Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Six killed as private plane crashes in central France

A small plane crashed Tuesday in France's central Burgundy region, killing six people, officials said.

The accident occurred a little after 11:00 am (10:00 GMT) near the village of Mouffy, firefighters said.

The single-engine TBM-700 plane was registered in the United States and was flying between Annecy, a tourist destination in the French Alps, and Toussus-le-Noble, a small airport in Paris's western suburbs.

The plane crashed into a field. Civil aviation authorities say the victims, all French, have not yet been formally identified. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

France has witnessed a number of crashes involving small planes this year including one near Lyon in September when a Cessna aircraft came down shortly after taking off from an airfield near Lyon. The plane burst into flames as it crashed into a field near the runway, killing all four on board.

And at the beginning of September, two British residents were killed when the plane they were travelling in, also a Cessna, crashed off the coast of Jersey, in the English Channel, after taking off from Dinan in western France.

In August, The Local reported how an elderly brother and sister were among three people killed when a tourist plane crashed into a field in Puy-de-Dome in central France.

Just a week earlier, two men were killed instantly when the Cirrus SR20 single-engine aircraft they were travelling in crashed in the Loire region of central France.

Tuesday 19 November 2013


continue reading

Sardinia hit by cyclone and flooding, at least 16 killed

At least 16 people have been killed in flooding prompted by a cyclone and heavy rain that swept through the Italian island of Sardinia.

A number of people are reported missing after rivers burst their banks, sweeping cars away and causing bridges to collapse.

The worst-hit area appears to be in and around the north-eastern city of Olbia.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta has spoken of a "national tragedy" and a state of emergency is expected to be declared.

"We're at maximum alert," Giorgio Cicalo, an official from Sardinia's civil protection authority, told Italy's Rai TV.

"We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades. Especially because it's been across the whole island."

Hundreds of people across the Mediterranean island have been moved from their homes because of the flooding caused by Cyclone Cleopatra.

Sardinian Governor Ugo Cappellacci told Italian TV that the situation on the island was "dramatic".

Olbia Mayor Gianni Giovanelli was quoted by Sky TG24 as saying that the city had been hit by an "apocalyptic"' storm.

Cyclones are extremely rare in the Mediterranean.

Reports from the island say flood waters in some areas were up to 3m (10ft) high.

A Brazilian family of four drowned when their basement flat in the town of Arzachena, in the northern part of the island, filled with water. Two children were among the dead.

Three people died when a road bridge collapsed on to their car near Olbia, according to local media.

In a separate incident, a mother and her daughter were found dead in their car after it was swept away by floods.

Among the victims was a police officer who died after a bridge collapsed as he tried to escort an ambulance.

Tuesday 19 November 2013


continue reading

Russian authorities continue looking for bodies in plane wreckage

The president of the Russian republic of Tatarstan declared Monday a day of mourning as crews continued to look for bodies in the wreckage of a Russian jetliner that crashed on landing a day earlier.

All 50 people on board, including the son of Tatarstan regional President Rustam Miinikhanov, died in the crash in Tatarstan’s capital, Kazan.

The victims ranged in age from 13 to 87, according to a list of names the airline posted on its website. Among them was Lt. Gen. Alexander Antonov, the regional chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service, and a British national.

“Not all the bodies have been located,” Deputy Emergency Situation Situations Minister Vladimir Stepanov told local media Monday morning. “The main work will be completed today.”

Officials do not know why Tatarstan Airlines flight 363 crashed. Part of the answer may lie in the Boeing 737′s flight and data recorders. Russian officials say they’ve found the flight recorders, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency said Monday. Russia’s Interstate Commerce Committee reports that the recorders’ container was seriously damaged, the news agency said, but they’ve been sent to Moscow and could provide some information by Tuesday.

The plane, carrying 44 passengers and a crew of six, took off from Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Kazan.

The pilot tried two times to land before the plane slammed nose-first into the ground, officials told local media.

The jet was 23 years old and had been in service with at least eight airlines, including Air France, Uganda Airlines and Bulgaria Air, according to aviation industry websites.

In a November 2012 flight, it was forced to cut short a flight to Moscow and return to Kazan after losing cabin pressure, according to the website AeroInside.

Security cam footage showing a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737’s nosedive has been released. The reason for the crash that claimed 50 lives remains unknown, although technical malfunction and pilot error are the leading theories.

The footage shows just how futile any efforts at rectifying the situation must have been in those final moments. The plane is seen to be falling vertically out of the sky before exploding on the runway.

“We will not land” were the last words that chief pilot Rustem Salikhov told an air traffic controller at the airport.

"The plane simply fell. It went vertically into the ground. After the plane hit the ground there was an explosion," transport minister Maksim Sokolov said.

As experts examined the crash scene, they reportedly confirmed that the airliner began spinning before hitting the ground. They believe the fuselage is buried four meters underground.

“Practically half of the aircraft was in the ground,” Life News quoted a source as saying.

This complicates the recovery operation, as the bodies of the two pilots and those who traveled in business class are underground, along with half the cabin.

Parts of the fuselage, which is now in tatters, were scattered within a 2.5 kilometer radius. The plane's back was completely ruined.

One witness told RT earlier that she was “on board that same Tatarstan airplane from Kazan to Moscow earlier on Sunday afternoon. The flight itself went quite smoothly but, just before the landing, the plane started vibrating fiercely. Initially I thought it was the weather - but when we got out of the plane, it turned out the weather was quite nice. The plane was shaking; it was dragged from side to side. We landed on our first attempt, but it was a really bad landing and I felt like the plane was going to roll off the runway.”

Despite all this, the latest checkup - two days before departure - had found nothing wrong.

Supporting the view that all five factors discussed could have caused the fatal crash – pilot error, weather conditions, poor fuel, badly observed safety measures, and the plane’s disrepair – Michael Weiss, a civil aviation consultant who used to fly the same type of plane that crashed in Kazan, told RT that in the majority of cases, it is always a combination of factors.

“All of these factors are going to be looked at...there are going to be so many things looked at, keeping in mind that accidents generally don’t happen from a single event," he said.

Russia has tried to improve its checkered reputation for air safety in recent years.

In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev grounded two classes of Soviet-era aircraft after a pair of crashes that killed more than 90 people, including a charter plane crash that killed an entire professional hockey team.

Medvedev said Russia would have to upgrade its aircraft fleet, step up safety standards and radically cut the number of airlines

Tuesday 19 November 2013



continue reading

7 dead after minibus plunges into ravine

A minibus transporting 13 tourists, believed to be Chinese, plunged into a 15-meter-deep ravine Monday after experiencing engine trouble on the narrow, treacherous road at Jl. Pantai Suluban, Pecatu in South Kuta.

As of 9 p.m., the local authorities had confirmed that seven people had been killed in the accident, including the driver, the tourist guide and five tourists. The number of fatalities is feared to rise since several passengers were still receiving intensive treatment in local hospitals.

Severely injured passengers were rushed to Kasih Ibu Hospital in Kedonganan; Bali International Medical Centre (BIMC) in Nusa Dua; Surya Husada Hospital in Siligita; and Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar.

The police and hospitals have yet to release the identities of the victims. There was also contradictory information about the nationalities of the victims, with the police identifying them as Chinese, while the local chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) stated they were Taiwanese. The driver is believed to be an Indonesian national, identified as Agus Bachtiar Usman.

The accident took place on Monday afternoon at around 2:45 p.m. local time. The minibus fell into a ravine near Blue Point Hotel on Jl. Pantai Suluban.

Bali Traffic Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Beno Lauhenapessy said that the minibus was moving along the main road that connects Padang Padang Beach with the famous Uluwatu Temple. It was reported that the group planned to visit the temple, which is perched on a cliff and was believed to be the enlightenment site of an influential 16th century Hindu sage.

At an uphill and angled section of the road, the minibus’ engine stuttered before suddenly dying out.

“The bus driver put the brakes on for several minutes. When the driver tried to turn on engine and move forward, it suddenly switched off again and the bus moved backward before plunging into a 15-meter-deep ravine,” Beno explained.

The locals and, later on, emergency crew from the Denpasar National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) scrambled to the accident site and had to navigate difficult terrain to evacuate the victims. It took them three hours to complete the task.

Police were still investigating the exact cause of the fatal accident. Beno said that the police had yet to make any conclusions about the cause of the accident. “We are still investigating the case, and we will surely investigate it in a thorough manner,” he said.

Beno added that the Bali Traffic Police would evaluate the safety signs and equipment installed on the accident-prone road.

“Since there has been an accident, we will improve the infrastructure on roads that are prone to accidents. It will include providing traffic signs to show all motorists that the road is dangerous,” Beno said.

Dudut Rustyadi, head of the forensic facility of Sanglah General Hospital, confirmed that the facility had received the bodies of all the fatalities.

“We will carry out a postmortem examination on all the victims once we receive an official notice from the police,” he said.

Tuesday 19 November 2013


continue reading

Typhoon Haiyan: Bodies ripped from graves

Skulls lie on tombstones and a hand reaches out from a grave at a cemetery in the eastern Philippines, after a typhoon so powerful it pulled the dead from the earth.

Shell-shocked survivors speak of how there was nowhere to hide when the storm brought the ocean surging ashore, sweeping through a school where children and the elderly cowered.

Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 75 people in the small rural town of Hernani. Another 45 are missing.

And like something from a nightmare, the storm surge was so powerful it washed bodies from their graves as it swept over the local cemetery.

Those who survived the onslaught were horrified to discover the graveyard in ruins.

"It was a hair-raising sight. Some of the dead were sticking halfway out of their tombs. Others were strewn across the street," said Claire Gregorio, an aid worker from the nearby Catholic diocese of Borongan.

"The water came in and just swept everything away," said Gregorio, one of the first aid responders to reach Hernani, pointing to the ocean about 700m away and hidden by a strip of now-dead mangrove forest.

Jumble of tombs

On the day an AFP team visited, the Catholic cemetery in this deeply religious country was a jumble of upturned and broken concrete and marble tombs, half-buried by the fine, crushed coral that came in with the water.

A calcified hand stuck out of one broken grave, several skulls lay on top of tombs and a thighbone sat on the ground.

Romeo Vazquez, aged 45, recalls how the waters rose rapidly around 02:00 on 8 November and did not retreat for five terrifying hours.

"These fields were like a sea at the time," he said.

"There were houses and boats afloat as well as people, both the dead and those still alive."

His family all survived after sitting out the flood on a small hill behind their house. But relatives who had been laid to rest once before have now gone.

"My brother is missing, his shattered tomb was empty," he said. "My grandmother's remains are also missing."

Farmer Luciano Habagat, aged 70, waded to safety through chest deep water when the waves engulfed his home.

"Peopl>e were awake because of the strong winds, but it was very dark. Some people sought sanctuary in a nearby school while others ran to the hills," he said. His sister died in the flood.

Fled to school

Gregorio, the church aid worker, said villagers had fled to the school because they thought they would be safe there.

"The elementary school was an evacuation centre, but after a while the floor became wet and the water tasted like salt," she said, relating stories from survivors.

"When they opened the doors the seawater exploded in their faces."

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest ever recorded when it thundered through the Philippines, cutting a swathe of destruction and killing thousands.

More than a week after it hit, 1 600 people are still officially listed as missing in addition to the 3 976 dead, and up to four million are homeless.

A huge global rescue operation has swung into action, with millions of dollars' worth of aid being delivered around the clock.

But food remains scarce, especially in remote areas. There is no power and no running water across a wide area, and even in some of the larger cities, decomposing bodies still lie on the street.

In Hernani, survivors could not wait for an official effort to re-bury their dead.

Most of those that were disinterred were put in a mass grave, after a blessing from the parish priest, apart from one man whose funeral had been held just two days before the storm, said Gregorio.

"The relatives decided to re-bury him in a grave of his own."

Tuesday 19 November 2013


continue reading