Thursday, 10 October 2013

Remains found on Costa Concordia maybe female's

Human remains found on the wreck of the Costa Concordia off Italy's Tuscan coast may belong to a woman, investigators said Thursday. The remains were discovered two days ago and were initially thought to be those of Indian crew member Russel Rebello, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

However, investigators said they may actually be the remains of Italian passenger Maria Grazia Tricarichi.

In January, 2012, the Costa Concordia partially sank, killing 32 people. The bodies of Rebello and Tricarichi were not found.

Thursday 10 October 2013

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Bodies of three US Marines found on Guadalcanal

The bodies of three US Marines who were killed fighting against the Japanese on Guadalcanal have been found.

DNA tests are still to be done but wartime field burial records and dog tags on the remains confirm they are Privates Bernes, Drake and Morrissey, all killed on the 9th of October 1942.

They were members of the 1st battalion, 7th Marines, the unit led by legendary US Marine commander Chesty Puller.

Historian John Innes, who runs battlefield tours in Solomon Islands, says as the Honiara urban area expands, more such discoveries are likely.

Thursday 10 October 2013

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18 killed in Punjab road accident

At least eighteen people were killed and 40 others injured after a mini bus fell into a ditch in Punjab's Hoshiarpur District.

The accident occurred late last night, when the passengers were returning after visiting a shrine in Himachal Pradesh.

"Tata 407 vehicle fell into a deep ditch. We have just come from the spot and we are trying to save the maximum number of people. Around 40 people are injured who have been admitted to different hospitals. We have brought the dead bodies to the hospital," said Senior Superintendent of Police, Sukhchain Singh Gill.

According to Gill the mini bus fell in a 100 feet deep trough after the breaks of the vehicle failed.

"We have talked to several people and also to the driver, who has been taken into custody. As per them, there was some technical problem due to which the vehicle got out of control and fell into a deep trench," said Gill.

Help to the victims was delayed as the accident happened late at night. Residents of the area reached the spot to rescue and pull out the people from the trench.

Police officials later reached the accident site and rushed the injured to the hospital.

Authorities said that most of the victims belonged to Kapurthala district of Punjab.

Thursday 10 October 2013

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Italy shipwreck toll rises to 302 as more bodies recovered

The toll of ascertained deaths in the migrant shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa rose to 302 on Wednesday, while European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was visiting the place where the disaster claimed hundreds of lives last week.

Divers recovered another bodies from under the boat that caught fire and sank last week while carrying 518 people, mostly Eritreans and Somalis, meaning that 61 people are still missing. Only 155 survived.

Some of the 155 survivors of the tragedy said the vessel was carrying 518 people when it departed from Libya's coast, although others say dozens more were on board and that 50 additional bodies may still be found in the ship's hold.

The boat's engine reportedly went dead off Lampedusa's coast after 13 days at sea, and the migrants inadvertently set it on fire in a bid to attract the attention of passing ships.

The vessel then capsized when too many migrants had moved to one end to get away from the blaze.

Perilous journey, then 13 days at sea

The voyage to Lampedusa was supposed to be one of the migrant’s last on a long, sometimes painful journey to a new life.

Take a woman named Santa, who asked not to use her family name, for fear of retaliation against her family back home in Eritrea. The single mother of a 4-year-old boy felt she had to escape the coastal east African nation, where she had no money for food or medical care.

It was not done on a whim, especially given smugglers’ demands.

“Our relatives and friends sold all that they had — some little gold jewels, a piece of land or their house — to sponsor our trip,” Santa said.

That trek took her across Africa — jammed tight in jeeps crossing the Sahara Desert with only a few biscuits and juice to sustain them, packed in garages, occasionally beaten with a plastic water pipe if they talked or raised their eyes, she recalled.

Santa and others’ hope was simple: to have a better life. But the boat’s sinking first threatened her life, and now that she’s in Italian custody, her future.

“It’s absurd,” she said. “We come here, we work to pay our families back — if we don’t die.”

She and others spent 13 days at sea before their boat’s engine stopped less than a mile from Lampedusa, Italy’s closest island to Africa about halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. It’s a common destination for refugees seeking to enter European Union countries, and a common site of shipwrecks.

Fire on board

There’s been criticism that more was not done to help, that the Italian coast guard was too slow to respond, that they spent precious time filming footage of the rescue instead of saving more lives.

Hamid Mohammad, 18, swears an Italian vessel spotted them in trouble off the coast, but did nothing.

“The Italian’s boat started circling around us. They circled our boat twice, then just went away,” he said. “That’s when people started to panic.”

The boat’s captain told the passengers to set fire to clothes and blankets to attract attention.

“He gathered some clothes and bed sheets and lit them. But his container of benzene exploded,” Mohammad said.

The fire then spread, and when many of the migrants crowded to one side, the boat capsized, said Italian lawmaker Mario Marazziti, citing survivors’ accounts.

“People were screaming as the boat capsized,” Mohammed said.

The lucky few

In response to criticism, the coast guard Saturday defended its response time and said its crews were on site 20 minutes after receiving the SOS call.

“The moment we got the emergency call from the fishermen at 7 a.m., we immediately intervened and started coordinating the rescue operations,” said coast guard spokesman Filippo Marini.

Abrahalli Amare, 23, was one of the lucky few who were eventually rescued.

“We left our country because of hardship, so that we could live in peace and help our families,” Amare said.”But we have found this bitter sadness. It was so unexpected, so disturbing. And now we can’t think of anything else.”

Thursday 10 October 2013

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Bosnian experts find second mass grave near Prijedor

Bosnian authorities say have they found a second mass grave near one they have been working on for the past month and from which they have so far excavated the remains of about 130 Bosnians and Croats killed during the 1992-95 war.

The prosecutor's office said Wednesday teams will now work on both graves and that according to available evidence, the bodies found so far belong to non-Serbs killed in and around the northwestern town of Prijedor in 1992.

Some 1,200 Bosniaks and Croats are still missing from the area of Prijedor.

Most of them were killed in two nearby concentration camps by Serb forces seeking to eliminate non-Serbs from the parts of the country they controlled.

Global call to memorialize Prijedor victims

A group of leading experts in the field of truth-seeking and memorialization sent a public letter calling on the authorities in the northern Bosnian city of Prijedor to acknowledge the war crimes committed in this city in 1992.

According to the statement issued on Wednesday by one of the organizations that initiated this action, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in New York, the letter was sent to the Mayor Marko Pavic, to the Bosnian government, UN Secretary General, EU representatives and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The discovery of a mass grave in the village of Tomasica, near the Bosnian town of Prijedor once again illustrates the dimensions of suffering endured by the citizens of Prijedor in the 1990s. The remains exhumed from its mass graves speak the difficult truth about the atrocities committed here and leave no room for denial. We invite the Mayor of Prijedor, to rise above narrow ethnic and political agendas and reach out to Prijedor’s most vulnerable citizens – victims’ families,” the letter signed by a group of truth and memorialization experts from around the world said.

The letter, co-signed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez; President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, David Tolbert; Executive Director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Elizabeth Silkes; and leading activists on the right to truth and memorialization from Argentina, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, Peru, and South Africa, warns Prijedor authorities to stop with the practice of denial and to “uphold victims' universally recognized right to truth, which encompasses the basic right to grieve and honor their dead.”

Furthermore, the letter reminds the Mayor that crimes in Prijedor have been thoroughly documented in a number of trials before international and local courts, and that more than 30 people have been convicted.

The letter demands from Pavic to take "immediate and effective steps" to initiate the building of a memorial that will be “designed and built in consultation with victims and survivors: to allow the construction of a memorial to the victims of the Omarska detention camp: to encourage accurate, constructive, and peaceful public education about the events of 1992-1995, and to withdraw any measure that targets victims’ associations and human rights activists in Prijedor for exercising their freedom of expression.”

A mass grave was discovered in Tomasica in early September that is estimated to contain about 1,200 body remains, believed to be victims of genocide carried out by Serb forces in northern Bosnia.

During the first couple of months in 1992, the year Bosnian war began, Bosnian Serb forces took full control of the Prijedor area, and began with an "ethnic cleansing" which resulted in more than 3,000 deaths.

There are no memorials for these victims — mostly Bosnian Muslims and Croats — either In Prijedor, or surrounding areas.

Even more, Prijedor was notorious during the war for detention camps that were established by Bosnian Serb forces. Access to these places is restricted today while the victims have been prevented on several occassions to mark the place or to build a memorial.

Thursday 10 October 2013

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