Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Dana air crash: Victims’ families plan burial rites

Notwithstanding on-going DNA tests being conducted on victims of Sunday June 3rd Dana plane crash, some families of the deceased have decided to go ahead with burial rites for their loved ones with or without their bodies.

Some of these families, who would rather not have their names in print, told National Mirror that going ahead with the burial rites even in the absence of the bodies would enable them put the ugly incident and subsequent pains behind and move on with life.

It will be recalled that a week after the crash, the Lagos State Government withheld the bodies on the grounds that DNA tests should be conducted on them for identification purposes in order to avoid giving bodies to wrong families which will subsequently brew controversies.

Until the decision was taken, there were controversies and confrontations among some family members over the rightful owners of the victims’ bodies, which led to an embittered relative attacking some officials of the Lagos State Univer-sity Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) morgue with a machete.

Meanwhile, the management of Dana Airline said yesterday that investigation into the cause of the accident is still ongoing, even as it promised to continue to offer assis-tance to the investigating authorities.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

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Anxious relatives are trying to contact Australian authorities

TEENAGE boys desperate to escape persecution in Afghanistan and Pakistan probably made up most of the 90-plus asylum-seekers who drowned off Christmas Island last week, it emerged yesterday, as police moved to identify at least three of the 17 bodies recovered.

Anxious relatives overseas are trying to contact Australian authorities for information on whether their loved ones are alive.

Afghan man Raiz Hussain told The Australian from his home in the United Arab Emirates he feared his brother Asad, 25, was on the boat and might be dead.

Mr Hussain said his brother had been in Indonesia for 18 months and wanted to get on a boat to Australia; he had been unable to contact him since the disaster. "Sometimes he was calling me from Indonesia and told us he wanted to go to Australia, and now his phone is switched off. I'm worried he was on this ship," he said. "When the boat was destroyed, his phone was switched off."

The most influential people in Sport He said he and his brother were from Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, and the threat from the Taliban made life dangerous and had forced them to leave.

On Monday, Pakistani Muhammad Essa contacted The Australian concerned about his 36-year-old brother Jabir Hussain. Australian Hazara Federation spokesman Hassan Ghulam said four other families worried about Hazaras from Afghanistan and Pakistan had contacted him through friends in Australia.

 He said one youth believed to be missing was 15 or 16 and he had heard through Brisbane's Hazara community that many more teenage boys were on board the boat and unaccounted for.

The boat was carrying about 200 people; only 110 survived.

West Australian police inspector Neville Dockery, who is leading the coronial investigation into the tragedy, said three of the bodies recovered were likely to be able to be visually identified.

About 20 officers were continuing with the victim identification process and interviewing survivors yesterday. News of the tragedy has swept through the island's detention centres.

One Iranian woman in the island's family camp told The Australian she and fellow detainees were very upset. "We're so sad, we don't know who they are," said the 28-year-old woman, who did not want to be named. "We're very worried it might be our friends, we're very worried about them and about everyone who comes this way."

The woman said she had made the journey to Australia from Indonesia with her brother and they had spent three frightening days at sea. "This is very dangerous. We were very scared," she said through the detention fence.

Two of four injured survivors were released from Royal Perth Hospital yesterday after being flown off Christmas Island on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

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Putco crash - 11 bus victims identified

At least 11 of the 19 people, who died in the Putco horror smash on Monday, have been identified.

Relatives of the deceased yesterday identified some of the bodies that were being kept at the Diepkloof mortuary, Soweto.

 Emotions ran high at mortuary as distraught relatives went through the gut-wrenching process of looking at the bodies.

Johannes Dumba, who lost his wife Gladys Maphisa in the crash said he still could not accept that it was his wife who was lying in the mortuary. “I feel hopeless, I feel helpless, my body is weak. When I called her on Monday and she did not answer the phone I knew something was wrong. “I went to Sebokeng hospital and then to Natalspruit (in Katlehong) and to Baragwanath hospital but I could not find her,” said Dumba.

He and his wife had been married for more than 20 years and they have four children and three grandchildren. Another mourner, Linda Thibetsane, 31, had come to look for his mother, Jane Thibatsane.

Sadly, he found her body in the mortuary among many others. Thibatsane said he last saw his mother last week when she came to nurse his sick child. “She was a pillar of strength, she brought me and my cousins up,” he lamented. Thibatsane said his mother was supposed to be starting a new job yesterday after being unemployed for a long time.

Two families came out of the mortuary with deeper sadness on their faces as they could not find their loved ones there. But Victoria Sicina found her friend Vicky Banya, 59, among the dead. Sicina said she decided to look for her friend, who had no family in Johanesburg. “When her lights did not come on last night I became worried. I could not even sleep. “I am sad that after looking so hard I found her here but at least I can have closure,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Putco bus company yesterday said its own investigations into the crash were under way, but it insisted the bus was roadworthy.

Raphiri Matsaneng, Putco spokesperson said: “It is believed the driver came across a service delivery protest and opted for an alternative route. The driver was speeding trying to make up time but unfortunately he met with a horrific accident.” Matsaneng said the investigations are underway to determine the exact cause of the crash.

He claimed Putco tests its buses twice a year, which is more than what is required by the department of transport. “We have 1200 buses in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng and 3000 drivers who undergo intense training for six months before they get employed. “Even when the drivers go on leave when they come back they are required to undergo training again,” said Matsaneng.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven called for “a thorough investigation by the transport department”. “We need to establish among other things whether the bus was roadworthy or overloaded. “This disaster underlines yet again the need for a safe, efficient and affordable public transport system,” said Craven.

Transport Minister Ben Martins has instructed transport authorities to get to the bottom of the cause of the bus crash. “There are no words to describe the shock with which we received the reports of this tragic end to lives. We wish to convey our sincere condolences to the families of passengers who lost their lives, and wish survivors a speedy recovery,” said Martins.

Putco accidents

December 2000: 13 people were left dead near Pretoria on the infamous Moloto Road. The accident also left 27 people injured.The accident occurred when a Putco bus collided with a minibus taxi near Kameeldrift. Investigations revealed that the bus driver lost control of the vehicle when he overtook the minibus taxi and collided with another Putco bus in rainy conditions.

April 2006: 113 people were injured in a four-bus pile-up north of Pretoria. The accident happened at the Putco depot where three buses had stopped when the fourth one hit another bus from behind, creating a domino effect of crashes.

November 2011: Nine ZCC members travelling in a Putco bus from church prayer meeting in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe died when their bus was involved in an accident on the N1 between Botlokwa and Polokwane. Most victims were travelling to their homes in KZN. In another accident on the same day, a Putco bus carrying members of ZCC from Tembisa in Gauteng collided with a Nissan Sentra sedan. The driver of the car died on the spot while the bus driver and his passengers escaped unharmed. It was alleged the driver of the bus was driving in the wrong lane.

March 2012: Two people died when a Putco bus bus drove into an RDP house in Bramfischerville, Soweto. The dead couple were sleeping at the time. About 44 passengers were hospitalised.

June 2012: 19 people died while 52 were injured in a horrific bus accident. The bus was travelling from Sebokeng when it plummeted off a bridge in Meyerton in the Vaal area. The driver had apparently lost control of the vehicle.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

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Uganda abandons landslide rescue bid for buried

Rescue workers in Uganda have abandoned efforts to find an estimated 70 people believed to be buried in a landslide.

Eighteen people have been confirmed dead after three villages were swept away on the slopes of Mount Elgon.

Uganda's Red Cross told the BBC efforts were now concentrating on looking after the injured and displaced.

In March 2010, thousands were forced to flee after after a landslide killed more than 350 people in Uganda's eastern Bududa district.

'Many cracks'
Ken Kiggundu, director of disaster management for Uganda's Red Cross, told the BBC that 72 people were still missing.

He added that 480 had been displaced and were now living with relatives and friends following Monday's landslide, which occurred after a number of days of heavy rain. "At 2pm, the ground trembled, followed by heavy rumbling of soil and stones which covered our home," Rachael Namwono, a villager in Bududa district, told Uganda's private Monitor newspaper.

The Red Cross's Michael Nataka told the Reuters news agency that there was a need to force people to move from the mountain sides as they tended not to heed the advice that the area was dangerous. "The Mount Elgon area has had so many places with cracks, so each time there is rainfall for a while, this water just seeps into these cracks and then eventually the landslide happens," Mr Nataka said.

"There is need for some level of enforcement." Steven Malinga, Uganda's minister for disaster relief, said moving people to safer areas was a priority, but many people refused to move as the villages near Mount Elgon had fertile ground and fewer instances of malaria. "Eventually we have to pass a law to move people from the top and the sides of the mountain, and find alternative communities where we can relocate them," the minister told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

He urged people to move to camps lower down the mountain, where they would be given food, containers for water and utensils.

Last August, at least 24 people were killed when mud washed away homes in the Bulambuli district of eastern Uganda. 

Wednesday 27 June 2012

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