Friday, 11 April 2014

Ghana: 37 Hospital to bury 281 unclaimed bodies

The 37 Military Hospital on Thursday said it would carry out a mass burial of unidentified and unclaimed bodies at the hospital’s morgue to decongest it.

The bodies comprise 254 children aged between 12 days old and 27, adults between 14 – 67 years, which have been in the morgue since 2010.

A statement issued by Major E. N. Asamoah, Deputy Director Information and Press Relations, and copied to Ghana News Agency reminded families who have not claimed the remains of their relatives to do so within next 21 days to avoid the mass burial.

Friday 11 April 2014

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Chipinge: Mass prayer at fuel tanker disaster site

On Monday this week, hundreds of people thronged the site where on October 30 last year, the most horrific traffic accident in living memory for the people of Chipinge occurred at which 24 people lost their lives.

Those in attendance participated in a mass prayer to cleanse the place and appealed to the higher spiritual being to remove the spirit of death pervading the country as we approach the Easter and Independence holidays.

Different denominations led by their pastors went on a spiritual journey as the Manzvire community re-lived the horrors of that day and a family representative, Mr Mashapa, urged the authorities to build a structure in memory of the deceased and put a memorial plaque with names of the dead just like at the Regina Coeli and Musani road disaster sites.

Reverend Godfrey Dhundu, the vice-president of UCCZ; Chipinge District Administrator Cde Edgar Seenza; Chipinge South MP Cde Enock Porusingazi; Chief Vhusani Musikavanhu, Civil Service Commissioner in Chipinge Mr Maxwell Jenya and Education Inspector Locardia Meda were among the crowd that braved the chilly weather to witness the mass prayer which many observers felt was long overdue.

Rev Mushonga quoted the Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:5, and urged people to mourn with the full knowledge that God will never abandon his people even when a road seems to lead to a cul-de-sac.

The Traffic Safety Board representative urged people to take care of their livestock lest they contribute to the road carnage that claims over 2 000 lives annually in Zimbabwe. She said plans are underway to rid the highway of livestock by impounding any cattle found along the major roads. If one wants his cattle back, then he has to pay for the service rendered by Government.

Further to that, Cde Seenza and Cde Porusingazi said there would be concerted efforts by the Government to ensure that a memorial structure is built at the site. Cde Porusingazi urged the traditional leadership to consider doing its own ceremony that will help to cleanse the area.

He lamented the fact that road accidents continued to claim innocent lives in the area. He gave the example of a Rimbi woman who was a victim of a freak road accident when she was hit by a reversing car that had passed her only to stop and reverse and hit her dragging her for some metres; she was rushed to hospital but died on her way there.

Chief Musikavanhu urged people to look after their livestock; livestock-induced accidents would be a thing of the past. He reiterated that a traditional cleansing ceremony must be undertaken at the site without delay. That was greeted with much applause from the crowd.

Through song, poetry, powerful mass prayers, the men and women of cloth appealed to the Almighty God to destroy the spirit pervading the country that takes pleasure in destroying lives through road accidents. Vehicles are good when we are transported from one point to another without incident but at the rate accidents are occurring, the vehicle appears to be a curse rather than a blessing.

A love offering was proposed by the treasurer of the multi-denominational gathering; $103.52 was raised from the gathering and it is going to go toward the expenses of the memorial service that will be held at the Mlambo and Kumbani family households on April 19, this year.

It is hurtful that to date, science has been unable to use DNA testing to ascertain the identities of some bodies that were burnt on that fateful day in October last year. Six months on, there are fresh wounds in the minds of the relatives who suffered terribly from the demise of their loved ones. To that end, speaker after speaker stressed the need for the community and the nation to be alive to the need to give comfort to those who are still hurting from the tragedy that visited the tranquil corner of Chipinge.

The victims died as they were burnt to death in the fireball that ensued after a Greenfuel haulage truck loaded with ethanol collided head on with a Madza T35 truck ferrying mourners.

What pained most is that the accident comes at a time when a ray of hope was beaming across the Lowveld area following the re-opening of the giant ethanol plant as well as the gazetting of the 10 percent ethanol mandatory blending. Among the victims, the bulk of them were family members and relatives and thus the impact of this tragedy definitely cascaded down into the community. This is a major disaster to hit the area in recent years.

However, when accidents like these happen, a lot of lessons must be learnt in order for humanity to devise precautionary measures and serve lives in future. Such incidences must be avoided. The authorities should be reminded that the establishment of the ethanol plant meant that disaster management systems must also have been put in place.

A holistic approach which involved all stakeholders should be effected to ensure that as the nation benefits from the production of ethanol in Chisumbanje, lives need to be protected in the event of disasters of such a magnitude.

This calls for the speedy development of life-saving facilities such as hospitals and fire tenders. Those who witnessed the accident said people watched helplessly as the victims were burnt in the inferno.

There was nothing to put out the fire. Had there been fire tenders in the vicinity something could have been done to minimise human and property loss. Road accidents are claiming lives daily and the police have constantly urged drivers to exercise caution and drive well.

The Government through the relevant ministry has also been urged to upgrade the Chisumbanje highway as some parts of the roads have potholes.

Friday 11 April 2014

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Zambia: 8 people drown after Hippo attacks their boat

Eight people have drowned in Chuungu Lagoon in Lochinvar Game park after a vicious hippo hit the two paddling boats in which they were.

Confirming the death of the eight people Lochinvar park ranger, James David Phiri, told Monze DC, Biggie Mwiinde, that two paddling boats carrying four and 12 people respectively were hit by a vicious hippo suspected to have been nursing its young ones in the area around 05:00hrs on Monday.

Mr Phiri explained that the vicious hippo hit the two boats on the same day and eight people drowned while six were rescued by marine travellers.

The ranger said among the deceased were three adult females of which one was pregnant and five children aged between two to three years.

He further said by yesterday only two bodies of juveniles were retrieved and six bodies were still missing while the searching continued.

Meanwhile Monze District Commissioner, Biggie Mwiinde, has described the situation as a disaster to the district and a nation as a whole.

Mr Mwiinde and Chieftainess Choongo have appealed to ZAWA to crop the beast in order to save human life.

Friday 11 April 2014

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How deep is deep? Imagining the MH370 search underwater

Just how hard is it to find a plane at the bottom of the ocean?

Imagine standing on a mountain top and trying to spot a suitcase on the ground below. Then imagine doing it in complete darkness.

That's basically what crews searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have been trying to do for a month.

Thursday is Day 34 in the search for the plane that disappeared March 8, taking with it 239 passengers and crew members.

Officials believe the Boeing 777, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Pinning their hopes on signals they think came from the plane's black boxes, they narrowed the focus of their search Thursday to a 22,400-square-mile (58,000-square-kilometer) area -- about 45 times the size of Los Angeles.

But the real challenge is the depth of the water they're dealing with.

Staggering depths

The underwater pulses that were detected Saturday, and again Tuesday, came from the ocean floor 15,000 feet below the surface. That's 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers). On Thursday, said officials said another signal may have been detected from sonar buoys.

How deep is 2.8 miles? It's deeper than an inverted Statue of Liberty (305 feet), deeper than an inverted Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet), deeper even than an inverted Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (2,717 feet).

In fact, if you stacked the Burj end-to-end five times, it would reach only 14,000 feet -- still not deep enough to reach the spot searchers believe the pings are coming from.

At these depths, marine life is unlike anything most people have ever seen.

"The deeper you go you find less and less," marine biologist Paula Carlson said. "They have to be very cold tolerant, they might not even have eyes. They may be blind, because they don't need to see, there's no light down there."

Keep plunging

The pressure at nearly 15,000 feet is crushing -- so much so that very few manned submarines can withstand it.

"There are only about half a dozen subs that can go to half the ocean depth with a number of countries having that capability," said Sylvia Earle, an oceanographer for National Geographic. "If it gets to the point of collapse, it basically implodes, it just crushes."

Only a handful of people have traveled to such staggering depths. One of them is movie director James Cameron, who using a state-of-the-art vessel, dropped 35,000 feet, or about 7 miles, to the deepest place on Earth -- the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific Ocean.

A daunting task

Finding the plane is daunting. Bringing it back from the deep will be even more difficult.

"At these depths ... there's no recovery like it," said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

When the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic, it took some 70 years to discover the wreckage. It was resting 12,500 feet below the ocean's surface, and it still lies there today.

When Air France Flight 447, with 228 people on board, plunged into the South Atlantic Ocean during a storm in 2009, the precise location of the wreckage remained a mystery for almost two years.

Then the plane and its dead were found in a mountain range 13,100-feet deep on the ocean floor. Miniature submersible vehicles retrieved the Flight 447's voice and flight data recorders.

Eventually 154 bodies were recovered. Seventy-four still rest in the watery grave.

Not giving up

But Amirtham Arupilai isn't accepting that fate for her son, Puspanathan, who was on board MH370.

"My inside and my heart is telling me still they are alive -- all the passengers are alive," Arupilai said.

Her son, an IT specialist, was headed to Beijing to begin a new job. To his parents, he was everything.

She calls Puspanathan's cell phone and hears his voice mail greeting. She takes it as a sign he must be safe.

Friday 11 April 2014

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3 more victims from mudslide identified Thursday; death toll stands at 36

Three more victims of Washington’s mudslide were identified Thursday, including a man who was previously listed as a “John Doe” on the missing list. The official death toll remained at 36 Thursday, with eight other people missing.

The medical examiner’s office said Michael W. Pearson was previously listed as an unidentified “John Doe” who had extensive dental work with gold fillings.

Though crews are making their way and finding bodies, eight people remained on the missing list as of Thursday, April 10. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office asked the public to contact them if they know the whereabouts of anyone on the missing list.

The slide leveled at least 35 houses and 14 other homes and dammed the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River on March 22.

The debris field stretches over one square mile. Some survivors were rescued in the immediate aftermath of the mudslide on that Saturday morning, but hundreds of searchers, including local volunteers scouring the area for family members and friends, and specially trained dogs have found no signs of life since then.

Friday 11 April 2014

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South Korea asks North Korea to confirm body of missing North Korean sailor

South Korea has asked the North to confirm whether a body recovered off the coast of South Korea's southern city of Yeosu is that of a missing North Korean sailor.

Seoul's unification ministry sent a Red Cross message and photo of the body to the North on Friday with plans to hand the remains over once it receives a response.

Last week, a Mongolian-flagged cargo ship sank in South Korean waters with 16 North Korea sailors on board.

Three were rescued alive and repatriated to the North, 11 remain missing and two bodies previously recovered were returned to the North earlier this week.

Friday 11 April 2014

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