Thursday, 12 March 2015

At least 50 Sudanese drown in the Mediterranean

At least 50 Sudanese nationals have drowned when the boat they were travelling on from Libya to Europe sank in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, multiple sources disclosed.The spokesman of the Sudanese association in Libya, Salaheldin Yahya, told local radio in Benghazi that the Sudanese were among over 100 African migrants who were heading to the Italian coast when the accident happened.

Relatives of one of the victims told APA that their relative who migrated to Libya three years ago was caught in the accident while trying to reach Europe.

Other Sudanese residents in Libya confirmed the incident.

After a group of 21 Egyptians were killed by Libyan extremists last month, many Sudanese stranded in Libya decided to seek refuge in Europe he added.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said recently that the Italian coastguard have rescued hundreds of African migrants from a sunken boat in the Mediterranean.

Libyan authorities are working with the IOM to recover the bodies, which could not be identified.

Thousands of African migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya and Egypt have died in the last two years.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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Kenya: Boat tragedies rise due with bad weather

Fishermen in Lake Victoria, Kenya’s biggest fresh water body, are worried about their lives as erratic weather caused by climate change has led to increased boats tragedies due to strong winds.

The strong winds have become a nightmare to fishermen who depend on the water body for their livelihood.

In the past three days, strong winds that have caused heavy currents in the lake have resulted in boats capsizing and put fishermen’s lives at risk.

In Homa Bay County, six people including a sailor narrowly escaped death on Tuesday morning when the motor boat they were travelling in capsized in Lake Victoria at Kamgere beach in Rusinga Island.

In Dunga Beach, two fishermen escaped death on Tuesday after their boat capsized due to strong waves.

Each year, an estimated 1,000 people die in boating accidents in Lake Victoria.

The Kenya Meteorological Department forecasts that the western part of Kenya, where the lake is located will experience heavy rains accompanied with heavy storms starting this week as the March-May long rainy season kicks off.

John Kiunya, the Network Beach Management Unit Chairman, Kisumu County said the bad weather have become a menace to the fishermen community.

"Fishermen are now even afraid to venture deep water as they do not know whether they will come back safely. This has affected our earnings," he said.

"We appeal to both fishermen and passengers to ensure that they use safety jackets and to venture into the lake only when it is calm to avoid such unfortunate incidences," Kiunya added.

Kiunya said they have speedy boats donated by Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme and well-wishers to rescue fishermen and other people when boats capsizing happen.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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Japan marks 4th anniversary of tsunami

Japan yesterday observed the fourth anniversary of the quake-tsunami disaster that swept away thousands of people and sparked a nuclear crisis, a tragedy that has left visible scars on the landscape and continues to wreak misery for many.

Remembrance ceremonies were held in towns and cities around the disaster zone and in Tokyo, where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko led tributes to those who died in Japan's worst peacetime disaster.

Television footage showed victims and volunteers joining their hands in prayer near the shell of a tsunami-hit building in the north-eastern port town of Minamisanriku, one of the many stark reminders of the destruction.

A nationwide minute of silence followed the wail of tsunami alarm sirens at 2.46 pm (1.46pm Singapore time), the exact moment a 9.0-magnitude undersea quake hit.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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Bangladesh Mongla cement factory collapse kills eight

At least eight people have died after a cement factory partially collapsed in Bangladesh, police say.

About 70 people were in the building in the port town of Mongla, 200km (125 miles) south-west of the capital Dhaka, when the roof gave way. The factory had been under construction.

More than 60 people were rescued and many were taken to hospital. Many had been working on the roof itself.

Bangladesh has a history of poor building safety standards.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka left more than 1,130 people dead in 2013. Most of them had worked in the garment industry.

The disaster was one of the world's worst industrial accidents.

In Mongla, rescue co-ordinator Mizamur Rahman told BBC Bengali that six bodies had so far been recovered.

Rescuers have seen two more bodies but have not said how many more workers remain missing.

The cement factory compound is army-owned but the construction work was being carried out by a Chinese-owned firm.

Survivors said dozens of the men had been working on the roof when it collapsed.

Footage broadcast on television in Bangladesh showed piles of scaffolding, metal and concrete at the bottom of the building.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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Five killed, 25 feared dead in Russian mall fire

Russian rescue workers on Thursday combed through the incinerated rubble of a shopping mall for the bodies of 25 people still missing a day after a fire ripped through the centre, leaving five dead, local officials said.

The emergency situations ministry said it had abandoned hope of finding any survivors after the three-storey building was destroyed in the blaze in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow.

"The roof has collapsed, people have been trapped there but no survivors," Igor Panshin, director of the emergency situations ministry in the Volga region, told TASS news agency.

He said up to 25 more bodies were likely buried in the rubble.

Those who are missing "are employees who have not contacted their relatives yet," he said.

Some 500 police officers and riot police had been deployed to seal off the building on Wednesday afternoon as panicked shopowners pushed past a security cordon into the burning centre in a bid to save their merchandise. Television footage showed towering plumes of black smoke rising from the burning building.

TASS quoted a police source as saying five people had died and 55 were injured. A total of 650 shoppers were rescued from the fire that razed a surface of 4,000 square metres (43,000 square feet).

Tatarstan prosecutors released a statement calling for the arrest of the head of a company that rented the premises for failing to properly evacuate people, and handed the case to the Investigative Committee which probes serious crimes.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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QZ8501: Hunt for bodies drawing to close, but AirAsia still not giving up

AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said Thursday he was not giving up on finding more bodies from one of the airline's jets that crashed in the Java Sea last year, but flagged the hunt will draw to a close within weeks.

More than 100 bodies and the black box recorders have been recovered since Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather while flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore on December 28, killing all 162 people on board.

"My message is we're not giving up. (The families) know that because I'm speaking to them every day," Fernandes told reporters in Sydney, adding that about 60 bodies had yet to be found, including the captain.

"We have been successful from a sea operation like this. To get more than 50 percent is considered a huge success." But the Malaysian low-cost airline chief said the search could not "go on indefinitely".

"There is a time period and we've agreed with the families that this is obviously not something that can go on indefinitely," he said. "But it's important for us that the families agreed on this and that's why I give them credit that they didn't keep insisting that we go on forever.

"I'd say seven to 10 full operational days and then we'll probably have to close it down."

Fernandes did not say when the last victims had been found, but Indonesian authorities have reported far fewer discoveries of bodies in recent weeks.

The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee has so far shed little light on what caused QZ8501 to crash, or what occurred in the moments before the tragedy.

It found the plane climbed from 32,000 feet to well above 37,000 feet in 30 seconds, likely in an attempt to avoid a menacing storm. It then quickly returned to 32,000 feet before "gradually" descending towards the sea.

Indonesia will release the final report into the crash by August, the transport minister told AFP in February.

Fernandes, in Australia to announce new flights from the country to Indonesia, said long-haul budget carrier Indonesia AirAsia X was reviewing its safety procedures and operations although nothing had been changed as yet.

"There's no guarantee that AirAsia is never going to have another incident again as I've always said from the beginning, but what we'll do is we'll mitigate as much as possible," he said.

"We'll be transparent, we'll be open and we're working very hard on that... we owe it to those families that whatever we can possibly do to be the best, we will be the best, there's no doubt about it."

Fernandes said AirAsia was still looking at expanding its operations in Indonesia, with a view to using Bali as a hub between flights from Australia to north Asia.

Thursday 12 March 2015

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