wtorek, 31 sierpnia 2010

Chile begins drilling mine rescue shaft

Engineers in Chile have begun drilling the rescue shaft through which they hope to eventually free the 33 men trapped in a collapsed gold mine.

The miners have been stuck 700m (2,300ft) underground for the past three weeks.

Officials say it could take up to four months for the tunnel to be completed and the men to be winched out.

Some of the miners have developed fungal infections and body sores in the hot conditions underground.

A huge Australian-made "Strata 950" excavator began work late on Monday.

The machine dug a narrow test hole, and will now drill down to the men, before widening the shaft to about 60cm.

The miners will have to clear thousands of tonnes of falling debris in round-the-clock shifts, although officials say the men are in no danger of being hit.

The rescue shaft is likely to take 90 to 120 days to complete. Then a capsule can be lowered down to retrieve the miners one by one.

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne had said up to 10 options were being considered in the efforts to rescue the men.

But he dismissed suggestions that the men could be out within a month, saying: "Up to now there is no alternative... that would allow us to get them out in 30 days."

At present, rescue workers are using three narrow shafts to send essential supplies to the trapped men, and ensure they have adequate ventilation.


On Sunday, the miners were each able to speak to family members for one minute by telephone.

The supply line which is proving vital to the Chilean miners

Alicia Campos said she broke down as she said goodbye to her son, Daniel Herrero, promising him she would see him again.

"His voice is the same. He's not good, but not so bad either," she said.

Jessica Chille said speaking to her husband, Dario Segovia, had been "a balm to my heart".

The men are trapped in a refuge chamber of the mine, where they managed to take shelter after a rock collapse on 5 August.

One of the men has some medical training and has been able to give his colleagues vaccinations against tetanus. They will be sent flu vaccinations later this week.

Quick-dry clothing has also been sent down, after some of the miners said they were suffering from skin conditions in the hot, wet conditions. Others have been sent mats to sleep on to protect them from the damp ground.

They have also been sent mp3 players to listen to music and a small screen, so they can watch football matches.

'Well organised'

Four experts from Nasa are due to arrive at the mine this week at the request of the Chilean authorities, to advise the miners and rescuers on how to cope with their situation.

The team includes a doctor, nutritionist, and engineer and a psychologist.

Nasa deputy chief medical officer Michael Duncan said that while the environment was different to that experienced by astronauts, "the human response in "physiology, behaviour, responses to emergencies is quite similar".

"We think that some of the things we learned in research and operation can be adaptable to the miners who are trapped under the ground," he said.

Mr Duncan praised the responses of the miners and officials, saying they appeared to be well organised.

"They have done a lot for the miners, and in fact the miners have done a lot for themselves underground," he said.

Families of the men have set up a temporary encampment at the head of the mine, which they have called Camp Hope.

The BBC's James Reynolds at the mine, about 800km (500 miles) north of Santiago, says a shrine has been built for each of the miners, covered in photographs, messages and football shirts.

Source: BBC

Officials to update on stalled effort to kill oil well

Thad Allen, the government's point man on the BP oil disaster, and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser will meet Tuesday before briefing the public on the cleanup effort.

The effort to permanently kill the ruptured oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico has stalled because of turbulent seas.

Officials had planned to detach a device called a blowout preventer from the well and replace it with a new one, a procedure aimed at paving the way for a permanent fix for the well.

BP annouced the postponement of the procedure on its Twitter page Monday.

"Operations will commence as soon as sea states reach acceptable levels," the company said.

Allen had warned Friday that changes in weather could result in a change in schedule. Last week, the operation was delayed as engineers tried to fish out pieces of drill pipe stuck inside the blowout preventer.

Officials have said the blowout preventer failed when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and causing oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Authorities from a Justice Department evidence recovery team will be on site during its removal, Allen said.

The well has been capped since July 15, and no new oil is flowing into the Gulf.

But still the impacts of the spill have been massive.

The effects of the oil spill on the region's travel industry could last up to three years and cost up to $22.7 billion, according to an analysis conducted by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association.

In preparing the research, Oxford Economics looked at current spending, government models predicting oil flow and the effect of 25 past crises on tourism to develop a model to gauge the Gulf disaster's impact.

Case studies of past disasters -- including the SARS respiratory outbreak, Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami -- show that tourism often is affected beyond the disaster area and long after the resolution of the crisis.

Source: CNN

poniedziałek, 30 sierpnia 2010

6 dead, 14 wounded in Slovakia shooting


Six people were killed and 14 wounded in a shooting incident in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, Monday morning, the state news agency TASR reported, citing an emergency services representative.

The shooter is "reportedly" among the dead, TASR said without citing a source.

Police spokeswoman Petra Kraskova said the police were not releasing any information yet, the agency said.

The Ministry of the Interior and the police are due to hold a press conference at 2:30 local time (8:30 a.m. ET), the Interior Ministry told CNN.

Bus service has been disrupted as a result, the agency said, citing transport offical Peter Kavecky.

The dead included four women and two men, said Dominika Sulkova of the emergency services.

The shooting took place in the Bratislava neighborhood of Devinska Nova Ves, TASR reported.

Source: CNN  


niedziela, 29 sierpnia 2010

Long-dormant volcano erupts in Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- A volcano that had been inactive for more than 400 years erupted in Indonesia early Sunday, causing thousands of people to flee their homes, officials said.

Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province had been inactive since the 1600s, but spewed volcanic ash nearly a mile into the air Sunday, said Surono, head of the country's volcanology and geology agency.

"We don't know the character of this volcano because it's been dormant for so long," he said.

There were no reports of casualties or injuries.

"The situation is under control. Emergency response teams are already on the scene," said Priyadi Kardono of the National Disaster Management Agency.

Officials have evacuated 12,000 residents living in 14 villages near the volcano, which erupted just after 12:15 a.m. Sunday (1:15 p.m. ET Saturday), the official Antara news agency reported.

"We felt strong tremors last night. It was a volcanic quake," Indonesian Red Cross worker Muhammad Isral told the agency. "After that, the crater of Mount Sinabung spewed glowing lava. And trees in the mount slopes were burnt. It was followed by thick clouds that caused visibility to be only about five meters."

On Saturday, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation issued a warning and ordered evacuation of a 6 km (3.7 miles) radius around the volcano.

Surano said investigators are monitoring and studying the volcano. Based on the data they have now, he said, a large, destructive eruption is unlikely.

No hazardous gas had been detected after Sunday's eruption, he said.

sobota, 28 sierpnia 2010

Kim Jong Il has met with Chinese president Hu

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il may have met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday, South Korea's official news agency reported.

An unnamed South Korean official said government intelligence indicated that Kim and Hu met on Friday in the northeastern Chinese city of Changchun, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Reports from multiple news sources indicated that Kim arrived in China Thursday, though neither China nor North Korea have confirmed the trip.

Kim's visit coincided with former President Jimmy Carter's trip to North Korea, during which Carter secured the release of a U.S. citizen who had been sentenced to eight years of hard labor for crossing over the Chinese border into North Korea.

That man, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, arrived home Friday afternoon in Boston, Massachusetts with Carter.

Carter, who arrived in North Korea on Wednesday, did not make any comments about his trip, which was shrouded in speculation over whether he would meet with Kim.

"At the request of President Carter, and for humanitarian purposes, Mr. Gomes was granted amnesty by the chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong Il," said a statement from the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Korea Herald, citing television station YTN, said Kim might be visiting with top Chinese officials to discuss handing power to his youngest son, Jong-un.

Kim is accompanied by his son, YTN reported, quoting a South Korean government official.

Kim spent five days in China in May and had a summit with the Chinese president.

Cyber stalker crackdown 'thwarted' by service providers

Efforts to crack down on cyber stalking are being thwarted because internet service providers will not take action, according to victims' groups.

The Network for Surviving Stalking says the police, Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are doing their best to tackle the problem.

It says service providers have a moral responsibility to help prevent the abuse but are doing little about it.

However, providers have said there is little more they can do.

Groups that support victims of online harassment say those targeted can suffer from anything from low level abusive messages to orchestrated campaigns.

There are few statistics but, anecdotally, they say cyber stalking is a widespread and growing problem.

One victim, who did not want to be named, told the BBC she was subjected to abuse, insults and death threats from a stranger online over a five-year period. She described receiving up to 30 messages every day.

Her work meant she had to be contactable online but she never replied to the messages and continually blocked the sender. However, her stalker simply changed their profile and continued to track, abuse and threaten the woman and her family.

Describing her experience, she told the BBC: "There were messages that they were going to hire a hit man to come and get me [and] they were going to cut my throat - really obscene messages.

"I constantly reported it to the police. I didn't feel I had the same support that someone would have if they were stalked offline. It was very much 'turn the computer off, change your name online'. I felt the support wasn't there and that was what was more upsetting because I felt very trapped and nobody could help me at all."

The police say every force does now have a dedicated point of contact for harassment issues and the government says it is taking action.

The Home Office, police and CPS are set to begin work with charities on an anti-stalking strategy in the autumn.

Jennifer Perry of E-Victims.org called on the government to "set the agenda so that online harassment will be taken seriously, the police take it seriously and business is forced to act".

But the Network for Surviving Stalking says internet service providers are the missing link as they are refusing to take part in the initiative.

It says they have a moral and corporate responsibility to take part.

'High' expectations

Alexis Bowater, of Network for Surviving Stalking, said: "We need the internet service providers to get on board they need to take moral and ethical and corporate responsibility for what is happening to the millions of customers that they make billions out of."

However, the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says it is doing all it can about the abuse but it is not possible to police the internet in the way demanded by victims' groups.

James Blessing, of ISPA, says many people "assume that internet service providers can do more that they actually can", comparing expectations of them to "asking the police to put a speed camera on every stretch of road in the country".

He said: "Internet service providers are there to help charities and government to find solutions to this and we have been talking to them for many years. Unfortunately expectations from other parties seem to be a lot a higher than what is actually achievable in a technical and operational sense."

Paul Mutton, of online security firm Netcraft, told BBC Breakfast that computer users always have to be careful what personal details they make available on the internet.

"If you don't want people to find out information on you, don't put it on the internet," he said.

"ISPs can do a little bit to help out, by encouraging users to install anti-virus software, firewalls and such like, but ultimately if you put your information online you are relying on those websites to remain secure, and for their privacy settings not to expose that information to anyone.

"If in doubt, don't put the information online in the first place."