Selasa, 15 April 2014

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

More than 100 remain unaccounted for after South Korea ferry sinks - reports

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:35 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - More than 100 people remained missing on Wednesday after a South Korean ferry with 477 people aboard capsized off the country's southwest coast, Yonhap news agency said.

Yonhap and YTN television said 368 people had been rescued from the vessel, which sank after issuing a distress call early on Wednesday. Those numbers could not be independently verified.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Scores rescued from sinking South Korean ferry, two dead - officials

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 09:05 PM PDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - About 160 passengers, including high school students, were plucked to safety on Wednesday in a dramatic rescue from a South Korean passenger ferry sinking with 475 on board, officials said, although at least two people had died.

South Korean officials said the rescue operation was still underway and it was difficult to offer any confirmed information about the remaining 300 or so people on board.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was carrying 475 passengers and crew and 150 vehicles, according to Korean port authorities, when it began to list badly as it neared Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula.

Within hours, television pictures showed the Sewol lying on its port side. Soon after the ship had completely capsized, with only the forward part of its white and blue hull showing above the water.

An official from the Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb in the capital Seoul, said all its 338 students and teachers had been rescued safely but that could not be confirmed by the coast guard or other officials involved in the rescue.

The students and teachers were on a field trip to Jeju, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

A distress signal was sent from the ship early on Wednesday, the South Korean coast guard said, triggering a rescue operation involving dozens of ships and helicopters.

There was no immediate indication of what caused the ship to list and roll on its side, although one witness told YTN television there had been a "loud impact and noise" before it started sinking.

The coast guard later said one person had been found dead inside the sinking ferry. An official from the Mokpo Hankook hospital on the mainland said another person had died soon after arriving at its emergency ward.

Television and still pictures showed the badly listing ferry

surrounded by debris, rescue ships, helicopters and at least one inflatable lifeboat.

Chang Kyung-hak, a crew member on a ship sent from a nearby town to help with the rescue, said his vessel was carrying dozens of people, including students who had been saved from the ferry, and that most were in fair condition.

However, two people were suffering minor burns, Chang told Reuters by telephone.

Weather conditions were fair, he said, and the sea appeared calm.

The ferry had left from the port of Incheon, about 30 km (20 miles) west of the capital, Seoul, late on Sunday.

A government official said the rescue operation involved 18 helicopters and 34 navy and coast guard vessels.

The ferry, which also carries cars and trucks, has a capacity of about 900 people and has an overall length of 146 metres (480 feet) and weighs 6,586 gross tonnes. Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.

A passenger on board told YTN television the first rescue helicopter had reached the vessel soon after the distress signal was sent.

The unidentified passenger, who spoke before people were evacuated, sounded calm and said those on board were in their cabins but were having trouble keeping their balance.

Heavy fog had set in overnight off the west coast, leading to the cancellation of many island passenger ferry services.

(Additional reporting by Ju-Min Park and Meeyoung Cho; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)

China stresses need for stability at first meeting of new security council

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:50 PM PDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping held the first meeting of a new national security commission on Tuesday, saying China needed a coordinated approach to domestic and foreign challenges, including social unrest, in "the most complex time in history".

China announced the formation of the commission in November at the end of a key party meeting to map out reforms.

Experts say it is based on the National Security Council in the United States and will increase coordination among the various wings of China's security bureaucracy, split now among the police, military, intelligence and diplomatic services.

Possible international flashpoints for China include Japan, North Korea and the South China Sea. China says it also faces considerable threats at home, pointing to continued unrest in two regions heavily populated by ethnic minorities which chafe at Chinese rule - Tibet and Xinjiang.

Xi told the commission's first meeting that China faced the "most complex time in history" at home and abroad when it came to its security, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China must "implement and put into practice an overall national security view, paying attention to external as well as internal security", Xi was cited as saying.

While Xi listed areas ranging from economic to nuclear security, he also said the commission had to "take political security as its base" and "seek stability", references to protecting the ruling Communist Party's hold on power and dealing with domestic unrest.

"Security is the condition for development. We can only build up our military power by making the country rich, and only with military power can we protect the country," Xi said.

The report did not mention any specific topics that were discussed.

On Monday, Xi urged the air force to adopt an integrated air and space defence capability, in what state media called a response to the increasing military use of space by the United States and others.

While Beijing insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes, a Pentagon report last year highlighted China's increasing space capability and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

Fears of a space arms race with the United States and other powers mounted after China blew up one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based missile in January 2007.

Visiting air force headquarters in Beijing, Xi, who is also head of the military, told officers "to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities", Xinhua said.

It gave no details of how China expects to do this.

China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programmes for military, commercial and scientific purposes. Xi has said he wanted China to establish itself as a space superpower.

But it is still playing catch-up to established space superpowers the United States and Russia. China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has been beset by technical difficulties since landing to great domestic fanfare in mid-December.

(Corrects Xi's comments in paragraph 8 to clarify he meant building up China's military power to make the country rich)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)


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