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Archive for November 22nd, 2009|Daily archive page

Snow and ice for Sa Pa

In Vietnam Weather on November 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm

A cold snap has produced ice and snow on O Quy Ho Mountain Pass in the northern region of Sa Pa (Photo: SGGP)

Low temperatures together with drizzling rain and fog has combined to produce snow and ice on the top of O Quy Ho Mountain Pass in Sa Pa District, a famous tourist area in the northwest province of Lao Cai.

Luu Minh Hai, deputy director of the Lao Cai Province Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center, said November 21 that temperatures were hovering around 1.5 degrees Celcius.

It is the region’s record-low for the year, Mr. Hai added.

All schools in Sa Pa District have been closed as local residents stay indoors to try to keep warm.

The temperature in Lao Cai City was 12 degrees Celcius on November 21.

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Dredging commences at Hoan Kiem Lake

In Vietnam Weather on November 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The project to experimentally dredge Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake, using German technology, started on November 18.


The project will run from November 18-27, with the assistance of German and Thai experts, using Germany’s Sediturtie technology.


The dredging will work using air and mud pipes with four basic steps: pumping water, sucking out mud, putting mud into a tank to filter before pouring mud into a mud pressing machine.


The site for trial dredging has been bordered by iron nets to protect the lakes legendary turtle. The dredging process will be supervised by experts of the Hoan Kiem Lake improving project, the local Departments of Science-Technology, Construction, Natural Resources-Environment and the Hanoi Water Supple-Drainage Company.


The Sediturtie machine that can absorb 30 cu.m of mud per hour and split water from mud. Water will be discharged to the city’s drainage system while mud will be transported to another site.


Vu Nhu Hanh, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Science and Technology told Dan Tri online newspaper on November 18 that the project was running very smoothly.


Once this trial programme is successful, this technology will be applied to the entire lake

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Giant ball about to roll to Laos to support U-23 Vietnam

In Vietnam Sports on November 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Football fans in the northern city of Hai Phong on Saturday rushed to sign on a huge ball created this July for a nationwide campaign organized to collect one million signatures to support U-23 Vietnam in December’s 25th Southeast Asian Games in Laos.

The composite ball, 6 meters in diameter and 1.2 tons in weight, received about 100,000 signatures from Hai Phong, according to the campaign organizers – paint manufacturer 4 Oranges and media company Country Eye Creative.

Hai Phong fans sign on the ball on Nov. 21 in the northern city (Photo: Quynh Hoa)

Boss Paints is the manufacturer’s brand associated with the support campaign.

The ball started its nationwide tour in the Mekong province of An Giang in July, going through Gia Lai, Danang and Dong Nai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and then Hai Phong. The final stop before the ball is brought to Laos is Vinh City in the central region late this month.

Besides the ball, the program organizers collect fans’ signatures through a website at or

More than 800,000 signatures have been collected so far.

In Vientiane, the capital of Laos, the composite ball will be put in stadiums where the Vietnamese team will play in the SEA Games. Vietnam will take on defending champions Thailand on the Dec. 2 opener, East Timor two days later, then Malaysia on Dec. 6, and Cambodia on Dec. 8.

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Banks asked to provide sufficient loans

In Vietnam Banking Finance on November 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The State Bank of Vietnam’s governor ordered commercial banks November 20 to provide sufficient loans for production and business. 

Processing tra catfish for export at a factory in the Mekong Delta, one of the sectors which will be prioritized for loan grants following a directive from the Central Bank (Photo: SGGP)

Banks were asked to provide loans for agricultural, forestry and aquaculture production, agricultural product, processing and exports.  
The Central Bank asked banks to stabilize and mobilize funds especially in dong, closely monitor credit growth, and adjust their credit structure according to sector, field, and area, and limit the granting of loans to non-productive sectors.
Banks were also asked to re-schedule debt payment and interest rates for enterprises and production households who have sustained losses due to natural disasters.  
Credit growth has exceeded 33 percent leaving enterprises facing difficulties in obtaining loans. 

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Kids to receive free five-in-one vaccination

In Vietnam Health on November 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and improve health

A free vaccination against five diseases will soon be available for free to all Vietnamese children, said Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan at a meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in Hanoi November 20 on providing vaccines to Vietnam to reduce child mortality.

After the meeting, GAVI pledged to supply the country with over US$37 million to purchase the combination vaccines, which guard against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping-cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza.

The shot will be administered in 63 provinces nationwide and is intended for children under the age of one.

Mary Robinson, GAVI Board Chair, said although GAVI has struggled with the global economic recession, it continues its work to introduce new vaccines and fight the leading causes of pneumonia and diarrhea, the most common killers of children.

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Algiers calls in Egypt envoy over media attacks: report

In World on November 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Algiers summoned the Egyptian ambassador Friday to protest at attacks by the Egyptian media on Algeria following the country’s World Cup-qualifying victory, APS news agency reported.

Algerian fans light fireworks in a main street of Algiers late on November 18, to celebrate the victory of Algeria over Egypt after their World Cup 2010 qualifying football match in Karthoum. (AFP Photo)

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci expressed his country’s “incomprehension and major concern” in the face of “the escalating media campaign” in Egypt, a statement cited by the agency said.

Medelci said he hoped that Egypt would put an end to this campaign which “does not serve the interests of the two countries”.

Tensions between Cairo and Algiers following Algeria’s 1-0 victory over Egypt developed into a diplomatic crisis on Thursday with Egypt saying it intended to recall its ambassador to Algeria.

Cairo justified this move over alleged attacks by Algerians on Egyptian supporters in Khartoum, where Algeria beat Egypt on Wednesday to secure its place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Algerian ambassador to Egypt Abdelkader Hadjar has also been summoned to the Egyptian foreign ministry to hear Egypt’s concerns following his country’s victory.

It was the second occasion Hadjar was summoned in the space of a week — on Monday, he was called on to explain attacks by Algerian supporters on Egyptian businesses in Algiers.

Medelci insisted Friday that Algeria had taken all necessary measures to protect Egyptian homes and businesses in Algeria.

Wednesday’s play-off came after Egypt defeated Algeria by two goals in Cairo on Saturday.

Before the Cairo match, the Algerian team’s bus was stoned by Egyptian fans, injuring three players, and buses full of away fans were stoned afterwards.

Earlier Friday, Egyptian protestors threw stones at security forces protecting the entry to the Algerian embassy in Cairo, injuring 35 people, including 11 Egyptian police officers.

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87 workers perish in China mine disaster

In World on November 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

The death toll from a coal mine blast in northeast China climbed to 87 on Sunday as rescuers hunted for 21 workers still trapped deep underground in the nation’s deadliest mine disaster in two years.

The explosion tore through the state-run mine in Heilongjiang province near the border with Russia, one of the largest and oldest in China, on Saturday after a build-up of gas, survivors said.

With the main entrance blocked with debris, rescue teams equipped with oxygen tanks are entering the shaft through an adjacent mine, braving the high gas levels to search for survivors, media reports said.

The Heilongjiang Work Safety Supervision Bureau issued a statement on its website saying that 87 people were confirmed dead and 21 still stuck in the mine in Hegang City. Chronology: Major accidents in Chinese mines

Chinese rescuers are seen making their way into a mine near Hegang City in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, on November 21, where an explosion killed at least 87 workers.

Rescuers have located the site where eight workers remain stuck in the shaft but it is unclear if they are alive, the China News Service reported.

“We were preparing to evacuate when the explosion occurred, sending glass and rocks flying everywhere,” miner Wang Xingang told China National Radio.

“We began running out and shouting to evacuate, smoke was everywhere, I couldn’t see at all, I was trying to feel my way out from my memory of the shaft.”

The explosion occurred at 2:30 am Saturday (1830 GMT Friday) when a total of 528 miners were in the pit, according to a statement issued by the State Administration of Work Safety.

According to local news reports, the blast was felt as far away as 10 kilometres (six miles).

The accident was the deadliest in the energy-hungry nation since an explosion killed 105 miners in Shanxi province in December 2007.

“I was with a group of 10 miners (when we were told to evacuate), right now I don’t know if they made it out,” mining veteran Fu Maofeng, 48, told the East Asia Trade News from his hospital bed.

Miners near the shaft entrance were told to evacuate after gas levels in the mine rose sharply, he told the paper. When he and two others reached the entrance, a huge blast ripped through the main shaft, he said.

Rescue workers have identified 28 areas in the mine, some 500 metres (1,650 feet) below ground, where teams were working at the time of the blast, reports said.

Over 400 miners escaped — about half of them ahead of the blast — with more than 60 hospitalised with injuries.

“Most of the injured are suffering from compound injuries, like respiratory injuries, broken bones and gas poisoning,” Pan Xiaowen, director of the Hegang general hospital, told the radio station.

“Currently six of the injured are in critical condition and the others are basically stable.”

On Saturday, President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao issued orders to take all measures to rescue workers, while Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang was dispatched to the mine to oversee the operation, state media said.

The head and vice head of the mine, which is run by the majority state-owned Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group, and its chief engineer have been removed from their posts, the China News Service said.

The director of the work safety administration has been tasked with leading an investigation into the blast, it added.

China’s state prosecutor will also launch a probe to determine whether any criminal negligence led to the disaster, China Central Television said.

The mine produces 1.45 million tonnes of coal a year and the company itself ranked 12th out of China‘s top 100 mining companies and seventh in terms of production volume in 2009, according to its website.

China has a dismal work safety record, with thousands of people dying every year in mines, factories and on construction sites.

Its coal mines are among the most dangerous in the world, with safety standards often ignored in the quest for profits and the drive to meet surging demand for coal — the source of about 70 percent of China’s energy.

The central government has campaigned in recent years to modernise its collieries and control the leakage of gas, particularly methane, a pollutant responsible for several mine explosions.

Official figures show that more than 3,200 workers died in collieries last year, but independent labour groups say the actual figure could be much higher, as many accidents are covered up in order to avoid costly mine shutdowns.

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Report: Indonesian passenger ferry sinks with 228

In World on November 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Indonesian television says a passenger ferry with more than 200 people onboard sank in rough waters near Sumatra island.

Yasin Kosasih, a police chief in Riau province, says the Dumai Express 10 left on an inter-island voyage Sunday morning and reportedly sank in poor weather 90 minutes into the trip.

The passenger manifest says it was carrying 228 passengers including 15 children from the port of Batam to Dumai in Riau, Sumatra.

Local police spokesman Anggaria Lopes says dozens have been rescued and a search operation is ongoing.

Indonesian ferry accidents have killed hundreds of people in recent years. Boats are often overcrowded and safety regulations are poorly enforced.

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3 bomb blasts leave 5 dead, 25 wounded in India

In World on November 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Three bombs exploded in India’s restive northeast Sunday, killing five people and wounding more than 25, police said.

Five people died after two blasts went off within minutes of each other outside a police station in Nalbari town near the Assam state capital, Gauhati, a local police official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said about five minutes later a third blast occurred a few miles (kilometers) away. More than 25 people have been wounded in the three blasts.

India’s northeast is beset by scores of conflicts. More than 10,000 people have died in separatist violence over the past decade. The region is home to dozens of separatist groups who accuse the government of exploiting the area’s natural resources while doing little for the indigenous people.

Assam’s Inspector General of police Bhaskar Mahanta said authorities suspect the militant separatist group United Liberation Front of Asom is behind the blasts. No group claimed responsibility.

Mahanta said the bombers had parked two bicycles fitted with carriers packed with explosives outside the Nalbari police station, which is located in a congested part of the town. These went off, killing passers-by and wounding the others.

Mahanta said police had received intelligence reports suggesting that the ULFA was planning to avenge last week’s arrest of two of the group’s leaders.

Last week, suspected ULFA rebels triggered a powerful explosion, derailing a freight train and setting more than a dozen oil tanker railcars on fire in Assam.

The ULFA has spurned the Indian government’s offer to hold talks with them on condition that the group give up violence.

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Ahmadinejad leaves for tour including Brazil, Venezuela

In World on November 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Tehran on Sunday for a five nation tour, including Brazil and Venezuela, both supporters of the Islamic republic‘s controversial nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad’s five-day trip also covers Bolivia and West African countries Gambia and Senegal, the ISNA news agency reported.

According to the presidency office website, Ahmadinejad will first go to Gambia, and then to Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela and Senegal.

Since coming to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has sought to form bonds with leftist south American leaders, and enjoys “brotherly ties” with fiercely anti-US Hugo Chavez, president of Brazil’s neighbour, Venezuela.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Islamic republic’s influence in arch-foe the United States’ back yard has unnerved Washington and its key Middle Eastern ally Israel amid speculation Venezuela and Bolivia might be providing uranium to Iran for its controversial nuclear programme.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has backed Iran’s nuclear development programme as long as it is peaceful.

In his trip to Bolivia, which sits on South America’s second largest gas reserves, Ahmadinejad and his counterpart Evo Morales will hold a private meeting and sign bilateral agreements, La Paz has said.

And in Venezuela, the Iranian hardliner is expected to receive a warm welcome given his good relations with Chavez, as the two leaders are known for their populist economic policies and strong anti-US tirades.

Chavez, who also supports Tehran’s nuclear programme, has himself been a regular visitor to Iran since the presidency of Ahmadinejad’s predecessor Mohammad Khatami, the reformist president.

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