Thursday, 18 October 2012

NGO disposes of 55 unclaimed bodies

RANCHI: As many as 55 bodies which were lying unclaimed at the mortuary of the Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) here were finally cremated on the bank of Jumar river on Sunday. The forest department provided wood for the cremation of the bodies. A local NGO which came to know about the unclaimed bodies at the RIMS morgue cremated these according to Hindu rituals on river bank.

RIMS director Tulsi Mahto said it was not the responsibility of the hospital to dispose of unclaimed bodies.

"There no time limit prescribed in law for disposal of the bodies which lays unclaimed for long. When it's a dead body where nobody comes forward to claim it then it becomes a state property. Hence it's the states responsibility to dispose of such bodies. Today the 55 unclaimed bodies were disposed of with help on an NGO," Mahto said.

The Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) health officer said, "The problem was from the forest department who were not providing wood for the cremation. Now when they provided the wood the bodies were finally cremated." The forest department provided 155 quintals of wood for the purpose, while the RMC provided labour for cleaning and vehicles to carry the bodies to the cremation site.

"The bodies were in such bad shape that it was difficult to distinguish their sex. Most of them were in a decomposed state and were totally disfigured," Murda Kalyan Committee president Tubul Charkrabarty.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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What now for Bali's broken hearts?

BROKEN hearts don't mend in 10 years.

Not all of them, not if Bali is any guide.

Some may never heal, not completely.

That much was clear from the 10th anniversary memorial service for those killed in the 2002 bombings.

Such gatherings are important. They allow those most deeply affected to express their grief and to acknowledge their loss, yet again, but also to help each other and feel the solidarity unique to those suffering the same pain.

But the next big public milestone anniversary, whether it be a 15th or a 20th year, is a long way off. For some families there won't be a next one because they have decided to draw a line in the sand now. What is to become of Bali's broken hearts?

Many are travelling pretty well these days, considering what they have been through; others less so.

Many feel 10 years is long enough; it's time to turn a new page and get on with their lives. But brave words and strong intentions are one thing; carrying them out is another.

"Closure is a funny word," said Adam Condon, making his first trip back to Bali since helping to identify six dead teammates from Sydney's Coogee Dolphins rugby league team, including his best friend Josh Iliffe.

"I don't think there is such a thing as closure," he said, a sentiment echoed time and again by bereaved families.

He went back to the morgue at Denpasar's Sanglah hospital, where body bags and body parts were piled up in the grim aftermath of the bombings in 2002.

"It's just something I wanted to get off my back," he said.

"I can't really put words to it. Walking through here was overwhelming. I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I walked in."

Did it help? "That remains to be seen."

The extent of the collective trauma is difficult to quantify, but 88 Australians were among the 202 dead. Multiply that figure by all of their family members and close friends, and it's clear those profoundly affected number in their hundreds and even thousands.

Some family members blame grief for adding to the toll.

Christine Rowland, of Melbourne, whose 33-year-old sister Bronwyn was killed in the terrorist attacks, said: "Mum died two years later of a broken heart, so we lost both of them."

Danny Hanley, who lost his daughters Renae and Simone, spoke at the service, urging mourners to "leave the broken, irreversible past in God's hands, and step into an invincible future with him".

But he told a reporter later he would have expected a lot more healing in 10 years, saying: "A lot of parents feel the same way. Time will never heal them. Families still feel terribly hurt and robbed. Another 10 years onwards it won't make any difference to me. I just can't get it out of the back of my mind."

Harry Wallace, from Byron Bay, NSW, also lost a daughter, 29-year-old Jodi. "She had only been here a few hours," he said. "She didn't even get to sleep in the bed (in the room) she had booked into. That's a pretty hard thing to live with."

Julia Gillard noted how the survivors and families, all this time later, were still at different stages of grief.

She attended last Friday's commemoration as prime minister, having just avoided the bombings as a tourist, ending a holiday with her sister and a nephew the day before.

"Nothing can replace the empty seats at your family table, the graduations and christenings you will never know," she said, but there was a "grim reassurance" in knowing the terrorists did not achieve what they set out to do.

Former prime minister John Howard told the gathering: "A decade on, we renew that effort of comfort and compassion and struggle to understand the continuing pain."

The media has been full of stories of that pain.

Norelle Quayle, whose husband Simon coached Perth's Kingsley football club, which lost seven players, told how she recently opened a box of newspaper clippings she had put away for her husband. "I opened it and read everything, and I finally realised how terrible it was," she said.

For Pat Paltridge, a Kingsley mother whose 20-year-old son Corey died on the dance floor of the Sari Club, the penny didn't seem to drop until someone talked to her about the 10th anniversary.

"It was like it was finally real, that before I didn't believe it had happened," she said. "So this year is probably the hardest for me."

The Kingsley clubhouse will always be open on October 12, the date of the bombings, for survivors to return for a barbecue and a "huddle" together after 11pm, the time of the bomb blasts.

"We've said that we'll keep opening the doors until nobody turns up," said club organiser Jan Pearce, whose son Duane survived the bombings. "I think that'll be a while yet."

Daniel "Shorty" Mortonsen found he had to put physical distance between himself and his old football club, the Dolphins, so he shifted from Sydney to Perth.

He and Adam Condon visited "ground zero" in Kuta's narrow main street, where they placed six cans of beer, one for each of their dead teammates, at the Bali memorial.

"I bet they've opened a nightclub up there, and they're all drinking beer," he said, glancing at the sky. "And by the time we get up there they won't let us in, because we'll be too old."

Thursday 18 October 2012

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Families of Disappeared Persons Wait for Answers

Pale face. Faint voice. Tearful eyes. It has been long since they are knocking the doors of human rights organizations in the capital with a faint hope. The prime time of their life has been spent knocking the doors of governmental bodies and are still they are pinning their hope on the rights activists, with the faint hope of getting justice. The questions like why, where and how arise inside them. Issues as family tension, worry of educating and bringing up their children are there; still they are doing their best to find out about their disappeared relatives.

These are the daily routine and the worry of the families of 934 people like Cham Kumari Basnet of Baglung whose loved ones were disappeared by the state and the Maoists during the conflict. Why our relatives were disappeared? Where were they taken? In which situation they are in? How and who will make it public? These are some of the questions haunting them all the time. Our questions remain unanswered, says Jagannath Subedi, father of one disappeared person, Deepak Subedi of Kewalpur VDC-6, in Dhading. We still get goose bumps when I remember the night when our loved ones, sleeping under the same roof, were abducted, arrested and disappeared by either of the conflict parties, says Dhana Kumari Tharu of Rupandehi who says that she is tired of knocking the doors of organization and governmental bodies to find the whereabouts of husband. Her husband was disappeared by the state on August 27, 2005. After that, there is no information about his situation.

According to the INSEC's data, 934 people were the victims of enforced disappearance at the hand of the state and the rebels during the conflict. NHRC recorded that 809 people were disappeared by the State, 227 by Maoists whereas 127 by unidentified groups. On August 30, 2012, ICRC stated that total of 1,401 people were disappeared during the armed conflict.

"The dead bodies are identified and cremated, but we don’t have any information about the situation of our loved one", Nawaraj Luitel of Naubise in Dhading says. "Our demand is either show their dead bodies or show them alive ". Luintel's younger brother Hari Prasad Luitel has been made disappeared since 2003 September 2. Luintel further says that since Hari's disappearance every 'Bhai Tika' or the festival of Brother's Day has been filled with sorrow, grief and distress. Nepal Nagarkoti of Champi in Lalitpur is living through the same distress since then. He says, "Since 2003, every "Bhai Tika brings only with grief and sorrow, our happiness has been shattered by armed conflict". His brother remains disappeared since September 2, 2002." If someone knocks the door at night, I feel like my husband has come back", says Kalpana Manandhar of Dhading.

Act of enforced disappearance has been defined as when a state or non-state agency arrests or abducts someone but fails to publicly acknowledge their detention.. The act of enforced disappearance was practiced in in Panchayat regime;however, it drastically increased after the armed conflict. It is pledged in 7-point agreement signed by the Maoists and the seven political parties and in Interim Constitution that they would be finding out the truth about the people who disappeared during the armed conflict and making them public. The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed between the Maoists and the government in November 21, 2006 has stated that whereabouts of the people disappeared during an armed conflict, by state or non-state, would be made public within 60 days. But, it has nearly been six years and neither state nor the Maoists are serious about it. The former rebels, , who has already been at the helm of the state many times, chose to disregard this matter while in contrary to their vowed commitment, their leadership has put a clause of blanket amnesty on" Truth and Reconciliation Commission Ordinance 2012" and submitted it to the President for his approval.

The familiesof the disappeared people were in hope, especially after the CPA. They were quite happy knowing that they will learn about their disappeared loved ones . But six years have elapsed and the problem is intact. There was no happiness in the face of the families of the disappeared who came from different districts during the "Day of the Disappeared Persons " to give pressure to the government. After the Ordinance is presented to the president for approval about giving blanket amnesty, they are worried about being denied of justice they have fought for so long.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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Mortuary buries 35 unclaimed bodies in Naivasha

Naivasha district public health department Tuesday night buried 35 unclaimed bodies in a mass grave.

The health body got the permit to bury the bodies from the Naivasha law courts early last month.

Speaking while after overseeing the burying of the bodies on Tuesday night, district public health officer Samuel King’ori called on the Ministry of Health to expand the morgue in the town to ensure a bigger capacity to store more bodies.

He said the number of dead bodies in the morgue increased continuously as people who brought in the dead often gave them falsified information.

King’ori added that in their follow up, they often tried to trace the relatives of the dead in through their phones but were often off.

“Even when we appeal to the relatives to try and trace them but they do not show up,” he added.

The health officer admitted that the mortuary was already overstretched and they needed a bigger morgue.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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Landslide kills children in Peru's jungle

Several children were among the victims when a mudslide sent a mass of tree and rock debris crashing into homes in Peru's jungle Wednesday, killing at least 11 people.

Ten more people are unaccounted for, according to the country's state news agency.

Heavy rains set off the natural disaster in the San Martin tropical forest in Peru's northeast, which destroyed "at least 10 houses and a pedestrian bridge," Andina news agency reported.

Six of the 11 bodies recovered so far appear to be children. Residents are working with civil defense officials and the military to find victims in the rubble, but the flooding of a local river is hindering their efforts.

At least a dozen homes were swept away as mud and rocks crashed into the village of El Porvenir in the province of San Martin.

The provincial mayor, Ronald Garcia, said at least five children were among the dead and that whole families were unaccounted for.

Heavy rain in the area has triggered several landslides in recent weeks.

"It's a jungle area, next to the village passes a river, houses were on the edge of ejection of this ravine, and the flood swept through those that were there," the head of the National Civil Defence Institute (Indeci), Alfredo Murgueytio, told Peruvian radio.

Mr Garcia said some of the missing people may have fled into the hills to save their lives.

"Whole families are missing," said Mr Garcia. More than 80 families live in the village, he said.

El Porvenir residents are mostly coffee farmers, officials said.

Peru's government is sending humanitarian aid, including tents and sheets, the state news agency reported.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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Search on for burial site of Tarawa coastwatchers

Attempts are being made to locate and identify the remains of Otago coastwatchers executed by Japanese soldiers on Tarawa Atoll 70 years ago.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) hoped to learn in the next few months whether a potential burial site was worth excavating on the Kiribati atoll.

A team from JPac (Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command) would soon be on site to investigate an area identified as a potential mass grave from aerial photographs taken before the atoll was destroyed by naval gun fire towards the end of World War 2.

NZDF director of commemorations, heritage and protocol John McLeod said if the JPac team discovered anything to suggest New Zealand remains were in the vicinity, a full excavation could follow.

But he did not want to get relatives' hopes up and said the search was "one step at a time".

More than 5000 Japanese remained buried on Tarawa, which was extensively damaged in the war.

"The impact of a naval shell will shift a small hill, so if remains were buried two or three feet down and naval gunfire landed anywhere nearby it would shift them. The whole island was hit by naval gunfire, then the Americans bulldozed a lot of it to build a runway," Mr McLeod said.

The defence force was responsible for any New Zealander missing in action, including the 17 coastwatchers beheaded by their Japanese captors on October 15, 1942.

Among them were Clifford Pearsall, of Lawrence, and Arthur Heenan, of Middlemarch.

Mr Heenan's younger brother, Bob Heenan (86), who lives in Mosgiel, said he held little hope of his brother's remains being found and returned.

"It's been such a long time and they don't seem to be making very much progress. There are so many bodies there, it would be very difficult," he said.

Mr McLeod said there had been "quite a few" efforts to locate New Zealand remains on Tarawa, including immediately after World War 2.

In February, the defence force learnt of a possible burial site, identified last year by JPac experts, which was underneath a modern cemetery.

"The plan is to do some exploratory work to identify whether in fact that is a possible location.

"Based on what is found, New Zealand would then look at doing an excavation once we had the necessary approvals from the local authorities," Mr McLeod said.

Remains would have to be forensically examined to see whether they were of New Zealanders.

"Wherever you dig on the island, you'll find bones. That's a fact of life. All we can do is give it our best shot," he said.

The NZDF would keep looking for coastwatchers' remains.

"There's a commitment to provide some comfort for families. We may never find anything, but we owe it to their memory to keep trying," Mr McLeod said.

Coastwatchers were recognised during a commemoration at the National War Memorial in Wellington this week, on the 70th anniversary of the Tarawa execution.

American organisation History Flight had offered to assist any New Zealand effort to locate, identify and retrieve coastwatchers' bodies from Tarawa.

The non-profit organisation had searched out and retrieved missing American World War 2 servicemen from the Pacific and identified three locations on Tarawa where it believed New Zealand coastwatchers were buried.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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Investigators: Factory fire victims were trapped behind locked doors

During a factory fire that left more than 250 people dead in Karachi, one of the workers, Abdul Ghani, struggled to find his wife, who also worked there.

"I remember thinking if I can't save her, I hope I burn to death with her," Ghani said.

The father of two young daughters, Ghani described in terrifying detail his account of what happened when a fire broke out at the denim factory where he worked on September 11.

"The fire was so intense I couldn't get in," he said.

While firefighters struggled to control the flames, family members took matters into their own hands and tried entering the burning building to save their loved ones.

"We broke the wall down and found bodies melted onto each other... piled up and completely burnt," Ghani said.

His wife died in the factory fire.

Several trapped workers jumped from the upper floors to escape the flames, said Mustafa Jamal, a senior government official who was at the scene.

Pakistani investigators say most of the victims were trapped behind locked emergency exits -- which is a serious violation of worker safety laws. The company denies the doors were locked and blames a late response by firefighters, who, along with witnesses, say they arrived within minutes.

RINA group-- an Italian company that inspected factories on behalf of an international watchdog group-- confirmed that the factory owned by Ali Enterprises had passed inspection on August 20, a few weeks before the fire.

Its audit report said, "Access to fire extinguishers and passages leading to exits was maintained free from any kind of obstruction. Primary exits and emergency exits are kept unlocked while employees are inside facility."

After the fire, RINA issued a statement on its web site expressing sympathy for the victims and noted that "the certification body is not in a position to verify the day-by-day implementation of the system." The statment also said, "RINA has decided, as a precautionary measure, to voluntarily suspend new certification activities in Pakistan." It has pledged to conduct an internal investigation.

While some 70 bodies have yet to be identified, criminal proceedings against the factory owners will begin as late as next year, said Faisal Siddiqi, the victims' lawyer.

Police officials said the owner of the factory was released due to his deteriorating health, but his two sons Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila who were involved in the day-to-day function of the factory are being held in jail and could face murder charges.

CNN tried to reach the defendants' lawyer several times, but he was unavailable for comment.

The provincial government has pledged to compensate the families of the victims, but Ghani said he has yet to see any kind of support.

Arif Elahi, the Secretary of Labor, said, so far, more than 173 victims' families have been compensated with up to $9,000 by different government agencies.

"We are still identifying some of the bodies," Elahi said. "As soon as we know who they are, we will compensate the rest of the families."

Siddiqi, the legal counsel for the victims, said that they've "asked the government for a comprehensive inspection of all factories, details of transparent compensation for the victims' families and an independent judicial commission that will investigate the fire."

Both a police investigation and a government inquiry into the fire have been completed and are expected to be submitted shortly.

The fire is believed to be the worst manmade disaster in Pakistan's history, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.

The fire raises new questions about possible lapses in safety measures and the enforcement of factory fire codes in Karachi's booming industrial sector, said Siddiqi.

"It is only a matter of time that something like this could happen again," he said.

Pakistan has one of the largest textile industries in the world, shipping $13.8 billion worth of textiles mostly to the U.S. and Europe this year. Textiles account for 63 percent of Pakistan's exports.

The tragedy in Karachi has forced factory owners to re-evaluate the enforcement of labor laws in their own factories, an owner of a factory told CNN.

"I wish that this kind of tragedy never happens to anyone else," said Ghani, who lost his wife in the fire.

Thursday 18 October 2012

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