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December 7, 2008

Cruise Shipped Stranded Near Antarctica

CNN reported Thursday that a cruise ship carrying 122 people struck ice and was stranded on the coast of Antarctica.

A naval boat and plane were dispatched to evacuate the passengers, 89 passengers and 33 crew members, of the Ushuaia as a precaution Mariano Memolli of the Argentina Antarctic Directorate said.

Television C5N reported that the ship was losing fuel and taking on water but was not in danger of sinking.

Adm. Daniel Martin, head of the naval base in Ushuaia, Argentina, said the passengers were "in a perfect state of health," and were awaiting the arrival of a nearby cruise ship.

According to a National Geographic News report , the ship was stranded in the same spot where a ship sank in 2007.

All the passengers and crew were rescued Friday from the ship by the Chilean Navy. All were in good condition.

The ship stills appear to not be in danger of sinking. The Chilean navy did position a ship near the now-abandoned Ushuaia in an attempt to prevent any environmental damage from leaking fuel.

A boom in Antarctic tourism may be an "accident waiting to happen," Jon Bowermaster, a National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee and writer, told National Geographic News in 2007.

November 23, 2008

Volcanic Landslide in Colombia

CNN reported that a volcano erupted Thursday in southwest Colombia, causing landslides and killing at least six people.

The Nevado del Huila volcano erupted at approximately 9:45 p.m.

Gas and hot ash melted snow on the mountain peak, causing debris to rush down the River Paez. The landslides have destroyed at least 20 homes and washed out five bridges, the presidential office said in a statement.

According to the government, all of the victims were native Indians. Much of the affected region is populated with Nasa indigenous communities.

Nearly 300 people have been evacuated from homes surrounding the volcano and the River Paez, government officials said.

According to an AP report, President Alvaro Uribe flew over the volcano Friday. President Uribe has instructed the air force to create an "air bridge" to supply cut off towns along the Rio Paez.

November 16, 2008

Blogger in Myanmar Jailed

According to CNN, a court official reported that courts in Myanmar have sentenced a blogger, a poet and several dissidents to several years in jail for anti-regime activities on Monday and Tuesday.

Blogger Nay Phone Latt, 28, was sentenced to more than 20 years in jail due to illegal Internet activities, the court official said. The government has strict control over Internet use and media outlets in the country.

Latt was a "major source of information for the outside world" in the military-ruled country, The Irrawaddy, an online newspaper published by exiles from Myanmar, said.

Poet Saw Wai was sentenced to a two-year jail sentence for a poem he wrote for Valentine's Day. The first words of each of the poem's eight lines spelled out the phrase "Senior General Than Shwe is crazy with power," which was directed at key leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

A dozen members of the pro-democracy group known as the '88 Generation Students received their sentences Tuesday. Members of the group were involved in the anti-government demonstrations that ended with the death of as many as 100 people last year.

A report from the International Herald Tribune offers greater detail on the charges.

Nay Phone Latt, was given 15 years in jail under the country's Electronics Law, two years for "creating public alarm," and 3 1/2 years under the Video Act, his mother, Aye Than, said. One of his offenses included that possession of a banned video.

Saw Wai was sentenced for creating public alarm, a colleague, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said. His poem was published in a popular weekly entertainment magazine.

November 9, 2008

Paloma Hits Cuba

Despite destroying hundreds if homes, Paloma has been downgraded to a tropical depression by the National Hurricane Center, CNN reported.

At around 4 p.m. Sunday, Paloma's center was 15 miles south-southwest of Camaguey, Cuba. The winds have weakened from 145 mph to around 35 mph.

While damage reports have been limited, the Cuban state media has reported that the storm destroyed a major communications tower, has disrupted phone and electricity services, and caused major flooding.

No storm-related deaths have been reported.

Over 220,000 people had been evacuated from the low lands of the Camaguey providence and were moved to higher ground in anticipation of the storm. Another 170,000 people were moved in the eastern province of Las Tunas.

"This is a really hard blow," Aida Perez, a resident of Santa Cruz del Sur, said. "What's important is that we are alive."

The AP reported that waves more than 10-foot-high washed away nearly 50 modest houses in Santa Cruz del Sur, submerging houses, and flooding local crops. In total, 435 homes in the community were destroyed Civil Defense authorities said.

Paloma was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Santa Cruz del Sur, but rapidly lost strength.

November 2, 2008

Landslide in China

CNN reported Sunday afternoon that a landslide southwestern China left at least 15 people dead and 34 missing.

The landslide hit Chuxiong city in the Yunnan province on Sunday after days of heavy rainfall. This preliminary report had very few other details.

A report from Reuters Africa gave a bit more information in the situation.

According to their report, state media now confirmed 22 dead, with 45 people missing.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the landslide destroyed or damaged nearly 1,000 houses, mainly built directly on the steep slopes of the terrain.

October 19, 2008

Earthquake in Tonga

CNN reported that a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the South Pacific islands of Tonga Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according to the Press Association.

The earthquake at 6:10 p.m. local time and was centred 94 miles south-east of the capital, Nuku'alofa, at a depth of 206 miles. Local residents said the quake did not knock items off of any shelves.

No tsunami is expected, according to the National Weather Service Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Tonga is made up of 171 islands, 48 of the those be inhabitable, and is located near the end of the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

October 12, 2008

Hemorrhagic Fever in South Africa kills Three

The U.N. health agency is investigating a mystery disease that killed three people in Johannesburg, South Africa, CNN reported.

Officials from World Health Organization believe the disease is a form of hemorrhagic fever, although tests have were negative for Ebola, Lassa fever, Rift Valley fever, Marburg fever and other main types of hemorrhagic fever.

A spokesperson from the WHO said the first death on Sept. 13 was a tour guide who became ill in Zambia. A paramedic and a nurse that assisted in the treatment of the first victim later died. All three died from external and internal bleeding, according to Reuters.

120 people are currently being monitored by the WHO.

On Sunday, it was announced that health officials believe the disease may be rodent borne.

"The causative agent of the disease ... may be a rodent borne arenavirus related to the lassa fever virus of West Africa," Lucille Blumberg of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases was quoted as saying.


October 5, 2008

Tanzanian stampede leaves 20 children dead

A stampede at an overcrowded dance hall in Tanzania killed 20 children and left 50 others injured, lthe Associated Press reported.

At least 400 children were dancing to English and Kiswahili songs, for the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, inside the hall in the town of Tabora when the stampede occured, regional police commander Daudi Siasa said.

The children became trapped inside the hall, who's capacity is only 200, due to the stampede.

President Jakaya Kikwete sent condolences the children's families. At least 16 victims have been identified and families began funeral arrangements Thursday.

Tanzanian police began questioning the managers of Bubble's Club discotheque on Thursday, according to a story by the AFP.

"A team has been formed to investigate the incident," Tabora regional commissioner Abeid Mwinyimusa told AFP.

Tabora regional commissioner Abeid Mwinyimusa said the stampede that took place between between 5.30 p.m. and 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday.

The cause of the stampede remained unclear, but state-run Daily News newspaper reported it might be due to a malfunctioning air conditioning system.

A government offical told AFP that the disco hall was small and crowded and it appears that is why the children died from the stampede and suffocation.

September 28, 2008

At least 52 Somalis die in attempt to reach Yemen

CNN reported that at least 52 Somalis died when the boat smuggling them across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen broke down, leaving them without food or water for 18 days.

Seventy-one people survived. The survivors were rescued by coast guardsmen in Shihr after the boat drifted into Yemeni coastal waters September 21, according to a news release from the San'a, Yemen, office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The boat's engine stopped shortly after departing Somalia. The smugglers abandoned the boat for another craft and did not return for the refugees.

Forty-eight of the Somalis, 38 men and 10 women, died while the boat was adrift. Survivors said the bodies were thrown overboard, the UNHCR said. Four survivors of the ordeal later died at a medical center.

The survivors said they left Somalia because of drought, unemployment and other insecurity in the war-torn nation.

According to the UNHCR at least 31,192 people have arrived in Yemen aboard smugglers' boats this year. More than 228 Somalis and Ethiopians have died, and 262 are missing.

A Washington Post also report on this story, including information on what happens to those who survive the journey from Somalia to Yemen.

Survivors register with the U.N. refugee agency and stay in refugee camps in Yemen. Others can take jobs in the cities as laborers for less than a $1 a day.

September 19, 2008

Tainted milk sickens almost 13,000 Chinese Children

CNN reported that China's Health Ministry announced Sunday that nearly 13,000 infants and young children have been sickened by tainted milk power.

This new number is more than double the number previously reported -- according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Of the children affected, 104 have serious symptoms, and 1,579 have been cured and discharged and at least four children have died, the agency said.

The first reported death from the melamine tainted milk was released on September 12.

Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety announced Sunday that a sample of Nestle Dairy Farm Pure Milk, used for catering use only, had tested positive for melamine, the same industrial contaminant from China that poisoned and killed thousands of U.S. dogs and cats last year.

However, the Swiss company said in a news release it is "confident" none of its milk products made in China contains the chemical.

"Following press reports in Hong Kong earlier today claiming that traces of melamine had been found in a Nestle growing up milk, Nestle is confident that none of its products in China is made from milk adulterated with melamine," the company said.

The Washington Post offered an update on this story, reporting that officials arrested two brothers, surnamed Geng, who are suspected of mixing the banned toxin into milk to try to fool buyers who tested its protein content.

Melamine is said to boost protein readings on tests.

Xinhua reported that the men, who run a milk collection business, sold about three tons of the contaminated milk daily. Some of the milk is believed to have been sold to Sanlu Group, the country's biggest producer of powdered milk.

September 14, 2008

Death Toll Rises in New Delhi Blast

The Washington Post reported that the blasts from five small bombs have killed at least 22 people and injuring more than 90 in a busy New Delhi market.

The blasts took place over the course of 25 minutes. The bombs were placed within trash cans and on bicycles.

"Whoever has done this, they are enemies of humanity and enemies of India," said Home Affairs Minister Shivraj Patil. "They want to destroy peace in our society...We will take the toughest action against them."

A group referred to as the Indian Mujahideen has taken responsibility for the attacks in an e-mail sent to media offices.

"Within five minutes from now . . . this time with the Message of Death, dreadfully terrorizing you for your sins," the e-mail said.

The email also challenged officials to "try and stop us if you can" and warned that there would be nine blasts in the city. Bomb disposal teams were able to defuse four bombs planted around the downtown area. CNN reports that two of the remaining bombs were found near a movie theater and near central park in the Connaught Place area.

Indian Mujahideen has previously claimed responsibility for past bombings across India.