Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Rescue efforts in 14th day after Ermenek mine disaster

Search and rescue efforts are continuing on their 14th day in a flooded mine in the Emernek district of Karaman province, with little hope of finding trapped miners alive.

Rescue units last week found the bodies of two of the 18 miners who became trapped in the mine when it flooded on Oct. 28. The efforts to reach the miners has proven harder than expected due to the fact that the level of carbon dioxide in the mine is increasing while the amount of oxygen is decreasing.

Speaking at the second anniversary reception of Hazar Strategy Institute (HASEN) on Tuesday, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said the accident occurred because excavations began very close to an abandoned mining site that had been filled with water.

Yıldız said mines operating underground are supposed to be at least 50 meters away from each other, and stated that everyone who holds responsibility in the accident, no matter who they are, will be brought to justice.

Eight people have been detained by the police for suspected negligence in the accident.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

continue reading

21 miners confirmed dead from August mine explosion in China

The search for 21 miners trapped in a collapsed mine in east China's Anhui Province was concluded and all the missing were confirmed dead, authorities said.

An explosion ripped through the Dongfang coal mine in Huainan City on Aug. 19 and 39 workers were caught in mine shafts hundreds of meters underground. Twelve managed to escape. By Aug. 29, six bodies had been found and 21 remained missing.

According to officials with the Huainan city government on Tuesday, the search was hampered by collapsed mine shafts and gas pockets. Experts said more explosions were possible if the search continued while they also concluded that the trapped miners were dead due to the conditions underground.

The families of the 21 missing miners received 910,000 yuan (14,841 U. S. dollars) compensation for each miner.

The provincial coal mine safety inspection bureau revoked the privately-owned Dongfang coal mine's production permit in August. The mine has an annual production capacity of 90,000 tonnes.

Although officially licensed, the city government had issued production suspension orders for all coal mines beginning June 30 as part of flood prevention efforts.

The search for the missing miners was hampered by collapsed shafts and gas pockets. Chinese authorities determined that the mine was operating illegally.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

continue reading

57 die as bus collides with truck near Khairpur

Fifty-seven people, 17 women and 19 children among them, were killed when a Karachi-bound bus collided head-on with a coal-laden truck near the Therhi bypass on Gambhir Road a little before dawn on Tuesday.

Twenty-five people were injured, many of them seriously, in the crash. The bus driver was among the dead.

Residents of nearby villages and some of the injured told reporters and police that the speeding vehicles collided with a bang, which was heard miles away.

A large number of victims died on the spot and the screams of the injured attracted people to the accident site.

The villagers and some travellers took some of the injured to nearby health facilities.

The truck driver and some other seriously injured people were rushed to the Khairpur Civil Hospital. All 57 bodies were kept at the same hospital.

The bus was coming from Swat and most of the passengers reportedly hailed from Bahrain.

According to some injured people, the bus was overloaded and many passengers were travelling on the roof. They said the collision was so powerful that it blew away the roof of the bus.

Many of the victims were taken out from the wreckage by prising open the body of the bus with gas cutters.

An injured man told newsmen that he and six other members of his family were travelling in the bus and he was the lone survivor.

An official report released late in the evening said that the bus was carrying 77 passengers, a driver and a conductor. It said that 57 of them died and 22 were under treatment at the Khairpur Civil Hospital. The condition of 13 injured people was stated to be serious and two of them were referred to a Karachi hospital, it added.

Meanwhile, a C-130 plane sent to Sukkur in the afternoon transported 46 bodies to Risalpur.

According to an ISPR release, the bodies would be sent to the hometowns of victims by ambulances. Eleven bodies were dispatched to various destinations by Edhi air ambulances.

The casualties were driven to hospitals in Khairpur and Sukkur. Doctor Jaffer Soomro of the Khairpur Civil Hospital confirmed the death toll. “The accident was so severe that all of them died at the spot,” except for one child who died undergoing treatment in the hospital, Dr Soomro told AFP by phone. “I have never seen a road accident of such a horrible magnitude.” Police said there were 17 women and 18 children among the dead.

The bus was carrying families from Swat to Karachi, and medical staff were struggling to communicate with some of the injured, who spoke only Pashto. “We have called translators to communicate with the surviving people especially the children who are in very miserable condition,” Dr Soomro said.

A D Khawaja, the Motorway Police chief of Sindh, told AFP that the poor condition of the road may have been a factor, as well as bad driving. “There was a deep ditch on the road which we call ‘rutting’ some 30 to 40 yards before the place where the bus hit the truck,” he said. “We have learned that the bus went out of control after it hit the rutting and it landed on the opposite side of the road and then hit the truck which was coming from Karachi.”

Sukkur Commissioner Muhammad Abbas Baloch blamed reckless driving for the fatal accident. “Such accidents usually take place in the morning when after night-long drives it’s difficult for the fatigued drivers to keep their eyes on the road.”

However, he added that the poor condition of the road was also responsible for frequent accidents in the same area. “They should have made proper diversions while construction work on the highway is ongoing,” he told The Express Tribune.

The first to reach the crash site were Edhi ambulances, followed by the police and rangers. Mechanical cranes and cutters were called to cut through the body of the bus to get to the passengers trapped among the seats. Witnesses recounted harrowing scenes at the site before the arrival of the machinery, of trapped passengers crying for help while rescuers stood by helplessly.

“I’ve never seen such an accident in my life,” an elderly man, Shaban, told The Express Tribune. “The highway has been under construction for the past three-odd years and there is neither any proper diversion nor deployment of motorway police or traffic police to guide the heavy traffic,” he added.

After identification, 42 bodies were sent to Sukkur, from where they will be flown to Swat or Risalpur, while the remaining bodies were sent to Karachi by road for burial. Commissioner Baloch said they have announced monetary compensation of Rs30,000 for each of the injured, and recommended to the provincial chief minister compensation for the heirs of the deceased passengers.

Officials at the hospital said that some of the dead and the injured were yet to be identified.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

continue reading

South Korea ends Sewol ferry wreckage searches

South Korea on Tuesday ended underwater searches for nine bodies still missing from April's ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people in one of the country's deadliest disasters in decades.

The announcement came hours before a South Korean court issues verdicts on the ship's crew members charged with negligence and abandonment of passengers in the disaster. Prosecutors have demanded a death penalty for the ship's captain and life sentences for three other crew members.

Searches for bodies and ferry wreckage have been underway since the Sewol sank on April 16 on a trip to a resort island. About seven months after the sinking, 295 bodies have been retrieved but nine people are still missing. Most of the dead were teenage students on a school trip.

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Lee Ju-young told a televised news conference that the searches will stop as of Tuesday as there was only a remote chance of finding the missing bodies. "The government's conclusion is that searches by divers have reached its limit," he said.

Lee said cabins in the ferry have collapsed and winter is coming, placing divers in a "very dangerous situation." Lee said family members of the missing people have asked the government to stop the underwater searches.

"As our loved ones remain trapped in the cold waters, this decision is unbearably painful for us.

But we request that the search operations to be stopped from now" because of safety concerns, a relative of one of the missing tearfully told a separate news conference Tuesday, according to report from the YTN television station.

Two civilian divers died after falling unconscious during searches, according to Lee's ministry. Lee said he feels sorry for failing to keep a government promise to find all the missing bodies.

He said the government will decide whether to raise the ship after discussing it with experts and the family members. The families have worried that raising the ship would damage the bodies or allow them to be swept away.

The ferry sinking has caused an outburst of national grief and anger, with authorities blaming the disaster on excessive cargo on the ship, poor rescue efforts, negligence by crew members and corruption by the ship's owners.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

continue reading