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Storm Agatha kills 90 in Central America

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 5:19 am

 The first tropical storm of the season in the Americas has left at least 90 people dead in Central America amid flash floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rains, officials said Sunday.

Tropical Storm Agatha also forced more than 74,000 people to flee their homes as it whipped heavy rains across Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.

“As of the moment, we have reports of 73 people killed throughout the country, the majority from landslides,” Guatemala’s emergency management agency (Conred) chief David de Leon told AFP.

The Prensa Libre newspaper on its website gave an unofficial death toll of 80.

Among the dead were four children in a house that was swept away in a landslide, officials said.

A man talks on the phone on May 30, 2010, in the municipality of Palin, Escuintla, south of Guatemala City.

In neighboring El Salvador, floods and landslides accounted for nine deaths, authorities there said.

And in Honduras, emergency management officials reported at least eight storm-related deaths as Agatha lashed the country, forcing the government to put five of the territory’s 18 departments under a state of emergency.

Agatha slammed into Guatemala overnight with 65-kilometer (40-mile) per hour winds and was soon downgraded to a tropical depression as it dissipated over higher ground, but the damage caused by heavy rains and high winds prompted the government in El Salvador to declare a state of emergency.

Guatemala had been under a state of emergency since Saturday, while Honduras declared a nationwide state of emergency Sunday and established a crisis management committee to address heavy flooding and other effects from the storm.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said flash floods and mudslides forced 74,500 people to flee their homes.

He said schools would remain closed until next week.

The worst storm-related disaster in Guatemala occurred in a village in Solola department where a landslide swept away 25 homes killing 15 people, with another 10 missing, according to San Antonio Palopo Mayor Andres Cumes.

To prevent an outbreak of disease, the bodies will be buried at once, he told reporters.

Colombia and the United States offered to send aircraft to ferry aid or help with evacuations of storm-hit areas, and Colom said six US military aircraft were en route from a base in Honduras.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, at Colom’s behest, has offered the airport in the border city of Tapachula for emergency flights in and out of Guatemala, Calderon’s office said.

Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport has been closed since Friday after being showered by volcanic ash from the eruption of the Pacaya volcano two days earlier. Two people were killed and three missing after the eruption on Wednesday.

Vulcanologists at Guatemala’s national seismological institute said activity in the volcano was within a normal range, but its director Freddy Sanchez said “it’s very possible there could be more violent explosions in the coming days.”

Colom said that even though the storm had eased, authorities remained on an emergency footing, adding that there were dozens of towns and villages that were still inaccessible because of roads severed by landslides.

El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes put his country under a state of emergency, saying that even though the storm was weakening, the risk of mudslides and flash floods “remains very high.”

Source: SGGP

Season’s first tropical storm claims 15 in Central America

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

GUATEMALA CITY, May 29, 2010 (AFP) – The first tropical storm of the season threatened Central America’s Pacific coast Saturday after killing 15 people in two countries, as Guatemala coped with twin natural catastrophes including a massive volcano eruption.

Tropical Storm Agatha, with 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour winds and up to half a meter (20 inches) of rain was 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the Guatemala-Mexico border. It was expected to make landfall overnight, the US National Weather Service said.

A man watches heavy swell on May 29, 2010, in Puerto San Jose, Escuintla, 110 kilometers south of Guatemala City. AFP photo

In Guatemala, the storm has already dumped 36 centimeters (14 inches) of rain, triggering flash floods and landslides that killed 14 people Saturday, including four adults and four children inside homes buried by mudslides, officials said.

The the National Disaster Agency did not indicate the circumstances of the remaining storm fatalities, but said 12 Austrian tourists were rescued from a resort area that was cut off by a sinkhole in its only road access.

Eleven persons were reported missing in the western part of the country, it added.

In El Salvador, also hit by Agatha’s driving rains, one person was killed, authorities there reported.

Confronted by the storm and by the erupting Pacaya volcano, which since Wednesday has killed two people including a television reporter and closed down the country’s main airport for five days, President Alvaro Colom called on his countrymen to pull together.

“I call for unity… all of us Guatemalans are challenged by this great trial we’re facing… so we must organize ourselves better and maintain the spirit of solidarity that has emerged these past few days,” he said during an emergency cabinet meeting.

Colom on Friday declared a state of emergency around volcano Pacaya, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the capital, where some 2,000 people have been evacuated, and on Saturday said he was mulling extending the emergency blanket nationwide as Agatha wreaked havoc.

He said he had canceled his scheduled visits to the Dominican Republic and Canada next week to devote all his attention to the storm and ongoing eruption.

The capital’s La Aurora International Airport will remain closed for five days as cleaning crews hampered by driving rain try to clean up centimeters (inches) -thick ash from the volcano.

Colom said six departments were currently awash from the storm, with three of them reporting highways cut off by floods and mudslides. He warned people in the area to remain indoors.

He said the government would seek an 85-million-dollar loan to cope with the twin natural disasters.

In neighboring El Salvador, the government reported one person killed from Agatha and said it raised the color-coded national alert system from green to yellow at the approaching storm.

It reported three rivers overflowing their banks in the western part of the country, with some areas undergoing precautionary evacuations.

Source: SGGP

America imposes two tariffs on Vietnam’s PE bags

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm

America imposes two tariffs on Vietnam’s PE bags

QĐND – Sunday, April 18, 2010, 21:19 (GMT+7)

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has finally determined that Vietnam’s Polyethylene (PE) retail carrier bags will be subject to anti-subsidy and anti-dumping tariffs.

The taxes will range from 1-52.56 percent for ‘subsidy’ and from 52.3-76.11 percent for ‘dumping’.

With this decision, PE bags have become Vietnam’s first products that receive two kinds of tariffs in foreign markets.

In late March, the US Department of Commerce made a similar conclusion and asked the US customs and border protection agencies to collect certain amounts of money paid in advance.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

United Airlines launches summer fares for Hong Kong, America

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 5:39 am

United Airlines is providing promotional summer fares for flights between Vietnam and the US, as well as to Hong Kong.

Passengers at the United Airlines booking office in Ho Chi Minh City

The discounted fares for Los Angeles and San Francisco start at US$770, with travel until June 14.

The American carrier is selling a round trip between Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong starting at US$138, with travel from April 1 till June 10 this year.

The summer promotion is applied for max stay of four days, and the booking class is L.

United’s regular fares for a round trip between HCM City and Hong Kong are also available, starting at US$188. 

The airline operates daily direct flights between Vietnam and the US via Hong Kong. The service was launched in December 2004, making United the first American carrier to fly to Vietnam since 1975.

In related news, Northwest Airlines, a wholly subsidiary of American carrier Delta Air Lines, will discontinue flights to HCM City via Tokyo, effective from March 27, 2010.

Delta became the second US airline to fly to HCM City in June 2009, five years after United. Once Delta stops its service, United will be again the only American carrier flying to Vietnam.

Till the end of 2009, United had transported more than 700,000 passengers in the route. The carrier said it had recorded average yearly growth of 20% in passenger traffic to Vietnam over the past five years.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share