Monday, 21 March 2016

Central Sulawesi DVI Team Identifies Chopper Crash Victims

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Team of Central Sulawesi Police is currently identifying the 13 bodies of the National Armed Force (TNI) members who are the victims of the helicopter crash at Kasiguncu Village, Poso Pesisir Sub-district, Poso District, Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Once the identification finished, the bodies will be laid down at 132 Tadulako Military Regional Command before being sent to their respective hometowns.

Meanwhile, the national flag has been flown at half-mast at 132 Tadulako Military Regional Command.

An Indonesian Army helicopter crashed in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, at 6:20 p.m. local time on Sunday. Thirteen passengers and crew members reportedly lost their lives in the incident, which occurred in the village of Pattiro Bajo, Poso Pesisir Selatan district.

Sr. Comr. Ronny Suseno confirmed the incident. Ronny said the Bell 412 EP helicopter had flown from Watutau village in Lore Piore district, Poso regency, to Kasiguncu Airport in Poso, where a joint police-military team was pursuing members of the East Indonesia Mujahiddin (MIT) terrorist group led by Indonesia’s most wanted fugitive Santoso aka Abu Wardah.“The location of the helicopter crash is only around 1 to 1.5 kilometers from Kasiguncu Airport, Poso,” said Ronny.

He added that weather conditions in Poso had been bad and suspected the helicopter had been struck by lightning.

Indonesian Military and National Police personnel were deployed to the crash site and 13 ambulances readied to bring the bodies of the victims to the Bhayangkara Police hospital in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

The 13 bodies arrived at Bhayangkara Hospital Palu on Monday, March 21, around 4.45 am Central Indonesia Time.

The TNI chopper piloted by Capt. CPN Agung were flying above Napu towards Poso after taking-off from Watutu Village. Around 5.45 pm Central Indonesia Time, the chopper crashed only a couple of minutes from landing at Kasiguncu Airport.

The TNI Headquarters said that the helicopter crashed due to severe weather, however, TNI had not made further investigation.

The chopper carried seven passengers and six crew members.

Monday 21 March 2015

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Great East Japan Earthquake: Hunt for missing disaster victims still confounds rescuers

Five years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, police in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are still searching for and identifying the bodies of those who went missing on March 11, 2011, though as time goes on they have fewer clues to work with.

The huge earthquake and ensuing tsunami caused massive damage across a broad swath of the Tohoku region. It left a total of 15,894 people dead, while 2,562 people remain unaccounted for as of Feb. 10, including 1,124 in Iwate, 1,237 in Miyagi and 197 in Fukushima, according to the National Police Agency.

Authorities in the three prefectures say they had recovered the bodies of 4,672 in Iwate, 9,539 in Miyagi and 1,613 in Fukushima by the end of January. The figures exclude the number of headless bodies, remains with only parts of the body recovered, as well as victims of aftershocks from the March 11 quake.

Of those recovered, police have matched names with all of the bodies recovered in Fukushima, 4,613 of those in Iwate and 9,523 in Miyagi.

But the challenge of identifying victims has grown over time. This year, police have managed to identify just 10 people. The low figure could be attributed to several factors, including relatives not reporting their kin as missing as well as a lack of DNA samples to match with bodies, since many victims’ homes were washed away in the tsunami.

In Fukushima Prefecture, a number of areas are still designated as no-go zones due to high radiation levels caused by the reactor meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In these areas, police have found many businesses reluctant to aid in search activities, which often require the use of heavy machinery.

There are also many family members who argue the authorities have yet to exhaust all options in their search.

A man in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, whose eldest son is still listed as missing, submitted a request to the city office earlier this month calling for another investigation into places where searches were already conducted.

Despite these difficulties, police say they will continue working to identify remains.

In January, Fukushima police managed to ID the 1,613th victim, a carpenter in his 60s, based on records of artificial teeth. His body was recovered on March 14, 2011, but it took until January of this year to identify it as that of the carpenter, who had lived in the city of Iwaki.

After interviewing local dental technicians, police concluded that, due to their shape and color, it was highly likely that the carpenter’s artificial teeth matched the dental records.

Police also obtained an X-ray from a hospital the man visited, which provided conclusive evidence. It showed “a feature on the backbone typical of those who regularly carry heavy objects over long periods of time.”

Miyagi Prefectural Police set up a task force in November 2011 dedicated to researching and investigating unidentified and missing individuals. The officers from the task force have since taken various unorthodox approaches to their mission, including zooming in on pictures of remains and looking for moles or signs of surgery that might have been overlooked in an autopsy.

In the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, a photo found near a male body was even helpful in identifying that man. Fingerprints found on the photo and that of the individual matched, and police went on to determine which photo-developing machine was used to print it, based on a code found on its back side. After going from that photo studio to another equipped with the same machine, police officers found the studio that actually developed the photo, which led to the identification of the 43-year-old man.

“Methods leading to identification are different in each case,” an officer with the task force said. “We are determined to make continuous efforts to find clues step by step.”

In addition to checking DNA samples and dental charts against the remains, Iwate Prefectural Police have released facial sketches of those who are still unidentified and held consultation events at temporary housing facilities.

Five years since the disaster, police in the coastal areas — who play a central role in search efforts — are renewing their pledge to recover the remains and return them to families in a bid to help bring closure to those still suffering.

Tomonori Hirobata, a 29-year-old senior officer at the Kahoku Police Station in coastal Ishinomaki, has taken part in the more than 1,000 searches since the disasters, when he was dispatched from the Naruko Police Station, in the inland city of Osaki.

Hirobata said he has had many exchanges with the locals at the police station and sometimes receives words of appreciation from them.

“There are still so many missing individuals who should be returned to their families, but my efforts are not enough,” Hirobata said apologetically.

Hirobata said he has seen many families of the missing and dead shed tears over the loss of their relatives, which has renewed his determination to help bring them closure.

“Who else would conduct the search but us?” he asked.

21 March 2015

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Two bodies recovered, nine still missing after Chitral avalanche

Rescuers on Sunday found the bodies of two schoolchildren hit by an avalanche in the mountainous northwest, while nine more remain buried beneath the snow.

The disaster struck on Saturday afternoon near the village of Susom, some 40 kilometres north of the town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), local police station chief Sultan Baig said.

Worried parents and authorities began searching for the ninth graders when they did not return from school. “The chances of finding any survivors are very low,” said local deputy mayor Mohammad Ali. “But you never know, people have been found alive buried under snow for nearly 20 hours.”

Meanwhile, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) spokesperson announced the demise of at least eight students while claiming to have recovered two bodies. The casualties include Rehmat Bai, Imran Uddin, Faiz Ali, Ali Shan, Imran Khan, Elahi, Irshad Murad and Mubashir.

“So far two bodies have been recovered and due to the terrain and topography heavy machinery could not make their way to the area people are using local available equipment to recover the bodies,” the PDMA spokesperson said.

Talking to APP, an official of Police Control Chitral Fazaluddin said that soon after the incident, the Pakistan Army troops and Scouts rushed to the site in Susoom village of Karimabad. He said that of two bodies recovered so far, one is of a student and the other of a passerby. The recovered bodies were identified as Mubashir S/O Nouroz, resident of Susoom and Rehmat S/O Adina, also from Susoom village in Karimabad.

The official said that the rescue operation was halted due to bad weather and heavy rain. Due to the fear of another avalanche, the operation was stopped, he said.

Heavy rains have killed at least 79 people, injured 101 others and damaged 240 houses since March 9 across the country, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It said landslides and collapsed roofs caused most of the fatalities.

Monday 21 March 2015

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