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Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Vietnam reports 15th swine flu death

In Vietnam Health on September 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Medics take a suspect woman to hospital. As the flu spread in Vietnam, fifteen victim reported on September 29 (Photo:VNA)

A 21-year-old woman from Ho Chi Minh City’s Can Gio District died of swine flu on September 27, bringing the country’s death toll to 15 in less than a month.

The victim, who was seven and a half months pregnant, was taken to the district hospital on September 22 with fever and cough.

She was diagnosed with pneumonia and taken to Tu Du Hospital the next day and then to the Ho Chi Minh City Heart Hospital where she died despite being treated with Tamiflu.

So far, Vietnam has confirmed 8,853 cases of A/H1N1 flu of whom 7,188 have been discharged from hospital after treatment. The remaining people are in quarantine and being treated. All are in stable condition, according to authorities.

Source: SGGP

‘Don’t Burn’ nominated for VN’s Oscar entry

In Vietnam Culture on September 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm

The movie “Dung dot” (Don’t Burn) will represent Vietnam for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010, it was recently announced.

“Dung dot” promises to present the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam War.
“Dung dot” is a production by Vietnam Cinema Association Production.

“Dung Dot”, directed and written by Dang Nhat Minh, is about an heroic army doctor’s life and her love for her country and people.

The doctor, Dang Thuy Tram, dedicated her life to the country during the Vietnam War.

The film opens with a battle in Quang Ngai Province’s Duc Pho District, where Thuy Tram worked and was killed in 1970 from a US attack.

After Thuy Tram’s last battle, US soldier Fred Whitehurst chanced upon her two diaries, which haunted him for the next 35 years until he returned them to her family three years ago.

The private memoirs, popularly sought by readers both in Vietnam and around the world, are now preserved at the Vietnam Center and Archive in Lubbock, Texas.

The English version was released under the title “Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.”

“Dung dot” is the shortened form of what a Vietnamese interpreter named Huan, of the former Saigon regime, is supposed to have told Whitehurst when he handed them back after reading them: “Dung dot, trong do da co lua (Don’t burn [it], it has fire in it).” 

Recently, “Dung dot” won the Fukuoka Audience Award at the 2009 Fukuoka International Film Festival.

The 2010 Academy Awards will be presented on March 7, 2010

Related articles:
‘Don’t burn’ to open film festival
War doctor’s diary comes to life in film

Source: SGGP

Festival commemorates cai luong composer

In Vietnam Culture on September 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm

More than 3,000 people, together with cai luong singers and playwrights from Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta provinces, took part in the opening ceremony of a cai luong festival at Bac Lieu Province Convention Center September 29.

Artists receive flowers and certificates of merit from the organization board in the opening ceremony of the cai luong festival on September 29. (Photo:TTO)
The event features many cultural activities, such as a special performance celebrating the anniversary of the ancestor of cai luong by Cao Van Lau cai luong troupe; national professional cai luong theater festival with attendance of 19 cai luong troupes; releasing lanterns in Bac Lieu River, visiting the grave of the late cai luong composer Cao Van Lau; and presenting the Cao Van Lau Award for contributions to art and literature.

There are also seminars and an exhibition of the life and career of Cao Van Lau, as well as a trade and tourism fair.

The festival aims to praise the beauty of Bac Lieu, honor the late cai luong composer Cao Van Lau and describe his life and career, as well as commemorate the 90-year-old cai luong song “Da co hoai lang” (Missing husband whilst hearing drumbeat at midnight).

The cai luong composer Cao Van Lau was born in December 22, 1892 in Long An Province and moved to Bac Lieu at the age of four, and died in 1976.

He wrote the immortal cai luong piece “Da co hoai lang” in 1919, which tells the story of a wife who waits for her husband to return from the battlefield.

The song is the most popular of cai luong works and is regarded as an invaluable spiritual property of the nation’s musical history and Southern people.

The festival will run until October 3.

Related article:
Delta province set to hold cai luong festival

Source: SGGP

Samoa resort area ‘devastated’ in disaster: deputy PM

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm

APIA, Sept 29, 2009 (AFP) – A Samoan resort area popular with foreign tourists has been “devastated” by a deadly tsunami that ripped through the Pacific island nation, the country’s deputy prime minister said.

Misa Telefoni told the Australian Associated Press that residents and visitors had little time to brace for the disastrous waves which have killed at least 36 people in the archipelago.

He said two of the country’s most popular resorts, Sinalei Reef Resort and Coconuts Beach Resort, off the west coast of the main island of Upolu, had been hit hard by the tsunami.

“We’ve heard that most of the resorts are totally devastated on that side of the island,” he said.

“We’ve had a pretty grim picture painted of all that coast,” he added.

This graphic provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows tsunami travel times

Telefoni said his cousin Joe Annandale, the owner of the upmarket Sinalei resort, was in a critical condition and that Annandale’s wife Tui had drowned.

“People were saying that there was the shake and the ocean went out within five minutes, so that’s pretty fast and that makes it extremely difficult,” he said.

Source: SGGP

Philippines braces for more storms

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

MANILA, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) – Philippine flood survivors were warned Wednesday to brace for another potentially deadly storm, as the number of people affected by the heaviest rains in decades soared past 2.2 million.

Four days after tropical storm Ketsana ravaged Manila and neighbouring areas, parts of the nation’s capital remained submerged in murky water, while people crowding into shelters were desperate for food, water and other aid.

A Filipino boy is carried to safety through floodwater in Manila on Sep. 27 (AFP photo)

The storm killed at least 246 people, although the number is expected to rise higher than the official toll as many people remain missing.

Amid the chaos of the relief operation, authorities warned that another storm lurking to the east of the Philippines could slam into the country on Thursday or Friday.

“We still don’t know how big this typhoon will be, but the best way for us is to prepare for the worst case scenario,” said the secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, Gwendolyn Pang.

“Our message to the public is to really get out of the way of the typhoon. Our lives are important.”

Pang said those still in their flood-ruined homes should evacuate to government-run shelters.

“We are advising them to go to higher ground, stay with relatives or go to the nearest evacuation centre. Those who are in the centres, remain there,” she told AFP.

Meanwhile, anger and hunger among the flood survivors continued to build, with the government appealing for calm after people blocked food convoys, apparently because they were missing out on the relief.

“We are receiving reports that some relief goods, especially those from private donors, are being blocked by people or are being pelted,” Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said on national radio.

While appealing for calm, he warned that anyone caught blocking food convoys would be arrested.

“We understand many are hungry. All of us are working to feed you, and help those in need,” Teodoro said.

“(But) we will not allow this thing to happen, even in a crisis.”

Private individuals and companies who want to donate relief goods were advised to coordinate with the national government, while police have been asked to provide additional security escorts to delivery trucks, he said.

In its latest update on Wednesday morning, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said 2.25 million people had been affected by the floods, up about 300,000 from the previous day.

Of the total affected, 389,616 people were crammed into 561 evacuation camps around the capital Manila and its eastern regions.

Another 346,581 people were staying with their relatives or friends, the council said.

The death toll remained the same as Tuesday at 246, but 42 people remain officially missing and there may be others who have not been reported to authorities yet.

Ketsana dumped the heaviest rain in more than 40 years on Manila and its neighbouring areas on Saturday, submerging 80 percent of the nation’s capital.

Damage to infrastructure has been heavy, with government admitting it would likely set back economic growth this year. Hospitals were destroyed, and impoverished communities along riverbanks erased.

International aid has started to trickle in after the Philippines issued an appeal for aid, but the amount of work has simply overwhelmed aid workers and rescuers who themselves have been flood victims, Pang said.

“Rehabilitation and relief has been slow,” Pang said. “We have been overwhelmed, caught by surprise.”

“Another challenge is the logistics and trying to get the goods to the area,” Pang said, stressing that many areas were only reached days after the disaster struck.

At the Jose ‘Amang’ Rodriguez Hospital in eastern Manila, doctors said operations went back to something like normal only two days after the storm.

Medical equipment and medicines were rendered useless by the deluge that swamped the hospital’s first floor, and about 200 patients were hastily transferred to the second level.

“We’re still in the clean-up process but we are already providing outpatient and emergency services, including emergency surgery,” Dr Joanna Remo told AFP at the hospital’s crowded emergency ward.

Source: SGGP

Next year’s G20 to discuss economic imbalances: SKorea

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

SEOUL, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) – World leaders will discuss ways to sustain growth and correct global economic imbalances at next year’s G20 economic summit in South Korea, President Lee Myung-Bak said Wednesday.

S. Korean President Lee Myung-Bak speaks during a press conference at the Blue House on September 30, 2009 (AFP photo)

“At the time when the G20 summit takes place in November next year, the world will clearly be out of the global economic crisis,” Lee told a press conference.

“The G20 will discuss ways to sustain economic development following the global crisis and how to correct imbalances in the world’s economy.”

The latest Group of 20 summit ended in Pittsburgh on Friday after agreeing to meet next year in Canada and South Korea.

Lee said members had agreed it was too soon to start scaling back the multi-trillion dollar stimulus measures that helped stave off further economic misery following last year’s financial meltdown.

South Korea is set to be one of the first countries to recover but Lee said it was still too early to draw up its own exit strategies.

He said Seoul would invite representatives from African countries and other developing nations to the summit to discuss aid.

Hosting the event would give the nation an opportunity to raise its international status, Lee said.

“South Korea is facing an upturn in its fortunes. The chance to become a leader in the world has come,” he added.

“Let us turn our hosting of the G20 summit next year into a chance to clearly upgrade the status of our nation not only in the economic sector, but also in the legal, ethical, political and cultural areas.”

Source: SGGP

Iran’s chief negotiator ‘positive’ ahead of nuclear talks

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm

TEHRAN, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) – Iran’s chief nuclear inspector Wednesday said he was heading for potentially make-or-break talks with world powers on Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme with a “positive approach.”

Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi

“We are going to Europe for this negotiation with a positive approach and I hope this is an opportunity for others also,” he told reporters at Tehran airport before leaving for the negotiations in Geneva.

Atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi had said Iran is ready to discuss world concerns about its previously undisclosed second enrichment plant, but insisted there can be no bargaining about Iran’s right to master the nuclear fuel cycle at long-awaited talks with major powers on Thursday.

Disclosure to the International Atomic Energy Agency last week of the plant cast a shadow over the talks in Geneva, with Washington calling on Tehran to agree to “immediate, unfettered access” by IAEA inspectors.

Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that lies at the centre of Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States want the Geneva talks to address.

The process can produce the fuel for nuclear power or, in highly refined form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

The UN Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran over its failure to heed repeated ultimatums to suspend enrichment.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki meanwhile told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Tehran would not give up its “right” to nuclear technology.

“Iran in defending its absolute right to devekop civilian nuclear technology will never bow under political pressure. Iran will never renounce its right to develop civilian nuclear technology,” he said, according to Irna news agency.

Source: SGGP

US, Australia lead Samoa relief mission

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:23 pm

SYDNEY, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) – Australia, New Zealand and the United States led immediate pledges of assistance to the Samoan islands after a devastating 8.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami which killed dozens.

Rahmat Triyono (R), head of the tsunami early warning division checks the status of 5.8 scale earthquake that hit Talaud island in Indonesia, which occured after a strong earthquake triggered a tsunami in the islands of Samoa, in Jakarta on September 30, 2009 (AFP photo)

US President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in the remote Pacific territory American Samoa, where at least 14 people were killed when a massive wall of water swept over the US-administered island early Tuesday local time.

“The president tonight declared a major disaster exists in the territory of American Samoa and ordered federal aid to supplement territory and local recovery efforts in the area struck by an earthquake, tsunami, and flooding,” a statement from the White House said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia stood ready to assist the neighbouring island of Samoa, which gained independence from New Zealand in 1962, and where dozens more people died, including a number of tourists.

“We see our friends in Samoa as part of our Pacific family and therefore, when natural disaster strikes, Australia has always stood ready to assist them,” Rudd said.

Two military aircraft were on standby in Sydney awaiting final confirmation from Samoan authorities, and Rudd said Canberra stood ready to provide “all forms of practical assistance in dealing with the aftermath of this natural disaster.”

Neighbouring New Zealand dispatched an Orion aircraft to join the coastal search for survivors and help assess damage to villages, roads and infrastructure, said that country’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

“A C130 Hercules is also on standby to carry emergency supplies to Samoa if needed,” he added.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency also sent two emergency teams to the region and pre-positioned supplies in Hawaii that could be used for emergency response.

Australia’s parliamentary secretary for aid Bob McMullan said Canberra would lead a joint Pacific relief response with France and New Zealand on behalf of the international community.

He said the details were yet to be finalised but he anticipated the response would focus on medical and search and rescue efforts.

Temporary shelters and water purification equipment would also be a priority, McMullan said, adding that he expected supplies and personnel to leave for Samoa before nightfall.

“This is a well-governed country with a well developed national response strategy which has gone into place, but it’s just too big a challenge for a country of this size and so of course as a friend and a neighbour and the biggest country in the region it’s our responsibility to assist, which we’re pleased to do,” McMullan said.

He also flagged possible assistance to Tonga, once the situation there had been assessed.

Source: SGGP

Dozens dead as Samoa quake, tsunami flattens villages

In World on September 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

APIA, Sept 30, 2009 (AFP) – A huge earthquake churned up a giant tsunami that devastated the Samoa islands on Tuesday, killing at least 53 people as it tore through resorts and villages.

Buildings were toppled and thousands of people fled to higher ground after the offshore 8.0-magnitude quake struck in the early morning, followed by giant waves which swept cars out to sea.

Rahmat Triyono (R), head of the Indonesian tsunami early warning division, checks the status of 5.8 scale earthquake that hit Talaud island in Indonesia, which occured after a strong earthquake triggered a tsunami in the islands of Samoa, in Jakarta on September 30 (AFP photo)

Eyewitnesses reported walls of water of between three and nine metres (30 feet) pounding the shore, wiping out villages and shattering holiday resorts.

At least 22 were dead in American Samoa and 31 in Samoa with scores more missing feared killed, and unconfirmed reports of further deaths in nearby Tonga.

US President Barack Obama called the incident a “major disaster”, while Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said he was “shocked beyond belief”.

“So much has gone. So many people are gone,” he told the Australian news agency AAP. “I’m so shocked, so saddened by all the loss.”

Deputy prime minister Misa Telefoni said Samoa’s tourism hotspot was “devastated” by the tsunami which left residents and holidaymakers with little time to flee.

“We’ve heard that most of the resorts are totally devastated on that side of the island. We’ve had a pretty grim picture painted of all that coast,” he said.

Two of the country’s most popular resorts, Sinalei Reef Resort and Coconuts Beach Resort, off the west coast of the main island of Upolu, had been hit hard, he told the Australian Associated Press.

There was widespread destruction in Samoa with possibly thousands of people left homeless on the island, local journalist Jona Tuiletufuga told AFP.

“We are getting reports of missing people in areas where damage is extensive on the south and southeast coasts,” he told AFP. “Entire villages have been wiped out.”

Tuiletufuga said there were up to 70 villages in the worst-hit area and each housed from 300-800 people.

Apia, capital of the independent state of Samoa and nearly 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) from Auckland in New Zealand, was evacuated as officials scrambled to get thousands of residents to higher ground.

Officials in American Samoa, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Samoa, said at least 22 people were dead and that the toll was expected to climb.

“It could take a week or so before we know the full extent,” Michael Sala, Homeland Security director in American Samoa, told AFP.

Waves measuring around 25-feet (7.5-metres) high did most of the damage as they swept ashore about 20 minutes after the earthquake, demolishing buildings in coastal areas, he said.

Witnesses said cars were swept out to sea in American Samoa, where buildings were destroyed in what the US territory’s Congress delegate said was a scene of “devastation.”

The eastern part of the island was without power and water supplies after the devastating earthquake, which struck at 6:48 am (1748 GMT) at a depth of 18 kilometres (11 miles), 195 kilometres south of Apia.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said waves of up to 1.57 metres (over five feet) had smashed into American Samoa. It issued a tsunami alert over a vast swathe of the Pacific, as far as Hawaii, which was later cancelled.

Australia said at least one of its citizens was feared dead and six others missing, while a New Zealander was also feared dead.

Australia’s foreign ministry also said it had reports of death and injuries in the Tonga and the Niua islands after the tsunami hit, while two South Koreans were among the dead, Seoul officials said.

Australia and New Zealand both made preparations to send emergency help to the ravaged region that is home to more than 241,000 people.

Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa which is headquartered in the territory’s capital Pago Pago, told colleagues in California there had been widescale destruction.

National Park Service spokeswoman Holly Bundock said she had spoken to Reynolds, who was sheltering under a coconut tree.

“They said five tsunami waves have hit the park visitor centre in Pago Pago. It would appear park offices and the visitor centre there have been destroyed. “One of the waves was about 30 feet high,” she said.

Source: SGGP

Work to start on expressway linking HCMC to Southeast region

In Vietnam Society on September 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

The construction of HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay expressway, linking the city to the Southeast region’s provinces, will start on October 3.

A junction of the HCMC – Long Thanh – Dau Giay expressway and National Highway No.1

The 55-kilometre highway will start at Luong Dinh Cua Street in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, and end at National Highway No. 1 near the Dau Giay T-junction in neighboring Dong Nai Province.

The expressway is expected to be completed in 2014, with hopes that it will help reduce the amount of traffic passing through the Hanoi Highway which has become overloaded.

The road will also connect National Highway No.51 to the Long Thanh international airport, yet to be built, in Dong Nai Province.

When the upgrade of the National Highway No.51, which started in August, is completed, the connection between the HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay expressway and the National Highway No.51 will reduce the distance of 120 kilometers from HCM City to Ba Ria – Vung Tau to 90 kilometers.

It is also a great significance in the development of the coastal port system in Cai Mep-Thi Vai, the biggest port complex in the country, including Thu Duc and District 9 in HCMC and Dong Nai’s Nhon Trach District.

The construction of HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay expressway includes two phases.
The first stage has four lanes and the second consists of eight lanes.

The highway includes Long Thanh Bridge with a width of 34 meters across the Dong Nai River.

The total capital of the first stage is VND9.89 trillion (US$550 million) and the second will cost VND18.88 trillion (nearly $1 billion).


Source: SGGP