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Posts Tagged ‘scare’

Japan 7.4 seabed quake sparks tsunami scare, evacuations

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:31 am

TOKYO, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – Scores of villagers on a remote Japanese island chain in the Pacific scrambled for higher ground after a major 7.4-magnitude offshore quake early Wednesday sparked a tsunami alert.

The seabed tremor struck at 2:19 am local time (1719 GMT Tuesday), jolting people out of bed as loudspeakers blared across the islands and authorities warned of the risk of a two-metre (six-foot) high local tsunami.

The tsunami alert was later downgraded and all warnings were lifted five hours after the quake hit near the Ogasawara islands, some 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tokyo. No injuries or damage were reported.

But about 120 people temporarily evacuated to higher ground on Chichi-shima island and some 50 people on Haha-shima island, Koji Watanabe, a village official on Chichi-shima, said overnight.

“It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt,” said Masae Nagai, a hotel owner on Chichi-shima, part of the remote archipelago also called the Bonin islands, which has a population of about 2,300.

“We were awakened by the quake. It was scary,” she told AFP by telephone around sunrise, but she added that the walls of her hotel were not cracked and that “things have returned to normal”.

Local authorities on the Ogasawara islands, near Iwo Jima, said they had set up five shelters for local residents but had closed them before sunrise as there were no reports of injuries or property damage.

“The jolts were relatively stronger than those we have felt in the past,” Kenichi Mochida, another Chichi-shima official, told AFP.

“But there was no panic as people acted in an orderly manner,” Mochida said. “Residents who were in the shelters have already returned home.”

The quake hit at a shallow depth of 14 kilometres, 153 kilometres (95 miles) east of Chichi-shima, and was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring between 5.3 and 5.6 which continued into the morning.

About three hours after the quake, a 60 centimetre (two feet) wave was monitored 700 kilometres away at Hachijo-jima, part of the Izu island chain that runs south of Tokyo, the meteorological agency said.

Authorities warned of the risk of further aftershocks.

“We would like people to remain on full alert as subsequent waves could be higher than the first ones,” Hirofumi Yokoyama, a meteorological agency official in charge of tsunami observation, told a Tokyo news conference.

The Ogasawara chain, made up of more than 30 subtropical and tropical islets some 240 kilometres north of Iwo Jima, were put under the control of the United States after World War II, and returned to Japan in 1968.

The remote islands have preserved their unique biological habitats and have been dubbed the “Galapagos of the Orient”.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said after sounding the initial alert there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami and no nearby islands were thought to be in the tsunami danger zone.

But it warned in a bulletin shortly after the quake: “Earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within 100 kilometres of the earthquake epicentre.

“Authorities in the region of the epicentre should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action.”

Around 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes strike Japan, which sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean.

In 1995 a magnitude-7.2 quake in the port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people.

But high building standards, regular drills and a sophisticated tsunami warning system mean that casualties are often minimal.

Source: SGGP

More than 200 million eggs recalled in US salmonella scare

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

WASHINGTON, Aug 18, 2010 (AFP) – A US egg producer has recalled more than 200 million chicken eggs apparently contaminated with salmonella bacteria after hundreds of reported cases of illness, the FDA reported Wednesday.

AFP/File – A US egg producer has recalled more than 200 million chicken eggs apparently contaminated with salmonella

The eggs were produced by Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa, and sold around the country under 143 different brands, and are packed in boxes of six, 12 and 18 eggs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had been investigating since late June. It found almost four times the usual rate of salmonella-related illness being reported, an FDA statement said.

Salmonella can cause intestinal infections and is transmitted by foods contaminated by animal fecal matter.

Source: SGGP

Qatari flight scare diplomat was on Al-Qaeda visit: official

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

A Qatari diplomat who sparked a national security scare by joking about setting fire to his shoe on a flight to Denver was on his way to visit an imprisoned Al-Qaeda conspirator, officials said.

Qatari diplomat Mohammed Yacoub Al Madadi from the Embassy of the State of Qatar is pictured in Washington, DC, in this recent photograph taken on March, 25, 2010.

Mohammed al-Modadi, 27, the third secretary and vice consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington, was being released without charge after the incident Wednesday on a United Airlines flight from Washington, DC to Denver.

In a post-script to the bizarre incident, a State Department spokesman said Modadi was traveling to Denver to make a consular visit to a Qatari national being held in a Colorado prison.

US media reports identified the prisoner as Ali al-Marri, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year in connection with the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Modadi set off alarm bells during the flight to Denver after sneaking a smoke in the bathroom and then, when confronted, joking that he was lighting his shoes.

His comments raised fears of a repeat of the 2001 “shoe bomber” incident in which British national Richard Reid tried to blow up an airliner using explosives hidden in his shoe.

An air marshal wrestled the diplomat to the floor, the pilot declared an emergency, two F-16 fighters were scrambled and intercepted the airliner, and top White House officials briefed President Barack Obama, who was en route to Prague to sign a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia.

Later officials said there were no explosives on the plane and it was all a misunderstanding.

“It’s expected that he’s going to be turned over today to Qatari officials. I don’t know if he’s still with the FBI or if he’s been turned over to the Qatari officials yet,” a law enforcement official told AFP Thursday.

The source, who asked not to be named, said that even though smoking in airplane restrooms is a federal crime under US law, the diplomat is not likely to be prosecuted.

“He has diplomatic immunity. If he was a US citizen, that’s a violation, but he does have diplomatic immunity,” the official said. “Only a foreign government can lift the immunity.”

The State Department said Thursday it expected a quick diplomatic solution to the affair, adding US authorities had been in close contact with Qatar’s ambassador.

“We are satisfied with the seriousness by which they take what has occurred. That’s why we have confidence that this will be resolved very quickly,” spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, hinted Modadi would soon be sent home. “His ability to function effectively has been significantly compromised,” the official said.

Qatar’s ambassador to Washington Ali Bin Fajad al-Hajari said in a statement the diplomat had been traveling to Denver on official embassy business.

“He was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity,” the ambassador said. “The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation.”

The reaction to Modadi’s actions appeared to have been prompted by fears of a possible repeat of the foiled Christmas Day bombing, when a Nigerian passenger tried to blow up a plane by igniting an explosive secreted in his underwear.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised the swift actions of the air marshals.

“We always treat security-related incidents seriously until verified otherwise, and thankfully this incident posed no actual security threat,” she said.


Source: SGGP

Qatari diplomatic held in US flight scare

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US air marshals wrestled a Qatari diplomat to the floor on a flight to Denver in a security scare that prompted fighter jets to be scrambled and top White House aides to brief President Barack Obama, officials said.

But in the end, the incident on Wednesday turned out to be a false alarm, triggered when the Qatari reportedly lit a cigarette in one of the plane’s restrooms and then, when confronted, joked he was trying to ignite his shoes.

Airport staff are seen outside the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado. AFP photo

The plane landed safely at Denver International Airport following the disturbance, and US officials later said it appeared the passenger was not trying to blow up the plane, although the incident was under investigation.

Qatar’s ambassador to Washington Ali Bin Fajad al-Hajari said in a statement that the diplomat was traveling to Denver on official embassy business.

“He was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity,” the ambassador said. “The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation.”

But the scare prompted fighter jets to scramble and intercept the flight amid fears of a possible repeat of a passenger’s foiled attempt to bring down a Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day as it approached to land at Detroit.

“The president was briefed by National Security Advisor General Jim Jones and National Security Staff Chief of Staff Denis McDonough at 8:50 pm EDT and appropriate actions were taken to ensure the safety of the traveling public,” a White official said on condition of anonymity.

“The incident is currently under investigation,” the official added.

Obama was aboard Air Force One at the time, en route to Prague to sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.

Law enforcement authorities initially notified key lawmakers that US air marshals subdued the Qatari national after he apparently sought to “ignite their (his) shoe” on the flight, a congressional aide told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Air marshals jumped in, and the cockpit wasn’t breached,” the official said.

The man was identified in US media reports as Qatari diplomat Mohammed al-Modadi, 27, who as the third secretary and vice consul of the Qatari embassy in Washington enjoys full diplomatic immunity.

The FBI was investigating the incident, but a US official told AFP the incident was “not what it appeared to be” and there was no attempt to detonate a bomb.

NBC News said a search of the man found no explosives and that bomb-sniffing dogs found no traces of explosives aboard the aircraft.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the passenger was placed in custody, adding it was “monitoring” the incident.

Federal officials told NBC the incident occurred half an hour before United Airlines flight 663 was due to make a scheduled stop in Denver on a flight that originated at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

A flight attendant smelled smoke as a passenger came out of a restroom, and alerted an air marshal, the report said.

The marshal confronted the man, and then wrestled him to the ground after he made the statement about lighting his shoes, NBC said.

A US security official acknowledged “it may have been a massive misunderstanding,” telling ABC that Al-Modadi may have been making a “sarcastic” comment when he was confronted by two air marshals.

The pilot declared an emergency, and two F-16 fighter jets raced to intercept the aircraft around 6:45 pm (0045 GMT Thursday) under the authority of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

“Shortly before landing in Denver, a passenger possibly caused a disturbance on the plane. Upon intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s escorted the aircraft until it landed safely without incident at approximately 6:50 pm (0050 GMT) where the plane was met by local law enforcement,” NORAD said.

The plane was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members on a flight originally scheduled to ultimately arrive in Las Vegas after a scheduled stop in Denver.

The incident came a week after the United States unveiled new security measures subjecting all US-bound plane passengers to screening methods that use real-time intelligence to target potential threats, replacing the mandatory screening of passengers from a blacklist of 14 mainly Muslim countries.

The measures were announced in the wake of a Nigerian man’s failed attempt to detonate explosives concealed in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam on Christmas Day.

Source: SGGP

Experts condemn food mixing scare

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2008 at 12:36 pm

HA NOI— Health specialists have condemned rumours that some types of food, when mixed together, can kill diners.

The experts said the food scare was not based on scientifically sound information, which allegedly came from the Central Hygiene and Epidemiology Institute and the Bach Mai General Hospital’s Anti-toxic Centre. The centre and hospital have denied that they were the source of the misleading warning.

Initially, the ‘warning’ was issued in leaflets, before being featured by at the end of August in a newspaper, including a published notice urging housewives to paste the article on the wall in their kitchens.

The article said that some types of food, such as turtle and amaranth or tomatoes with potatoes, and liver with bean sprouts, would cause death or cancer when they were eaten together.

However, the deputy director of Anti-toxic Centre Nguyen Kim Son, said the centre did not provide warnings about combinations of food.

Son said the centre had received many patients suffering from food poisoning.

“But most of these cases were caused by tainted, unhygienic, and half-cooked food,” he said.

Son said the main culprits behind food poisoning were contaminated water and foods contaminated by pesticides and chemicals.

Commenting on the food scare on combinations of foods, Son said the warning didn’t have any scientific foundation.

“We want relevant offices to investigate where this warning came from,” he said.

Head of the Food Hygiene and Safety Department, Dr. Nguyen Cong Khan, strongly condemned the warning, saying it had caused public confusion.

He also cited popular misconceptions such as that pregnant women should eat less foods with protein as a way to aid child birth, as their babies would be lighter than usual.

Nutritional science, meanwhile, has proved that pregnant women need a suitable nutritional regimen to help ensure the foetus health and growth.

Khan added that nutritional science did not note any dangerous food combinations.

“It has only been able to prove which substances in foods may increase or reduce absorption by the body,” said Khan.

Many online forums, blogs and newspapers which run the article on food combinations attributed the false warning to Suc khoe va Doi song (Health and Life) newspaper.

However, according to the managing editor of the newspaper, To Quang Trung, the newspaper did not published the article as some web sites had claimed. —