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News Wrap: Hundreds of South Sudanese civilians murdered in ethnic slaughter

April 22, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Hundreds of people in South Sudan have been killed in what the United Nations is calling ethnic slaughter. U.N. human rights officials say rebels from the ethnic Nuer group seized the city of Bentiu last week and murdered people who sought safety in a mosque.

These graphic images released by the U.N. show bodies in the streets, and earth-moving machines carrying away remains for burial in a mass grave.

A U.N. team witnessed the aftermath of the killings.

TOBY LANZER, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General: During the past few days, Bentiu was the scene of several violence, very targeted, deliberate violence that struck individuals of certain identities. And I think that’s what I have so far seen in the mosque and in other parts of town has really been very, very heart-wrenching. Certainly, atrocities have been committed on a very significant scale.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.N. investigators charge that a local radio station helped incite the killing by broadcasting hate messages. That’s similar to how the genocide in Rwanda began 20 years ago this month.

The death toll in the South Korean ferry disaster kept climbing today to at least 113. About 190 others are still missing.

Ben Chapman of Independent Television News narrates this report on the recovery operation.

BEN CHAPMAN: It is a dark and difficult task. A diver follows a rope through the murky waters to reach the sunken ship.

Amid a maze of staircases, doorways and windows float blankets and life jackets. But he is interested only in the dead, recovering the bodies of nearly 200 people still trapped inside. He is among more than 700 workers and more than 200 vessels involved in this most grim of tasks, where success looks like this.

More than 100 bodies have now been brought ashore. The families of those on board study descriptions of the dead pinned on notice boards. Others simply study the sea.

“Please save them,” this man cries.

The families are urging the government to speed up the search. This father says he would go into the water himself if he could. But they know too that hope is all but gone. The divers have been given just two more days before work begins to raise the ship to the surface.

Anger continues to grow at how this could have happened. It’s emerged crew members repeatedly asked their officers about telling passengers to abandon ship, but got no response, and that the ferry may not have turned suddenly before sinking, as first thought.

For now, there remain so many questions and so few answers.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Nine of the vessel’s surviving crew members, including the captain, have been arrested or detained as part of the investigation.

President Obama visited the community of Oso, Washington, today, site of last month’s deadly mudslide. At least 41 people died in the disaster, and dozens of homes were obliterated. The president landed this afternoon and went straight to his helicopter, Marine One, to fly over the site of the mudslide. He also met with victims and family members. Mr. Obama leaves tonight for a four-nation tour of Asia.

In economic news, sales of existing homes slipped to a 20-month low in March. The National Association of Realtors blamed the decline on rising prices and mortgage rates, a tightening supply of homes and winter weather. There were some signs of improvement, though. First-time buyers accounted for 30 percent of sales, the most in a year.

Wall Street moved ahead for the sixth day in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 65 points to close at 16,514. The Nasdaq rose nearly 40 points to close at 4,161. And the S&P 500 added seven points to finish at 1,879.