Home' Greymouth Star : August 12th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014
fter a month on the front line
battling Ebola in a hospital in Sierra
Leone, the memories that both
haunt and inspire British doctor Tim
O’Dempsey are of the children.
Many memories of children dying
in isolation wards while their parents wailed outside.
And one of a small girl who fought her way out of a
coma and was reunited with her father.
“Seeing a mother come in with a little baby, and
within a few days the baby dies — it’s very difficult,”
he said. “ What you do is just get on with it. There
are lots and lots of patients that need to be attended
to. Occasionally, entire families would be admitted.
You can’t stop.”
O’Dempsey, a doctor with three decades’ experience
studying and fighting tropical diseases, was seconded
to Sierra Leone by the World Health Organisation
to help battle the biggest outbreak of the deadly
haemorrhagic fever in history.
He ended up as part of a team of between two and
four doctors, plus a handful of nurses, caring for 40-
60 patients a day with one of the most lethal known
Kenema hospital’s three Ebola wards — one
for suspected cases, the other two for confirmed
infections — had barely 10 or 12 beds each, so
patients lay on mattresses on the floors and in the
Many of the staff themselves became ill, and many
died, including the head nurse on the Ebola wards,
Mballu Fonnie, and the doctor in charge of the unit,
Sheik Umar Khan — declared a national hero by the
government when he passed away last month at 39
after treating more than 100 Ebola sufferers.
Amid the misery, it was the small triumphs that
made the work worth doing, like that of a girl aged
about six or seven.
“Her father had brought her in, but because he
wasn’t a suspect case he had to leave, so she was
on her own,” O’Dempsey said. The girl was soon
confirmed with Ebola and moved to the isolation
wards. There, she had “a pretty stormy course” with
high fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. She slipped into
a coma and was close to death.
“But we managed her as best we could, and she
came out of her coma, and very, very slowly we
were able to encourage her to drink, and then begin
feeding her,” he said.
“Just before I left — four weeks later — I arranged
for her to go into a side room so her father could
see her and look after her again. I hear that she is
getting stronger every day.”
Such stories, he said, are important because they
encourage people to come for ward and seek the
medical attention that can save lives and prevent the
disease from spreading. They are also a blessing for
staff who risk their own lives to provide succour.
“It’s quite fantastic to see people convalescent and
waiting to be discharged — walking around the
place, joking, singing and looking remarkably
World Health Organisation Director General
Margaret Chan said last week that one of the most
important factors in being able to bring the outbreak
under control was to ensure health care workers were
cared for and respected.
“Governments affected need to send a very strong
signal that the local health care workers’ contribution
is appreciated, they are properly paid, and security is
provided to make sure they can work quietly and do
what they are best at,” Chan said.
O’Dempsey saw the struggle faced by local doctors
and nurses at first hand.
“ When I arrived the nurses had been on strike
since the previous day. There were no nurses inside
the wards at all, so conditions were really pretty
grim,” O’Dempsey said. “ There was a high infection
rate among health care workers and nursing staff. I t
was very difficult for people to see their colleagues
becoming ill and in some cases dying.”
The death toll in this Ebola epidemic — the largest
and most deadly ever seen — reached 961 on August
8 from a total of 1779 cases, according to WHO
data. In the four countries hit so far, Guinea, Sierra
Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, the virus has infected
some 140 or 150 healthcare workers, killing around
80 of them, Margaret Chan said last week.
Many epidemiologists and infectious disease
specialists — including O’Dempsey, a senior lecturer
at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine — fear
it could get far worse.
“It’s unlikely we’ve seen the peak,” he said. A lot
more needs to be done to improve and expand
treatment facilities to ensure all patients who need to
be contained and isolated can be, and to make sure
fear and stigma were not made worse, he added.
Nurses and other health workers were not only
exhausted and fearful for their lives, he said, but
are also shunned by family, friends, landlords and
other members of the community, some of whose
traditional beliefs lead them to see Ebola infection as
a punishment for doing something wrong.
“ We need enough nurses who are properly trained
and we need clinicians able to offer support and
expertise,” he said. “ You can’t have nurses working
12, 14 hours a day, seven days a week for months
without a break.” — Reuters
Medical staff put on their protective gear before entering an isolation area at an Ebola treatment centre.
Memories haunt and inspire
A 72-hour ceasefire has taken hold
in Gaza, as Israeli and Palestinian
negotiators headed to Cairo in
search of a long-term solution to
end over a month of deadly fighting.
The truce, which began just after
midnight, was the fruit of days
of Egyptian-brokered mediation
to stem more than four weeks of
violence which has killed 1939
Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli
side since July 8.
Ten hours into the truce, the skies
over Gaza remained calm, with no
reports of violations on any side and
signs of life emerging on the streets
of the war-torn coastal enclave
which is home to 1.8 million
As the sun rose on Gaza City,
shops and businesses began opening
their doors and a handful of people
could be seen doing their early
Outside a United Nations-run
school, a clutch of cars and donkey
carts waited to take some of the
refugees back to homes they had
fled during the fighting.
“We want to go back to see
what happened to our house,” said
Hikmat Atta, 58, who had piled
his family into a small cart and was
heading back to his home in the
northern town of Beit Lahiya which
they had left in the first days of the
But with the truce still in its
early stages, he was not taking any
“ We’re just going back for the day,
at night we’ll come back here,” he
Egypt urged the warring sides
to use the three-day lull to reach
“a comprehensive and permanent
ceasefire,” after efforts to extend a
similar truce last week collapsed
into a firestorm of violence.
United Nations Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon said it would give
the two sides “another chance
to agree on a durable ceasefire”
while stressing the importance
of addressing “the underlying
grievances on both sides. ”
Hamas, the de facto power in
Gaza, has conditioned its agreement
for any permanent agreement on
Israeli lifting its eight-year blockade
“ We insist on this goal,” Hamas’s
exiled leader Khaled Meshaal said
in Doha yesterday.
“ In the case of Israeli
procrastination or continued
aggression, Hamas is ready with
other Palestinian factions to resist
on the ground and politically.”
Veteran Palestinian negotiator
Saeb Erakat arrived in Cairo for
talks with Egyptian and Arab
League officials on behalf of
president Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, an Israeli team arrived
in Cairo overnight.
The team was to resume Egyptian-
mediated talks it had abandoned
on Friday after Hamas refused to
extend an earlier truce and resumed
its fire on southern Israel.
Israel had pledged to send its
negotiating team back when the
truce took hold.
Palestinian delegates in Cairo said
they would be happy for Abbas’s
Palestinian Authority to take over
the reconstruction of Gaza and
execute any agreement reached in
Israel has no direct interface with
Hamas, whose charter calls for the
destruction of the Jewish state.
“The national unity government
and the Palestinian Authority will
take over the execution of all that
will be agreed upon during the
truce talks,” Azzam al-Ahmed, head
of the Palestinian delegation, told
“ We are backing the setting up
of a national body to be formed by
president Abbas, which will take
over the reconstruction (of Gaza),”
said senior Hamas official Ezzat
“The president of the body
should be professional, credible
and one who will be accepted
The new truce deal followed a
similar arrangement last week which
had brought relief to millions on
both sides of the border.
Hamas had refused to extend
the 72-hour lull when it expired
on Friday, and Israel accused the
Islamist faction of breaching the
agreement in its final hours with
In the gap between ceasefires,
warplanes hit more than 170 targets,
killing at least 19 people, while
the Palestinians fired at least 136
rockets at Israel, of which 93 hit and
13 were shot down, with the rest
falling short inside Gaza, the army
The UN says just under three
quarters of those killed in Gaza
were civilians. Around a third of the
civilian victims were children.
Life stirs in Gaza as new truce takes hold
Men salvage belongings from the ruins of a home that residents say was
hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza.
A cannabis factory has been
found in the grounds of a mental
hospital in Wales.
Detectives unexpectedly found
30 illegal plants in a disused ward
in Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff,
while searching for a missing
It is believed the dealer or gang
responsible had also hooked
up powerful ultraviolet lights
and ventilators powered by the
hospital’s electricity supply.
“South Wales Police can confirm
a cannabis factory of around 30
plants was discovered within the
grounds of Whitchurch Hospital
in Cardiff,” a police spokesman
The hidden factory
discovered when police were
searching for a missing person on
Officers entered a former ward
in the hospital’s main building
which had been boarded up
and isolated for decades — before
finding the cannabis.
While hospital security guards
make regular patrols, it is
believed they do not enter any of
the boarded up buildings on the
Cardiff and Vale University
Health Board, which runs the
hospital site, said it was doing all it
could to help the police with their
investigation. — PA
A Victorian woman had sex with
one of the men she convinced to
kill her ex-partner shortly after
they dumped the body, prosecutors
Robyn Jane Lindholm, 41, of
Reser voir, and Hawthorn gym
owner Wayne Amey were in a
relationship which ended badly
and were due in court over a
property dispute the day after he
disappeared in December 2013,
the Melbourne Magistrates Court
Chief Crown Prosecutor Gavin
Silbert QC said Lindholm engaged
two men — Torsten Trabert, 45,
of Reser voir, and John Anthony
Ryan, 37, of Meadow Heights —
to kill Mr Amey, after two other
men repeatedly declined her
Mr Silbert on Monday said one
of the men who refused to take
part warned Mr Amey, who went
to the police in August 2013 and
told them of Lindholm’s intention
to harm him.
Mr Amey ’s body was found
wedged between boulders at Mt
Korong, in central Victoria, on
December 18, more than a week
after he was last seen alive.
Mr Silbert said Mr Amey was
ambushed at his apartment ’s car
park, where he was bashed with a
baseball bat, tasered and thrown
into a car boot and driven off.
He told the court Mr Amey
could be heard pleading for his life,
before he was stabbed a number of
times and strangled.
Mr Silbert alleged that after the
three dumped Mr Amey ’s body
between two boulders and covered
it with sticks and rocks, Ryan left
the other two.
Mr Silbert said Lindholm and
Trabert then went to a secluded
spot in Kyneton where they had sex,
before they returned to Melbourne.
The court heard Mr Amey
suffered stab wounds, fractured ribs
and neck injuries, and was wrapped
in a canvas sheet, with rope around
his neck and his lower legs hog
Lindholm, Trabert and Ryan are
contesting a murder charge.
Lindholm and Trabert are also
contesting charges of intentionally
causing serious injury and assisting
The committal hearing continues.
‘Couple had sex’ after ex killed
The United States government is
directly supplying weapons to Peshmerga
fighters from Iraq’s semi-autonomous
Kurdish region to help them fight Sunni
militants, in a deepening of America’s
military involvement in Iraq, United
States officials said overnight.
The Kurdish fighters are struggling
to stem advances by militants from the
Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot.
The officials said the weapons were
supplied by the Central Intelligence
Agency but that the Pentagon may soon
start arming the Kurdish fighters, who
regained control of two strategic towns
in northern Iraq on Sunday with help
from US airstrikes.
The officials declined to specify when
the supply programme began or what
sort of arms it included.
Weapons have also been shipped
in three deliveries from the Iraqi
government in Baghdad to Arbil, capital
of Iraqi Kurdistan, consisting mostly of
AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition,
the US officials said.
Reuters reported on Friday that
the Iraqi government had sent a first,
unprecedented shipment of ammunition
Officials have said they were previously
reluctant to give arms directly to the
Kurds because of a desire to see Iraq
remain a unified State and a hesitancy to
do anything that might bolster Kurdish
ambitions for autonomy.
President Barack Obama has faced
criticism for being reluctant or too slow
to inter vene in thorny foreign policy
issues which have piled up under his
watch, including the dramatic rise of the
Islamic State, which has seized control
of large swathes of land in the north and
west of OPEC member Iraq.
A senior US defence official
acknowledged that the United States
was providing arms and ammunition
needed by the Kurds but said it was
not coming from the Department of
Defence. Officials said the Pentagon
was in discussions about how to increase
its military support to the Kurds and
could soon approve a decision to directly
The US State Department said the US
government was “ working” to provide
arms directly to the Kurds, saying they
needed them badly and that the United
States was doing what it could to
“The government of Iraq has made
deliveries from its own stocks to the
Kurds and we are working to do the
same in co-ordination with all the
relevant parties,” State Department
spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
“The Kurds need additional arms. We
are providing those.”
Last week, Washington launched its
first military action in Iraq since pulling
its troops out in 2011. US warplanes
bombed Sunni insurgents from the
Islamic State, who have marched
through northern and western Iraq since
Washington says it is taking
limited action to protect the Kurdish
autonomous region and prevent what
Obama called a potential “genocide”
of religious minorities targeted by the
The militants made new gains against
Kurdish forces despite three days of US
airstrikes, while Baghdad, long braced
for the Sunni fighters to attack, was now
tensing for possible clashes between
forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri al-
Maliki and those of his rivals after Iraq’s
president named a new prime minister
Obama says a more inclusive
government in Baghdad is a precondition
for more aggressive US military support
against the Islamic State. He has rejected
calls in some quarters for a return of
US ground troops, apart from several
hundred military advisers sent in June.
The Islamic State, which sees Shi’ites
as heretics who deser ve to be killed, has
ruthlessly moved through one town after
another, using tanks and heavy weapons
it seized from soldiers who have fled in
Overnight, police said the militants
had seized the town of Jalawla, 115km
north-east of Baghdad, after driving out
the Kurds’ Peshmerga forces.
Washington and its European allies
are considering requests for more direct
military aid from the Kurds, who have
themselves differed with Maliki over the
division of oil resources and who took
advantage of the Islamists’ advance to
expand their territory.
Cannabis factory found in hospital
A Turkish aid group said overnight it
would send ships again to challenge the
Israeli blockade of Gaza, four years after
Israeli commandos stormed its flotilla
bound for the Palestinian territory and
killed 10 people.
The incident wrecked diplomatic ties
between Turkey and Israel, once close
Middle East allies but whose relationship
had been tense since late 2008 over a
previous Israeli military operation against
Islamist militants dominating Gaza.
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation
said in an e-mailed statement that
members of a coalition of pro-Palestinian
activists from 12 countries had met in
Istanbul at the weekend and decided
to launch a convoy “in the shadow of
the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza,”
referring to the latest, month-long war.
Fighting has abated under a 72-hour
“The Freedom Flotilla Coalition
affirmed that, as most governments are
complicit, the responsibility falls on civil
society to challenge the Israeli blockade
on Gaza,” it said.
An IHH spokeswoman did not
elaborate. — Reuters
Turkish activists will
send ships to Gaza
Britain’s most senior police officer
broke off from a radio interview to
chase and arrest a man who allegedly
robbed a taxi driver.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe jumped into
a taxi overnight to pursue a suspect after
the driver complained his passengers
refused to pay the fare and had
stolen cash from him, the BBC
He had been talking to BBC London
94.9 near Bruce Grove station in
Tottenham, north London, at the time
of the incident.
Sir Bernard later apprehended a
teenager, Scotland Yard said.
His force said in a tweet:
“Commissioner Hogan-Howe arrested
a 19yo man on suspicion of theft this
morning after being flagged down by
local taxi driver.”
The driver, who gave his name as
Mohammed, told the BBC a passenger
took £20 from his dashboard before
He said: “When I see the police, I
ask the police ‘please can you stop the
“He said he was not aware who the
officer who came to his aid was, but
described him as a “very good, very
kind” man. — PA
UK police chief nabs taxi thief
Links Archive August 11th 2014 August 13th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page