|W O R L D||
Wednesday, October 21, 1998
|Mass burial for fire victims
Toll touches 600
LAGOS, Oct 20 The first group of victims of a explosion and fire at a fuel pipeline in Nigeria that may have claimed as many as 600 lives have been buried in mass graves.
Social Democratic Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroeder (left) shares a laugh with Greens party leader Joschka Fischer (center) and Social Democratic Party Chairman Oskar Lafontaine. AP/PTI
Schroeder signs pact
BONN, Oct 20 Germanys victorious Social Democrats and the Greens signed an agreement today to form a Centre-Left coalition government with Mr Gerhard Schroeder as the Chancellor.
Transfer powers to PM, says Yeltsin aide
MOSCOW, Oct 20 The head of the presidential administration and Kremlins most powerful leader, Mr Valentin Vumashev, today proposed that President Yeltsins powers be transferred to Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov, reports Novosti.
Spanish judges to decide
solution without Kashmir: Aziz
admit pipeline blast
man yearns for bride
can cause cancer
Mass burial for fire victims
LAGOS, Oct 20 (DPA) The first group of victims of a explosion and fire at a fuel pipeline in Nigeria that may have claimed as many as 600 lives have been buried in mass graves, radio reports said today in the West African country.
President Abdulsalami Abubakar expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the explosion which occurred on Sunday in the village of Apawor in the Niger river delta, the news reports said. Most of the victims were children, women and young persons who lived in slums near the pipeline. Many of them had come to collect fuel after a leak was discovered in the pipeline.
Mr Abubakar said the government would do everything it could to solve the problems that led to "this human tragedy". He said attacks on facilities of the oil industry in southern Nigeria must stop.
News reports said the government did not have enough money in its coffers to pay compensation to the survivors of the victims.
A spokeswoman for the government-owned PPMC oil company said it remained unclear if the disaster was the result of an attack by anti-government groups.
Many witnesses criticised the rescue operations, saying it took hours before a single ambulance arrived in the scene. The police flagged down passing cars and directed them to take the severely injured to hospitals.
The witnesses said hundreds of people had gathered at the site of the burst pipeline to collect fuel spilling out it of when because of an accidental spark the explosion occurred. Some eyewitnesses said the spark came from a cigarette. Others said it came from a motorcycle.
The government-owned company that operates the pipeline blamed the original leak on sabotage. There have been several incidents of sabotage in recent weeks on facilities owned by international oil companies in the West African country.
Underground organisations who claim to have carried out the attacks are trying to force oil firms to distribute more of their profits to the impoverished people of the oil-rich regions in the countrys South.
Some corpses, including those of children, were found clutching plastic cups, funnels and cans to collect the fuel. The charred body of a woman was found with her dead baby strapped to her back. Many other victims were farmers and villagers sleeping in their homes.
Separate burials were held
yesterday for at least 52 of the dead. Many people took
corpses of relatives home. Firefighters, meanwhile,
continued to battle the blaze, which was largely under
control but flared occasionally.
Transfer powers to PM, says Yeltsin aide
MOSCOW, Oct 20 (UNI) The head of the presidential administration and Kremlins most powerful leader, Mr Valentin Vumashev, today proposed that President Yeltsins powers be transferred to Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov, reports Novosti.
According to Mr Vumashev, who is close to the Presidents daughter Tatynia Dyachenko, powers of the Ministries of Defence, Interior Security and Foreign Affairs, generally monitored under the Presidents eye, should also pass into the hands of Mr Primakov. This observers say would virtually make Mr Primakov acting President of the country.
Such a move stems in view of the Presidents inability to cope up with his work, which is making Russia a laughing stock the world over, believe analysts.
With this, political observers say Kremlin has admitted reports about the Presidents precarious state of health, a prime speculation around the world.
Meanwhile, the widely circulated Russian daily Trud points out that contrary to the official claim of a mild infection President Boris Yeltsin is seriously ill.The sudden disruption in coordination of body movement and imbalance in communication of the President cannot be the result of a mere bronchitis, the paper says.
Mr Yeltsin could not walk without support and could barely speak during his last week visits to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. He had to cut short the tour and return to the capital only to be lodged in his country residence equipped with life support systems.
Official explanation is that the President is suffering from bronchitis.
Mr Yeltsin (67), underwent a quintiple cardiac surgery in November, 1996, following a series of heart attacks and never appeared well since then.
Last week, a leading Russian psychologist said in an interview that Mr Yeltsin was suffering from Alzheimer'ss disease, later confirmed by an unidentified member of the Presidents medical team.
Attempts are being made to persuade people that the President has slight indisposition whereas the real state of his health not only causes serious apprehensions but has even become a problem for societys political health, the daily says.
Pictures taken a few days ago have also confirmed that Mr Yeltsin is seriously ill, Trud says.
The emerging political scenario foresee all levers of authority passing into the hands of Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov with the President surviving as a figurehead till next election, the daily says, commenting on the demands of Mr Yeltsins resignation raised by his political foes.
Schroeder signs pact with Greens
BONN, Oct 20 (Reuters) Germanys victorious Social Democrats and the Greens signed an agreement today to form a Centre-Left coalition government with Mr Gerhard Schroeder as the Chancellor.
The two parties agreed on tax reform measures, job creation and the scrapping of nuclear energy following Mr Schroeders ouster of Mr Helmut Kohl in a general election on September 27.
The coalition deal is expected to be formally endorsed by both parties at congresses this weekend. Mr Schroeder is then due to be confirmed as Germanys next Chancellor by Parliament next Tuesday.
Mr Schroeder and other Social Democrat and Greens leaders signed the agreement at a brief ceremony in front of TV cameras in Bonn.
Under the agreement, the SDP Chairman, Mr Oskar LaFontaine, is named in charge of the Finance Ministry, expanded to have greater power over European and other policies.
The Greens leader, Mr Joschka Fischer, is to be appointed the Foreign Minister.
Spanish judges to decide Pinochets fate
MADRID, Oct 20 (DPA) While Chilean riots and government protests have been ineffective against the detention of Augusto Pinochet in London, the former dictator could now count with a surprising ally: the very Spanish judiciary which got him into trouble in the first place.
Pinochet, 82, was arrested late last week at the request of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon who wants to interrogate him about the suspected killings of Spanish Citizens in Latin America during his dictatorship (1973-90).
But yesterday, Spanish state prosecutor Ignacio Pelaez filed an appeal against Garzons detention request, arguing that Spanish jurisdiction did not extend to Latin America.
The danger now looms that the Spanish judges will get muddled in their internal quarrels, and will not be able to file an extradition request for Pinochet until the 40-day deadline set by London runs out.
In tackling the crimes of the Pinochet dictatorship, judges Garzon and Nanuel Garcia Castellon have acted as torch-bearers for human rights and democracy, becoming the hope of Chilean and Argentine human rights groups whose own governments have not been able to bring tyrants to justice.
No solution without Kashmir: Aziz
ISLAMABAD, Oct 20 (PTI) The outcome of the just-concluded Indo-Pak talks was far less than our expectations as relations between the two countries cannot be normalised without some progress on the Kashmir issue, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaz Aziz has said.
Drawing the attention of the international community to the double standards of India on the Kashmir issue, Mr Aziz said, Ironically, while on the one hand India accepts the need of resolving the Kashmir issue, in the same breath they insist that Kashmir is a part of India and its future is not open to discussion.
Mr Aziz, who took over as Pakistans Foreign Minister barely three months ago in the wake of growing tension between the two countries following their nuclear explosions in May, told The News that the just-concluded Foreign Secretary-level talks here did not show any change in Indias position on the basic issue of Kashmir.
We find no change in Indias position on the basic issue, Mr Aziz was quoted as saying while commenting on the outcome of the four-day of talks in Islamabad which ended on Sunday.
India blocked any appreciable progress on any issue, particularly on the basic issue of Kashmir, he said.
Mr Aziz drew the attention of the world community towards the double standards of India on the Kashmir issue and said, It is now for the international community to see whether this contradictory position adopted by India is either reasonable or logical.
He also stressed that the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan depended on the resolution of the Kashmir issue saying, It now remains to be seen whether India will recognise that relations with Pakistan cannot become normal unless there is some progress on the Kashmir issue.
He also said the outcome of the latest round of talks with India was far less than our expectations but added that the only positive aspect is that the two sides have agreed to continue the talks and keep up the efforts to find a solution to the Kashmir issue.
The News also quoted senior Pakistani officials as saying the Foreign Secretary-level talks were a non-starter on the issue of Kashmir. They also said Pakistan wanted to have the next round of the Foreign Secretary-level talks earlier in December before the start of the Muslims fasting month of Ramzan, but India did not agree.
Rebels admit pipeline blast
BOGOTA, Oct 20 (AP)
Leftist rebels have admitted triggering the explosion at
an oil pipeline over the weekend, but suggested the
Colombian Army set a subsequent fire which engulfed a
nearby village, killing 47 persons.The surprise
accusation was made in a statement read last night to a
radio station by Nicolas Rodriguez, top Commander of the
15,000-member National Liberation Army, or ELN,
Colombias second-largest guerrilla group.We
assume the responsibility for the blowing up of the
pipeline, but our conscience is clear because the
criminals are not within our ranks, the rebel chief
said, breaking silence on the incident.
USA undermining CWC
WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (PTI) The USA is undermining the chemical weapons convention (CWC) by not passing the necessary legislation for its implementation, a Democratic Congressman on the House of International Committee has warned.
The USA is in non-compliance with its legal obligations under the CWC and cannot come under compliance without the implementing legislation, Congressman Lee Hamilton said.
Without legislation in place, the US chemical industry has no legal basis for providing data to the US government on certain chemical-related activities which the USA is required to submit under the convention he said.
If the USA is not full in compliance with the CWC, we cannot use our substantial influence for insisting on full compliance by others, he said, adding more than 100 nations were party to the CWC, but some 28 had failed to submit information required on their chemical industries.
We give comfort to the Russias, Chinas and Irans of this world that want to slip out of the treaty compliance when we ourselves do not comply, Hamilton said.
Warning that the stature of the USA in its fight against terrorism is undercut, he said: Many chemical companies in friendly European states are resisting inspections because US firms are not subject to similar inspections. While the House of Representatives is mired in a process of delay, ... rogue regimes have a convenient excuse for bad conduct.
Other legislators have pointed out that while the USA is pressuring India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), it itself is not ratifying the treaty.
Senate has refused to ratify the CTBT unless the
government places before it the Kyoto environment treaty,
which it wants to kill because India, China, Brazil,
Indonesia and other major developing nations are not
covered by it.
Shortest man yearns for bride
AMMAN, Oct 20 (DPA) Younis Edwan, who is just 65-cm tall, wants to be recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds shortest man, but that is not all he wants in life.
Of course, the 27-year-old Jordanian would love to hold the Guinness Book of Records worlds shortest man title, succeeding the late Gul Mohammad of India, who was 50 cm tall.
But Edwan also says he yearns for a normal life and an understanding wife. He often tells people that he is looking for the woman of his dreams with whom he will be able to bring up children of his own.
His stature is believed to be the result of a stunted bone growth caused by his mother accidentally taking contraceptives during her pregnancy. But the condition, according to doctors, would not affect any offspring.
I am not a dwarf, he told The Jordan Times in a recent interview. If I have children of my own, they would be of normal height, as doctors, who have carried out tests on me, have assured me.
He said he was once engaged to an Egyptian of normal height. Things did not work out and the engagement was eventually broken off but he is not despondent. I still hope to get married soon, he says.
Edwan complains that people do not treat him as an adult and that he is often subjected to ridicule. When he wanted to transfer some property to his brother, officials asked him to bring his legal guardian along, he says. Others have asked him for a certificate attesting to his mental health.
But Edwan, who has also lost his mobility because of an injury to his leg, says that he loves going out and having fun. He has finally managed to convince his family not to worry about his disability.
Once I stayed out for two days and when I came back I had an argument with my family who told me that, unlike my brothers, I cant take care of myself, Edwan said. I told them that I can and that was it. They never questioned me again for being late.
But he protests that Jordan does not offer special centres for people like himself and that peoples tolerance with regard to the disabled was very low.
Being the sixth member of a family of seven sisters and brothers, he says he is surrounded with love and understanding from his kin as well as from friends.
Edwans free spirit, outgoing personality and love for life are his main characteristics, according to friends.
Chicken can cause cancer
WASHINGTON, Oct 20 (Reuters) People who have quit eating steaks for health reasons but still eat chicken and fish may still have a higher risk of colon cancer, researchers say.
They say so-called white meat is no less likely to cause cancer than red meat, But the more peas and beans a person eats, the lower the risk of colon cancer, they found.
There is evidence of an excess risk of colon cancer for higher intakes of both red meat and white meat, Dr Pramil Singh and Dr Gary Fraser of the Centre for Health Research at Loma Linda University in California wrote in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
|24 rebels executed
FREETOWN: Twentyfour soldiers were executed in Sierra Leone for their roles in the rebel Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) administration, a presidential spokesman has confirmed. Mr Septimus Kaikai told the BBC on Monday that the executions were not acts of retribution but deterrents against anarchy and chaos. DPA
UNITA leader dead
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