Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Investigators complete survey of sunken Cemfjord

Investigators have released the first full image of the carrier vessel which sank in the Pentland Firth that claimed the lives of all eight crew members.

Marine Accident Investigation Board has completed sonar and remote operated vehicle surveys of the Cemfjord which was found capsized on Saturday, January 3.

The image reveals that the 272ft long vessel has fallen onto its side after it was previously reported to be lying upside down when investigators first began carrying out the survey.

Last contact was made with the Cypriot registered ship which had sailed from Denmark when it was sailing between Stroma and Swona on Friday, January 2.

It was discovered capsized over 24 hours after last contact was made by Serco Northlink passenger ferry Hrossey.

It is believed the bodies of all eight crew members, seven Poles and a Filipino are still inside the Cemfjord with no plans finalised to recover the vessel.

Tuesday 10 February 2015


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AirAsia flight QZ8501: DVI still working on identifying AirAsia pilot, search continues

The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team from the East Java Police is still working to identify a body presumed to be the pilot or co-pilot of AirAsia flight QZ8501, which crashed on Dec. 28, 2014.

Leader of the DVI team Sr. Com. Budiyono said on Monday that the presumption was based on the AirAsia uniform that was attached to the remains when they were sent to the Bhayangkara Hospital in Surabaya on Sunday, together with six other sets of remains found by the recovery team.

“One of the bodies was in an AirAsia uniform with three stripes on the epaulettes, but we still cannot be certain what this indicates,” said Budiyono as quoted by Antara.

He said the DVI team needed more than one piece of secondary data to positively identify a body. “We need to check primary data like DNA, dental records or finger prints,” he said.

Member of AirAsia’s safety and security staff Dono Sukoco said the rank signifier was associated with the co-pilot, First Officer Remi Emmanuel Plesel.

East Java Police have so far identified 73 bodies recovered from the plane that crashed into the Java Sea with the loss of all 155 passengers and seven crew.

The search and recovery efforts continued to be carried out in the Karimata Strait and the Java Sea to find more bodies, as well as in the waters off Sulawesi Island.

The Basarnas in Makassar, South Sulawesi, has expanded its search area to a number of locations in Central and West Sulawesi.

“We are focusing on seven locations to look for bodies and debris, expanding the search up to Central and West Sulawesi,” the search agency local chapter head Deden Ridwansyah said Saturday.

According to Deden, the seven locations were in the waters off Palu city in Central Sulawesi, by the Topoyo, Mamuju, Majene and Polewali Mandar regencies in West Sulawesi and off the Pinrang and Barru regencies in South Sulawesi

“We are also receiving help from local fishermen, local disaster mitigation agency officers and the police for combing the coastal areas of the locations,” he said.

Deden said the search, which has lasted for more than a month, would continue for an indefinite period.

“We have yet to receive orders to stop the search. We don’t know for sure when the search would end,” he said.

A total of eight bodies, suspected to be those of the AirAsia victims, had been found in Sulawesi waters, located around 1,000 kilometers from the crash site. Six of the bodies were found in Majene and two in Pinrang.

Earlier on Saturday, three bodies were found at the bottom of the Java Sea. Basarnas confirmed that one of four bodies found on Friday was those of a pilot after a team of divers located the cockpit of the crashed plane.

Tuesday 10 February 2015



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At least 29 migrants die of hypothermia after Italian coastguard rescue

At least 29 African migrants have lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat in icy weather. Most of the victims died after being rescued by the Italian coast guard.

The migrants died of hypothermia while attempting to make a dangerous journey from North Africa to European shores in an inflatable boat. Coast guard ships picked up more than 100 refugees on the small vessel near Libya overnight. Seven passengers were already dead.

Two patrol boats picked up 105 migrants late on Sunday from the boat drifting in extreme sea conditions, with waves as high as eight metres (26 feet) and temperatures just a few degrees above zero, the coastguard said in a statement.

The migrants then spent about 18 hours on the decks of the small patrol boats taking them to Lampedusa, buffeted by high winds and spray. At least 29 died en route, Lampedusa’s mayor, Giusi Nicolini, said.

The number of dead may still rise, she said. One migrant had been taken by helicopter to the island of Sicily in critical condition, and the second patrol boat has yet to reach port.

"The smugglers, in their wickedness, threw them in a life raft in the middle of the sea," said Filippo Marini, a coast guard spokesman. "It is obvious they were traveling in physically stressful conditions. We are in the middle of winter, with conditions at the limit for everyone."

Due to bad weather and high waves, the coast guard reached the Italian island of Lampedusa early afternoon on Monday. By then, 22 more people had died after spending 18 hours on small rescue vessels buffeted by wind and sea spray.

In 2013, more than 360 people drowned trying to reach Europe via Lampedusa, a tragedy which initiated the Italian-run search-and-rescue mission, Mare Nostrum. However, the government of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi brought the mission to end last year, as it had been costing Italy more than 9 million euros ($10 million) per month.

Nicolini blamed the closure of Italy’s search-and-rescue mission, known as Mare Nostrum, last year for the tragedy. Since then no navy ships capable of keeping large numbers of migrants below deck have patrolled the waters near the Libyan coast.

“Mare Nostrum was an emergency solution to a humanitarian crisis, so closing it was a huge and intolerable step backward,” Nicolini said. Human rights groups repeatedly warned that ending the mission would endanger lives.

“The small patrol boats were completely swallowed by the waves during the trip back. If Mare Nostrum were still going, the migrants would have been given shelter inside a large ship within an hour.”

The patrol boats sent from Lampedusa are small vessels that ride low to the water so crew members can pull people in. But they cannot accommodate many below deck. Since it came to an end in November, no navy ships with the capacity to shelter large numbers of people below deck have patrolled the seas off the Libyan coast.

"The small patrol boats were completely swallowed by the waves during the trip back. If Mare Nostrum were still going, the migrants would have been given shelter inside a large ship within an hour," Nicolini said.

The EU now runs a border control operation, called Triton, with fewer ships and a much smaller area of operation.

Civil war in Syria and anarchy in Libya swelled the number of people crossing the Mediterranean last year. Many paid smugglers $1,000-$2,000 to travel.

The UN refugee agency says 160,000 seaborne migrants arrived in Italy by November 2014 and a further 40,000 in Greece. Thousands have died attempting the journey.

“To organised crime it’s not important if people make it across the sea alive or dead,” Nicolini said. “But now, without Mare Nostrum, it’s as if no one, and not just the criminals, cares if they live or die.”

Laura Boldrini, the president of Italy's lower house of parliament and a former spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, shared the mayor's view. "Horror off of Lampedusa. These people didn't die in a shipwreck, but from cold. These are the consequences of the end of Mare Nostrum," she wrote on Twitter.

More than 3,200 have died in the last year while trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italian shores. At the same time, more than 170,000 made it to their destination, making 2014 a record year.

Tuesday 10 February 2015



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Tragic accident or mass murder? The sinking of the White Ship leads to disaster for England

Many year ago, before modern air travel, the only way to travel across large bodies of water was by ship. Many passengers would crowd onto a large vessel for a lengthy journey to their destination. Unfortunately, when one of these ships sank, many passengers lost their lives because of too few life boats, icy cold water, long wait times for rescue boats, and lack of swimming skills. One well-known ship disaster occurred in the year 1120.

A ship known as the “White Ship” struck a partially submerged rock and sank soon after departure. Only one person aboard the White Ship survived. However, this was not just any ship that sank. The White Ship carried William Adelin, the son of King Henry I of England, heir and first in line to the throne. Due to the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the White Ship, and the subsequent succession crisis, some have speculated that the sinking was not an accident at all, but the result of an event intended to disrupt the stability of the throne. Was the sinking of the White Ship a tragic accident with severe consequences, or was it the mass murder of hundreds orchestrated to get away with the murder of the future king?

Public Domain King Henry had a dozen children, and possibly more. Matilda and William were born to the King’s wife, Matilda of Scotland, and the rest of the children were with his mistresses. While the King treated all of his children well and gave them all important government positions, William was the child positioned to take over the throne.

Shortly before William’s death, King Henry and the King of France had executed an agreement through which William would marry the daughter of Count Fulk V of Anjou. With this agreement in place, there was nothing stopping William from inheriting the Anglo-Normal Empire. King Henry felt secure knowing that his son would succeed the throne.

In November 1120, everything would change. A fleet was being assembled to transport King Henry and his party from Normandy to England – a journey that required crossing the English Channel. Thomas FitzStephen, captain of the White Ship, offered to transport the King across the channel. King Henry declined this invitation, as he had already made his travel arrangements, but many in his party decided to travel aboard the White Ship – including William.

Other nobles boarding the White Ship included Henry’s illegitimate son and daughter - William’s half-siblings Richard and Matilda - and several others. All-in-all, more than 300 people boarded the White Ship on November 25, 1120. Public Domain According to the story, as chronicled by historian Orderic Vitalis, the crew asked William to supply them with wine – a request to which he obliged in great quantity. Everyone on board consumed large volumes of wine, passengers and crew alike.

Because of the excessive alcohol consumption, several people left the ship prior to departure, including Stephen of Bloise, who came down with a severe case of diarrhea. Eventually, the ship carrying the King disembarked, followed by the White Ship. The passengers on the White Ship urged Captain FitzStephen to push ahead, and to try to catch up with the King’s vessel.

The captain and crew were confident that the ship could reach England first. The crew rowed ferociously, fueled by their drunkenness from the wine. However, as the ship set sail into the waters, which were blackened by the nighttime sky, the White Ship struck a partially submerged rock. The port side of the ship was severely damaged, and the White Ship quickly capsized, sinking with hundreds aboard.

Initially, William made his way to a small lifeboat and attempted to escape the sinking ship. However, he was drawn back to the wreckage when he heard the screams of his half-sister, Matilda. As he returned to save her, the passengers in the water desperately tried to board the lifeboat, which could not sustain such a capacity. William drowned as the lifeboat sank.

The White Ship sank in a location where people on shore, and even those aboard King Henry’s ship, could hear the passengers’ frantic screams. However, due to the darkness of night, it was difficult to tell where the screams were coming from, and no one was able to help the passengers. Tragically, only two people survived the sinking of the White Ship - a butcher from Rouen and Geoffrey de l'Aigle. Captain FitzStephen perished, although it is said by some that he initially survived, but upon hearing that William had drowned, he chose to die rather than face the King for having contributed to the death of his son.

Upon learning of William’s death, King Henry was devastated. The sinking of the White Ship had a strong negative impact upon England. The death of William led to a succession crisis, and the country was gripped by a civil war known as the Anarchy. After William died, King Henry had only one remaining legitimate child – a daughter named Matilda (not to be confused with his illegitimate daughter Matilda who had died when the White Ship sank). King Henry fought to ensure that Matilda would succeed the throne, but a woman had never led the country prior to this point.

Although King Henry’s barons swore an oath to support Matilda as King Henry’s heir, upon his death in 1135 the barons hesitated to accept Matilda as the queen Regnant. Instead, King Henry’s nephew, Stephen of Bloise, became king. Stephen is commonly viewed as having played a suspicious role in the sinking due to the fact that he was aboard the ship before it set sail, and he then left the ship due to a “sudden illness,” and he ultimately benefitted greatly from the sinking, becoming king. However, some say that Stephen’s chances of becoming king were too remote at the time of the sinking for him to take such drastic measures to achieve that goal.

Matilda launched a war against Stephen of Bloise as she pursued what she believed to be her rightful role as leader. This tumultuous time, known as the Anarchy, lasted from 1135 to 1153, and resulted in great destruction and despair in England. Was the sinking of the White Ship a tragic accident due to wine-induced carelessness, or was it mass murder intended to upset the succession of the English throne? The answer may never be known.

Tuesday 10 February 2015


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