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Posts Tagged ‘toll’

Australia resumes hunt for refugee boat victims, toll rises

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:41 am

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday warned further bodies would be recovered after a boat carrying asylum seekers hit rocks and was shattered by huge waves, killing at least 28 people.


The wooden craft, believed to be crowded with up to 100 Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers and their children, hit rocks at Christmas Island Wednesday and was shattered by huge waves as traumatised residents looked on helplessly.

Residents and police (R) try to rescue refugees from an asylum boat (C) being smashed by violent seas against the jagged coastline of Australia’s Christmas Island on December 15, 2010. AFP

“We do not know with any certainty how many people there were on the boat, Gillard told reporters.


“We have got to prepare ourselves for the likelihood that more bodies will be found and there will be further loss of life than we know now.”


Customs officials told AFP the search for survivors and the dead resumed at first light on the west coast. They could not confirm how long the rescue operation would last.


Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the death toll from the disaster had risen to 28 — from 27 late Wednesday — while 44 people had been saved with the help of navy personnel and Christmas Island residents.


“The latest report that I have is that we have 44 people rescued and 28 deceased,” he said.


But he warned that survivors had reported that 70-100 people were on board the rickety boat, which witnesses said was thought to be carrying few life jackets. The Flying Doctors have said up to 50 were believed dead.


“I don’t like to speculate on any particular outcome, but obviously the rescuers will be doing their best… to salvage and rescue persons still in the water or to get any bodies they’re able to get out of the water,” Bowen said.


But he also hinted that the chances of finding survivors in “particularly treacherous” seas churned up by an approaching monsoonal storm were dwindling, adding that the exact number of dead would “probably never” be known.


He declined to comment on how the boat managed to get so close to the remote island — closely watched as the main people-smuggling route from Indonesia — without being intercepted by border police.


“I?m not in the position to comment on that one way or another,” Bowen said. “There?ll be an appropriate time for investigation and for further information to be released on that.”


At least 5,000 asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have made their way to Australia this year, often on leaky boats from Indonesia.


Lawyers and refugee advocates including Amnesty and the UNHCR said the tragedy highlighted the desperate plight of refugees and urged greater cooperation between nations for more humane solutions.


Shocked survivors of the wreck, including 11 children, huddled in a hospital and a reception centre on Christmas Island, where a makeshift morgue was also set up. Local residents were reeling from the horror of what they witnessed.


Two seriously injured women were flown to hospital in Perth, one with abdominal injuries and the other suffering from respiratory problems from inhaling sea water and diesel, medics from the Flying Doctors said.


Many of the injured were treated by medical services on Christmas Island, home to Australia’s main immigration detention centre for boat people.


Traumatised island residents told how they had watched from the cliffs as the tragedy unfolded.


“There were children in the water. There was one very small child in a life jacket floating face down for a very long time… clearly dead,” said local shop owner Simon Prince.


“It’s something I’m not going to forget very quickly,” he told AFP.


Woken near dawn by the screams of victims, locals gathered life jackets and rushed to the sheer limestone cliffs to offer help, but strong winds blew the flotation devices back onshore.


The terrified group drifted for about an hour after losing engine power and only one man managed an “incredible leap” to safety before the surging waves smashed the rickety vessel apart on the rocks, Prince said.


People were crushed against jagged limestone as navy rescuers battled towering swells to reach them in inflatable dinghies, while locals made a human chain and tried to cast ropes and life preservers down.


Flying Doctors transported patients from the island, which lies 2,650 kilometres (1,650 miles) northwest of Perth.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has cancelled her Christmas holiday to deal with the tragedy, was set to give a briefing alongside her immigration minister later Thursday.


Five Afghan refugees perished last year when their boat exploded off Ashmore Reef, near Christmas Island, injuring 30 others.

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Source: SGGP

Cambodia revises stampede death toll down to 347

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 2:19 am

PHNOM PENH, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – The official death toll from a festival stampede in the Cambodian capital now stands at 347, the social affairs minister said Thursday, after earlier putting the figure at 456.


“The total number of dead victims is 347,” said a letter signed by Social Affairs Minister Ith Samheng, who sits on a committee investigating the disaster.


It said 221 of the victims were women.

The toll was revised following a late-night meeting between committee members, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Phnom Penh and provincial authorities.

Cambodian First Lady Bun Rany Hun Sen wipes away tears as she attends a mourning ceremony with her husband, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, on November 25, 2010 in front of the bridge in Phnom Penh. AFP

“We took out the overlapping figures” from some provinces, senior minister Om Yentieng, who sits on the investigating committee, told reporters at a mourning ceremony for the victims in the capital.

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Source: SGGP

Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 322

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

JAKARTA, Nov 23, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano has killed 322 people since it began erupting late last month, and over 130,000 people are still living in makeshift camps, an official said Tuesday.


“The Merapi death toll has reached 322 people. More than 130,000 people are still living in temporary shelters,” disaster management official Agam Ferdatama said, updating the previous toll of 309 dead.


“Rescuers found many bodies in the incinerated area of Cangkringan,” he said.


The government reduced the exclusion zone on Friday for the second time in a week because of the volcano’s declining volatility, allowing more refugees to return to their homes.


Ferdatama said they had updated the number of refugees from more than 200,000 people.


Merapi killed around 1,300 people in 1930 but experts say November has seen its biggest convulsions since 1872.

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Source: SGGP

Shanghai fire toll at 53 as relatives search for the missing

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 4:55 am

Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 240

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

Floods death toll increases to 28

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

Death toll in Pakistan suicide attack rises to 68

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thai flood death toll hits 122

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

Death toll rises to 18 in India ferry sinking

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 at 11:12 am

Two more bodies were pulled out of a fast-flowing river in eastern India on Sunday taking the death toll to 18 after an overcrowded ferry capsized and sank, with scores of people still missing.

Coastguard and navy vessels searched for further victims of the ferry accident, which took place on Saturday morning in West Bengal state.

“We now have collected 18 bodies from the river which is wide and turbulent, and we are uncertain of exactly how many more people are missing,” senior state police officer Surojit Karpurokayastha told AFP.

The vessel, which was carrying around 150 people, capsized in a river in the Sundarbans mangrove forest, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Kolkata, capital of West Bengal.

The boat had the capacity of just 60 passengers, officials said, but was badly overloaded.

The passengers, who were mainly farmers and fishermen, were returning from a Muslim religious function when the accident occurred.

Naval fishing vessels, hovercraft and helicopters joined the rescue operation when the search was restarted at dawn on Sunday, the Press Trust of India said, adding the victims were 15 women and three girls.

It said the exact spot where the ferry sank had yet to be established.

Some television news channel reported that more than 100 people were missing, but officials dismissed the number.

“I only remember a big tide and then everything was blank. I had my son sitting beside me. But right now I don’t know where he is,” Ajmal Sheikh, 23, told the IANS news agency.

Press reports said the boat had turned over after hitting a sand bank in rough conditions.

The ferry was one of five vessels making their way to Kakdwip from Khejuri when it sank in the Muriganga River off Ghoramara Island.

“The boat was badly overcrowded and the vessel sank after a giant wave slapped the side of the vessel,” West Bengal civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee told AFP.

Fishermen plucked at least 60 survivors from the water while others managed to swim to safety, police said.

“The river’s strong current is hampering the search operation,” Mukherjee said.

Anxious relatives were keeping vigil for news of their loved ones.

Rescuers erected floodlights on the river’s banks to make the search easier at night, but authorities feared that many of the victims had been swept away by the current.

Boat accidents are common in the South Asian subcontinent due to lax safety standards and overloading.

A similar ferry accident occurred in the same river in September, leaving two dozen people dead.
 
Source: SGGP

Weather clears for Indonesia tsunami aid as toll climbs

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 at 11:11 am