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31 July, 2011


Hostages released after El Salvador armed siege

Police in El Salvador have managed to free 30 hostages following an armed siege north of the country’s capital, San Salvador. After a stand-off which lasted for several hours, police persuaded the captors to release the hostages from the church they were holding them in. Police say a farmer, 50-year old Jose Miranda, and his 17-year old son stormed into the Temple of God evangelical church in Guzapa early on Sunday with M16 rifles. Police persuaded them to free the last parishioners after several hours. Miranda told reporters that his actions had been motivated by injustices.


Yemeni leader calls for end to street protests

The troubled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has called for an end to ongoing anti-government rallies and dialogue during the holy month of Ramadan. Saleh, who was seriously injured in a rocket attack on his palace, issued a statement on Sunday, saying that taking up arms and disrupting people’s lives will not bring about change. He left the country following the attack in June and is still undergoing treatment in Saudi Arabia. Yemen has been the stage for massive pro-democracy protests for six months, with activists demanding the end of Saleh’s 33-year-long rule.


Three journalists killed as NATO bombs Libyan TV

­Three journalists have been killed and 15 people injured in a NATO air strike, which targeted TV satellite dishes near the Libyan capital Tripoli on Saturday, Itar-Tass quotes the chief of the English department of the state television channel as saying on Sunday. He added that journalists are not soldiers and pose no threat to the civilian population. The alliance says it was acting in accordance with the UN resolution, and was protecting people from government oppression through the media, when destroying the dishes.


Death toll from tank raid in Syria’s Hama City exceeds 80 - reports

At least 80 people have been killed in a tank raid by Syrian government forces on the opposition stronghold Hama in Syria, Itar-Tass news agency quoted local media as saying in Sunday. Earlier, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack had left 45 people dead. Meanwhile, Syrian national TV reports that protesters are firing at government troops with machine guns and grenade launchers.


Fukushima hit by anti-nuclear rallies

­Up to 1,700 people have gathered in the capital of Japan’s Fukushima region to protest against the use of nuclear energy, AFP reported on Sunday. The demonstrators chanted, "Abolish all nuclear power plants!" and "Give radiation-free Fukushima back to us!" as they marched along a route some 50 kilometers from the plant. The rally was staged by members of the Japan Congress Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, who earlier launched a campaign against nuclear weapons. The region was hit by the major quake and tsunami on March 11, which caused serious damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant and led to radioactive leakage.


Wrecked Moscow pleasure boat raised to surface

­The Lastochka pleasure boat, which sank in the Moscow River early on Sunday, has been raised to the surface and towed to the shore, Itar-Tass news agency reports. The boat, with 16 people on board, collided with a barge and then sank, killing 9 people. Seven were rescued. Viktor Zinger, the owner of the vessel, has been subjected to administrative measures three times this year for exceeding the maximum number of passengers allowed on board.


Whirlwind sweeps through Russia's Far East, killing one and injuring 14

­One person has been killed and at least 14 injured as a whirlwind swept through Blagoveshchensk city in Russia's Far East Amur region on Sunday. According to RIA Novosti, the governor’s spokesman, Anton Ivlev, said three people had been standing on a restaurant balcony when the whirlwind lifted them into the air before dropping them to the ground, killing one of them. Several cars have been overturned, and roofs, trees and power lines have been damaged.


Norway attack suspect purchased equipment via eBay

­Norwegian gunman Anders Breivik, who has confessed to the deadly twin attacks in Oslo and on Utoya Island, purchased all the materials for his bombing and shooting spree via the auction website, eBay, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported.  Breivik bought the equipment from various countries, including the UK. In Breivik’s manifesto explaining his motives and published before the attacks, he wrote “eBay is your friend”. The tragedy occurred on July 22, when a bomb blast rocked government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting spree left 69 people dead at a youth camp on Utoya Island.


Beijing tightens media censorship after rail crash

­The Chinese authorities have imposed tight censorship on the country’s media, restricting the publication of information about last week’s high-speed rail crash, which left 40 people dead, the broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday. Last week, China’s ruling Communist Party stressed that media should base their coverage on reports made by the state-run news agency, Xinhua. On Thursday, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao promised to fully disclose details of the accident. Since then, some media have been basing their coverage on their own investigations.


Death toll from Moscow riverboat accident rises to 9

­Nine people have been killed after a pleasure boat collided with a barge on the Moscow River on Sunday and sank. Seven people were rescued. The 12-meter-long Lastochka pleasure boat lies three meters below the surface, jammed under the barge. The operation to lift the boat will start as soon as divers make sure there is nobody left inside the sunken vessel.


Syria’s Hama attacked by government forces

­At least 45 people have been killed and dozens injured as Syrian government forces used tanks to attack the city of Hama, Itar-Tass news agency quotes Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying. Some media are reporting  62 people dead. The city with almost 700,000 residents, located some 200 kilometers from the Syrian capital, Damascus, is an opposition stronghold and  has been under siege by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops for the past month.


Eighth body found after shipwreck on Moscow River

­An eighth body has been recovered from a sunken pleasure boat in the Moscow River, Interfax news agency quoted the Emergencies Ministry as saying. The fate of one passenger is still unknown. The Lastochka pleasure boat, carrying 16 people, sank early on Sunday after colliding with a barge. Seven people were rescued.


Blast rocks Afghanistan police station, killing 11

­Ten policemen and one child have been killed in an explosion which hit the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah on Sunday, Reuters news agency reports. The blast occurred when a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a police station, according to the provincial governor's spokesman. Taliban fighters have claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier this month, foreign troops handed over security responsibilities in the region to Afghan forces.


Two people drowned in shipwreck in Russia’s Karelia

­Two people have been killed in a shipwreck on a lake in Russia’s north-western Republic of Karelia, the Interfax news agency reported on Sunday. Two others swam to safety.  The net-lifting vessel, with four people on board, went down on Lake Onega, 20 kilometers from the Karelian capital, Petrozavodsk. The cause of the shipwreck is being investigated.


Twenty-four civilians killed in tank raid on Syria’s Hama city

­Twenty-four civilians have been killed after Syrian government forces stormed the city of Hama, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday. Residents say tanks are besieging the city and snipers are on the roofs of a central prison and a national energy company. Water and electricity supplies to Hama have been switched off. Reports of the raid have not been officially confirmed by the Syrian government. Hama, located 209 kilometers from the capital, Damascus, is an opposition stronghold and has seen some of the country's biggest anti-government protests.


Moscow river shipwreck death toll climbs to 7

­Seven people have now been reported dead after the pleasure boat Lastochka sank in the Moscow River early on Sunday. The fate of two others is still unknown, the Emergencies Ministry says. The boat with 16 people on board collided with a moored barge. Seven people have been rescued or else managed to swim to safety. The lifting operation is to start after all bodies have been recovered from the sunken vessel.


Bodies of all 37 miners killed in two Ukrainian accidents recovered

­All 37 bodies of miners killed in an explosion in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk Region and in an accident at a mine in Donetsk Region, have been found, according to the country’s Emergencies Ministry. The search and rescue operation has been concluded.  On July 29, 26 people were killed and two injured when an explosion rocked a mine in Luhansk Region. The same day, 11 miners were killed and four injured when lifting equipment collapsed at a mine in Donetsk Region. July 31 has been declared a day of mourning.


Death toll from Moscow boat accident reaches five

­Five bodies have been recovered after the pleasure boat ‘Lastochka’ sank after a collision with a barge on the Moscow River early on Sunday. Four people are still missing. The boat collided with a barge and sank rapidly with 16 people on board. Seven were rescued, among them two foreigners. The boat is currently lodged underneath the barge. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry and the police are continuing the search and rescue operation at the scene.


Strong quake shakes Fukushima region

­A strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake has struck the Fukushima region of Japan early on Sunday. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said no further damage had been caused to the stricken nuclear plant, Associated Press reports. There are no reports of aftershocks, and no tsunami alerts have been issued either. However, at least seven people in nearby cities have reportedly been injured.


Philippines coastguards rescue 140 passengers from troubled ship

­Coastguards and fishermen have rescued over 140 passengers of an M/V Asia Malaysia cruise ship that seriously titled in the waters of the Philippines early on Sunday, Associated Press reports. Coastguard Chief Admiral Ramon Liwag said the captain ordered all passengers and crew members to abandon ship while locals along with coastguard personnel helped with the evacuation. It was not clear what caused the ship to tilt dangerously to its right side.


Blast at Mexican oil refinery kills two

­Two people have been killed by a blast at Mexico’s second-largest oil refinery in Tula, the state oil monopoly Pemex said, as reported by Reuters. Another worker has been taken to hospital with serious injuries caused by the fire. The explosion happened during a test run of a viscosity breaker unit which underwent maintenance work recently. "The accident occurred in a small, very localized area, and so the refining production process was not affected," Pemex said. With only six refineries, Mexico is very vulnerable to serious accidents in terms of imports and gasoline prices.


Syrian army crushes protests with tanks, killing five

­At least five civilians have been killed after Syrian government forces shelled the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor with heavy weapons on Saturday, claim activists from the Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said, as reported by Reuters. "More tank columns are heading to Deir al-Zor. By using heavy weapons, security forces are waging war against their own people," the group said in a statement. They also said residents had erected improvised barriers to try to stop the advance of tanks and armored vehicles into the city.