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Chaos leads to cars-only rule for Thang Long Highway

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:08 am




Chaos leads to cars-only rule for Thang Long Highway


QĐND – Saturday, January 01, 2011, 21:5 (GMT+7)

Only cars will be permitted to use the main lanes of the Thang Long Highway from January 8, due to safety reasons.


Road maintenance workers and vehicles can use the road, providing they do not affect traffic. The Transport Ministry has also banned the construction and installation of advertising boards.


The municipal Department of Transport has been instructed to establish a traffic management office for the highway to manage and handle traffic problems.


Guards would be assigned around the clock to ensure traffic order and safety along the road is maintained and to deal with any accidents that may occur, said the department’s deputy chief inspector Hoang Van Manh.


“Those who steal, remove or damage the road or tamper with traffic signals or barriers that threaten traffic safety will be liable to administrative punishment or take legal responsibility depending on the level of the infringement,” he said.


Thang Long Highway, beginning at the intersection of Lang-Hoa Lac Road and Belt Road III and ending at the intersection between Lang-Hoa Lac Road , National Highway No 21 and Ho Chi Minh Road , is the longest dual carriageway in the country at about 30km.


It is 140-170 metres wide with six express lanes and two additional lanes for motorcycles and bicycles.


The highway was opened to traffic on October 3 and traffic violations have been steadily increasing ever since. Motorbikes, self-modified vehicles, and buses are driven in car-only lanes and local residents have been driving against the traffic flow to shorten journey times.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Europe airport chaos slammed as snow misery grows

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:30 am

LONDON (AFP) – The EU lashed out at airports Tuesday for the “unacceptable” disruption caused by freezing weather across Europe as fresh snowfall added to the woes of thousands of stranded Christmas travellers.


Britain said it could use troops to end the disruption at London Heathrow, where passengers have been sleeping in terminals throughout four days of chaos, while Frankfurt and Dublin airports faced severe disruption.

A woman keeps warm in a foil blanket, as she waits with other passengers for flight information, outside of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3. AFP

The cold snap chaos also hit Europe’s rail network with long queues snaking outside the London terminal for the Eurostar train link between Britain, France and Belgium.


In Brussels, the European Commission warned snowbound airports they could face regulation unless they “get serious” and provide airlines with enough support during severe weather in future.


“I am extremely concerned about the level of disruption to travel across Europe caused by severe snow. It is unacceptable and should not happen again,” European transport commissioner Siim Kallas said.


Eurocontrol, the continent’s air traffic supervisory body, said about 3,000 flights had been cancelled across Europe on Tuesday, with similar numbers of cancellations for each of the past four days.


At Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, around two-thirds of flights were cancelled but the air hub’s second runway reopened late Tuesday, prompting hopes an end to the crisis was in sight.


British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had offered to use the military to help Spanish-owned British airports operator BAA, but this offer had been refused.


“The people stuck there are having an incredibly difficult time, especially just a few days from Christmas, and everything must be done to either get them on holiday or get them home safely,” Cameron told a press conference.


Despite the opening of the second runway, BAA chief executive Colin Matthews warned people not to expect the situation to return to normal immediately.


“It is good news to see aircraft taking off and landing from two runways but it’s really important that passengers understand that doesn’t mean the full schedule is going to be restored instantly,” he told Sky News television.


Anger was meanwhile mounting among passengers queuing in the cold outside the terminal buildings at Heathrow.


“I think this hurts the reputation of the whole country. The airport is the first experience you have and this is not a good experience,” Gustaf Malmstrom, 23, told AFP as he tried for a fifth day to get a flight to Stockholm.


Most of Heathrow’s five terminals were only letting in people who were flying on Tuesday morning, mainly on flights to Asia, while others had to queue outside. Workers handed out silver foil blankets and set up two heated tents.


Eurostar said it was running a restricted service and asked all customers booked to travel before Christmas to refund or exchange their tickets free of charge if their journey was not essential.


The queue of passengers stretched for more than a kilometre around the imposing St Pancras station, and Eurostar warned the chaos looked set to continue.


“It’s too early at the moment to say when we will get back to normal,” a spokeswoman told AFP.


In Germany fresh snowfall caused gridlock at the country’s main airport Frankfurt with no flights taking off or landing for around three and a half hours in the morning.


By the time it reopened at around 0800 GMT, 300 of the 1,300 daily flights at Europe’s third-largest airport were cancelled, while others were diverted to Munich.


More than 1,000 travellers spent the night at Frankfurt airport, which laid out camp beds and distributed drinks, sandwiches and soft buttered pretzels.


Many internal flights were cancelled because of the arctic conditions, prompting German train company Deutsche Bahn to announce additional services on major routes across the country to help stranded travellers.


Dublin airport grounded all flights until 0800 GMT on Wednesday after Ireland was hit by more than 15 centimetres (six inches) of snow.


In France authorities allowed the two main airports in Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, to remain open around the clock to clear the backlog of delayed flights.


One hundred civil security personnel had been sent on Monday evening with 300 beds and 2,500 blankets for those still stranded at Charles de Gaulle.

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Source: SGGP

Christmas chaos as snow snarls European travel

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

Thousands of angry travellers struggled Monday to get home for Christmas as snow and ice caused fresh chaos at European airports and paralysed roads and railways across the frozen continent.


International hubs London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels tried to clear a backlog of passengers forced to sleep on terminal floors for up to three days as they sought to reach their destinations by the end of the week.


Authorities in Frankfurt sent in clowns in a bid to cheer up travellers, but fury mounted in Britain, especially at Heathrow where severe disruption reigned despite the last major snowfall having been on Saturday.

Pedestrians walk on a snow-covered Pont des Arts towards the Louvre Museum in Paris, as heavy snow disrupts the Christmas holiday getaway in Europe, forcing the continent’s biggest airports to close

“I am ashamed to be British,” Marian Perkins, 65, who was hoping to fly to Australia to see her new grandson for the first time, told AFP.


“It’s disgusting. We are here in the cold with the same clothes since Friday, because we don’t carry winter clothes when we go to Australia,” she said.


Heathrow’s Terminal 3 had been turned into a makeshift camp with exhausted passengers crashed out on temporary mattresses as money and patience wore thin at the world’s busiest international airport.


American musician Giovanni Bet, 22, who was trying to get back to Chicago after a tour, said: “We were here last night. It was like a shanty camp with people sleeping on the floor.”


The airport warned travellers to anticipate chaos “potentially beyond Christmas Day”. It cut flights to a third until 0600 GMT Wednesday in a bid to get diverted jets and crew back to their normal positions.


British Airways meanwhile asked passengers travelling to or from Heathrow up until December 24 to switch their flight to another date or cancel it in return for a refund.


As Britain was hit by more heavy snow and temperatures plummeted again, London’s Gatwick airport announced it was grounding all flights until early Tuesday.


“Sorry. No outbound flights from Gatwick until 6am [0600 GMT] Tuesday 21st December because of heavy snow,” the airport said on microblogging site Twitter.


Amid mounting criticism of the travel chaos, British airport operator BAA defended its handling of the crisis.


Chief executive Colin Matthews said Heathrow had to bring in earthmoving equipment and 50 trucks to remove the snow. “I cannot remember in my lifetime any episode of cold and snow remotely like today,” he said.


Eurostar, which operates high-speed passenger trains linking London with Paris and Brussels, also faced chaos.


Five-hour queues stretched around the block in freezing weather from London’s St Pancras station as Eurostar cancelled some services and operated speed restrictions on trains that did run, nearly doubling some journey times.


“We started queuing yesterday, we were here until seven o’clock and then… we took a hotel and now we have been waiting for an hour already today,” Anne-Sophie Prevost, a 24-year-old bank worker from France, told AFP.


A brass band played at the station in an attempt to provide some Christmas spirit inside the imposing Gothic station.


Temperatures reached a record low in Northern Ireland, hitting minus 17.6 degrees Celsius (0.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

There were fresh snowfalls in France, hitting both Paris international airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, where three out of 10 flights were cancelled Monday.

Air traffic at all airports in the Paris region is very disrupted,” the civil aviation authority said.

At Charles de Gaulle, 3,000 people were forced to spend Sunday night in the terminals after 40 percent of flights were scrapped.

Late Monday, 100 soldiers were sent to the airport with 300 beds and 2,500 blankets as stranded travellers faced another night camped in terminals, local authorities said.

Authorities banned heavy trucks from the roads around Paris and many buses were cancelled in the region, the RATP Paris transport network said.

French railway operator SNCF handed out 12,000 ready meals and booked 500 hotel rooms in Paris for stranded passengers but said services were expected to be mostly back to normal for Christmas.

Frankfurt airport, Germany’s busiest, resorted to clowns to keep stranded children entertained — after the police were sent in, according to press reports, to calm some angry passengers.

The airport scrapped around 340 flights Monday — mainly because others airports around Europe were closed — after more than a thousand travellers spent the night on camp beds.

There was also disruption at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport and Brussels airport Monday.

In Italy, the bodies of two homeless people were found Monday, likely victims of the cold.

Source: SGGP

Ireland in chaos as bailout triggers election

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland’s political turmoil intensified Tuesday after Prime Minister Brian Cowen promised to call a general election in the New Year once parliament passes a budget at the centre of an international bailout.


It could take several weeks for the budgetary process to be completed and Cowen would then have to formally dissolve parliament and set an election date, meaning an election may not be held until February or March.

The Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said on Monday that he would call an early election in January, but resisted calls for his immediate resignation. AFP

Two independent members of parliament on whom the government depends to pass legislation said they were likely to withhold their support, raising fears that the crucial budget might not be passed at all.


Cowen, who entered a coalition government with the Green Party in 2008, on Monday bowed to calls from its disgruntled junior partner to call an election in the wake of Ireland accepting a bailout worth up to 90 billion euros (122.5 billion dollars).


The prime minister said the debt-ridden country’s priority must be to pass the six-billion-euro budget on December 7.


“It is my intention at the conclusion of the budgetary process, with the enactment of the necessary legislation in the New Year, to then seek the dissolution of parliament,” the leader — alternatively known as the Taoiseach — told a news conference.


“It is imperative for this country that the budget is passed,” he added.


Opposition parties were angered by Cowen’s refusal to call an immediate vote.


The main opposition Fine Gael party said the people of Ireland had “absolutely no confidence” in the government and Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams demanded immediate action.


“I totally disagree with the Taoiseach’s assertion that the imperative is to get the budget passed,” Adams said. “The budget should be suspended. The Taoiseach should call an election now.”


The Guardian newspaper Tuesday doubted Cowen’s chances of being leader at the election.


The British broadsheet quoted a senior source at Cowen’s party, Fianna Fail, as saying “we cannot go into a general election with Brian as leader after the events of last week. His credibility is shattered.”


European Union Economics Commissioner Olli Rehn insisted that political upheaval would not jeopardise the rescue deal which Ireland struck with the EU and the International Monetary Fund on Sunday.


“I don’t see that it will threaten the EU-IMF programme or its negotiations,” Rehn told journalists on the sidelines of a hearing before a committee of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.


The elections “will take place… in January, and our negotiations will be concluded by the end of November,” he added.


Ireland’s request for financial assistance initiated a day of drama in Dublin on Monday.


Green Party leader John Gormley, whose party has six seats in parliament, called on Cowen to name a date for the country to go to the polls, saying the Irish people needed “political certainty.”


Gormley said that in the meantime his party would support the government in getting the emergency budget through parliament.


In a sign of the anger about the bailout a hundred protesters forced their way through the gates of the parliament building before being pushed back by police.


Cowen’s party faces a by-election on Thursday in the northern constituency of Donegal South-West which it is likely to lose.


Having dominated Irish politics since the 1930s, defeat for Fianna Fail in the general election would represent a significant moment in the country’s history.


Ireland’s request for aid was approved by EU officials who were desperate to quell fears that other heavily-indebted euro economies such as Portugal could be sucked into the crisis.


News of the bailout initially calmed fears about the single European currency, with the euro rising above 1.37 dollars before it fell back to 1.3571 dollars by 0130 GMT.


The EU has agreed in principle to use a 750-billion-euro fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, which was set up in May after a 110-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout of Greece.


Britain, not part of the 16-country eurozone, said it was in its “national interest” to consider a separate loan to Ireland of about seven billion pounds (11.2 billion dollars).


Ireland’s public finances have been ravaged by a property market meltdown and the global recession. Domestic banking sector rescues have severely restricted the country’s room for manoeuvre.

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Source: SGGP

Volcano chaos a ‘nightmare’ for Malaysian economy

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 8:39 am

Malaysia’s exports have been paralysed by the “nightmare” chaos caused by the European volcanic ash cloud and would hurt the nation’s economic recovery, a hauliers’ spokesman said Wednesday.

A passenger jet lands as sun sets at the airport in the central German city of Frankfurt am Main on April 20, 2010. (AFP)

Southeast Asia’s third largest economy, which relies heavily on exports, is tentatively emerging from the global downturn as global trade picks up.


But Walter Culas, chairman of the airfreight forwarders association of Malaysia, told AFP that with the ash cloud forcing the closure of European airspace for almost a week hundreds of tonnes of cargo are not being delivered.


“As of today about 400 tonnes of cargo are stranded at the airport. The volcanic ash has paralysed valuable cargo movement to Europe from Malaysia,” he said.


“The total losses could snowball to billions of ringgit,” Culas said.


He added that a sizeable portion of the cargo holed up were electrical and electronics products, which as a sector contributes significantly to the economy in terms of export earnings, manufacturing output and employment.


“The stranded cargo will hurt the Malaysian economy which is coming out of a recession. We just came out of a steep hill and run into a ditch,” he said.


Mukhriz Mahathir, deputy minister of international trade and industry said the government would try to find a quick solution to resolve the backlog cargo.


Culas described the shutdown across Europe as “my worst logistic nightmare in my 39-year career as a haulier”.


“Most of the logistics hubbing for global trade are based in Europe — London, Paris, Frankfrut and Amsterdam. The airtraffic shutdown has crippled the logistics industry,” he said.


He hit out at Malaysia Airlines Cargo (MASkargo), the air cargo subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, for a lack of leadership in dealing the crisis.


“MASkargo, the terminal operator which handles cargo to Europe has not communicated with hauliers. The situation is worsening by day with no solution in sight. The terminal operator is not providing any leadership,” he said.


Culas said some urgent goods were transported to Singapore by road Tuesday before being flown to Lisbon — which has avoided the ash cloud — and then driven to their final destination.


However, Culas said it could take up to a month to clear the backlog of cargo.


 

Source: SGGP

EU refuses blame for air traffic chaos

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

STRASBOURG, April 20, 2010 (AFP) – The European Union’s top transport official rejected Tuesday growing criticism that the EU failed to adequately address the air traffic chaos caused by the volcano eruption in Iceland.


Hitting out at what he called “deliberate attempts to confuse things”, notably in countries where elections are due, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas insisted that flight restrictions were not imposed from Brussels.

Passengers arrive at Glasgow airport as Scottish airspace re-opened on April 20, 2010. AFP photo

“After the volcano eruption all decisions were made based on existing agreed models on how to handle those things,” he told members of the European parliament in Strasbourg.


“Aerospace is national competence, not the commission giving orders,” he said. “The rules governing are national.”


“To say that the European model completely failed is totally wrong,” he went on. The eruption in Iceland “is an extraordinary event”.


He conceded however that the current model could be re-examined, and said that EU transport ministers, in an extraordinary meeting via video-conference on Monday, had begun to do so.


Many European nations began opening airports again Tuesday — some closed completely since April 15 — following chaos that has hit some seven million passengers and cost airlines millions of euros.

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Source: SGGP

Ash cloud causes Europe flight chaos, airlines suffer

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 11:11 am

Britain and Ireland reimposed flight bans early Saturday as the huge cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland kept millions of air travellers stranded across Europe.


After Friday saw some 16,000 flights cancelled by the drifting dust amid the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II, air traffic had controllers warned that the cloud was likely to cause fresh travel disruption.


That was confirmed early Saturday when Britain’s air authorities reintroduced a flight ban on the country’s entire airspace.


“Current forecasts show that the situation is worsening throughout Saturday,” said NATS, which manages British airspace. It also extended the existing by six hours to 7:00 pm (1800 GMT).


Ireland also reimposed a total flight ban in its airspace until at least 1700 GMT.


“No commercial passenger flights including North American traffic will operate from any Irish airport during this period,” said a statement from the Irish Aviation Authority.


Earlier, Italy’s civil aviation authority announced airspace across the north of the country would be shut down for eight hours on Saturday as the ash cloud passed.


Eurocontrol, which coordinates air traffic control in 38 nations, had said the ash was moving east and southeast and warned of “significant disruption of air traffic (Saturday)”.


Justifying the widespread airport closures aviation officials have explained that airplane engines could become clogged up and stop working if they tried to fly through the ash.


In the past 20 years, there have been 80 recorded encounters between aircraft and volcanic clouds, causing the near-loss of two Boeing 747s with almost 500 people on board and damage to 20 other planes, experts said.


The International Air Transport Association meanwhile warned Friday of the economic fallout from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southeast Iceland.


According to their figures it was costing airlines more than 200 million dollars (230 million euros) a day.


More smoke and ash had spewed out of the volcano Friday, building up the cloud, which then blew east to stretch from the Atlantic to the Russian capital Moscow and from the Arctic Circle south to Bulgaria.


Europe’s three biggest airports — London Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt — were closed by the ash, leaving passengers stranded across the world as a global flight backlog built up.


Eurocontrol said only 12,000 of the daily 28,000 flights in the affected zone would take off Friday, after about 6,000 were cancelled the day before.


Austria, Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland shut down all or most of their airspace.


Lithuania and Norway had gradually reopened theirs.


Budget airline Ryanair cancelled all its flights in northern Europe and the Baltics until 1200 GMT Monday.

Germany closed all its airports Friday, forcing flag carrier Lufthansa, Europe’s biggest airline, to cancel all its flights.

The Eurostar Channel tunnel rail service reported thousands of passengers rushing to get places on its London-Paris trains. It laid on three extra trains, but still could not keep up with demand.

The shutdown also played havoc with diplomatic schedules.

Poland had considered delaying Sunday’s funeral of president Lech Kaczynski because the cloud threatened the flights of US President Barack Obama and other world leaders, but a senior presidential aide insisted it would go ahead.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was stranded in Lisbon, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva in Prague and a UN Security Council delegation cancelled a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo that would have flown out of Paris.

Even US pop superstar Whitney Houston had to take a car ferry from Britain to Ireland for a concert in Dublin.

And comedy legend John Cleese, in what sounds like a sketch from his Monty Python days, reportedly paid 5,100 dollars for taxi ride from Oslo to Brussels.

The volcano on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted on Wednesday, sending ash drifting towards Europe at an altitude of about eight to 10 kilometres (five to six miles).


 

Source: SGGP

Europe faces flights chaos from volcanic ash cloud

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 8:58 am

Air travellers were facing at least two days of delays after a huge cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano provoked the most extensive shutdown of airspace since the September 11 attacks in 2001.


Experts warned the fallout from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in southeast Iceland, which covered the skies of northern Europe Thursday, could take several days to clear.


The eruption has already melted the 250-metre (820-feet) thick glacier around it, causing severe floods.

The sun sets over grounded aircraft at London’s Gatwick Airport. Air travellers around the world braced for a fresh wave of cancelled and delayed flights Friday after a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland prompted authorities to close airspace across northern Europe

And with thousands stranded in airports around the world, the European air traffic control group Eurocontrol said planes could stay grounded for at least 48 hours.


It estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 flights were cancelled overall on Thursday as grey ash from the second major eruption in Iceland in less than a month blew across the north Atlantic, closing major airports more than 2,100 kilometres (1,300 miles) away.


And those closures meant that Europe-bound flights were grounded all around the world.


Eurocontrol predicted that at least half of the 600 daily flights between Europe and North America would be cancelled Friday.


Belgium, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden shut down their airspace because the ash threatened jet engines and visibility.


Finland, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain also experienced major disruption.


The cloud spread over northern Poland late Thursday, threatening to disrupt attendance at this weekend’s memorial and funeral services for President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash Saturday.


As Polish aviation authorities closed airspace over the north of the country, US President Barack Obama and other world leaders were monitoring the cloud before confirming their attendance at the ceremonies.


Hundreds of flights out of London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports were cancelled, including transatlantic services.


Early Friday Britain announced it was extended the ban on non-emergency flights until 1800 GMT for all but Northern Ireland and the west coast of Scotland.


In Scotland, health officials warned that ash falling to the ground over northern Britain might cause symptoms such as itchy eyes or a sore throat.


Belgian and Norwegian authorities said their airspace would remain closed most of Friday and that the outlook was not good for the next two days.


Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport prepared beds and meals for stranded travellers. Hundreds spent the night at the Brussels airport and others across northern Europe.


The prevailing winds, however, allowed Icelandic airports to remain open.


The ash drifted at an altitude of about 8.0-10 kilometers (5.0-6.0 miles). Although it could not been seen from the ground, experts said it posed a major threat.

In the past 20 years, there have been 80 recorded encounters between aircraft and volcanic clouds, causing the near-loss of two Boeing 747s with almost 500 people on board and damage to 20 other planes, experts said.

The volcano on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland erupted just after midnight on Wednesday.

Smoke from the top crater stacked more than 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) into the sky, meteorologists said. A 500-metre fissure appeared at the top of the crater on Wednesday, Iceland’s RUV broadcaster reported.

The heat melted the surrounding glacier, causing major flooding that forced the evacuation of about 800 people.

The eruption — in a remote area about 125 kilometres (75 miles) east of Reykjavik — was bigger than the blast at the nearby Fimmvorduhals volcano last month.

“It is very variable how long these eruptions last. Anywhere from a few days to over a year,” said geophysics professor and civil protection advisor Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson.

“Judging from the intensity of this one, it could last a long time.”

He noted there were more than 250 metres of thick ice on top of the crater that quickly melted and caused massive flooding.

Last month, the first volcano eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier since 1823 — and Iceland’s first since 2004 — briefly forced 600 people from their homes in the same area.

That eruption at the Fimmvorduhals volcano only ended on Tuesday, hours before the new one sent up the cloud.

Source: SGGP

Christmas chaos as cold cripples Eurostar trains

In World on December 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

LONDON, Dec 21, 2009 (AFP) – Eurostar train services between Britain and Europe were suspended for a third straight day Monday due to the freezing weather, throwing the Christmas plans of thousands more people into chaos.


More than 24,000 people have already been affected, but the operator of the high-speed Channel Tunnel passenger trains linking London with Paris and Brussels said there would be no services Monday.








A signboard informs travellers in Paris gare du Nord northbound railways station, on December 20, 2009 that no Eurostar train in operation today. (AFP photo)

Eurostar said that following tests Monday to train modifications it would make an announcement about the prospects for travel Tuesday between the three major European capitals.


Eurostar sent out modified test trains Sunday to see if they could withstand the freezing temperatures and snowy conditions in northeastern France which are being blamed for causing five trains to break down in the under-sea tunnel on Friday.


“Eurostar will not be operating services on Monday,” the company said in a statement.


“We sincerely regret having to take this decision and we understand how frustrated and disappointed travellers will be, particularly those who have been waiting to travel for the last two days.


“We will provide a further update regarding Tuesday’s services by 1800 GMT on Monday,” the company added.


Eurostar’s commercial director Nick Mercer said test trains had been running Sunday with engineers trying to work out what was making them break down.


He said screens and shields meant to stop snow getting into the electrics had failed and needed to be improved.


When the trains moved from the freezing conditions above ground to the warmth inside the tunnel, the snow was melting, getting into the electrics and causing the trains to break down.


The modifications made to the trains will be tested Monday to ensure they are effective, Mercer said.


“The test trains did run satisfactorily. The engineers believe they’ve found the cause,” he told BBC television.


The weather conditions in France “caused snow to be ingested into the trains in a way that’s never happened before,” he said.


“We’re carrying out the modifications and I sincerely hope when we test those modifications in live service on these test trains, they will work satisfactorily and we’ll be able to resume service.”


Britain’s Met Office national weather service said Monday would be cold, with further snow showers in the north, prolonged in some places.


Meanwhile a band of rain, sleet and snow would spread across the southeast, where the Eurostar trains usually run, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.


More than 2,000 people spent Friday night trapped in the Channel Tunnel, some without anything to eat or drink, in stuffy conditions. Angry passengers have accused the company of handling the situation badly.


Eurostar made emergency arrangements for 500 of its “most vulnerable” passengers caught up in the chaos, taking them to the English port of Dover on buses before catching a ferry to France.


Passengers who have suffered delays will be offered a full refund of their ticket, a free return ticket, and 150 pounds (170 euros, 240 dollars) per person.


The Channel Tunnel runs for 50 kilometres (30 miles) between southeast England and northeast France. Opened in 1994, it is the world’s longest uninterrupted under-sea link.


Besides the Eurostar passenger trains, the tunnels also carry freight and vehicle shuttles.


Eurotunnel, which operates a cross-Channel drive-on train service for cars and freight, said its services for cars ran Sunday, but with delays.


The situation was worse for trucks, which were being held on the motorway from London to the British Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone.


The Eurostar problems added to an already difficult situation for people travelling to and from Britain, with airports affected by the snow.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Parma leaves chaos on Bach Long Vi

In Politics-Society on October 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm




Parma leaves chaos on Bach Long Vi


QĐND – Thursday, October 15, 2009, 20:14 (GMT+7)


Storm Parma caused serious damage to life and property in the northern coastal Hai Phong city’s Bach Long Vi island over a 10-hour period before moving on in the early hours of yesterday, October 14.

Vice chairman of the district People’s Committee Dinh Quoc Ai said the storm, bringing gusts of up to 183km/h, had left seven injured, sunk more than 60 boats and damaged 80 per cent of the island’s houses.


Public utilities were destroyed and communication system between the island and mainland had been continuously interrupted, said Ai.


Hai Phong city authorities sent more boats to the island to aid rescue and repair efforts and to transfer the injured to the mainland for further treatment.


As many as 1,200 households consisting of 3,700 residents in the city’s seven hardest-hit districts were evacuated to safety on Tuesday night.


In northern Quang Ninh province, authorities yesterday confirmed that the province was prepared to evacuate residents of Yen Hung district’s Phong Coc, Phong Hai and Tien Phong communes living near the Ha Nam sea dyke in case it was breached by the storm.


The province has reported initial losses of 300ha of rice in Van Don district and another 10ha in Co To district.


On the coast off Dau Tan near the province’s Mong Cai city, two of three crew members were rescued from a tanker that sank on Monday with the other still missing.


As of yesterday, provincial and city authorities from Hai Phong to Ha Tinh had evacuated nearly 30,000 people to safety.


Border guards along the coast of provinces from Quang Ninh to Thua Thien-Hue provinces have guided more than 27,000 boats with nearly 90,000 fishermen to shelters.


A force of nearly 3,000 soldiers and 200 rescue vehicles are ready for emergencies.


By yesterday afternoon, Storm Parma had already downgraded into a tropical low pressure with its eye around the coast of northern provinces from Thai Binh to Nam Dinh, according to the National Centre for Hydrometeorological Forecast. Gusts were recorded at up to 74kph.


The centre predicted that the low pressure would move to the southern provinces in the southern part of the Hong (Red) River Delta and central Thanh Hoa province, with wind speeds of less than 39kph. It is expected to keep moving westwards and dissipate this afternoon.


Meanwhile, sympathies and assistance to the previous Typhoon Ketsana’s victims keep coming.


Assistance


Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has signed a decree providing VND220 billion (US$12.325 million) from this year’s central budget reserves as well as offering 7,000 tonnes of rice from Government stockpiles, to victims in 15 provinces affected by the recent heavy rains and floods.


The assistance, aimed at the most affected provinces – nine in the north, four in the central region and two in the south – intends to help in restoring schools, medical centres and irrigation and transport systems, and reviving anti-flood and storm constructions.


The northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bang and Bac Kan will receive most, with each getting VND30 billion. Another three northern provinces of Lai Chau, Ha Giang and Thai Nguyen will each receive VND20 billion. Quang Tri and Quang Nam provinces in the central region and southern Long An province will each secure VND15 billion, while central Thua Thien-Hue and southern An Giang province will each get VND10 billion. Northern Nam Dinh, Ha Nam and Thai Binh province are also on the assistance list.


Earlier this month, the Prime Minister decided to utilise VND460 billion from budget reserves and over 10,000 tonnes of rice from the national stockpiles to help eight cities and provinces affected by the Ketsana tropical storm.


Source: VietNamNet/Viet Nam News


Source: QDND Bookmark & Share