Home' Greymouth Star : June 8th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, June 8, 2015 - 7
The number of migrants landed in
Italy this year after being rescued at sea
is set to top 50,000 after another frantic
weekend for the multi-national flotilla of
boats trying to prevent more drownings
in the Mediterranean.
British Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark
was engaged overnight in an operation
to save at least 500 people from four
boats in waters between Italy and Libya.
“From first light this morning, a
Merlin helicopter from 814 Squadron
on board HMS Bulwark has been
conducting sur veillance operations and
has identified four migrant vessels in
distress, containing a total of at least 500
people,” a spokesman for the Ministry of
Defence in London said.
“HMS Bulwark has now commenced
rescue operations to recover those in the
The Bulwark’s operation followed
the rescue yesterday of just under 3500
migrants from 15 packed boats in a
stretch of water 72km off the coast of
Italy’s coastguard said boats from the
Italian, German and Irish navies took
part in the rescue operation, which
was co-ordinated in its initial stages
by MOAS, a privately funded rescue
operation operating out of Malta in
partnership with the Doctors without
There were no reports of casualties but
one Italian navy boat that was ferrying
475 migrants to Sicily reported it had
seven pregnant women on board who
will be transferred to hospital on landing.
With all the rescued people to be
deposited at ports in Sicily and elsewhere
in southern Italy, the latest operations
will lift to just over 50,000 the number
of arrivals since the start of the year.
That represents an increase of more
than 10% on the same period last year,
which, after a summer surge, ended with
an unprecedented 170,000 migrants
arriving on Italian soil.
According to the International
Organisation for Migration (IOM),
nearly 1800 migrants have drowned
attempting to make the crossing since
the start of this year, including about 800
in an April sinking that was the biggest
maritime disaster in the Mediterranean
since World War Two.
That tragedy prompted European
governments to significantly increase
search and rescue operations between
Italy and North Africa. But they have
been unable to agree on a longer-term
strategy to ease the migration crisis amid
divisions over how to spread asylum
seekers fairly across member states and
how to combat traffickers.
Aid organisations say the rising
numbers of migrants trying to reach
Europe reflects the impact of conflicts
in places like Somalia and Syria that
have left the world with more displaced
people than at any time since the end of
World War Two. — AF
to top 50,000
New York prison escapers may have had help
Two convicted murderers who
used power tools to break out of a
maximum security New York prison
may have had help, and left a taunting
note for their jailors to “Have a nice
day,” authorities said overnight.
More than 200 local, State and
federal law enforcement officials
set up roadblocks, took to the air
and went door-to-door in their
search for Richard Matt, 48, and
David Sweat, 34, who went missing
early on Saturday from the Clinton
Correctional Facility in Dannemora,
about 30km south of the Canadian
“ We are leaving no stone unturned.
They could be literally anywhere,”
New York State police Major Charles
Guess told a news conference.
New York is offering a $100,000
reward for information leading to the
apprehension of the men it describes
as dangerous, and have notified law
enforcement in Canada and Mexico
about the fugitives.
“ We presume that they may have
had access to a vehicle as well as
they may have had assistance in their
escape effort,” Guess said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called
the escape, the first at the prison in
a century and a half, “elaborate” and
“The first order of business is to get
these killers back. This was the first
breakout since 1865 and I want to
make sure it’s the last,” he said.
The two men in adjoining cells
drilled holes in walls to break out of
them. They then went through a series
of catwalks and tunnels, breaking
through steel to clear prison grounds
and escaping through a manhole on a
nearby street, officials said.
They used clothing to make it
look like they were in their beds.
Authorities have found some of
the simple instruments used in
the escape but not the power tools
needed for the most difficult parts of
“ We don’t yet know how they
acquired the tools,”
Annucci, acting commissioner of
the New York State Department of
Corrections, told a news conference
as authorities checked to see if the
tools came from contractors working
for the prison.
Matt is ser ving 25 years to life
for kidnapping, murdering and
dismembering a man.
Sweat, 34, is ser ving a life sentence
without the possibility of parole for
killing a sheriff ’s deputy. Police said
he shot the deputy nearly two dozen
times. — Reuters
India’s government has filed for
damages from food group Nestle
after a food scare involving reports of
excess lead in Maggi noodles forced a
nationwide recall, government officials
“ It ’s a serious matter concerning public
health and the law allows us to take
suo moto legal steps, or legal actions,
against erring entities,” one official in the
consumer affairs department of the food
The claim, made on behalf of Indian
consumers, was not filed through the
courts but with the National Consumer
(NCDRC), which has semi-judicial
powers and will decide on the merits of
the case and the size of any damages.
The officials said Nestle was being
accused of unfair trade practices, adding
this is the first case in which the Indian
government has sought damages from a
A Nestle spokesman in India said the
company had not received any official
notification, and could not comment.
The food ministry sources said NCDRC
would notify the company when the case
comes up, probably next week.
Nestle has been under fire in India
since one regional regulator said in May
that it had found evidence of excess lead
and monosodium glutamate (MSG) in
some packets of Maggi instant noodles,
a cheap and hugely popular snack.
Since then, several State regulators
have followed, and Nestle said early
on Friday that it would temporarily
withdraw all Maggi noodles from the
country’s shelves, though it reiterated the
products were safe.
Total Maggi sales in India, including
sauces and condiments, account for less
than 1% of Nestle’s group annual sales,
but brand damage could be significant
in a country where the noodles are
ubiquitous, in homes and roadside
Nestle fielded its global chief executive
on Friday to help quell one India’s most
high profile food scares in a decade.
Indian newspapers reported separately
the national food safety agency planned
to inspect all Nestle’s manufacturing
facilities across India as a result of the
scare. Nestle has eight factories in India,
though not all produce Maggi. — Reuters
lead in noodles
Chinese officials, rescuers and
family members gathered in
mourning overnight for those lost
on a cruise ship which capsized
during a storm in the Yangtze River,
as the death toll from the disaster
reached 431, with 11 still missing.
Only 14 sur vivors, one of them
the captain, have been found after
the ship carrying 456 overturned in
a freak tornado last Monday night
in Jianli in Hubei province. Most of
the passengers were elderly tourists.
The four-deck ship was righted
and raised on Saturday, allowing
rescuers on to it to clear away
debris, break down cabin doors and
look for bodies. The river is being
swept as far away as Shanghai
looking for the missing.
Government spokesman Hu
Kaihong told reporters that DNA
tests were being carried out to
identify the bodies.
Overnight marked seven days
since the Eastern Star went down,
and according to Chinese tradition
this a key date on which to mourn
State television showed rescue
workers and government officials
standing on a barge facing the
battered boat, removing their
hats and bowing their heads, as
surrounding boats sounded their
At separate locations along the
river, emotional family members
also got together to burn joss sticks
and make offerings of food to the
spirits of the deceased.
More than 1400 relatives
have come to Jianli, with many
expressing frustration at the lack of
information from the government.
On Saturday, one burst into a
just-concluded news conference,
publicly accusing the government
of treating its people like enemies.
The government says that it is
doing everything possible to help
the relatives, including providing
free accommodation and medical
ser vices, and Vice-Premier Ma Kai
has been dispatched to meet family
Some relatives, speaking to
foreign reporters in the presence of
officials, praised the government ’s
“ It made me feel incredibly warm.
When he shook my hand and said
a few words to me, told us to keep
on going. I felt that he didn’t seem
like a political leader at all. He
was so genial. He was like my own
father,” Wang Hua, 42, who lost
both parents on the ship, said of
her meeting with Ma.
Major State newspapers carried
the same lengthy story by the
official Xinhua news agency
on their front pages, headlined
“ Bearing great responsibility to
the people” and detailing the
government ’s efforts.
“In the midst of disaster, we are
all of one heart, the whole nation
helping each other, staunchly
moving for ward,” it wrote.
The company which operated the
ship has apologised for the disaster
and said it would “fully” co-operate
with the investigation. Beijing has
pledged there would be “no cover-
Police have detained the captain
and chief engineer for questioning
as part of the investigation. An
initial probe found the ship was
not overloaded and had enough life
vests on board.
The disaster has now caused a
higher toll than the sinking of a
ferry in South Korea in April 2014
that killed 304 people, most of
them children on a school trip. It is
China’s worst shipping catastrophe
in seven decades. — Reuters
Chinese cruise ship salvaged as toll soars over 430
Rescue workers enter the salvaged cruise ship Eastern Star on the Yangtze River, near Jianli, in Hubei province.
Spider eggs discovered in a bunch of
bananas in Britain have been found to
belong to a harmless species.
Keith Hobbs and wife Laura fled
with their four children when told it
was probably the Brazilian wandering
spider, which can have legs up to
15cm long and can kill with its
They found the cocoon at their
home in Nuneaton, War wickshire, on
Deputy head teacher Mr Hobbs,
32, told The Sun newspaper: “As soon
as we knew what they were we just
grabbed the kids, who were in their
pyjamas, and ran out the house.
“ We’ve spent the night in a hotel
room. It’s terrifying — it ’s like a bad
Mrs Hobbs’s parents bought them
the bananas from an Aldi store in
After she opened the bag and found
the nest her husband called police and
also contacted wildlife experts.
The Aldi shop was temporarily
shut on Friday but reopened in the
afternoon after no spiders were found.
Venom from the Brazilian
wandering spider can kill a person in
just two hours, with victims suffering
nausea, hypothermia and convulsions.
Declared the most venomous spider
in the world by the Guinness Book
of Records, it is found in South and
Central America and its Greek name,
Phoneutria, translates as “murderess”.
Rather than building a web to catch
its prey, the spider hunts insects, small
mammals and reptiles on the jungle
An Aldi spokesman said: “ The safety
of our customers is our absolute No 1
priority and, as such, the bananas in
question were immediately removed
from the store as a precautionary
“ Following independent expert
analysis, we can confirm that the eggs
in question were totally harmless and
not from the Brazilian wandering
spider (Phoneutria fera).
“. . . We apologise for the distress
caused to Mr Hobbs and his family.
The Watling Street store in Hinckley
is now fully open to customers.” — PA
‘Killer’ spider eggs in bananas harmless
A Brazilian wandering spider did not hitch a ride in bananas bought at a
supermarket, as previously feared.
The statue of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje.
Aboard the Papal plane
The Vatican is close to making a
ruling on the alleged apparitions of
the Madonna in the Bosnian town
of Medjugorje, one of the most
controversial cases in the Roman
Catholic Church, Pope Francis said
Six children first reported visions of
the Virgin Mary in the once obscure
town in 1981. It has since become a
major pilgrimage site, giving many
a new sense of spirituality and locals
a steady source of much-needed
Many others, however, believe the
alleged apparitions are a hoax.
While flying back to Rome from
his visit to Sarajevo, the Pope was
asked about the status of a Vatican
investigation into the alleged
apparitions, which have divided the
“ We are about to make decisions and
then they will be communicated,” he
said, adding that he recently received
a long study by a Vatican commission
and that the case was now before the
Holy See’s doctrinal department, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the
In recent years, the town has
experienced a building boom of hotels
and shops catering to pilgrims.
Some of the alleged visionaries,
now adults, say they still experience
apparitions every day and that the
Madonna has told them secrets.
The Church has so far been cautious,
saying dioceses should not organise
official pilgrimages to the town. But
many parish groups are among the
more than a million visitors a year to
the site. — Reuters
Vatican to rule on apparitions
The shadowy figures sitting in front
of computer screens scroll through
endless pictures of Iraqi and Syrian
antiquities on sale to the highest
bidder, with no questions asked.
As they trawl on-line auction sites,
Facebook and Twitter, they note the
accounts, pseudonyms and e-mails
of the shady vendors offering ancient
Greek coins, Sumerian tablets and
programmes crunch the torrent
of data they gather, matching
photographs with known missing
treasures, seeking links between the
sellers, and mapping networks of
A few years ago the small team
scouring the digital bazaars of the
Middle East were using their skills to
hunt terrorists and disrupt insurgent
Now all in the civilian world
and driven by their horror at the
archaeological destruction and looting
which has followed the spread of
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,
they have decided to use those same
skills to track down priceless treasures
and the unscrupulous racketeers who
“The idea came from the shocking
images from the Middle East and
the way cultural history is just being
destroyed by Islamic State,” one of
the team with a background in the
British special forces said.
“ It just flies in the face of everything
that ’s decent. Anyone can see that
destroying the world’s cultural
heritage in the name of religion or
faith is just wrong. ”
The small anonymous team goes by
the bland name of the Committee
for Shared Culture, which gives little
hint as to the nature of its task.
Their mission to save the imperilled
archaeological heritage of the
Middle East has also led them to be
nicknamed the digital Monuments
Men, after the team of academics
portrayed in the 2014 George
Clooney film, which tried to save art
treasures from the Nazis.
“ We have got very good over the
last 10 years at finding people,” the
“Everyone leaves a digital trace, on
social media, or the web. Now, it ’s
the same for items. Using the same
techniques people have been using
to map and find terrorists, we can
now find items and map networks of
Governments are over whelmed
by the scale of the challenge, so
the team decided to start on its
own. The dozen or so former
intelligence workers, academics
and linguists are funded by a
wealthy private individual with an
interest in antiquities, but are also
looking for further funding, he said.
Team members choose to remain
anonymous for security reasons.
“It came out of a number of
conversations with similar-minded
individuals and we decided it was
something we could do without
waiting for somebody else to act.”
The spread of extremists such as Isil,
also known as Isis or simply Islamic
State, has seen not just the wanton
destruction of globally important
sites such as Nimrud, the ancient
Assyrian city south of Mosul, but also
an explosion in looting.
The smuggling of antiquities out of
the region to black markets in Turkey,
Beirut and beyond is now believed to
be one of the militants’ main sources
France Desmarais, the director of
programmes and partnerships at the
International Council of Museums,
said: “ The scale and the rhythm of the
looting in Iraq is unprecedented. It ’s a
huge free-for-all.” — AP
Race to reclaim art plundered by Isis
A severe heatwave has killed more than
a dozen people in Pakistan, a week after
hot weather left nearly 2500 dead in
At least 13 devotees participating in
the birth celebrations of a 13th century
saint of Sufi Islam in southern Sindh
province died as temperatures rose to
46degC, rescue official Meraj Ahmed
Nearly 2500 people died in April and
May due to heatwave in the southern
Indian States of Andhra Pradesh and
Telagana, Pakistan’s eastern neighbour.
Heatwave kills 13 in Pakistan
South Korea has confirmed nine
more cases of the MERS virus,
which has killed four people, but
said it did not represent a spread of
the outbreak as the infected were
already in quarantine.
The additional cases yesterday
brought the total number of people
infected with the virus to 50.
All are among the already-listed
and quarantined people of more
than 1660 who came into contact
with those infected before the first
case was diagnosed in South Korea
on May 20, the health ministry said.
“The nine people contracted the
virus (in three different) hospitals
and there is no evidence to suggest
any transmissions in communities
outside hospital settings,” it said in
a news statement.
Kwon Joon-Wook, a senior official
of the ministry, told journalists the
68-year-old man who was the first
case and his wife who contracted
the virus from him have been cured
and were released from hospital on
Saturday. Two others were waiting
to be released, he said.
Four people have died since the
68-year-old man was diagnosed on
May 20 after a trip to Saudi Arabia.
More than 1660 people who may
have been exposed to the virus have
been placed under varying levels of
The outbreak has forced hundreds
of schools to shut their gates,
thousands of people to cancel travel
plans and dealt a blow to many
businesses as people were told to
avoid large crowds.
The World Health Organisation
(WHO) said on Saturday it
would send a team of experts to
South Korea for a joint mission
with the government in collecting
information of the outbreak.
The team is expected to arrive
here as early as next week, the
The WHO has said it expects
more infections in South Korea,
while stressing there was “no
evidence of sustained transmission
in the community”. — AFP
South Korean MERS
infections up to 50
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