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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Australia says little hope of more survivors from boat wreck

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 8:57 am

SYDNEY, Dec 17, 2010 (AFP) – Australia said Friday there was little hope of finding more survivors from a people-smuggling boat which smashed into Christmas Island two days ago and that the full death toll may never be known.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said divers had recovered two more bodies, bringing the official death toll to 30, as air and sea searches continued for survivors after their wooden fishing boat sank early Wednesday.

“We do need to face the grim reality that it is becoming increasingly unlikely, an increasingly remote possibility, that survivors will be found at this stage,” she told reporters in Sydney.

“It remains unclear exactly how many people were on the vessel and we may never know that number with precision,” she said, adding that three Indonesian crew were among the 42 survivors.

The wooden fishing boat crowded with up to 100 Iraqi, Kurdish and Iranian asylum seekers and their families was dashed against jagged rocks in dangerous seas at the remote Indian Ocean outpost early on Wednesday, throwing all on board into the churning water.

Of those pulled alive from the sea, five were evacuated to Perth for medical treatment while the rest were being treated on Christmas Island, which lies 2,600 kilometres (1,612 miles) from the mainland.

Australia has a policy of mandatory detention of boat people and uses Christmas Island as its main processing facility to determine whether they are legitimate refugees.

While boats are often picked up as they attempt to make their way to the island, Gillard said authorities had not been aware that this particular boat was approaching.

“The people smuggling vessel was not sighted until it was sighted from Christmas Island itself by residents,” she said, adding that Australia’s sea patrols covered a massive area.

“If we look at the amount of ocean that lies to our north, the area that we seek to keep under watch, the area in which we are most likely to see asylum seeker vessels, that area is more than 1.4 million square nautical miles.

“Consequently I think people would understand, with such a big area, that it is possible for a boat to get to Christmas Island and not be detected.”

The tragedy has sparked renewed debate on Asia’s people smuggling trade, which has brought more than 5,000 asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to Australia this year, mostly on unseaworthy vessels from Indonesia.

Gillard said that Australian authorities were working closely with the people smuggling task force from the Indonesian National Police, but did not specify where she believed the boat had come from.

Indonesian police said there was no criminal element to the boat wreck, while Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said Jakarta had no comment on the latest loss of life involving asylum seekers in the waters between Java and the Australian mainland.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to get tough with the smugglers during a visit to Australia earlier this year, and Gillard raised the issue when she visited Jakarta last month.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government would stick to its strategy of attempting to create a regional processing centre, possibly in East Timor, aiming to break the people-smuggling rings operating in Asia.

Australia has said Wednesday’s accident will be the subject of a criminal investigation and a coroner’s probe.

Source: SGGP

New Zealand PM expresses hope for trapped miners

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 6:13 am

Hope fades for 11 trapped miners in China

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 6:24 am

Rescuers said Sunday there was little hope that 11 missing miners survived a gas leak in a central Chinese coal mine that killed 26 of their colleages, after Chile offered help in the operation.

Du Bo, the deputy director of the rescue operation, said it would take days to find the miners, who were trapped when a “sudden coal and gas outburst” hit Saturday in the central province of Henan, state media reported.

“There is not much of a chance that the 11 trapped miners could have survived and it will take three to four days to find them,” Du was quoted as saying by the official China News Service.

File photo shows coal miners at a small mine in Xiaoyi in China’s Shanxi province.

The missing miners were likely buried amid the more than 2,500 tonnes of coal dust that smothered the pit after the gas leak, suffocating most of the victims, Du said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A total of 276 miners were at work below ground when the disaster happened in the city of Yuzhou and 239 managed to make it to the surface, the national work safety agency said, confirming the death and missing toll.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera offered to help China, saying his country had learned from the San Jose mine disaster in northern Chile, where 33 miners were trapped for two months before being pulled out alive last week.

“If we can be of any help, they know that they can count on us,” Pinera said during a visit to London.

China’s latest tragedy highlights the appalling safety conditions in its mines, in which over 2,600 miners perished last year, according to official figures.

Rescuers said the missing miners were 50 to 80 metres (165 to 260 feet) below the pit entrance but the heavy dust slowed their progress through the narrow tunnels.

The Henan mine is owned by a consortium that includes China Power Investment Corp. — a major state-owned power producer, Xinhua said.

Chinese mines are notoriously dangerous due to the widespread flouting of safety rules, typically blamed on corrupt mine operators trying to keep costs down, with coal mining particularly accident-prone.

China’s poor safety record has come under fresh scrutiny after the successful rescue of the Chilean miners gripped the world, sparking comparisons with China’s litany of deadly disasters.

Last year, 2,631 Chinese miners were killed, according to official statistics, but independent labour groups say the true figure is likely to be much higher as many accidents are believed to be covered up.

The government has repeatedly vowed to shut dangerous mines and increase safety, but the accidents continue with regularity as mines hustle to pump out the coal on which China relies for about 70 percent of its energy.

Some state media editorials said China should learn from the better training and safety systems of Chilean mines.

China had its own “miracle” mine rescue in April when 115 miners were rescued after more than a week trapped underground in a flooded mine shaft in the northern province of Shanxi.

Source: SGGP

Badminton players hope for more slots in VN Open

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 3:57 am

Badminton players hope for more slots in VN Open

QĐND – Tuesday, October 05, 2010, 20:27 (GMT+7)

Vietnamese badminton players may win more slots in the main draw when the Yonex-Sunrise Vietnam Grand Prix Open 2010 kicks off on Oct. 5 with qualifying matches.

Local players along with players from 13 other countries will fight for 24 slots in all five events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

In the men’s singles qualification, Nguyen Hoang Giang and Nguyen Huynh Thong Thao are hopefuls while Nguyen Thi Sen, who won a bronze medal in the Youth Olympics in Singapore in August, is likely to enter the main draw.

The Hanoi-based pair of Nguyen Ngoc Tung and Tran Duc Phong is a strong contender for the men’s doubles main draw.

VietNam already secured four slots in the women’s doubles, as all pairs in the qualification are local.

In the mixed doubles event, Nguyen Hoang Hai and Le Thi Thanh Thuy will stand a chance to advance to the main draw.

The tournament, which was launched in 2008, has a total cash prize of 50,000 USD. This year there are a total of 274 players.

The main draw matches will take place on Oct. 6 and the men’s and women’s singles champions will receive 3,750 USD each, while the doubles winners will pocket 3,950 USD each.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Rescuers hope for survivors after floods kill 120 in Kashmir

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

SRINAGAR, India, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – Rescuers struggled to find survivors Saturday after devastating floods caused by freak rains killed at least 120 people in a remote part of Indian Kashmir popular for adventure sports.

Scores remained missing Saturday as heavy rainfall briefly disrupted rescue efforts and raised fears of more flooding, with several villages in the stark Himalayan border region still cut off.

“The death toll is likely to increase from 120 as more bodies are arriving,” said a senior police official, asking not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

At least 400 people were reported injured in the floods, which struck without warning in the region which shares a sensitive border with China and has a large Indian military presence.

Thousands more were left homeless in the disaster, which came as India’s neighbour Pakistan has been hit by the country’s worst flooding in living memory, affecting up to 15 million people.

Shops in a newly built market in Leh, the main town in the majority Buddhist Ladakh area, were transformed into temporary mortuaries where rescuers laid out bodies.

A Lal Pir Thermal Power building is seen surrounded by floodwaters in Lal Pir, Pakistan on August 7, 2010. AFP

India’s military was helping in the rescue efforts after floodwaters — triggered by a cloudburst in the normally arid region — swamped Leh and surrounding villages in the early hours of Friday as people slept.

Among those killed by the flash floods and mudslides were labourers from various Indian states.

“Our immediate priority is to look for survivors,” said state tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, who was directing rescue efforts in Leh.

Rescuers waded in knee-deep mud to reach victims trapped in collapsed buildings in Leh, which lies 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) above sea level.

A powerful six-foot (two-metre) wave of water, mud and sand left the area looking “like it was bombed,” R.S. Raina, who works for state broadcaster Doordarshan in Leh, told AFP. “I’ve never seen such devastation,” Raina said.

The mountainous area in the southeastern part of Muslim-majority Kashmir is a favourite destination for foreign adventure tourists interested in trekking and river rafting.

Farooq Shah, the region’s director of tourism, said only one foreign tourist was known to have been injured and was out of danger. But he said the situation would become clearer in a day or two as some tourists had travelled to remote villages now cut off by the devastation.

Up to 3,000 tourists were staying in Leh but none of the major hotels suffered serious damage, Leh tourism official Nissar Hussain said. Many tourists were now assisting the relief operations.

Air Force flights resumed to Leh airport Saturday, bringing vital relief supplies, after workers cleared runways of mud and debris.

But the floodwaters had washed away parts of the main highway to the town, making road transport difficult.

“The flights have brought in relief material, including medicines,” tourism official Nissar Hussain told AFP. Private airlines had also resumed operations, allowing some foreign tourists to leave.

Some 25 soldiers were missing after the floods washed away several army posts, said army spokesman Sitanshu Kar.

Civilian doctors were operating in the main army hospital as “the Leh Civil Hospital has been filled with mud,” Kar said.

Rivers in the area had already been running high due to heavy runoff from melting winter snows, exacerbating the disaster, officials said.

Source: SGGP

Hope for Gulf as BP plugs well, most of the oil gone

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 7:22 am

An end to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was in sight as BP plugged its runaway well and US officials said most of the toxic crude has been cleaned up or dispersed.

Though undoubtedly the best day since the disaster began more than 15 weeks ago, US officials cautioned that a great deal of clean-up work remained and that the long-term impact could be felt for years, even decades, to come.

BP’s long-awaited “static kill” was conducted overnight as heavy drilling fluid was rammed into the busted Macondo well for eight hours, forcing the oil back down into the reservoir miles beneath the seabed.

We “have reached a static condition in the well that allows us to have high confidence that there will be no oil leaking into the environment,” US spill response chief Thad Allen told reporters at a White House briefing.

A Brown Pelican flies at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station as the center prepares to transfer the birds after they were rehabilitated from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.

The breakthrough came 106 days after a devastating explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20 killed 11 workers and unleashed a torrent of oil into the Gulf.

“So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. And we are very pleased with that,” US President Barack Obama said. “Our recovery efforts, though, will continue. We have to reverse the damage that’s been done.”

Allen later authorized BP to cement over the busted well, an operation that the British-based energy giant said would begin Thursday.

The US pointman also said, however, that he had “made it clear” to the company that the cementing should “in no way delay the completion of the relief well,” expected to be finished mid-August to seal the well sealed permanently.

At 4.9 million barrels — or enough oil to fill 311 Olympic-sized swimming pools — the disaster is the biggest maritime spill on record.

It threatened the fish and wildlife-rich US Gulf coast with environmental ruin and plunged residents of coastal communities into months of anguish over their livelihoods and the region’s future.

A government report released Wednesday found that a third of the oil was captured or mitigated through burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead.

Heat from the sun helped some of the chemicals in the crude evaporate. Waves and currents broke the slick up into smaller patches. Then the microbes which feed on natural oil seeps in the Gulf got to work, it said.

“At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system,” said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“And most of the remainder is degrading rapidly, or is being removed from the beaches.”

But Lubchenco was quick to stress that scientists will not be able to determine for a long time the full extent of the damage.

“The oil that was released and has already impacted wildlife at the surface, young juvenile stages and eggs beneath the surface, will likely have very considerable impacts for years and possibly decades to come,” she told reporters at the White House briefing.

The problem, she explained, is that oil is still toxic even when it has been broken down into very small droplets. And there was simply so very, very much of it.

About 24 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters remain closed to fishing, and even when fishermen are able to fill their nets they fear consumers might not believe the seafood is safe to eat.

With tourists likely to avoid Gulf beaches for years and oil industry jobs under threat from Obama’s moratorium on new deep sea drilling permits, the future remains bleak for many coastal communities.

BP, meanwhile, is hoping to rebuild its shattered reputation but must also meet the claims of thousands of individuals and businesses whose livelihoods have been washed away, while a mammoth civil trial looms.

BP senior vice president Kent Wells expressed relief that 20 days after the flow of oil in the sea was stemmed with a temporary cap “it’s very difficult for us to find any oil anywhere on the surface.”

He refused, however, to declare victory until the well is permanently sealed.

Source: SGGP

New volcano ash flight rules bring hope for airlines

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

LONDON (AFP) – British aviation regulators bring in measures Tuesday to reduce the airspace closures fiercely criticised by airlines, as European skies were hit by new shutdowns caused by volcano ash clouds.

A view showing heavy clouds over dwellings set near the Eyjafjoell volcano in Iceland. AFP photo

Plumes of thick ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, which in April shut down much of Europe’s airspace for a week last month, drifted over the continent Monday, closing major airports and cancelling some 1,000 flights.

Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland closed airspace, with London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest air hub, and Amsterdam-Schiphol among those affected.

Airlines, which have lost millions of dollars due to the ash alerts, have expressed their fury with what they viewed as unnecessary restrictions introduced by overcautious safety watchdogs.

In a bid to keep the skies open for business, British aviation regulators introduce new measures from midday Tuesday that will to allow flights in thicker ash than previously permitted for a certain amount of time.

The new area — called a “Time-Limited Zone” — was created after discussions between regulators and manufacturers, said regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Experts believe high concentrations of volcanic dust can damage plane engines and even cause crashes.

But a CAA statement said: “Aircraft and engine manufacturers… have agreed that it is safe to allow operations in the new zone for a limited time.

“This means that areas of our airspace that would have previously been closed can safely open, further minimising disruption.”

To operate in the new zone, airlines must present regulators with a safety case which includes the agreement of the manufacturers, said the CAA.

This had already been achieved by British airline Flybe, which will be allowed in the zones from midday.

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh led the attack on Monday’s flight restrictions, labelling them “a gross over-reaction to a very minor risk.”

His criticism was echoed by KLM after the disruption to Dutch airspace.

“The closure was unnecessary. The flight control service should have first measured the concentration of ash and then took a decision,” said KLM spokeswoman Joyce Veekman.

Irish airline Ryanair attacked the computer-generated projections used by safety authorities to work out the no-fly zones, saying they were insufficiently detailed.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “It is frankly ridiculous that the flight plans of millions of air passengers across Europe are being disrupted on a daily basis by an outdated, inappropriate and imaginary computer-generated model and it is time that these charts were done away with.”

The international airline industry body, IATA, has estimated last month’s shutdown — Europe’s biggest since World War II — cost carriers some 1.7 billion dollars (1.4 billion euros).

Eurocontrol, the intergovernmental agency coordinating air traffic control, said around 1,000 flights in Europe were cancelled by Monday’s ash alert.

In the Netherlands, some 500 flights into and out of Amsterdam-Schiphol were axed after it was shut for seven hours until re-opening at 1100 GMT. Some 60,000 passengers were left stranded around the world by the closure.

London Heathrow and London Gatwick were also hit by a new round of delays and cancellations following a six-hour shutdown early Monday.

In Ireland, Dublin airport reopened at midday (1100 GMT) after a 17-hour shutdown as the cloud moved east. Almost 300 flights were cancelled, disrupting 36,000 passengers, The Irish Times newspaper said.

In Iceland, there was no sign of the volcano stopping.

The Eyjafjoell eruptions, which began on April 14, have peaked three times, with the latest surge of activity coming Friday.

“There is really no way of telling when it will stop… magma is still emerging,” Icelandic geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said.

Source: SGGP

New Europe flights give hope to stranded passengers

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 3:42 am

LONDON, April 20, 2010 (AFP) – European governments opened the continent’s airspace to new flights from Tuesday giving hope to passengers around the world trapped by the cloud of volcano ash that has grounded airlines there.

But British air traffic chiefs said late Monday that the Icelandic volcano at the source of the chaos had spewed a fresh cloud of ash and warned it was headed for Britain.

A passenger rests at the departure terminal of the Ataturk International airport in Istanbul on April 19, 2010. AFP photo

On Monday, the dust that has blanketed much of Europe’s skies forced the cancellation of another 20,000 flights, as Britain sent navy ships and other governments took their own measures to rescue stranded passengers.

But under relentless pressure from airlines who have lost more than a billion dollars from the crisis so far, EU transport ministers agreed to ease restrictions from Tuesday.

“From tomorrow morning on, we should progressively see more planes start to fly,” EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said.

Europe’s air traffic control group Eurocontrol subsequently predicted that flights over the continent could be running normally again by Thursday.

France said it was progressively reopening airports from Monday, with restricted flights from Paris to start from early Tuesday.

And although flights over Germany remained banned until 1200 GMT Tuesday, some operated with special permission. German flag carrier Lufthansa announced the immediate resumption of all its long-haul flights Monday.

Three KLM flights carrying passengers left Amsterdam-Schiphol airport Monday for Shanghai, Dubai and New York, the Dutch transport minister announced.

Flights heading for Europe from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport also started to run again late Monday.

Authorities in Sweden, Croatia, Hungary and the Czech Republic announced the resumption of flights. Romania and Bulgaria announced their airspace had been reopened, while Switzerland said its airspace would reopen early Tuesday.

But hopes that the ash cloud nightmare might be over were tempered by the latest bulletin from British aviation chiefs Tuesday.

“The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK,” said the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which manages British airspace.

It now looked less likely London airports would be reopened Tuesday, as had been hoped, although plans to open airspace in Scotland should still go ahead, said the air authority.

The problem meanwhile had spread west across the Atlantic Monday, as Canada’s Saint John’s, Newfoundland announced it had cancelled a batch of domestic flights because of fears the ash would reach their airspace.

In Europe marooned passengers juggled rail, boat and road links, zig-zagging across borders in desperate attempts to make it home — whether to the other end of Europe or to the United States.

Britain ordered its flagship aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean and HMS Albion to pick up thousands of Britons from France — where they have come from all over Europe — and Spain.

Spain, one of the rare countries operating normally, struck an agreement with Britain, France and Germany to fly hundreds of thousands of their nationals back to Europe via Spanish airports.

Nearly seven million passengers have been affected by the blanket shutdowns, which governments have insisted were essential on safety grounds, given the possibility that the ash could choke up jet engines and provoke air disasters.

But EU leaders have come under fire from the airlines for their handling of the chaos sparked by Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano, which began erupting last Wednesday.

“This is a European embarrassment and it’s a European mess,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

But as airlines argued their case, a senior US military official said the ash had affected one of NATO’s F-16 fighter planes, which detected a glass build-up inside its engine.

Ash from volcanoes can be turned into a glass form at high temperatures when it passes through a jet engine.

Companies are losing 200 million euros (270 million dollars) per day according to IATA.

Source: SGGP

Blind teacher’s songs give hope to kids

In Vietnam Education on November 20, 2009 at 10:49 am

Audiences were touched by a song written by blind music teacher Nguyen Van Thanh which he performed recently at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City. He wrote the song as a special gift for his students.

Nguyen Van Thanh (standing) helps a student at the Nguyen Dinh Chieu school for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City ( Photo: SGGP)

The song incites students to believe in a happy future despite the hardships of being blind, he says. “I just lost the light but I still have the opportunity to study and teach, and I have friends around who love me,” said Thanh.

Born in 1970, Thanh lost his vision after suffering a serious illness at the age of three. He was sent to study at Nguyen Dinh Chieu School and later went on to study at Pedagogy College.

Upon graduation, Thanh applied for a teaching position at his old school for the blind, hoping to pass on his experiences to a new generation and honor his former teachers.

Fellow teacher Thanh Xuan said, “Students … become absorbed in Thanh’s music and quickly learn his songs by heart.”

The teacher has been honored with several awards for his performances in musical festivals over the years. And with Thanh’s unwavering dedication, several of his students have also gone on to win top prizes for singing at annual music competitions held by the education sector.

Thanh’s songs have even been performed at the Pacific Asia Music Festival for disabled people in Thailand, Japan and China and lauded by the international community.

Some songs, including “Teachers’ words,” have now been translated into English. He sings his songs with a fervor and love for life, inspiring hope in others.

Thanh wakes up early each day to catch a bus from his house in Cu Chi District and heads to Nguyen Dinh Chieu school where he works until 8PM. Despite the grueling schedule and hard work, he says he never thinks about quitting. “I [think about] my beloved pupils on the way to school and hear the laughter of my wife and baby on the way back home,” he says.

“Owing the old school … I spend my whole life repaying it,” Thanh sings from his song “In debt,” written when he first came to teach at Nguyen Dinh Chieu school.

On November 18 Thanh received the coveted 2009-2010 Vo Truong Toan Prize for excellence in teaching.

Related article:
Crowds hail teachers at annual ceremony

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Vietnam’s Asian Cup hope fades after Syria defeat

In Vietnam Sports on November 15, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Vietnam lost 0-1 to Syria in their 2011 Asian Cup qualifier in Hanoi on Saturday evening, facing a very high hill to climb in their group, which includes powerhouse China.

Vietnam’s Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto and his players did not intend to play low later in the game at the My Dinh National Stadium when they could not remain in good fitness against their stronger opponents from the Middle East. In the 93rd minute, captain Nguyen Minh Phuong could not reach to touch the ball from a low cross during an attack by the home side.

Vietnam midfielder Le Tan Tai (C) fights for the ball with a Syria player at My Dinh Stadium on Nov. 14. Syria won 1-0. (Photo: SGGP)

Right after the hosts’ missing chance, substitute Raja Rafe gave Syria a 1-0 win with an unchallenged header in the 94th minute. Weakening central defenders Vu Nhu Thanh and Le Phuoc Tu did not concentrate enough, leaving Rafe free. The final whistle came just after the only goal.

Syria’s win gave them nine points after three games and the top position in Group D, but left Vietnam in the third place with three points. China are in second with six points while Lebanon have no points.

Inspired by about 30,000 fans at My Dinh Stadium on Saturday evening, the hosts came close to the opposite goal immediately. Vietnam come closest in the first half when captain Phuong struck the post in the 14th minute.

Vietnam’s Portugal-based striker Le Cong Vinh and forward Nguyen Viet Thang made lots of efforts towards Syria’s defending so that the Vietnamese midfielders could get more space to play. It was the midfielders who brought about chances but none were converted. 

Meanwhile, the West Asians developed attacks from both wings and crossed the ball towards their taller strikers. Vietnam goalie Duong Hong Son had to work hard against the high balls. Son made at least four or five excellent saves until the final minute of the game, and then unchallenged Rafe beat him with a header.

Vietnam coach Calisto said after the match that Australian referee Benjamin Williams ignored two Syria situations that were worth penalties for the home side.

Vietnam left Hanoi Sunday for Syria for the second leg.

In the 2007 Asian Cup, Vietnam were among the last eight.

Position and points in group D
1: Syria  9  
2: China  6  
3: Vietnam  3   
4: Lebanon  0

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share