Saturday, 15 December 2012

Small boat sinks off Greek island, 20 migrants drown

A small boat carrying migrants hoping to get to Greece sank near the eastern island of Lesvos early on Saturday, drowning 20 people, Greek police said.

The boat had set off from the nearby Turkish coast carrying 27 migrants and its captain. It capsized about one mile (1.6 km off the coast of Lesvos due to strong winds, according to a survivor, police said.

"The survivor told coast guard authorities all the immigrants were from Iraq and had paid about 2,000 dollars per head to be transported to the island," a police official said.

he Greek coast guard found 20 bodies in the sea and was searching for any remaining survivors, the official said.

Thousands of illegal immigrants cross the country's porous sea and land borders every year, the vast majority via Turkey.

With Greece in its fifth year of a deep recession and hit by rising crime levels, illegal immigration became a major issue in the national elections earlier this year.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Authorities Identify All Victims in Connecticut Shooting Massacre

Authorities have finished the grim process of identifying the dead in the Connecticut shooting massacre at an elementary school that left 27 people dead, including 20 children and the shooter, as the community looked for answers in the stunning tragedy.

Investigators were also trying to learn more about the 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have been involved in the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary. Police shed no light on the motive for the nation's second-deadliest school shooting in history.

State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance told NBC 4 New York Saturday morning that all of the victims have been identified and bodies were removed overnight. Families have also been notified, he said.

Connecticut state police have issued a press release describing their response to emergency calls, the crime scene and the investigation in progress.

Most of the information in the release has been previously aired. The release says the bodies of "the deceased have been transported to the Office of The Chief State’s Medical Examiner, where a post mortem examination will be conducted to determine the manner and cause of death."

When that examination is concluded, Vance said, police will release the names and birth dates of the victims and identify the gunman.

"The minute the medical examiner is done he is coming here, and we will provide as much detailed information as we can."

"When we release that list, at the request of all of the family members, they have asked for you to please respect their privacy."

In tight-knit Newtown on Friday night, hundreds of people packed St. Rose of Lima church and stood outside in a vigil for the dead — 20 children and six adults at the school, the gunman's mother at her Newtown home, and the gunman himself, who committed suicide. People held hands, lit candles and sang "Silent Night."

"These 20 children were just beautiful, beautiful children," Monsignor Robert Weiss said. "These 20 children lit up this community better than all these Christmas lights we have. ... There are a lot brighter stars up there tonight because of these kids."

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Update: Typhoon 'Pablo' death toll nears 1,000

The death toll from Typhoon "Pablo" is now close to 1,000 while hundreds more remain missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Saturday.

As of 6 a.m., the NDRRMC said at least 955 people were reported dead, 2,662 were injured, while 841 others are still missing to date. Of the reported fatalities, 382 bodies remain unidentified.

The agency noted that the number of fatalities increased by 49 due to the inclusion of unidentified cadavers in New Bataan, Compostela Valley while the number of missing decreased by 91 due to discovery of double entries in the dead and missing in the Davao region.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Dogs become heroes in Comval rescue efforts

Two Belgian Malinois dogs are proving to be the best help for a 10-man rescue team from Makati and the Philippine K-9 Search and Rescue Foundation who have recovered 28 bodies so far in New Bataan in Compostela Valley, one of the areas hardest hit by typhoon Pablo.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay said “Ira” and “Drena” who have been trained in search and rescue operations in France have been actively assisting the rescue and recovery mission since December 7.

Binay said among the bodies recovered with the help of the two dogs were those of a pregnant woman (estimated to be between 24-30 years old), a girl and two soldiers.

Binay said Makati has invested in the acquisition and training of search and rescue dogs.

“We are devastated by the tragedy and our dogs and the team will remain as long as they are needed,” he said.

Binay said the search and rescue dogs delivered results in actual operations, particularly in locating the bodies of victims hidden from plain sight.

Binay added that Makati would get more search dogs to be trained by the Philippine K-9 Search and Rescue Foundation for deployment to disaster stricken areas whenever needed.

The Philippine K-9 Search and Rescue Foundation, which is based in Makati City and operates nationwide, educates, trains and provide highly trained search dog teams for search and rescue missions. The foundation’s programs focus on the training of search dogs, organizing tests and certifications for search dog teams in the Philippines and promotion of using trained dogs for search and rescue missions.

In addition to the two dogs, the rescue team brought with them from Makati City two chainsaws, a vibrascope (an instrument that could detect victims trapped underneath debris and tree trunks), a vibraphone (an instrument to communicate with live trapped victims), and a hydraulic cutter or a hydraulic spreader commonly used to rescue passengers trapped in wrecked cars.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Accident along Masvingo-Beitbridge road kills four, 17 seriously injured

Four people were killed, three of them on the spot, while 17 others were seriously injured after a mini-bus and a commuter omnibus collided head-on near Ngundu growth point along Masvingo -Beitbridge highway on Thursday morning.

The accident occurred after a commuter omnibus that was heading towards Beitbridge tried to overtake a haulage truck at the notorious Ngundu curves and collided head-on with a Scania minibus that was heading towards Masvingo at around 2am.

Three people who were in the commuter omnibus died on the spot while the fourth person died on admission to Masvingo General Hospital a few hours later.

The Scania mini-bus was carrying 57 passengers and crew while the other bus was carrying 18 passengers including members of the crew when the accident happened.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Zhanero said the names of the deceased were still being withheld as their next of kin had not yet been notified. Inspector Zhanero said the deceased's bodies were taken to Masvingo General Hospital mortuary. He also added that the 17 who were injured were all in a stable condition at Masvingo General Hospital where they are receiving treatment.

"We are still to inform the relatives of those who died so we are not yet in a position to disclose their names but their bodies were taken to Masvingo General Hospital mortuary. The 17 who were injured are in a stable condition at the same hospital," he said.

Inspector Zhanero appealed to drivers to exercise extreme caution during the festive season and also urged those travelling along the Masvingo-Beitbridge highway to be extra careful when passing through the sharp curves in the Ngundu area.

Scores of people have lost their lives in road accidents at the sharp Ngundu curves. In April 21 people died at one of the Ngundu curves after the driver of a Megalink bus they were travelling in failed to negotiate the curve and veered off the road before hitting a tree.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Jenni Rivera's remains returned to U.S. after crash

Jenni Rivera, the Mexican superstar killed in a weekend plane crash, has made her final journey home.

The remains of the U.S.-born singer arrived by plane in California from Mexico on Thursday night, accompanied by three of Rivera's brothers.

Rivera and six others were killed Sunday when their plane crashed while flying from Monterrey in northern Mexico to the central city of Toluca. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Results of DNA tests were pending, but River's family conceded that Rivera was dead.

"We have received 100 percent confirmation that my sister Jenni is gone to be with the Lord," a brother, Pedro Rivera Jr., said during a news conference. "She is in the presence of God now. They did show pictures to my brothers of the body; it is not the full body."

Escorted by police, her casket was driven to a mortuary, where dozens of fans waited. Other fans gathered outside her mother's home, where well-wishers left a memorial of balloons, candles and flowers.

Rivera, 43, was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, and had branched out into acting and reality television. Known as the "Diva del la Banda," she sold 15 million records and was loved on both sides of the border for her down-to-earth style and songs about heartbreak and overcoming pain.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Sri Lanka Matale 'mass grave could be a crime site'

Human remains in what appears to be a mass grave unearthed last month in central Sri Lanka could be "the site of a crime", a forensic medical specialist has told the BBC.

The remains of nearly 60 people have been excavated in the town of Matale.

There are allegations that the bodies are those of Sinhalese guerrillas who fought a bloody left-wing insurgency more than 20 years ago.

But other theories hold that the people died in non-political contexts.

The skulls and partial skeletons were discovered late last month by workers building a facility at a hospital in Matale.

Forensic medical specialist Ajith Jayasena told the BBC that 58 sets of remains have been found so far, some full and some partial. He said that more may still be discovered.

Dr Jayasena said the grave appeared to be the site of a "crime" as it was not a regular place of burial.

"We have to find out whether they are male or female, their age, whether they had any injuries, and the cause or circumstances of their deaths," he said.

"Finding multiple human remains there means we have suspicions."

Dr Jayasena said that no real conclusions could be drawn until a team of experts had finished its work. He said that some bones had been damaged during the initial discovery.

The Matale area was an epicentre of a late 1980s insurgency by leftist Sinhalese group, the JVP, in which the state matched the guerrillas' extreme violence. JVP supporter in Colombo on 6 December 2012 The JVP suspects its former members may be buried at the site

The modern-day JVP suspects its former members may be buried at the site and has demanded an inquiry.

But Colombo police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said that those buried were probably victims of a landslide in the 1940s.

"We can't pinpoint [the exact time]," he said.

"But we can say it's more than 60 years old. The doctors and neighbours say so. Old guys, 80 or 90-years-old, said there was a big landslide nearby. Five hundred people [either] died [or] were taken to hospital and badly treated. That was in 1946."

Hospital workers meanwhile have suggested that the grave could contain the bodies of smallpox victims.

If it is a grave of people who were killed during the JVP insurrection, this would unfortunately be nothing new in Sri Lanka.

There are believed to be dozens of similar sites from that era, a time in which 60,000 or more young people are said to have disappeared.

Large numbers may be buried in the same area in the north where thousands of civilians perished in shelling towards the end of the war against Tamil Tiger insurgents in 2009 - but where no open process of excavation has been permitted.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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Thousands homeless in Samoa amid fears Cyclone Evan death toll will rise

Over three thousand people have sought temporary accommodation in Samoa after the country felt the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Evan twice in two days.

The category four cyclone caused extensive damage to Samoa’s power system, agriculture and housing.

The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has toured Upolu, the worst hit of the two main islands.

He says the greatest damage has been from flooding, especially around Apia.

“A lot of houses have been completely demolished. Between three to four thousand are holed up in the major public buildings: school buildings, gymnasiums and hospital halls.”

Tuilaepa says at least four people are confirmed to have died.

“This has been from reports of the police who went out to look for some of the reported people missing and ended up finding two other bodies that were never reported. The fear is that there may be a few more that are unreported for the time being.”

The efforts of disaster assessment teams have been hampered by outages in the cell phone network.

The extent of the damage is slowly becoming more clear.

Upolo’s breadfruit and banana plantations have been devastated raising the possibility of food shortages over the next 12 months.

The Prime Minister has appealed to village chiefs to rally their communities to help clear the roads.

He says the island’s electricity network is extensively damaged.

“Our Electric Power corporation is working overtime, 24 hours. It could take anything from two to four weeks to try and repair all the electricity lines right through Upolu.”

Cyclone Evan is intensifying as it passes by Wallis and Futuna and moves towards Fiji.

Saturday 15 December 2012

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