- Boston Marathon bombs believed packed in pressure cookers
- China's bird flu death toll rises to 16, government warns of spread
- U.S. proposes U.N. Western Sahara rights monitor; Morocco warns of "missteps"
Posted: 16 Apr 2013 09:33 PM PDT
BOSTON (Reuters) - The bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon were likely heavy, carried to the scene in dark nylon bags, and fashioned out of pressure cookers packed with shrapnel to make them more lethal, authorities said on Tuesday.
The twin blasts on Monday killed three people including an 8-year-old boy and injured 176 others, some of whom were maimed by bombs packed with ball bearings and nails. Seventeen victims remained in critical condition, and investigators still did not know who to blame.
President Barack Obama, who will travel to Boston on Thursday for a memorial service, on Tuesday called the bombings an "act of terror." It was the worst attack on U.S. soil since security was stepped up following the suicide hijack attacks of September 11, 2001.
Cities across the United States went on heightened alert.
In Washington, the U.S. Senate shut its mail facility for the next two to three days after Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi received mail that tested positive for the poison ricin.
In New York, bomb squad investigators were called in and the central terminal at La Guardia airport was evacuated due to a suspicious package. Two passengers and their bags were removed from a flight at Boston's Logan airport. Both cases turned out to be false alarms.
At the scene of the marathon, investigators recovered material that was being reconstructed at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, said Richard DesLauriers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent in charge for Boston.
"Among items partially recovered are pieces of black nylon which could be from a backpack and what appear to be fragments of BBs (ball bearings) and nails possibly contained in a pressure cooker device," DesLauriers told a news conference.
"This morning it was determined that both of the explosives were placed in a dark-coloured nylon bag or backpack. The bag would have been heavy because of the components believed to be in it," DesLauriers said.
Bomb scene pictures taken by investigators and released on Tuesday show the remains of an explosive device including twisted pieces of a metal container, wires, a battery and what appears to be a small circuit board.
One picture shows a few inches of charred wire attached to a small box, and another depicts a half-inch (1.3 cm) nail and a zipper head stained with blood. Another shows a Tenergy-brand battery attached to black and red wires through a broken plastic cap. Several photos show a twisted metal lid with bolts.
A U.S. government official, who declined to be identified, made the pictures available to Reuters.
In addition, Boston's WHDH television showed a picture of an unattended, light-coloured bag on the ground right at one of the bomb sites before the explosion. The bag was gone in a picture from a similar angle taken after the blasts. Authorities could not be reached for comment on the significance of the pictures.
No suspects were in custody and there were no claims of responsibility. "The range of suspects and motives remains wide open," DesLauriers said.
PRESSURE COOKER BOMB
At least one bomb and possibly both were built using pressure cookers as the container, black powder or gunpowder as the explosive and ball bearings as additional shrapnel, according to current and former counterterrorism officials briefed on the matter.
Doctors said some victims would have to endure several operations over the coming days.
"When these kids came in ... they were just so badly hurt, just covered with singed hair and in so much pain, it was just gut-wrenching," said David Mooney, the director of the trauma program at Boston Children's Hospital. "Pulling nails out of a little girl's flesh is just awful."
Another doctor said he was amazed by the resolve of the patients.
"Some of them woke up today with no leg and they told me that they are happy to be alive. They told me they thought they would die as they saw the blood spilling out," George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, told reporters.
The decision to amputate was easy, he said: "We just completed the ugly job that the bomb did.
DEAD AT 8 YEARS OLD
The youngest to die was an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who lived in the city's Dorchester neighbourhood. Outside the family's home, sympathizers created a makeshift memorial of flowers and "Peace" was written in chalk on the sidewalk.
Officials identified a second person killed as Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Massachusetts. She was "the daughter that every father dreams to have," said Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, who said he had confirmed the death with Campbell's father, William Campbell.
"She had a great sense of humour and freckles and red hair that brought her right to her Irish roots," McGlynn said.
The third fatal victim was a Chinese citizen whose identity was not being made public at the request of the victim's family, the Chinese Consulate in New York said in a statement. The victims was a graduate student at Boston University, the university said in a statement.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Steve Holland and Mark Felsenthal in Washington and Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Genevra Pittman, Tim McLaughlin, Dan Burns and Stephanie Simon in Boston; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Grant McCool and Philip Barbara)A shaken Boston mostly gets back to work; 12-block crime scene
Boston bomb scene pictures show remains of explosive device
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 16 Apr 2013 08:56 PM PDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - Two more people in China have died from a new strain of avian influenza, bringing to 16 the number of deaths from the H7N9 virus, and the government has warned that the number of infections could rise.
The latest victims were from the commercial capital of Shanghai, where the majority of the 77 cases have been found, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Tuesday.
The exact source of infection remains unknown and no human-to-human spread of the virus has been confirmed.
Samples have tested positive in some birds in poultry markets that remain the focus of investigations by China and the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
"Because the source of the infection has not been effectively controlled, it is possible that the number of cases of infections could continue to rise," Xinhua said, quoting a risk assessment of the virus by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Zeng Guang, the chief scientist in charge of epidemiology at the China Disease Prevention and Control Centre (CDPCC), said about 40 percent of the victims have no clear history of poultry exposure, the Beijing News newspaper reported on Wednesday.
"How did these people get infected? It's a mystery," Zeng was quoted as saying.
According to a Reuters analysis of the infections, based on state media reports, only 10 out of the 77 victims as of Tuesday have had contact with poultry.
The CDPCC declined to comment when asked by Reuters.
The panic over bird flu has caused many Chinese to shun eating chicken for fear of catching the virus.
China's poultry sector has recorded losses of more than 10 billion yuan (1.0 billion pounds) since reports emerged of the new strain two weeks ago, an official at the country's National Poultry Industry Association said on Tuesday.
Authorities have slaughtered thousands of birds and closed live poultry markets in Shanghai and Beijing in an attempt to reduce the rate of human infection.
An international team of flu experts will go to China this week to help with investigations into the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
China said on Sunday the virus had spread outside the Yangtze River delta region in eastern China, with cases reported in the capital Beijing and the central province of Henan.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee and Huang Yan; Editing by Paul Tait)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 16 Apr 2013 05:33 PM PDT
UNITED NATIONS/RABAT (Reuters) - The United States has proposed that the U.N. peace-keeping mission in the disputed territory of Western Sahara help monitor human rights there, U.N. diplomats said on Tuesday, an idea that has prompted an expression of regret from Morocco.
The U.S. proposal was contained in a draft U.N. Security Council resolution Washington circulated to the so-called Group of Friends on Western Sahara, which includes the United States, France, Spain, Britain and Russia, U.N. diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
"The U.S. has proposed a human rights-monitoring component for the U.N. in Western Sahara," a diplomat said. Other diplomats, as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, confirmed his remarks.
The draft resolution is intended to extend the mandate of the U.N. mission in Western Sahara for another year. It is scheduled to be put to a vote later this month.
Morocco's government responded to the U.S. proposal by cancelling the annual "African Lion" war games in protest.
In a statement, it said the country was "confident in the wisdom of the members of the Security Council and in their ability to find appropriate formulas to preserve the political process from any missteps that would have significant and detrimental consequences on the stability of the region."
African Lion is an annual joint military exercise with the Moroccan Armed Forces and the U.S. Army involving around 1,400 U.S. and 900 Moroccan soldiers.
U.N. diplomats said France, which traditionally supports Rabat, was also unhappy with the U.S. proposal.
The U.S. suggestion for a human rights monitoring component of the U.N. mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, comes after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council in a report that he advocated "sustained" independent human rights monitoring for the territory.
The idea of permanent U.N. human rights monitoring is something Morocco opposes but rights groups and the Polisario Front independence movement have long advocated.
A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, Payton Knopf, confirmed Washington was discussing the issue. "We are actively reviewing MINURSO's mandate and are working closely with our U.N. Security Council partners on this issue," he said.
"The United States continues to support the U.N.-led process designed to bring about a peaceful, sustainable and mutually agreed solution to the conflict whereby the human rights of all individuals are respected," Knopf added.
In U.N.-mediated talks, Rabat has tried to convince Polisario, which represents the Sahrawi people, to accept its plan for Western Sahara to be an autonomous part of Morocco.
Polisario instead proposes a referendum among ethnic Sahrawis that includes an option of independence, but there is no agreement between Morocco and Polisario on who should participate in any referendum.
The referendum has never been held and attempts to reach a lasting deal have been unsuccessful.
No state recognizes Morocco's rule over Western Sahara but the Security Council is divided. Some non-aligned states back Polisario but France, a veto-wielding council member, has continued to support Rabat.
Polisario accuses Morocco of routine human rights violations in Western Sahara and has called for MINURSO to have the authority to conduct independent human rights monitoring. That is something Polisario has called for in previous years, but Morocco, backed by France, has rejected the idea.
In his report, Ban argued in favour of some form of independent rights monitoring but offered no details on how it would be carried out in the resource-rich territory.
"Given ongoing reports of human rights violations, the need for independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained monitoring of the human rights situations in both Western Sahara and the (refugee) camps becomes ever more pressing," Ban said.
(Reporting by Lou Charbonneau and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Todd Eastham)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
|You are subscribed to email updates from The Star Online: World Updates |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|