More than 100 Died in Boat Wreck off Libya
More than 100 migrants died in early September when their crowded rubber boats were wrecked off the coast of Libya, the MSF aid agency on Monday quoted survivors as saying.The two vessels had set out from the Libyan coast early on Sept. 1, each carrying scores of people, mostly African, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement on its website.One boat's engine failed later that day and the other began to deflate, it quoted a survivor as saying. Some survived by clinging to floating wreckage.A survivor told MSF that “European rescuers" had come by aircraft and thrown life rafts, but migrants remained in the water for hours."On our boat, only 55 people survived. Many people died, including families and children.
Greek Seamen End Strike after Reaching Deal on Wage Increase
Greek seamen on Tuesday called off a strike that had kept ferries and passengers stranded in ports around the country, after reaching a deal with employers on a wage increase.The strike, which started at 0600 (0300 GMT) on Monday, was led by the PNO seamen's federation and other unions including dockers and merchant marine engineers.The PNO had initially planned to continue the strike to Wednesday but said it would end it after reaching an agreement with employers on a 2 percent pay rise this year, its members' first increase for eight years.The walkout forced many holidaymakers to seek altern
Italy to Impound German Charity's Migrant Rescue Ship
Italy appeared to relent on Thursday after at first refusing to accept 226 migrants on board a German charity rescue ship, saying later in the day it would take them in but would impound the vessel.Anti-immigrant interior minister Matteo Salvini initially said the Dutch-flagged ship Lifeline should take the people it plucked from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands and not Italy.But transport minister Danilo Toninelli, who oversees the coastguard, later said it was unsafe for…
Somalia Region Sends Soldiers to Free Hijacked Ship
Somali forces have been sent to free a hijacked ship, a regional police official said on Tuesday. "We are determined to rescue the ship and its crew. Our forces have set off to Alula. It is our duty to rescue ships hijacked by pirates and we shall rescue it," Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director general of Puntland’s marine police forces, told Reuters by phone. Puntland is a semi-autonomous northern region. Alula is a port town there where pirates have taken the Aris 13 and her eight Sri Lankan crew. (Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; editing by Andrew Roche; writing by Katharine Houreld)
One Dead, Three Missing in Helicopter Crash off Irish Coast
One person died and three were missing after a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed off the coast of Ireland during a rescue operation, the Irish Coast Guard said on Tuesday. The search-and-rescue helicopter, which was assisting another aircraft with a medical evacuation from a fishing vessel, lost contact at around 0100 GMT, it said in a statement. A spokesman for U.S.-based Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, said the firm was working with the helicopter's operator to gather information on the possible cause of the crash. Sikorsky in January issued a service notice saying the tail rotor and bearing assemblies of the S-92 should be checked following an incident with the tail rotor during a landing on a rig off Scotland on Dec. 28.
Duterte Says He Won't Surrender Rights in S.China Sea
Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he would not surrender the country's rights over the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which China seized in 2012. "There will never be an instance that we will surrender our right over Scarborough Shoal," Duterte told a news conference after holding talks with China's ambassador Zhang Jianhua. "That is not a territorial issue. He said he did not discuss the South China Sea dispute with the ambassador because the Philippines was anticipating a decision from a tribunal in The Hague.
Vietnam Asks Japan for Vessels to Strengthen Coastguard
Vietnam has asked Japan to provide vessels to strengthen its coastguard, a Japanese official said on Thursday, in the latest sign of growing ties among the states locked in maritime rows with China. The request emerged during talks between visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, a Japanese spokesman said. "Vietnam wants new vessels," Masato Otaka told reporters, adding that timing, methods of delivery, costs and quantity of vessels had not yet been decided. Vietnam has been modernising its military, and recently bought six advanced Kilo-class submarines from Russia. Russia and India are the main source of advanced weapons, training and intelligence cooperation.
Weapons Bound for Yemen Seized on Iranian Boat
Saudi-led coalition forces said on Wednesday they had seized an Iranian fishing boat loaded with weapons on its way to deliver them to Houthi fighters in Yemen. The announcement came a day after tribal fighters backed by the coalition won control of a strategic dam in central Yemen from Houthi forces following weeks of fighting east of the capital Sanaa. The coalition, which also includes Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, has been battling the Iranian-backed Houthis for more than six months. It aims to restore to power President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government, forced out by the Houthis, and contain what Gulf Arab states see as Tehran's growing influence in their backyard.
Families March to China Shipwreck Site as Survivor Hopes Fade
Dozens of people broke through a police cordon on Wednesday as they marched towards the site of a sunken cruise ship in the Yangtze River to demand news of missing relatives. Rescuers searched for more than 400 missing people, many of them elderly, but hopes were fading of finding more survivors from the worst shipping disaster in modern Chinese history. Only 14 people, including the ship's captain, have been found alive since the ship capsized in a tornado on Monday night with 456 people on board. Just 29 bodies have been recovered. Frustrated by the scarcity of information coming from local authorities, about 80 family members hired a bus to take them from Nanjing to Jianli county in Hubei, an eight-hour journey. They started walking towards the rescue site late on Wednesday night.
Israeli Dockworkers End Ports Strike
Israeli dockworkers ended a two-day strike on Thursday that had shut down the country's two main seaports in protest at the creation of new foreign-run ports. Some 2,400 workers had walked out of the ports of Ashdod and Haifa as union leaders went underground and for most of Thursday defied orders from labour courts to return to their posts. Some 40 ships were left waiting to be unloaded. Israel's transport minister had threatened to declare a state of emergency and the workers could have faced criminal charges, before both port workers' unions agreed to end the strike.
Somaliland to Pick Berbera Port Partner by End of Year
Somaliland expects to choose a partner to develop and manage its Berbera port by the end of the year, with construction expected to start early next year, the breakaway territory's foreign minister said on Wednesday. Mohamed Behi Yonis said the state, which broke away from Somalia in 1991 but is not internationally recognised, was in talks with France's Bollore, the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company and Dubai's DP World. "Those are the three major port management companies that are interested in developing the port. We have been discussing with all of them," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an African Development Bank meeting in Ivory Coast. "We have not made up our minds. We're looking at all options," he added.
Spain Investigates Sinking off Canary Islands
Spain launched an investigation on Thursday into the sinking of a Russian ship off the Canary Islands, as coastguards battled a six-km (3.7-mile) oil slick close to tourist beaches. Environmentalist group Greenpeace criticised authorities for towing the burning fishing vessel out to sea after it caught fire in Las Palmas port early on Sunday. The Oleg Naydenov, carrying 1,409 tonnes of fuel oil, sank late on Tuesday 15 nautical miles south of Gran Canaria. Television images on Thursday showed oil floating on the water. Spain has sent three tugboats and two light aircraft to control the leak, Public Works Minister Ana Pastor told reporters. Experts were trying to locate a robot which could dive 2.4 kilometres deep to inspect the wreck.
Russian Trawler Sunk by Greed and Corruption
Greed and corruption were to blame for the sinking of a Russian trawler last week in which at least 56 crew died, a spokesman for investigators said on Wednesday. The Dalniy Vostok fishing vessel sank in the icy Sea of Okhotsk off Russia's far eastern coast last Thursday. Sixty-three people were rescued out of a crew of 132 people, with 13 missing presumed dead. Many past Russian disasters have been blamed on negligence or violation of safety regulations. "There are no doubts that this is a crime at the base of which lies the greed of the businessmen who owned the vessel and corrupt officials," Vladimir Markin, the Investigative Committee spokesman, told Rossiya 1 television, TASS news agency reported.
Transpacific Container Shippers Plan Freight Rate Rise
A container shipping organisation urged companies on Wednesday to raise Asia-U.S. freight rates by at least $600 per 40-foot container (FEU) from Feb. 9, and indicated that it will follow with a second $600 per FEU increase on March 9. TSA (Transpacific Stabilization Agreement) said the planned increase follows strong cargo demand through the typically slower winter season and heading into the Lunar Yew Year holidays. The recommended freight rates hike correspond to an increase of respectively 30.3 pct. and 23.3 pct. Members of TSA include 15 of the world's biggest container shipping lines such as Denmark's Maersk Line, a unit of A.P.
Cargo Ship Attacked off Nigeria
Gunmen attacked a Greek-owned tanker while it was waiting to load off Nigeria late on Tuesday, killing its Greek deputy captain and taking hostage three other crew, Greece's coastguard said on Wednesday. The attack on the vessel Kalamos, which had a crew of 23 and was sailing under a Maltese flag, took place at Qua Iboe, a sea area between Cameroon and Nigeria, the coastguard said. "The foreign and shipping ministries have taken the necessary actions for the rescue of the hostages," Greece's Deputy Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas said in a statement. The ship had sailed from China to Nigeria to load. Greece's shipping ministry said the rest of the ship's crew was safe. (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos; editing by Andrew Roche)
New Fighting for Libyan Oil Ports
New clashes erupted on Tuesday between rival factions fighting for control of Libya's biggest oil ports Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, killing at least 10 people, the two sides said. The fighting came a day after the United Nations said it was seeking a ceasefire to pave the way for a new round of peace talks between factions operating two opposing governments, nearly four years after Muammar Gaddafi's overthrow. Libya's internationally-recognised government under Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and the elected House of Representatives have been based in the east since a group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli last summer, set up its own administration and reinstated the old parliament.
Sri Lanka Softens Stance on China Port City dealD
Sri Lanka's new government said on Thursday it might renegotiate a $1.5 billion "port city" deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd, softening its pre-election threat to scrap the project. New Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, before last month's presidential vote, said he would cancel the port deal if his party came to power. Maithripala Sirisena, backed by Wickremesinghe's party, unseated ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa at the polls. "We can renegotiate with China after reassessing the deal," Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senarathne told reporters. "We need to see the feasibility study. He said the current government had not seen any EIA or feasibility study of the project and it needed to be re-assessed because of impacts on coastal erosion.
Kenya Seizes 341-kg Heroin Haul on Ship in Mombasa
Kenyan police on Tuesday seized 341.7 kg of heroin hidden in the diesel tank of a ship, the biggest ever single seizure of drugs at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Police said they did not know the departure point of MV Bushehr Amin Darya, a stateless vessel they detained at sea last week after receiving intelligence reports it may have been carrying drugs to Mombasa. Hamisi Masha, anti-narcotics police chief for Kenya's coast region, said nine suspects were arrested, including six Pakistanis, two Indians and an Iranian. One man died on the ship from illness soon after the ship docked in Mombasa, he added. "We recovered some 900 grams of heroin when we searched the ship last week and this gave us the indication there could be more…
Migrant Death Toll Rises on Sea Route to Italy
Migrants arriving on boats in southern Italy say 81 other people travelling with them have died or gone missing during their sea journeys from north Africa, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday. A group of 27 migrants picked up on Tuesday by Italy's naval rescue mission and brought to the town of Catania said there had been 75 other people on their boat, who were feared drowned, the UNHCR said in a statement. Other migrants arriving in Sicily's Porto Empedocle said two of the party they travelled with had died and four had disappeared. Authorities said the death toll on another packed fishing boat, discovered by an Italian rescue mission on Monday, had reached 45. The victims are believed to have suffocated.
Libyan Coastguard Detains 114 African Migrants
Libya's coastguard detained 114 African migrants in a packed boat headed for Europe on Thursday, officials said. Some 43,000 migrants have crossed from North Africa to Italy so far this year, mostly via Libya where a weak central government is struggling to secure its porous land and sea borders. "We arrested this group of illegal migrants during our daily patrol early this morning," a coastguard official told Reuters as the boat was brought to shore at Gharbouli east of Tripoli. The area is frequented by human traffickers exploiting the weakness of Libya's state authorities since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. "They (the migrants) are from sub-Saharan countries and most of them are from Senegal," the official added.
Boats Pluck People from Roofs as Sloods Sweep Serbia and Bosnia
Boats sailed through the streets of a Serbian town on Friday on a mission to rescue people trapped by rising waters as the worst floods ever recorded swept Serbia and Bosnia. Some residents of Obrenovac, 30 km (20 miles) southwest of the capital Belgrade, were stranded on the roofs of their homes, calling for help. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said all 25,000 citizens would have to be evacuated. At least five people have died in the unfolding disaster this week. Thousands have been evacuated from homes in central and western areas of Serbia and in neighbouring Bosnia. Around 135,000 households were without power across Serbia and the government approved emergency electricity imports. Another 65,000 were without electricity in Bosnia. "This is a catastrophe.
Update: Bangladesh Ferry Death Toll Rising
A Bangladeshi river ferry with around 200 passengers on board capsized in a storm on Thursday, killing at least 12 people, and a rescue diver said he had seen more bodies inside the wreck. Police said some 40 people had swum ashore as the M.V. Miraj-4 capsized in high winds and rain on the Meghna river near the capital Dhaka. Most of the passengers were city workers and students heading home for the weekend beginning on Friday. "We fear there will be more bodies inside the vessel and we cannot be sure of the number of passengers (on board)," Saiful Hassan Badal, Deputy Commissioner of Munshiganj district, told Reuters by telephone from the scene.
Libyan Rebel Leader: Govt Has Not Fulfilled Deal to Reopen Ports
A rebel group controlling two large oil export ports in eastern Libya said on Wednesday the government had not fulfilled its part of an agreement to reopen the ports. Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the group, also told a pro-rebel television station it refused to deal with new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Roche)