Rabu, 30 Oktober 2013

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Police: 44 killed in India bus crash inferno


NEW DELHI:  At least 44 passengers were killed when a fierce blaze triggered by an exploding fuel tank engulfed a bus in southern India early Wednesday, police said.

The fire broke out after the bus crashed into a central reservation on a highway between the cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad around 5:00 am, said local police spokesman Venkateshwarlu.

"The number of dead, which includes children, is 44," Venkateshwarlu, who uses only one name, told AFP.

Out of 49 people on the bus, five, including the driver and the bus cleaner, broke windows and escaped before the flames engulfed the vehicle, killing the rest, police said.

"The driver and the cleaner tried to run, but the police caught them and they are now in our custody for questioning," said Venkateshwarlu, adding that the three others were taken to a local hospital.

A total of 131,834 people died in road accidents in India in 2011, according to the government's National Crime Records Bureau, which works out at 15 an hour.

Bad roads, speeding vehicles and poor driving are among the contributing factors, and bus crashes with a double-digit death toll are far from rare.

In May, at least 33 people died when an overcrowded bus skidded off a road into a fast-flowing river in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

The World Health Organization's global status report on road safety 2013 found that eight percent of India's road user deaths were bus drivers or passengers while 32 percent were riders of motorbikes or three-wheelers.- AFP

Japan ruling-party panel to propose break-up of Fukushima operator - media


TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese ruling-party panel will recommend the break-up of Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) after shortcomings in the firm's handling of clean-up operations at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, Japanese media said on Wednesday.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) panel is proposing that Tepco's divisions in charge of decommissioning four damaged reactors and treating contaminated water at the plant should be spun off, the Nikkei and Yomiuri newspapers reported.

Tepco has floundered for more than two and a half years in attempting to clear up the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

An earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling at the plant in March 2011, leading to three reactor meltdowns and explosions that sent a huge plume of radiation into the air and sea, forcing 160,000 people to evacuate nearly townships.

Tepco has lost $27 billion since the disaster at the plant north of Tokyo and faces massive liabilities as it decommissions the facility, compensates evacuees and pays for decontamination of an area nearly the size of Connecticut.

Proposals endorsed by senior LDP members this week include complete financial separation of the Fukushima operations from the utility, or transforming them into an independent administrative agency, the Nikkei and Yomiuri said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised that the government will take primary responsibility for containing contaminated water at Fukushima, saying the situation is under control.

The clean-up process is expected to take at least 30 years and cost more than $100 billion.

After months of denials, Tepco confirmed in July that contaminated water from the coastal plant was flowing into the Pacific Ocean. It has also found that 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaked from one of hundreds of quickly built storage tanks and reported numerous other problems.

The government effectively nationalised Tepco last year with a taxpayer-funded rescue. But there has been heated debate over direct government involvement in the company and over whether to spin off the Fukushima clean-up and let the remainder of Tepco focus on generating electricity for the Tokyo area.

Tepco has said that it is not in a position to comment on its future structure. It is revising a business turnaround plan after falling behind on its financial targets. The company reports financial first-half earnings on Thursday.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick and Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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