- Three women missing for about a decade found alive in Cleveland home
- North Korea missiles moved away from launch site - U.S. officials
- China reports four more bird flu deaths, toll rises to 31
Posted: 06 May 2013 08:50 PM PDT
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Three Ohio women believed abducted separately about a decade ago were found alive on Monday at a Cleveland house near where they were last seen, and three brothers were arrested as suspects in their disappearances, police said.
Police said they were alerted to the whereabouts of the women by a frantic emergency call from Amanda Berry, who was freed from the house by a neighbour who said he heard screaming and came to her assistance.
"Help me! I'm Amanda Berry. ... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years and I'm here. I'm free now," Berry, 26, is heard frantically telling a 911 operator in a recording of the call released by police and posted on the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
During the call, she gave the name of her alleged abductor, said he was "out of the house" and urged police to come quickly. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.
The neighbour, Charles Ramsey, said in an interview broadcast by CNN that when he arrived, Berry appeared desperate to get through the door, which did not open properly.
"I see this girl going nuts trying to get outside," he said, adding that he was astonished when she identified herself.
"Then I realized I'm calling 911 for Amanda Berry. I thought that girl was dead," he said. He said Berry had emerged from the house "with a little girl."
The two women found with Berry were identified by authorities as Gina DeJesus, 23, who vanished in 2004 at age 14, and Michelle Knight, who was reported to have been 20 when she disappeared more than a decade ago.
All three women were taken to a local hospital, MetroHealth Medical Centre, where Dr Gerald Maloney told a news conference they were all "safe" and "appear to be in fair condition."
"This isn't the ending we usually have to these stories, so we're very happy. We're very happy for them," Maloney said.
He declined to comment on unconfirmed media reports that two children were found with the three women at the house.
The suspects, ages 50, 52 and 54, were arrested based on information given to investigators by the three women after their rescue, according to Deputy Cleveland Police Chief Ed Tomba, who said the women had probably been held in that house since they vanished.
One of the men was identified earlier as Ariel Castro, 52, a bus driver for Cleveland public schools.
Crowds on the street where the women were found cheered as police cars drove into the cordoned-off area around the house.
Berry was last seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant to go home on the day before her 17th birthday.
City Councilwoman Dona Brady, a friend of the family, told Reuters that Berry's grief-stricken mother had died at age 47, essentially from a broken heart.
A cousin of DeJesus, Sheila Figaro, told CNN that the girl's mother, Nancy, "never gave up faith knowing that her daughter would one day be found. What a phenomenal Mother's Day gift she gets this Mother's Day."
The suspects' uncle, Caesar Castro, who owns a grocery store on the same street, said Ariel Castro owned the house where the women were found. He added that members of his family and the family of DeJesus "grew up together."
"Everyone is shocked," said the elder Castro. He said he had known Ariel Castro to be "a good guy" and a musician who played the bass.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, "I am thankful that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have been found alive."
"We have many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing," he added.
(Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Christopher Wilson and Mohammad Zargham)Factbox - Some notorious abductions which victims survived
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 06 May 2013 08:26 PM PDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has taken two Musudan missiles off launch-ready status and moved them from the country's east coast, U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday, after weeks of concern that Pyongyang had been poised for a test-launch.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea last month that it would be a "huge mistake" to fire the medium-range missiles. The prospects of a test had put Seoul, Washington and Tokyo on edge, especially following nearly two months of bellicosity from Pyongyang that included threats to attack South Korea and the United States.
The move to shift the missiles follows a reduction in rhetoric from Pyongyang.
One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missiles were still mobile and the fact they had been moved was no guarantee they would not be set up elsewhere and fired at some point.
"It is premature to celebrate it as good news," said another U.S. official, Daniel Russel, the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.
However, a third U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States did not believe the missiles had gone to an alternate launch site and that they were now believed to be in a non-operational location.
The Musudan missiles have a range of 3,000 to 3,500 kilometres (1,900 to 2,200 miles). They have not been tested before.
In Seoul, South Korea's Defence Ministry declined to confirm any movement of the missiles, saying it was still tracking the North's missile activities, indicating it had yet to conclude Pyongyang had shelved plans for a launch from its east coast.
"We have said we'd be able to speak publicly when the North has completely withdrawn (the missiles)," said ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok.
In another sign North Korea is shifting its focus away from confrontation, its official media on Tuesday carried reports of leader Kim Jong-un giving "field guidance" on construction work done by the military. Similar reports were issued on Monday.
The North's official media normally suspends reporting on such activities by its leaders during periods of tension with the international community.
North Korea will likely feature during a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Guen-hye at the White House on Tuesday, where they will have a working lunch followed by a joint news conference.
The North has also remained in the spotlight after it sentenced a Korean American who visited the country last November to 15 years hard labour for what it said were crimes against the state.
Human rights activists in South Korea say Kenneth Bae may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children. A U.S. official said last week Washington was not looking for an envoy to try to secure the release of Bae, who was sentenced last Thursday.
Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the status of the North Korean missiles.
"I wouldn't again comment on intelligence. But what we have seen recently is a 'provocation pause.' And we think that's obviously beneficial to efforts to ensure we have peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Little told reporters.
The heightened tensions, including North Korean threats to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific, coincided with U.S.-South Korean military drills that Pyongyang had branded "a rehearsal for invasion." Those drills ended on April 30.
In a rare show of force during the drills, two nuclear-capable, bat-winged B-2 stealth bombers flew 37 1/2 hours from their U.S. base to drop dummy munitions on a South Korean range, and then returned home.
Asked what may have contributed to Pyongyang's latest move, Little noted various possibilities, including the fact that North Korea's previous cycles of provocation had ended after a period of time.
He also noted that the Chinese government had made some helpful statements.
"We do think they (China) probably - again I can't speak for them - they probably heard very loudly from us and from others the need to ratchet it back and lower the temperature," Little said.
The White House's Russel told reporters it was too early to determine whether North Korea's apparent move away from a launch was an encouraging development.
"It's premature to make a judgment about whether the North Koreans' provocation cycle is going up, down or zigzagging," he said. "The decision to launch or not launch missiles, to conduct a provocation or to stand down or defer it, is a decision that rests with the North Koreans."
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Jack Kim in Seoul. Editing by Dean Yates)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 06 May 2013 07:59 PM PDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - Four more people in China have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing to 31 the number of deaths from the mysterious H7N9 virus, with the number of infections rising by two to 129, according to Chinese health authorities.
Among the deaths, two occurred in the eastern province of Jiangsu; one was from eastern Zhejiang; while another was from central Anhui, based on a Reuters analysis of the data provided by Chinese health authorities on Monday.
The government did not provide more details of the victims.
Chinese health authorities said two new infections were reported in the eastern coastal province of Fujian. The virus, which was mostly concentrated in the region around the commercial capital of Shanghai, spread to Fujian in late April.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) has said it has no evidence that the new strain of bird flu, which was first detected in patients in China in March, is easily transmissible between humans.
Chinese scientists have confirmed that the H7N9 strain has been transmitted to humans from chickens. But the WHO has said 40 percent of people infected with H7N9 appear to have had no contact with poultry.
The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the current strain of bird flu cannot spark a pandemic in its current form - but he added that there is no guarantee it will not mutate and cause a serious pandemic.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Michael Perry)
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|