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Saturday
Mar162013

Auschwitz Survivor Using Facebook to Search for Twin

Courtesy Menachem Bodner(JERUSALEM) -- A 72-year-old Auschwitz survivor has taken his search for his twin brother to Facebook.

Menachem B., who wants to keep his last name private, last saw his brother 68 years ago when he was 4 years old. Menachem B.'s given name was Elias Gottesmann. He changed his name after surviving the concentration camp.

If his brother Jeno Gottesmann is alive, he could be anywhere with any name. The only definite link between the two is the "A7734" tattooed on their forearms from the concentration camp.

Memories from the time are few, but Menachem remembers that he had a twin brother. He also has a distinct memory of being outside playing in the yard and knowing his brother was asleep in bed when Nazi officers came to the house to take them. They lived in an area of Hungary that is now part of Ukraine. After surviving the Holocaust, the twins were separated.

Menachem, who now lives in Israel, recounted the memories to Ayana KimRon, the Israeli genealogist who is helping him look for his brother.

After months of research and dead ends, KimRon turned to Facebook for the world's help.

She posted a black and white photo of 5-year-old Menachem after the war and a photo of him now. The photo of him as a child has been shared more than 50,000 times and the Facebook page has more than 12,000 supporters from around the world.

KimRon said they have both been surprised and "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support from around the world. "In general, he feels lucky with the support and prayers and hope from all over the world," KimRon said. "I'm updating him at least once a day, if not twice."

KimRon said that the draw to Menachem and his story is stronger than just wanting to solve a mystery. She hopes helping him find his brother could "help him have a different state of mind and more emotional freedom in his life." "It's a tough mission, but we'll get there," she said confidently. "I gave him a promise," KimRon said. "I'm going to find his brother dead or alive, even if it takes me my whole life. I'm not going to stop."

Anyone with information about Jeno is asked to email FamilyRoots2000@gmail.com.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

US Suspends Search for Fallen Troops in North Korea

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the first tangible fallout from North Korea’s announced plans for a satellite launch next month, the Pentagon has suspended a program to look for the remains of the 5,300 Americans classified as missing in North Korea during the Korean War.  Both the U.S. and North Korea had agreed in October to restart the program after a previous suspension that lasted seven years.

The State Department has been saying a launch would be a deal-breaker for the agreement reached with the U.S. just a few weeks ago and would, more importantly, put 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid at risk.  But suspending the search program sends a tangible message to North Korea that the U.S. is serious about its concerns.

Word of the suspension came at Wednesday’s Pentagon briefing by Pentagon press secretary George Little. “We have suspended that effort because we believe that North Korea has not acted appropriately in recent days and weeks and that it’s important for them to return to the standards of behavior that the international community has called for. We do hope at some point to be able to re-engage the effort.”

The agreement reached in October to restart the program called for the first U.S. team to arrive in North Korea later this month. A Defense official says no U.S. personnel had arrived at the time the suspension took effect.  That official says that the U.S. informed North Korea of its decision to suspend the program Tuesday night and that it went into effect Wednesday.

There are actually 7,965 Americans still categorized as missing from the Korean War, but 5,300 of them are believed to be on North Korean territory.

A Defense official says that the U.S. had planned to send a small advance team in mid-March to be followed by four search operations in April, one of them to two areas near the Chosin Reservoir.  The Chosin Reservoir was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War, and it is believed that 2,000 American soldiers and Marines went missing at that location.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Search Continues for Philippines Quake Survivors

Hemera/Thinkstock(MANILA, Philippines) -- Rescue teams were out again Tuesday in central Philippines, searching for survivors of the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that struck the region the day before.

At least 71 people have been reported missing after Monday's tremor, which left 22 people dead and 52 others injured, according to the country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The earthquake hit Negros Island just before noon, damaging roads and triggering landslides that flattened homes.

Search crews have been scouring the area for any signs of life, while operations are underway to get water and food to remote villages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

Search for Bodies in Italian Cruise Ship Done by Touch

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- Divers scouring the toppled Italian cruise ship are working in darkness so complete that they search for bodies by touch.

The description of the laborious search came from Sara and John Heil, who are at the site awaiting word that the bodies of their parents have been found.

"As the days come and go we find this to be such an extreme test of our patience," they said in a statement released late Wednesday.  "We so badly want Mom and Dad to be found so we can bring them home."

Their parents, Jerry and Barbara Heil, are the only Americans still missing from the Jan. 13 crash that partially sank the luxury ocean liner Costa Concordia.  Sixteen people have been confirmed dead and another 16 are still missing.

"We continue to monitor first-hand the ongoing search efforts taking place in Italy," the family said.  "The conditions in which the divers are forced to operate are undoubtedly making this a very slow process."

The Heil family statement said they have been told that divers are working in an area of the ship where they believe they might find the missing bodies.  The area is under 60 feet of water, making it a time consuming operation to get to the search area.

The return to the surface is also done slowly to allow the divers time to decompress.  Because of the depths, divers are restricted in how frequently they can dive down to the search area.

The most difficult part of the search, however, is the murky conditions in which they are working.

"Due to the depth and the fact that they are inside the ship, they are searching in complete darkness and the visibility is approximately one foot.  We can only imagine that much of their searching must be done 'by feel' inside a ship that is over 900-feet long and may have up to 17 floors," they said in their statement.

"The term 'needle in a haystack' certainly seems like an appropriate comparison. We continue to pray for the safety of those searching and express our sincere gratitude for all of their efforts," the family said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan192012

Italian Cruise Ship Wreck: Search Operations Resume

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- Divers will be back in the water off the coast of Tuscany Thursday morning, resuming their search of the partially capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia, an Italian Coast Guard spokesman confirmed to ABC News.

On Wednesday, search and recovery operations were suspended because officials believed the vessel was moving. The Coast Guard placed sensors around the ship to determine if and how much the cruise liner was moving before assessing it was safe to go back in.

At least 11 people were killed in the wreck and 21 others remain missing.

When the search is complete, the focus will shift to pumping fuel out of the stricken ship, officials tell ABC News.  The vessel is currently parked on protected waters -- a sanctuary for whales and dolphins.  In anticipation of a possible environmental disaster, booms were laid out earlier around the entire area as a precautionary measure.

So far, all 17 fuel tanks on board the ship are intact, officials say.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan182012

Search of Italian Cruise Ship Suspended Amid Belief Vessel's Moving

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) -- Divers in Italy suspended their search of the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia on Wednesday amid uncertainty over whether the vessel is moving, an Italian Coast Guard official told ABC News.

The Coast Guard thinks the ship is moving but isn't 100 percent sure.  To find out, it is putting sensors around the vessel in order to monitor it, the official said.

Once the Coast Guard determines if and how much the cruise ship is moving, it will then assess when to go back in to continue searching for close to two dozen people who are still missing.

On Tuesday, divers found five more bodies in the wreck, bringing the total of those dead to 11.  The victims were found submerged at the stern of the ship, after search-and-rescue divers blasted holes in the hull of the vessel to access the lower decks.

Before the bodies were discovered, authorities had said that 29 people were missing.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Rescuers Blast Holes in Italian Cruise Ship's Hull; Second Recorder Found

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Italian media reported Tuesday morning that five more bodies were found, bringing the cruise ship's death toll to 11 and, consequently, lowering the number of those missing to 24.

(GIGLIO, Italy) -- Search and rescue divers have now blasted holes in the hull of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off of the coast of Tuscany to aid their frantic search for 29 unaccounted for passengers and crew members.

A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV late Monday that 25 passengers and four crew members have not been found in the wreckage of the ship, including one five-year-old girl.

Rescue teams searching for survivors blasted through the vessel's hull Tuesday, creating large holes for better access to lower decks of the ship.

Navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told Sky TV 24 the micro-charges set early Tuesday created four openings to allow divers, "to enter easily for the search."

Operations are now in motion to retrieve a second black box recorder that has been located in the wreckage, Warrant Petty Officer Massimo Macaroni of the Italian Coast Guard told ABC News.  The device, along with another recorder that's been found will be analyzed by prosecutors and provide authorities with, "a complete picture of how the disaster unfolded," CNN reported.

The number of people reported missing continues to fluctuate, as the coast guard said all but 16 people -- including a couple from Minnesota -- had been accounted for.  The official number rose after officials in other countries had reported higher numbers of missing citizens.

On Tuesday, La Stampa newspaper reported six bodies have been recovered and that rescuers saw a seventh body, but couldn't reach it; La Stampa is the only Italian media outlet reporting this, while Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera is still reporting that only six bodies have been recovered.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship and 118 have been accounted for.  The nationalities of the unaccounted for are: six Italians, 14 Germans, four French, one Hungarian, two Americans, one Indian and one Peruvian.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

Jose Baez: Too Late to Use Dogs in Search for Maryland Woman

Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- The defense attorney for Gary Giordano believes it is a waste of time for Aruban authorities to just now bring in cadaver dogs to search for the remains of his client's missing travel companion.

"I think it's grossly incompetent for cadaver dogs two plus months after the fact," Jose Baez told ABC's John Quinones. "Whatever scent of decomposition they expected to find is long gone."

Robyn Gardner, 35, has been missing from Aruba since Aug. 2. The man she was vacationing with, Gary Giordano, 50, has been detained there for five weeks now for questioning, though he has not been charged with any crime.

Cadaver dogs were brought in from Holland last week to search the Aruban shores for forensic evidence and any sign of Gardner's remains. Giordano has denied any wrongdoing and claimed Gardner was swept out to sea while the two were snorkeling.

Baez earned nationwide fame after successfully defending Casey Anthony, the Florida woman found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter. He talked about his defense plan for Giordano's case.

"It's unfortunate what's happening to him and it angers me, which is why I got involved," Baez said.

There has been no welcome party for Baez in Aruba. For a nation that depends on tourism, a big shot attorney and another missing woman are unhelpful.

Giordano can be legally held for questioning until Oct. 31, at which time he could be allowed to go back to the United States, unless a judge decides there is evidence produced to continue to keep him there.

The solicitor general of the island is now saying he plans to ask for an extension to keep Giordano there longer. Authorities are not convinced he is telling the whole truth about exactly what happened to Gardner.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun132011

Treasure Hunter Searches for bin Laden's Body

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Treasure hunter Bill Warren salvages history from shipwrecks, but he has a different sort of treasure in mind for his next quest -- he is now seeking to find the remains of Osama bin Laden in the north Arabian Sea.

"It is the most exciting and maybe dangerous project," Warren, 67, told ABC News of his latest mission.

After the United States proclaimed that bin Laden was killed in a Pakistani compound on May 2 and that DNA tests verified his identity, his body was placed in a weighted bag and buried at sea. But photos of the corpse of the then most wanted man on earth were never publicized -- which some say breeds skepticism.

"I want to prove, one way or the other that he is, in fact, dead," Warren said.

Over the past 30 years, Warren, an entrepreneur and sunken-treasure hunter from California, says he has discovered 150 wrecks and recovered loot that totals several million dollars. Brushing off skeptics, he has attempted to uncover legendary wrecks such as the San Francisco Xavier, which sank in 1705, and a Spanish caravel called the Trinidad dating back to the mid-1500s, according to media reports.

"If we are successful and find him with sonar and recover him with a remote-operated vehicle, we'll recover the body in the bag and take photographs, video, and a DNA test -- maybe of his hair or his beard."

Warren is still not entirely sure how bin Laden's DNA will be confirmed from what he potentially may recover, but wonders if a Bin Laden family member might confirm the DNA to bring an end to his quest for proof.

"I know his family lives in Arabia," he said.

Funded by money from associates, Warren says this hunt could cost nearly $1 million.

"There is still a $25 million reward that no one has collected, and the reward says dead or alive, well, if -- in fact -- he is dead, then I could collect the $25 million reward. Why not?"

Unfortunately for Warren, the reward is no longer being offered. Though this was explained to Warren, he insisted that he's going to continue his hunt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr112011

Japanese Begin One Last Effort to Find Disaster Victims

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- It's been one month since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami ravaged northern Japan and, despite the best efforts of the Japanese government, getting an exact death count has been difficult.

It's believed that at least 25,000 people died from the tsunami that stretched six miles inland but four weeks later, only 13,000 deaths have been confirmed.  The biggest fear of victims' families is that their loved ones were washed out to sea, making recovery impossible.

That doesn't mean the government has given up on the search.

On Sunday, the Japanese military stepped up its efforts to find bodies by scouring areas away from the evacuation zone near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

As many as 22,000 Japanese soldiers are taking part in the final push to locate bodies, assisted by 110 American troops.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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