Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Authorities ID 5 victims of Tahoe plane crash

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Authorities say the five victims of a single-engine plane crash near South Lake Tahoe include a Fresno trucking company owner and a 6-year-old girl.

El Dorado County sheriff's officials said Tuesday that dental records helped identify the two couples and the child killed in the late Saturday crash.

They were 60-year-old Harold Cardwell, 41-year-old Kin Cardwell, 43-year-old Francisco De La Mora, 39-year-old Lorena De La Mora and 6-year-old Esmeralda De La Mora. All were from Fresno.

The plane was registered to trucking firm owner Francisco De La Mora.

A company employee said De La Mora's wife and daughter flew to South Lake Tahoe with him.

Witnesses say the plane made a turn and crashed soon after takeoff.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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26 victims identified in fatal bus accident

YAN'AN - The identity of 26 people, who were killed in a bus-tanker collision in Northwest China's Shaanxi province on Sunday, have been confirmed, the local government said Tuesday.

DNA testing has been completed for all of the crash victims and experts are checking the results to ensure their accuracy, the Yan'an municipal government said.

The accident happened in Yan'an at around 2 a.m. Sunday, when a double-decker sleeper bus crashed into a methanol-loaded tanker and caught fire on the Baotou-Maoming expressway.

The 39-seat bus was full at the time of the crash, with three survivors sent to local hospitals for treatment. Two of the survivors, who were seriously injured, are currently in stable condition. Another slightly-injured passenger is receiving further treatment.

A compensation plan for the victims' relatives has been drafted and the compensation will be issued soon, the local government said.

The State Council has sent an investigation team to Yan'an to look into the accident, said officials with the State Administration of Work Safety.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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11 die in Haiti mudslides, rains

A storm set off mudslides and flooding that killed at least 11 people in impoverished Haiti, officials said yesterday.

Rains engulfed the capital for several hours Monday night, turning hilly streets into rivers and sweeping debris down denuded hillsides of Haiti's capital.

Motorists abandoned their cars. Women could be heard screaming for help as water pounded the supposedly temporary settlements that arose in Port-au-Prince, after last year's powerful earthquake.

Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Department, told Radio Galaxie that 11 people drowned or died in mudslides. All but one of the deaths happened in the Port-au-Prince area.

Officials say they fear the hurricane season, which officially began last week, could exacerbate a cholera outbreak that already has killed 5,000 people. Haiti's newly elected President Michel Martelly took to national television just before midnight to calm the nation as the storm was still passing over the city. "This message is to tell the population that I'm with you," the President said.

Martelly said the seaside slum of Cite Soleil flooded and walls toppled in the hills above Port-au-Prince. He ordered government construction workers to show up to work early Tuesday. Debris and mud clogged major thoroughfares Tuesday, causing traffic jams throughout the capital.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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18 bodies recovered as Cameroon dam floods 250 Nigerian villages

UPI – A massive release of water from a dam in Cameroon submerged 250 villages in neighboring Nigeria and killed an unknown number of people.

Eighteen bodies were recovered Monday from the Benue River in the Nigerian state of Adamawa, The Guardian reported.

Kobis T. Ari, secretary to the state government, told journalists Adamawa officials received a letter from the Cameroon government on Friday advising that water would be released from the Lado Dam, at the upper reaches of the Benue River.

Ari said the release was done before villagers could be told to leave flood-prone areas.

Cameroon regularly releases water from the dam.

Ari said Cameroon should compensate the victims of the flooding and enter an agreement with its neighbor on how to avoid the “yearly disaster.”

He said the flooding was the worst since 1958.

Schools, hospitals and government offices also were submerged.

Medical workers have been dispatched to the area to help prevent an outbreak of disease, he added.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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Flash floods: 18 feared dead as bus swept away in AJK

AJK / MIRPUR: At least 18 people, including eight women, are feared dead, while nine others were injured, after a passenger bus was swept away in a flash flood in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Tuesday.

“Nine bodies have so far been recovered, while nine people have been rescued, from the sharp currents of Nullah Sair in the mountainous Sudhanoti district of AJK”, said the district police chief Sajaad Hussain.

“The bus, with at least 27 passengers on board, was on its way from Palandri town to Anjaal Kot town when it was swept away in the seasonal nullah which had overflowed its banks,” said Shoukat Tabassam, a local resident and an eyewitness.

Flash floods have become more frequent following a spell of heavy late monsoon rains in the northern areas.

“Nine people, including three women and a child, were rescued and rushed to district hospital Palandri,” Tabassam said, adding their condition is stated to be out of danger.

The deceased, whose bodies have been recovered, are all residents of Anjaal Kot town.

Search for the remaining passengers continued till the filing of this report. The wreckage of the private passenger bus could not be recovered from the nullah till late Tuesday night.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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DNA advances help identify dead buried in NYC potter's field; 54 bodies exhumed

NEW YORK, N.Y. - On a wind-swept island off New York City, the remains of 850,000 people rest in pine boxes in a grid of covered trenches — but many are not resting in peace.

They are the unidentified or unclaimed dead who have been found around the largest U.S. city — often with little hope of a loved one ever knowing their fate. Now, with advances in DNA technology and anthropology and with new federal funding, the city medical examiner's office has exhumed dozens of the bodies in a new push to identify several decades' worth.

It's how Ben Maurer's family finally learned that the 17-year-old had jumped to his death from a Manhattan building on June 25, 2002.

His mother, Germaine, submitted his DNA to the medical examiner in 2009, when the first phase of the project began. The DNA was entered into a public database containing information on thousands of cases of missing and unidentified people — and matched a John Doe buried in the potter's field on 101-acre (41-hectare) Hart Island on Long Island Sound.

He was given a proper funeral near the family's home in Piscataway, New Jersey, shortly after his remains were returned to them in 2009.

"It meant everything," said Jared Maurer, Ben's 28-year-old brother. "It finally gave us closure to what had happened to Ben."

Jared Maurer said he frequently visits his brother's gravesite. "I tell him I miss him, I tell him I love him," he said.

At any given time, there are 40,000 active missing and unidentified person cases in the United States. New York State accounts for 25 per cent of those cases, most of them in New York City.

The identities of some of the bodies in the potter's field are known, but their families are too poor to have them buried elsewhere.

DNA samples weren't regularly taken from all bodies until about 2006, so the only way to identify many bodies is to exhume them, once DNA samples can be matched up with a description of a corpse, like in Maurer's case.

Fifty-four bodies for which the medical examiner's office had no DNA samples have been disinterred from Hart Island. The exhumation, performed by city inmates, is part of a larger effort to gather data on the unknowns. So far, 50 have been identified, including some who were exhumed.

To date, the scientists have gathered data on more than 1,200 unidentified bodies and entered it into Namus, the public database that is run by the National Institute of Justice — the research arm of the Department of Justice — that helped identify Maurer.

DNA technology developed for the need to identify remains from the Sept. 11 attacks and other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, has contributed to a national push in recent years to identify unclaimed remains, said Benjamin Figura, a forensic anthropologist and director of identification at the medical examiner's office.

Bodies in advanced states of decomposition get an anthropological workup; the scientists determine age, ancestry, sex and height and identify any other unique features that could be helpful in identification such as tattoos, scars and prior surgeries.

"What we're building is a biological profile. ... If we can say this is a 17-to 25-year-old male, we can narrow down the pool of potential matches," said Bradley Adams, who heads the team.

Germaine Maurer called the New York City morgue to search for her son the day after he disappeared, but because he had dark features and looked older, he was labeled as a male Hispanic in his 20s, rather than a 17-year-old white male.

She counts herself lucky.

"There are many families out there missing loved ones who never know what has happened," she said. "We were very fortunate. We found out all the details."

Wednesday 29 august 2012

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Crash victims’ identification process continues

The Indonesian disaster victim identification (DVI) team has found it difficult to identify the remains of the victims of last week’s Cessna Piper Navayo Chiftain PA31 crash in East Kalimantan due to their condition.

Budi, of the Indonesia DVI, said that the remains that were severely damaged and too difficult to identify at the AW Syahranie hospital in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, and would be sent to Jakarta for further investigation.

“We have been working very hard round the clock, matching the DNA of the victims and those of their respective family members,” Budi said on the phone on Tuesday.

Matching the DNA, according to Budi, was the most effective way of revealing the identities of all the victims, especially due to the condition of the remains.

He said the family members of each of the victims had arrived in Samarinda for that purpose.

He also expressed gratitude to the Australian Embassy for having brought the son of Australian Peter John Elliott, one of the victims, from Australia to Samarinda.

Elliot’s remains were found among the wreckage of the aircraft on the slope of Mt. Mayang on the border of Bontang East Kutai.

Budi said that although Elliot was the only foreign victim, his body was difficult to identify because of severe burns.

He also said that despite such difficulties, the DVI team was confident it would be able to identify each of the victims’ bodies, but it would take time to ensure accuracy.

“The conditions of the victims were similar to the victims of the Sukhoi crash. The Sukhoi victims were evacuated earlier while those of the Cessna were evacuated in pieces and mixed with the elements thanks to the rain,” he said.

The flaming wreck of the Cessna plane that went missing in East Kalimantan last week was discovered late on Sunday. All the four passengers, including the pilot, were dead.

The plane, chartered by Elliott Geophysics International to survey a coal mining site, was carrying four men — pilot Capt. Marshal Basir, two Indonesians, and the company’s Australian owner, Peter John Elliot — when it vanished from the radar screens of local aircraft control on Friday evening.

The Cessna left the airport in Samarinda on Friday morning for what was to have been a 90-minute survey of a coal mining site near the city of Bontang, about 120-airline kilometers away.

After the aircraft failed to return, four helicopters and a 400-personstrong search-and-rescue team attempted to find the Cessna.

The aircraft was located on the slopes of Mt. Mayang in East Kutai regency.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

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