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Posts Tagged ‘alert’

Korean, US forces lower alert status: report

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:10 am

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has lowered its military alert status, prompting similar moves by Seoul and US forces as tensions on the Korean peninsula showed signs of easing, a report said Friday.


The apparent moves came as South Korea held its latest war games to simulate an infiltration by North Korean troops across the disputed Yellow Sea border, officials said.

Tensions have been high since the North shelled South Korea’s frontline Yeonpyeong island on November 23.


Yonhap news agency quoted unidentified South Korean government sources as saying that the North recently lifted a special alert it issued on November 21 for its military forces on the coast near the tense sea border.


“The North Korean military recently withdrew an order for special military readiness it had issued in connection with our Hoguk military drills (in November),” a source was quoted as saying.


The South Korean military and US forces in South Korea had consequently reduced their own alert status by one notch to a normal level, the source said.


A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report.


But he told AFP the computerised military exercise involving the South Korean navy and marines “began as planned”, declining to give details.


Navy officials said Friday’s manoeuvres were designed to enhance the South’s capability to repel a surprise landing on islands.


Command posts were involved in the simulated war games but it was unclear whether troops were involved in any physical manoeuvres.


Besides the shelling in November, the North also raised security fears that month by disclosing a uranium enrichment plant to visiting US experts.


But after a difficult year on the Korean peninsula, 2011 started on a more peaceful note.


The North began the year calling for improved relations with Seoul, while South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Monday also reached out, saying he was open to talks and offering closer economic ties.


Efforts to resume long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks with the North also gained momentum as Beijing urged dialogue and Pyongyang signalled it was willing to return to the negotiating table.


In an unusually cordial statement, carried by its KCNA agency, North Korea said Wednesday the communist nation “courteously proposes having wide-ranging dialogue and negotiations”.


But South Korean officials were dismissive of the comments.


Vice Unification Minister Um Jong-Sik said on KBS radio that the North should show seriousness of purpose by acting on its obligations under a 2005 agreement on denuclearisation and apologising for the November shelling and the sinking of a South Korean warship last year.


Amid the more positive tone, Japan’s foreign minister called for renewed dialogue on the divided Korean peninsula in Washington on Thursday, but said the North should first take “concrete actions” to lower tensions.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. AFP

“The nuclear and missile development issue of DPRK (North Korea) is a cause for major concern,” Seiji Maehara said in a speech to a Washington think tank before meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


“What is most important is that a North Korea-South Korea dialogue be opened up,” Maehara said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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Source: SGGP

Ministry issues new alert on food safety

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm




Ministry issues new alert on food safety


QĐND – Friday, December 17, 2010, 20:53 (GMT+7)

The Health Ministry has requested all provinces and cities to strengthen food safety and hygiene activities nationwide by promoting awareness and inspection programmes during the new year festival.


“Consumer demand increases ten-fold during the new year, especially over the traditional holiday period,” said deputy head of the ministry’s Vietnam Food Administration Nguyen Thanh Phong at a press conference in Hanoi Dec. 16.


“To ensure food safety and hygiene during the festive season, we will boost awareness activities targeting food producers, traders and consumers,” he said.


He also added that six inter-sectoral inspection groups would be set up to supervise food safety at markets in Hanoi, HCM City and provinces with border gates.


According to the administration, the country has reported 173 food poisoning cases this year, less than the average annual number of 200 over the last decade. Eighteen cases were reported with 323 people infected during the last quarter of 2010, of which four died due to eating puffer fish.


“Food poisoning is showing signs of reduction as compared with the same period in 2009, however 60 percent of the cases were in domestic outbreaks,” said Phong.


“Most poisoning outbreaks related to poor food preservation or natural toxins found in mushrooms, puffer fish and toads,” added Phong.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Egypt security on alert ahead of tense election

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Egyptian security forces were on high alert Saturday, on the eve of a general election, after activists clashed with police at the end of a campaign marred by violence and a crackdown on the opposition.

Egyptian protesters stand on a security fence under the watchfull eyes of the riot police during a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in downtown Cairo, May 2010.

Thousands of activists demonstrated in support of their candidates throughout the Nile Delta and in the south of the country as campaigning for the vote came to an end on Friday night, said security officials.


Several of the rallies turned violent after supporters of rival candidates hurled stones at each other, they said.


Activists for the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group clashed with police in the southern Bani Suef governorate, and at least 15 protesters were arrested.


Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud, a lawyer for the Islamist group, said 22 of its members were arrested on Friday across the country.


The Brotherhood is expected to win far less than the fifth of parliamentary seats it captured in the last election in 2005, after at least 1,200 its supporters were arrested in the weeks before the vote.


Most of them have been released, but the group says more of its supporters are rounded up each day as they put up posters and hand out fliers.


The Brotherhood is fielding 130 candidates for the 508 elected seats after more than a dozen of its candidates were disqualified by the election committee.


The public prosecutor is investigating complaints by the ruling National Democratic Party that more of the Islamists should be disqualified because they are misrepresenting themselves as independents.


The group registers its candidates as independents to circumvent a ban on religious parties.


Several administrative courts have ordered the cancellation of elections in 24 of 254 districts after court orders to reinstate disqualified candidates, many of them Brotherhood members and other independents, were ignored.


Rights groups say the election has already been compromised by the arrests of opposition members and campaign restrictions on their candidates.


Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to safeguard the rights of voters in the election.


“The Egyptian authorities must uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and ensure that peaceful protesters are not arbitrarily arrested and detained,” the London-based rights group’s Middle East director, Malcolm Smart, said in a statement last week.


Voter turnout is expected to be low as usual in Egypt, where elections are often marred by violence and ballot fraud, according to rights groups.


The government insists the election will be fair and the electoral committee says it granted more than 6,000 permits to local civil society groups to monitor the vote and the ballot counting.


The NDP, which has dominated parliament for more than three decades, is expected to gain seats in parliament at the expense of the Brotherhood. It is running about 800 candidates.


Campaign restrictions on the remaining Brotherhood candidates and a low voter turnout amid fears of violence and widespread suspicion about the election’s integrity are expected to reduce the Islamists’ share.



 

Source: SGGP

High alert as N.Korea fires artillery on South

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:50 am

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing one person and triggering an exchange of fire as southern armed forces went on their highest state of alert.


In what appeared to be one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 war, South Korea’s government convened in an underground war room and air force jets were reportedly scrambled to the Yellow Sea island.

South Korean marines are seen during a drill on Yeonpyeong island in the disputed Yellow Sea. AFP

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.


Some 50 North Korean shells landed on the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong near the tense Yellow Sea border, damaging dozens of houses and sending plumes of thick smoke into the air, YTN television reported.


One South Korean Marine — part of a contingent based permanently on Yeonpyeong island — was killed, the military said.


The military said 13 Marines were injured and YTN said two civilians were also hurt.


“A North Korean artillery unit staged an illegal firing provocation at 2:34 pm (0534 GMT) and South Korean troops fired back immediately in self-defence,” a ministry spokesman told AFP.


“A Class-A military alert issued for battle situations has been imposed immediately,” the spokesman said.


One island resident, Lee Jong-Sik, told YTN: “At least 10 houses are burning. I can’t see clearly for the smoke. The hillsides are also on fire.


“We were told by loudspeakers to flee our homes.”


Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by United Nations forces after the inconclusive war six decades ago, but north of the sea border declared by Pyongyang.


The Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and last November.


Tensions have been acute since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which Seoul says was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack. Pyongyang has angrily rejected the charge.


In late October, North and South Korean troops exchanged fire across their Cold War border, coinciding with a state of high alert for the South’s military in the buildup to the G20 summit of world leaders in Seoul earlier this month.


South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak convened an emergency security meeting in response to the latest incident, a presidential spokesman said.


“He is now in an underground war room to discuss possible responses with ministers of related agencies and national security advisers,” the spokesman told AFP.


Lee urged the officials to “handle it (the situation) well to prevent further escalation”, the spokesman said.


The firing comes after Kim Jong-Un, the little-known youngest son of Kim Jong-Il, was officially recognised as number two in North Korea’s political system, clouding outsiders’ view of its military and nuclear intentions.


The new crisis erupted as a US special envoy headed to China Tuesday to seek its help in curbing North Korea’s new nuclear project, revealed to US experts who described a sophisticated programme to enrich uranium.


Stephen Bosworth has also visited South Korea and Japan this week to discuss the disclosure, which US officials say would allow the isolated North to build new atomic bombs.


Bosworth, speaking in Tokyo, ruled out a resumption of stalled six-nation talks — aimed at disarming the North of nuclear weaponry in return for aid and other concessions — while work continues on the enrichment programme.


China chairs the talks and is also the North’s sole major ally and economic prop. It has come under pressure to play a leading role in resolving the latest nuclear dispute.


China appealed for the six-party talks to resume after the new revelations, and expressed concern over Tuesday’s cross-border firing.


“We have taken note of the relevant report and we express concern over the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.


“We hope the relevant parties do more to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” he said. Russia also warned against an escalation of tensions on the peninsula.

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Source: SGGP

Germany raises security alert after attack warnings

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

Philippines makes arrests, seizes explosives amid alert

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

Iraq on alert after attacks kill over 100

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 4:48 am

Iraqi police man a checkpoint in Baghdad. AFP photo

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Security forces were on alert Tuesday after a wave of attacks including three car bombs at a factory and another against emergency workers killed at least 100 people in Iraq’s bloodiest day this year.


Nearly 350 people were wounded in around two dozen attacks nationwide, a surge in violence that came as Iraq moved closer to forming a government two months after a general election seen as crucial to US combat troops leaving the country by August 31.


The United States led international condemnation of the violence, saying opponents of Iraqi progress were making “one last charge” at fomenting chaos, while France “strongly condemned” the attacks.


The deadliest attack saw two suicide car bombs detonate simultaneously in the car park of a textiles factory in the central city of Hilla, as workers boarded buses to go home, followed minutes later by a third car bomb, police Captain Ali al-Shimmari told AFP.


About an hour later, according to Shimmari, a fourth explosives-packed vehicle exploded, engulfing the area as emergency service workers treated victims at the scene.


“When I heard the explosions, I rushed outside and saw the massive damage — there were bodies everywhere, people were crying and screaming,” said Haidar Ali, 35, who had by chance stayed in the factory to speak to a colleague.


“It’s the fault of the government and the company. They care only about their own personal safety, and they left the workers without any security. They were very easy targets.”


Dr. Ihab al-Dhabhawi, a doctor at Hilla’s hospital, said the explosions, the first of which struck the State Company for Textile Industries at around 1:30 pm (1030 GMT), killed 50 people.


A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said security forces had received intelligence of car bombs targeting the city, 95 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad, and had searched different parts of it before hearing the explosions.


And in the southern port city of Basra, three car bombs at two markets killed 20 people, police said.


The first blast struck in a busy market in the centre of the city, 450 kilometres (280 miles) south of Baghdad, at around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT), while two other blasts hit another market in central Basra an hour later.


Earlier on Monday, the capital Baghdad was hit by a spate of shootings with automatic weapons against six police or army checkpoints in the east and west of the city, which left seven dead, the interior ministry official said.


Two other policemen died in three bombings in south and west Baghdad, he added.


“The attacks started at 6:30 am (0330 GMT) and ended around 8:00 am (0500 GMT),” the official said, noting that nearly all of the wounded were security personnel.


A double bomb attack near the mosque in Suwayrah, 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of the capital, meanwhile, killed 11 people and wounded 70, a police lieutenant told AFP.


Twelve other people were killed in separate attacks around the former Sunni insurgent bastion of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the northern city of Mosul, in Iskandiriyah, south of Baghdad, and near Tarmiyah, north of the Iraqi capital.


Monday’s death toll was the highest since December 8, when 127 people were killed in five massive vehicle-borne bombs across the capital.


Although violence has dropped in the past two years, the latest unrest will be seen as evidence that insurgents remain capable of wreaking carnage on a grand scale, two months after elections in which no clear winner emerged.


Electoral officials said on Sunday that results from the March 7 vote were nearly finalised, with totals from all but one province sent for ratification. A recount in the lone exception, Baghdad, is more than half complete.


Monday’s violence came after figures showed the number of Iraqis killed in violence in April fell slightly month on month but was almost unchanged from 12 months ago — 328 people died as a result of attacks last month.


Also last month, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the political leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and Abu Ayub al-Masri, an Egyptian militant and the group’s self-styled “minister of war,” died when their safehouse north of Baghdad was bombed.

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Source: SGGP

S.Korea orders military on alert after blast sinks warship

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea, March 30, 2010 (AFP) – President Lee Myung-Bak ordered South Korea’s military Tuesday to stay alert against North Korea, after a mystery blast sank one of its warships near the tense border.


“Since the incident happened at the frontline, the government should be thoroughly prepared to cope with any movement on the part of North Korea,” he told a cabinet meeting in Seoul, according to a presidential statement.


“The armed forces are urged to maintain full alert without the slightest breach,” Lee said, before flying by helicopter to Baengnyeong Island near the disputed boundary with an escort of jet fighters.


Lee cautioned against drawing a “hasty conclusion” about the blast which tore a 1,200-tonne corvette in two late Friday and left 46 sailors missing.

South Korean Navy Ship Salvage Unit members launch rubber boats from Landing Ship Tank LST-685 Seonginbong to search for possible survivors and bodies on March 29, 2010. AFP photo

His defence minister Kim Tae-Young said Monday a drifting North Korean mine dating back to the 1950-53 war might have caused the blast, or that the North might have intentionally sent a mine floating towards the ship.


Seoul officials have not raised any evidence the North was to blame for the sinking near the Yellow Sea border, the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.


US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in Washington he had heard nothing to implicate any other country in the tragedy.


Lee later Tuesday became the country’s first president to visit Baengnyeong Island, 16 kilometres (10 miles) from North Korea’s coast, where guided missile and artillery batteries are deployed.


“Fighter jets were on patrol during his trip to the island because it is very close to major North Korean military camps,” said his spokesman Park Sun-Kyoo.


The president’s helicopter landed on an amphibious landing ship supervising the rescue. He travelled by small boat to another ship for a briefing and visited a Marine Corp base on the island to meet families of the missing.


Rescuers refused to abandon hope for sailors feared trapped in the stern section of the 88-metre (290 foot) Cheonan, even though divers Monday heard no response when they banged on the sunken hull.


“Work is under way in the belief that there could be survivors,” military spokesman Lee Ki-Shik said.


Rescuers late Monday injected oxygen through a crack into the stern, which rests at a 90 degree angle on the bed of the Yellow Sea. But divers could not find a way inside amid swift currents and cold murky water.


They were trying again Tuesday to access both sections.


A total of 58 crewmen were saved soon after the ship went down in near-freezing waters off Baengnyeong island. No one has been saved since then despite a major air and sea search, which Tuesday involved 19 South Korean or US vessels, eight helicopters and 170 rescue personnel.

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Source: SGGP

Mayon volcano in Philippines oozes lava; alert up

In World on December 15, 2009 at 5:35 am

Authorities moved thousands of villagers from harm’s way near the Philippines‘ most active volcano Tuesday after it oozed lava and shot plumes of ash, and said they probably will spend a bleak Christmas in an evacuation center.


State volcanologists raised the alert level on the cone-shaped, 8,070-foot (2,460-meter) Mayon volcano overnight to two steps below eruption after ash explosions and dark orange lava fragments glowing in the dark trickled down the mountain slope.


Nearly 50,000 people live in a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius around the mountain, and authorities began moving thousands of them in case it erupts, Albay provincial Gov. Joey Salceda said.








Lava cascades down the slopes of Mayon volcano in Legazpi city, Albay province, Monday Dec. 14, 2009.

The first of 20 vehicles, including army trucks, were sent to villages to take residents to schools and other temporary housing, provincial emergency management official Jukes Nunez said.


“It’s 10 days before Christmas. Most likely people will be in evacuation centers, and if Mayon’s activity won’t ease down we will not allow them to return to their homes,” Nunez said. “It’s difficult and sad, especially for children.”


Magma had been rising at the volcano over the past two weeks and began to ooze out of its crater Monday night, but it could get worse in coming days, said Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.


“Now lava is trickling down, but if the ascent of magma is sustained there will be laval flows,” Solidum told The Associated Press. “There is also the possibility of an explosion.”


Residents in the central province of Albay are used to moving away from Mayon, which spewed ash last month and prompted the evacuation of some villages.


About 30,000 people were moved when it last erupted in 2006. Typhoon-triggered mudslides near the mountain later that year buried entire villages, killing more than 1,000 people.


Mayon’s most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79 people.


The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common. About 22 out of 37 volcanos in the archipelago are active.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Australia shipping alert over massive iceberg

In World on December 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

Australian authorities Friday issued a shipping alert over a gigantic iceberg that is gradually approaching the country’s southwest coast.








A NASA satellite image of iceberg B17B (C), floating southwest off the West Australian coast. (AFP Photo)

The Bureau of Meteorology said the once-in-a-century cliff of ice, which dislodged from Antarctica about a decade ago before drifting north, was being monitored using satellites.


“Mariners are advised that at 1200 GMT on December 9, an iceberg approximately 1,700 kilometres (1,054 miles) south-southwest of the West Australian coast was observed,” it said, giving the iceberg’s coordinates.


“The iceberg is 140 square kilometres in area — 19 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide.”


Experts believe the iceberg — known as B17B — is likely to break up as it enters warmer waters nearer Australia, creating hundreds of smaller icebergs in a hazard to passing ships.


“It’s still 1,700 kilometres away, so it’s quite a long way away, it’s not really on our doorstep yet but it’s been heading steadily towards us,” glaciologist Neal Young said Thursday.


Young earlier told AFP that an iceberg of that size had probably not been seen in the area since the days when 19th century clipper sailing ships plied the trade route between Britain and Australia.


The iceberg has been floating around Antarctica since shearing off the icey continent but had lately begun heading north because of ocean currents and weather conditions.


Its discovery comes after two other large icebergs were spotted further east, off Australia’s Macquarie Island, followed by more than 100 smaller chunks heading towards New Zealand.


Young described the icebergs as uncommon, but said they could become more frequent if sea temperatures rise through global warming.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share