Home' Greymouth Star : January 7th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Hendra Gunawan Syawal, at right rear, on the Airbus an hour before the crash.
The family of a victim of the Air Asia
crash learned of their loved one’s fate
after being sent a selfie he featured in,
taken on board flight QZ8501 as it
prepared for take-off.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s navy said it
has found an object that was “probably”
the tail of the missing plane, raising
hopes that the remaining bodies and the
plane’s black box will soon be recovered.
Hendra Gunawan Syawal, 23, had
posted the photograph with three friends
on the Airbus A320 just an hour before
it plunged into the Java Sea, killing all
162 people on board.
Yunita Syawal, who had already heard
news of the flight’s disappearance when
she was sent the image of her brother,
had not known he was due to fly that
day. A call to her parents confirmed
her worst fears. “ I immediately flew to
Surabaya,” she said. Six days later, she
helped identify his body.
“Now we have seen his body, we know
he’s gone for sure.”
Colonel Yayan Sofyan, a patrol boat
captain, said the navy had found a
section of aircraft that resembled the tail.
“ We found what has a high probability
of being the tail of the plane.”
Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the
head of Indonesia’s search and rescue
agency, said the object was “suspected”
of being the tail but was yet to be
Indonesia’s Government has suspended
the air traffic controllers who oversaw
the flight and ordered all pilots to
undergo pre-flight briefings on handling
Ignatius Jonan, Indonesia’s Transport
Minister, has accused Air Asia of operating
the flight on Sundays without permission,
while acting head of air transport Djoko
Murjatmodjo has indicated airport
officials may have acted illegally.
The search has been hampered by
continued heavy weather off Borneo’s
Five large objects have been picked up
by sonar scans of the ocean floor in the
search zone but the largest was found
to be a shipwreck. No pings have yet
been detected from the plane’s black box
locator beacon. — AP
Cannibalism in drug gang’s initiation rites
A vicious Mexican drug gang
forced some members to eat the
hearts of murder victims as part of a
gruesome initiation rite to root out
infiltrators, a government security
official said overnight, citing witness
For much of the past year,
agricultural State in western Mexico,
has been ravaged by fighting between
drug gang henchmen and vigilantes
who took up arms against the cartels
but have since splintered into violent
A mid-December shootout between
two rival groups that killed 11 people
has reignited fears the government
is failing to control the State after
flooding it with federal troops and
pressing vigilantes into a fledgling
rural police force.
The renewed fighting in Michoacan
comes as President Enrique Pena
Nieto faces his deepest crisis since
taking office, following the apparent
murder of 43 trainee teachers by
a drug gang working with corrupt
police in neighbouring Guerrero
The incident sparked widespread
protests against the government,
compounded by conflict-of-interest
scandals enveloping the president
and his finance minister. Pena Nieto
was expected to discuss Mexico’s
chronic violence with US President
Barack Obama in Washington today.
The main gangs operating in
Michoacan, La Familia Michoacana,
and later offshoot the Knights
Templar cartel, were founded by
Nazario Moreno, or “The Craziest
One,” a cultish crime boss who was
finally killed in March 2014 after the
previous government declared him
dead in 2010.
Inter viewed on local television,
Alfredo Castillo, Michoacan’s federal
cannibalism was widespread, but
said there were various testimonies
indicating heart-eating was part of
a macabre initiation Moreno used
to root out moles or test his men’s
dismembering people they intended
to kill to sometimes ser ving up the
heart,” Castillo said.
He did not elaborate on who
provided the testimony and did not
specify when and where the alleged
initiation rituals took place. Castillo
could not immediately be reached for
More than 100,000 people have
been killed in gang-related violence
in Mexico since 2007. — Reuters
Thousands of men and women
across Bulgaria, Turkey and
Greece have plunged into icy
waters as part of an extreme
Christian Orthodox celebration
for the feast of Epiphany.
From Th essaloniki in northern
Greece to Istanbul and the
small Bulgarian town of Kalofer,
thick-skinned swimmers braved
winter temperatures to retrieve
wooden crucifixes thrown into
the water by Orthodox priests as
part of an annual ritual held on
“Since the first time I made the
dive at 18 years old I have always
had good luck and good work,”
one swimmer in Istanbul, who
gave his name as Baba, said.
The Bulgarian withstood the
10degC waters of the Bosphorus
to retrieve the cross.
“I hope that my dive will bring
luck and health to my family,” he
In Prague, participants did not
chase after a cross but still took
an icy dip in the Vltava River for
the traditional swim on Epiphany,
also known as Three Kings day.
In Kalofer, in central Bulgaria,
about 250 men broke the ice
and waded into the slushy
waters of the Tundzha River,
while singing and performing a
traditional chain dance dressed
in white embroidered shirts and
old-fashioned wool trousers and
accompanied by a small folk
The ritual is over 100 years old
and unique in Bulgaria, mayor
Rumen Stoyanov, who led the
dance himself, said.
Local tradition has it that
only men can take part in the
icy plunge, known as “saving
the cross”, but there is no age
restriction, he said.
The youngest participant to
brave the sub-zero temperatures
was five-year-old Stilian
accompanied by his father.
According to local belief, none
of the dancers will get ill after
taking the icy dip and he and his
relatives will have a healthy year.
Among Orthodox Christians,
the feast of Epiphany celebrates
the day the spirit of God
descended upon believers in the
shape of a dove during Jesus
Christ ’s baptism in the River
Jordan. — AFP
Or thodox Christians take icy plunge
Men jump into the waters of a lake in an attempt to grab a wooden cross on Epiphany Day in Sofia,
Bulgaria. Orthodox priests throughout the country bless the waters by throwing a cross into it as
worshippers try to retrieve it. It is strongly believed that catching the cross brings health and prosperity
to the person who captures it.
A British war veteran who left his
care home to attend last year’s 70th
anniversary D-Day events in France
has died — months before he hoped
to return to Normandy’s beaches.
Bernard Jordan — dubbed the
“great escaper” after his cross-
Channel adventure last June — died
peacefully in hospital at the age of
He was taken to the hearts of many
when he disappeared from his care
home to embark on a trip to the
D-Day anniversary commemorations
in Normandy wearing his war medals
under his grey mac.
His disappearance sparked a police
search last June 5 and his whereabouts
emerged only when a younger veteran
phoned later that night to say he had
met Jordan and he was safe.
Jordan, an ex-Royal Navy veteran
and mayor of Hove in East Sussex,
told reporters on his return that
his aim was to remember his fallen
He had decided to join British
veterans, most making their final
pilgrimage to revisit the scene of their
momentous invasion, to remember the
heroes of the liberation of Europe.
Some 156,000 allied troops landed
on the five invasion beaches on June
6, 1944, sparking an 80-day campaign
to liberate Normandy involving three
million troops and costing 250,000
Jordan had hoped to make a return
visit to Normandy this June.
But his death, announced in a
statement by Gracewell Healthcare,
which runs The Pines care home in
Hove, where Jordan, known as Bernie,
lived, has put paid to that.
The Royal British Legion said
Jordan’s decision to go to France
highlighted “the spirit that epitomises
the Second World War generation”.
D-Day ‘great escaper’ dies
Bill Jordan returns after his “escape” to D-Day commemorations last year.
‘Silent ’ quake set off
The earthquake that set off the tsunami
which caused the Fukushima nuclear
plant disaster was unleashed by a stealthy
nine-year build-up of pressure on a plate
boundary, scientists say.
Part of a fault where two mighty plates
on the Earth’s crust collide east of Japan
was being quietly crushed and twisted
for nearly a decade, they said.
It was this hard-to-detect activity
which caused the fault eventually to rip
open on March 11, 2011 and cause the
The deformation “increased the
stress in the source region . . . and
finally triggered the earthquake,” study
co-author Kazuki Koketsu, of the
University of Tokyo, said.
“ It had an impact on the occurrence
time of the earthquake,” Koketsu said
by e-mail. “ It advanced the time (of the
quake) by about one year. ”
The earthquake, occurring below the
Pacific floor about 200km east of the
east coast city of Sendai, was one of the
biggest ever recorded, measuring 9.0 on
the moment magnitude scale.
The sea bottom shifted by about 27m,
causing a massive tsunami that sparked
the Fukushima disaster and left 18,000
people dead or missing.
The fault lies on the Japan Trench,
where the Pacific plate dives beneath
the North American plate on which the
Japanese archipelago lies.
Subduction faults like these have been
responsible for some of the world’s most
But they are also notoriously difficult
to monitor, given that events are as rare
as they are massive. Centuries may elapse
between occurrences, which means the
danger could be undocumented.
The paper appears in the journal
Nature Communications. — AFP
With memories still fresh of the Holy
Land’s worst storm in 50 years last
winter, Israelis and Palestinians stocked
up on supplies for a forecast heavy
The approaching storm, due to peak
tonight, was expected to be lighter than
in December 2013, when snow fell for
three days, paralysing the region and
causing power outages that left tens of
thousands cut off from electricity and
Israeli television weatherman Danny
Rupp predicted 12 to 24 hours of
snowfall in Jerusalem. Barry Lynn, a
meteorologist at Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, said the storm would likely
dump between 25cm and 60cm of snow
in the city.
Snowploughs and power crews were on
alert in Jerusalem, northern Israel and in
the Palestinian Territories.
As the skies darkened, Israelis and
Palestinians scurried for food supplies
and gas or paraffin heaters.
“ We ran out quickly,” one salesmen
in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market
said. “ There’s not a heater to be found
anywhere in the area.”
The approaching storm threatened to
deepen the misery in the Gaza Strip,
where streets are still strewn with
wreckage from a 50-day war with Israel
last summer, thousands live in United
Nations shelters and damaged homes
and the power is on only six hours a day.
“No electricity, no drinkable water,
no reconstruction, and now a storm.
Our people need the help of the entire
world,” Gaza city taxi driver Samir Ali,
Inside a packed supermarket, Jerusalem
resident Alon Issashar, 29, said he had
hoped to beat the crowds by shopping
“As you can see Armageddon is
coming,” he joked. “ People are going
crazy. I guess people outside of Israel will
laugh but we are used to sun. ”
In the Palestinian city of Ramallah,
shoppers cleaned bread, water and
nappies off supermarket shelves.
In Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat said
roads to the city were likely to be closed
at the sight of the first snowflakes.
Last winter, hundreds of motorists
trying to reach Jerusalem were trapped
in their vehicles for hours before being
rescued by troops in armoured personnel
“Last year’s lessons have been learned
to their fullest,” Barkat told Army Radio.
Holy Land braces for snow
Qantas has been named the
world’s safest airline, after a year
when fatal air accidents soared
above the 10-year average.
In a report published by Airline
Ratings.com last night, Qantas
was lauded for amassing “an
extraordinary record of firsts” in
safety and operations over its 94-
The report comes after what
was “in no doubt” a bad year for
airline safety, Airline Ratings said,
adding 2014 included some of the
industry’s most tragic and bizarre
“Certainly, 21 fatal accidents
with 986 fatalities — higher
than the 10-year average — is
sickening. However, the world’s
airlines carried a record 3.3 billion
passengers on 27 million flights,”
the report says.
Airline Ratings said the high
number of deaths came despite the
number of accidents for 2014 being
at a record low 21 — one for every
1.3 million flights.
“ Two of the crashes last year
MH370 and MH17 — were
unprecedented in modern times
and claimed 537 lives,” the report
“ F lashback 50 years and there
were a staggering 87 crashes killing
1597 when airlines carried only 141
million passengers — 5% of today ’s
Qantas, which Airline Ratings.
com said was now also accepted
as the world’s most experienced
airline, was was praised as the leader
in terms of real-time monitoring
of its engines across its fleet using
“ Doing so allows the airline
to detect problems before they
become a major safety issue,” the
Making up the remainder of
the top 10 in alphabetical order
were Air New Zealand, Cathay
Pacific, British Air ways, Emirates,
Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair,
Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
system takes into account a range
of factors related to audits from
aviations governing bodies as well
as government audits and the
airlines fatality record.
The report rates 449 airlines,
including low-cost carriers, with
Jetstar making the top 10 of the
The top 10 low-cost carriers in
alphabetical order were Aer Lingus,
Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, Jetstar,
Jetblue, Kulula.com, Monarch
Airlines, Thomas Cook, TUI Fly
and Westjet. — AAP
Qantas named world’s safest airline
Sirhan Sirhan, who is ser ving a
life sentence in prison for the June
1968 assassination of United States
candidate Robert F
Kennedy, failed to persuade a federal
judge to set him free because he was
innocent of the crime.
In a decision dated Monday, US
District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell
in Los Angeles said Sirhan “failed to
meet the showing required for actual
innocence” that might excuse his having
failed to seek his freedom sooner in
Sirhan had filed his petition for habeas
corpus, which could have resulted in his
freedom, in May 2000.
William Pepper, a lawyer for Sirhan,
did not immediately respond overnight
to requests for comment.
Sirhan, now 70, was wrestled to the
ground with a gun in his hand after
Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968,
at the Ambassador Hotel in Los
Angeles, shortly after Kennedy won
the California Democratic presidential
primary. Kennedy died the next day.
The defendant was sentenced to death
in 1969, but his sentence was commuted
to life in prison after California banned
the death penalty. Sirhan was denied
parole for a 13th time in 2011. He is
now housed in a State prison in San
In seeking Sirhan’s freedom, defence
lawyers argued that he had not been
physically in position to fire the fatal
shot, and that a second shooter and gun
may have been responsible.
The judge, however, said Sirhan’s case
was not strong enough.
“Though petitioner advances a number
of theories regarding the events of June
5, 1968, petitioner does not dispute
that he fired eight rounds of gunfire in
the kitchen pantry of the Ambassador
Hotel,” O’Connell wrote. “Petitioner
does not show that it is more likely
than not that no juror, acting reasonably,
would have found him guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. ”
In rejecting Sirhan’s bid for freedom,
O’Connell accepted an August 2013
recommendation by US Magistrate
Judge Andrew Wistrich.
Kennedy was a US senator from New
York when he died at age 42. His older
brother John F Kennedy, the former
US president, was 46 when he was
assassinated in November 1963.
Kennedy gunman, 70,
loses bid for freedom
A long-running war of words
between an Australian and the
official Scrabble body has finally
been declared a draw by a State court.
The Victoria State Magistrates’
Court ruled the local chapter of
the Australian Scrabble Players’
Association must overturn a years-
old ruling that retired teacher
Mohammed A Hegazi had behaved
in a manner “unbecoming” to the
popular board game.
But Hegazi failed to persuade the
court to declare he had never cheated
at the 77-year-old game played
in 121 countries in 29 languages,
Hegazi ’s lawyer Robert Frajsman
said. Hegazi was also ordered to pay
costs of $A3000 ($3214).
“ Who would have thought that
Scrabble would be a bloodsport?”
Frajsman said by telephone.
Hegazi had agreed in 2008 to
a 12-month suspension from the
association after it found him guilty
of bullying competitors, cheating
and unprofessional conduct. Details
of the cheating accusation were not
immediately available. — Reuters
Australian Scrabble squabble ends in draw
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