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US sues BP, eight others over Gulf oil spill

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States filed suit for the first time against BP and eight other companies for uncounted billions of dollars in damages from a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst in US history.


The complaint was filed by the Justice Department with a federal court in New Orleans, where thousands of individuals and small businesses have already sued the oil giant.

AFP file – A photo taken in April 2010 shows fire boat crews battling the blazing remnants of the BP operated off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the complaint alleges that “violations of safety and operational regulations” caused the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sent nearly five million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf.


“We intend to prove… that the defendants are therefore responsible under the Oil Pollution Act for government removal losses, economic losses, as well as environmental damages,” he said.


“We’re also seeking civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the unauthorized use of oil in the waters,” he added.


Holder went on to list a series of failures that led to the disaster.


He said necessary precautions weren’t taken to secure the well, the safest drilling technology was not used to monitor its condition, continuous surveillance was not maintained and safety equipment was faulty.


The defendants named in the suit were BP Exploration and Production Inc; Transocean Deepwater Inc; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc; Transocean Holdings LLC; Anadarko Exploration and Production LP; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; and QBE Underwriting Ltd/Lloyd’s syndicate 1036.


QBE/Lloyd’s, an insurer, was not being sued under the Clean Water Act and can be held liable only up to the amount of Transocean’s insurance policy coverage, the Justice Department said.


BP said in a statement that it would “answer the government?s allegations in a timely manner and will continue to cooperate with all government investigations and inquiries.”


The world’s third largest oil company has defended its response to the spill, which has included selling off assets around the world to raise 30 billion dollars to cover both clean-up and compensation costs.


It has estimated its exposure at nearly 40 billion dollars.


“Alone among the parties, BP has stepped up to pay for the clean-up of the oil, setting aside 20 billion dollars to pay all legitimate claims,” the company said.


“We took these steps before any legal determination of responsibility and will continue to fulfil our commitments in the Gulf as the legal process unfolds.”


BP owns 65 percent of the ruptured Macondo well, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. owns a 25 percent share, and MOEX Offshore, a unit of Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, owns 10 percent. Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon rig itself.


Justice Department lawyers have been conducting parallel civil and criminal investigations since the fiery explosion, which killed 11 workers and toppled the giant rig into Gulf of Mexico.


The rig’s collapse ruptured underwater risers, unleashing a torrent of oil that fouled environmentally fragile Gulf coasts and disrupted local fishing and tourism industries for three months before it was sealed in September.


Among the losses listed in the US complaint were “hundreds of miles of coastal habitats, including salt marshes, sandy beaches, and mangroves; a variety of wildlife, including birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.”


In the Gulf itself, the potential damage extended to “various biota, benthic communities, marine organisms, coral, fish, and water-column habitat,” it said.


And it said the spill resulted in lost opportunities for “fishing, swimming, beach-going, and viewing of birds and wildlife.”


Holder said the Justice Department would continue to investigate the disaster and ways of preventing future spills, adding that the legal action taken Wednesday “is not a final step.”


“As our investigations continue, we will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to hold accountable those responsible for this spill,” he said.


“The full extent of potential injuries, destruction, loss and loss of services is not yet fully known and may not be fully known for many years.”

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Source: SGGP

Eight fishermen rescued after boat hit by cargo vessel

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:32 am


Eight fishermen were rescued after their boat was hit by an cargo-boat which run away after the accident offshore the central province of Thua Thien Hue on November 28.

Fishing boats in Thua Thien Hue Province’s Thuan An seaport. (File photo)


The accident took place at around 11 pm, when the boat was fishing in the sea. The boat carrying eight fishermen, including captain Nguyen Cong Duyen, 50, was hit by cargo vessel 195 Ha Minh from Hai Phong.


Chairman of Vinh Thanh Commune  Dao Duy Phuong said it involved 20 fishing boats in the local in rescuing the fishermen and fishing the sinking boat out of the sea.


The authorities are also looking for the cargo-boat.


In related news, authorities from the central province of Quang Ngai on November 29 sent workers to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago area in an effort to salvage 16 fishermen on a sinking boat.


Fishing boat QNg 96020 from Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son Island sank after its water pumping system broke November 26.


The fishermen on board sent SOS signals while bailing out seawater from the boat.
Local sea police plan to either fix the boat or tow it home as soon as possible.


 

Source: SGGP

Vietnam Airlines signs deal for eight Boeing Dreamliners

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 11:41 am

HANOI, Oct 30, 2010 (AFP) – Vietnam Airlines on Saturday signed a deal to buy eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in a ceremony witnessed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The national flag carrier will take delivery of the first aircraft in 2015, Vietnam Airlines president and chief executive Pham Ngoc Minh was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as saying.

He said the airline was also in talks to buy a further eight of the aircraft.

“Today marks the continuation of a 15-year relationship between Boeing and Vietnam and represents the introduction of the next generation of flight,” the US aircraft maker said in a statement on the signing.

“With this agreement, Vietnam Airlines shows its growing leadership in Southeast Asia by making the 787 Dreamliner the backbone of their twin aisle fleet.”

Source: SGGP

 

Flight from

Eight foreign medics executed by Taliban

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

KABUL, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – The Taliban said Saturday they had killed “Christian missionaries” working in remote northern Afghanistan where the bullet-riddled bodies of six Americans, one German and a British national were found.


Three women were among the group of foreign eye doctors working for the aid organisation International Assistance Mission (IAM), said its executive director Dirk Frans.

(AFP FILES) This file photo taken on September 6, 2001 shows an unidentified Taliban foreign ministry official displaying a book allegedly siezed from the offices of the non-governmental organisation group International Assistance Mission to journalists in Kabul after the Taliban militia expelled the staff of two Christian aid agencies, including the IAM, the previous week.

“Five men, all American, and three women, an American, German and Brit were killed,” Frans told AFP.


Head of Badakhshan provincial police Aqa Noor Kintoz said the group had been lined up and shot in dense forest, according to the testimony of a sole Afghan survivor. The Taliban later claimed responsibility.


“Yesterday at around 8am, one of our patrols confronted a group of foreigners. They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all,” said Zabihullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the Taliban.


Frans corrected the police chief of northern Badakhshan province who earlier said six Germans and two Americans were among the dead.


The US Embassy said it still could not confirm the number of US fatalities but said it had reports of “several” Americans among them.


IAM, whose annual report says its headquarters are in Kabul, says it provides the majority of eye care available to Afghans, running eye hospitals in Kabul, Herat, Mazar and Kandahar.


The Taliban spokesman said the group had been lost in the forest and were killed as they tried to escape.


“They were carrying Persian language bibles, a satellite-tracking device and maps,” he said.


Kintoz said they were shot by armed men in a remote area of Badakhshan province, according to the testimony of “Saifullah”, an Afghan who survived.


The group of eight ophthalmologists had been travelling with three Afghans between Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces and spent a few nights in the forest, he reported Saifullah as saying.


“On the last day they were confronted by a group of armed men who lined them up and shot them. Their money and belongings were all stolen,” said Kintoz.


He said that according to Saifullah’s testimony he had escaped death by reading verses of the Koran, prompting the men to realise he was a Muslim and release him in neighbouring Nuristan province.


The police chief said local villagers had warned the group not to enter the dangerous forested area, but they had insisted they would be safe because they were doctors, according to Saifullah’s statement.


He said the bodies had been found in Kuran wa Minjan district, an area on the border with Nuristan province, one day’s drive from the provincial capital Faizabad.


A US Embassy spokeswoman said “several” American citizens were believed to be among the dead, found on Friday, but could not give further details.


“We have reason to believe that several American citizens are among the deceased…. (We) are actively working with local authorities and others to learn more about the identities and nationalities of these individuals,” the spokeswoman said.


The British Foreign Office said it was “aware of reports and (we) are urgently looking into it”.


There was no immediate response from German authorities.

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Source: SGGP

French mother confesses to eight infant murders

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 3:19 am

A French nursing assistant Thursday admitted suffocating eight newborn babies because she did not want more children and wished to avoid seeing a doctor for contraception, a prosecutor said.


Dominique Cottrez, 45, was charged with murder Thursday after the new owners of her parents’ former home at the weekend found the remains of two newborns buried in plastic bags in the garden as they planted a tree.


The skeletal remains of the other six infants were later found dumped, also in plastic sacks, in the garage of the mother’s current home.

French forsenic policemen arrive in front of the house in Villers-au-Tertre, northern France, where the bodies of eight new-born babies were found, on July 28.

Prosecutor Eric Vaillant told reporters Cottrez admitted suffocating the infants because after having two daughters “she did not want any more children” and did not want “to see a doctor to get contraception.”


Cottrez’s husband Pierre-Marie Cottrez was freed after denying any knowledge of the killings.


His wife, whose heavy build appears to have concealed the pregnancies from acquaintances, now faces trial and life imprisonment.


Investigators said she had confessed to suffocating the babies shortly after their births between 1989 and 2006 or 2007, and to concealing the bodies from her husband under household clutter in the garage.


The father told officers he had never suspected his wife was pregnant.


In past cases some defendants have said they were in denial about their pregnancies and not fully responsible for their actions, but Vaillant said Cottrez had admitted to being “perfectly aware” of her condition.


Stunned residents of the quiet village of Villers-au-Tertre in northern France put flowers outside the two houses where police had found the infants’ bodies over the past few days.


Local priest Robert Meignotte placed eight candles outside the couple’s current home where most of the remains were found.


“I’m very upset,” he said. “I baptise five children every Sunday in the 17 villages of the parish. You don’t just throw children out like that in a big bag. It’s incomprehensible.”


Prosecutors described it as the worst case of infanticide in recent French history, following a string of similar cases in which isolated and troubled mothers disposed of their newborns.


The suspects were brought before a magistrate in the nearby town of Douai to hear the charges.


Pierre-Marie Cottrez worked as a carpenter and was a respected member of the village council in Villers-au-Tertre, a 620-strong community.


“He’s on his third term in office. He used to volunteer in the community. He’s a respectable man,” local mayor Patrick Mercier told reporters.


Mercier said the councillor’s wife was a more withdrawn person who rarely took part in village life. He said she had a weight problem which might be the reason why any pregnancies had passed unnoticed.


“No-one was aware of anything at all,” said the shocked mayor, adding that Villers-au-Tertre was a village “where nothing ever happens.”

The pair were arrested on Tuesday and questioned while police used sniffer dogs to search the two addresses.

According to Vaillant, the mother quickly confessed and told officers to search the couple’s home in another part of the village.

Teams went there and six more sets of remains were found in the garage, tied up in four plastic bin bags and concealed under plant pots and junk.

Gendarmes were deployed outside one of the houses where the bodies were found, and sealed off the entrance to the macabre scene with plastic sheeting.

“I’m still in shock,” said a former mayor of Villers-au-Tertre, Daniel Collignon, echoing the sentiments of many local people.

The couple had lived in the village for 15 years and their grown-up daughters have children themselves. Neither showed any sign of unusual behaviour, local residents said.

The incident follows a string of similar cases in France.

Earlier this year a mother was convicted of killing six of her newborn children and hiding them in the cellar of her house in northwestern France.

Another notorious recent case was of a mother who was jailed in June last year for smothering two boys born in secret at her expatriate home in South Korea, and a third child born in France, and hiding them in a freezer.

Source: SGGP

Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm




Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires


QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)


 

Many areas in the central highlands and southern regions have suffered severe droughts that could lead to forest fires breaking out.


These areas are mainly in the eight provinces of Kon Tum, An Giang, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Ca Mau.


The National Steering Committee for the Prevention of Forest Fires has urged People’s Committees at all levels to introduce tough measures to prevent forest fire and ensure rescue services.


Source: VOV


Source: QDND

Eight airlines to introduce 100 interesting things in Ho Chi Minh City

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 3:45 pm




Eight airlines to introduce 100 interesting things in Ho Chi Minh City


QĐND – Monday, April 05, 2010, 21:50 (GMT+7)

Eight international airlines with routes to Ho Chi Minh City have agreed to project video clips introducing Ho Chi Minh City’s 100 interesting sights on its flights to Ho Chi Minh City, according to La Quoc Khanh, the deputy head of the Municipal Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


The airlines participating in this project are Air France, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Eva Air.


The 3.5 minute video clip starts in the morning and tourists will be guided and introduced to the typical sites found in Ho Chi Minh City.


Ho Chi Minh City’s 100 interesting things is the result of voting by in which inbound and outbound tourists from Ho Chi Minh City for the best restaurants, hotels, dishes, shopping centers, landscapes, café, festivals, tourism events, souvenirs and entertainment sites.


Source: TT


Translated by Mai Huong


Source: QDND

One dead, eight missing in search for S.Korea sailors

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:05 am

SEOUL, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – A sailor died and eight were missing Saturday after their fishing boat, which was helping search for missing sailors from a sunken warship, collided with a freighter, maritime police said.


The fishing vessel, with nine crew aboard, sank after sending a distress signal late Friday near South Korea’s western sea border with North Korea, after she was apparently hit by a Cambodian-registered ship.

South Korean navy underwater demolition team members on rubber boats search for possible survivors and bodies from the sunken warship on April 2, 2010. AFP photo

The boat was one of 10 trawlers helping with the operation to get to 46 sailors officials say could still be alive in the sunken wreckage of the warship which went down on March 26 following a mystery explosion.


“We’ve captured the Taiyo 1, a Cambodian-registered 1,472-ton freighter, which was apparently involved in the collision,” an Incheon Maritime Police spokesman told AFP.


South Korea’s navy, backed by the fishing boats and US military divers, were struggling against high waves and strong currents to explore the hull sections where many of the missing navy sailors could have been trapped.


The area has been crowded with ships and aircraft, which have been combing the area in a search and rescue operation.


But efforts to inspect the sunken wreckage of the warship have been hampered by cold weather and strong currents.


Navy authorities again had to call off a plan to send divers down to the wreckage on Saturday morning because of high waves, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said.


Fifty-eight crewmen were saved soon after the sinking, but none since. Officials suspect most of the missing are in the rear section of the hull.


The disaster site is close to the disputed border which was the scene of deadly naval clashes between North and South Korea in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

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Source: SGGP

One dead, eight missing in search for S.Korea sailors

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 at 9:05 am

SEOUL, April 3, 2010 (AFP) – A sailor died and eight were missing Saturday after their fishing boat, which was helping search for missing sailors from a sunken warship, collided with a freighter, maritime police said.


The fishing vessel, with nine crew aboard, sank after sending a distress signal late Friday near South Korea’s western sea border with North Korea, after she was apparently hit by a Cambodian-registered ship.

South Korean navy underwater demolition team members on rubber boats search for possible survivors and bodies from the sunken warship on April 2, 2010. AFP photo

The boat was one of 10 trawlers helping with the operation to get to 46 sailors officials say could still be alive in the sunken wreckage of the warship which went down on March 26 following a mystery explosion.


“We’ve captured the Taiyo 1, a Cambodian-registered 1,472-ton freighter, which was apparently involved in the collision,” an Incheon Maritime Police spokesman told AFP.


South Korea’s navy, backed by the fishing boats and US military divers, were struggling against high waves and strong currents to explore the hull sections where many of the missing navy sailors could have been trapped.


The area has been crowded with ships and aircraft, which have been combing the area in a search and rescue operation.


But efforts to inspect the sunken wreckage of the warship have been hampered by cold weather and strong currents.


Navy authorities again had to call off a plan to send divers down to the wreckage on Saturday morning because of high waves, a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said.


Fifty-eight crewmen were saved soon after the sinking, but none since. Officials suspect most of the missing are in the rear section of the hull.


The disaster site is close to the disputed border which was the scene of deadly naval clashes between North and South Korea in 1999 and 2002 and of a firefight last November.

d
Source: SGGP

Eight US troops killed in Afghanistan firefight

In World on October 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm

KABUL (AFP) – NATO has suffered its deadliest attack in Afghanistan in more than a year after eight US soldiers were killed in a firefight in the east of the country, the alliance said Sunday.








A US soldier fires his assault rifle during a gun battle with insurgent forces in Barge Matal, in Afghanistan’s eastern Nuristan province in July. Eight American soldiers and two Afghan troops were killed in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said Sunday. (AFP photo)

Tribal militia launched attacks on Saturday from a local mosque and a village in Nuristan province near the border with Pakistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.


“Coalition forces effectively repelled the attack and inflicted heavy enemy casualties, while eight ISAF and two ANSF service members were killed,” a statement said, referring to Afghan National Security Forces.


No exact details were given on the location of the firefight, which a Taliban spokesman claimed had killed 30 foreign and Afghan troops.


An ISAF spokesman told AFP later: “I can confirm that they (the foreign troops) were all American.”


The attack was the deadliest single incident for foreign forces since 10 French troops were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan in August 2008.


Six Italian soldiers were killed in a massive suicide bomb in the capital Kabul last month.


Coalition forces are currently battling to quell a growing insurgency that is spreading across Afghanistan, nearly eight years after the hardline Islamist Taliban were ousted from power.


Eastern Afghanistan has seen an escalation in insurgent-related violence recently as Taliban-linked militias spread their footprint beyond regions like Kandahar and Helmand provinces in the south, where they have long held sway.


The intelligence head of Nuristan province, Mohammad Farooq, told AFP that Saturday’s attack took place in the province’s Kamdesh region, near the lawless border with Pakistan, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban sympathisers are based.


ISAF said the militants had fired on the coalition forces in outposts.


The Taliban were virtually wiped out in 2002 but are now on the march. Related article: Taliban revival raises fear


The London-based International Council on Security and Development think-tank estimates they now have a permanent presence in 80 percent of the country.


The commander of the more than 100,000 NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, US General Stanley McChrystal, has described the Afghan security situation as “serious” and reportedly requested up to 40,000 more troops. Related article: Nato seeks strategy


The extra forces would be sent mainly to the north and west of the country, where troop numbers are lowest, the US military told AFP on Saturday.


Mariam Abou Zahab, from the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI) in Paris, said: “The Taliban are in a strong position. They want to show that they are everywhere.”


North and west Afghanistan were calm until the start of this year, but have seen a sharp deterioration in security in recent months, as Taliban insurgents intensified attacks before the August 20 presidential election.


Like in the south and the east, fighting between militants and international forces has now become a daily occurrence.


This year has been the deadliest year for foreign troops since 2001, with 394 deaths, 236 of them American, according to an AFP toll based on a tally by the independent icasualties.org website.


More than 1,430 soldiers have died since the start of US-led operations in 2001.


Political uncertainty has exacerbated the tenuous security situation as no result has yet been declared in the August 20 presidential poll, which was marred by fraud allegations.


Afghanistan’s Western-backed President Hamid Karzai, accused of vote-rigging, leads preliminary results with 55 percent of the vote, while his main rival Abdullah Abdullah has around 28 percent.


Auditing of suspect ballots from more than 3,000 ballot boxes is due to start Monday, electoral officials have said.


Source: SGGP