Isnin, 30 Disember 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

African Union threatens sanctions on those inciting South Sudan violence

Posted: 30 Dec 2013 09:35 PM PST

JUBA (Reuters) - The African Union has threatened targetted sanctions against those inciting the violence in South Sudan and hampering international efforts to negotiate an end to the two-week outburst of fighting that risks drawing in the wider region.

"(Council) expresses its intention to take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite violence, including along ethnic lines, continue hostilities (and) undermine the envisaged inclusive dialogue," the AU's Peace and Security Council said late on Monday.

(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Richard Lough and Eric Walsh)

Fiery oil train collision forces evacuation of North Dakota town

Posted: 30 Dec 2013 09:25 PM PST

FARGO, North Dakota (Reuters) - Residents of a small town in North Dakota were urged to evacuate after a BNSF train carrying crude oil collided with another train on Monday, setting off a series of explosions and fires, the latest in a string of incidents that have raised alarms over growing oil-by-rail traffic.

Local residents heard five powerful explosions just a mile outside of the small town of Casselton after a westbound 112-car train carrying soybeans derailed. An eastbound 106-car train hauling crude oil ran into it just after 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT), local officials said. There were no injuries in the collision that left 21 rail cars on fire, according to BNSF.

Residents within 5 miles (8 km) of Casselton were urged to evacuate to avoid contact with the smoke. Residents within 10 miles were asked to remain indoors.

Casselton resident Jolie Fiedler and her husband gathered their two dogs and left their home.

"It's better safe than sorry - just get out of town and dodge the smoke, I guess," she said. "I'm hoping that I can go home tomorrow, but who knows."

Casselton City Auditor Sheila Klevgard said crews are pushing snow to contain the oil before it reaches a nearby creek.

Half of the oil cars have been separated from the train, but another 56 cars remain in danger, said Cecily Fong, the public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. The collision destroyed both engines on the oil train. Both trains were operated by BNSF Railway Co, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The incident will likely stoke concerns about the safety of shipping increasing volumes of crude oil by rail, a trend that emerged from the unexpected burst of shale oil production out of North Dakota's Bakken fields. Over two-thirds of the state's oil production is currently shipped by rail.

Initial reports from the scene of the accident did not point to a malfunction on the oil-carrying train. Still, videos of the exploding rail cars are likely to add to the ongoing debate on what fixes are needed as older train cars carry flammable fuels such as oil.

The derailment occurred about a mile west of Casselton, a town of about 2,300 just west of Fargo, between an ethanol plant and the Casselton Reservoir, Fong said.

Casselton is state Governor Jack Dalrymple's hometown.


North Dakota is home to a raging shale oil boom that produced nearly 950,000 barrels of oil a day in October. It is also a major grain producer and long accustomed to a high volume of rail traffic.

But shipments of oil have surged lately, most of it the light, sweet Bakken variety that experts say is particularly flammable.

Trains carried nearly 700,000 barrels a day of North Dakota oil to market in October, a 67 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the state Pipeline Authority.

This summer, a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. The incident fueled a drive for tougher standards for such shipments, including potentially costly retrofits to improve the safety of tank cars that regulators have cited as prone to puncture.

In early November, two dozen cars on another 90-car oil train derailed in rural Alabama, erupting into flames that took several days to fully extinguish.

The Association of American Railroads recently proposed costly fixes to older tank cars that do not meet its latest standards but continue to carry hazardous fuels such as oil.

The fixes include protective steel jackets, thermal protection and pressure relief valves, which could cost billions of dollars. Oil shippers, likely to be saddled with the costs of retrofits, oppose some of the changes proposed by the association.

Following the Canadian rail disaster, the U.S. Department of Transportation began an operation it dubbed "Bakken Blitz," which includes spot inspection of oil shipments aboard trains in North Dakota.

(Additional reporting by Jeanine Prezioso and Selam Gebrekidan in New York; Editing by Gary Hill, Jonathan Leff, Bob Burgdorfer, Lisa Shumaker and Phil Berlowitz)

Australia cyclone heads inland after battering iron ore ports

Posted: 30 Dec 2013 09:10 PM PST

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's Pilbara iron ore shipping and mining region, the world's largest, faced cyclonic winds and torrential rains on Tuesday after a cyclone made landfall after intensifying over the last few days in the Indian Ocean.

The key shipping ports of Dampier, Cape Lambert and Port Hedland bore the brunt of the storm after clearing dozens of iron ore freighters and evacuating staff over the weekend. Reports of damage were not immediately available.

Cyclone Christine, the second to batter Western Australia in the November 1-April 30 cyclone season, forced mining companies Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals to suspend loading until emergency authorities sound the all-clear, expected over the next day or two.

Winds with gusts exceeding 160 kilometres per hour (100 mph)are possible near the center of the cyclone over the next few hours, easing only slightly as Christine moves inland during Tuesday, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

A red alert - meaning residents must seek shelter - has been issued for the mining hubs of Tom Price and Paraburdoo, the weather bureau said. The area is home to some of Australia's biggest iron ore mines, including ones owned by Rio Tinto and Fortescue.

"There is a threat to lives and homes," the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement. "You are in danger and need to act immediately."

About 56,000 people live in the Pilbara, which is about the size of Peru.

Cyclones typically cause disruptions to mining operations of between two and five days.

Top Australian supplier Rio Tinto, which is relying on Cape Lambert and Dampier to ship 290 million tonnes of ore next year, halted port activities on Sunday.

Exports from Port Hedland, The world's largest iron ore export terminal and used by BHP and Fortescue, reached 28.1 million tonnes in November alone. The majority of the ore is shipped under contract to steel mills in China.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)


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