.

LE Niamh is heading toward the Sicilian port of Palermo, where it will arrive on Thursday afternoon with most of the survivors.

Military vessels and aircraft from a multi-nation operation are searching waters off Libya for a second day for any more survivors from an overturned boat crowded with migrants. “There have been some our bodies floating, so it was fairly a surprising scene”.

Some migrants who fell into the water had life vests; others, struggling to swim, were tossed life vests by rescuers.

“It was very upsetting to see a mother and father grieving for their young child, and our personnel tried to resuscitate him but unfortunately there was nothing they could do”, he said at the portside.

“And I dived under, ready to die to save my daughter”, he said, describing how he managed to rescue her – “I don’t know how” – and pull his wife to a lifeboat as well. What they found when they got there was unfortunately they had arrived too late, many people were in the water.

All the nationalities of the survivors weren’t instantly out there.

Di Giacomo said the estimate of 600 aboard was credible because the boat was 20-25 meters (70-85 feet) long, and smugglers, who don’t like to leave any space unused, usually fit about 600 aboard a fishing boat of that size.

Efforts to recover bodies from a horrific capsizing on April 18 off Libya, also when rescuers approached, are still being conducted, the Italian navy said. A number of Syrians were among those rescued.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


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Kullu bus accident: Three more bodies recovered

Three bodies, including those of a child and a woman, were today recovered from separate places in Mandi district. One of the bodies has been identified, while the other two are believed to be of Punjab pilgrims who went missing after their Manikaran-bound bus plunged into the Parbati river at Sarsari on the Bhuntar-Manikarn road in Kullu district on July 23.

Eight persons were killed on the spot while bodies of seven others were later recovered from the Beas by search teams pressed into service by the district administration. However, 31 persons who went missing were feared to be washed away. At least 23 persons were injured in the mishap. The ill-fated private bus was reportedly carrying 69 pilgrims from Mansa, Bhatinda and Barnala districts of Punjab.

The search teams today recovered two bodies, including a child, from the Beas near Pandoh dam, about 50 km downstream from the accident site. The body of a female, reportedly of a pilgrim from the bus mishap, was retrieved further downstream from the Beas near Dharampur, 80 km from Mandi district headquarters.

The body of the child has been identified by his relatives at Kullu hospital. The other two bodies have not yet been identified.

Rajinder Singh Gill, a member of the Kullu Kar Seva, said the relatives camping here from Pakhokalan village of Barnala district had identified the body to be of one missing pilgrim Nacchater Singh, son of Dara Singh. However, his son had been called to confirm the same. br>
Gill said photos of another body recovered near Dharampur bore resemblance to a missing pilgrim Amarjeet Kaur, wife of Gurjeet Singh of Jagaramtirth village of Bhatinda district.br>
A police official at the Dharampur police station said the body of a woman of around 30 years of age had been recovered from the Beas and it had been sent to Sarkaghat hospital for the post-mortem examination.br>
Nearly 600 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Home Guards, police and a 12-member team of the Indian Navy were pressed into search and rescue operation. However, due to persistent rain in the valley, rivers and rivulets remained flooded, hampering the search operations. The floodgates of the Larji and Pandoh dams were also opened after increase in water level due to which the bodies might have washed away further downstream. br>
So far the death toll in the mishap had risen to 16. Meanwhile, the relatives of the missing persons were still camping at Kullu in a hope to trace the mortal remains of their loved ones to perform the last rites. Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said the search for missing persons would continue till September end with nearly 160 personnel of the NDRF, the SSB, the ITBP, Home Guards and state police and re-enforcements could be sighted later on if required.br>
Tuesday 11 August 2015br>

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Goil filling station explosion: Two bodies found at Circle Disaster zone after two month

More than two months after the deadly Circle disaster which killed an estimated hundred and fifty nine people, residents in the area of the incident have discovered two more dead bodies at the location.

The bodies were found in a storey building which was consumed by the fire that resulted from the explosion at the GOIL filling station.

Part of the bodies has been decomposed.

The bodies of the adult male and female were discovered by scrap dealers who were scavenging scraps in the burnt building.

Personnel from the Ghana Police Service have been to the location to examine the bodies but are yet to convey them to the mortuary.

The Circle flood and fire disaster which occurred on June 3rd is considered one of the worse disasters in the country’s history after the May 9th, 2011 stadium disaster which killed 127 soccer fans.

The security personnel at the location are preventing journalists from taking shots at the location.

Committee established to investigate the disaster has attributed it to a cigarette smoker who is now in BNI custody.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Mass burial does not include victims of the June 3 disaster

Authorities at the Police Hospital in Accra have clarified that their upcoming mass burial does not include victims of the June 3 disaster.

The hospital has scheduled a mass burial for unclaimed bodies in its morgue at the end of August, 2015.

Speaking to kasapa FMs Maame Broni on the matter Monday, the acting public relations officer of the hospital Corporal Faustina Nunekpenu said the police administration is currently in talks with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly for a lease of land for the exercise.

She explained that the bodies to be buried include those left at the hospital’s morgue for a period of 8 to 12 months.

Corporal Nunekpenu further explained that her outfit collected 70 bodies from the June 3 disaster site with 9 still at the morgue yet to be identified.

She is therefore urging Ghanaians to visit the Police Hospital and identify the bodies of their relatives for burial.

Tuesday 11 August 2015



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South Korea: Dead homeless foreigner remains unidentified

Late last month, a homeless foreigner who called himself “Thomas” died of biliary tract cancer in a public hospital in northern Seoul. He was brought to the hospital after experiencing severe pain and constantly shaking his hands.

Thomas had claimed that he was an Israeli in his 60s who came to Seoul to run an English education-related business, according to city officials. He had added that he ended up on the streets after the business failed.

Upon his death, the Seoul Metropolitan Government faced difficulties in managing follow-up procedures as they failed to identify his personal information. The case also brought to light a number of other similar cases, where the city has faced issues of unidentifiable foreigners who have gone homeless and died.

So far, the city has found out that he was not an Israeli. The city requested the Embassy of Israel to conduct an identification process of Thomas in order to hand over the body to his home country, but the embassy replied that he was not one of its citizens.

There were no other identification clues as Thomas had adamantly refused to reveal his personal information as well as family information, public shelter officials said. The foreigner identification number that Thomas had provided in the medical document was also found to be wrong.

Although the city found a British passport among Thomas’ belongings, it was confirmed to be counterfeit, they added.

Under the current law, the dead bodies of the Korean homeless are managed by city districts. If a family member does not show up within a month, the bodies are cremated and kept in a charnel house for 10 years in case any acquaintances appear.

Such regulations, however, are not applicable to foreigners.

“There’s nothing that the city can do as there are no particular manuals or rules stated over how to handle the dead bodies of the foreign homeless. Regarding the body handover, some embassies are also reluctant to take them,” a Seoul City official told The Korea Herald.

“For now, the city has requested the police to help identify Thomas. In the meantime, we will give our utmost efforts to find his family or acquaintances,” she added.

As of February, 25 foreigners have been found homeless, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Of them, Chinese and Mongolians accounted for the most with 17, followed by Taiwanese and Americans.

Seoul City launched a probe after a Taiwanese person was found frozen to death on a street in January.

“The number does not suggest an accurate count as it only includes those the city has spotted on the street,” the city official added.

As more deaths of foreign homeless are reported, the government needs to prepare for regulations for the after-death management process for them, experts said.

“Regardless of the nationality check, the foreign homeless also have human rights and dignity to pursue. The after-death handling should be ensured the same as the local homeless,” said the Korea Human Rights Policy Institute.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


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Joumol landslide: No more bodies recovered

Even as the whole Joumol village was swept away by landslide following heavy rainfall for days, only four bodies were recovered. According to Khangbarol TD Block BDO Md Najimuddin who took part in the rescue operations, the reports that 20 villagers were feared buried alive was not totally true.

Quoting reports furnished by Joumol village chief, Md Najimuddin there were only 10 people when the landslide occurred.

Out of the 10 villagers, one survived the tragic landslide. Later in the course of the rescue operation, four were found dead. Post mortem of the four bodies were conducted then and there and they were buried at a nearby place with the customary rites. But the bodies of the five other victims could not be located even after the rescue operation spearheaded by NDRF was over.

Nonetheless, according to a document signed by the Joumol village chief, SDPO Chandel, TSA Chandel education secretary, the doctor who conducted post mortem and NDRF officials who took part in the rescue operation, it was assumed that nine persons were killed by the landslide. It was after signing this document that the rescue operation was called off on August 4. The four deceased victims whose bodies were identified.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


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Naufragi a Lampedusa, il Viminale rafforza procedure per identificare le vittime (in Italian)

Il Commissario straordinario del Governo per la gestione del fenomeno della scomparsa di persone Vittorio Piscitelli e il rettore dell'Università di Milano Gianluca Vago, hanno sottoscritto un protocollo d'intesa per rafforzare la collaborazione avviata lo scorso anno, volta a favorire la identificazione delle vittime del naufragio di Lampedusa dell'ottobre 2013, nel quale persero la vita circa 400 cittadini eritrei e siriani, e per quello del 18 aprile scorso in cui morirono circa 800 persone. Lo afferma una nota del Viminale nella quale si sottolinea che il «fronte» internazionale vede l'Ufficio del commissario ulteriormente impegnato in questo settore.

Difatti, il procuratore capo di Catania ha ritenuto «indispensabile» il coordinamento commissariale per agevolare la identificazione dei cittadini extracomunitari vittime del naufragio del 18 aprile scorso, i cui corpi (circa 800) sono in corso di recupero da parte della Marina Militare, giusta richiesta del Presidente del Consiglio al Ministro della Difesa.

La complessa attività, che si svolgerà in apposita area protetta individuata nel porto di Augusta (SR), prosegue il Viminale, viene effettuata dagli specialisti del Laboratorio di Medicina Legale dell'università, in sinergia con il Servizio della Polizia Scientifica, con le prefetture di Siracusa e Catania ed in collaborazione con la Croce rossa, con i medici legali delle Università di Palermo, Catania e Messina, nonchè con l'ASP di Siracusa. Visto l'alto numero delle vittime, sarà necessario coinvolgere ulteriori medici legali provenienti da altre Università degli Studi d'Italia.

Tuesday 11 August 2015


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