Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Families of ferry disaster victims call for vessel recovery

Family members of the victims of last year's deadly ferry sinking called on the government Tuesday to make a decision on the recovery of the submerged ship before the first anniversary of the tragedy.

In one of the nation's worst maritime disasters, the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol sank in waters off the nation's southwestern tip on April 16, killing more than 300 passengers, mostly teenagers on a school trip to the southernmost resort island of Jeju. Nine people remain unaccounted for.

The government said it has finished evaluating how and when the ferry would be lifted from the ocean in May. But it has yet to announce whether it will actually go ahead with the plan. The recovery process has been estimated to cost 620 billion won ($560 million).

The associations of the victims' families said the government shouldn't wait any longer and urged it to promptly raise the ship.

"There are nine bodies that are waiting to be returned to their family members," the associations said in a statement.

Family members are planning to hold a variety of programs to mark the disaster's one-year anniversary coming up next month.

Starting Monday, they will stage a 416-hour sit-in at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul.

For two days starting April 4, they said they will march from a joint altar set up in Ansan, south of Seoul, to Gwanghwamun Square.

In early November, the government officially terminated the search for the missing from the sunken ferry, citing inclement weather and safety risks for divers.

Tuesday 24 March 2015


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At least seven dead in Peru landslide

Seven people were killed and more were feared dead in Peru after a massive landslide buried parts of a town amid heavy rains, authorities said on Tuesday.

Six were missing and 25 injured in the disaster in Chosica, some 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) east of Lima, said Alfredo Murgueytio, the head of the National Civil Defense Institute, Indeci.

"There are likely more dead bodies under the debris," Murgueytio said on local broadcaster RPP.

TV images showed water and mud rushing over the town's sloped streets and a distraught woman waving a picture of a missing girl.

The main road connecting Lima to the centre of Peru, a top global producer of copper and gold, remained blocked since Monday, police said.

The landslide destroyed 65 houses and rendered another 45 unliveable, said Indeci.

Landslides and avalanches in Peru, mainly in rural towns in the Andes and Amazon, have killed 28 people and destroyed 1,245 houses so far this year, according to Indeci.

Chosica, a town tucked between mountains and next to a river, has been damaged by landslides several times in the past.

Tuesday 24 March 2015


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Germanwings Airbus crashes in France, 148 feared dead

An Airbus A320 airliner has crashed in the French Alps between Barcelonnette and Digne, French aviation officials and police have said.

The jet belongs to the German airline Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa.

The plane, flight 4U 9525, had been en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf with 142 passengers and six crew on board.

French President Francois Hollande said: "The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to think there are no survivors."

Mr Hollande said the crash was a tragedy and called for solidarity with the victims, adding that the area was very difficult to access.

He said he would be speaking shortly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The plane issued a distress call at 10:47 (09:47 GMT), according to sources quoted by AFP news agency.

Search-and-rescue teams are headed to the crash site at Meolans-Revels, said regional council head Eric Ciotti

Although it began its life as an independent low-cost carrier, Germanwings is wholly owned by its parent Lufthansa.

It operates increasing numbers of the group's point-to-point short-haul routes and takes many passengers from German cities to Mediterranean sunspots.

The airline has an excellent safety record with no previously reported accidents. The average age of its Airbus fleet is just over nine years old, though flight 4U 9525 was a 24-year-old A320.

The plan was to phase out the Germanwings brand and replace it with Eurowings. There has been a longstanding dispute with the Vereinigung Cockpit union over early retirement. Pilots went on strike for three days around this time last year.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he had sent Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to the scene and a ministerial crisis cell to co-ordinate the incident had been set up.

The interior ministry said debris had been located at an altitude of 2,000m (6,500ft).

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told BFM TV that it would be "an extremely long and extremely difficult'' search-and-rescue operation because of the remoteness.

Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr tweeted: "We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew.

"If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors."

The Airbus A320 is single-aisle passenger jet popular for short- and medium-haul flights.

Tuesday 24 March 2015


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