Home' Greymouth Star : August 17th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, August 17, 2015 - 5
Hundreds of tonnes of highly
poisonous cyanide were being stored
at the warehouse devastated by two
deadly explosions in the Chinese port of
Tianjin, a senior military officer says.
The comments by Shi Luze, chief of
the general staff of the Beijing military
region, were the first official confirmation
of the presence of the chemical at the
hazardous goods storage facility at the
centre of the blast.
Thursday ’s disaster, which killed
112 people, has raised fears of toxic
contamination and residents and victims’
families hit out at authorities for what
they said was an information blackout, as
China suspended or shut down dozens
of websites for spreading “rumours”.
Nearly 100 people remain missing,
including 85 firefighters. Eighty-eight
unidentified corpses have so far been
found and more than 700 people have
been admitted to hospital.
Shi told a news conference that cyanide
had been identified at two locations in
the blast zone.
“The volume was about several
hundreds of tonnes according to
preliminary estimates,” he said.
A military team of 217 chemical and
nuclear experts was deployed early on,
and earlier Chinese reports said 700
tonnes of sodium cyanide were at the site.
Officials have called in experts from
producers of the material to help handle
Authorities have repeatedly sought
to reassure the public, insisting that
despite the presence of some pollutants
at levels above normal standards, the air
in Tianjin remains safe to breathe.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived
in Tianjin yesterday afternoon to direct
rescue efforts, official media reported.
Pictures showed the Communist Party
No 2 within a kilometre of the blast
site, dressed in an ordinary shirt and not
wearing a mask.
But the official Xinhua news agency
reported late on Saturday that cyanide
density in waste water had been 10.9
times the standard on the day after the
explosions. It has since fallen, but was
still more than twice the normal limit.
Greenpeace said overnight it had tested
surface water for cyanide at four locations
in the city and had not detected high
levels of the chemical.
“These results show that local water
supplies are not currently severely
contaminated with cyanide,” it said, but
reiterated its call for comprehensive tests
on the air and water and for publication
of the results.
Steve Ra, an American who was
evacuated by his employer to another
area of Tianjin, said he was worried
about the potential health effects of the
“The main concern is just the air,” Ra
Tianjin residents, relatives of the
victims and online commentators have
slammed local authorities for a lack of
transparency, and at one point tried to
storm a news conference on Saturday.
The government has moved to
limit criticism of the handling of the
aftermath, with a total of 50 websites
shut down or suspended for “creating
panic by publishing
information or letting users spread
groundless rumours”, according to the
Cyberspace Administration of China.
Critical posts on social media have also
been blocked, and more than 360 social
media accounts have been punished.
Explosions toll up to 112
The death toll from two massive
explosions in the Chinese port of Tianjin
has risen to 112, an official says.
More than 700 people have also
been admitted to hospital as a result of
Thursday ’s blasts, which triggered a huge
fireball, as well as a fire that emergency
workers have struggled to put out since
then and fresh explosions on Saturday.
“By 9am on August 16, the total
number of deaths was 112,” Gong
Jiansheng, the deputy chief of the city’s
propaganda department, said at a news
“ We have already identified 24 bodies,
and there are 88 to be identified. ”
At least 21 firefighters are among the
dead, according to State media.
Authorities on Saturday moved to
relocate anyone within 3km of the blast
site in the northern city over fears of toxic
contamination, but have insisted that the
disaster did not release dangerous levels
of chemicals into the environment.
Under a decades-old programme
with the government, telecom giant
a new collection capability that
the National Security Agency said
amounted to “a ‘live’ presence on the
global net ” and would for ward 400
billion internet metadata records in
one of its first months of operation,
The New York Times reported.
The Fairview programme was
for warding more than a million
e-mails a day to the NSA’s
headquarters in Fort Meade,
Maryland, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the separate Stormbrew
programme, linked to Verizon and
the former company MCI, was still
gearing up to use the new technology,
which appeared to process foreign-
In 2011, AT and T began
handing over 1.1 billion domestic
cellphone calling records a day to
the NSA after “a push to get this
flow operational prior to the 10th
anniversary of 9/11,” according to an
internal agency newsletter cited by
the Times. Intelligence officials have
told reporters in the past that, for
technical reasons, the effort consisted
mostly of landline phone records, the
The NSA spent $188.9 million
on the Fairview programme, twice
the amount spent on Stormbrew, its
second-largest corporate programme,
the newspaper reported.
Such details from the decades-long
partnership between the government
and AT and T emerged from NSA
documents provided by former NSA
systems analyst Edward Snowden,
the Times reported in a story on its
website. The Times and Pro Publica
jointly reviewed the documents,
which date from 2003 to 2013.
While it has been long known
that American telecommunications
companies worked closely with the
spy agency, the newspaper reported,
the documents show that the
government ’s relationship with AT
and T has been considered unique
and especially productive. One
document described it as “highly
collaborative,” while another lauded
the company ’s “extreme willingness
to help,” the newspaper reported.
The documents show that AT and
T’s co-operation has involved a broad
range of classified activities, according
to the Times. AT and T has given the
NSA access, through several methods
covered under different legal rules, to
billions of e-mails as they have flowed
across its domestic networks.
It also has provided technical
assistance in carrying out a secret court
order permitting the wiretapping
of all internet communications at
United Nations headquarters, a
customer of AT and T, the Times
reported. While NSA spying on
UN diplomats had been previously
reported, the newspaper said neither
the court order nor AT and T’s
involvement had been disclosed.
The documents also reveal that
AT and T installed sur veillance
equipment in at least 17 of its internet
hubs on American soil, the Times
reported, far more than similarly-
sized competitor Verizon. AT and T
engineers were the first to try out new
sur veillance technologies invented by
the NSA, the newspaper reported.
The NSA, AT and T and Verizon
declined to discuss the findings from
the files, according to the Times. It
is not clear if the programmes still
operate in the same way today, the
One of the documents provided
by Snowden reminds NSA officials
to be polite when visiting AT and
T facilities, the Times reported, and
notes, “ This is a partnership, not a
contractual relationship.” — DPA
Giant American telco helped US spies
Villagers find crashed Indonesian aircraft
The wreckage of a passenger plane
which went missing with 54 people
aboard in rugged eastern Indonesia
has been found by villagers, an official
The plane operated by Indonesian
carrier Trigana Air lost contact with
air traffic control just before 3pm
local time yesterday after taking off
from Jayapura, the capital of Papua
province, the search and rescue
The ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop
plane was carrying 44 adult
passengers, five children and five crew
on the flight which was scheduled to
take about 45 minutes, it said.
But the plane disappeared about 10
minutes before reaching its destination
of Oksibil, a remote settlement in the
mountains south of Jayapura, shortly
after it asked permission to start
descending to land.
Officials said initially that villagers
in the Okbape district of Papua
reported seeing a plane crash. The
transport ministry later said local
residents had found the wreckage.
“The plane has been found (by
villagers). According to residents, the
flight had crashed into a mountain,”
the ministry’s director-general of air
transportation, Suprasetyo, who goes
by one name, said.
Officials were still verifying the
information from local residents, he
said. There was no information about
whether anyone may have sur vived.
Search and rescue teams, police and
the military would head to the site
as soon as possible today, transport
ministry spokesman J A Barata said.
After the plane failed to land,
Trigana Air sent another flight over
the area to hunt for it but the aircraft
failed to spot anything due to bad
Captain Beni Sumaryanto, Trigana
Air’s ser vice director of operations, said
Oksibil was “a mountainous area where
the weather is very unpredictable. It
can suddenly turn foggy, dark and
windy without warning.
“ We strongly suspect it ’s a weather
issue. It is not overcapacity, as the
plane could take 50 passengers.”
Barata said the weather in the area
had been “very dark and cloudy”.
Trigana Air is a small airline
established in 1991 that operates
domestic ser vices to about 40
destinations in Indonesia.
It has suffered 14 serious incidents
since it began operations, according
to the Aviation Safety Network,
which monitors air accidents.
The airline is on a blacklist of
carriers banned from European
Union air space.
Indonesia has a patchy aviation
safety record. In December an Air
Asia plane flying from the Indonesian
city of Surabaya to Singapore crashed
in the Java Sea during stormy weather,
killing all 162 people on board.
In June an Indonesian military
plane crashed into a residential
neighbourhood in the city of Medan,
killing 142 people. — AFP
Once home to kings and now one
of France’s most visited sites, the
Chateau de Versailles is planning
a new venture with a luxury hotel
to prop up its finances, local media
The palace’s management has
called for a tender to create a hotel
in three 1680s buildings situated
just outside the Versailles park’s
gates, with views of some of its
most famous buildings, the Journal
du Dimanche said.
It would cost four million to
seven million euros ($6.79 million
to $11.89 million)to renovate the
run-down buildings and as much to
build a hotel within their walls, the
bid for tender said, according to the
A previous plan to build a hotel
there was abandoned a few years
Versailles was transformed by
King Louis XIV in the 17th
century from a hunting lodge into
the dazzling heart of an absolutist
state, with a stunning palace and
The call for tender for a 60-
year concession on the Grand
Controle, Petit Controle and
Pavillon buildings meant to
become a hotel will close on
September 14, the Journal du
The Versailles administration
could not be reached for comment.
Versailles plans luxury hotel
The Chateau de Versailles.
Support for Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe has bounced in the first poll
conducted after he expressed “ utmost
grief ” for the suffering Japan caused
during World War Two in a speech
marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s
Abe said on Friday he upheld past
official apologies for the war, but
the conser vative leader said future
generations should not have to keep
apologising for the mistakes of the past.
In the sur vey by Kyodo news agency
published on Saturday, support for
Abe’s government rose to 43.2% from
37.7% in the previous poll in July, a
result likely to reinforce the view that
he is set to win re-election as Liberal
Democratic Party leader in a September
The disapproval rating fell 5.2 points
to 46.4%, although it still surpassed the
The sur vey showed 44.2% of those
polled viewed Abe’s 70th anniversary
statement favourably, exceeding 37%
who did not.
Abe’s ratings started dropping sharply
after scholars told a parliamentary panel
in June that legislation ending a ban on
the military fighting overseas to defend
a friendly country would violate Japan’s
post-war, pacifist constitution.
The legislation passed parliament ’s
lower house in July and is now before the
upper chamber. — Reuters
Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail
ser ver should be examined by
the United States intelligence
watchdog after the Federal Bureau
of Investigation finishes reviewing
any classified information on
it, a Republican lawmaker said
The FBI recently began looking
into the security of federal records
and possible classified information
among the Democratic presidential
candidate’s e-mails while she was
Secretary of State.
After months of pressure, Clinton
last week gave the FBI her private
e-mail ser ver and a thumb drive
of work-related e-mails from her
Trey Gowdy, chair of a House
investigating the killing of four
Americans at a US diplomatic
building in Benghazi, said there
should also be a probe into whether
Clinton has handed over all her
“ When the bureau is through
with the ser ver, I hope they turn
that ser ver over to the Inspector-
General so they can determine
whether or not the record is full
and complete,” Gowdy told Fox
A spokesman for Clinton’s
presidential campaign and the FBI
did not immediately respond to
requests for comment.
Last December, Clinton handed
over about 30,000 e-mails she
sent and received while America’s
top diplomat, although her staff
have since acknowledged without
explanation that some work e-mails
Clinton made a joke of the
controversy over her e-mail on
Friday at a Democratic fundraising
event in Iowa, and posted a video
of her comments on her Twitter
“ You may have seen that I recently
launched a Snapchat account,” she
said, referring to the social media
company that allows users to send
messages that disappear in seconds.
“I love it. I love it. Those messages
disappear all by themselves,” she
said in the video. — Reuters
Heat on Clinton over e-mail
After rumbling and belching ash,
the Cotopaxi volcano has fallen silent,
hours after Ecuador declared a state of
emergency and fearful residents were
“ Monitoring of the Cotopaxi volcano
last night and this morning indicated no
increase in activity,” Ecuador’s Ministry
of Security Co-ordination said in a
The agency is the only source authorised
to speak on the matter after Ecuador
issued a “preventative censorship,” which
President Rafael Correa defended as a
means of avoiding false rumours that
could unleash panic.
Most of the evacuees live along
Cotopaxi province’s river communities
and remained in shelters.
The volcano started to stir on Friday,
registering several small eruptions and
angrily shooting plumes of dust and ash
8km into the sky.
Cotopaxi, which towers to 5897m, is
considered one of the most threatening
volcanoes in the region — both because
of its size and because it is so close to
well-populated towns. The last time
Cotopaxi erupted was in 1877.
On Saturday, residents of various
communities left their homes in droves,
alarmed by sirens and calls to evacuate
to avoid potential avalanches from the
volcano’s increased activity.
Hours later, some returned home after
authorities ruled out imminent risk.
An estimated one million people live
in the volcano’s area of influence, which
includes parts of Cotopaxi, Napo and
On Saturday, Correa declared a state
of emergency for up to 60 days, allowing
him to mobilise military and police for
security and relief work and freeing up
Located just 45km south of the capital
Quito, Cotopaxi is one of eight active
volcanoes in Ecuador and is a magnet
for tourists and hikers. — AFP
quiet after evacuation
poses nude at 57
Hollywood actress Sharon Stone has
stripped off to pose nude for a magazine
shoot at 57. The Basic Instinct star is
pictured wearing nothing but jewellery
and high-heeled shoes in the saucy
spread for Harper’s Bazaar magazine.
During the accompanying inter view,
she opens up about her love life, revealing
she struggles to land dates. “I’ve been
getting more brazen with flirting, but I
don’t think men realise I’m flirting,” she
said. “I never get asked out!” — WENN
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