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San Diu folk songs fade with time

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:13 am

San Diu folk songs fade with time

QĐND – Thursday, December 30, 2010, 20:37 (GMT+7)

The folk singing of the San Diu ethnic group in the northern province of Tuyen Quang is fading with time, worry local elders.

The folk lyric singing, known as Soong Co, is rarely heard now, even in Ninh Lai commune, Son Duong district, where the form was believed to have originated. Over 70 percent of the population of Ninh Lai commune are of the San Diu group but few young people can now sing the songs.

“I even don’t know how to speak the San Diu language, let alone sing the traditional songs,” say some teenagers in the area.

Do Van Huong, 66, is one of the rare remaining locals who still can, and he recalls the memories of his youth and falling in love with his wife, Hoang Thi Suu, during nights of singing Soong Co.

“Back then, men who couldn’t sing Soong Co will not have been able to find a wife,” said Huong. “In springs, when farmers weren’t so busy in the fields working, young people always joined singing festivals.”

Teams of singers travelled around, stopping at every village and recruiting more members at each stop, he said.

“The lyrics are simple spoken language, yet they contain melodies inside,” said Le Thi Long, 61, from Ninh Lai. “People loved to sing Soong Co since, through the songs, they could speak out their feelings and hopes.”

While young people sang the songs to find lovers, old people used them to teach the youth about the merits of the ancestors and good behaviour, Long said.

According to Nguyen Viet Thanh, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, teens from local ethnic groups no longer wear traditional clothes, speak ethnic languages, or have even grown up in homes of traditional design.

The customs of other ethnic groups in the province were also fading, Thanh said, including the Long Tong (Field Work) Festival of the Tay ethnic group, the Cap Sac (coming of age) ceremony and Tet Nhay (New Year’s Dance) of the Dao group, the Nhay Lua (Fire Dance) of the Pa Then group, and the Sinh Ca songs of the Cao Lan group.

The province has begun a project to preserve these cultural values, with a budget of up to 3.8 billion VND (1.9 million USD). The project includes research on the cultural values of seven ethnic groups in 45 villages in the districts of Na Hang, Son Duong, Chiem Hoa, Yen Son and Ham Yen.

From that research, the most endangered heritage will be prioritised for preservation efforts, with some local festivals to be reconstituted in conjunction with economic and tourism development efforts.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

China mudslide rescue hopes fade as toll tops 700

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2010 at 7:21 am

 Hopes of finding survivors of China’s worst mudslides in decades faded Wednesday as the death toll topped 700, with more than 1,000 people still missing under an avalanche of rock and sludge.

More than 10,000 soldiers and rescuers combed through the mountains of mud that buried a remote area of the northwest province of Gansu at the weekend, but 72 hours after the disaster, the window of survival was quickly closing.

Authorities were increasingly focused on relief efforts, with hundreds of medical workers sent to the disaster zone along with experts in epidemic prevention amid fears of an outbreak of water-borne disease.

Tens of thousands of residents of hardest-hit Zhouqu county were without adequate food and drinking water, with many roads leading to the area damaged. A Red Cross worker said it was hard to find safe ground to erect tents.

Survivors grieve for a relative killed during the deadly flood-triggered landslides in Zhouqu, in northwest China’s Gansu province.

Meteorologists have predicted thunderstorms in Zhouqu over the next few days — which could hinder clean-up efforts and frighten rattled residents already wary of sleeping on unstable ground.

“Mudslides are much more devastating than earthquakes,” one rescuer was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying.

“There is only a one percent chance that anybody could be found alive here.”

A continuous stream of rescuers trudged through the zone, bearing the dead on stretchers, an AFP correspondent witnessed early Wednesday. Carts of coffins were seen at the roadside.

At least a dozen bodies were laid out at a makeshift morgue in the heat, awaiting identification. Most were covered, but one was out in the open. The stench was overwhelming, causing some residents to gag and others to run past.

The mudslides are the latest in a string of weather-related disasters, as China battles its worst flooding in a decade. More than 2,100 people were left dead or missing and 12 million evacuated before the Gansu tragedy.

On Tuesday, the director of Gansu’s civil affairs department, Tian Baozhong, painted a grim picture, telling reporters the death toll had more than doubled to 702, while the number of missing had dropped only slightly to 1,042.

The mudslides levelled an area five kilometres (three miles) long and 300 metres wide, Xinhua said. Floodwaters up to three storeys high have submerged half of Zhouqu county, where one-third of the population is Tibetan.

The landslides swept homes, cars and debris into the Bailong river running through Zhouqu, choking off the waterway and triggering flooding in the mountainous area, the government said.

In Zhouqu town, workers tried to clear streets buried in thick mud and debris from more than 300 destroyed homes. Workers were also draining an unstable barrier lake created by the landslides, amid fears it could burst.

But some rescuers told state media they could not make much more progress without heavy excavation equipment, which was stuck outside the zone because of flooded roads.

Damaged roads and bridges also prevented much-needed aid from getting through. Yang Long, a doctor running a makeshift clinic at a Zhouqu school, said he had treated several adults and children for diarrhea.

“Unhealthy drinking water and food mainly caused the disease and we need more medicine,” Yang told the China Daily.

The health ministry said Tuesday that no major epidemics had been reported so far.

As homeless residents milled around town, saying they did not know where to go, relief workers said the difficult terrain had

hindered their efforts to provide temporary housing in the form of more than 4,000 tents.

“We have adequate tents, but insufficient space to pitch them,” Zhang Hongdong, a Red Cross worker, told Xinhua.

People who have lost homes will be helped to rebuild, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday, pledging to complete reconstruction before winter sets in or no later than June next year.

Both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended their condolences to the relatives of the victims.

Source: SGGP

Hopes fade for China mudslide survivors

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 11:22 am

ZHOUQU, China (AFP) – Rescuers in northwest China on Tuesday battled on with the grim task of searching for over 1,100 people missing in huge mudslides that have killed 337, but hopes faded that many would be saved.

At least three villages were levelled by an avalanche of mud and rocks triggered by heavy rains Saturday in a remote area of Gansu province — the latest deadly disaster as China battles its worst flooding in a decade.

A survivor jumps into floodwaters as rescuers (background) evacuate people from flooded buildings in Zhouqu, causing flooding in northwest China’s Gansu province on August 8, 2010. AFP

With more rain forecast for later in the week, Premier Wen Jiabao — who comforted survivors of the devastation in hardest-hit Zhouqu on Monday — urged rescuers to hurry but acknowledged the task would be an arduous one.

“We must fully realise the difficulties for the search and rescue work,” Wen was quoted as saying by the state Xinhua news agency.

“You must race against the clock and spare no efforts in saving lives.”

President Hu Jintao presided over a meeting of senior Communist Party leaders Tuesday on how to handle the crisis, Xinhua said.

Thousands of soldiers and rescuers armed mainly with shovels, hoes and rope hunted for survivors in Zhouqu, the county seat, where homes were torn apart and streets still buried in mud as deep as two metres (six feet) in places.

“My older brother is buried here. He was on the ground floor,” Chen Xue, 45, told AFP, pointing at a house submerged in mud. Only the third floor poked through the sludge.

Chen said he had travelled a full day from neighbouring Sichuan province to try to find his sibling, who was doing construction work in Zhouqu.

“I will wait here until they bring him out,” he said, acknowledging that his brother had likely died in the disaster, as rescue workers used shovels and picks to go through the mess, some with the help of sniffer dogs.

The landslides swept mud, houses, cars and other debris into the Bailong river running through Zhouqu, blocking the waterway and triggering flooding in the mountainous area, the government said.

The Bailong remained flooded on Tuesday, with only the tops of street lamps visible above the water line, an AFP correspondent saw.

The mudslides levelled an area five kilometres (three miles) long and 500 metres wide, Xinhua said. Floodwaters up to three storeys high have submerged half the county, where one third of the population is Tibetan.

Roads and bridges have also been destroyed.

Aerial photos published by state media showed Zhouqu essentially split in two by a massive river of mud.

In the centre of town, the pungent odour of death permeated the air. Residents wandered about, searching for their relatives. Tibetan women cried and chanted in mourning for the victims.

The death toll jumped to 337 Monday, Xinhua said, quoting Chen Jianhua, communist party chief of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous prefecture. Another 1,148 others were missing.

Chen said 218 injured survivors had been taken to local hospitals. More than 40 people with serious injuries were transferred to the provincial capital Lanzhou for treatment.

He told a press briefing that families of dead will be given a payment of 8,000 yuan (1,200 dollars) for each family member lost in the disaster.

In Zhouqu, residents queued for food and bottled water, an AFP correspondent saw. Tens of thousands were reportedly in need, and aid agencies were rushing supplies to the disaster zone.

Authorities have sent more than 4,500 soldiers, police, firefighters and medics to help in search and rescue efforts. Signs of life were heard on Monday, Xinhua quoted rescuers as saying.

More rain was forecast for the area from Wednesday.

The government had said more than 2,100 people were dead or missing nationwide in flood-related disasters before the Gansu mudslides. More than 12 million others have been evacuated from their homes.

Source: SGGP

Hopes fade for 46 missing after South Korea naval disaster

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 at 6:22 am

SEOUL, March 28, 2010 (AFP) – Ships and aircraft searched choppy seas Saturday for survivors of one of South Korea’s worst naval disasters, but hopes faded for 46 missing after an unexplained explosion tore a warship in half.

The tragedy happened near the tense disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea, scene of bloody naval clashes in 1999 and 2002. Seoul’s officials said there was no sign so far the North was to blame.

President Lee Myung-Bak called emergency security meetings and ordered a swift and thorough probe into the sinking on Friday evening of the 1,200-tonne corvette near Baengnyeong island.

Details of the disaster began to emerge Saturday.

In a handout picture released by the Ongjin County Office shows a South Korean Navy Pohang class Patrol Combat Corvette PCC-772 Chonan sunk near Baengnyeong island off Incheon, west of Seoul on March 27, 2010. AFP PHOTO

“The ship was torn apart and the stern sank immediately,” Choi Won-Il, captain of the Cheonan, told relatives of those missing.

“While I was reviewing an operation plan in my cabin, there was the sound of an explosion and the ship keeled to the right. We lost power and telecommunications,” Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.

“I was trapped in the cabin for five minutes before my colleagues broke the window in and let me out. When I got out, the stern had disappeared.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said 58 sailors had been rescued but 46 were missing. Thirteen of those saved were injured but in stable condition.

“Many of the missing people might have been trapped inside the sunken ship,” JCS spokesman Lee Ki-Sik told a parliamentary committee.

A team of 18 navy divers had to postpone an attempt to search the craft until Sunday because of high waves and darkness.

Defence Minister Kim Tae-Young said thermal images indicated the ship had been torn in half. “But we have to pull her up to determine the exact cause,” he said, adding a salvage ship would arrive Sunday afternoon.

Reports said the 88-metre (290-foot) craft would have been carrying missiles, torpedoes and other weaponry and munitions. However survivors believe the impact came from outside, according to defence ministry spokesman Won Tae-Jae.

“The possibility of the ship having been attacked will be investigated along with other possibilities,” Won said.

The military said there were no abnormal military movements at the time on the North Korean side of the maritime border. “We are detecting no abnormal movement from North Korea,” JCS spokesman Park Sung-Woo said.

JCS officer Lee Ki-Shik said the military was “very cautious about pointing fingers at North Korea or any other causes at the moment.”

Baek Seung-Joo of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses told AFP the government appeared to suspect an accident rather than sabotage.

Kim Jin-Ho, a seaman on a local passenger ship that was bound for Baengnyeong, described Friday evening’s horrific scene to YTN television.

“Survivors were screaming for help,” Kim said. “As the ship was sinking, they were hanging onto the front part of the deck, shouting: ‘Save me!'”

Hopes for the missing were fading with each hour as the temperature in the area at the time was about 37 degrees Fahrenheit (three degrees Celsius).

President Lee, who summoned an emergency security meeting immediately after the sinking, called two more sessions on Saturday.

He ordered a “thorough and swift probe” into the cause of the sinking, “keeping all windows of possibility open,” a spokeswoman said.

In Washington, the State Department said it had no evidence of North Korean involvement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who is South Korean, expressed his condolences “to the families of the victims, and to the government and people of the Republic of Korea,” his office said.

Last November the navies of the two Koreas exchanged fire in the area and a North Korean patrol boat retreated in flames with unknown casualties.

The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-1953 conflict ended only in an armistice.

The North refuses to accept the maritime border known as the Northern Limit Line, which was drawn up by United Nations forces after the war. It says the line should run further to the south.

Source: SGGP

Hopes fade for Indonesian quake victims

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

PADANG, Indonesia (AFP) – Rescuers held out scant hope of finding more Indonesian quake survivors on Sunday, leaving clean-up teams the grim task of retrieving the decaying bodies of thousands of victims from the rubble.

The military and medics pushed deeper into rural areas where whole villages have been buried by landslides, and more international rescue teams arrived with sniffer dogs and specialist equipment.

An Indonesian woman cries after hearing that her relative died in last month’s devastating earthquake (AFP photo)

But they said there was little likelihood of plucking people out alive from the wreckage of the 7.6-magnitude quake which struck on Wednesday.

In the worst-hit city of Padang, heavy excavators moved over the crumpled remains of the Ambacang hotel, where hopes had been raised for survivors after police received a SMS phone message believed to be from someone inside.

“I think the chances of finding survivors are very slim,” the team leader of Newmont Emergency Rescue Team, Samsubin, told AFP at the scene of the ruined Dutch colonial-era hotel.

“We are taking an aggressive approach today to remove about 140 bodies that we believe are buried near the swimming pool.” Related article: Asian armies to the rescue

Jack hammers and other heavy cutting machinery were deployed on the huge pile of concrete, metal rods and debris which has drawn large crowds despite the clouds of dust and sickening smell of decomposition.

“What rescuers say is that the worst bit is that they’re finding a finger or hand here, a foot there, and they’re trying to piece people together,” said the head of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Indonesia, Bob McKerrow. Related article: Indonesia’s unlucky president

Estimates by the government and international agencies for the number of dead or buried range from 3,000-4,000.

“The number of people who died is 551 now, but it could reach 3,000,” Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari told AFP Sunday. “We’ll have more solid figures in three to four days’ time.”

Outside Padang, the scale of the disaster is only now being discovered. Desperate villagers complained to AFP reporters they were being neglected while the focus remained on the city.

Whole hillside villages were found obliterated after giant landslides buried houses and hundreds of people, including an entire wedding party of 30 people swept away in an avalanche of mud and rock.

“Today the military will be heading to landslide areas which we have not been able to access earlier because roads are closed and broken,” Indonesian military spokesman Sagom Tamboen told AFP.

The mayor of Padang, Fauzi Bahar, said that only 60 percent of the disaster zone had been accessed by emergency teams, and that more heavy machinery and materials to rebuild houses were urgently needed.

He said people were “traumatised” in his city, the capital of West Sumatra, which now faces a colossal rebuilding task.

Anger about poor construction and lax enforcement of building regulations is beginning to surface as people recover from the shock of the disaster.

“The government must introduce new standards when rebuilding the city,” said Irwadi, a fisheries ministry official waiting outside the Ambacang hotel for news of colleagues who had been meeting there when the quake hit.

“They must only approve permits for buildings that are strong and only use quality building materials.”

Countries from around the world have rushed aid and rescue teams to the scene and international aid groups are ramping up efforts to provide housing, medical services and basics such as food and water.

Teams from Australia, Britain, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the United States have arrived or are travelling to the scene to help overwhelmed and exhausted locals.

The quake struck off Sumatra’s west coast northwest of Padang on Wednesday on a major fault-line on the volatile “Ring of Fire” that scientists have long warned was a disaster waiting to happen.

Another 5.5-magnitude earthquake rocked Indonesia on Sunday, in West Papua province which is in the far east of the sprawling archipelago about 3,500 kilometres (2,200 miles) from the Sumatra quake disaster zone.

Authorities said there were no reports of injuries there.

Source: SGGP

Fears fade for global investors; VN-Index up

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Joy returned to the ACB Securities bourse in Ha Noi as the VN-Index rebounded yesterday. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh

HA NOI — The local stock exchange witnessed an impressive rebound yesterday, backed by less investor panic towards the global credit crunch as solution packages started to take effect.

The VN-Index grew a strong 4.75 per cent to 389.33 points, after ending at 371.67 on Monday. The level was close to the VN-Index’s lowest mark so far at 366.02 on June 20.

The southern exchange saw all its 160 listed shares rise close to the top of the regulated trading band. The best performing stocks were BMC of Binh Dinh Minerals, VPL of Vinpearl and IMP of Imexpharm Pharmaceutical.

“The rebound today is not surprising as the local market is now governed by psychological factors [of the global economy],” said Vu Duc Nghia, the deputy director of Bien Viet Securities.

He explained that what happened in the international and regional stock exchanges yesterday and Monday influenced local investors’ attitudes towards securities trading.

Since the beginning of the week, Asian and EU stock markets started strong recoveries, after the US Federal Reserve and finance ministers of the biggest global economies started injecting money into the banking system, and acquiring stakes in commercial banks.

The decisions reassured global investors who feared a spreading economic crisis.

“When local investors saw fervent sentiments appearing world-wide, they began worrying less. Then they came back to securities trading,” Nghia added.

Despite the strong recovery of shares, the market saw a modest trading volume of 9.07 million shares, worth VND300.93 billion (US$17.91 million).

This figure represented a reduction of 29.03 per cent over Monday’s volume.

“Sellers began holding onto shares when they saw huge purchases, then the trading volume reduced substantially,” said Vu Thanh Phong at Thien Viet Securities.

Phong predicted the situation would continue over the next several days as the stock market was signalling an upward trend.

The HASTC-Index of the Ha Noi Securities Trading Centre exceeded the regulated trading band of 7 per cent to rise by 7.57 per cent, and close at 128.37 points.

Only one share, SPP of Sai Gon Plastic Package, closed down. HSC of constructor Hacinco was not traded, while the remaining shares all hit the ceiling of the trading band.

Like the HCM City Stock Exchange, the Ha Noi centre also saw its trading volume at half of Monday’s at 3.53 million shares. The figure represented a turnover of VND123.45 billion ($7.35 million). —