Sunday, 2 February 2014

Recovery efforts in L'Isle-Verte end

Rescue operations have been suspended in the town of L'Isle-Verte where a deadly fire tore through the Residence du Havre seniors home on January 23.

"Our experts have combed the entire area," said Surete de Quebec Lt. Michel Brunet. "The search for victims is over, but we will continue to investigate the cause of the fire."

Thirty two people died in the fire. Twenty seven bodies were recovered, while five bodies are still unaccounted for. Police hope that they will be identified through DNA matching on human remains discovered on-site.

Ten of the bodies that were recovered have been officially identified, and nine of those names have been made public. The most recent name to be released was Madeleine Fraser, 86.

A memorial mass was held on Saturday in L'Isle-Verte to pay tribute to the victims. Attendees included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, and Governor General David Johnston.

Sunday 02 February 2014

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Families hold memorial service for Diglake miners

Families of the men and boys who died in a Staffordshire mining disaster more than 100 years ago are holding a memorial service.

Many of the bodies of the 80 miners were never recovered, following a flood at Diglake Colliery in January 1895.

Villagers are campaigning against UK Coal's plans to carry out opencast mining in the area because of the sensitivity surrounding the site.

A UK Coal representative said their sympathies were with the families.

Judith Edgeley, from Audley, lost her great-great grandfather William Roberts in the disaster.

She said: "We grew up knowing all about it. I lived on the street where William lived and, when you look at the records from the disaster, nearly every house was affected in that street.

"There are still 77 men and boys down there whose bodies were never recovered."

Ms Edgeley said the names of the missing men would be read out at the service, in the cemetery on Chapel Street in Bignall End.

"There are still families around here who lost loved ones and it's important to show we don't forget them," she said.

"These men and boys weren't afforded a Christian burial. These families had nowhere to go and grieve."

Ms Edgeley added she was part of the campaign to stop mining in the area.

"This sort of thing has been rearing its head for a long time," she said. "Various companies have wanted to come back and mine but, in the past, the fact there are bodies there has frightened people away."

A UK Coal statement said: "Our sympathies are with the families of those lost at the Diglake Disaster of 1895.

"We are, after all, a coal mining company and we regularly hold and attend similar memorials to colleagues and friends lost in the industry.

"We, of course, remain sensitive to this issue. During our conversations with the community last year we discussed this matter at length. These discussions have helped shape the revised plans which are still being worked on.

"The planning application we submit to Staffordshire County Council will be carefully thought through and designed to ensure the disaster area is not disturbed."

Sunday 02 February 2014

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Death toll climbs after major volcanic eruption in Indonesia

The death toll from the sudden eruption of an active volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island rose to 15, officials said Sunday, as toxic clouds of hot ash hampered search and rescue teams looking for more victims and survivors.

Among the victims from the volcanic activity Saturday in North Sumatra Province were local residents checking on their homes, a journalist and a group of high school students and their teacher, said Yopie Haryadi, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

The teams resumed searching Sunday but were forced to stop and take cover when sirens activated to warn that the area around the volcano, Mount Sinabung, was not safe. One of three people who were injured during Saturday’s eruptions died in a hospital, Mr. Yopie said. Officials have warned that the volcano could erupt again and that the death toll could rise because of people ignoring warnings and returning to their homes.

The bodies of the first 14 victims were recovered Saturday, Mr. Yopie said. “No one is reported missing, but we don’t know for sure,” he said. “Sometimes people can come and go to check on their homes. We will try to search again, but we have to wait until the situation is clear, given the hot clouds.”

He said the first 14 victims were found in the village of Suka Meriah, which lies within a three-mile exclusion zone around the volcano’s crater. The high school students were in the disaster area distributing aid on behalf of the Indonesian Christian Students Movement, according to a local news reporter at the scene.

Around 30,000 people have been evacuated from the area in the weeks after Mount Sinabung resumed erupting in November.

In January, the volcano was erupting dozens of times a day, but it had quieted in recent days. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a visit to the disaster zone on Jan. 23 to comfort displaced residents camped out in evacuation centers and to discuss reconstruction efforts.

On Friday, local authorities in North Sumatra allowed nearly 14,000 people living outside the danger zone to return home after volcanic activity decreased, said Parlindungan Harahap, a reporter for Sumut Pos, the newspaper in the provincial capital, Medan. Others living close to the peak have been returning home over the past four months despite the dangers.

On Sunday afternoon, officials from the National Board for Disaster Management appeared on national television to deny reports that the agency had authorized evacuees to return home, saying they had placed warning notices and posted guards at access points to Mount Sinabung’s slopes. Some local residents, however, have ignored the warnings and used small, unguarded roads to return to check on their property in recent days.

On Saturday, a series of huge blasts and eruptions from the 8,530-foot-high volcano sent lava and rock flows up to nearly three miles away, according to news reports. Local television reports during the weekend showed giant gray clouds cloaking Mount Sinabung’s crater, farms and roads around the volcano covered in ash, and panicked local residents running away from plumes of smoke.

Television news footage showed people bringing the bodies of some of the 14 victims down the mountain in makeshift rescue vehicles and on motorbikes.

After Saturday’s eruptions, all those who had been allowed to return home on Friday were ordered back into evacuation centers, The Associated Press reported.

Sunday 02 February 2014

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