India intensifies rescue efforts as monsoon toll nears 600

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Updated 23 June 2013
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India intensifies rescue efforts as monsoon toll nears 600

DEHRADUN, India: Relief teams were racing against time yesterday to rescue tens of thousands of stranded people in rain-ravaged northern India as the death toll from flash floods and landslides neared 600.
Rescuers have recovered scores of bodies from the swollen Ganges river with the government saying more than 30,000 people were still stranded after torrential monsoon rains struck the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand last week.
Raging rivers have swept away houses, buildings and entire villages, and destroyed bridges and narrow roads leading to towns in the mountainous state.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who arrived in state capital Dehradun yesterday, said 73,000 people had been rescued so far with up to 32,000 still stranded.
“At least 550 people have died and 392 people are injured,” he told reporters, and urged authorities to complete the rescue work inside three days since fresh downpours were expected.
He also said steps were being taken up on a “war footing” to deal with the “national crisis.”
Dozens of helicopters and thousands of soldiers have been deployed to rescue people trapped across the flood-devastated state.
The family of Kavita Tyagi, 26, stranded near the historical site of Badrinath for more than a week, recounted their ordeal after they were air-lifted by army choppers to Gauchar, a hill town in Chamoli district of the state.
“We had been stuck for more than a week. We ran out of food and all our money. My three-year-old son is with me and we can’t describe the harrowing times that we have faced,” she told AFP, her voice choked.
“My mother and brother are still to be evacuated since the chopper could accommodate only eight people. We are now just praying that they too land safely,” Tyagi said.
Rescue teams were bracing for more challenges with further downpours expected in the state today.
“The weather is already packing up. We are expecting fresh rains from tomorrow and that is why we are speeding up our operations,” Priya Joshi, spokeswoman of the Indian Air Force, told AFP.
A group of 20 trekkers including six Americans were rescued yesterday after they were marooned near a remote glacier since the rains struck last week.
“They were on a trekking trip but got trapped because of the landslides and flash floods. The chopper has landed there now and they are all safe,” Neeraj Khairwal, a top official of Pithoragarh district, told AFP.
Also yesterday, the army managed to make contact with nearly 1,000 people stuck in mountains near Kedarnath, a local TV reported.
Distraught relatives clutching photographs of missing family members have been waiting for days outside Dehradun Airport hoping for news of their loved ones.


Police smash rings that smuggled Moroccan minors into Spain

Updated 23 June 2018
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Police smash rings that smuggled Moroccan minors into Spain

  • One gang allegedly charged about €2,000 to smuggle a minor by boat from Morocco, a price that would rise to up to €8,000 if weather conditions were bad.
  • The group charged €5,000 to bring minors across on a jet ski and €2,500 hidden inside trucks on ferries. It is suspected of having smuggled over 100 migrants into Spain from Morocco.

MADRID: Police have broken up two gangs suspected of smuggling minors from Morocco into Spain on jet skis, boats or hidden inside trucks, charging thousands of euros for the crossing, Spanish police and Europol said Friday.
One gang allegedly charged about €2,000 ($2,300) to smuggle a minor by boat from Morocco, a price that would rise to up to €8,000 if weather conditions were bad, Spanish police said in a statement.
The group charged €5,000 to bring minors across on a jet ski and €2,500 hidden inside trucks on ferries. It is suspected of having smuggled over 100 migrants into Spain from Morocco.
Spanish police said they had broken up the group with the arrest of 22 people across the country, including three employees of a youth detention center in the northern region of Asturias suspected of helping the minors get documents to be able to live in Spain legally.
The authorities said they began their investigation after detecting a significant rise in the arrival of unaccompanied minors from Morocco at this youth detention center, who were all mainly from the same area near the Sahara desert.
During a second phase police broke up another gang linked to the first group which smuggled minors from Morocco to Spain by boat, but which also kidnapped minors who were brought in by rival groups and held them for ransom in forests or safe houses in the southern province of Cadiz.
“The criminal gang collected money by extorting the minors’ families in Morocco, sometimes using violence and threats, until they paid a ransom of €500 to release the children,” Europol, which worked with Spanish police on the operation, said in a statement.
Spanish police said they had smashed this second group with the arrest of six of its members.
The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by around just 15 kilometers (nine miles) — a ferry ride between the two continents takes roughly 40 minutes — making it one of the key smuggling routes for illegal immigrants crossing into Europe.
Spain is the third busiest gateway for migrants arriving in Europe, still far behind Italy but catching up fast with Greece.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 22,400 people arrived in Spain by sea last year, nearly triple the number for 2016. Some 223 people died along the way.