Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Indian Air Force helicopter crashes, eight bodies found

An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter on a rescue mission crashed in Uttarakhand this evening. Government sources say 19 people were on board and there are no survivors. But the Air Force said eight bodies have been found - its officials have identified five crew members and three civilians.

The National Disaster Management Authority said para-military officers were also on the helicopter.

Garud commandos have reached the site of the crash and will have more information soon, said Air Force sources.

Within minutes of the crash, the Air Force said its rescue operations would continue as planned, illustrating the heroism and sacrifice that has suffused its largest relief and rescue mission ever.

The Air Force said the helicopter that crashed this evening had been sent on a rescue mission from the town of Gauchar, serving as a hub of relief and rescue operations, to Guptakashi and Kedarnath, the epicentre of the devastation caused by torrential rains in the hilly state.

60 air force helicopters are being used along with some privately-owned ones.

Prime Minister Mamohan Sigh offered his condolences, saying "Our forces are conducting a heroic task in rescue and relief work in Uttarakhand. ... Continuing their work would be the best homage to them," he added.

The risk under which the Air Force is flying through treacherous terrain, air-lifting pilgrims and air-dropping commandos and soldiers to temporary camps was on display all day today. Each time the rain let up, or the cloud cover improved, helicopters would head out.

Yesterday, as the met department issued a warning of severe rain in Uttarakhand for three days, Air Chief Marshal Browne offered this statement of reassurance: "Our helicopter rotors will not stop churning till such time we get each one of you out, do not lose hope and hang in there."

More than 90,000 people have been evacuated so far in efforts led by the military.

The type of helicopter that crashed today - the Mi-17 V5 - was inducted last year; 80 helicopters were ordered from Russia.

On Monday, a private helicopter crashed in Gaurikund and was on fire when an Air Force helicopter on a rescue mission nearby swooped in to rescue the pilot.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Inquest starts into Christmas Island asylum tragedy

A Coroner for Western Australia will today begin an inquest into the deaths of more than 100 asylum seekers on a boat which sank north of Christmas Island last year.

Coroner Alastair Hope will preside over the inquiry into the sinking of the boat known as SIEV 357, which was carrying 212 people when it sank about 204km north-west of Christmas Island on June 21 last year.

Seventeen bodies were recovered, 85 people were reported missing and presumed dead and 110 people were rescued.

The passengers were from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

The WA coroner does not have powers to investigate the missing people but does have jurisdiction for the 17 whose bodies were recovered and will hold an inquest into how they died.

A Coroners Court directions has previously been told two of the recovered bodies have not been identified and one of them may never be identified.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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India floods: Bad weather delays rescue and mass cremations

Bad weather has halted rescue operations in flood-hit northern India and forced authorities to delay mass funerals for those killed.

Air force officials said they were unable to fly helicopters to the temple town of Badrinath to bring down the 5,000 pilgrims still stuck there.

And police say the planned mass cremations in Kedarnath town have been postponed following heavy rains.

The floods have killed more than 600 people in Uttarakhand state.

State Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said at the weekend that he feared at least 1,000 people had died. Officials say 97,000 people have been rescued so far.

Early monsoon rains in India this year are believed to be the heaviest in 80 years.

'Decomposing bodies'

On Tuesday morning, rescue operations were delayed due to rain, but once the weather improved air force helicopters began preparing for sorties to Badrinath - the last of the areas where thousands of pilgrims are still stranded in the mountains.

But later in the day, air force officials told the BBC that heavy rains in Badrinath had prevented helicopters from landing, forcing them to abandon rescue operations.

Air force officials say they need to get to the affected areas urgently as time is running out for survivors.

"I just need two to three days of good weather and I can get everyone out," Air Commodore Rajesh Issar, who heads Operation Rahat (Relief), said.

Meanwhile, senior police official Sanjay Gunjiyal, who is in-charge of the mass cremations in Kedarnath, told the BBC that it had been raining heavily since the morning and the cremations were unlikely to happen on Tuesday.

Police say lots of bodies are piled up around the temple in Kedarnath and many of them have begun decomposing, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder reports from Dehradun.

Many of them remain unidentified so they are being photographed and DNA samples are being taken and preserved for the families of those still missing, our correspondent adds.

On Sunday, officials said the severely damaged Kedarnath town had been cleared of survivors and teams were searching for the bodies of victims.

Tourists and pilgrims were among those caught up in the floods, which washed away homes, roads and bridges.

So extensive is the damage that even a week after the devastating floods and landslides, there is still no clarity on the true number of people missing or dead.

Thousands of army, paramilitary and disaster management officials have been working for the past week to help those trapped in remote villages and settlements, but rescue operations have been hampered by rain and poor weather.

On average, the air force has been operating 115 flights a day and Air Commodore Issar has described it as "the single biggest rescue operation involving helicopters anywhere in the world".

On Monday morning, helicopters carrying special forces to find survivors were forced to turn back because of bad weather.

Meanwhile, hundreds of relatives continue to camp in Dehradun, looking for missing family members and friends.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the situation as "distressing" and announced a 10bn rupee ($170m; £127m) aid package for Uttarakhand.

The rainy season generally lasts from June to September, bringing rain which is critical to farming.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Deadly Ottawa train crash 100 years later

The Winnipeg Express chugged out of Montreal at 9:45 a.m. ET on June 25, 1913, hauling 10 cars.

It was shaping up to be a warm, early-summer day and a pleasant trip west. Engineer Albert Chapman had made the journey on the CPR steam locomotive many times.

Three passenger cars nearest the front were packed with immigrants, many of them Scottish and Irish, and many having arrived in Montreal earlier that same morning aboard the S.S. Pretorian. The ship had sailed from Glasgow 10 days earlier but for its weary passengers, the journey was far from over.

"It wasn't much of a welcome to Canada for those people," said rail expert and historian David Jeanes.

"Those immigrants would have essentially been in transit continuously, they would have gotten off a ship, they would have immediately been put on a train, and at most would have had a washroom and waiting room kind of stop in Montreal — not in Ottawa, there were no facilities for handling immigrants in transit in Ottawa — and they would be pretty uncomfortable, and they would not actually be expecting to get off the train and be able to move around much until they reached their destination in the prairies."

Before long the train pulled into Ottawa’s newly built Union Station. It criss-crossed the Ottawa River, making one last stop at Broad Street Station. At 1:30 p.m. the train left the capital, bound for points west.

Passengers seated on the left side of the coaches watched the bustling city give way to bucolic scenery. Passengers on the right side enjoyed the magnificent view of the logging booms on the wide Ottawa River.

As the train cleared Westboro, it began to gain speed as it approached McKellar Townsite, about five kilometres outside Ottawa. At that point, the CPR track hugged the shoreline of the Ottawa River — rail and water were about 100 metres apart, separated by what is now the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway. In the colonist cars, mothers began preparing meals for their hungry children. These were the families going to join fathers and husbands already settled in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. Single men sat in groups and chatted, or took off their boots and settled in for a nap.

Along Richmond Road, people working in their gardens looked up as the train steamed by. Passengers on the Britannia streetcar watched the train overtake them.

Jerry Gorman was standing in the doorway of his cottage near the water when he saw the cars behind the engine begin to wobble. He heard a loud grinding sound.

"Children and women were leaning out of the car windows and waving to people in the resorts which are situated near the track," the Ottawa Citizen reported the next day. "Suddenly those who were watching the train pass saw the cars rock and sway, then the train seemed to buckle and twist just as there was a loud noise and the cars left the irons."

The engine and the first three cars remained on the rails. But the next two coaches — both colonist cars packed with immigrants — broke loose and toppled down a steep embankment, plunging into the river below.

"It was from these two cars that all the killed and practically all the injured were taken," the Citizen later reported. "Several were killed outright by the force of being thrown against the inside of the car, but [others] were drowned."

Victims from Scotland, Ireland

Jerry Gorman was first on the scene. Stunned passengers pulled themselves out of broken windows. Others thrashed about in the water. Behind the cars that had tumbled down the embankment, the rest of the coaches jutted and leaned at dangerous angles. The wailing of the injured and terrified filled the air. Gorman raced over to Andrew McKellar’s big stone house to telephone for help.

Within minutes, the air was filled with different noises: the clang of ambulance bells and the honking of automobile horns. The tollgate on Richmond Road was thrown wide open and doctors and nurses rushed to the scene of the wreck. It’s estimated half of Ottawa's medical professionals were there that afternoon, tending to the injured.

Hundreds of residents also arrived to offer help. Some clambered on top of the upended cars to join the train’s crew and other volunteers in the desperate search for survivors. Others brought blankets to comfort anyone with soaked clothing.

Passengers who’d been hurt in the crash were loaded into ambulances, or carried in private automobiles and horse carts to St. Luke’s and Water Street Hospitals in Ottawa. The next day more than 50 patients remained there, recovering from their injuries. Long lists of those hurt in the wreck appeared in local newspapers alongside their age, their place of origin, and vivid descriptions of their wounds.

Eight of the train’s passengers suffered a worse fate. Their bodies lay near the wreckage, covered with sheets provided by nearby residents. A Bishop Charlebois who happened to be on board performed last rites to the Catholic victims. Some of the bodies were so badly mangled they could only be identified by items in their pockets. Others appeared untouched. Those were the ones who had drowned.

According to newspaper reports, only Patrick Mulvenna was carried out of the wreck alive, dying on his way to hospital.

"Very little is known about where he was going, or what he was going to do with his new life," said Gerry Mulvenna, whose grandfather was Patrick's younger brother. "But the tragic circumstances can’t help but move you when you read about it. To travel 10 days, then just when you’ve arrived for that terrible accident to happen, and for news to filter back home … it must have been devastating."

Mulvenna was the last of the victims to be buried, a week after the wreck. A newspaper report notes there were no relatives at his funeral.

"For the family that must have been pretty hard, too," said Gerry Mulvenna. "To grieve without having a funeral … you know funerals would be very important in Ireland, so that’s a part of the story that must have been very hard."

"Hundreds of local residents came out to look at the accident," said Jeanes. "They crowded all around it, they even stood on top of the passenger cars that were in the river, and there are many photographs showing these huge crowds coming out to look at the accident scene."

Indeed, photographs from the time show ladies with parasols and men in fashionable white straw hats crowding the shoreline, standing right beside the overturned cars.

"Thousands of people from the city went to the scene of the accident," reported the Citizen. "The rush started immediately after the message had been sent out for doctors and continued till late at night."

There were so many people trying to reach McKellar Townsite the Ottawa Electric Company put on extra streetcars.

"The lawns and gardens around many of the nearby residences were ruined by people trampling over them," the Citizen claimed.

The crowd reached its peak in the early evening, but hundreds remained at midnight to watch the wrecking crew. Not everyone stood and gawked. Many residents opened their doors to families stranded after the wreck. Religious and nationalist societies extended helping hands to their brethren and countrymen. The Canadian government stepped in to offer aid to survivors and to notify their families back home.

Some newspaper reports claimed CPR also offered survivors financial support, provided they sign a strict waiver guaranteeing against future legal action. There was also the task of reuniting passengers with their luggage. Many of the immigrants had emerged from the wreck with only the clothes on their backs, losing whatever meagre possessions they’d brought with them to start a new life.

Almost immediately, the railway began picking up the pieces. A breakdown crew hauled the engine and other damaged cars to Britannia. Meanwhile, a special train was prepared in Ottawa and routed through Kemptville, so those passengers who were able to continue their journey west could do so the very next day. Engineer Albert Chapman even drove, picking up where he’d left off. Within two days of the disaster, the colonist cars had been pulled from the water and the track was repaired, as though nothing had happened.

So what did happen? There were persistent rumours that moments before the crash a section gang had been repairing the track and left the job unfinished. Minor rail officials denied it, telling the Citizen the nearest crew was working two miles away.

"The cause of the accident is not definitely known but it is attributed to a loose rail or to what is known in railway parlance as a 'sun kink,'" the newspaper reported the next day. "That is where the heat causes the steel rails to expand so they have a tendency to bulge out and shoot out of place."

A coroner’s inquest was opened. The Railway Commission also launched an investigation into the cause of the wreck, including an inspection of the track and interviews with railway employees. The results of the investigation were considered confidential and were not made public.

"Well you can’t help but be moved," said Gerry Mulvenna, who spoke via Skype from his home in Ireland. "For Pat to make it [to Canada] and just die on his first day in the new country that he had emigrated to, it’s awfully sad."

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Bodies of 130,000 fallen Korean War servicemen still missing

Eighty-six-year-old Kim Oh-joon still remembers the day he was told the tragic news that his brother had been killed in battle during the Korean War.

He still hopes that one day the remains of his brother will be found, and he can be laid peacefully to rest.

"My very last wish before I die is to bury my fallen brother in the National Cemetery, to place a tombstone, and to offer a flower for him. I don't want anything more than that."

Some 150-thousand South Korean soldiers were killed during the three-year conflict, but 130-thousand are still missing.

Their remains unaccounted for. It's estimated about 70 percent, or the remains of some 95-thousand South Korean troops are somewhere in South Korea, and the rest are in North Korea.

Since the 2000s, the South Korean government has operated a team to identify remains buried in fields and mountains nationwide.

So far, they have excavated about 8-thousand bodies - 7-thousand South Korean soldiers and around 1-thousand North Korean and Chinese soldiers.

Sadly for the families, only about 80 soldiers have been identified through DNA testing.

The Defense Ministry says it will continue its active excavation projects, in the hope of giving some peace of mind to the families of those who bravely laid down their lives for South Korea.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Gold mine collapse kills 37 in Central African Republic

At least 37 people have been killed and many more injured in a mine collapse in the south of the Central African Republic.

The president's office announced on Monday that the accident occurred on Sunday at a gold mine in Ndassima, some 440 kilometers (273 miles) east of the CAR capital Bangui, Reuters reported.

"The toll of 37 is provisional as there were many injured," president's office spokesman Prosper Ndouba said.

Ndouba added that rescue workers pulled out 10 injured miners but there were an unknown number of bodies still buried in the mine.

The mine collapse occurred after heavy rains.

Three days of national mourning has been declared.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Victims’ jewellery missing, shrine donation boxes empty

As the unprecedented rains turned Kedarnath into a ghost town with bodies strewn all over, a ‘gold rush’ in the holy town is sending shivers down the spine.

Cash and gold offerings at the shrine are missing and so is personal jewellery, including anklets and gold bangles, of several of the deceased. In some cases, fingers have been chopped off to remove rings. The local police have arrested some persons who tried to flee with the cash.

According to reports, bodies are being disfigured by looters who are out to make a quick buck before the administration reaches those far flung areas.

Gurgaon resident Narender Yadav, who managed to return home on his own after being trapped at Rudraprayag, has come with a video that he managed to shoot using his mobile phone. The video shows miscreants removing gold jewellery from dead bodies using screwdrivers and pliers.

“Chop off the hand, if you can’t remove the bangle,” a voice is heard instructing a youth trying to remove a gold bangle from a female dead body.

“It was horror. The locals have been indulging in rampant looting and mistreating the dead for gold, cash and valuables. They [also] strike at those alive and moving alone, asking them to handover their gold, cash, watches, etc and threatening that they would be pushed to the gorge,” Yadav said.

He had gone to Uttarakhand for pilgrimage with his friends and relatives, five of whom are still missing.

A teenage girl broke into tears while describing what she saw.

“They look like Nepalis and are using sharp knives to cut ears and noses to remove gold from dead bodies. How low can one stoop for greed? Instead of helping the victims they are looting them,” she said sobbing.

Some of those rescued said that the army had caught some young boys with bags full of looted gold and jewellery.

There are reports that locals are charging as much as Rs500 for a bowl of rice (Dh30) and Rs180 for a piece of roti from hungry victims yet to be rescued. Local taxis are demanding up to Rs25,000 to drive the victims to the state capital Dehradun. All agencies working on the ground have confirmed the shameless ‘gold rush’.

Pilots of the Army Aviation wing and the Indian Air Force have reported people refusing evacuation to make a ‘quick buck’ off the dead.

Special Forces of the Indian Army, which have been looking for survivors, have tried to warn the human scavengers, but to no avail.

DIG Amit Prasad of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which has also sent its rescue teams, confirmed tell-tale signs of scavengers. “Donation boxes at Kedarnath have been broken into and emptied. We have informed the local police,” he said.

The local police’s Division Range DIG AK Sinha confirmed that a man in the robes of a sadhu was nabbed with Rs 87 lakh belonging to the State Bank of India’s branch at Kedarnath. Another man was caught with Rs 83 lakh while others have been caught with smaller sums and gold ornaments. The temple, managed by the Sri Badrinath-Kedranath Temple Committee, opens in April-May for summer depending upon an auspicious time carefully calculated by the religious men. It is during this period that the idol of Lord Shiva is installed in the shrine. In winter, it is taken down and installed at Ukhimath. This year, the Kedarnath shrine opened on May 14 and Badrinath on May 16. The shrine usually remains open till November, but the number of devotees decreases in the monsoon.

Collections run into crores each year and nearly Rs 9-Rs 10 crore is declared each year. Apart from cash, devotees offer gold as well. As this was the peak season owing to summer vacations, donations to the shrine were bound to be high. The cast iron collection boxes are usually emptied under tight security and the contents deposited in the bank. Divisional Commissioner, Garhwal Division, Subhardhan said, “Thieves have been making attempts. The local district magistrate is a member of the temple committee, but he does not enjoy administrative control over it.”

As estimated, 10,000 pilgrims were at Kedarnath when catastrophe struck. Lakshman Singh, an ITBP assistant sub-inspector and eyewitness, said, “There were 10,000-12,000 persons at the shrine when the catastrophe struck on June 16. With the administration is yet to arrive at a death toll, it is anybody’s guess what thieves have fled with in terms of gold jewellery.”


- DIG Amit Prasad of the ITBP said donation boxes at Kedarnath have been broken into and emptied

- The local police’s Division Range DIG AK Sinha confirmed that a man in the robes of a sadhu was nabbed with Rs 87 lakh belonging to the SBI’s Kedarnath branch

- Another man was caught with Rs 83 lakh while others have been caught with smaller sums and gold ornaments

- Jewellery, including anklets and gold bangles, of several of the deceased is missing; in some cases, fingers have been chopped off to remove rings

Tuesday 25 June 2013



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Emotional protest in Bangladesh two months after disaster

Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment workers and survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse staged an emotional protest yesterday, on the two-month anniversary of the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Relatives called on the government to account for those still missing and other workers demanded proper payment and compensation at the site of the disaster outside the capital Dhaka, where the building collapsed on April 24, killing 1,129 people.

Many of the relatives burst into tears as they told of their attempts to find their loved ones, while others called for the death penalty for the owner of the building, which housed factories making clothes for Western retailers.

“I’ve not found my elder sister Laboni Begum’s body,” said Shimu Akter, 18, a garment worker who was rescued from the rubble two hours after the building caved in. “We have seen everybody the authorities recovered. But she was not among them.”

A local government official said 316 workers were still missing, but the authorities said they could be among hundreds who were buried in a state graveyard after their bodies could not be identified.

The government has collected DNA samples of those buried who were not identified at the time, and said they would match those samples with relatives to ensure they were compensated.

But some family members said they wanted their loved ones’ bodies, not the money, so they could be buried properly.

“I want my brother’s body. We want to take him to our village and bury him at our family graveyard,” said Sujan, who uses just one name.

The collapse of the nine-story complex focused global attention on appalling safety standards at plants in Bangladesh, the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China.

Twelve people have so far been arrested over the disaster, including the building owner, his father, and four factory owners. Many survivors joined the protest, demanding unpaid salaries and severance benefits. Thousands of workers were laid off after the five garment factories operating in the complex were shut down following the collapse.

“The authorities gave me only 8,500 taka ($ 110) as compensation and nothing,” said Maleka Begum, who left the building only moments before the collapse to buy medicine.

“I want all my severance benefits and my unpaid overtime,” she said, joining scores of others at the protest. Authorities say at least 2,438 people — mostly female garment workers — were rescued from the site, including 968 people who were seriously injured.

After the disaster, the government launched inspections of all garment factories to try to reassure Western retailers including Walmart, H&M, Tesco and Inditex of improved safety conditions.

But unions and experts said hundreds of factories were still operating in shoddy buildings, raising fears that another tragedy could occur at any time.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Uttarakhand: As epidemic threat looms, seers clear mass funeral at Kedarnath

With most stranded pilgrims and locals having been evacuated from the Kedarnath-Gaurikund axis, the next big challenge confronting the authorities is the disposal of hundreds of corpses that are littered in and around the holy shrine. Unless that's the done, it would be difficult to ward off the outbreak of deadly diseases in the already ravaged hills.

As an emergency measure, Union home minister had consultations with top holy men, including Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand. The question to them was: would a mass cremation pollute the temple? The seers are learnt to have said it would not if the cremation was done in accordance with the proper rituals and in a wooden pyre.

Accordingly, 150 quintals of wood, sourced from local depots, was transported to Gauchar. The consignment reached there at 3pm on Monday. From there the wood would be moved to Kedarnath by helicopter. Given the amount of wood that's required, it would take a very large number of sorties.

However, nothing could be done on Monday as the weather turned inclement and driving rain prevented choppers from flying. "We hope to complete the mass cremation by Tuesday," said DIG Sanjay Gunjyal, who has tasked with the job of cremating unidentified and unclaimed bodies.

The bottomline is that another day has been lost. The corpses have been lying for days, some since June 16 (eight days ago), out in the sun and rain, and in an advanced stage of decay and decomposition.

Before the cremation, the authorities would be taking video and still pictures of the bodies as well as their DNA samples. This is for their identification which would help the bereaved families to bring closure to the tragedy.

With the state government finally getting some kind of control over the situation, it said that there was no threat of hunger or shelter for the stranded pilgrims in Joshimath and Badrinath, or in Gangotri and Yamunotri. And finally, there was some attention being given to the locals who have suffered the most as their homes and livelihood have been wrecked by the floods.

On Monday, Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna gave a cold shoulder to the offer of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to rebuild the Kedarnath shrine with the help of "best technology". Bahuguna told TOI: "Let me say very emphatically, that the entire premises of the temple will be built by the state government. Whosoever wants to do charity and donate to the temple is welcome but it is our responsibility and duty and we would not share that. There is no compromise on Kedarnath."

The humans dimension of the tragedy hasn't diminished even after eight days. With thousands still missing, there are hundreds of desperate relatives here asking one and all if they've seen their loved ones. At Jolly Grant airport, an entire wall is plastered with photographs of the missing.

Coming back to the mass cremation, it is easier said than done as bodies have to be extricated first, as the focus so far been on rescuing the living. Experts say this process will take at least a week if not longer. Bodies are at places buried in rubble 10 feet deep. At Rambara bodies may not be possible to extricate as many of them lie buried under 30 feet of mud.

The Centre and the Uttarakhand government, apart from finalising the standard operating procedures for identification and cremation of the bodies, are working on a centralized missing persons database. According to sources, photographs are likely to be uploaded on the official website of the state governments depending on where they are found.

Even though the weather forecast indicates heavy rain until June 28, the agencies are hopeful that even a limited window will help rescue the remaining people. While 100-150 persons remain to be evacuated from Kedarnath-Gourikund, those stranded at Badrinath do not face a life-threatening situation as they have adequate food and shelter. Union home secretary R K Singh said a day more was needed to rescue all from Harsil.

Meanwhile, the nodal officer appointed by the Centre for coordination between various agencies engaged in disaster relief, V K Duggal, met their senior representatives here on Monday to sort out "operational issues" and "communication gaps". At the meeting, the IMD chief briefed the agencies of the weather forecast for the next two weeks.

Tuesday 25 June 2013


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Uttar Pradesh forms special cell to trace its missing people in Uttarakhand

Amidst reports of 11 more bodies of those swept away by the flash floods in Uttarakhand recovered from rivers in UP, the state government on Monday constituted a special cell to trace UP pilgrims and tourists reported missing in Uttarakhand following the catastrophic deluge and landslides. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said people of the state affected by the calamity would be identified through district magistrates and assistance would be extended to them. State government officials have been sent for relief and rescue work in Uttarakhand, he added.

Ashok Kumar Singh, officer on special duty at the Communalism Prevention section of the state home department, has been made nodal officer of the cell. The postal address of the cell is: Communalism Prevention Section, Lal Bahadur Shastri Bhawan, Hazratganj, Lucknow, 226001. Fax numbers are 0522-2238409 and 0522-2238407. Phone numbers are 0522-2239295 and 9454405067. Email osdsnp@yahoo.com. The nodal officer will also coordinate with the authorities in Uttarakhand.

According to principal secretary Home, S M Srivastava, district magistrates will be responsible for collection of information about missing persons, verification, coordination and help to the people. District magistrates will form a cells in their respective districts and depute an officer. The name, phone number, email, fax and coordinates of the officers will be publicised through media. The district level cells will prepare a database of missing persons and persons who have lodged the complaint. They will also record efforts by the authorities to track the missing persons and provide it to officials on daily basis.

Meanwhile, eleven more bodies, including of women and children, were recovered from the rivers in Bijnor and Bulandshahr districts. A circular has been issued to police chiefs to keep tab of the rivers. According to information received at police and relief commissioner's control rooms, over 1,000 persons from Uttar Pradesh were still missing. Special secretary, Revenue, G Srinivas said four camps have been set up by the state government in Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun to take care of people of UP who have been rescued. While around 900 persons are in Haridwar, about 450 are in Rishikesh and 540-odd in Dehradun.

According to the list prepared by the control room on the basis of the complaints received so far, maximum 59 persons missing or trapped in Uttarakhand are from Lucknow, followed by 50 from Amethi, 39 from Kanpur, 30 from Gonda, 26 each from Ghazipur and Pratapgarh, 25 from Bulandshahr, 15 fom Mathura, 14 each from Balrampur and Faizabad, 13 each from Aligarh and Allahabad, 12 each from Meerut and Gorakhpur, 11 each from Ghaziabad, Agra, Sitapur and Deoria and 10 each from Azamgarh and Jhansi among others.

Monday 24 June 2013


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