Friday, 3 May 2013

Bangladesh: Damaged corpses making identification difficult

The damaged corpses of the Savar tragedy have posed a challenge to district administration officials as they struggle to identify them and hand them over to their respective family members.

The problem has become acute in the last three days with the dead bodies fast decaying and losing visible body marks, some already deformed from the pressure of the heavy concrete slabs of the collapsed building.

“The bodies recovered in the last three days are fully decomposed and hardly identifiable. We have been depending on documentation,” said Mohammad Iftekhar Hossain, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dhaka.

He said in the pockets and vanity bags of some victims they found their photographs. If their relatives can bring matching photographs, they will be handed over.

Officials are also using mobile phones, letters and other articles found in their pockets to identify the bodies.

“If a relative can tell a victim’s cell number, we consider the body identified. In the case of bodies that no one comes looking for, we are using their cell phones to contact their relatives,” he added.

Apart from cell numbers and photographs, officials are also using manual identification methods like matching physical features and body marks.

“On Wednesday, we handed over two bodies after their relatives described them and identified body marks such as broken teeth or marks of injury,” he said.

The bodies that cannot be identified through this procure are being sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for DNA testing, he added.

Unidentified bodies, if already buried, can be claimed later.

“The graves of the unidentified workers at Jurain graveyard have separate identification numbers. Their relatives can identify them even after burial,” he said.

According to the district administration, DMCH authorities will start identifying the bodies kept in the hospital morgue with DNA sampling from Saturday.

Two bodies at the DMCH morgue and two at Sir Salimullah Medical College morgue are awaiting identification by their relatives.

Friday 3 May 2013

continue reading

14 people killed in car accident in Iran

At least 14 people were burned to death in a car accident in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province, semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Iran's traffic police chief as saying.

After passenger bus which came from Ahvaz city in Khuzestan to central Isfahan city hit a lorry coming from the opposite direction, the bus caught fire and it was spread to the lorry, said the police commander Mohammad-Reza Mehmandar.

The incident led to the death of 12 passengers of the bus and two crew members of lorry, said Mehmandar, adding that four passengers of the bus were also hospitalized due to the fire injuries.

The cause of the incident is under investigation, he added.

Official figures show that more than 20,000 people died and 200, 000 others wounded in traffic accidents annually in Iran. Inexperienced drivers and low-efficiency of the cars and the roads are blamed for causing these accidents.

Friday 3 May 2013

continue reading

U.S. military plane crashes near Kazakh-Kyrgyz border

A military plane crashed shortly after taking off from a United States airbase in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, officials said, though there were no immediate reports of any injuries.

"According to my information, the plane broke up into three pieces. Information on the dead or wounded is being clarified. All the rescue services have gone to the scene," the emergency situations ministry's press secretary Abdisharip Bekilov said.

The refuelling plane took off from the US Manas airbase and crashed near the mountain village of Chaldovar, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the capital Bishkek and close to the border with Kazakhstan, the spokesman said.

The press secretary of the US transit centre, Akzhibek Beishebekova, told AFP that it was gathering information on the incident.

"We cannot confirm or deny the plane crash," she said, adding that the number of people on board the plane was not known.

Witnesses described seeing an explosion mid-air and said the wreckage of the plane was still burning.

The Manas airbase is key to American military operations in Afghanistan, used to ferry troops into the country, refuel warplanes and evacuate wounded soldiers.

According to the emergency ministry's preliminary information, the plane involved in the crash was a KC-135 Stratotanker plane that lost contact with the base as soon as it took off.

The flight left at 2:30 pm local time (0830 GMT), the press secretary of the ministry of transport and communications, Kylychbek Dosumbetov, told AFP, citing the country's Civil Aviation Agency.

"At around 1455 Kyrgyz time (0855 GMT), a resident of one of the nearby villages said that a plane blew up in the air. On the wings of the plane he saw an American flag," the interior ministry said in a statement.

A local official told AFP that the pilot apparently managed to escape from the plane before it crashed.

"The preliminary information is that the pilot jumped out with a parachute. They have gone to look for him," the deputy district chief Anatoly Ivannikov said.

"No victims have been found at the site of the plane crash."

The area around the plane was still burning, he said.

"The plane fell in the mountains. The area is taped off. We are not letting people approach, since the plane's wheels are still burning."

Witnesses told the Kyrgyz AKIPress news agency that they heard a buzz and then an explosion and that the plane was continuing to burn.

A local resident, Nurlan Derdenov, told local news website that the plane "blew up in the air."

"School children managed to film it on cell phones. When the plane fell, it hit a high-voltage power line."

Friday 3 May 2013

continue reading

Phuket, Phang Nga to test for Tsunami and Earthquake this month

A three-day earthquake and tsunami seminar and drill is to be held later this month as the ninth anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami approaches.

The big wave practice drill, to be held in combination with Phang Nga, is set for May 29 and two days of talks about latest information on disasters.

Phuket Vice Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada met with officials from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation yesterday in Phuket City to outline the event.

''Last year Phuket experienced a tsunami alert and for the first time an earthquake with its epicentre under the island,'' the vice governor said.

''We need to make sure we are prepared in future because the Andaman sits in an earthquake and tsunami zone.''

Phuket's name became closely associated with the December 26, 2004 tsunami but it was in Phang Nga, the province north of Phuket, that the big wave claimed most victims.

While the tsunami hit the first line of buildings along the west coast foreshore in Patong, in and around Khao Lak the wave increased in magnitude as it rose to more than nine metres and surged inland for two kilometres in some places.

It was Thailand's greatest natural disaster with 5400 people killed, about half of those tourists. Around the region 220,000 were killed, with Aceh in Indonesia suffering 160,000 dead.

Drills have been held regularly on Phuket since but last year's real tsunami alert in April, followed a few days later by the earthquake, provided an expected test that highlighted flaws in the system.

Representatives from the Disaster Warning Centre in Bangkok, which has the job of raising the alarm, will be on Phuket for the Phang Nga-Phuket conference and drill.

It's expected that DWC officials will provide an update on the need for Russian and Burmese language warnings to be included among the languages broadcast from Phuket's 19 tsunami warning beach towers.

During last year's evacuations it became evident that a second warning tone should be added to signify an ''all clear.''

Evacuated tourists and residents had no idea whether the sounding of the same signal hours after the initial alarm indicated another wave alert or the all-clear.

Crowds on hilltop roads also potentially impeded the passage in and out of rescue vehicles and ambulances.

While the tsunami sirens are effective during daylight hours when people are on the beaches, alternatives are needed for nighttime, especially during a storm when the wind blows the tower warnings out to sea.

Bangkok Warning Centre officials are expected to test the system where they send an SMS to the DPPM on Phuket and the DPPM distributes that message to local mayors and on to local communities.

Mobile telephone systems have, however, proved unreliable when used by too many people, as happened in last year's evacuation.

On May 29, Phuket and Phang Nga officials will combine to stage sea and land rescue drills near the Sarasin Bridge that links the two provinces.

Because Phuket and the Andaman coast are in a tsunami area, tourists are advised to ask their resort front desks who will wake them up if a tsunami arrives at 3am, when everyone is sleeping.

The Phang Nga fishing village of Nam Khem, where 800 were killed in 2004, takes tsunami warnings more seriously than most Andaman communities and supplements official warnings with its own system.

Friday 3 May 2013

continue reading

Chibombo accident victims to be buried in mass grave

Government has decided to bury the 17 Chibombo road traffic accident victims in a Mass grave in Kabwe where all the deceased came from.

Briefing the press in Kabwe today, Central province Permanent Secretary Annie Sinyangwe said government in the province will take over the burden responsibility of burying the accident victims from their families.

Mrs Sinyangwe said the government authorities at the province have visited all the homes and identified the deceased who happened to have been all Kabwe residents and traders of the market, adding that the day they met their fate they were all going to Lusaka to order merchandise for sale.

She said the burials which will take place on Saturday 4th May will be conducted by the government at the old St. Mary’s cemetery in Kabwe, after the church service to be conducted by the Zambia Army Chaplains and the Church mother bodies at Railways grounds where all mourners will assemble.

She said some families have requested to bury their deceased relatives elsewhere and that government will not restrain them from doing so, adding that the Municipal council has already issued the burial permits to all the families.

The Permanent Secretary welcomes everyone who wants to attend the burial to Kabwe and that for further details, they could contact Kabwe District Commissioner, Mr Patrick Chishala.

Earlier Kabwe District Commissioner who was accompanied by His worship the Mayor, Moses Mwansa, two Members of Parliament, Honorables Sydney Mushanga and James Kapyanga and the Councillors gathered in a meeting with the deceased families to discuss the funeral arrangements.

And Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit Regional Coordinator Ingribet Bondo said his office has given to each deceased family five 50 kilograms bags of mealie-meal, 10 litres of cooking oil, a 50 kg bag of Kapenta and 50 kg bag of beans to help out at the funeral.

On Tuesday 30th April, 17 people died in the traffic road accident which involved a Kabwe- Lusaka bound Mini bus in Chibombo district in Central province.

Friday 3 April 2013

continue reading

Army challenges 'rumours' of ‘hiding away’ bodies of those killed at Savar’s Rana Plaza rubble.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Bangladesh Army’s 9th Infantry Division Major General Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy, who is supervising the rescue at Savar, appealed in a press conference that such baseless rumours should not be paid heed to.

“Some quarters have alleged that bodies are disappearing. They are fuelling public anger by spreading rumours that actual casualties are unbelievably high,” he said.

Maj-Gen Suhrawardy said these rumours were hindering rescue operations.

“By alleging that bodies are disappearing, this quarter have questioned the patriotism and honesty of the army and all those organisations and volunteers involved in the rescue.” He said this was 'extremely unfortunate'.

The death toll in the Rana Plaza collapse stood at 429 on Thursday morning. It could still rise as rescue continued and the rubble was being cleared.

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Wednesday alleged that the actual casualty was being deliberately played down.

On Wednesday, army said the number of those missing was only 149, raising eyebrows everywhere, because even the army could not clarify how it came to such a conclusion.

The army now says 2,437 have been rescued.

On Sunday, without hopes of finding survivors alive rescuers employed heavy machines to clear the rubble and recovered 44 more bodies.

The GOC said rescue and recovery was taking some time as they were trying to bring out the bodies without any damage. “We will not move until the last body is found.”

Bangladesh Army had donated almost Tk 75 million for the Savar victims, equivalent to one day's salary of all its officers and men.

Friday 3 May 2013

continue reading