Monday, 31 December 2012

Eight die in East China road accident

Eight people have died and four others were injured after an overloaded car collided with a truck in East China's Shandong province early Monday morning, local authorities said.

The accident happened around 2:50 am, when a five-seater car carrying 12 people slammed into a truck loaded with sand in the city of Zibo, a fire control official told Xinhua.

The official said seven passengers were killed at the scene and one died in hospital after medical treatment failed.

An investigation into the cause of the accident is under way.

Monday 31 December 2012

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Four killed in Bengal road accident

At least four people were killed and 16 others were injured when a pick-up van, in which they were travelling, overturned in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district Monday, police said.

"Four people have been killed and 16 others have been admitted to two hospitals with serious injuries after their van overturned at Nagrakata," said Jalpaiguri Superintendent of Police Amit Javalgi.

The vehicle was carrying nearly two dozen people.

Six of the injured are in a critical condition.

Monday 31 December 2012

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Natural disaster throws children into the arms of pedophiles

It was the morning of December 26,2004, and a quiet calm rested over the city of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. A short distance away, pristine beaches decorated the coast of this traveler’s paradise as they cradled myriads of tourists soaking in the splendor of the tropical haven.

A sudden collective gasp arose from the beach goers as they turned their eyes to the horizon and saw the massive wall of water was headed for the beach, its crest loomed skyward like a giant hand reaching out to grasp the sun. Locals and tourists scrambled to find sanctuary from the unstoppable force of nature that had appeared without warning.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake had arisen from the floor of the Indian Ocean to trigger one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. The impact of the Tsunami took an incredible toll on human life.

Beneath this human tragedy, an even more horrifying tragedy lurked within the shadows. As relief workers and supplies began to flow into the torn and ravaged countryside, customs officials made a shocking discovery. Twenty pedophiles were apprehended as they attempted to board a plane. Their destination included the countries of Indonesia and Thailand where sick and injured children wandered alone and separated from their families. Nature had created a paradise for child molesters whose only intention was to target young children for fulfillment of their deepest perversion while shrouded by the chaos around them. Had it not been for the child sex offender registry, these twenty predators would have found themselves in fertile hunting grounds where no one was trained to stop them.

The aftermath of every natural disaster is mixture of chaos, despair and confusion. Aid workers struggle to meet even the basic needs of those affected, and even the workers themselves can be traumatized by the tragedy unfolding before them.

In the twisted mind of a pedophile this is the perfect environment for a child to disappear and be labeled as a casualty of nature’s fury. The World Health Organization and the United Nations have tracked the increase of sexual violence associated with natural disasters since the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines. The United States is not immune to this travesty, as evidence from the eruption of Mount Saint Helens has shown. The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 is the first event that drew the media spotlight to bear on this despicable practice.

Unfortunately, pedophiles preying on childre are not the only evil to fear in times of disaster, for they have competition of an equally dark nature. Human traffickers also descend on areas struck by natural disaster, kidnapping women and children to sell for sex and cheap labor. Mentally and physically disabled children are easy prey for the predators that cloak themselves in the guise of savior.

In the aftermath of these disasters, infrastructures are destroyed and lines of communication severed. Victims are hungry, confused, alone and helpless and consumed by fear. Governments struggle to bring order to areas sometimes completely leveled by the forces of nature, and aid workers are often not properly screened when they enter a country in disarray.

The situation becomes even more horrific when those sent to protect the helpless end up preying upon them. The 2002 Report of the Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Crisis found that humanitarian and peacekeeping personnel could become part of the problem. In the 1990’s the United Nations sent a peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help stabilize the region after the second Congo war and the conflicts that followed. Personnel were found to have traded food and supplies for sex with girls as young as thirteen.

As a child, I was sexually trafficked by a pedophile ring and I am one of the lucky few who survived. At the age of twelve, I attempted suicide after I tried every means to escape, including telling doctors, teachers, and running away numerous times. Ending my life seemed the only option, and when I awoke in the emergency room to a group of wide-eyed doctors, I had been clinically dead for three minutes.

I am speaking from experience when I tell you that a child can disappear in a public place in this country in a matter of seconds, never to be seen again. The people who kidnap children for their own personal sexual purposes or to sell them to others with that perversion are as skilled as any special operations personnel both here and abroad. They are driven by forces that transcend any logic society possesses.

Once you are a prisoner of sex traffickers or pedophiles you are shackled with chains of fear that include daily death threats, that as a victim I have seen carried out in front of me. Once these individuals have you, it is all over, and unless these stopped before they first lay their eyes on a victim, children will continue to disappear both domestically and globally.

How do we bring an end to the global targeting of innocent children following natural disasters? By working with the United Nations (, World Health Organization (, UNICEF ( ) and others to put policies and resources in place that eliminate the vulnerabilities that make children targets.

EPCAT International ( is an organization that embraces a deep passion for ending child prostitution, child trafficking and child pornography. In 2006 EPCAT published, “Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation & Sexual Violence in Disaster & Emergency Situations. A guide for local & community based organizations.” It offers solutions to the hard lessons learned from the 2004 South Asian Tsunami and its aftermath that left vulnerable children exposed. One of the main premises that echoes within its pages is, “Children who are involved in a disaster are much less likely to experience sexual exploitation and sexual violence if the community they are from already has a high level of appreciation of the need to protect children and places importance on this.” This calls for a worldwide effort to bring the level of how we care and protect our children as the front line of defense against their victimization following a natural disaster.

EPCAT also makes the following recommendations in its report:

1.) Immediate identification, registration and documentation (done by or under the supervision of government, where the government is still able to perform this function), involving the careful identification of unaccompanied and separated children who may not be readily visible and may already be in the company of other adults.

2.) Provision of immediate safe care – preferably with extended family members. Where this is not possible separate shelters should be set up for unaccompanied minors which are centrally located, near basic camp facilities, with safe and secure access to washing and toilet facilities, and which are well lit with proper security and supervision.

3.) Placing a ban on adoptions and removal of unaccompanied and separated children without government permission, except for emergency medical treatment. 4.) Coordinated steps for tracing and reunifying family members should begin as soon as possible as valuable information and sources can be lost.

5.) Staff should have training in advance as to appropriate ways to work with children who have been sexually abused, including interviewing skills.

6.) It is essential that the circumstances of all incidences are considered and countermeasures taken to ensure that the child is not victimized again or other children abused in the same way.

7.) Staff and managers, in particular, need to be held accountable for abuses they could have prevented. Increasing female relief workers, the proper monitoring of relief distributions by senior managers, and regular staff rotation between camps and sites can all help to prevent a pattern of abuse taking hold. “

The EPCAT manual is a wealth of information that spearheads a strong effort to make sure that child victims of natural disasters are protected. I hope you will all join me in the fight to protect children around the world from the hell that I suffered as I child. Together we can set an example that resonates around the world and speaks loudly that out children are off limits to predators.

Every one of us should lend our support to organizations fighting for children around the world. If we can all just take some time to educate ourselves and then educate the world on how to protect the most precious gift of all, we can stop the next child from falling into the hands of a predator. We have some idea of the number of children who have fallen victim to natural disasters, but we have no clue of how many in that number fell prey to those intent on doing evil. Let’s not let the screams of those lost to the unnatural disaster of child predators echo in silence. Make a difference in this world by getting involved, and maybe the next child will have a chance to know a life where suffering does end.

Monday 31 December 2012

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Mastung bus attack: Bodies shifted to Rawalpindi

Twelve dead bodies of the people killed in a terrorist attack on a bus of pilgrims in Mastung, Balochistan, transferred to Rawalpindi through a special flight.

The bodies of nine persons were kept at the Holly Family Hospital and three bodies shifted the district headquarters hospital, Rawalpindi.

The body of a deceased was identified, who was a resident of Khayaban-e- Sir Syed in Rawalpindi.

Other bodies will be handed over to the families of deceased after their identification through DNA test.

In an attack on a pilgrims bus in Mastung 19 persons lost their lives.

Monday 31 December 2012

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In storm-devastated areas, hope for 2013

Slowly walking over logs and boulders while carrying two water containers, 56-year old Tessie Jentapa fetches water in the same river where her husband died when Typhoon “Pablo” battered Barangay Andap here.

“We have already evacuated at around 4 a.m. of Dec. 4. But my husband asked me if I can return to our house to get dry clothes,” Jentapa narrated.

When she returned to the village chapel where they were seeking temporary shelter, her husband, Luciano, was already missing.

“The ravaging waters took him away. It happened so fast,” Jentapa said.

Jentapa narrated that the flash flood, which carried huge logs and boulders, dumped her husband kilometers away from their home.

“When I went to the town gym a day after the storm, I quickly scanned the dead bodies lying in the ground to search for Luciano. It felt like everything was in slow motion when I saw his ring. I knew it was him. He was covered in mud and one of his legs was missing,” said Jentapa.

“It is really painful for me and our children. I really cannot describe the pain I am feeling right now. This would really be a silent New Year’s celebration for us,” Jentapa said.

She said nothing special would be prepared in their house, which was also heavily damaged by Pablo, on New Year’s Eve.

“We really have no plans of preparing anything. We only have canned sardines, instant noodles and a few grams of rice left in our rations,” Jentapa said.

Despite the tragedy, Jentapa said she is praying really hard that 2013 would bring good health for her five children.

“I know that we should not yield over the trials that we are facing right now. I am worried about what will happen in 2013 considering that my husband is now dead,” she said.

“But we only need good health and we will be able to work hard in rebuilding our lives,” Jentapa said.

For 55-year old Elia Sayayad, the year 2013 offers hope for a good harvest that would allow farmers to recover.

Living in a small peasant community in Sitio Boston in Barangay Andap, Sayayad had to walk four hours just to get relief goods and medical assistance.

Monday 31 December 2012

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26 Somali, Eritrean migrants found dead in Libya

At least 23 Somali and three Eritrean migrants died in an overturned truck accident in Libya, Kenya's Africa Review reported Saturday (December 29th).

The migrants were reportedly heading to Tripoli with the ultimate goal of reaching Europe by sea, when the truck they were being smuggled in went off road to avoid checkpoints.

Trucks carrying illegal migrants often use roads without checkpoints, which are less safe, Somali Ambassador to Libya Abdigani Mohamed Wa'ays said. The truck was carrying about 120 migrants, mostly Somalis, he said.

Fifty-eight of the surviving migrants are being held in Libyan jail, while the injured passengers are receiving treatment in hospital, Wa'ays said.

Initial reports indicate the truck was also carrying cement. Shabelle Media Network correspondent in Tripoli Mohamed Abdi Nahar said human traffickers have started smuggling migrants under a cement cover, increasing the chance of casualties in the event of an accident.

"Since the police noticed the use of grass as a cover, smugglers turned to hiding the people being smuggled under a ceiling of cement and other goods," he said.

Monday 31 December 2012

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Nine people dead in bus crash near Pendleton

Nine people are dead and at least 39 people injured after a tour bus crashed down a steep, snow-covered embankment near Pendleton on Sunday morning.

Emergency responders described a precarious scene, with rescuers using high-angle techniques and an all-terrain vehicle to carefully maneuver injured passengers and bodies up Cabbage Hill along Deadman Pass.

"'Organized chaos' is how I would describe it," said Pendleton Fire Chief Gary Woodson, who was on scene just minutes after the accident.

The number of fatalities and injuries rose as emergency crews worked through the afternoon to extricate bus passengers.

Preliminary reports from Oregon State Police cited icy conditions as a contributing factor, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and send the bus skidding off the road, through a guardrail and down the nearly 100-foot embankment.

The agency was more cautious late Sunday, saying the cause of the accident was still under investigation.

The bus driver survived the accident but was unable to give information about the crash Sunday because of the severity of the injuries they sustained, according to Oregon State Police.

Local hospitals went into "disaster protocol," with St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton taking in 26 passengers, according to hospital spokesman Larry Blanc. He could not confirm the nature of the injuries, but five patients were transported to other hospitals.

Additional staff was brought in to help handle the rush of patients and the hospital has been doing a lot of X-ray imaging, Blanc said.

An Oregon Health & Science University spokeswoman said four patients from the crash had been transported there as of Sunday night.

In total, at least four hospitals treated patients from the crash: St. Anthony Hospital, OHSU, Walla-Walla General in Washington and Good Shepherd Health Care System in Hermiston.

Meanhwhile, the Umatilla County Office of Emergency Management set up a secondary shelter Sunday night for passengers who were not hospitalized. Red Cross officials were called in to assist.

Few details were known about the tour group Sunday, with most passengers hospitalized.

The bus is owned by Mi Joo Tour & Travel in Vancouver, Canada. An employee at Mi Joo Tour & Travel, Ryan Choi, said the company rents out its tour buses to travel companies.

The group was on the final day of a nine-day tour, Choi said, returning to Canada after stopping in Las Vegas.

At the scene of the crash, investigators worked through the afternoon and into the night trying to piece together precisely what happened.

The area surrounding the narrow road that traverses the pass is shrouded in deeply packed pine trees. The embankment was covered in about a foot of snow.

When emergency responders arrived on scene, the guardrail was smashed and almost a hundred feet down the snow-covered embankment, the bus "was intact, but definitely what you would expect from a fall like that," Woodson said.

Monday 31 December 2012

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Colombia landslide kills five in Neiva with 25 missing

Rescue teams in Colombia have been searching for at least 25 people missing after a landslide cut off a road near the south-western city of Neiva.

Five people were killed in the accident, which happened on Saturday.

The Colombian authorities believe at least six cars are buried under tons of mud and rocks.

Hundreds of fire-fighters, paramedics and army troops have been sent to help the rescue operation in Huila province.

There are fears of a new landslide in the same area, along the road between the cities of Neiva and Florencia.

Operations will be suspended if the mountain slope becomes unstable, the authorities said.

Rescue workers on the Neiva-Florencia road Several vehicles are trapped under the earth and rocks

One of the five victims was a heavy machine operator who was clearing the road from a previous landslide.

"It is a very difficult situation as the landslide was very big," said National Rescue Director Cesar Uruena.

"We will need many heavy machines to clear the road," Mr Uruena told RCN radio.

Rescue operations were suspended on Saturday night due to safety concerns for the teams involved in the operation.

Red Cross teams and police with sniffer dogs are searching for bodies or survivors, disaster relief official Jesus Gomez told the AFP news agency

Monday 31 December 2012

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