Monday, 26 January 2015

Spain: 10 dead, 21 hurt in crash of Greek F-16 jet at base

A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed into other aircraft on the ground during NATO training in southeastern Spain Monday, killing at least 10 French and Greek military personnel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said.

Another 21 people were injured in the incident at the Los Llanos base, which sent flames and a plume of black smoke billowing into the air, the Spanish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Rajoy told Spain's Telecinco news program in an interview Monday night that eight of the dead were French and two were Greek. Eleven of the injured were Italian and 10 were French, he said.

Five of those hurt suffered severe burns and were transported to a Madrid hospital for treatment, and the rest were undergoing treatment in the city of Albacete near the base, the Defense Ministry said.

The French Defense Ministry said five from the country were seriously injured. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will head to the scene Tuesday.

The two-seat jet was taking off but lost thrust and crashed into an area of the base where other aircraft involved in the NATO exercise were parked, the Spanish Defense Ministry said. At least five jets were damaged and a statement from Italy's defense ministry said "numerous" helicopters were damaged.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the crash "a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family."

The Spanish ministry said the jet that crashed was taking part in a NATO training exercise called the Tactical Leadership Program.

The plane crashed at about 15:30 (14:30 GMT) at the base 260 km (160 miles) south-east of Madrid.

Emergency crews extinguished the fire and were assessing how much damage had been done to other planes involved in the Nato exercise, the ministry added.

Aviation analyst Sean Maffett told BBC News Channel it was difficult to imagine how the accident had occurred because the runway where the aircraft was taking off is about 1,000 ft (305 m) away from where the crash apparently took place.

According to a U.S. Air Force website, TLP was formed in 1978 by NATO's Central Region air forces to advance their tactical capabilities and produce tactics, techniques and procedures that improve multi-national tactical air operations.

The 10 NATO countries participating in the program are Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.

The first TLP course took place at Germany's Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base. It has been held at the Spanish base about a two and a half hour drive from Madrid since June 2009.

Monday 26 January 2015

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Nine killed in road accident in central Uganda

At least nine people were killed on Sunday in a road accident in the central Ugandan district of Luwero.

Lameck Kigozi, the Savannah regional police spokesperson, told Xinhua by telephone that the nine people were killed along Kampala- Gulu highway following a head-on collision between a Toyota land cruiser and a commuter minus bus.

"Nine people were killed on spot. The bodies have been taken to Kasana hospital in Luwero. We appeal to the relatives of the deceased to come and identify the bodies," said Kigozi, who attributed the accident to reckless driving and over speeding.

"We have launched investigations. We believe the accident was caused as a result of reckless driving and over speeding," said Kigozi.

Meanwhile, an unspecified number of people were on Saturday critically injured when a bus they were travelling in overturned in the western Ugandan district of Kasese.

The accident happened at Kandahi village near Hima town along the Fort Portal - Kasese Highway.Some 2,937 people were killed in Uganda's road accidents in 2013, according to Uganda Police Annual Road Safety Report.

Monday 26 January 2015

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Liverpool John Moores University's facial reconstruction lab to open this month

Facial reconstructions of wanted criminals and unidentified corpses will be made in Liverpool from next week after the official opening of the city’s Face Lab.

The pioneering facility, part of John Moores University, will also be used by archaeologists to work out how historical figures, who died thousands of years ago, would have looked.

The Face Lab, which opens on January 30, hit headlines last month after scientists used state-of-the-art software to recreate the face of St Nicholas, the Greek bishop who died nearly 1,700 years ago and became better known as Santa Claus.

The Face Lab will also be able to reconstruct profiles based on skeletons discovered during archaeological expeditions and produce facial images for forensic scientists following the discovery of decomposed bodies.

Police forces will also use the facility to make e-fits of criminals based on witness accounts or partial CCTV evidence.

Forensic anthropologist Prof Caroline Wilkinson, director of the Face Lab, said: “We look forward to working with the region’s police, forensic organisations and museums to reveal faces of the past and present, as well as a continuation of our national and international work.

“We also intend to make the research of the Face Lab accessible through our public engagement activity and exhibition contribution – and we plan to run a related art-science postgraduate course at Liverpool School of Art and Design in the near future.”

University vice-chancellor Prof Nigel Weatherill, added: “We are delighted to launch the Fab Lab, which will become renowned as a centre of excellence for craniofacial analysis and forensic art.

“The university already has outstanding relationships with police forces and museums across the North West and we hope the Face Lab will build upon these relationships.

“Through public lectures regarding the work of the Face Lab, we will also aim to further advance our position as a modern civic university.”

The Face Lab is located at Liverpool Science Park off Mount Pleasant.

Monday 26 January 2015

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'That’s not just a bone, it’s a person, we don’t lose track of that': British Columbia's Coroners team excels at giving names back to unidentified bodies

Last Thursday, Brian Howe got a phone call that he said “put to rest 40 years of uncertainty.”

In 1975, his younger brother Roy Lynn Howe disappeared from his Vancouver home at the age of 26.

As years turned into decades and Roy was still missing, the Howe family came to accept, Brian said, “probably that Roy had died or something happened — but we just didn’t know.”

But then last week, through the diligent work of a dedicated team with the B.C. Coroners Service, Roy Howe’s death was confirmed, his missing person investigation closed, and his next of kin notified.

Even after all those years, the notification was important to the family, said Howe, who called it “a sort of closure.”

In recent years, B.C.’s Identification and Disaster Response Unit (IDRU) has attracted attention from agencies outside the province looking to emulate its recent success with missing persons cases and unidentified bodies.

Cases like Howe’s inspire the IDRU to toil away in the lab and in the field, working to close those files, both old and new.

The unit’s manager, Bill Inkster, leads a team of investigators who examine and catalogue unidentified human remains in B.C., often matching them up with missing person files, such as Howe’s.

When a coroner is crouched in the woods brushing dirt off a human femur, Inkster says: “That’s not just a bone, it’s a person, we don’t lose track of that.

“They had brothers, sisters, they had a life. That’s a person, and there’s no name attached to it. So we never give up trying to identify those.”

Recently B.C. investigators have been closing more cases quickly — and closing more old, cold cases, too — says Inkster, who’s quick to credit that success to the innovative and award-winning IDRU program set up by his predecessor, Stephen Fonseca.

Described as the only unit of its kind in Canada, the IDRU was formed within the B.C. Coroners Service in 2006 under the direction of Fonseca, who Inkster calls “the most brilliant guy I’ve ever met.”

A key element of their success has been effectively “closing the gap” between coroners and cops, according to sources on both sides.

Cpl. Kelly Risling of the RCMP’s Unidentified Human Remains Unit said that before the IDRU’s formation in 2006, “the coroner’s office (and) the RCMP had somewhat struggled with missing person and unidentified body investigations.

“There just wasn’t any sort of collaborative effort in attacking these types of files. Even though we both had different resources, we kind of needed each other to be able to do the job.”

Risling said the increased collaboration between his RCMP unit and the IDRU got results.

“We were the only province in Canada that actually showed a marked decline in the instances of unidentified human remains, because we were actually starting to move forward and identify some of these bodies,” he said.

Risling said he’s been contacted by agencies in other provinces interested in following B.C.’s “cutting edge” missing person investigation model and success.

On a national level, the RCMP launched the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR), a website and database launched in 2013.

Risling said, adding that RCMP headquarters in Ottawa consulted with him, as well as the IDRU’s Inkster and Fonseca, on the NCMPUR’s development, adding “everything that they’re doing on their end is basically modelled after what we’ve accomplished here in B.C.”

“Ottawa did take note of the successes we were having as a collaborative team here,” said Risling.

The IDRU’s work has also aided the police in criminal cases. As a recent example, Vancouver detectives were investigating a missing person who they believed had been murdered.

They had a suspect. But they didn’t have a body, making the prospect of an arrest and criminal charges much more difficult.

The detectives tapped the IDRU, which quickly identified the body of the alleged murder victim, matching it with previously unidentified remains.

VPD homicide Detective Const. Paul Woodcock said: “As soon as we had that body, there was no uncertainty. We were going to lay that charge ... when we had that call from Steve Fonseca, saying ‘Hey guys, I’ve got a match,’ we were doing the happy dance.”

Probably the IDRU’s best known case was the detached feet in sneakers washing up repeatedly on B.C. shorelines in recent years. Inkster, Fonseca and their team identified 10 feet, belonging to six different people.

But one pair — Foot #8 and Foot #10 — belonging to the same man, remain unidentified.

Like Brian Howe, Brenda Dauncey praised the work of the IDRU after she got a phone call that ended years of uncertainty about her brother’s disappearance.

Her brother Brian Carman Law disappeared suddenly in 1989 from his hometown of Prince George, and was missing for more than 20 years, until the IDRU closed the case in 2013.

“Those 23 and three-quarters years, it was hell,” Dauncey said. “So, to find that you have some closure and you know where your loved one is ... We can try and go on and start to heal.”

While it was painful, Dauncey said, to know her brother had died, it was “absolutely” better than the agony of not knowing. That uncertainty, she said, was like “an open wound (that) never gets to heal.”

After the IDRU identified Brian Law’s body, his grave was marked with a stone.

The engraving reads: “Once was lost, now he’s found. Always Loved, Never Forgotten.”

Monday 26 January 2015

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