Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dana crash: DNA test runs into hitches

A week after the ill-fated Dana air crash, only four families have so far made moves to collect bodies of their relations who died in the incident, while nine others have the authorisation to pick up the bodies of their loved ones for burial.

Sunday Independent learnt that the inability of many families to retrieve the corpses of their relations is not unconnected with the protocol involved in the process of identifying the bodies, a situation that has led to Governor Babatunde Fashola slating a meeting with all affected families today (Sunday) at 2.30pm at the Lagos House, Alausa.

The protocol involved in the process of identifying the bodies includes the presentation of two direct relations of each victim which could be parents or direct siblings.

But our correspondent witnessed a situation where some relations claimed some of the victims had no parent and a sibling showed up for the identification process.

A form which had been prepared for the purpose showed columns where two direct relations are to fill their specific data and then a photograph is taken at the centre to be affixed and collated in a file against the victim’s name. “In a situation where a family has more than a victim, the protocol expects that each of the victim would equally have two direct relatives, each identifying them and present themselves for DNA sampling,” explained one of the officials at the collection site.

Our correspondent gathered that there have been arguments between families and officials over the protocol, prompting the stalling of release of even the identifiable corpses for burial. “We are constrained to release more bodies for now because we do not want litigations when we release the wrong bodies or give bodies to wrong family members and so we think the issue would equally form part of the meeting agenda the governor would be discussing with relatives of the victims on Sunday,” a source spoke in confidence.

Also expected to form part of the agenda for discussion with Governor Fashola are issues of the DNA testing, payment of the initial compensation and, more importantly, burial of the charred bodies of victims.

Our correspondent gathered that the autopsy on all the corpses would be completed by mid-week and that there is likelihood that the charred bodies would be given mass burial since they were burnt beyond recognition.

It is however unclear as yet which country the DNA processing and analysis would be carried out and how the cost would be facilitated, but a top medical board meeting which had the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris; Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Professor Wale Oke; and Chief Medical Examiner, Professor John Obafunwa, in attendance was ongoing at the time of going to press on Saturday.

The experts are said to be discussing some of these issues which might also form part of the agenda to be relayed to the families when they meet with the governor later today. 

Sunday 10 June 2012

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Kenyan minister George Saitoti killed in helicopter crash

Kenyan Internal Security Minister George Saitoti has been killed in a helicopter crash, officials say.

They say Mr Saitoti and his deputy, Orwa Ojode, died when the aircraft went down west of Nairobi, bursting into flames as it hit the ground.

There is no word on the cause of the crash, in which six people were killed, including bodyguards and pilots.

Mr Saitoti, a former vice-president, had been planning to run in a forthcoming presidential poll. The 66-year-old was on his way to a security meeting when his helicopter crashed on Sunday morning.

A spokesman said the prime minister, Raila Odinga, had been informed of the deaths of Saitoti and his deputy, Orwa Ojode.

A former long-serving vice-president under the former president Daniel Arap Moi, Saitoti was also a presidential candidate in an election expected to be held by March next year.

A Reuters photographer counted three bodies at the scene of the crash in a forest in the Ngong area just outside Nairobi.

Debris from the burnt-out blue police helicopter was strewn in the brush where government officials and curious locals jostled to catch a glimpse. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

More people were feared to have been on board the helicopter. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

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5 dead, 15 injured in small plane crash near Kiev

KIEV, Ukraine -- A small plane carrying skydivers crash-landed in stormy weather near the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, killing five people and injuring 15, including an Austrian citizen, emergency officials said.

The L-410 plane belonging to a pilot school made a "hard" emergency landing during a heavy rainstorm with high winds near the Borodyanka airport some 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of Kiev, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova. No other details were immediately available.

Channel 5 television reported that the pilots decided to return to the airport minutes after takeoff due to the sudden storm, but the plane came down several kilometers (miles) away in the middle of a field.

Television footage showed the white aircraft with blue stripes flipped onto its side in the middle of a thick green field under sunny skies, after the rain gave way to bright sunshine.

The cockpit was badly damaged and debris strewn about, including one of the plane's wheels.

The plane was carrying 17 skydivers and three crew members. The injured have been taken to local hospitals. An investigation has been opened.

Sunday 10 June 2012

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Peru rescuers to recover bodies of helicopter victims

LIMA — A police unit was climbing up a snowy peak in the Peruvian Andes on Sunday in a bid to recover the bodies of 14 people, including eight South Koreans, who died in a helicopter crash last week.

 "We are on our way to the place where the wreckage and the bodies were spotted," Cesar Guevara, the local official in charge of the case in the town of Urcos in the southern department of Cusco, told Canal N television by telephone.

He cautioned that "it could take at least four hours to get to the accident site, depending on weather conditions" and the physical strength of team members. The team will likely finish removing the bodies on Sunday, Guevara explained.

The Peruvian Air Force had tried to reach the crash site by air the previous day, but poor weather forced its helicopters to return to Cusco International Airport by mid-morning Saturday.

A Sikorsky S-58 ET chopper vanished Wednesday while flying in snow and rain in the mountainous region from the town of Mazuco, in Madre de Dios department, to the city of Cusco.

It lost contact with its base in Hualla Hualla between the towns of Ocongate and Marcapata, near the snowcapped Apu Colque Cruz peak. The wreckage was found near Mount Mamarosa, some 4,900 meters (16,000 feet) above sea level, Guevara said. On board the flight were eight South Koreans, a Czech, a Swede, a Dutch citizen and three Peruvians, two of them crew members, according to helicopter owner HeliCusco.

All were found dead, police said, giving no details on whether any of the victims survived the initial crash.

At mid-morning Saturday, a special eight-member police mountain patrol team charged with locating the wreckage reached the site where the Sikorsky S-58 ET plummeted to earth. Police General Hector Dulanto earlier told AFP that it took the police mountain climbers seven hours to hike from their base camp to the crash site.

The second police team sent up on Sunday were to remove the bodies. Driving rain and snow had hampered rescue efforts for days. Aerial searches were called off soon after the helicopter was reported missing, and police determined that it would be safer to send a search team by land than risk another crash by sending aircraft in bad weather and into the high mountains where they could face strong cross-currents of wind.

 Rescuers also feared that it would be hard to find the helicopter, which was painted white, from the air in the snow-covered area. In Seoul, the foreign ministry said the South Koreans were engineers and officials from four South Korean companies on their way back to Cusco after conducting aerial surveillance on a possible site for a hydroelectric project near Puno, in southern Peru, close to the border with Bolivia.

Two officials from the South Korean embassy in Lima were in Cusco to monitor the search and rescue operations.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

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