Home' Greymouth Star : June 19th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
Monday, June 19, 2017 - 7
Portuguese fire toll 62
Eerie footage from inside the burned-
out remains of Grenfell Tower has
offered a harrowing first glimpse of the
extent of the disaster.
Three short video clips and a handful of
still images, released by the Metropolitan
Police last evening, show remnants of
appliances coated in ash as sunlight
pours in through the glass-less windows.
Panoramic footage shows a flat littered
with piles of debris, coated in black and
grey ash — it is one of the few rooms
safe enough for specialist crews to access
following the blaze, which took hold in
the early hours of Wednesday and has
claimed at least 58 lives.
Burned objects including baths, ovens,
washing machines, and what looks to be
an exercise bike, can be made out among
A sink unit rests on the ground, with
its tap mostly intact. Pipes are exposed at
crooked angles, and parts of the walls are
In one clip, as well as household
appliances, what looks to be the remains
of a bed can be seen, with its springs
The fire appears to have burned through
the internal walls of the flat, leaving it as
one large room with remains of kitchen
appliances at its centre, and remnants of
the bathroom in a corner.
Tiles and other fragments have entirely
filled the sink and toilet bowl. — PA
A forest fire approaches houses in the village of Atalaia Cimeira near Pedrogao Grande, in central Portugal.
Two British ministers say the cladding
used in a renovation of Grenfell Tower
may have been banned under the United
Kingdom’s building regulations.
Experts believe the exterior cladding,
which contained insulation, helped
spread the flames quickly along the
outside of the tower in the Wednesday
morning blaze that has killed at least 58
The government is carrying out an
“ urgent inspection” of roughly 2500
similar tower blocks across the country
to assess their safety.
Trade Minister Greg Hands and
Treasury chief Philip Hammond said in
separate television appearances that the
cladding used on Grenfell seems to be
prohibited by British regulations.
Hands told Sky News: “My
understanding is that the cladding that
was reported was not in accordance
with UK building regulations. We need
to find out precisely what cladding was
used and how it was attached.”
Experts say the cladding and the
insulation it contained seems to have
spread the flames quickly along the
exterior of the building, over whelming
safety devices like fire doors.
Hands cautioned that investigators still
do not know exactly what cladding was
used when the building renovation was
completed last year.
One opposition lawmaker urged the
Conser vative government and police to
immediately seize all documents related
to the tower renovation.
David Lammy said he is worried that
documents will be quietly deleted and
disposed of as police begin a search for
“The prime minister needs to act
immediately to ensure that all evidence
is protected so that everyone culpable for
what happened at Grenfell Tower is held
to account and feels the full force of the
law,” Lammy said.
He said tower residents who sur vived
fear a cover-up will keep the truth
from coming out. He says trust in the
authorities is “falling through the floor”.
Police have said criminal prosecutors
will be pursued if there is evidence of
wrongdoing. — AP
Portugal has declared three days of
national mourning as the forest fire
death toll rises to 62.
Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes
has told State broadcaster RTP that the
number of victims from the flames and
suffocating smoke has reached 60, while
another two people perished in a traffic
accident related to the fires.
The government declared today
through to Wednesday as national days
of mourning for the victims of a fire
“ which has caused an irreparable loss of
Prime Minister Antonio Costa
described the toll as “the biggest tragedy
of human life that we have known in
years”. The government also said 360
soldiers were joining the 700 firefighters
struggling to put out the blaze that
started on Saturday.
The tragedy is the worst in recent
memory in the southern European
country, which often suffers bush fires
during the hot and dry summer months.
The European Commission says it
is working with EU member States to
respond to the call for assistance issued
overnight by Portuguese authorities.
Games said the fatalities occurred in
the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150km
north-east of Lisbon, where about
firefighters have been trying to put out
the fires since Saturday, Gomes said.
A huge wall of thick smoke and bright
red flames towered over the top of trees
near houses in the wooded region.
Local resident Isabel Brandao told
Associated Press that she had feared for
“ Yesterday we saw the fire but thought
it was very far. I never thought it would
come to this side,” she said. “At 3.30am,
my mother-in-law woke me up quickly
and we never went to sleep again. We
were afraid the fire would reach us.”
Spanish State television showed
terrifying images from Portugal of
several people on a road trying to escape
the intense smoke that had reduced
visibility to a few metres. A young
man shared a bottle of water with a
distraught woman as she stumbled
down the road.
Costa said firefighting crews were
having difficulties in approaching the
area because the fire was “ very intense.”
He added that Portuguese authorities
were working on identifying the victims.
Costa said while investigations are
continuing to determine the cause of
the fire, authorities believe the high
temperatures of 40degC in recent days
may have played a part.
Residents are evacuated from a forest fire from the village of
Burned-out cars after the fire in Figueiro dos Vinhos.
Pope Francis has long railed
against corruption and the mafia,
but now the Vatican is considering
developing a whole doctrine around
excommunicating corrupt and mafia-
The Vatican this week hosted
its first conference on corruption
and organised crime, inviting 50
prosecutors, United Nations officials,
bishops and victims of organised
crime for a day of talks.
Organisers said in a statement over
the weekend the time had come
to develop a new legal doctrine for
the Catholic Church around “the
question of excommunication for
corruption and mafia association”.
Excommunication is one of
the most severe penalties in the
Catholic Church, with the guilty
party forbidden from participating
in the sacraments and effectively
excluded from the “communion” of
“O ur effort is to create a
mentality, a culture of justice, that
fights corruption and promotes
the common good,” Archbishop
Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s retired
ambassador to the UN in Geneva,
who participated in the conference,
Pope Francis has already declared
off-hand that mobsters were destined
for hell. During a 2014 visit to
the heart of Italy’s
mafia heartland, he denounced the
‘ndrangheta for its “adoration of evil
and contempt for the common good”
and declared that those who follow
in the mob’s path were automatically
He has similarly denounced
corruption, in politics, business
and even at the Vatican. While
he was the archbishop of Buenos
Aires, he penned a booklet, Curing
Corruption, where he makes
the distinction between sin and
corruption and explores the culture
that allows corruption to thrive.
He is up against a tough reality
in Italy, however, where both
organised crime and corruption are
deeply embedded. Transparency
International ranked Italy 60 out of
176 in its corruption perception index
last year. Only Greece performed
worse in western Europe.
The Catholic Church has produced
many anti-mafia campaigners in
Italy, some of whom have been killed
for their efforts.
A few years ago a Calabrian
archbishop proposed a 10-year
moratorium on the naming of
godfathers when children are baptised
to break the “padrino” system that
mobsters use to spread their influence
over the next generation.
But the Church is also deeply
integrated in the cultural fabric of the
parts of Italy where the mob holds
In one famous incident just
weeks after Pope Francis’s 2014
excommunication of the ‘ndrangheta,
a religious procession carrying a
statue of the Madonna detoured from
its route in Calabria and went to the
home of a convicted mobster under
house arrest in a show of honour.
Vatican eyes new rules on mobsters
A blast in the home village of a Shi’ite
Muslim spiritual leader in Bahrain
has killed one member of the security
ser vices and wounded two others,
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said on its
Twitter account overnight, blaming
There were no more immediate details
on the blast in Diraz village. — Reuters
Bahrain blast kills policeman
Cosby faces retrial
A United States warplane has shot
down a Syrian government aircraft
overnight in the southern Raqqa
countryside with Washington saying
the plane had dropped bombs near US-
backed forces and Damascus saying the
plane was downed while flying a mission
against Islamic State militants.
A Syrian army statement released on
Syrian State television said the plane
crashed and the pilot was missing. It said
the incident took place in the afternoon
near a village called Rasafah.
The “flagrant attack was an attempt
to undermine the efforts of the army as
the only effective force capable with its
allies . . . in fighting terrorism across its
territory,” the Syrian army said.
“This comes at a time when the Syrian
army and its allies were making clear
advances in fighting the Daesh (Islamic
State) terrorist group.”
Later the US Central Command issued
a statement saying the Syrian plane was
downed “in collective self-defence of
coalition-partnered forces,” identified as
fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces
(SDF) near Tabqah.
It said that “pro-Syrian regime forces”
had earlier attacked an SDF-held town
south of Tabqa and wounded a number
of fighters and driving them from the
Coalition aircraft in a show of force
stopped the initial advance. When a
Syrian army SU-22 aircraft later dropped
bombs near the US-backed forces, it was
immediately shot by a US F/A-18E
Super Hornet, the statement said.
Before it downed the plane, the
coalition had “contacted the its Russian
counterparts by telephone via an
established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-
escalate the situation and stop the firing.”
The coalition does “not seek to fight the
Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime
forces” but would not “hesitate to defend
itself or its “partnered forces from any
threat,” the statement said.
The US-led coalition, which has in
recent weeks escalated its aerial bombing
campaign in northern Syria and Raqqa
province. US -backed forces have
encircled the city of Raqqa and captured
several districts from the militants.
The Syrian army has also taken territory
from retreating Islamic State militants
in the western Raqqa countryside and
seized back some oilfields and villages
that had been under the militants’ control
for almost three years. — Reuters
US downs Syrian fighter
Four people were reported missing
after an earthquake off Greenland’s
west coast triggered a tsunami.
The four missing were in one
of 11 buildings hit or swept away
by the tsunami, which hit the
island of Nuugaatsiaq on Saturday
evening, following the earthquake,
Greenland police chief Bjorn
Tegner Bay said.
“ I cannot confirm any fatalities,”
Tegner Bay told a news conference
in the capital, Nuuk, Greenland
broadcaster KNR reported.
Seven people were injured, two
seriously, according to police.
One of the affected buildings was
the island’s power station.
The magnitude of the earthquake
was about 4.0, the Geological
Sur vey of Denmark and Greenland
(GEUS) reported, according to
Danish news agency Ritzau.
The quake struck about 30km
north of the island of Nuugaatsiaq,
home to about 100 people.
The police chief said 78 people
were evacuated to the mainland.
Four missing after Greenland tsunami
Legal experts say prosecutors
in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case
are likely to reshape their case for
the second trial.
Prosecutors said minutes after
a judge declared the mistrial on
Saturday they would retry the
79-year-old actor and comedian.
The jury deliberated over six
days without reaching a verdict
on charges Cosby drugged and
molested Andrea Constand at
his home near Philadelphia in
Prosecutors might ask the
judge to reconsider his ruling
which allowed just one of
Cosby’s 60 other accusers to
testify. But they may first want
to know what issues hung up the
The judge in the trial could
soon hear a petition to release
Cosby and his publicity team
emerged triumphant from the
courthouse on Saturday. He
remains free on $US1 million
bail. — AP
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