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Posts Tagged ‘answers’

New Zealand PM demands answers as nation mourns miners

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

GREYMOUTH, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Thursday he wanted answers on what went “terribly wrong” in a colliery blast that killed 29 men in the nation’s worst mining disaster for almost a century.


He also warned it could take “months” to recover the bodies of the workers who died underground in one of the country’s worst mining disasters, as the grieving mining community pleaded for the return of their loved ones.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key speaks at a press conference in Wellington on November 24, 2010 after authorities said all the 29 men missing in the coal mine have died after a powerful second blast tore through the pit. AFP

As flags across New Zealand flew at half-mast, Key said the nation was struggling to understand the tragedy at the Pike River colliery, where miners trapped by an explosion last Friday were confirmed dead after a second blast Wednesday.


“We need answers to what happened at Pike River. Clearly something’s gone terribly wrong and it’s now claimed the lives of 29 people,” said Key, who has travelled to Greymouth on New Zealand’s South Island to be with the families.


“The nation is grieving and mourning alongside them,” he said.


“It’s only right and natural and fair that the family members would want to have the bodies recovered so that they can have some closure.”


However, a lethal cocktail of volatile gases remained in the mine and Key said this would delay recovery attempts.


“That (recovery) has to occur in a way that is safe to those that would undertake that mission,” he told reporters. Previous international experience had shown the operation could take “quite some months”, he said.


As messages of condolence poured in from around the world, Key praised the rescue efforts, which some relatives of the miners have criticised after the gas threat stopped emergency workers from going underground.


“It wasn’t for the want of trying, or the willingness, or the courage or the bravery of those that would have gone in to undertake the rescue — it was just the reality of the situation,” he said.


“A mine in this condition is a highly volatile environment, liable to explode at any time without any notice.”


Authorities have launched at least four inquiries into the disaster, whose victims ranged from a 17-year-old on his first shift to a 62-year-old veteran, and included two Australians, two Britons and a South African.


“This is a mine that’s claimed the lives of 29 men and they (the families) are are entitled to honest answers about what went wrong, what lessons we can learn,” Key said.


Mine owner Pike River Coal said it would cooperate fully and was holding its own investigation into the disaster at the colliery, a new facility that sent its first shipment of hard coking coal for steelmaking to India only this year.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Australia’s prime minister, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — who is also the head of state of New Zealand — and other dignitaries in expressing their “heartfelt condolences”.


New Zealand has lost “29 brave and hard-working men who will be mourned around the world”, Clinton said as the queen said she was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.


“My heart goes out to the families and friends of these 29 brave miners and to all who have been touched by this national disaster,” she said in a message to Key released by Buckingham Palace.


Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn, who declared the incident the “darkest hour” of the South Island’s rugged West Coast region, said the focus has turned to the grim task of recovering the bodies for the grieving families.


“They won’t feel closure until they’re (with) their loved ones,” he told TVNZ.


New Zealand’s other major mining company, Solid Energy, has suspended underground operations at its Spring Creek mine near Pike River and its Huntly mine in the North Island as a mark of respect, chief executive Don Elder said.


A number of specialist mine rescue staff from Spring Creek and Huntly were involved in the Pike River rescue operation.

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Source: SGGP

PM answers NA deputies’ queries at the Q & A session

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm




PM answers NA deputies’ queries at the Q & A session


QĐND – Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 20:31 (GMT+7)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung answered NA deputies’ queries at the 8th session of the 12th National Assembly on November 24.


The PM presented six major issues including the bauxite exploitation project in the central highlands, the restructuring of Vinashin and the development of the electricity sector.


Regarding the Tan Rai and Nhan Co bauxite exploitation projects, PM Dung said that during the project’s pilot phase, he directed relevant ministries, the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Group (Vinacomin) and localities to strictly implement the Party and State policies. He also directed the construction, evaluation, processing and use of bauxite ore in the 2007-2015 period.


Vinacomin is the main investor of both projects Tan Rai and Nhan Co. China Aluminum Group is the EPC contractor and will hand over the factory to Vinacomin when construction is completed in two years’ time.


PM Dung added that the exploitation of bauxite will create favourable conditions to improve soil for commercial crops and forests in the central highlands.


After the red mud incident in Hungary, the PM asked relevant ministries and agencies to supervise the project’s construction and solutions for red-mud reservoirs.


The government has also asked Vinacomin to employ foreign consultants to re-evaluate the project and perfect the design of its red-mud reservoirs. At the same time, he also directed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to send a team to conduct a survey at the red-mud spill in Hungary.


The PM said that the survey team has delivered a report which says that technological and management solutions at Tan Rai red-mud lake have been assessed as very modern and safe. He will make a decision on how to go ahead with project once environmental safety is confirmed by foreign consultants.


Regarding the Vinashin Group, the PM said, the government inspectors are urgently trying to complete a comprehensive conclusion on Vinashin. Independent auditors are checking this year’s business results and the group’s leaders are also supervising and updating the group’s financial accounts and assets, related data to ensure accuracy.


The government has also reviewed and analyzed reasons and responsibilities of related agencies and mapped out a detailed plan to create favourable conditions for Vinashin to stabilise and recover production and business activities. The government also focused on perfecting a mechanism for increasing the responsibility and efficiency of State management for state-owned enterprises to avoid such incidents as Vinashin.


As head of the government, the PM is responsible for Vinashin’s shortcomings and he is seriously considering every responsibility for clarification along with his deputies and other ministers involved.


The PM also said that it is difficult to implement a restructuring plan for Vinashin and the government needs the support and supervision of NA deputies.


To strengthen management and improve the efficiency of economic groups and state corporations, the PM will continue to improve the management mechanism for investment and the use of State capital and property to help businesses take responsibility for their activities.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

BP boss in hot seat as lawmakers demand oil spill answers

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:28 am

Angry US lawmakers skewered BP boss Tony Hayward Thursday, accusing him of stonewalling as he dodged a barrage of hostile questions seeking to lay bare the causes of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


“I can’t pass judgement on those decisions,” Hayward told openly disbelieving members of a key House panel investigating the worst environmental disaster in US history. “I think it’s too early to reach conclusions.”


Just a day after BP won praise for bowing to White House demands to set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay compensation claims for Gulf residents facing economic ruin, the British energy giant’s CEO was back in the hot seat.


Protester Diane Wilson is escorted from the hearing room

Hayward said he would wait until BP finished its probe into the April 20 blast that killed 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, sank the rig, and sent oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico’s waters.


“I wasn’t involved in any decision-making,” on how to drill, test, or secure the well, added Hayward, a 28-year oil industry veteran, drawing a charge from Democratic Representative Henry Waxman that he was “stonewalling.”


Hayward’s contrite opening remarks to the panel, and a vow that the British energy giant would repair the economic and environmental damage wrought on US southern shores, were quickly overshadowed as he declined to reveal specifics.


“Is today Thursday?” asked Cliff Stearns, a representative from oil-hit Florida, after Hayward repeatedly refused to give a straight “yes or no” answer as to what was to blame for the catastrophe.


Waving pictures of oiled birds, congressmen did not hide their frustration or derision in a piece of political theater before a barrage of media cameras.


Hayward, who has been dubbed the most hated man in America, offered an olive branch at the start of the day-long hearing, apologizing for the catastrophe.


“I know that only actions and results, not mere words ultimately can give you the confidence you seek. I give my pledge as the leader of BP that we will not rest until we make this right,” he said.


“We and the entire industry will learn from this terrible event and emerge stronger, smarter and safer.”


But in a sign of the tensions, a protestor with a blackened face and hands briefly disrupted the hearing. “You need to be charged with a crime, Tony,” she shouted. “You need to go to jail!”


Despite a massive mobilization, millions of gallons of crude are fouling the shorelines of four US states, closing down vital fishing waters and hitting the region’s lucrative tourist industry.


US experts believe between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels is spewing into the Gulf every day.


Hayward told lawmakers BP is now siphoning up an average of 20,000 barrels a day of oil to two processing ships on the surface.


And the US disaster coordinator, Admiral Thad Allen, said that by “sometime early next week” the company hoped to be containing 28,000 gallons — some of which will be burnt off by one of the surface ships.


In some good news, Allen said drilling on a relief well, seen as the only way of permanently capping the spill, was ahead of schedule.


“Mid-August was the target date, they’re actually ahead of schedule right now, but I’m not going to guarantee it will be earlier,” Allen said, citing the meticulous work needed in carrying out the work safely.

“We should be very wary about hard deadlines,” he cautioned.

On Wednesday BP agreed to set up a 20-billion-dollar escrow fund to pay compensation claims from thousands of Gulf businesses and residents, which it will pay into over the next four years.

The deal was struck after Hayward and BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg were summoned to the White House for talks with President Barack Obama.

News of the escrow fund deal with the US administration sent BP’s share price soaring almost 10 percent on Thursday, after days of falls sparked by uncertainty over its future.

The fund will be run by prominent lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who managed compensation claims by victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, and will be overseen by a panel of three judges who can hear appeals.

BP will fund the account in four annual payments of five billion dollars, the White House said in a statement, adding it was “neither a floor nor a ceiling” on BP’s total liability for the disaster.

Source: SGGP

Brazil searches for answers as flood death toll rises

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

 Rescuers raced against time Saturday amid fading hopes of finding survivors of a huge mudslide, with over 400 people now feared dead in some of the worst flooding to swamp Brazil in decades.


At dawn, rescuers pulled four more bodies from the thick mound of dirt and debris in the Niteroi shantytown of Morro do Bumba, bringing the updated death toll to 219, while another 200 people were believed to be buried alive in the slum, itself precariously perched atop a garbage dump.


Some 60 hours after the heaviest rains in half a century unleashed floods and mudslides, rescue workers appeared far from having finished the work of recovering bodies.

Workers with heavy machinery dig in the mud left by a landslide at Vicoso Jardim shantytown in Niteroi, a city 25 kms from Rio de Janiero

The floods tore through the metropolitan area’s precarious hillside slums, or favelas.


Niteroi was hardest hit, with at least 134 dead, according to the civil defense authorities. Across the bay, another 60 were found in Rio de Janeiro.


Amid confusion over exact toll numbers Saturday, officials updated the number of confirmed dead to 219 after earlier lowering the figure to 214.


The heavy rain forced some 50,000 people to leave their homes, officials said, either because their homes were damaged or because they were ordered to leave due to fear of fresh landslides.


Geologist Marcelo Motta, who participated in an investigation of the mudslide, told Globo News television that two cracks in the rocky soil made the mound move and pushed down the hill a huge amount of trash saturated with water that had trapped methane gas.


Focus quickly turned on responsibility for the huge death toll and damage. Experts blamed government “complacency” for allowing the country’s poorest to build housing haphazardly in areas at risk of natural disasters, such as on the sides of steep hills.


Rio state Governor Sergio Cabral, who briefly visited Morro do Bumba late Friday, laid blame on “all of society.”


“I was criticized in some favelas when I got walls built to prevent them from expanding. In Rocinha, the state compensated 300 families (for relocation). But demagogues criticized us, and sometimes rabble-rousing can be deadly.”


Cabral, who called for “strict measures to withdraw” from areas at risk, said he asked the Brazilian military to help in rescue efforts.


Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has adopted a decree to remove “by force,” with the help of police, people living in areas at risk.


Some 150 people worked through the night searching for survivors in Morro do Bumba shantytown, with the help of eight excavators, as a stream of trucks came and went loaded with debris.


“There is a possibility” of finding survivors, said the Niteroi Civil Defense chief, Marival Gomes. “It’s not easy but there is hope.”


Firefighters working at the site since Wednesday, however, said there was little chance of finding new survivors after part of the hillside fell away and swallowed everything in its path, including 50 houses, a day-care center and a pizzeria.


A handful of people were rescued from the mud in the few hours after the landslide.


Cristiane Oliveira, 27, saved her daughters from the mudslide but lost her mother, uncles and cousins and still waited to see their bodies emerge from the piles of earth.

“I look and I think, ‘Everyone is under there.’ It’s really sad,” Oliveira told AFP.

Labor Minister Carlos Lupi said a 30-year credit line of 567 million dollars, with a three-percent interest rate, was set up to seed construction of public housing.

The federal government released 113 million dollars in aid for municipalities in Rio state affected by the floods and mudslides, Cabral said.

After five days of rains, aggravated by numerous floods in the region, the sun was shining Saturday in Rio.

Source: SGGP