Tuesday, 29 September 2015

62 Guerrero graves yield 131 bodies

The investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from the teacher training college in Ayotzinapa has uncovered more than 100 corpses buried in unmarked graves in Guerrero – but none of them corresponds to the students, missing since September 26 last year.

The Attorney General’s office (PGR) has exhumed 131 bodies from 62 sites, analyzing the remains and genetically cross-referencing them with family members of the missing students.

But none has tested positive. The investigation of the graves began last October after the Union of the Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero (UPOEG) alerted the Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) to their presence.

Since then bodies have been found in unmarked graves across Iguala every month, some of them mass graves containing more than a single corpse.

Many have been found by UPOEG volunteers who went out searching for possible grave sites based on information gathered from local residents.

The bodies unearthed in Iguala are among 321 found in 158 graves across the country since 2012, most of them in the states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán and Morelos.

The Iguala finds probably represent the worst case of clandestine graves uncovered in Mexico since the AIC found 75 bodies in La Barca, Jalisco, between November 2013 and February 2014.

The agency was investigating the disappearance of two of its agents, René Rojas Márquez and Gabriel Quijados Santiago, whose remains were discovered in Vista Hermosa, Michoacán.

The two are believed to have been murdered by members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel.

Tuesday 29 September 2015¨


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New project aims to identify immigrant remains

The Texas Forensic Science Commission hosted a meeting in Edinburg on Monday to discuss efforts to better identify the bodies of undocumented immigrants who die while illegally crossing into the United States.

While many consider illegal immigration to be a federal issue, others claim it’s not that simple.

"It's a federal and it’s a state issue. The federal issue is immigration, but the state issue is the bodies are in our state," said Rep. Terry Canales.

In the last two years, 169 cases of human remains have been recovered in Brooks County, but only 4 have been identified.

"We're failing. We’re failing to identify these people; we're failing to bury them properly. The bottom line is we need to respect them in life and in death," Canales said.

It's why Canales made an amendment to Senate Bill 1287, which created the Rio Grande Identification Project.

“The forensics commission creating the best practice and a database of the collection of DNA from unidentified corpuses from 120 miles of the Rio Grande. So when you ask what does it do? Well, it basically creates what was never there," Canales said.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said the new system could help not only those from Mexico, but Texas as well.

"We've made a lot of progress through DNA, through coordination and cooperation. We now have a system in place that makes it a lot easier to find out who that person is and locate that person’s family – whether it is in Mexico, Central America or maybe even a missing person here in Texas," Hinojosa said.

While Hinojosa and Canales both said Texas is taking proactive steps to deal with the impact of illegal immigration, they said this is the next step in tackling the issue.

"America is such a beautiful place that people are flocking to be here. They are trying to cross here illegally; they are willing to risk life and death to get here because it’s such a great country. But us burying you in a mass grave or not being able to identify you, is not so great. So we're trying to not only admit our wrongs, but right them," Canales said.

The commission is funded by the state, but there are federal grants available to help with the costs, Canales said.

The Brooks County Sheriff's Office said its county spent $680,000 between 2009 and 2013 in recovering bodies.

Tuesday 29 September 2015


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Migrant crisis: 17 people drown after boat sinks off Turkish coast

Seventeen migrants attempting to reach Greece by boat from Turkey have drowned after their boat sank off Turkey.

The victims, all thought to be Syrians, included five women and five children, local media said.

Another 20 people on the boat's deck, who were wearing life jackets, survived, the news agency said.

Some 300,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece so far this year, most of them moving on to try to reach other EU countries.

Those arriving in Greece have mostly set off from Turkey's Aegean coast, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Those who drowned on Sunday were trapped in the boat's cabin as it sank, Turkey's Dogan news agency reported.

The boat is thought to have set out from the village of Gumusluk near the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, where three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi died earlier this month.

Alan's death made international headlines when an image of his body washed up on the beach in Bodrum was widely shared.

With several Greek islands within a few miles, thousands of people are attempting the dangerous journey every day.

Mediterranean rescue

Separately, 500 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean so far this weekend in seven operations involving the Italian coastguard and navy and a ship belonging to the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

A spokesman for the coastguard told the AFP news agency on Sunday that three of the seven operations were ongoing.

The rescued migrants are thought to be largely from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone and left Libya three days earlier. They were rescued about 80km (50 miles) off the Libyan coast.

Hungarian police said on Sunday that 9,472 migrants had arrived in the country on Saturday, overwhelmingly crossing from Croatia. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that his government plans to seal its border with Croatia, in the same way that it has sealed the border with Serbia.

Croatia said on Saturday that about 67,000 people had entered the country over the past 10 days, when Hungary's decision to fence off its border with Serbia redirected migrants towards Croatia.

About 10,000 migrants crossed into Croatia from Serbia on Friday - a record daily high - with the steady stream of people continuing into the weekend.

Migrants and refugees crossing the Serbia-Croatia border have suffered a dip in temperatures this weekend.

Monday 28 September 2015


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Mina crush: More bodies identified

Many countries on Monday announced that they had identified dozens more bodies from a stampede in Mina four days ago.

The number of Indonesians killed in the stampede rose to 41 Monday with scores more still missing, an official said.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, initially indicated only a handful of its citizens died in the stampede but the death toll crept up over the weekend, and the Religious Affairs Ministry confirmed Monday that it now stood at 41.

In addition, 10 Indonesians were being treated for their injuries in hospital while a further 82 remain missing, although senior ministry official Abdul Djamil said it was not clear if they were caught up in the stampede.

Many pilgrims’ bodies were mutilated in the crush, and Djamil said that officials were identifying Indonesian victims through such methods as checking clothes and Haj ID bracelets against their records.

“Our team has been working hard day and night to look for the pilgrims whose whereabouts are still unknown, and to identify the pilgrims who died,” he added.

Pakistan’s minister for religious affairs said authorities have tracked down 217 Pakistanis who went missing following the stampede.

Sardar Muhammad Yousaf, speaking to Pakistan Television Sunday night from Saudi Arabia, said 85 Pakistanis were still missing and efforts were under way to locate them. He said 36 Pakistanis were killed and 35 injured in the stampede.

Egypt’s Minister of Religious Endowments Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa told the Middle East News Agency that 55 Egyptian citizens are among the dead. He said another 120 Egyptian pilgrims are still missing and 26 are receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the disaster.

India also updated its list of the dead. Ten more Indian pilgrims were identified in Al-Moaissem mortuary near Mina taking the toll to 45.

Indian Consulate General also released a list of 50 injured pilgrims and the name of hospitals they are under treatment.

There are three pilgrims under treatment at King Faisal Hospital, five at King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah, seven at Al-Noor Hospital in Makkah, six at Mina ER Hospital, one at Hira Hospital in Makkah, one at Nimra Hospital in Arafat, five at Al-Jasr Hospital in Mina, two at Mina Al-Wadi Hospital, two at Al-Jadid Hospital in Mina, five at Shesha Hospital in Makkah, one at Mina dispensary, 10 at Security Force Hospital in Makkah, two at King Abdulaziz National Guard Hospital in Bahra.

The largest number of casualties identified thus far is from Iran. Iran’s state TV raised the death toll for Iranian pilgrims from 155 to 169. More than 300 Iranians are still missing and around 100 were wounded in Thursday’s incident.

Tuesday 29 September 2015


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