Monday, 5 May 2014

ZSwaziland: At least 13 people die in collision

At least 13 people died in a head-on collision yesterday involving an Iveco midibus and an Opel Corsa Utility van.

About 19 people were rushed to Good Shepherd Hospital. The gruesome accident happened near Mbadlane and Malindza when an Iveco midibus trading under the name Thulas Transport collided with a white Opel Corsa van. Thulas Transport is said to have been travelling from the Manzini direction towards Siteki while the Corsa was driving towards Manzini.

The van had six people on board; two were at the back of the bakkie while the four were in the front. “There was a man and a woman with two minors in the front. There were also two people sitting at the back. They all died on the spot,” a witness said.

The witness further said the people who had been sitting in front in the Corsa van were trapped for over an hour before they could be retrieved.

It is said that when the collision happened, some people tried to get out through the windows of the midibus. “When the midibus and the Corsa collided, some people tried to escape through the windows. It was in that moment that some were injured and others lost their lives,” the witness said.

Lucky Mngometulu, the driver of the midibus said he was driving from Manzini while the Corsa was driving towards the opposite direction. He said the accident was caused by the Corsa which suddenly switched lanes towards the oncoming Iveco.

“I was driving towards Siteki when the Corsa utility van came speeding on my lane. It was overtaking. The next sound I heard was a loud bang when the two vehicles collided,” he said.

The road was closed for over two hours as the vehicles had blocked it. Police had to control the traffic on the side to ease the congestion. Debris of shattered glass were scattered all over the tarmac while bodies were also sprawled all over the place. Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed the accident. He said 13 people were confirmed dead while 19 were rushed to hospital. “There were 13 people who died in an accident around Mbadlane. The accident involved an Iveco and an Opel Corsa Utility van. What we gathered is that all the passengers in the Utility van died. Police are investigating the cause of the accident,” he said.

Mamba pleaded with the public to drive within the speed limit as in most instances, speed contributes. This accident happened just five days after another horrific accident along Malagwane where, according to the police, two people died while 35 were injured and five were reported to be in a critical condition. Government has initiated an inquiry to establish what could have caused the accident.

Monday 05 May 2014

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Crew missing after cargo ships collide near Hong Kong

Eleven crew members of a Chinese cargo ship were missing following a collision with a container ship in waters off Hong Kong.

The cargo ship Zhong Xing 2 sank after the collision with the 300-metre long Marshall Islands-registered MOL Motivator about two nautical miles south-west of Po Toi Island, a spokeswoman of the Hong Kong maritime department said.

"Zhong Xing 2 is suspected to have sunk after the collision, and it is reported there are 12 crew on board," said the spokeswoman. "One of them was picked up by a fishing vessel navigating close by." The remaining 11 crew were reported missing.

Hong Kong's marine rescue co-ordination centre has deployed one helicopter, five marine police launches and three fire service department launches to assist in the search.

The 79,400-tonne MOL Motivator was travelling from Hong Kong to Yantian port in southern China. Hong Kong is the world's fourth-largest container port, after neighbouring Shenzhen. Vessels navigating near the collision site have been warned there may be a sunken ship nearby and have been asked to stay away.

The Hong Kong Observatory issued an amber rain warning, signalling expectations of heavy rain in parts of the territory overnight.

Thirty-nine people died in the city's worst maritime disaster in more than 40 years in October 2012 when a high-speed ferry collided with a pleasure boat.

Sunday 05 May 2014

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Death toll climbs to 12 in Colombia mine accident

More bodies have been pulled from a collapsed gold mine in southwestern Colombia, bringing the number of confirmed fatalities to 12. Four miners are still unaccounted for but presumed dead.

Rescue workers on Sunday had to dig through 20 meters (more than 65 feet) of heavy debris to reach victims of the rock fall that happened Wednesday night in the rural town of Santander de Quilichao.

Mining accidents are common in Colombia, especially at illegal mines like this one in areas dominated by criminal gangs.

Mayor Eduardo Grijalba has asked Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to help end illegal mining after failed efforts by local authorities to shut down the mine that collapsed.

Sunday 05 May 2014

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Maharashtra train derailment: Death toll goes up to 21, traffic resumes

The death toll in the train derailment in Maharashtra's Raigad district has gone up to 21 even as the traffic on the affected stretch was restored on Monday morning.

A Central Railway official put the number of those injured in the mishap to 123.

Nineteen people were killed on Sunday when the engine and four bogies of the Diwa-Sawantwadi passenger train derailed between Nagothane and Roha stations of Raigad.

The official said the death toll has gone up to 21, but did not give details of whether more bodies were recovered or those killed were from the injured who succumbed.

The traffic was restored completely at 4.30am on the Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) route.

"The traffic has resumed and all the trains are running on time except for those which were diverted after the accident," KRCL's Public Relation Manager Baban Ghatge said.

Five trains had to be cancelled after the accident on Sunday, he said.

"The traffic is normal now. The trains will be on time," he added.

The KRCL route terminates at Roha.

Following the mishap, services on Konkan Railway route were suspended. Some trains were diverted via Panvel-Lonavala-Pune-Miraj-Londa-Madgaon and a few cancelled.

A goods train had derailed last month on the route, affecting services.

The Railways ordered an inquiry and railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge had announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh for the next of the kin those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously hurt and Rs 10,000 for passengers who suffered minor injuries.

Railway Board chairman Arunendra Kumar had said that commissioner (safety) Chetan Bakshi was conducting an inquiry into one of the worst train mishaps in the state in recent times.

Monday 05 May 2014

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Afghanistan declares site of horrific landslide a mass grave as threat of flooding forces villagers to evacuate

As Afghans observed a day of mourning Sunday for the hundreds of people killed in a horrific landslide, authorities tried to help the 700 families displaced by the torrent of mud that swept through their village.

President Hamid Karzai ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff as he called for aid and financial assistance. Local officials and residents in Badakhshan province had lost hope of finding survivors after recovering only 15 bodies, according to Naweed Frotan, a spokesman for the province bordering China and Tajikistan. Authorities have declared the site a mass grave.

As many as 2,000 people are believed dead after the side of a mountain gave way, burying the village of Ab-e-Barak under 40 metres of mud and rocks. An additional 4,000 people have been displaced, according to Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, who provided the death toll.

The missing people “are all dead by now,” said Frotan. “We’re unable to bring the bodies out. There’s no way except to abandon them there.” As many as 2,700 people may be buried, Badakhshan Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said yesterday.

The families left their homes due to the threat of more landslides in the village of Abi Barik in Badakhshan province, Minister for Rural Rehabilitation Wais Ahmad Barmak said.

Another reason for the evacuation was the threat of flooding caused in part by the landslide itself, said Mohammad Daim Kakar, from the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority. He said the shifting earth had made it difficult for water to drain through the valley – a serious concern as rain continued to fall Sunday.

Engineers are working on a plan to divert the water, he said. Aid groups and the government have rushed to the remote area in northeastern Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan and China with food, shelter and water. But for those affected, help was slow to arrive.

“My family, my wife and eight children are alive, but have nothing to use as shelter. We have nothing to eat,” said Barat Bay, a 50-year-old farmer and father of eight. “We have passed the last two nights with our children at the top of this hill with no tent, no blanket.”

Kakar, who visited the area Sunday, acknowledged that aid had yet to reach some people but said their efforts were complicated by villagers from areas unaffected by the landslide also coming to claim the aid.

A spokesman for the International Organization of Migration, Matt Graydon, said the group is bringing solar-powered lanterns, blankets and shelter kits. He said after a visit to the area Sunday that some residents have gone to nearby villages to stay with family or friends while others have slept out in the open.

“Some people left with almost nothing,” Graydon said.

Authorities visiting from Kabul gave $800,000 to the provincial governor during visits on Saturday and Sunday to use in the aid effort, said Kakar and Barmak, who promised that the government would pay more if needed.

Karzai designated Sunday as a day of mourning for the hundreds of people who died. Authorities still don’t have an exact figure on how many people died in the landslide, Barmak said, and estimates have ranged from 250 to 2,700.

The government has identified 250 people who died and estimated that 300 houses were buried under tons of mud, Barmak said.

It will be impossible to dig up all the bodies, but many people continue to look on their own, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the head of Badakhshan province’s National Disaster Department. He said officials met with community elders Sunday in Faizabad, the provincial capital, to see whether they wanted the government to continue digging, but said no final decision has been made.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Karzai on Sunday to offer his condolences and additional assistance for the relief efforts. A White House statement about the call did not elaborate.

Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of war since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have taken a toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities.

Already this year, 159 people have died in April and May from flooding, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday in a statement. New waves of flooding are expected in two northern provinces, the agency said.

Sunday 05 May 2014

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Death toll in South Korea ferry disaster rises to 260

The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster has jumped to 260, with 42 people still missing, the government reported Monday.

The higher death toll comes after 11 more bodies were retrieved from the fourth deck of the Sewol ferry, according to South Korea's Government Rescue Headquarters.

On Sunday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited the port where the rescue operation is based, to console families and encourage divers.

More than 100 divers are combing the ship room by room, looking for the remaining missing bodies.

The search and rescue operation has turned into a grueling recovery of corpses. No one has been found alive since the ferry sank April 16, with a passenger load largely made up of high school students on a field trip.

The work has become even more difficult because divers have faced closed cabin doors blocked by debris.

Corralling the debris has been difficult for search teams.

Mattresses and clothing from the ship have been found up to 9 miles (15 km) away from the accident site, said Park Seung-ki, a spokesman for the rescue operation.

Large stow and trawler nets will be set up around the sunken ship to catch items that may float away, he said.

The ferry sank en route from Incheon to the resort island of Jeju, off the nation's southwestern coast.

Monday 05 May 2014

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18 migrants dead and 30 missing after boats capsize off Greece

Two migrants have drowned and 30 more are missing after their boats capsized in the Aegean sea, Greece's coastguard said on Monday.

More than 60 migrants of unknown nationality had attempted to cross the sea from neighbouring Turkey when their two dinghies capsized near the Greek island of Samos, the coastguard said.

It has so far picked up 36 survivors and two dead, and the operation is ongoing.

"Two drowned bodies were found and 36 migrants have been rescued ... About 30 are missing," an official told Reuters.

Authorities said they did not yet know the nationality of the migrants. Two air force helicopters, assisted by two coastguard vessels, one navy warship and a cruise liner were searching for the missing, the coast guard official said.

Greece, Italy and Malta have repeatedly pressed European Union partners to do more to help them handle the large numbers of migrants.

Greece is one of the main ports of entry into the European Union for people fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

People traffickers are using Greece's Aegean islands as a preferred route into Europe following a tightening of migration controls along its land border with Turkey.

Sunday 04 May 2014

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