Sunken ferry: Relatives give DNA swabs to identify dead
Some climbers pack up after Everest tragedy; toll 13
Ukraine calls ‘Easter truce’ as pro-Russian separatists hold firm
Over 100 killed in South Sudan
Pak scribe Mir hurt in Karachi shooting
Musharraf flies to Karachi for treatment
MH370: Search at ‘very critical juncture’
Democrats return Chatwal's illegal campaign funds
Boko Haram claims Abuja bombing
Jindo/Mokpo, April 19
The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized on Wednesday on a journey from the port of Incheon to the southern holiday island of Jeju. Thirty-two persons are known to have died.
The 69-year-old captain, Lee Joon-seok, was arrested in the early hours of Saturday on charges of negligence along with two other crew members, including the third mate who was steering at the time of the capsize. Prosecutors later said the mate was steering the Sewol through the waters where it listed and capsized for the first time in her career.
Asked why the children had been ordered to stay put in their cabins instead of abandoning ship, Lee, apparently overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, told reporters he feared they would have been swept out to sea in the strong, cold current.
Early reports said that the ferry turned sharply and listed, perhaps due to a shift in the cargo it was carrying and crew members said the captain, who was not initially on the bridge, had tried to right the ship but failed.
Some 500 relatives of the 270 persons listed as missing watched a murky underwater video shot after divers reported they had seen three bodies through the windows. The official number of those missing was revised up from an earlier estimate of 269.
Packed in a gymnasium in the port city of Jindo day and night since Wednesday, tempers frayed and fist fights broke out after the video was shown. The video, viewed by relatives and journalists, did not appear to show any corpses. "Please lift the ship, so we can get the bodies out," a woman who identified herself as the mother of a child called Kang Hyuck said, using a microphone.
Relatives have criticised what they say is the slow response of the government and contradictory information given out by authorities in the early stages of the rescue mission. — Reuters
The arrested captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized three days ago defended his decision to delay its evacuation.
Investigators arrested Lee Joon-Seok and two of his crew early in the morning. All three have been criticised for abandoning hundreds of passengers trapped in the ferry, as they made their own escape.
Lee was charged with negligence and failing to secure the safety of passengers in violation of maritime law.
Captain Lee was arraigned along with the two officers in charge of the bridge at the time. Dressed in dark raincoats with their hoods pulled up, the three kept their heads bowed as they were paraded before TV cameras in a police station.
Questioned as to why passengers had been ordered not to move for more than 40 minutes after the ship first foundered, Lee said it was a safety measure.
"At the time a rescue ship had not arrived. There were also no fishing boats around for rescuers, or other ships to help," Lee said.
"The currents were very strong and the water was cold at that time in the area. I thought that passengers would be swept far away and fall into trouble if they evacuated thoughtlessly," he added. — AFP
Divers on Saturday retrieved the first bodies from the submerged South Korean ferry that capsized nearly four days ago, marking a grim new stage in the search and recovery process. "Divers broke through the window of a passenger cabin just before midnight and pulled out three bodies," a coastguard official said. All three were wearing lifejackets, the official said.
Kathmandu, April 19
The avalanche struck a perilous passage called the Khumbu Icefall, which is riddled with crevasses and piled with serac, or huge chunks of ice, that can break free without warning.
"We were tied on a rope and carrying gas to camp when there was a sudden hrrrr sound," said Ang Kami Sherpa, 25, one of at least three survivors flown by helicopter to Kathmandu. "We knew it was an avalanche but we couldn't run away or do anything. There was a big chunk of snow that fell over us and swept us away. It looked like clouds, all white," he said in a hospital intensive care unit where he was being treated for a blood clot on his leg and facial injuries.
Climbers declared a four-day halt to efforts to scale the summit and, while some decided to abandon their mission, others said they would go ahead after
talking to their guides. All of the victims were sherpa mountain guides. "Everyone is shaken here at Base Camp. Some climbers are packing up and calling it quits, they want nothing to do with this," Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks Expeditions wrote in a blog.
Shocked relatives wondered how they would cope without the men who take huge risks to earn up to $5,000 for a two-month expedition, around 10 times average annual pay in Nepal. "He was the only breadwinner in the family," said Phinjum Sherpa, as she waited for the body of her uncle, Tenji Sherpa, at a Buddhist monastery in Kathmandu. "We have no one to take care of us."
Although relatively low on the mountain, climbers say the icefall is one of the most dangerous places on Mount Everest. There are, however, no safer paths along the famous South Col route scaled by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Around 100 climbers and guides had already passed beyond the Khumbu Icefall to prepare their attempts on the summit. They are safe, but a new path will have to be made to make it possible to continue the expeditions. — Reuters
Kiev/Donetsk, April 19
The Kremlin denies having control over gunmen who want their eastern regions to follow Crimea in being annexed by Russia. Moscow scolded Washington for treating Russia like a "guilty schoolboy" following their agreement in Geneva on Thursday that Ukrainian militants should disarm and vacate occupied buildings.
Ukraine's government, short of effective forces, has shown little sign of trying to recapture the dozen or so town halls, police stations and other sites seized over the past two weeks, despite proclaiming the launch of an "anti-terrorist operation".
The Foreign Ministry promised "the suspension of the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation" among a list of government initiatives to defuse the crisis issued late on Friday.
A spokeswoman for the SBU state security service said on Saturday the suspension was "linked to the implementation of the Geneva agreement and the Easter holidays".
The OSCE will oversee implementation of the Geneva accord, under which Russia, Ukraine, the United States and European Union agreed to a process of disarmament and an end to occupations as part of wider programme to defuse the gravest East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. A senior OSCE official will head to Donetsk, the biggest city of the Russian-speaking east, later on Saturday.
Russian President Putin welcomes new NATO head
After weeks of bitter mutual recriminations, Vladimir Putin held out the prospect of better relations with the West on Saturday but the Russian President made clear it would depend on concessions from his adversaries in the crisis over Ukraine. "I think there is nothing that would hinder a normalisation and normal cooperation," he said in an interview to be broadcast by Russian state television in which he commented favourably on the appointment of a new head of NATO. In a transcript of an interview to be broadcast later by Rossiya television, Putin spoke of having a "very good" personal relationship with former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg, who will succeed Anders Fogh Rasmussen as secretary-general of the Western defence alliance in October. — Reuters
After weeks of bitter mutual recriminations, Vladimir Putin held out the prospect of better relations with the West on Saturday but the Russian President made clear it would depend on concessions from his adversaries in the crisis over Ukraine.
"I think there is nothing that would hinder a normalisation and normal cooperation," he said in an interview to be broadcast by Russian state television in which he commented favourably on the appointment of a new head of NATO.
In a transcript of an interview to be broadcast later by Rossiya television, Putin spoke of having a "very good" personal relationship with former Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg, who will succeed Anders Fogh Rasmussen as secretary-general of the Western defence alliance in October. — Reuters
Over 100 killed in South Sudan
Juba, April 19 "We lost about 28 civilians" in a remote cattle herders' camp in the remote northern state, Warrap state Information Minister Bol Dhel told the UN-backed Miraya FM radio, adding that police and soldiers then chased the attackers, killing 85. "Some of them (the attackers) were recaptured on the swamp areas going to Unity State," Dhel added. South Sudan is awash with guns, and raids between rival communities and ethnic groups are common. However, the country has also been riven by a brutal civil war since mid-December. — AFP
Juba, April 19
"We lost about 28 civilians" in a remote cattle herders' camp in the remote northern state, Warrap state Information Minister Bol Dhel told the UN-backed Miraya FM radio, adding that police and soldiers then chased the attackers, killing 85.
"Some of them (the attackers) were recaptured on the swamp areas going to Unity State," Dhel added.
South Sudan is awash with guns, and raids between rival communities and ethnic groups are common. However, the country has also been riven by a brutal civil war since mid-December. — AFP
Pak scribe Mir hurt in Karachi shooting
Senior journalist and anchor Hamid Mir was injured when unknown assailants riding a motorcycle sprayed bullets at his car in Karachi on Saturday evening.
Mir (47) was shifted to Agha Khan Hospital in critical condition. Karachi police chief Shahid Hayat said Mir was shot thrice, one bullet piercing his intestine while the other two wounded his leg and pelvic area. He said Mir was "out of danger".
The Geo News popular anchorperson had reportedly arrived from Quetta. As he emerged from the airport and left in a car for Karachi office of the Geo TV, Mir reportedly informed friends he was being followed.
At Natha Bridge, more assailants joined them and opened fire. Mir has been receiving threats for some time, mainly because of his bold programmes and writings against security agencies on missing persons cases in the insurgency-driven Balochistan province.
In November 2012, a bomb was recovered from under his car which was believed to have been planted by the Pakistani Taliban. Last month, senior analyst Raza Rumi was shot at in Lahore that killed his driver.
The issue of security of media personnel was raised by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a media advocacy group, during a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month. Sharif had promised to take appropriate steps to ensure security of journalists in Pakistan.
Political parties condemned the attack. “Shocked & saddened by attack on Hamid Mir in Karachi. Strongly condemn growing threats/attacks on journalists. Govt must ensure their safety,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan tweeted.
Musharraf flies to Karachi for treatment
Former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf flew to Karachi and drove straight to his daughter's heavily guarded house in Defence Housing Authority (DHA), besides undergoing certain medical checks at a Naval hospital.
Musharraf's plane flew from an Air Force base close to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport amid extraordinary security measures put in place right from his Chak Shehzad farmhouse in Islamabad. It landed at about 9 pm at the Karachi international airport.
Officials in Karachi said Musharraf would undergo treatment at the navy hospital at PNS Shifa. Hundreds of paramilitary rangers were deputed from the airport to the hospital to guard the route. Two white bombproof land cruisers were sent to the airport to bring him to the hospital.
For security reasons, the authorities had kept it top secret whether Musharraf would stay in hospital or his sister's house in DHA and for how many days. He had shifted to his farmhouse from Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC ) close to GHQ Rawalpindi on March 31 after a stay of 89 days following his indictment on the high treason charge by a special court constituted for his trial for imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.
Musharraf has always claimed that the army stood behind him in the trial, his long stay in AFIC was a clear message that he was under protection of the army. After his indictment, his plea to let him leave the country was turned down.
Sydney, April 19
Malaysia said the search was at a “very critical juncture” and asked for prayers for its success. A US Navy deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is scouring a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean floor for signs of the plane, which disappeared from radars on March 8 with 239 people on board.
After almost two months without a sign of wreckage, the current underwater search has been narrowed to a small area around the location in which one of four acoustic signals believed to be from the plane's black box recorders was detected on April 8, officials said.
"Provided the weather is favourable for launch and recovery of the AUV and we have a good run with the serviceability of the AUV, we should complete the search of the focused underwater area in five to seven days,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.
Officials did not indicate whether they were confident that this search area would yield any new information about the flight, nor did they state what steps they would take in the event that the underwater search were to prove fruitless. More than two dozen countries have been involved in the hunt for the Boeing 777 disappeared from radar shortly into a Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight in what officials believe was a deliberate act. — Reuters
New York, April 19
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's campaign said it will return more than USD 15,000 in cash raised by Chatwal, 70, "Yes, we are returning all funds given or raised by Chatwal," Jonathan Rosen, who worked for de Blasio's campaign, told the New York Observer. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Senator Mark Warner are also returning the money by donating to charity funds tied to Chatwal who heads the chain of the upscale Hampshire Hotels. — PTI
Kano, April 19
"We are the ones that carried out the attack in Abuja," Shekau said in the 28-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the deadliest attack ever in Nigeria's capital which targeted a bus station packed with morning commuters.
Seated with a kalashnikov resting on his left shoulder and dressed in military uniform, the insurgent commander spoke in both Arabic and the Hausa language that is dominant in northern Nigeria.
The message was delivered to AFP in a manner consistent with previous videos from Boko Haram. The bombing at the Nyanya bus terminal on the outskirts of Abuja was the first major attack in the capital in two years. Most of the insurgents' violence in recent months had been concentrated in the group's remote northeastern stronghold, where the military is waging an 11-month-old offensive.
The attack in Abuja underscored the serious threat the Islamists pose to Africa's most populous country and top economy.
14 more schoolgirls escape Islamists
Another 14 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast have escaped, leaving 85 missing after an attack that has sparked global outrage, an official said. The unprecedented mass abduction of 129 teenage girls from the Chibok area of Borno state has been described as among the most shocking ever by Boko Haram, an extremist group blamed for killing thousands since 2009. "I am glad to say that 14 more students have escaped from their abductors," Borno's education commissioner Inua Kubo told journalists. "With this development, we have 44 out of our 129 students." — AFP
Another 14 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast have escaped, leaving 85 missing after an attack that has sparked global outrage, an official said.
The unprecedented mass abduction of 129 teenage girls from the Chibok area of Borno state has been described as among the most shocking ever by Boko Haram, an extremist group blamed for killing thousands since 2009.
"I am glad to say that 14 more students have escaped from their abductors," Borno's education commissioner Inua Kubo told journalists. "With this development, we have 44 out of our 129 students." — AFP
Quake jolts Papua New Guinea
Iran’s UN envoy-designate
Ancient writer's tomb
4 French journalists freed
US teen suspended