Sunday, 26 January 2014

21 killed as tourist boat sinks in India

A boat carrying local tourists capsized Sunday in India's Andaman Sea in the Bay of Bengal, killing 21 people, officials said.

The boat was carrying 43 people when it sank between Ross Island and North Bay near Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Some 13 survivors were pulled from the water after a search and rescue operation was launched.

Rescuers were looking for another 11 people believed to be missing, she said.

The boat sank off the eastern Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and police official Shahji said the tourists were all Indians.

Initial reports said the ferry developed a crack in the hull and sank, according to Shahji, who uses one name. Authorities ordered an inquiry.

Accidents are common in India as many ferries are poorly built and often overcrowded, with little regard for safety regulations.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are more than 600 miles (1,000km) from the Indian mainland and are flanked by the Andaman Sea to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.

Saturday 26 January 2014

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Mumbai: In anonymity even after death

Every third person dying on railway tracks in city is unidentified.

Nearly one third of the people dying on railway premises in the city remain unidentified, according to statistics provided the government railway police. In 2013, the GRP disposed of bodies of 1,119 of the 3,506 people who died in areas under their jurisdiction.

Considering that nearly 75 lakh commuters use the suburban network daily, the figures are a grim reminder of the number of people living in Mumbai without an identity. While most of them take up low-wage jobs, which provide little or no security, many end up being beggars and junkies.

The latest data shows that Kalyan, Kurla, CST, Borivli and Thane registered the highest number of unclaimed bodies last year. While 156 unclaimed bodies were found in Kalyan, there were 101 people who remained anonymous even after death at CST.

Mumbai, the city of opportunities, attracts thousands of migrants from various parts of the country every year. Struggling to find a roof over the head, most of these newcomers settle in slum pockets and far-flung areas, before becoming users of Mumbai's rail network.

From time to time, media and the police have been exposing how these migrants take up the jobs of security guards and labourers at construction sites without their credentials being examined.

The situation may also pose a problem on security front, say cops.

“When we come across the body of a body of an unidentified person, we take a photograph of the deceased, and along with his/her description, circulate it to all police stations, control rooms across the state. We also telecast it via Doordarshan and publish it in newspapers to trace the person's relatives,” said an officer of Mumbai Railway Police.

The officer added that while they wait for a claimant to turn up, the body is kept in the morgue of a government-run hospital for eight days. If it remains unclaimed for long, railway cops dispose of it. Saying it is always challenge to trace the relatives of a beggar or a drug addict, Rajendra Pal, inspector at Mumbai Railway Police Headquarters said, “Thanks to railway police's sincere efforts, the number of unclaimed bodies has dropped from 1,392 in 2008 to 1,119 in 2013.”

He said that the Mumbai GRP commissioner Prabhat Kumar launched a website in June 2012 to help people trace the identity of victims found on railway tracks.

The public can do a search on missing people by giving their physical description on the website.

Sunday 26 January 2014

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Quebec fire crews find more bodies, many still missing

Crews recovered two more bodies on the third day of search efforts at a retirement home in Quebec that was destroyed by fire.

Ten people are confirmed dead after Thursday’s blaze in L’Isle Verte, north-east of Canada’s Quebec City. Twenty-two are missing.

Search teams brought in new equipment – designed mainly for de-icing ships – as temperatures hovered around -10C (14F).

Police are examining the theory the fire was started by a cigarette.

However, spokesman Lt Guy Lapointe told a news conference on Saturday that it was one possibility among many.

The ruins of the Residence du Havre have collapsed and are frozen over with a thick layer of ice from fire hoses.

“The conditions are very, very difficult,” Lt Guy said on Saturday. “Our people are exhausted.”

He said the ice was as thick as 60cm (2ft) in places.

About 20 elderly residents survived the fire, officials say.

The Red Cross said it had raised about 200,000 Canadian dollars/$US180,000 to provide them with clothes, hearing aids, wheelchairs, and other urgent supplies.

Police said the process of clearing the ice would continue into Saturday night and the search efforts would resume on Sunday.

Sunday 26 January 2014

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