Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pakistani toll in Siachen avalanche rises to 128

The death toll in an avalanche in the Siachen glacier region last year has risen to 128, following the recovery of three more bodies, the Pakistani military said. The bodies of three soldiers were recovered from Gayari sector of Siachen Saturday, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

On April 7, 2012, at least 140 soldiers of the 6 Northern Light Infantry Battalion and a few civilians came under a huge avalanche in Gayari.

An army spokesman said Operation Gayari was suspended in November 2012 due to winter conditions. At least 121 bodies were recovered till then.

Following the melting of snow, search for the remaining 19 missing personnel began April 15. As many as 228 military personnel and 29 heavy engineering equipment pieces like excavators and drilling machines were deployed in the operation.

The recovery efforts would continue till they find the last man, the spokesman said.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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Iran road crash 'kills smuggled Afghanis'

A car packed with Afghanis smuggled into Iran has collided with another vehicle and burst into flames, killing nine Afghanis and five Iranians, media reports say.

The IRNA news agency said the crash occurred shortly after midnight in the southeastern province of Sistan Baluchistan, on a route Afghanis use to illegally cross the border in the hope of finding work in the Islamic republic.

"The Peugeot 405 was carrying 11 Afghans who had entered the country illegally," traffic official Colonel Farzad Malek Mohammadi said, quoted by IRNA, blaming the drivers for excessive speed and drifting from the road.

"Nine of them died on the spot due to the fire, while the remaining two have been taken to hospital for treatment to serious burns," he said.

Three people in the other car, as well as the drivers of both vehicles, were also killed, he added.

In a similar accident in April a pickup truck smuggling fuel crashed into a car carrying 15 Afghans in southeastern Iran, killing all on board as well as three Iranians.

Nearly a million Afghanis live in Iran illegally, according to official figures released in 2012.

Iran is one of the world's deadliest countries for road accidents.

Some 20,000 people are killed each year in a country with a little over 17 million vehicles for its 75-million-strong population.

Despite the high number of crashes, the authorities say deadly accidents have decreased in recent years as police take a more rigid line on the rules of the road.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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Landslide in DR Congo's North Kivu Province leaves 47 people missing

At least 47 people were reportedly missing following a landslide in the eastern province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), local sources disclosed on Sunday.

The revelation was made after an evaluation of the disaster in Rubaya in North Kivu on Thursday.

Local officials also denied reports that the accident was caused by a collapse of a quarry, describing it as a natural catastrophe.

A mass of soil was detached from the mountain and swallowed up the people who were going on with their normal activities at the foot of the mountain, according to the officials.

A rescue team was rushed to the scene of the tragedy but until now, no survivor or body has been found.

Local authorities linked the landslide to deforestation in the region.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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Cuban natural disaster drill ends today

The drill Meteoro 2013, oriented to reinforce the people's readiness to face high intensity hurricanes and other disasters, ends in Cuba today.

The two-day exercise was based mainly on experiences drawn from the passage of Hurricane Sandy and the occurrence of other similar events.

The Civil Defense General Staff said that the first day was devoted to management and command bodies at all levels, which reviewed and assessed the effectiveness of measures adopted in 2012 to curb risks in territories and economic entities.

The people's mass mobilization is scheduled for today. They are aware of their significant role in complying with relief and rescue plans to protect human life and economic resources, so as to curb vulnerabilities and face successfully any epidemiological situation.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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March 5, 1968: Belle Isle mining catastrophe

The catastrophe at Belle Isle continues to trouble former employees and family members of the 21 victims who perished 1,250 feet below the salt mine. The disaster occurred shortly before midnight on March 5, 1968, when a huge fire began inside the mine and subsequently killed the miners. It was Louisiana’s worst salt mine disaster. Cargill, the owner of the mine, had no rescue teams, so experienced rescuers from Kentucky were called in.

Although a complete federal safety inspection of Belle Isle had never been made before the incident, it had been visited several times by Bureau of Mines representatives at the request of Cargill. Inspections were made on between 1963 and 1967. The most recent was on August 9, 1967, nearly seven months before the catastrophe. After the last inspection, it was suggested that Cargill opened another shaft to be used as an emergency exit. According to reports when the accident occurred, Cargill planned to sink a second shaft about 900 feet from the only existing shaft entrance at Belle Isle.

At the time of the Belle Isle tragedy, there was a total workforce of 60 employees, of which 32 were classified as regular underground employees. Some of these employees actually worked underground intermittently, including staff officials who spent some time below. The mine had a single shaft with an inside diameter of 16 feet. The mine was operating at 1,250 feet below the surface, producing an average of 6,400 tons of salt daily.

Meanwhile, the day after the salt mine tragedy, two teams of rescuers consisting of 14 volunteers boarded a chartered flight from Madisonville, Ky. The DC3 landed at Patterson air field with the nation’s top mine rescuers. They were quickly flown by helicopter and arrived at Belle Isle near midnight, 24 hours after the fire inside the salt dome.

Ed Holeman of Sullivan, Ky., and Dilford Holmes of Madisonville, Ky., were the first rescuers to volunteer to go down the salt mine. Equipped with gas masks, they were lowered in a makeshift bucket fashioned from a discarded fan casing. The rescuers were armed with a bullhorn but were forbidden to leave the bucket. They called out to the trapped miners; however, there was no response. It took seven trips down the mine shaft over a three-day period enduring 95 degree temperatures heavily laden with carbon monoxide before all 21 victims were located. It took an additional two dozen more trips down the shaft over several more days before their bodies were finally taken topside. The date was March 12, 1968, exactly one week after the ordeal began.

The victims were brought up in the makeshift bucket three at a time. According to the St. Mary Parish Coroner, Dr. G.P. Musso Jr., 20 of the miners died from carbon monoxide poisoning and one from head trauma — probably from falling debris. F. Clayton Tonnemaker, former Green Bay Packer football great and Cargill VP, had the unfortunate task of informing the victim’s families of the fate of their family members. “It was pandemonium, family members were sobbing and screaming uncontrollably,” said Russell Landry of Kaplan, who had been a 20-year-old maintenance electrician at the mine. Landry had quit his job two weeks prior to the mine disaster. Safety was Landry’s main reason for leaving, and it was his crew that perished that day in 1968.

The oldest victim of the tragedy was 50, the youngest was 20. Three of the victims were brothers-in-law; they had married three sisters — all from Abbeville. Six of the victims had five years’ experience, several had been employed three to four years; a few had been there for several months. One of the victims had been working for eight days, while another had been employed for only four days. Neither of the two new hires had drawn their first paycheck.

Although evidence was examined during a six-month investigation, neither the cause of fire nor the point of origin could be definitely established. According to a final report, it appears that the fire originated in the lower part of the shaft at about, or below, the mining level.

Special thanks go to Debbie (Holeman) Guess, who was instrumental in obtaining the needed funds for the creation of a bronze memorial statue honoring all of the fallen salt miners,and to art teachers, Jenny Authement and Mike Howes from Nicholls State University for their larger-than-life size sculpture of a salt miner, which is on display at the Franklin visitor center. Thanks also go to Russell Landry of Kaplan and Allen LeBlanc of Abbeville for their contribution to the Belle Isle articles and to Arthur Olivier from Grand Mary, who was selected as the model for the sculptors to design and create the memorial statue. Olivier was not only employed at Belle Isle, he lost a son and two nephews in the ill-fated mine.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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More bodies recovered from reservoir: Jhiri bus mishap toll rises to 42

Three more bodies were recovered from the reservoir of a hydropower project situated on the Beas river near Aut area, taking the death toll in the Jhiri private bus mishap reached to 42. People spotted these bodies flowing in the river and informed the police.

The local administration provided ex gratia of Rs. 15,000 to the aggrieved families.

Two bodies were recovered on Friday and the body of a student of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Kullu, was recovered on Saturday.

The student has been identified as Nihal Chand, 21. He was a resident of Binola village of Anni tehsil area of Kullu district, whereas the bodies recovered on Friday have been identified as Krishna Devi, 40, of Takoli village of Mandi district and Ram Singh of Sarachi village of Kullu district.

The name of the student was not in the list of suspected missing people. It is feared that five more people, including an infant, have been washed away in Beas river water and their bodies are yet to be recovered.

A private bus owned by Asoka Bus Services, Kullu, rolled down into Beas river on May 8, killing 39 people.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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Indonesia: Four more bodies recovered from collapsed mine tunnel

The bodies of four more victims of a tunnel collapse at the Big Gossan underground training facility at the PT Freeport Indonesia mine have been recovered by the company’s Emergency Response Group (ERG).

The victims were identified as Aris Tikupasang, Hengki Hendambo, Jhoni Tulak and Viktor Sanger.

Jhoni’s body was brought out at around 10 p.m. local time on Saturday; it was subsequently taken to his home in Timika.

“We received Jhoni’s body in Timika at 7 a.m. on Sunday, and on Monday it will be flown to Buakayu, Tana Toraja, via Makassar,” his relative, Yohanis Burrang, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The bodies of Aris and Viktor were pulled out from the collapsed tunnel at 5 p.m. local time on Sunday while Hengki’s body was later found at 6:45 p.m. Their bodies are still at Tembagapura Hospital.

Papua police spokesperson Sr.Comr.I Gede Sumerta Jaya said that with the latest bodies recovered, the casualty toll in the incident was nine dead and 10 injured.

The evacuation process to locate 19 workers who were still missing was ongoing, he added.

Freeport has suspended production activities and all of its activities are currently being focused on the emergency.

The tragedy occurred when the tunnel’s roof in the QMS Underground area of Big Gossan suddenly collapsed at around 7:45 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

PT Freeport Indonesia’s head of mine technical operations, Nurhadi Sabirin, said that a number of experts equipped with world-class equipment had been deployed to complete the rescue work as fast as possible.

Sunday 19 May 2013

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