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6 - Monday, November 9, 2015
Investigators almost certain bomb downed airliner
Investigators of the Russian plane
crash in Egypt are “90% sure” the
noise heard in the final second of a
cockpit recording was an explosion
caused by a bomb, a member of the
investigation team told Reuters on
The Airbus A321 crashed 23
minutes after taking off from the
Sharm al-Sheikh tourist resort eight
days ago, killing all 224 passengers
and crew. Islamic State militants
fighting Egyptian security forces in
Sinai said they brought it down.
“The indications and analysis so
far of the sound on the black box
indicate it was a bomb,” the Egyptian
investigation team member, who
asked not to be named due to
sensitivities, said. “ We are 90% sure
it was a bomb.”
His comments reflect a much
greater degree of certainty about
the cause of the crash than the
investigation committee has so far
declared in public.
Lead investigator Ayman al-
Muqaddam announced on Saturday
that the plane appeared to have
broken up in mid-air while it was
being flown on auto-pilot, and that
a noise had been heard in the last
second of the cockpit recording.
But he said it was too soon to draw
conc lusions about why the plane
brought down the airliner could
have a devastating impact on Egypt’s
lucrative tourist industry, which
has suffered from years of political
turmoil and was hit last week when
Russia, Turkey and several European
countries suspended flights to Sharm
al-Sheikh and other destinations.
It could also mark a new strategy
by the hardline Islamic State group
which holds large parts of Syria and
Asked to explain the remaining
10% margin of doubt, the investigator
declined to elaborate, but Muqaddam
cited other possibilities yesterday
including a fuel explosion, metal
fatigue in the plane or lithium
He said debris was scattered over a
13km area “which is consistent with
an in-flight break-up”.
“ What happened in Sharm al-
Sheikh last week, and to a lesser
extent with the . . . (Germanwings)
aircraft, are game changers for our
industry,” Emirates Airlines president
Tim Clark said, referring to the
crash of a Germanwings airliner in
the French Alps in March, believed
crashed deliberately by its co-pilot.
“They have to be addressed at
industry level because no doubt the
countries — United States, Europe —
I would think will make some fairly
stringent, draconian demands on the
way aviation works with security,” he
said at the Dubai air show.
Clark said he had ordered a security
review but was not suspending any
flights as a result of the disaster.
Emirates does not operate regular
flights to Sharm al-Sheikh.
British Foreign Secretary Philip
Hammond also said the incident
could lead to changes in flight
“If this turns out to be a device
planted by an Isil operative or by
somebody inspired by Isil, then
c learly we will have to look again
at the level of security we expect to
see in airports in areas where Isil is
active,” Hammond told the BBC.
Islamic State, which wants to
establish a caliphate in the Middle
East, is also called Isis or Isil.
Islamic State militants fighting
security forces in Egypt’s Sinai
Peninsula have said they brought
down the aircraft as revenge for
Russian air strikes against Islamist
fighters in Syria. They said they
would eventually tell the world how
they carried out the attack.
If the group was responsible, it
would have carried out one of the
highest profile killings since al Qaeda
flew airliners into New York’s World
Trade Centre in September 2001.
Russia has sent specialists to conduct
a safety audit of Egypt ’s airports and
to provide recommendations on
additional measures, deputy prime
minister Arkady Dvorkovich was
quoted as saying by Russian agencies.
Dvorkovich, the head of a
government group created to deal
with suspended flights to Egypt,
added a second group was going to
Egypt today and a third would be
Britain has sent a team of 70,
including 10 aviation specialists
working at Sharm al-Sheikh airport
to make sure security measures are
being followed. — Reuters
St Petersburg has remembered
the victims of the Sinai plane crash,
with the bell of the famous St
Isaac’s Cathedral tolling 224 times
in memory of each person killed.
At an emotional memorial ser vice
at one of the former imperial
capital’s most famous symbols,
a chamber choir sang as several
hundred mourners looked on.
Outside, the bell rang 224 times,
the cathedral’s majestic golden
dome prominent in the grey
The ceremony was broadcast live
on national television, with pictures
of the victims accompanied by the
sound of the bell.
Staff at St Isaac’s Cathedral,
which is a museum, said that the
catastrophe had claimed the lives
of one of their employees, Irina
Sharova, and her 13-year-old
One of the mourners, Alla
Mikhailova, said she could not stop
thinking about the crash, Russia’s
deadliest aviation tragedy.
“A week has passed but I still
cannot come to my senses,” the
38-year-old said. “ I believe this, this
wound will remain with us forever.”
Maria Semenchuk, 50, said she
had come to pray for the victims.
“That ’s the only thing we can
do for them,” she said outside the
An Airbus A-321 carrying 224
people, most of them Russian
tourists, crashed in the Sinai
Peninsula as it was returning from
the Egyptian resort area of Sharm
el-Sheikh to St Petersburg on
October 31. Most of the passengers
were from St Petersburg and the
After Washington and London
said they believed the Russian
airliner might have been taken
down by a bomb, Moscow halted
all flights to Egypt. — AFP
Bells toll for crash victims
People attend a religious ser vice commemorating victims of a Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt, at St Isaac’s Cathedral in St Petersburg,
A Turkish man detained as a suspected
would-be suicide bomber in northern
Turkey was actually wearing a burqa to
disguise himself to meet a secret lover
from a dating site.
Locals in the Black Sea province of
Ordu alerted police of a “would-be
suicide bomber” yesterday after noticing
that a burqa-clad “woman” talking on the
phone at a bus stop was wearing men’s
shoes, Dogan news agency said.
A police team arrived at the scene and
“ unmasked” the man, who was dressed
in a full-length, Islamic-style black robe
with a niqab — the head covering worn
by many Muslim women — covering his
Authorities detained him for “inflicting
fear and panic in the public,” Dogan
The 33-year-old man, who is married
with two children, told police that he had
resorted to the burqa disguise in order to
secretly meet a woman he had met on an
on-line dating site for the first time.
Turkey is on high alert after a series
of deadly attacks blamed on the Islamic
State jihadist group, including a massive
twin suicide bombing at a peace rally
in Ankara on October 10 that killed
102 people in the worst terror attack in
Turkey ’s history. — AFP
in wake of
Tourists’ tempers have frayed as
thousands of travellers from Britain and
Russia have been stranded in Egypt.
President Vladimir Putin has
suspended all Russian flights to Egypt
and asked for up to 50,000 holiday-
makers in Egypt to be brought home.
Britain has suspended flights to
Sharm el-Sheikh — a resort area
between the desert of the Sinai
Peninsula and the Red Sea — and is
flying Britons home.
It estimates that 19,000 of its nationals
remain stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Russia has returned 11,000 of its
tourists from Egypt in the last 24 hours,
RIA news agency said overnight, a
fraction of the 80,000 Russians who
were stranded by the Kremlin’s decision
to halt all flights to Egypt.
Since Wednesday, several countries
including Belgium, the Netherlands and
Germany have restricted travel to Sharm
The travel chaos has grown after
French aviation officials have told media
the Russian plane crash in Egypt last
week was not due to technical failures.
Other French officials said the flight
data recorder suggested a “violent,
sudden” explosion caused the crash,
killing all 224 people on board.
Intercepted militant calls indicate a
bomb was put in the hold before take-
off, according to British officials.
Militants linked to the Islamic State
group (Isis) say they downed the plane.
The Metrojet Airbus A321 was flying
from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg
when it came down in Sinai last Saturday.
Most of the victims were Russian.
French air accident investigators said
the flight data recorder had shown that
“everything was normal during the flight,
absolutely normal, and suddenly there
was nothing”. A similar conclusion was
drawn by another investigator speaking
to France 2 television.
quoting unnamed US officials, said that
communications had been intercepted
between IS officials in Syria and people
on Sinai about how the airliner had been
“They were clearly celebrating,” NBC
quoted the official as saying.
Putin had a telephone conversation
with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah
al-Sisi, agreeing to continue “active co-
operation” on flight safety, the Kremlin
The Russian decision to suspend flights
to Egypt is a major blow to tourism,
which is a lifeline to the Egyptian
More than 30% of the tourists who
visit Egypt each year come from Russia.
The tourism industry has been
struggling since the revolution in 2011,
due to political uncertainty.
In recent months, there was some
sense of stability so things had began to
The US has announced it is stepping
up security screening of items on US-
bound flights from some airports in the
Middle East. The Homeland Security
statement did not say which airports it
Tourism contributed more than 12% to
Egypt’s economy in 2013 and the latest
measures will hit it hard, analysts say.
Pope Francis has condemned the
leak of sensitive Vatican documents
as a deplorable crime but said it
would not distract him from forging
ahead with reforms at the Holy See.
The leaks are one of the biggest
internal scandals to hit Pope Francis’s
papacy and were reminiscent of the
“ Vatileaks” furore that preceded the
resignation of former Pope Benedict
in 2013.The Italian media has dubbed
the latest episodes “ Vatileaks II”.
Making his first public comment
about the leaks since the arrest last
week of two people suspected of
giving the documents to Italian
journalists, he asked the faithful to
continue praying for the good of the
“ I want to tell you that this sad fact
will certainly not distract me from
the work of reform that is moving
ahead with the help of my aides and
the support of all of you,” he told tens
of thousands of people in St Peter’s
Square for his Sunday blessing.
Last week, the Vatican arrested
two people — a high-ranking Holy
See official and an Italian woman
who works in public relations — for
allegedly leaking the documents to
the authors of two new books.
Both were members
commission Pope Francis set up
several months after his election
in March 2013 to advise him on
financial and administrative reforms
in the Holy See.
“Stealing those documents is a
crime, it is a deplorable act that does
not help,” he said, adding there was
no need to leak them because change
“I commissioned that study myself
and I and my aides know all those
documents well already and measures
were taken that have already started
to bear fruit,” he said in remarkably
The commission completed its
work last year and handed its report
to the Pope, who subsequently made
changes in Vatican administration,
including the establishment of
a new economic ministry and
increased power for Vatican financial
The Vatican said when the
arrests were announced the leaks
represented a “serious betrayal of
the trust bestowed by the Pope” on
It was the third time this year the
Vatican has had to deal with leaks.
In June, the Pope’s encyclical on
the environment was leaked before
publication and last month a private
letter from 13 conser vative cardinals
complaining about a meeting
of bishops on family issues was
published by an Italian magazine.
Some Italian commentators have
said the leaks, combined with a false
report in an Italian newspaper that
the Pontiff had a brain tumour, were
part of a move by conser vatives to
weaken Pope Francis by purporting
to show he is not in control of
the 1.2-billion-member Catholic
Last week’s arrests were the first
in the Vatican since Paolo Gabriele,
Benedict ’s butler, was arrested in
2012 for stealing documents from the
One of the books published last
week was by Italian journalist
Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose 2012 book
His Holiness, was based on leaked
documents received from Gabriele.
Pope deplores Vatican documents leak
Gunnar Hansen, who played the
villain Leatherface in the original
Texas Chain Saw Massacre film, has
died of pancreatic cancer at his home
in Maine. He was 68.
Hansen starred in the 1974 film that
has become a classic among horror
movie aficionados and spawned a
series of sequels.
In the movie, friends visiting their
grandfather’s house are hunted by
Leatherface, a chain saw wielding
Hansen’s character in the movie “is
one of the most iconic evil figures in
the history of cinema”, agent Mike
Eisenstadt, who confirmed the death
Hansen lived in Maine for about 40
years, where he worked as an actor and
At the time of his death, he was
working on a film called Death
Hansen was a writer and producer
of the film, which the Internet Movie
Database says is about how a secret
government facility becomes ground
zero for the most horrific prison break
The film is scheduled to come out
In 2013 Hansen published his book
Chain Saw Confidential, which gave
readers a behind-the-scenes look at
how the film was made.
Hansen was born in Reykjavik,
Iceland. He went to the United States
and studied at the University of Texas,
where he majored in English and
Sur viving him is his partner of 13
years, Betty Tower. — AP
Horror movie actor dies
Cooking with vegetable oils
releases toxic chemicals linked to
cancer and other diseases, according
to leading scientists, who are now
recommending food be fried in olive
oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard.
The results of a series of
experiments threaten to turn on its
head official advice that oils rich in
polyunsaturated fats - such as corn
oil and sunflower oil - are better for
the health than the saturated fats in
Scientists found that heating up
vegetable oils led to the release of
high concentrations of chemicals
called aldehydes, which have been
linked to illnesses including cancer,
heart disease and dementia.
Martin Grootveld, a professor
of bioanalytical chemistry and
chemical pathology, said his
research showed “a typical meal of
fish and chips”, fried in vegetable
oil, contained as much as 100 to
200 times more toxic aldehydes
than the safe daily limit set by the
World Health Organisation.
In contrast, heating up butter,
olive oil and lard in tests produced
much lower levels of aldehydes.
Coconut oil produced the lowest
levels of the harmful chemicals.
Concerns over toxic chemicals
in heated oils are backed up by
separate research from an O xford
John Stein, Oxford’s emeritus
professor of neuroscience, said partly
as a result of corn and sunflower oils,
“the human brain is changing in a way
that is as serious as climate change
threatens to be”. Because vegetable
oils are rich in omega 6 acids, they are
contributing to a reduction in critical
omega 3 fatty acids in the brain by
replacing them, he believes.
“If you eat too much corn oil or
sunflower oil, the brain is absorbing
too much omega 6, and that
effectively forces out omega 3,” Stein
said. “I believe the lack of omega 3
is a powerful contributory factor to
such problems as increasing mental
health issues and other problems
such as dyslexia. ”
Grootveld, of De Montfort
University in Leicester, who carried
out a series of experiments, said:
“People have been telling us how
healthy polyunsaturates are in corn
oil and sunflower oil. But when you
start ... subjecting them to high
amounts of energy in the frying pan
or the oven, they undergo a complex
series of chemical reactions which
result in the accumulation of . . .
toxic compounds.” — AP
Cooking with vegetable oil
linked to cancer risk
Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa
is facing more aviation chaos, cancelling
more than 900 domestic and European
flights as cabin crew said they would
resume a strike in a battle over cost cuts.
The stoppage — part of rolling
industrial action the union threatened
to continue until Friday — was due to
hit Frankfurt, D uesseldorf and Munich
airports today, the UFO flight attendants’
union said overnight.
Lufthansa said it would cancel 929 of
the day’s 3000 scheduled flights to or
from the three cities, affecting 113,000
passengers, but that about 70 per cent of
its normal ser vices would operate.
The airline also said its executive
board would discuss the “consequences”
of the strike today, which it called
“ unprecedented in the history of
Lufthansa”, and issue a statement to
employees and the public.
“ Lufthansa has reaffirmed that it
is ready to resume talks,” it said in a
The carrier voiced regret about the
strike, apologised to customers and said
it would publish new flight plans on-line
and inform passengers of the status of
their bookings by e-mail and SMS.
Frankfurt, Germany’s main air hub,
and D uesseldorf were to be hit by work
stoppages today, and Munich would
be affected later, the union said on its
UFO last Thursday said industrial
action had become “unavoidable” after
airline management failed to come up
with an improved offer in a dispute over
pay and early retirement provisions.
Not affected by the strike are
Lufthansa’s subsidiaries Germanwings,
Eurowings, Lufthansa CityLine, Swiss,
Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and
The strike yesterday forced Lufthansa
to cancel 520 flights, leaving 58,000
passengers grounded. The stoppage
affected all domestic and European
flights from Frankfurt and Duesseldorf.
Flights resumed for one day Sunday
“ because on that day, most flights are
private”, UFO said.
UFO has said it plans to target
different airports over the course of the
week-long blitz of walkouts.
The union is demanding that a current
system of early retirement provisions
Lufthansa has argued that the system is
too expensive in the face of competition
from low-cost operators such as Ryanair
and Easyjet. — AFP
cancels over 900 flights
Apple defeats bag search lawsuit
Apple has defeated a class action
lawsuit from its California store
employees seeking back pay for the time
taken to undergo checks of their bags
when leaving for the day.
The mandatory searches are designed to
ensure that staff do not steal or smuggle
out Apple products, but plaintiffs said
they should be compensated for the time
it took to wait for the search or undergo
United States District Judge William
Alsup, in denying the claim, said Apple
employees were free to choose whether
or not to bring bags to work, and that
not having a bag would mean no exit
“That free choice is fatal to their
c laims,” he said in his judgment, noting
that Apple could simply have banned
employees brining bags to work.
“ Instead, Apple took the lesser step of
giving its employees the optional benefit
of bringing such items to work, which
comes with the condition that they must
undergo searches in a manner dictated
by Apple before they exit the store.”
Apple was not available for comment.
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