Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Russia crash: At least 'Five dead' in train crash near Moscow

At least five people have died after a freight train hit a passenger train south-west of the Russian capital Moscow, officials say.

Several carriages were derailed in the crash, which happened at 12:38 (08:38 GMT) near Bekasovo 1 station, 60km (37 miles) from the capital.

Injured people were reportedly carried from the train as emergency services rushed to the scene.

The passenger train was on its way from Moscow to Chisinau in Moldova.

Russia's interior ministry said at least five people were killed and 15 were injured, although some local reports put the number of injured at as many as 45.

Officials said several carriages on the freight train came off the rails near the town of Naro-Fominsk and hit the passenger train, which was reportedly carrying about 400 people.

Several carriages on the passenger train are said to have then derailed, and some of them overturned.

Rescue coordinator Vadim Andronov told Russian news agency Itar-Tass that the death toll was likely to rise.

"One of the carriages of the passenger train was crushed by the freight train wagons," he said.

"Rescuers are working to pull out injured people being crushed by the wagon."

A spokesman for the health ministry, Oleg Salagay, said that rescue crews and medical teams were doing everything they could to save lives.

"Medics are working at the scene now, assessing the condition of the injured," he said.

"All the necessary medical aid is being provided for them, and this gives us hope for a successful outcome."

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.

Traffic on the line - which also serves Kiev in Ukraine - was suspended as a result.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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Death toll revised downward in Brazil bus crash

The death toll from a weekend bus accident in the northeastern state of Ceara was 18, not 23, Brazilian authorities said Monday.

Authorities initially had reported 23 fatalities, a figure that was reduced after the victims were identified, according to the supervisor of forensic operations in the city of Caninde, Paulo Granjeiro

A dozen other people were injured, several of them seriously.

The accident occurred around 8:45 a.m. on Sunday at Kilometer 303 on federal highway BR-020, in the vicinity of Caninde.

The bus overturned as it was trying to avoid hitting a motorcycle that had braked suddenly, the bus driver told police.

The bus left Boa Viagem at 7:00 a.m. for Fortaleza, where it had been scheduled to arrive at 11:20 a.m.

The driver, who suffered minor injuries, was subjected to a breathalyzer test which turned up negative for alcohol. The Highway Police also confirmed that the vehicle was not exceeding the speed limit.

The removal of the bodies from the crash site was delayed due to a lack of mortuary vehicles, according to a communique released by the Highway Police.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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Zimbabwe: 10 perish in Kombi crash

Ten people were killed, seven of them on the spot, while six others were seriously injured when a Chitungwiza-bound commuter omnibus veered off the road and rammed a tree just after Trek Service Station (formerly Chinhamo) along Seke Road yesterday morning. Of the three in serious condition, two died on admission at Chitungwiza Central Hospital while the other one died at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Three people were still at Parirenyatwa Hospital last night, while the other one was at the Avenues Clinic. The whereabouts of two others could not be ascertained. All were said to be in critical condition from the accident that was attributed to speeding.

Nine of the 10 bodies were at Chitungwiza Central Hospital Mortuary and the other at Parirenyatwa Hospital Mortuary. The accident occurred at around 11am. Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive officer Dr Obadiah Moyo said last night that relatives had identified six of the nine bodies.

Police were yesterday trying to ascertain the names of the other deceased. The driver of the kombi, who lived in Zengeza 4, also died on the spot. A witness, Mr Costa Hodzi, said: "The kombi veered off the road and the driver tried to control it since he was about to hit a tree.

"That is when I ran back towards my field since I suspected that the kombi could come towards where I was. I heard a huge bang and when I looked back, I discovered that the kombi had hit a tree," he said.

"Four people who were injured were taken by another kombi to the hospital while others by ambulances. Seven people died on the spot. From the information I heard so far, the driver is known for speeding by some of his colleagues," Mr Hodzi said.

When The Herald went to Parirenyatwa Hospital in the evening, the conductor and two passengers were in examination and neurological wards.

According to nurses, the two passengers did not have identification particulars.

The Herald could not speak to relatives as kombi crews threatened them with violence, but the conductor of the doomed vehicle - identified only as Barry - said: "We were 19 including me and the driver when the accident occurred. I was thrown outside the commuter omnibus upon impact and I do not have a clear picture of what happened afterwards.

"I woke up here at the hospital and I was surprised to see people surrounding me when the last thing I noticed were people lying all over. I had stitches on my arm."

When The Herald arrived on the accident scene, dead bodies were still on the ground and police were recording witnesses' statements.

The head of Police National Traffic (operations) Assistant Commissioner Shelton Dube said initial investigations showed the kombi driver tried to overtake another vehicle but lost control.

"He was coming from the city heading towards Chitungwiza and he tried to overtake another vehicle near the scene but he veered off the road and hit a tree," he said adding investigations were on going.

"We would want to urge motorists particularly kombi drivers to respect human life and observe the rules and regulations when travelling on the roads. This accident could have been avoided," he said.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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17 killed, 34 injured after bus falls into gorge in Jammu

Seventeen people were killed and 34 others injured when a passenger bus rolled down into a 400-feet deep gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban district in the wee hours of Tuesday.

The bus, which was on its way to Srinagar from Jammu, skidded off the road and rolled down into the gorge in Digdol area around 2.30 am due to the alleged negligence of the driver, police said. 17 people, including six women and a child were killed, and 34 others injured, 17 of them seriously in the mishap, they said.

Soon after the accident, army, police, quick response teams (QRTs), and CRPF led by Deputy Superintendent of Police S Bali launched rescue and search operation and recovered the bodies from the gorge, he said. The injured are being shifted to District Hospital Ramban, they said.

Authorities pressed into service chopper and airlifted 17 critically injured passengers to GMC Hospital in Jammu for specialised treatment, he said.

The bus was carrying some tourists, a group of students from Poonch going to the Kashmir Valley for taking part in a recruitment drive and some labourers including those from Gujarat and Punjab.

Some of the injured passengers told police that the driver was asked to break the journey and rest for some time but be decided to go ahead. The accident took place due to the "negligence of the driver", a police officer said. Most of the bodies recovered were badly mutilated, he said.

Newly-elected BJP MP of Udhampur Constituency Jitendra Singh expressed grief over the accident and loss of lives.He expressed sympathies with the family members of deceased. Singh, who is Delhi to attend the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting, urged authorities to provide medicare facilities to the injured and compensation to families of the deceased.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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Clyde Snow listened to the testimony of bones

With ghoulish geniality, Clyde Snow liked to say that bones made good witnesses, never lying, never forgetting, and that a skeleton, no matter how old, could sketch the tale of a human life, revealing how it had been lived, how long it had lasted, what traumas it had endured and especially how it had ended.

He was a legendary detective of forensic anthropology, the esoteric science of extracting the secrets of the dead from skeletal remains. His subjects included President John F. Kennedy, the Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele, the “disappeared ones” exhumed from mass graves in Argentina, the victims of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and even King Tutankhamen, the Egyptian pharaoh who lived 3,300 years ago.

More, Dr. Snow, who testified against Saddam Hussein and other tyrants, was the father of a modern movement that has used forensic anthropology in human-rights drives against genocide, war crimes and massacres in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, Chile and elsewhere.

He died at 86 on Friday at a hospital in Norman, Okla., where he lived. His wife, Jerry Whistler Snow, said the cause was cancer and emphysema.

Beginning in the 1960s, long before DNA experts perfected their forensic magic, Dr. Snow exposed ghastly crimes, solved mysteries, brought killers to justice, identified victims of disasters and helped the commercial aviation industry redesign seat restraints and escape systems by analyzing the ways people died in plane crashes.

Though he was no Indiana Jones, he was known to turn up in jungles, deserts and other exotic places in a rumpled jacket and cowboy boots, a cheerful chain smoker with a Texas drawl. He collected skulls mutilated by bullets and bludgeons.

Unlike forensic pathologists, who usually work on fresh bodies, forensic anthropologists, who number about 100 in America, usually have only bones to study. Using calipers, micrometers and other low-tech instruments to measure, probe and analyze remains, Dr. Snow could determine the gender, race, age and other characteristics of the dead, like left- or right-handedness, and often a full identity.

He used computers when they came along, but his stock instruments were like those of the late 19th century, when the celebrated French forensic expert Alphonse Bertillon developed the first successful system for identifying the dead from body measurements. The Bertillon method, notable in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, was widely used until superseded by fingerprint identification, which is useless in skeletal examinations.

Being living tissue, bones change through life, growing, breaking and undergoing stress. There are about 206 bones (not counting teeth) in an adult – the number varies as many fuse with age – and each has a story to tell, Dr. Snow often said. Like snowflakes, no two bones are exactly alike, and subtle differences can establish congenital conditions, nutritional habits, a history of disease and signs of brutality and murder.

Dr. Snow could estimate a small child’s age from spaces between cranial plates, which knit with time. He could tell handedness from slight disparities in arm lengths. The size of a femur, the leg bone that is the body’s longest, suggested stature.

In bone textures, Dr. Snow found clues to the heavy or light use of muscles, hinting at occupations and habits. In facial bones, he detected kinships in tracing relatives. Skull measurements often differentiated race and gender, and he could see childbirth in a woman’s pelvis.

Applications were legion. In Argentina in 1985, Dr. Snow and students he trained excavated a mass grave where military death squads had buried some of the 13,000 to 30,000 civilians who vanished in a seven-year “dirty war” against dissidents. They found 500 skeletons, many with bullet holes in the skulls, fractured arms and fingers and abundant signs of torture and murder.

As chief witness at a trial of generals and admirals, Dr. Snow identified victims and causes of death, evidence that led to five convictions, galvanized public opinion and brought some comfort to loved ones.

Widely sought after for his services, he would respond to pleas for help by assembling forensic teams of analysts, including dentists, and travel to all parts. In El Salvador, he and a team found the skeletons of 136 infants and children slain by army squads. In Croatia, he exhumed the remains of 200 hospital patients and staff members executed by troops. And he helped build criminal cases against military and government leaders behind the atrocities. As a consultant to human rights organizations, he also exposed mass murders in Guatemala, Ethiopia and Kurdistan.

In 1985 he went to Brazil for the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center and helped identify the remains of the long-sought Dr. Mengele, the infamous “Angel of Death” who directed gruesome medical “experiments” on inmates at Auschwitz and sent 400,000 to the gas chambers. After the Second World War, Dr. Mengele fled to Brazil, assumed a new identity and died in 1979. Dr. Snow used many measurements, including Dr. Mengele’s hat size (retrieved from Nazi SS records) to confirm his true identity.

Dr. Snow helped identify many victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. At the behest of Congress, he confirmed that X-rays taken at Kennedy’s autopsy were indeed those of the assassinated president. With Betty Pat Gatliff, a medical artist, he reconstructed the face of Tutankhamen, whose tomb was discovered in 1922. In Baghdad, in 2006, he testified against Saddam Hussein, who was convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged.

Dr. Snow had a doctorate in anthropology, but his forensic anthropology skills were self-taught, a result of decades of experience extracting the secrets of bones. He taught at the University of Oklahoma and lectured to law-enforcement and forensic groups.

“Bones can be puzzles,” he told The New York Times in 1991, “but they never lie, and they don’t smell bad.”

Clyde Collins Snow was born in Fort Worth, Tex., on Jan. 7, 1928, the only child of Wister and Sarah Isobell Collins Snow. He grew up in Rawls, a panhandle town. His father was a physician, and his mother, though not a trained nurse, assisted in their home clinic and maternity ward. The boy accompanied his father on house calls and trips to accident scenes and morgues.

When he was 12, he saw his first pile of bones on a hunting trip with his father, who recognized the mingled skeletons of a man and a deer. The older Snow hypothesized that the man shot the deer and died of a heart attack dragging it away. A set of keys in the remains was the only clue. But a deputy sheriff recalled the disappearance of a local hunter and the keys opened doors at the man’s home, establishing his identity.

An indifferent student, Dr. Snow was expelled from high school over a firecracker prank. Packed off to the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, he graduated after four years but soon flunked out of Southern Methodist University. He attended other schools before settling down at Eastern New Mexico University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1951.

He flirted with medical studies at Baylor, but quit and earned a master’s degree in zoology at Texas Tech in 1955. After three years in the Air Force, he studied archeology at the University of Arizona, learning excavation techniques that proved invaluable. (He later switched to anthropology for his doctorate in 1967.)

He also worked in the 1960s for an agency of the Federal Aviation Administration, studying ways to make airplanes safer in a crash. He discovered that many passengers died of smoke inhalation, not impact injuries, and that those seated near exits had the lowest fatality rates – facts used in the redesign of seat restraints and exit strategies.

Dr. Snow married Jerry Whistler in 1970. He had several previous marriages. Besides his wife, he leaves four daughters from his marriage to Donna Herring: Jennifer Boles, Tracey Murphy, Cynthia Wood and Melinda McCarthy; a son, Kevin, from his marriage to Loudell Fromme; eight grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

In 1979, Dr. Snow helped identify many of the 33 boys and young men slain by Mr. Gacy, most of them buried in a crawl space under his suburban Chicago home. That year he also helped identify many of the 273 people killed when an American Airlines flight crashed and burned on takeoff from O’Hare Airport in Chicago, then the country’s worst air disaster.

His career was a thread running through Christopher Joyce and Eric Stover’s book Witnesses From the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (1991), a study of forensic anthropology. For decades Dr. Snow taught his skills to thousands of students, especially in countries where war crimes and human rights abuses were fast receding into the mists of history.

“Witnesses may forget throughout the years, but the dead, those skeletons, they don’t forget,” he told The New York Times in 2002. “Their testimony is silent, but it is also very eloquent.”.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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Search continues for 17 still missing in ferry disaster

Divers resumed their search Tuesday for the 17 people still missing in the sunken ferry Sewol but no additional bodies were found in the morning, officials said.

An increasing number of the vessel's walls have weakened in part due to the ongoing recovery efforts, hampering search operations in parts of the hull. The erosion has been especially serious in the front part of the fifth deck where hallways to some of the crew's cabins and VIP rooms are located, officials said.

Divers planned to enter those hallways and other areas by moving aside obstacles floating inside the vessel. If all else fails, a part of the hull may be removed using a crane and other underwater equipment in order to allow access to inner parts of the ship, according to the officials.

Tuesday's search is expected to focus on a kitchen on the third deck and the front part of the fourth and fifth decks. There could be progress in the operations if currents slow down as expected on the second day of a period of weaker currents, officials said.

One more body was recovered on Monday, raising the death toll to 287 and lowering the number of those missing to 17.

The woman's body was found near the kitchen on the third deck, wearing a blue long-sleeved hooded shirt and khaki sweatpants, officials said.

Rescue workers also planned to attach more wires to a new barge mobilized in the recovery efforts to fasten it tightly to its anchor chains.

Operations were suspended for hours on Monday after a wire connecting an anchor chain to a barge was found to be damaged.

The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16, carrying an estimated 476 people Most of those dead or missing were students from a high school near Seoul on a field trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.

The ferry, which departed from Incheon, west of Seoul, sank about two hours away from the resort island.

Tuesday 20 May 2014


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