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Scores dead or missing in Australian floods

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:10 am

 Australia braced for a rapidly rising death toll Tuesday after flash floods killed eight and left 72 missing, as a quickly spreading flood disaster forced evacuations in central Brisbane.

A sombre Prime Minister Julia Gillard, dressed in black, warned the country to prepare for the worst after flash floods described as an “inland tsunami” smashed mountainside Toowoomba, sweeping away entire houses.

“Yesterday we saw some simply shocking events in Toowoomba and other communities in the Lockyer Valley, literally walls of water smashing into cars and into buildings,” Gillard said.

“We have seen very dramatic images of cars tossed around, people on roofs of houses and on the roofs of cars and people literally hanging on for dear life to trees and to signposts.”

Screengrab taken on January 10, 2010 from footage aired by Australia’s Channel 9 shows flood waters racing through the city of Toowoomba.

Queensland state premier Anna Bligh said the death toll would rise “potentially quite dramatically”, with families among those missing and rescue efforts hampered by heavy rain and washed-away roads.

“Mother Nature has delivered something terrible in the last 48 hours but there’s more to go and our emergency people are more than up to that task,” said Bligh.

“This is going to be I think a very grim day, particularly for the people in that region, and a desperate hour here in Queensland.”

TV images showed Toowoomba’s streets turned into churning rapids dotted with floating cars, some with people sitting on top, while elsewhere residents were forced onto roofs as waters lapped at awnings.

Four of the dead were children, some of them swept away in cars driven by their mothers. A man and a younger male died in Murphy’s Creek near Toowoomba, 125 kilometres (80 miles) west of Brisbane in the Great Dividing Range.

Nineteen people have now died in flooding across Australia’s northeastern coal-mining and farming zone after weeks of rain blamed on the La Nina weather system, which has also dumped heavy snow on the northern United States.

Meanwhile floods that have devastated an area the size of France and Germany combined threatened central Brisbane, the state capital, forcing evacuations in a riverside inner city area and warnings for a swathe of suburbs.

“All members of the community who live or are currently near the Brisbane River at West End are advised to move to higher ground,” Queensland police said in a statement.

Hundreds of people were air-lifted out of outlying towns as floods that have cost billions of dollars in damage spread yet further.

Disaster coordinator Ian Stewart said he had serious concerns for the small Queensland town of Grantham, where three of the flash-flooding victims died and where dozens of residents are thought to be stranded.

“Grantham is going to be, in my view, just a disaster in terms of the number of homes that have been damaged or destroyed and we’re waiting on confirmation of potential extra loss of life,” Stewart said.

Federal MP Ian MacFarlane described dramatic scenes in Toowoomba as the flash flood deluged the town before subsiding within three hours, leaving scenes of destruction and people dead in their cars.

“We’re just seeing building after building, the water rushing in and blowing the windows out,” MacFarlane told Sky News. “Cars that were parked in the car parks were just lifted up and went bobbing down the street.”

Toowoomba mayor Peter Taylor said the town was struck without warning after two normally innocuous waterways suddenly overflowed.

“Torrential rain over a very short period of time came down two major creeks through the middle of the city which are normal quiet drainage ways, and people had no warning at all,” Taylor told the Seven Network.

“It was just unprecedented. Some people are saying an inland tsunami, and I think that probably sums it up really.”

Four military helicopters were sent to join the emergency effort but rescuers were badly hampered by continuing heavy rains in the Lockyer Valley region.

Source: SGGP

Temporary stockpiling – an immediate or long-term solution?

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Temporary stockpiling – an immediate or long-term solution?

QĐND – Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 20:50 (GMT+7)

Temporary stockpiles of farm produce can benefit farmers and businesses. But how much and how long this needs to be done remains an open question.

There is no denying that temporarily stocking up on coffee, rice and salt would help to make a better profit. However, when the price of coffee starts to go up, the scheme is still underway. Had the Government agreed to provide loans for temporary stockpile earlier, it would have been much more helpful to farmers and businesses involved. Why so?

According to Nguyen Van Dong, Director of the Hau Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, since the start of the Summer-Autumn crop, the early rice harvest and the delay in adopting a policy for temporary stockpiles forced rice prices down to VND2,500-2,700 per kg. However, after the policy was implemented, the situation in Hau Giang has improved significantly with the price of rice increasing from VND3,500 to VND 3,800 per kg.

Under the Government policy, the temporary stockpiling of coffee would have expired on July 15 but businesses had then purchased only 10 percent of the set target. The Vietnam Coffee and Cacao Association (VCCA) said that the purchase of 60,000 tonnes of coffee had driven the price up to VND30,000 per kg. If the stockpiling was made earlier, it would be more helpful.

VCCA Chairman Luong Van Tu said that farmers need capital for temporary stockpiles while businesses want to stock their products. In recent times, stockpiles have driven coffee prices up which has greatly benefited farmers; export coffee is currently priced at US$1,600/tonne and farmers can now earn US$200 per tonne higher than before.

The Government’s policy has helped many businesses overcome difficulties and avoid bankruptcy.

Salt makers are suffering losses from a drop in prices. Currently, farmers in Bac Lieu have to sell salt at a very low price, from VND250-500/kg.

Le Kim Hung, Director of the Department for Industry and Trade in Ninh Thuan – the country’s biggest salt producing province – said that his department has asked a local company to purchase salt as soon as possible. Prices have also been fixed to ensure that salt makers can make a reasonable profit.

Judging from the prices of the above mentioned products, it is essential to develop a purchasing programme to support farm products. In addition, trade associations and management agencies should propose more measures to help businesses purchase products in time.

Pham Van An, Director of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development of Lam Dong province- one of the five central highland provinces that grows a lot of coffee, said that both farmers and businesses will enjoy more benefit if the policy is carried out very soon. Therefore, it is necessary to draw up a solution for early temporary stockpiles.

Nguyen Van Dong, Director of the Hau Giang provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, also shared his views by emphasizing the need for temporary stockpiles to prevent market fluctuations due to forcible price gauging which damage both farmers and businesses.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Doctor’s awkward surgery: mistake or lack of skill?

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

A woman called for help from Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper after a doctor at Phu Tho General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s district Tan Phu removed a cyst from her left ovary.

24-year-old Pham Thi Xuan presents  her case with reporter

24-year-old Pham Thi Xuan of district 12 was taken to the emergency room at Phu THo General Hospital on March 8 for treatment of a stomachache. After examining her, doctors said she had to undergo an operation to remove a corpus luteum cyst on her right ovary.

On the same day, Doctor Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy head of the hospital, examined the woman; however, instead of removing the cyst in right ovary, the doctor removed a cyst from her left ovary.

Moreover, she did not receive an explanation from the chief surgeon, who displayed indifference in the face of the patient’s pain following surgery.

In a talk with reporter on July 12, Doctor Son said it is normal for cysts to move from right to left when they are large. He added the scan results provide only relative reliability in such cases.

However, in his report to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, he failed to mention that the result changed after the initial examination. According to medical experts, doctor should not remove cysts entirely; rather, they should absorb blood from the cyst and untie its twisted matter in order to protect the ovary.

The department is making further inquiries into the case.

Source: SGGP

Kyrgyz leader must come to capital or face arrest

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

A leader of the self-declared interim government that has claimed power in Kyrgyzstan said Tuesday the deposed president must return to the capital or face arrest by special forces.

But ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was defiant, rallying some 5,000 supporters in his power base and refusing to give in to demands that he step down.

“My power is in the people, not in me,” he told the crowd in the city of Jalal-Abad.

In Bishkek, the capital, interim government vice-premier Azymbek Beknazarov told reporters that if Bakiyev does not come to Bishkek after this rally, special forces would prepare an operation to arrest him.

It was not immediately clear what the interim authorities would do with Bakiyev if he did go to Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan’s deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev greets his supporters after a rally in the village of Teyit, in Jalal-Abad region in southern Kyrgyzstan,

The hardening positions on both sides raised the prospect of new violence in the impoverished, strategically important former Soviet Central Asian country. The United States and Russia both have military bases in Kyrgyzstan and developments are being watched with concern in both Washington and Moscow.

Bakiyev fled the capital to his native south last Wednesday after a protest rally in the capital erupted into shooting and chaos; at least 81 people were killed. Protesters stormed government building and opposition leaders declared themselves in control.

The opposition initially had guaranteed Bakiyev safe passage out of the country if he stepped down, but Bakiyev insists he is the legitimate leader and refuses to go.

Beknazarov said Tuesday that his government has ordered Bakiyev stripped of the usual presidential immunity. He also said the country’s constitutional court has been suspended because of unspecified violations.

The U.S. base, at the capital’s international airport, is a key piece in the NATO military campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The base provides refueling flights for warplanes over Afghanistan and is a transit point for troops.

Source: SGGP

Central flashfloods leave at least 118 dead or missing

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2009 at 11:20 am

Typhoon Mirinae hit the central region on November 2, bringing heavy rains and floods that left 118 people dead and missing, 88 injured, and lots of house and road casualties.

Flood victims in Phuoc Nghia Commune, Binh Dinh Province, receive instant noodle from Sai Gon Giai Phong relief staff on November 5 (Photo: SGGP)

According to the Flood and Storm Prevention Center for the Central and Central Highlands regions, by November 5, over 60,130 houses were destroyed and inundated.
Storm-caused floodwaters caused heavy damage to nearly 600 classrooms, infirmaries and offices, ruined more than 30,000 hectares of rice and other crops, 913 hectares of aquaculture farms, and 2,111 farm rafts, and broke and sank 128 boats.
The storm has also caused loss of power and landslide, which has blocked many roads and isolated many areas.
The Vietnam Railways Corporation said by November 5, the typhoon ruined over 70 kilometers of railway in the central region, and it has spent VND26.5 billion ($1.47 million) repairing damaged rails at 25 locations so that trains can resume soon.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced Nov.5  the provision of a VND225 billion ($12.5 million) aid program and 10,000 tons of rice to victims in the central provinces of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and the Central Highland province of Gia Lai.

Rail workers repair a broken stretch of railway in Dong Xuan District, Phu Yen Province (Photo: SGGP)

The Ministry of National Defense has assigned more than 4,000 staff and soldiers to help people evacuate, ensure security around inundated areas and clear traffic chaos.

Six helicopter providing relief aid have carried 25,000 tons of goods to residents of central Binh Dinh and Phu Yen provinces.
The Ministry of Health has sent 500,000 tablets of Cloramin B to sterilize water in flooded areas plus 100 life vests.
Ho Chi Minh City Red Cross, Sai Gon Giai Phong and other companies and organizations have also raised fund and provided aid for flood-hit people.
On the same day, Party Secretary General Nong Duc Manh visited Binh Dinh Province and asked the province to ensure food, drink and medicine for flood-stuck locals.
He said the Party pledged that State and local authorities will provide assistance to help the victims resume their normal lives soon.

The Party leader extended his sympathy to bereaved families and those who had seriously suffered from the destruction of typhoon Mirinae which has recently wreaked havoc in the central region.

Related articles:
Heavy rains, floods recede in Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam counts flood damage
At least 90 die in Vietnam floods: officials
35 dead, nine missing in central Vietnam floods
Typhoon Mirinae hits central Vietnam

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

US general warns more troops or Afghan ‘failure’

In World on September 21, 2009 at 7:47 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The top military commander in Afghanistan warns in a classified document that more US forces are needed within the next year or the mission “will likely result in failure,” the Washington Post said Monday.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander in the country, writes in a grim assessment of the eight-year conflict: “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

The document, first obtained by the Post, was presented to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on August 30 and is currently being reviewed by the White House.

Graphic on the numbers of International Security Assistance Force troops deployed in Afghanistan. Foreign forces in the country have experienced their deadliest year since the war began eight years ago with more than 350 deaths so far in 2009. (AFP graphic)

In some of the most alarming passages of the report, McChrystal, who has been widely expected to submit a formal request to increase the 62,000-strong US force, noted the campaign in Afghanistan “has been historically under-resourced and remains so today.”

As such, he wrote, “[I]nadequate resources will likely result in failure.”

Inability to provide adequate resources, he writes, “also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure.”

The 66-page document — a declassified version of which is published at — describes a strengthening, intelligent enemy in the Taliban insurgency.

McChrystal also slams the corruption-riddled Afghan government and a strategy by international forces in the country that has failed to win over the civilian population.

“The weakness of state institutions, malign actions of power-brokers, widespread corruption and abuse of power by various officials, and (the International Security Assistance Force’s) own errors, have given Afghans little reason to support their government,” wrote McChrystal.

International forces, he said, “have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect… The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves.”

The general, who Gates nominated to take over operations because his “new thinking” was needed as President Barack Obama attempts a new strategy for the war-torn country, also warns that hardline insurgents reach systematically into Afghanistan’s bloated prison system for recruits.

The prisons have become “a sanctuary and base to conduct lethal operations” against the Afghan government and coalition forces, he said in the report.

Whatever happens in the short run, the commander warns it “is realistic to expect that Afghan and coalition casualties will increase.”

Obama weighed in Sunday on the debate over more troops in Afghanistan, as he digests McChrystal’s report.

“We’re going to test whatever resources we have against our strategy, which is if by sending young men and women into harm’s way, we are defeating Al-Qaeda,” the president said in an interview with ABC.

“(If) that can be shown to a skeptical audience — namely me, somebody who is always asking hard questions about deploying troops — then we will do what’s required to keep the American people safe,” Obama said.

Gates said this week that the president needed time to examine various assessments of US strategy and should not be rushed over such an important decision.

“We need to take our time and get this right,” he told a news conference on Thursday.

Earlier in the week Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services committee that more soldiers would likely be needed to subdue the Taliban.

“A properly resourced counterinsurgency probably means more forces and, without question, more time and more commitment to the protection of the Afghan people and to the development of good governance,” Mullen told lawmakers.

By coincidence, McChrystal’s report was revealed on the UN’s International Peace Day, when Kabul’s defense ministry said foreign and Afghan troops will pause offensive operations.

Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, purportedly a Taliban spokesman, was quoted on the ReliefWeb website as suggesting the insurgency may do the same, saying: “Our forces will remain in defensive position, as usual.”

Source: SGGP

Social network or waste of time: Jury still out on Facebook

In Vietnam Lifestyle on September 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

After the closure of Yahoo! 360 on September 19, the Vietnamese blogger community was in a rush to find a new home and scoured sites like Yahoo!Plus, Multiply, Facebook, ZingMe, Info, Blogger, and others.

Facebook lures users with its plethora of games like Farm Ville, Farm Land and Bard Buddy,and funny quizzes.

They zeroed in on Facebook, which has now become one of the most popular blogging sites, attracting millions of users.

“I have used Facebook for more than two months. I am surprised to see many friends from primary school to university on it,” a user said.

Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers.

By searching email IDs, users can locate old friends and colleagues and easily make friends with many others.

In addition, it also lures users with its plethora of games like Farm Ville, Farm Land, and Barn Buddy and funny quizzes.

People have begun to spend a lot of time sitting in front of their computers, absorbed in tests to find out their aptitudes or taking care of their virtual farms and gardens, fertilizing, watering, preventing crops from being stolen, and harvesting.

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, announced September 16 that the website has more than 350 million active users worldwide.

More than 6 billion minutes are reportedly spent on Facebook each day and over 40 million statuses updated. A user spends 5 hours, 12 minutes on average daily.Around 70 percent of users are outside the US.

Facebook is also listed in the Top 20 Time Wasting Sites.


Source: SGGP