Daily World News Digest, 27 April 2015

Rescuers struggle to reach remote Nepal areas as toll rises

The Associated Press reports today that the death toll from Nepal’s earthquake soared past 3,700 Monday, and how much higher it would rise depended largely on the condition of vulnerable mountain villages that rescue workers were still struggling to reach two days after the disaster. Reports received the government and aid groups suggest that many communities perched on mountainsides are devastated or struggling to cope. Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts. http://bit.ly/1A4Ahq4

Google ‘person finder’ tool deployed to help relatives find loved ones in Nepal

The Telegraph reported on 25 April that Google launched a “person finder” tool on Saturday to help users find loved ones affected by the earthquake that devastated Nepal. With communications to the region badly affected by the 7.8 magnitude quake, buildings flattened and more than 3,000 people dead, the program can collate information from emergency responders and allows individuals to post details about relatives missing or found. The result is a searchable, online database. Within hours of the disaster hitting Kathmandu and its surrounding area just before noon, 200 names had been uploaded. Google engineers first launched Person Finder in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but it had been under development for years, part of an open-source effort to solve a problem identified during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. http://bit.ly/1GyMJG6

Nepal Quake: 250 Israelis Unaccounted For

The Honest Reporting news portal reported on 26 April that Israel had dispatched a team of experts to assess the situation and is preparing to deploy a field hospital, and search and rescue personnel in Nepal following Saturday’s earthquake. According to Israeli press reports, 170 Israelis were camped out in tents in the Israeli embassy’s garden while more have sought refuge in Kathmandu’s Chabad House. Another 250 Israeli citizens are currently unaccounted for. http://bit.ly/1HMUs3I

Libya’s people smugglers

The Guardian reported on 24 April from the fishing port of Zuwara on the Libyan coast in the aftermath of the sinking that killed 800 people trying to find refuge in Europe from political instability and violence in their home countries. It described a scene “whose subtlety encapsulates the problem of dealing with the Mediterranean migration crisis by targeting individual smugglers and their boats”, noting that the EU has said it will launch military operations against smugglers who are based in places like Zuwara, the starting point for smuggling in Libya. It said interviews in Zuwara revealed a basic problem. Smuggling boats start life as fishing trawlers. The moment of transition from the latter to the former is informal and almost imperceptible to outsiders. Smugglers do not maintain a separate, independent harbor of clearly marked vessels, ready to be targeted by EU air strikes. They buy them off fishermen at a few days’ notice. To destroy their potential pool of boats, the EU would need to raze whole fishing ports. http://bit.ly/1OuwBK5

Tibetans celebrate birthday of disappeared spiritual leader

The Times of India reported on 26 April that 20 years after the disappearance of Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s highest spiritual leaders, Tibetans and supporters gathered to celebrate his 26th birthday and called for his immediate release. After the Dalai Lama recognized Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, the six-year-old boy and his family are believed to have been detained by the Chinese authorities. “Kidnapped at the age of 6, Gendun Choekyi Nyima is considered the world’s youngest political prisoner. May 17 will mark 20 years of his enforced disappearance,” said Nyima, vice president of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamshala. http://bit.ly/1GnCBux

Sikh pilgrims go missing in Pakistan

The ABP Live news portal from India reported on 25 April that members of a visiting Sikh family from India are reportedly missing in what is being described as the first-ever such incident in Pakistan, according to officials. The four family members were part of around 2,000 Sikh pilgrims – 1,717 of them from India – who were in Pakistan on a 10-day visit to celebrate Baisakhi on April 11 in Hassanabdal town near Islamabad. All the other pilgrims except the four have returned home, a local media report said. http://bit.ly/1z4I6ka

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.