Nation World  


Haiti mass graves receive unclaimed, unidentified bodies
Every five minutes, a vehicle pulled up to the gates of Port-au-Prince’s cemetery, delivering another corpse to a mass grave dug by authorities trying to clear the broken city’s streets of the dead.
“We have lost any dignity in death,” said Mezen Dieu Justi, an old man barely able to contain his nausea and tears before the grim spectacle.

The massive earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday has produced a steady stream of bodies, with estimates of the death toll well into the tens of thousands.
Many families confronted with their final glimpse of a loved one simply lost control.
“It’s my father, my dear father,” screamed one young woman, who fainted at the sight of the mass grave filled with human bodies.

One woman, as though possessed, lowered herself into the grave saying she felt more comfortable among the dead. Bystanders eventually forced her back out again.
“We have lost our senses. Death has driven us insane,” said one Haitian, whose relative’s body had been transported to the grave for burial.

“For three days my sister was dead in her house. Finally we brought her here. We have lost hope of giving her a dignified burial, a coffin, the blessing of a priest,” sobbed Florence, 40, a teacher.
Across Port-au-Prince, the dead litter the streets, stripped of human dignity, decomposing and covered in flies.
The efforts of recently-arrived foreign aid workers seem almost inconsequential by comparison with the scale of the devastation wrought by the quake.

Obama speaks to Haitian president
Their work is both a race against time to save people who may still be alive under the rubble strewn across the city and also an effort to transport overwhelming numbers of corpses to the nearest mass grave.
Morgue officials said they no longer have the means to move the bodies, forcing aid workers to transport scores of unidentified and dust-covered cadavers.
Families waited patiently as rescue teams dug through the rubble, waiting to see if they could recognise a loved one.

“The truth is that we don’t know what will be done with the dead,” said Joseph Tihaly, a Haitian volunteer coordinating the delivery and identification of corpses abandoned at the general hospital’s morgue.
The young student said numerous families had come seeking their relatives, but the majority of the bodies remained unclaimed and unidentified.
In one corner of the morgue, a Haitian man finished building a makeshift wooden coffin to hold his brother’s body.

“I will try to take him to our village, to bury him there,” he said.
“Realistically, we don’t know when these bodies will be taken, and we don’t know by whom. It’s chaos and a breeding ground for infection,” he said - (AFP)  


US to protest formally to China over Google ‘attacks’
The US State Department says it will make a formal protest to China over alleged cyber-attacks on the internet search giant, Google.
A spokesman said the US would demand an explanation in the coming days.
Google this week threatened to pull out of China because of what it said were hacking attacks and censorship; Beijing has tried to play down the threat.
Another US internet giant, Yahoo, is also reported to have been targeted by hackers in China.
“We will be issuing a formal demarche to the Chinese government in Beijing on this issue in the coming days,” said state department spokesperson PJ Crowley.
“It will express our concern for this incident and request information from China as to an explanation of how it happened and what they plan to do about it.”
There are also reports that Yahoo, another US search engine, had noticed it had been a target of Chinese hacking attacks, prior to Google’s public acknowledgment of its own fears.


India launches rockets to study eclipse
(CNN) -- India is launching a series of rockets to study the impact of Friday’s solar eclipse, a rare occurrence that will briefly reduce the sun to a blazing ring.
The Indian Space Research Organisation has already sent up three rockets, and at least five others are scheduled for launch during the eclipse, its spokesman, S. Satish, told CNN.
Astronomers term the Friday phenomenon an annular eclipse, when the moon covers the centre of the sun and not its edges.
The Indian rockets will record changes the eclipse causes in the lower and middle atmosphere as it races from Africa to Asia, he said.
“The occurrence of (the) eclipse will result in a sudden cut-off of solar radiation. This affects the atmospheric structure and dynamics,” the space agency said in a news release. “The uniqueness of this eclipse is that it occurs during the noontime, when the incoming solar radiation is in its maximum, (the) sun being at its zenith.”


Survivor: Without vital port, ‘We’ll starve to death, that’s all’
(CNN) Raymond Thomas is a jolly man who laughs easily and likes to say “Forget it” a lot.
He’d like to forget the devastation wrought at the Port-au-Prince harbour where his fleet of trucks used to pick up cargo.
Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake sent a quarter-mile pier crumbling into the sea along with two of his trucks. The few workers who went into the water swam to safety, Thomas said, but the port remains shut down, and desperately needed aid cannot be unloaded quickly.
“Now we’re just starving to death,” he said, worried that the airport and smaller harbours cannot handle the necessary volume of relief supplies.
“That was the whole country right there,” he added, pointing at two toppled cranes on the remains of the pier that stand out against the clear-blue sky.
Thomas owns Raymond and Sons Trucking, a fleet of 35 trucks that haul cargo from the port. The company employed about 50 employees, all of them now out of work.
“I’m out,” Thomas said.
The port won’t be back for a while. Roads have been split apart and buckled, fences have fallen over.
“Oh, forget it,” Thomas said. “Forget it. It might take a year to rebuild it. Forget it.”


News in brief

Iran issues warning on opposition internet use

Iranian authorities have warned opposition supporters against using text and e-mail messages to organise protest rallies.
The country’s police chief said these systems were monitored and people misusing them would be prosecuted. Gen Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam also said opposition supporters should not think internet proxies would protect them.
- (BBC news)

Presidential electoral campaign ends in Ukraine

Ukraine’s presidential candidates made their final calls for support on Friday at the end of a three-month campaign. A total of 18 candidates are contesting Sunday’s election, including incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.
Ukraine’s electoral law forbids campaigning 24 hours before election day, giving voters a quiet day to ponder their decisions.
- (Xinhua)

Chinese police shut down country’s first gay pageant

Chinese police shut down the country’s first gay pageant tonight, just one hour before the event was due to begin.
Participants hoped the contest would help challenge domestic stereotypes about homosexuality, classified as a mental illness until 2001, and show the rest of the world that gay people could be accepted in China. But officers arrived at a Beijing nightclub shortly before the Mr Gay China competition started and told organisers it was not properly licensed. They are understood to have told the venue’s owners that it was “a sensitive issue”.
- (Wallstreet journal)

Cuba investigates psychiatric hospital deaths

Cuban authorities are investigating the deaths of 26 patients at a psychiatric hospital linked to a spell of unusually cold weather.
Human rights activists blamed the deaths on negligence and the dilapidated state of the hospital.
The health ministry said natural causes such as old age, respiratory problems and complications from chronic diseases contributed to the deaths.
Cuba prides itself on its provision of free universal healthcare.
The deaths occurred at the Psychiatric Hospital in the capital, Havana, which houses some 2,500 patients.
- (BBC news)

Guinea interim leader Gen Konate ‘threatens to resign’

The interim leader of Guinea’s military government has threatened to resign amid a row over whether the wounded president should return to the country.
Gen Sekouba Konate has been in charge since the president, Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, was shot six weeks ago.
Analysts say he is seen as the best hope for an end to the political crisis and a return to civilian rule.
Gen Konate’s threat followed talks between the two men and other senior Guinean military officials in Burkina Faso on Thursday, after Capt Camara flew there from Morocco.
He had been receiving treatment in Morocco following an assassination attempt by his former aide-de-camp on 3 December.
- (BBC news)