Isnin, 9 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Pop star Bieber brings cheer in typhoon-hit Philippines


MANILA: Pop megastar Justin Bieber sang to young survivors of the Philippines' deadliest typhoon Tuesday after he flew into the disaster zone to boost an international relief effort.

Bieber flew unannounced to the central city of Tacloban just over a month after it was devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan and sang Christmas carols to children at a local school amid tight security, witnesses said.

"He sang Holy Night for the children," said Kate Donovan, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), one of three aid agencies expected to benefit from Bieber's charity work.

Photos posted on social media showed young fans with mobile phones snapping away at the Canadian teen heart-throb, who has more than 46 million followers on Twitter.

Prior to visiting the Philippines, Bieber had posted a message on fund raising website urging his millions of fans to donate to the victims of the typhoon, the strongest to ever hit land.

Haiyan cut across the central Philippines on November 8, destroying scores of communities along its path.

Tsunami-like storm surges it triggered also swallowed up many coastal areas, and were blamed for majority of the nearly 6,000 deaths.

More than 1,700 others remain missing and about four million have been displaced.

In his message on Prizeo, Bieber said those donating to his cause could win a chance to personally see him record music next year.

"In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, its victims in the Philippines need our help - and they need it now," he said in his appeal.

Many other international celebrities have also lent their voices to the massive rehabilitation effort, including Grammy-award winning singer Alicia Keys who visited victims airlifted to Manila two weeks ago. -AFP

Twenty-seven held over Singapore riot


Singapore: Twenty-seven men from South Asia were arrested in connection with Sunday night's riot in Little India, which apparently started after a bus ran over and killed an Indian worker as he was crossing a road.

Videos uploaded on social media within the hour of the accident showed the private bus being set upon by an angry mob even as the 33-year-old victim's body remained pinned under the vehicle.

The victim has been identified as Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu (pic).

Sakthivel has been working in Singapore as a construction worker with Heng Hup Soon, a scaffolding company, for about two years, said a man who identified his body at the Singapore General Hospital mortuary yesterday.

The man, who declined to be named, said Sakthivel's family has not been notified of his death.

He added that Sakthivel's body was not decapitated as reported by some news outlets but he did suffer injuries to his face.

During the violence, one man from the mob was seen in a video striking the windscreen and windows of the bus with a pole, while another tossed a litter bin at the vehicle from close range, shattering the front windscreen.

The crowd continued to grow, cheering and shouting vulgarities in Tamil – turning violent in a matter of minutes, said eyewitnesses.

First responders to the accident, including a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulance and a police patrol car, arrived at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road shortly after they received a call for help at 9.23pm.

SCDF rescuers were trying to reach the victim, who was trapped under the bus, with hydraulic tools when the crowd apparently attacked them.

"Projectiles were thrown at the SCDF rescuers while they were extricating the body," said a spokesman.

The mob spiralled out of control quickly after that, turning on the police, including the reinforcements who had arrived by then.

"Some of the men lit beer bottles with fire and threw them at the police; I saw them throw more than 10 bottles," said P. Kannan, who was waiting for a friend at the Little India MRT station.

Police estimates later put the mob at about 400-strong.

Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee said 300 police officers were activated to contain the rioters.

These included men from the Special Operations Command (SOC) and Gurkha Contingent, who arrived at the scene clad in anti-riot gear.

Residents living at Blk 661 Buffalo Road, many of whom had a bird's eye view of how the riot unfolded, said they saw at least three police patrols cars being turned onto their sides by the mob.

Two ambulances at the scene were also attacked, one was seen with its windscreen smashed, while another, which was next to a Traffic Police Expressway Patrol, was on fire.

Rohit Sodhi, 25, a service staff member at the Jungle Tandoor Restaurant: "I heard what sounded like bombs going off. Three times. Then I saw a huge mob running towards my restaurant and down Upper Dickson Road. The police chased them."

SOC officers, fanned out in anti-riot formation along the street, managed to break up the violent mob shortly after they arrived at the scene.

Commissioner Ng said during a press conference after the incident that the situation was resolved within the hour of the first call received.

"As far as we know now, there was no Singaporean involved in the riot," said Commissioner Ng.

"The unwanted violence, rioting, destruction of property, fighting the police, is not the Singapore way."

Two police patrol cars and an ambulance were set ablaze during the riot.

The burning vehicles triggered a few explosions before firefighters were at scene to put out the fire.

A total of nine SCDF and police vehicles were damaged in the incident, including an ambulance and three patrol cars that were burnt.

The SCDF said it had conveyed 18 casualties, including four SCDF officers, to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) for treatment. The police said 10 of its officers were hurt during the riot. They have all been discharged from the hospital.

The bus driver has been arrested and is out on bail, police said yesterday. The male Singaporean driver, who was warded at TTSH earlier yesterday, is being investigated for causing death by a negligent act.

He is understood to have been ferrying workers between Little India and a dormitory at Jalan Papan when he reversed into Sakthivel. The deceased is believed to have been drunk.

Sunday night's incident came as a surprise to many, because not since the racial riots in Singapore in 1964, have the police been activated to respond to such unrest.

Polytechnic student Jovial Ng, 19, who lives on Buffalo Road said: "We studied about the Maria Hertogh riots in social studies but we never expected to witness anything like this in real life."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post early yesterday called the riot a "very grave incident".

"The situation is now under control, and investigations are underway. Whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour. We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law.

"I urge all Singaporeans to stay calm. Do send the police any information, photos or videos of the incident that you may have. I also wish the injured officers a full and speedy recovery." — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network

Traders pick up the pieces the morning after


Shopowners and residents affected by the riot in Little India were seen clearing up the debris from the violence, with most counting their losses.

Abdul Hakeem, a shop assistant at fruits and vegetable retailer Guru's Marketing, said yesterday that it would most likely take him "all day" to determine how much costs he would incur.

"When I arrived this morning, I saw this," he said, pointing to a pile of trampled vegetables at his shop front along Buffalo Road, a stone's throw away from where the riot broke out at about 9.30pm the night before along Race Course Road.

A few doors away, the female shop assistant of a vegetable retailer, who refused to be named, said she came to work in the morning to find a mess of broken glass in front of her shop.

"It is what it is," she said, when asked if her business would be affected.

Most businesses along Race Course Road were open as usual yesterday with restaurants starting to fill up by noon.

Groups of foreign workers were seen chatting among themselves at the nearby Tekka Lane, getting updates on what had happened.

Construction worker Roejan Raj, who stays in a rented room along Kerbau Road, said: "Everyone is still asking questions."

Outside a Little India MRT station exit along Race Course Road, glass from smashed lights lay strewn on the ground and SBS Transit staff were seen covering the mess with white plastic sheets. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network


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