Home' Greymouth Star : November 3rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 5
Egyptian soldiers and rescue crew transfer the body of a victim of the plane
crash, from a civil police helicopter to an ambulance at Kabrit airport in Suez,
east of Cairo.
Egypt and Russia appeared to back
away from their assertions that a
Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai
desert because of a technical fault, as it
was revealed that the plane broke up in
the air and officials conceded the aircraft
could have been brought down by a
In the hours after the Airbus A321
crashed on Sunday — killing all 224
aboard and spreading debris and
bodies over kilometres of desert —
both governments were quick to say
the doomed airliner appeared to be the
victim of mechanical failure.
But Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt ’s
president, was speaking more cautiously,
saying it was too to soon tell the cause
and that an “extensive and complicated
technical study” was needed.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(Isil) has claimed credit for destroying
the aircraft, saying it was revenge for
Russia’s inter vention in Syria on behalf
the Assad regime.
While experts believe it was flying
too high to be hit by an Isil missile, an
Egyptian official in the civil aviation
ministry said it was possible the plane
was brought down by an explosive
planted on board.
The official said that a mechanical
failure was still thought to be the most
likely explanation but that it was too
early to draw a firm conclusion. He
confirmed the pilot had not issued any
distress call, suggesting the aircraft
suffered a sudden calamity.
Viktor Sorochenko, a Russian aviation
official who inspected the crash site,
said the Kogalymavia-operated flight
“ broke up in the air” as he explained why
the debris was spread over 20 square
“Disintegration of the fuselage took
place in the air, and the fragments are
scattered around a large area,” he said.
Investigators have reportedly begun
examining both of the aircraft’s black
boxes in the hope of learning what
happened in its final moments.
A grainy cellphone video circulated
on-line purports to shows the moment
the airliner exploded before hurtling
down to earth, but its origins are unclear
and it could not be verified as authentic.
However, it appeared to chime with
accounts from eyewitnesses who said the
plane fell flaming from the sky.
Yves Trotignon, a former French
intelligence agent, noted that Isil’s claim
of responsibility was vague in detail.
“The statement does not say they shot
it down, but that they destroyed it,” he
told Le Parisien. “ You could imagine
explosives on board, or sabotage.”
Terrorism experts said Isil had never
claimed an attack it did not carry out.
Mathieu Guidere, professor of Islamic
studies at the University of Toulouse,
said Isil “is very well established in
the Sinai, has infiltrated almost all
organisations and infrastructure, so it is
quite possible that a fighter sabotaged
the plane at the airport before it took off
or placed a device on board”.
The Egyptian government said the
black boxes were being examined by
Egyptian and Russian experts along
with German and French specialists
from Airbus and from Ireland where
the aircraft was registered. It said the
search was continuing across the crash
site. Security sources said intelligence
agencies had obtained a copy of the
The first bodies recovered from the
wreckage arrived on board a Russian
government plane at St Petersburg’s
Pulkovo Airport, where grieving
Russians left piles of flowers.
A white truck was seen leaving the
airport, escorted by police cars, heading
for a St Petersburg morgue, where the
bodies were to be identified. Egypt said
the plane was carrying 196 bodies. A
second plane was due to leave Cairo today.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who
had declared a day of mourning, said
overnight the crash was a great tragedy.
“ Without any doubt everything should
be done so that an objective picture of
what happened is created,” Putin said in
comments cited by Itar-Tass. “So that we
know what happened.”
When asked if a terrorist attack could
be to blame, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry
Peskov said no theory could yet be ruled
Alexander Smirnov, deputy general
director of airline Kogalymavia, which
operated the plane under the brand
name Metrojet, said only a “technical or
physical action” could have caused the
aircraft to break up in the air.
“The plane was in excellent condition,”
Smirnov told a news conference in
Moscow. “ We rule out a technical fault
and any mistake by the crew. ”
Islamic State, the hardline group that
controls swathes of Iraq and Syria, has
called for war against both Russia and
the United States in response to their air
strikes in Syria.
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.
US director of National Intelligence,
James Clapper, said in Washington: “ We
don’t have any direct evidence of any
terrorist involvement, yet.”
On the ability of Islamic State militants
to shoot down an airliner, Clapper said:
“It’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Those on board the flight included 214
Russians, at least three Ukrainians and
one Belarusian, most returning from the
Red Sea, popular with Russians seeking
winter sun. — Reuters
Space lab marks 15 years of life in space
Astronauts have celebrated 15 years
of circling the Earth aboard the
International Space Station, a new
milestone for an orbiting space lab that
some say deser ves the Nobel Peace Prize.
With operations expected to last
another decade, the world’s space
agencies are now looking to the outpost
to provide key data on how future space
pioneers may withstand the rigours of
venturing further, perhaps even to Mars.
“ We do a lot of experiments up here but
I think the most important experiment
is the space station as an orbiting vehicle
that keeps humans alive in space for long
periods of time,” Nasa astronaut Scott
Kelly said during a live press conference
overnight with the station’s crew to mark
15 years of continuous habitation.
Along with Russian cosmonaut
Mikhail Kornienko, Kelly is spending
one year at the ISS so scientists can study
the effects of long-term spaceflight on
the body and mind.
Any trip to Mars would likely last
years, raising the issue of harmful
radiation. But it could also help scientists
understand how to nourish astronauts
for long periods and how to maintain
healthy crew psychology.
“The space station really is a bridge,”
US astronaut Kjell Lindgren said. “It is a
test bed for the technologies we need to
develop and understand in order to have
a successful trip to Mars.”
The ISS was just a two-module unit
when the first crew to inhabit the
research laboratory project arrived on
November 2, 2000.
They were American astronaut Bill
Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts
Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko.
Since then, a rotating cast of more
than 220 of the world’s elite astronauts
have lived and worked at the ISS, which
includes 16 participating nations and is
led by the US and Russia.
Modules were added over time and
today the football-stadium-sized outfit
represents about $US100 billion ($148.5
billion) in investment and provides as
much living space as a six-bedroom house.
Travelling at an altitude of about
400km and a speed of about 28,000kph,
the space station circles the Earth once
every 90 minutes.
The International Space Station.
Syrian rebels using caged captives as shields
A major Syrian rebel group is
using dozens of captives in metal
cages as “ human shields” in the
largest opposition stronghold on the
outskirts of Damascus, a monitoring
Jaish al-Islam, regarded as the most
powerful rebel group near the capital,
has put regime soldiers and Alawite
civilians it was holding in metal
cages, the Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights said.
The group then placed these cages in
public squares in the Eastern Ghouta
region in an attempt to “prevent
regime bombardment ”, O bser vatory
head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“ Jaish al-Islam is using these
captives and kidnapped people —
including whole families — as human
shields,” he said.
bombard the Eastern Ghouta area,
from where rebel groups fire rockets
into the capital.
On Friday, at least 70 people were
killed and 550 wounded in regime
bombardment of Douma, a large
town in the area.
A video published by opposition
news outlet Shaam Network showed
cages of men and women, about five
people in each, being transported on
the backs of three lorries through
war-ravaged streets as young children
rode by on bicycles.
Speaking to camera, both men and
women asked government forces to
stop shelling Eastern Ghouta.
“ Your women are our women. If you
want to kill my mother, you will kill
them too,” a dark-eyed teenage boy
said outside one of the trucks.
Abdel Rahman said most of the
civilians were kidnapped by Jaish
al-Islam two years ago outside
Adra al-Ummaliyah, a regime-held
neighbourhood in Eastern Ghouta.
tourist boat ’
China’s first big airliner has rolled
off the assembly line to challenge
foreign giants Airbus and Boeing
for market share.
Workers spent over a year putting
together the C919, a narrow-body
jet which can seat 168 passengers,
at the Commercial Aircraft Corp
of China (Comac) facility in
For China, the plane represents
at least seven years of efforts
in a State-mandated drive to
reduce dependence on European
consortium Airbus and Boeing
of the United States, and even
compete against them.
“China’s air transport industry
cannot completely rely on imports.
A great nation must have its
own large commercial aircraft,”
the country’s civil aviation chief
Li Jiaxiang told an audience of
government and industry officials.
A small truck towed the 39m
plane — painted white with a green
tail — out of a cavernous building
decorated with an enormous
Chinese flag into the sunlight as
project workers marched alongside.
“The roll out of the first C919
aircraft marks a significant
milestone in the development of
China’s first indigenous aircraft,”
Comac chairman Jin Zhuanglong
told the ceremony.
The aircraft, which has a range
of up to 5555km, will make its
first test flight in 2016, he said
— meaning that it will miss the
original deadline of this year.
The China Daily newspaper has
reported the maiden voyage could
even be put back to 2017.
China has dreamed of building
its own civil aircraft since the
1970s when Jiang Qing, leader
Mao Zedong’s wife and a member
of the notorious “Gang of Four”,
personally backed an attempt to
do so. But the Y-10’s heavy weight
made it impractical and only three
were ever made.
Although the C919 is made in
China, foreign firms are playing key
roles by supplying systems as well
as the engines, which are made by
CFM International, a joint venture
between General Electric (GE) of
the US and France’s Safran.
Spending on the C919 has not
been revealed. Last month, the
Export-Import Bank of China
said it would provide State-owned
Comac with $US7.9 billion
($11.71 billion) in finance for its
The company already has
orders for 517 of its C919 planes,
according to a Comac statement,
almost all of them from domestic
buyers. Among foreign customers,
Thailand’s City Airways has ordered
10, according to an announcement
last month. But it will take years
for the C919 to be delivered to
customers, with the plane expected
to enter ser vice in 2019 at the
earliest, industry officials said.
The Chinese company also plans
a wide body plane, the C929, in
co-operation with Russia’s United
Aircraft Corp, and speculation is
mounting China will create a new
aero-engine entity to try to produce
the powerful jets needed for large
civil aircraft. — AFP
China unveils airliner to take on rivals
The first C919 airliner made by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) is pulled out during a news conference at the company’s factor y
in Shanghai. Comac rolled out China’s first homemade 158-seat C919 narrow body jet, which is meant to rival similar models from Airbus Group
Russia’s air force has struck the area
around the Islamic State-held ancient
city of Palmyra, the defence ministry
said, as Moscow presses on with its
bombing campaign in Syria.
“Su-25 jets hit a fortified IS position
in the Tadmur area of Homs province,”
overnight, using the Arabic name for
“As a result of a direct strike, a
fortification, an underground bunker and
anti-aircraft artillery were destroyed.”
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the
Britain-based Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights, also said that Russian
planes had targeted Palmyra with strikes
He said several strikes hit the city’s
historic citadel, but had no further
Khaled al-Homsi, an activist from
Palmyra, also reported Russian strikes on
the citadel on the western edges of the
“The extent of the damage could not be
verified,” he said.
The Russian defence
previously said its warplanes had struck
close to the ancient city but insisted that
it avoided historic sites.
Syrian State television said in early
October that Russian warplanes, acting
in co-ordination with the Syrian air
force, had struck IS targets “in and
around” the city.
Elsewhere in Homs province, the
Obser vatory said at least 10 people
had been killed and more wounded in
apparent Russian strikes on al Qaryatain,
an IS-held town.
Russia did not specify when the strikes
on Palmyra took place, but said its aircraft
struck over 237 targets in Syria over the
past two days in a statement overnight.
The latest raids came after broad
international talks to end the conflict
were held on Friday in Vienna.
For the first time, the meeting brought
together all the main outside players in
the crisis, including Russia and Iran, key
allies of the government of President
Bashar al-Assad. — AFP
The anti-monarchist group Republic
has urged the British government to
follow Australia’s example and scrap
knights and dames from the honours
The Q ueen has agreed to a
recommendation to remove the titles
of knights and dames from the Order
of Australia, Australian Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull has said.
The Duke of Edinburgh is now one
of the last people to be awarded a
knighthood by the country.
Turnbull, a republican who replaced Tony
Abbott as prime minister in September,
said Australia’s cabinet had agreed
“ knights and dames are not appropriate in
our modern honours system”.
Graham Smith, spokesman for the
British campaign group Republic,
argued that the UK honours system was
also in need of major reform.
“ In any country these titles are silly,
completely at odds with modern
democratic values and wide open to
abuse by the political classes,” Smith said.
“ In the UK the honours system is little
more than a way for political leaders to
thank their friends, allies and donors.
“ It is shameful that David Cameron
has brought back political knighthoods,
rewarding colleagues for support or
handing them out as compensation for
“ We need full-scale reform of Britain’s
honours system — no more imperial
honours, no more medieval titles.” — PA
Call for UK to scrap knighthoods
United States authorities confirmed
overnight that a large vessel found on the
deep ocean floor off the Bahamas is the
lost freighter El Faro, which sank with
33 mostly American crew in a hurricane
The National Transportation Safety
Board had said yesterday it would be
using a deep ocean remotely operated
vehicle, CURV-21, to sur vey and confirm
the identity of the ship.
The wreckage, in an upright position
and intact, was found at a depth of nearly
5km on Saturday in the vicinity of its last
known location off Crooked Island in
the southeastern Bahamas.
A navy salvage team had been searching
the area for more than a week and will
now seek to retrieve the ship’s voyage
data recorder — similar to an aircraft’s
black box — as part of an investigation
into its loss, according to the NTSB.
The El Faro disappeared on October 1
on a regular weekly cargo route between
Florida and Puerto Rico after the captain
reported losing propulsion and taking on
water. The crew included 28 Americans
and five Poles.
It was the worst cargo shipping disaster
involving a US-flagged vessel since 1983.
The cargo ship’s owner, Tote Inc, is
facing four lawsuits filed by relatives
of the crew, alleging the ship was not
seaworthy and charted a course too close
to Hurricane Joaquin. Tote filed for
liability protection in a federal court in
Florida on Friday. — Reuters
Canadian authorities will investigate
whether a whale caused the sinking of a
tourist boat that killed five Britons and
left an Australian missing.
The initial probe by the Transportation
Safety Board of Canada into the October
25 whale watching tragedy pointed to a
wave hitting the 20m Leviathan II off
A report by the Maritime News
Journal, however, says a whale hit the
“The TSB will look into all aspects
surrounding the Leviathan II accident,”
TSB spokeswoman Julie Leroux said
The TSB said last week most of the
passengers and crew on board the vessel
were on the left side of the top deck,
which would have raised its centre of
gravity, and a wave then approached
from the right side.
Asked if it was possible a whale was
involved, Leroux said: “It’s way too early.
We need to do our investigation to see
what was the cause.”
Despite a search by divers and boats
the past week 27-year-old Sydney man
Raveshan Pillay has not been found.
El Faro found
218,000 migrants cross Mediterranean
More than 218,000 migrants and
refugees crossed the Mediterranean
to Europe in October — a monthly
record and more than during the
whole of 2014, the United Nations
“Last month was a record month
for arrivals,” UN refugee agency
spokesman Adrian Edwards said,
pointing out that “arrivals in
October paralleled the entire 2014”.
In October, 218,394 people
made the perilous crossing —
all but 8000 of them landing in
Greece — compared with 216,054
Mediterranean arrivals during all of
last year, UN figures show.
The soaring numbers of arrivals
last month brought to over 744,000
the number of people who have
made the journey so far this year.
The October figures show that
despite the increasingly harrowing
conditions at sea at the onset of
winter, refugees from Syria and
other trouble spots continue to pile
into boats heading west, fearing
that Europe is about to close its
Among the more than 600,000
migrants and refugees who have
crossed to Greece since the
beginning of the year, 94% come
from the world’s top 10 refugee-
The ballooning number of
crossings has had dire consequences,
with the numbers of deaths piling
up by the day. Some 3440 people
have died or gone missing trying
to cross the Mediterranean to
Europe so far this year, according to
UNHCR numbers last week.
The figures do not take into
account the latest tragedy, with
at least 15 migrants and refugees,
including six children, drowning off
Greece on Sunday when two boats
making the hazardous crossing
from Turkey capsized.
Most of the Mediterranean
deaths this year have happened on
the longer, more dangerous route
to Italy, but with surging numbers
attempting the far shorter crossing
from Turkey to Greece, the death
toll along that route has been
The latest tragedies bring the
migrant death toll in Greece’s
waters in the past month to over
80, many of them children. — AFP
The Vatican said overnight two
members of a commission that
Pope Francis set up to study
Church reforms had been arrested
on suspicion of leaking confidential
documents to the media.
Spanish priest Lucio Angel Vallejo
Balda, No 2 at the Vatican’s Prefecture
for Economic Affairs, and Italian
laywoman Francesca Chaouqui,
a public relations consultant,
were arrested over the weekend,
a statement said. Chaouqui was
released overnight after she agreed
to co-operate with the investigation.
Both were members of a
commission that Francis set up
shortly after his election in 2013
to advise him on economic and
bureaucratic reforms in the Vatican
administration, or Curia.
The commission completed its
work last year and handed its report
to the Pope. The arrests came just
days before two Italian authors
were due to release books that
their publishers say will reveal new
evidence of past scandals in the
Vatican. — Reuters
Vatican arrests priest over documents leak
Links Archive November 2nd 2015 November 4th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page