Home' Greymouth Star : November 2nd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, November 2, 2015 - 5
UN causes food
Holidaymakers’ belongings scattered over desert
A child’s shoe in front of debris from a Russian airliner which crashed at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt.
Airliner broke up in mid-air
A soldier who tried to enter North
Carolina’s Fort Bragg United States
Army base dressed as a suicide bomber
for Halloween prompted a security
alert including a search for explosives,
military media said overnight.
The unidentified soldier, wearing
a costume that appeared to be
an explosive vest, tried to pass a
checkpoint on Saturday evening, the
base said in a Facebook post, which
has since been removed, according to
The post said the incident resulted in
an emergency response that consisted
of the gate being briefly closed as
explosive technicians cleared the
site, according to the military news
Base officials were not immediately
available for comment. Military.com
reported it was unclear if the soldier
will be charged.
The base removed the original
Facebook post about incident
because of comments that were
“profane, sophomoric, or did not
treat the subject seriously,” it said in a
The later post confirmed a soldier
wearing a suicide bomber costume
tried entering Fort Bragg. It also said
that base residents were instructed
not to wear costumes of “such a nature
Fort Bragg has been the scene of
violence in the past. A soldier killed
a member of his unit and wounded
another during a briefing there in
2012, before shooting and wounding
himself. — Reuters
No treat for soldier in suicide bomber costume
The United Nations sent hundreds of
boxes of “mouldy” high-energy biscuits
that were past their sell-by date to
besieged people in Syria this month,
causing widespread food poisoning,
according to a humanitarian watchdog
The UN, which has gone to great
lengths to get aid and supplies to 4.6
million Syrians living in hard-to-
reach areas, helped trucks loaded with
humanitarian aid reach the towns of
Madaya and Zabadani near the Lebanese
border earlier this month.
According to the Syrian Network for
Human Rights, consignments of biscuits
that were delivered had passed their
‘sell-by’ date in September and could be
the only cause of an outbreak of food
poisoning among almost 200 residents
who came to makeshift hospitals.
The biscuits were “mouldy and rotten”
and had been poorly stored, the watchdog
said in an on-line report.
In a statement, the UN said 320 out
of 650 boxes of the biscuits sent to
Zabadani and Madaya as part of a relief
convoy on October 18 had expired in
September but denied that eating them
posed a threat to health.
“ We can confirm that this was the result
of an unfortunate human error during
the loading process,” Yacoub El Hillo,
the UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-
ordinator in Syria.
He added that UN workers and
humanitarian partners in Syria were
“taking the issue very seriously and
working to immediately rectify the
situation. ” — Reuters
Russia grounds airline’s A321s
until causes of crash known
A Russian airliner that crashed in
Egypt ’s Sinai Peninsula broke up in
mid-air, an official of a Moscow-based
aviation agency said overnight after
visiting the disaster site, but stressed it
was too early to draw conclusions from
Russian authorities also ordered
Kogalymavia airline, operator of
the Airbus A321 which came down
yesterday killing all 224 people on board,
not to fly its aircraft of the same model
until the causes of the crash are known.
The airliner, which Kogalymavia
flew under the brand name Metrojet,
was carrying holidaymakers from the
Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh
to St Petersburg when it crashed into
a mountainous area of central Sinai
shortly after losing radar contact near
“The destruction happened in the air,
and fragments were scattered over a
large area of about 20 square kilometres,”
Viktor Sorochenko, director of the
Intergovernmental Aviation Committee,
said. However, he warned against reading
anything into this information. “ It ’s too
early to talk about conclusions,” he said
on Russian television from Cairo.
Commonwealth of Independent States,
which groups Russia and other former
Egyptian analysts began examining the
contents of the two “ black box” recorders
recovered from the airliner although
the process, according to a civil aviation
source, could take days. However,
Russian Transport Minister Maxim
Sokolov told Russia 24 television that
this work had not yet started.
A militant group affiliated to Islamic
State in Egypt said in a statement that it
brought down the plane “in response to
Russian air strikes that killed hundreds
of Muslims on Syrian land”, but Sokolov
told Interfax news agency the claim
“c an’t be considered accurate”.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-
Sisi said it could take months to establish
the truth behind the crash though his
country was co-operating with Russia to
“This is a complicated matter and
requires advanced technologies and
broad investigations that could take
months,” Sisi said in a televised speech
The wreckage was found in a desolate
area of stony ground.
Rescuers had collected the colourful
suitcases of the passengers into a pile. A
pink child’s sandal decorated with white
flowers lay among the debris, a reminder
that 17 children were among those killed
as they headed home from their holidays.
Parts of the wreckage were blackened
and charred, with one section forming
heaps of twisted metal, although the
blue Metrojet logo was still visible on its
broken tail fin.
As the Russian investigators moved
slowly across the site, Egyptian military
helicopters buzz ed overhead, combing
the wider area for debris — or bodies —
not yet found.
At least 163 bodies had already been
recovered and transported to various
hospitals including Zeinhom morgue in
Cairo, according to a cabinet statement.
Airport security sources said Russian
experts brought with them refrigerators
and DNA samples to help identify and
take home the dead.
Russian experts had already visited
the morgue and Moscow ’s ambassador
to Cairo said the first 130 bodies were
due to leave early today bound for St
A source inside the morgue said
the bodies had been numbered using
bracelets, ready to be received by the
Russians, and empty ambulances were
arriving to pick them up.
Those on board the doomed flight
included 214 Russians, at least three
Ukrainians and one Belarusian, most
returning from the Red Sea, popular
with Russians seeking winter sun.
The Russian flag was flying at half-
mast over the country’s embassy in Cairo.
President Vladimir Putin has declared a
day of national mourning in Russia.
Russia’s transport regulator said
in a statement that it had grounded
Kogalymavia’s Airbus A321s until the
reasons for the crash became clear.
Russian transport prosecutors have
already examined the quality of the fuel
used by the airliner and found that it
met necessary requirements, Russia’s
State-run RIA news agency said.
The crew had also undergone medical
tests recently and no problems were
detected, Interfax reported.
Experts from Airbus have begun
arriving in Egypt to assist in the
investigation, the civil aviation ministry
Emergency ser vices and aviation
specialists resumed their search at the
crash site, with 100 Russian emergency
workers helping them recover bodies
and gather evidence.
Russia, an ally of Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad, launched air raids
against opposition groups in Syria
including Islamic State on September
Islamic State, the ultra-hardline group
that controls large parts of Iraq and
Syria, has called for a holy war against
both Russia and the United States in
response to air strikes on its fighters in
Sinai is the scene of an insurgency
by militants close to Islamic State,
who have killed hundreds of Egyptian
soldiers and police and have also
attacked western targets in recent
months. Much of the Sinai is a
restricted military zone.
Militants in the area are not believed to
have missiles capable of hitting a plane
at 30,000 feet.
Islamic State websites have in the past
claimed responsibility for actions that
have not been conclusively attributed to
them. Officials say there is no evidence
to suggest so far that a bomb could have
brought down the plane.
Three carriers based in the United
Arab Emirates airlines — Emirates, Air
Arabia and Flydubai — said they were
re-routing flights to avoid flying over
Sinai. Two of Europe’s largest carriers,
Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, have
already said they would avoid flying over
peninsula while awaiting an explanation
of the cause.
The chairman of Egypt Air, Sherif
Fathy, said the national carrier had taken
no such action. “ I heard some other
companies may be doing this, but I don’t
think it’s justified,” he said.
The A321 is a medium-haul jet in
ser vice since 1994, with over 1100 in
operation worldwide and a good safety
record. It is a highly automated aircraft
relying on computers to help pilots stay
within safe flying limits.
Airbus said the A321 was built in 1997
and had been operated by Metrojet
since 2012. It had flown 56,000 hours in
nearly 21,000 flights. — Reuters
In a desolate area of stony ground,
little remains from the Russian
airliner that crashed in Egypt ’s
Sinai Peninsula except its blackened
wreckage and a heap of colourful
Rescue teams scoured the area
where the Airbus A321 came down
yesterday, collecting into a pile the
dead holidaymakers’ belongings that
were spread around the main part of
A pink child’s sandal decorated
with white flowers lay among the
debris, a reminder that 17 children
were among the 224 people on
board the flight from the Red Sea
resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to
St Petersburg, all of whom died.
At least 163 of the bodies have
already been recovered from the
jet, operated by the Russian airline
Kogalymavia under the brand name
Metrojet, and moved to hospitals
and morgues in the capital Cairo.
Here and there clothing could be
seen, packed by tourists on their
way home from Sharm al-Sheikh, a
favourite of Russians seeking winter
Parts of the aircraft ’s wreckage
were blackened and charred, with
one section forming heaps of
twisted metal, although the blue
Metrojet logo was still visible on its
broken tail fin.
Faded smears of blood could be
seen at the crash site but all the
bodies found so far have already
been removed, with most now
lying in Cairo’s Zeinhom morgue
awaiting DNA identification.
Russian experts arrived in Egypt
last night. Airport sources said they
brought with them DNA samples
from relatives to help identify the
dead. — Reuters
Justice and Development Party
(AKP) has scored a stunning
electoral comeback, regaining its
parliamentary majority in a poll
seen as crucial for the future of the
The party founded by President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday
won over 49% of the vote to secure
315 seats in the 550-member
parliament with nearly all votes
counted, easily enough to form a
government on its own.
“ Today is a day of victory,” a beaming
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
told a crowd of supporters in his
home town. “ The victory belongs to
The outcome was a shock to many
as opinion polls had predicted a
replay of the June election when the
AKP won only 40% of the vote and
lost its majority for the first time in
It is a huge personal victory for
divisive strongman who may now be
able to secure enough support for his
controversial ambitions to expand his
role into a powerful United States-
style executive presidency.
Turks voted in large numbers, with
the country deeply polarised in the
face of renewed Kurdish violence
and a wave of bloody jihadist attacks
along with mounting concerns
about democracy and the faltering
Underscoring a key challenge for
a new AKP administration, police
fired teargas and water cannon on
protesting Kurdish militants who set
fire to tyres and pallets in the main
Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.
Many Turks are fearful of a
return to all-out war with outlawed
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
rebels after fresh violence shattered a
2013 truce in July, just a month after
a pro-Kurdish party won seats for the
first time and denied Erdogan’s AKP
This time round, the People’s
Democratic Party (HDP), led
by charismatic lawyer Selahattin
Demirtas, lost support but appeared
to have scraped over the 10%
threshold to stay in parliament.
The vote for the Nationalist
Movement Party (MHP) fell to
about 11% from 16% in June,
with commentators suggesting its
supporters had shifted to the AKP.
The main opposition Republican
People’s Party (CHP) had about
The threat of further jihadist
violence had overshadowed the poll
after a string of attacks blamed on
the Islamic State group, including
twin suicide bombings on an Ankara
peace rally last month that killed 102
people — the bloodiest in Turkey ’s
A string of high-profile raids
against media groups deemed hostile
to Erdogan and the jailing of critical
journalists have set alarm bells
ringing about the state of democracy
in a country that has long aspired to
join the European Union.
Turkey is also struggling with its
policy on neighbouring Syria which
has left it at odds with its Nato allies,
and the burden of more than two
million Syrian refugees.
After long supporting rebels
fighting the Damascus regime,
Ankara was cajoled into joining
the US-led coalition against the IS
group and launched its own “war on
terrorism” targeting the jihadists as
well as PKK fighters.
Turkey’s economy is also in trouble,
with growth slowing sharply,
unemployment rising and the Turkish
lira plunging more than 25% in value
this year. — AFP
Erdogan’s AKP wins critical Turkish vote
Pope Francis indicated overnight that
his planned visit to the Central African
Republic this month could be cancelled
if violence between Christians and
Muslims there worsens.
Speaking to tens of thousands of people
in St Peter’s Square, he called for an end
to the “cycle of violence” in the country
he is scheduled to visit on November 28
and 29 as part of a trip that will also take
him to Kenya and Uganda.
Pope Francis spoke of the “trip I hope
to be able to make to that nation”. He
has previously simply said he would go.
A senior Vatican source said the
phrasing was chosen because of the
violence in the capital Bangui, where the
Pope is scheduled to visit a mosque in one
of the most dangerous neighbourhoods.
“If the situation worsens, he will not be
able to go and he is aware of that,” the
Last Thursday, four people were killed
by mobs, bringing last week’s death toll
to 11, including three negotiators for the
Muslim Seleka alliance visiting Bangui
for peace talks.
Mostly-Muslim Seleka rebels seized
power in the majority Christian nation
in a coup in 2013, prompting reprisals by
Christian militias known as anti-balaka.
Muslims and Christians have since
split into segregated communities across
the landlocked former French colony.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have
fled to the far north, creating a de facto
Apart from threatening the Pope’s visit,
the violence might wreck plans to hold
long-delayed elections in December.
On Thursday, interim President
Catherine Samba Panza replaced the
defence, public security and justice
ministers as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
The violence has flared despite the
presence of thousands of United Nations
peacekeepers, who Vatican sources have
said would be involved in protecting the
Pope if he visits. — Reuters
Pope hints at trip cancellation
Two young Romanian women died of
severe burns in hospital overnight after
having been rescued from the fire at a
Bucharest nightclub on Saturday, doctors
said, raising the death toll to 29.
Thousands of people marched silently
with flowers through Bucharest to
commemorate the victims and United
States ambassador Hans Klemm visited
the Colectiv nightclub site, meeting
people who had lit candles to express
solidarity with the grieving families.
“Unfortunately, two female victims (a
25- and a 31-year-old) died today. The
state of those hospitalised and labelled
critical remains critical,” deputy Interior
Minister Raed Arafat said.
The government declared three days
of national mourning, following the fire,
which also left 184 injured during a rock
concert that featured the use of fireworks
Up to 500 people, mostly young
adults, stampeded for the only available
exit as the club in the basement of a
Communist-era sports shoe factory
filled with smoke.
Overnight, the authorities said all the
dead had been identified and that 146
people remained in hospital, with 80 to
90 of them “in severe and critical state,”
according to the health ministry.
Officials and witnesses said fireworks
had been used inside the club, while
the venue’s Facebook page advertised
pyrotechnic effects at the show.
A criminal investigation is under way at
the General Prosecutor’s office, including
into suspected murder.
Arafat said no fire permit had been
requested by the club or granted to it by
the Bucharest fire department. Displays
using fire and fireworks in Romania
require special authorisation if used in a
public indoor place.
A pillar covered with foam panels and
the club’s ceiling went up in flames,
followed by an explosion and thick
smoke, witnesses said.
Some of the deadliest nightclub
disasters in the world have been caused
by fireworks. In 2013, in the Brazilian
college town of Santa Maria, a musician
lit an outdoor flare inside the Kiss
nightclub, starting a fire that killed at
least 241 people. — Reuters
Berlin Wall fall dies
The East German official who
inadvertently announced the fall
of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has
died aged 86, media reports say.
The former spokesman of the
Politburo central committee
of East Germany’s ruling
communist party, Guenter
Schabowski, died in the reunified
capital overnight, his widow told
news agency DPA.
His death came just days before
the 26th anniversary of the
joyous border opening.
After months of mass protests
against the regime in 1989
and amid a widening exodus
of citizens to the west via
Hungary, the Politburo asked
the government to prepare a law
loosening restrictions on travel
outside East Germany.
It was nearly 7pm on
November 9 when Schabowski
pulled a sheet of paper from his
pocket and read out a decree
stating that visas would be
freely granted to those wanting
to travel outside or leave the
“As of when?” asked an Italian
Schabowski hesitated and then
improvised: “As far as I know . . .
as of now.”
The press conference was carried
live by television networks and
within minutes news bulletins
were proclaiming that “The Wall
Thousands of East Berliners
checkpoints leading to West
Berlin, where baffled East German
border guards, unsure what to do,
kept phoning for instructions.
Eventually as the crowds grew
ever larger, one barrier went up
and bewildered East Berliners,
who had been unable to cross
freely for 28 years, staggered into
Less than one year later, on
October 3, 1990, East and
West Germany reunited as one
country, ending four decades of
Cold War division. — AFP
The leader of a Buddhist sect in China
has been sentenced to life in prison
for fraud, rape and “harmful food
preparation”, State media says.
Huazang Dharma leader Wu Zeheng
was also fined 7.15 million yuan
($1.686 million) for amassing more than
6.7 million yuan in ill-gotten gains, the
official Xinhua news agency reported.
Three of Wu’s followers received
sentences of up to four years for fraud
and per verting the course of justice
at the intermediate people’s court in
Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
Wu denies all charges and will appeal,
say Wu is being
persecuted and the US Commission on
International Religious Freedom has
called for his release.
In April, the Huazang Centre posted
on Facebook a comment attributed to
Wu’s lawyer Lin Qilei that criticised
improper prosecutorial procedures and
police harassment after a high-profile
raid on the group’s premises last year.
Police arrested Wu last year at his
apartment in Zhuhai where they found
luxury watches, jewellery, cigarettes,
liquor and a young woman in pyjamas,
In a July report, state broadcaster
China Central Television inter viewed
alleged victims who claimed Wu forced
them to have sex with him.
One follower reportedly told police she
had been repeatedly raped and became
pregnant three times, but was forced to
Wu told dozens of women, including
minors, that sex with him granted them
“supernatural power”, Xinhua said.
Wu also ran a restaurant in Shenzhen,
where the food was promoted as
containing precious secret ingredients
that were in fact toxic contaminants and
drugs, the report said.
Born in Guangdong province in 1967,
Wu founded the group in early 1990s
claiming to be the successor of eminent
monks, Xinhua said.
Wu attracted more than 1000 adherents
by claiming he was the reincarnation of
Buddha and creating a doctrine called
“Cultivation of Huazang”, People’s
Daily reported in July.
inflammatory, promised his followers
the ability to ward off sickness and ill
fortune through charity and life science,
Xinhua said. — DPA
Chinese cult leader
sentenced to life
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