UK police step up appeals over migrant lorry deaths

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PM Boris Johnson walks with Chief Constable of Essex Police as they prepare to lay flowers, during a visit to Thurrock Council Offices in Thurrock, east of London on October 28, 2019, following the discovery of 39 bodies concealed in a lorry. (AFP)
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Priest Nguyen Duc Vinh leads a Sunday Mass at Phu Tang church in Yen Thanh district, Nghe An province, Vietnam Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The attendees pray for the victims of the U.K truck deaths. (AP)
Updated 01 November 2019

UK police step up appeals over migrant lorry deaths

  • The victims were found in a truck that entered Britain on a ferry from Belgium
  • Several Vietnamese families fear their relatives are among the dead

BELFAST: Detectives probing the deaths of 39 Asian migrants in a refrigerated truck in southeast England renewed on Friday their appeal for two brothers in the haulage business to help with the investigation.
Essex Police said they wanted to speak to Ronan and Christopher Hughes from Northern Ireland in connection with the discovery of the bodies at an industrial estate in Grays, near London, last month.
Detective Chief Inspector Dan Stoten said on a visit to Belfast that officers had already spoken to Ronan Hughes by telephone but needed to talk to him again in person.
“Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation,” he said.
The Hughes brothers, aged 40 and 34, are from the Armagh region of Northern Ireland and have links across the island of Ireland to the road haulage and shipping business, said Stoten.
“We urge anyone who has been in contact with them or has any information about where they are to get in contact with us,” he added.
Stoten revealed that police in Northern Ireland stopped a lorry believed to be connected to the brothers but no arrests were made.
Meanwhile the 25-year-old driver of the refrigerated lorry who is from Northern Ireland was remanded in custody when he appeared in court last week charged with manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Three other people have been arrested and released on police bail.

Meanwhile, Vietnam police have arrested two people for trafficking in connection with the death of 39 migrants whose bodies were found in a truck in Britain, many of them feared to be Vietnamese.

The victims — eight women and 31 men — were found in a truck that entered Britain on a ferry from Belgium. Several Vietnamese families fear their relatives are among the dead.
Post-mortem examinations are being carried out but no formal cause of death or identification have been released.


Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

Updated 15 August 2020

Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

  • Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio is still endemic
  • Since Jan., Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials on Saturday launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio as part of efforts aimed at eliminating the crippling disease amid a steady decline in fatalities and infections from the coronavirus, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s fragile health system.
The anti-polio campaign, which began amid tight security, aims to vaccinate as many as 34 million children across Pakistan, including former Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan, a government statement said.
Medical workers participating in the drive against polio were seen adhering to social distancing regulations as they wore face masks and gloves while going house-to-house to avoid a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign,” said Faisal Sultan, an adviser to the prime minister on health issues.
According to Rana Safdar, who heads the government’s polio program, similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.
Earlier Saturday, Pakistan’s military said Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, praised Islamabad’s success in the fight against coronavirus in a telephone call to the country’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. It said Gates also discussed the resumption of the drive against polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. The nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Pakistan and other places worldwide fight the disease.
Pakistan had hoped to eliminate the disease by 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But there was a surge in new cases the following year. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country, including the northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them because they claim the anti-polio drive is part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. Attacks on polio teams increased after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.
Pakistan halted the drive against polio in March and resumed it last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19.
On Saturday, Pakistan reported only 9 new deaths from the new virus in the past 24 hours, increasing the country’s total of COVID-19 deaths to 6,162. So far, Pakistan has reported 288,047 cases and officials say about 93% of the patients recovered since February, when the country reported its first confirmed case.