Monday, 31 August 2015

24 Bangladeshi victims buried in Libya

At least 24 Bangladeshis are believed to have been buried in Libya following the capsize of two boats in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast three days ago.

“The bodies recovered so far have already been buried, including Bangladeshi victims,” said Mozammel Haque, counsellor (political) and charge d’affairs of Bangladesh Embassy in Libya.

“The Libyan Coast Guard has so far recovered over 150 bodies from the Mediterranean. They did not allow anyone to identify the bodies,” he said.

“We do not know exactly how many Bangladeshi people were there among the dead but we came to know that the Libyan Coast Guard had buried the bodies, including those of Bangladeshis as many of the bodies started to decompose.”

The official, however, informed this reporter over phone that they were sure of 24 Bangladeshis among the dead.

All of the 54 Bangladeshis rescued from the boat capsizes informed the Bangladesh Embassy officials that 78 Bangladeshis had boarded two vessels on Thursday night.

Their boats set off for Italy through the Mediterranean Sea. Most of them were with their families. Among them, 22 Bangladeshis were from four families.

“Family members of those four families confirmed that six of their family members had died in front of their eyes.

“While some others who survived the disaster said in the detention centre of Libya that 18 of their family members had been missing since the capsize,” Mozammel said.

He believed that no missing person could be rescued alive.

Of the 54 pulled alive out of the sea, 12 women and children have already been taken under the care of the Bangladeshi Embassy, while 42 others are still in the detention centre of the Libyan authorities.

“We are negotiating with the Libyan authorities to bring back those under our custody and at least 25 of those 42 in the detention centre wished to return to Bangladesh.”

Bangladeshi migrants in Libya had been passing good days until the present political turmoil erupted.

But over the last one and a half years, they have not been able to send any remittance to the country as the value of local currency dropped rapidly against Dollar due to political unrest, he said.

Against such backdrop these Bangladeshi migrants were heading towards Italy in pursuit of a better life defying the treacherous Mediterranean sea route.

They were lured into the journey by traffickers and middlemen, for which they had to pay 1,000 dinar (approximately Tk60,000) each,” Mozammel said.

When asked about the identities of those middlemen, he said most of them were from Libya. But names of some Bangladeshi middlemen also came up in conversation.

“We have already brought those names to the notice of the authorities concerned of our country so that they can take immediate action against them,” he said.

Monday 31 August 2015

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Libya boat disaster death toll climbs to 119

The death toll has risen to 119 due to the capsizing Friday of two boats carrying illegal migrants after the Libyan Coast Guard discovered 39 additional bodies, local authorities said Sunday.

On Friday, Libyan authorities discovered the bodies of at least 80 drowned African and Middle Eastern migrants in the water off the coast of the western city of Zuwara.

According to Zuwara City Council spokesman Hafiz Muammer, however, this number was revised upwards Sunday after authorities pulled another 39 bodies from the water.

Muammer added, however, that another 198 would-be migrants -- who had also been aboard the ill-fated vessels -- had been rescued.

According to the Libyan Red Crescent, a search remains ongoing for additional bodies and survivors.

Libyan officials, meanwhile, continue to express grave concern about the steadily rising numbers of death-at-sea off the Libyan coast due to illegal attempts at migration.

In the first six months of this year alone, more than 2,350 would-be migrants and/or refugees have died off the country’s coast while trying to reach the shores of Europe.

This number stood at 2,081 for the same period last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Yet despite these grim statistics, so far this year, more than 255,000 migrants and refugees have successfully made the voyage to Europe by sea, the IOM says.

Of these, nearly 100,000 came from war-torn Syria, more than 25,000 from Eritrea, and some 32,000 from violence-wrecked Afghanistan, according to IOM figures.

Monday 31 August 2015

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Another body recovered after Benguet landslide

Authorities have recovered another body following a landslide in Barangay Taneg in Mankayan, Benguet.

The landslide, which occurred during the onslaught of Typhoon Ineng (international name: Goni), left sixteen people missing. The remains of the nine of the 16 missing people have already been retrieved, according to local officials.

This includes the body of Crisanto Ablao which was recovered 10 a.m. Saturday.

The incident commander promised that retrieval operations will continue until all missing victims are recovered.

A total of 23 bodies have already been recovered in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

A state of calamity has been declared in the provinces of Benguet, Mt. Province, Apayao and Abra.

Monday 31 August 2015

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7 bodies wash up on Libya beach: Red Crescent

Another boat carrying refugees has sunk off Libya and the bodies of at least seven people have been washed up, Libya's Red Crescent said on Sunday.

"We were alerted that a boat had sunk and that there are bodies on the beach in Khoms," 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of Tripoli, Red Crescent spokesman Mohammad al-Misrati told AFP. "We don't know how many people were on board, but the coastguard has begun a rescue operation and we are preparing to retrieve at least seven bodies that have been washed up," Misrati added.

The latest sinking comes just days after a boat carrying nearly 400 would-be refugees foundered near Libya's western port of Zuwara. Misrati has said that 126 bodies from that boat were recovered from the sea and 198 people rescued.

"There are still 50 to 60 people who are missing," he said. Libya, with a coastline of 1,770 kilometres (more than 1,000 miles), has for years been a stepping stone for Africans seeking a better life in Europe. Most head for Italy's Lampedusa island which is 300 kilometres from Libya.

People smugglers have taken advantage of chaos in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi to step up their lucrative business. In exchange for steep fees, they take would-be refugees on board rickety boats for the treacherous Mediterranean crossing. About 2,500 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe this year alone.

Monday 31 August 2015

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29 killed in South Africa bus crash

A bus drove off a cliff, killing 35 people on board in Eastern Cape province on Saturday, authorities said.

Only nine of the 44 passengers survived the horror crash, Xinhua reported citing the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

Eight sustained moderate injuries and one was seriously hurt, the RTMC said.

But according to Eastern Cape provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo, six were in a critical condition.

Of those killed, four were children, said RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane.

The crash took place between Butterworth and Willovale in the province, he said.

It was believed that the victims were all from the same village in Willowvale near Dutywa, Eastern Cape province.

Initial reports put the number of deaths at 25, but after all of the passengers trapped inside the bus had been removed, the death toll rose to 35, Zwane said.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known.

“We cannot speculate at this moment as to the cause of the accident but our investigators will rely on witnesses statements to try and establish what happened,” Butterworth police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha said.

Monday 31 August 2014

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