By Miguel Vidal SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (Reuters) – A train derailed outside the ancient northwestern Spanish city of Santiago Compostela on WednesdaySPAIN-TRAIN.de Compostela on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people and injuring up to 131 in one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.Bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage. Firefighters clambered over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows, while ambulances and fire engines surrounded the scene.The government said it was working on the hypothesis the derailment was an accident – although the scene will stir memories of 2004’s Madrid train bombing, carried out by Islamist extremists, that killed 191 people. Sabotage or attack was unlikely to be involved, an official source said.The train operated by state rail company Renfe with 247 people on board derailed on the eve of the city’s main festival in honor of Saint James when thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world pack the streets.”It was going so quickly. … It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other,” passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station.”A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realized the train was burning. … I was in the second wagon and there was fire. … I saw corpses,” he added.Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, will visit the site on Thursday morning, his spokeswoman said.”In the face of a tragedy such as just happened in Santiago de Compostela on the eve of its big day, I can only express my deepest sympathy as a Spaniard and a Galician,” Rajoy said in a statement.Santiago de Compostela’s tourism board said all the festivities, including Wednesday’s traditional High Mass at the centuries-old cathedral, were canceled as the city went into mourning.‘LIKELY AN ACCIDENT’-El Pais newspaper cited sources close to the investigation as saying the train was travelling at over twice the speed limit on a sharp curve. Both Renfe and state-owned Adif, which is in charge of the tracks, had opened an investigation into the cause of the derailment, Renfe said.An official source said no statement would be made regarding the cause of the Spanish derailment until the black boxes of the train were examined, but said it was most likely an accident.”We are moving away from the hypothesis of sabotage or attack,” he said.Clinics in the city were overwhelmed with people flocking to give blood, while hotels organized free rooms for relatives. Madrid sent forensic scientists and hospital staff to the region on special flights.The death toll was 60 and could rise, with up to 131 injured, a Galicia-based spokeswoman for the office of the central government said.”The scene is shocking, it’s Dante-esque,” said the head of the surrounding Galicia region, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, in a radio interview.The eight-carriage train was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol on the Galician coast when it derailed, Renfe said in a statement.The disaster happened as Spain is struggling to emerge from a long-running recession marked by government-driven austerity to bring its finances into order. Firefighters called off a strike to help with the disaster, while hospital staff, many operating on reduced salaries because of spending cuts, worked overtime to tend the injured.The city’s main festival focuses on St James, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples whose remains are said to rest in the city and who is patron saint of Galicia.The apostle’s shrine there is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.The derailment happened less than two weeks after six people died when a train came off the tracks and hit the platform at a station in central France.That accident may have been caused by a loose steel plate at a junction, French train operator SNCF said.Wednesday’s derailment was one of the worst rail accidents in Europe over the past 25 years.In November 2000, 155 people were killed when a fire in a tunnel engulfed a funicular train packed with skiers in Austria.In Montenegro, up to 46 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in 2006 when a packed train derailed and plunged into a ravine outside the capital, Podgorica.In Spain itself, 41 people were killed the same year when an underground train derailed and overturned in a tunnel just before entering the Jesus metro station in Valencia.(Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Sonya Dowsett, Sarah White, Andres Gonzalez, Blanca Rodriguez and Julien Toyer; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Sarah White, Andrew Heavens and Peter Cooney)
189 survive boat sinking, Indonesia looks for lostView gallery ADI MARSIELA 1 hour ago SocietyAustraliaRefugeeIndonesia BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers were searching for several asylum seekers believed to be missing from a boat that sank off Indonesia while heading to Australia. Nearly 190 survivors were brought to safety and nine bodies were recovered.The sinking occurred days after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd changed Australia’s refugee policy so that people who arrive by boat will no longer be allowed to settle in the country. The move was a response to domestic political pressure and a string of deadly accidents involving rickety boats packed with asylum seekers bound for Australia.Local police chief Lt. Col. Dedy Kusuma said Wednesday that 189 people were rescued and nine bodies were recovered after the tugboat sank Tuesday night about 5 kilometers (3 miles) off the coast of West Java’s Cianjur district. It was not clear how many people were missing.West Java police spokesman Col. Martinus Sitompul said the survivors included a pregnant Sri Lankan woman who was being treated at a health center in the town of Cidaun. A baby boy and a 10-year-old girl were among the dead.Sitompul said the group was believed to consist of around 204 migrants from Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq. They departed Tuesday morning from Jayanti, a coastal town in Cianjur, using a smaller boat that was supposed to meet a larger ship at sea to complete the journey to Australia..”View galleryRescuers carry the body of a victim killed after a boat carrying asylum seekers sank off Java island …Their overloaded boat, built to carry only 150 passengers, sank about nine hours into the trip due to a leak. Some of the migrants scrambled for the lifeboat, while others swam before being rescued, he said, citing Iraqi survivor Ali Akbar.Kusuma said police, fishermen and local villagers were continuing to search.Rochmali, a rescuer at the scene who goes by one name, said the exact number of missing was unclear since some survivors may have fled to avoid authorities.The asylum seeker issue has been a longstanding dilemma for both Indonesia and Australia.Last week, Indonesia decided to stop issuing visas on arrival to Iranians because a growing number of them have been caught smuggling drugs or using Indonesia as a transit point for seeking asylum in Australia. The vast islands that make up Indonesia and its proximity to Australia’s Christmas Island make it a popular exit point for the perilous journey..View galleryA rescuer carries a child after a boat carrying asylum seekers sank off Java island, in Cianjur, Wes …In its own policy shift, Australia said would still assess the claims of asylum seekers who arrive by boat and would help them resettle in Papua New Guinea if their claims are recognized. Those whose claims are denied can return to their home nations or a third country other than Australia.More than 15,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat this year.Rudd said the latest boat incident highlights the need for the policy shift.”Too many innocent people have been lost at sea,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.”The asylum seeker policy we’ve adopted is about sending a very clear message to people smugglers that if you try to come to Australia by boat you will not be settled in Australia. … That is all about destroying the people smugglers’ business model,” Rudd said..”View galleryRescuers carry the body of a victim killed after a boat carrying asylum seekers sank off Java island …__Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.
Spain passenger train derails, killing at least 40 View gallery HAROLD HECKLE and CIARAN GILES 35 minutes ago SocietySantiago de CompostelaSpain MADRID (AP) — A passenger train derailed Wednesday night on a curvy stretch of track in northwestern Spain, killing at least 40 people caught inside toppled cars and injuring at least 140 in the country’s worst rail accident in decades, officials said.Bodies were covered in blankets next to the tracks and rescue workers tried to get trapped people out of the train’s cars, with smoke billowing from some of the wreckage. Some passengers were pulled out of broken windows, and one man stood atop a carriage lying on its side, using a pickaxe to try to smash through a window. Images showed one car pointing up into the air with one of its ends twisted and disfigured, and another severed in two.Officials gave differing death tolls in the immediate aftermath of the crash just outside Santiago de Compostela, on the eve of the city’s annual religious festival that attracts tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world.Alberto Nunez Feijoo, president of the region of Galicia where Santiago de Compostela is the capital, said at least 40 people died. But the president of Galicia’s main court, Miguel Angel Cadenas, was quoted from the scene by the Cadena Ser radio station saying 56 died. Rescue workers were still searching through the smoldering wreckage of the train’s cars Thursday morning in the pre-dawn darkness.State-owned train operator Renfe said in a statement that 218 passengers and an unspecified number of staff were on board the eight-carriage train during the 8.41 p.m. (1841 GMT) crash on a section of tracks about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Santiago de Compostela that came online two years ago ..”View galleryEmergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on …Renfe and track operator Adif were cooperating with a judge who has been appointed to investigate the accident, Renfe said.A regional Galicia health official, Rocio Mosquera, told reporters at a press conference early Thursday morning that more than 140 passengers from the train had been treated at area hospitals, with their conditions ranging from light injuries to serious and some still in surgery hours after the crash.Officials in Santiago de Compostela canceled ceremonies planned for Thursday, when Catholic pilgrims converge on the city to celebrate a festival honoring St. James, the disciple of Jesus whose remains are said to rest in a shrine. The city is the main gathering point for the faithful who make it to the end of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that has drawn Christians since the Middle Ages.The crash happened about an hour before sunset after the train emerged from a tunnel and derailed on the curve — sending cars flying off the tracks. At least one caught fire in a scene that Feijoo said was „Dante-esque.””The train travelled very fast and derailed and turned over on the bend in the track,” passenger Sergio Prego told Cadena Ser. „It’s a disaster. I’ve been very lucky because I’m one of the few be able to walk out.”.”View gallery
Experts: Gas in Gulf blowout is less damagingView galleryA fire is seen on the Hercules 265 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Natural gas spewed uncontrolled from the well on Tuesday after a blowout that forced the evacuation of 44 workers aboard the drilling rig, authorities said. No injuries were reported in the blowout. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Kevin Mcgill and Janet Mcconnaughey, Associated Press 36 minutes ago Deepwater Horizon oil spillNatural gasLouisiana NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A blown-out natural gas well blazing off Louisiana’s coast poses fewer environmental dangers than past offshore accidents because it appears to primarily involve gas that disperses relatively easily, scientists said Wednesday. „A gas well’s not going to result in any kind of major pollution — perhaps not even significant pollution if it’s burning,” said Ted Bourgoyne, the former chair of Louisiana State University’s petroleum engineering department. He now runs the consultancy Bourgoyne Enterprises Inc. Federal inspectors said a light sheen was spotted around the rig on Wednesday evening, though authorities said it quickly dissipated and the fire aboard the rig continued to be fed by natural gas. A sheen was spotted shortly after the blowout began on Tuesday but it, too, quickly dissipated. Gas wells often also have oil or other hydrocarbons as well as natural gas. Officials and scientists agree the latest mishap shouldn’t be nearly as damaging as the BP oil spill that famously sent crude oil oozing ashore in 2010. The fire broke out late Tuesday hours after the blowout, authorities said. Forty-four workers were evacuated from a drilling rig at the site, and no injuries were reported. By Wednesday evening, the derrick and drill floor structure had collapsed. A fireboat was pumping water on the rig in an effort to keep as much of it as cool as possible. University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha „Mandy” Joye also said the pollution and health dangers posed by a gas well are quite different than those posed at the well where the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in 2010, killing 11 people and spewing millions of gallons of oil for weeks. „The biggest danger from gas is that it is extremely flammable. At high concentration, gas exposure can cause health issues (vomiting, headaches, and worse) but such high levels are not likely to be reached in warm, shallow waters,” Joye said in an email response to questions. That’s not to say there were no dangers. The Coast Guard maintained traffic restrictions within 500 meters of the site and the Federal Aviation Administration restricted aircraft up to 2,000 feet over the area. Tuesday’s blowout occurred at a drilling rig adjacent to a natural gas platform that wasn’t producing gas at the time about 55 miles south of the coast. The rig was completing a „sidetrack well,” which drills into the same well hole under the platform. Industry experts say such wells are used to remedy an obstruction or other problem with the original bore, or to access a different part of the gas reserve. Gas spewed throughout the day and ignited late Tuesday night. The cause of the blowout was under investigation being overseen by the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Rig owner Hercules Offshore Inc. said the plan to stop the flow of gas may include drilling a relief well to divert the gas from the accident site, which could take weeks. „We are singularly focused on coming up with an action plan that would regain control over the well,” said James Noe, an executive with Hercules, which was operating the rig for Walters Oil & Gas, an exploration and production company. BSEE said the plan could be submitted for its approval as soon as Wednesday night. How long it would take to plug the well was uncertain. Natural gas — mostly methane — is far more soluble than oil, meaning it more easily dissolves, dilutes and disperses than crude oil, said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science and a member of the federal panel that investigated the BP oil spill. That means concentrations would be are far less lethal to the marine environment, he said. Joye said the accident, the second blowout off the Louisiana coast this month, does raise concerns about whether more regulation is needed. „I believe that BSEE is taking rig safety very seriously, but more active rigs gives rise to more opportunity for problems. Accidents can happen,” she said. Officials on the mainland were also concerned about whether the well fire would affect this weekend’s Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. The major tourist event for the barrier island community of Grand Isle was canceled after the 2010 BP oil spill. „It’s important for tourism and for the island’s economy. We won’t cancel it unless we have to,” said event coordinator Angela Dorvin. Jefferson Parish Council member Chris Roberts said he expected the rodeo to go on. Environmentalists in Louisiana said the accident proves the need for strong oversight of offshore operations. „We won’t have the oil like we did in 2010, but still this is something we need to watch closely,” said Darryl Maleck-Wiley of the Sierra Club. „Once again this is highlighting the dangerous nature of oil and gas operations in the Gulf and that we need aggressive inspection programs of these operations by the federal government.” __Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington and Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans contributed to this report.
The North Pole Has Melted. Again.Eric Levenson 4 hours ago NatureView galleryThe North Pole Has Melted. Again.In what has now become an annual occurrence, the North Pole’s ice has melted, turning the Earth’s most northern point into a lake. Call it Lake North Pole. To be clear, the water surrounding the pole is not seawater seeping up from the ocean but melted icewater resting on top of a thinning layer of ice below the surface. „It’s a shallow lake. It’s a cold lake. But it is, actually, a lake,” writes William Wolfe-Wylie of Canada.com.RELATED: Donald Trump and Nick DentonThat lake started to form on July 13 during a month of abnormally warm weather — temperatures were 1-3 degrees Celsius higher than average in the Arctic Ocean this month — and has come to stretch a significant distance, though not out of the camera’s range. In addition, the water is likely to get worse over the coming week, as an expected Arctic cyclone’s strong winds and rain will loosen the ice coverage even further.RELATED: Gore: Obama Has ‘Failed to Stand Up’ on Global WarmingThe picture above is what the North Pole looks like now, via the North Pole Environmental Observatory. The photo below is what it looked like back in April, and probably how you pictured it before you starting reading..View galleryThe North Pole Has Melted. Again.RELATED: Proof of the Disintegrating Antarctic Ice Shelf; China’s Weird Weather RELATED: Teen Driving Laws Work; A Delicious Way to Lose WeightThe melting ice caps follow a trend of continually rising temperatures across the globe, and the Northern hemisphere has been particularly affected. Things looked to be slightly reversed this year after an April snow cover that was the 9th highest on record, but May’s snow cover ranked the third lowest (dating to 1967), according to The Washington Post, melting almost half of that snow.RELATED: Maya Civilization Changed with the Climate; What’s Next For Green LegislationThe continued heating of the seas and melting ice caps does not bode well for ice cover in the arctic. Sorry, Santa Claus. It may be time to move to one of those ice bars.
Train crash In Spain: ‘At least 35 killed’ Spanish National TV showing footage of what appeared to be several bodies covered by blankets alongside the tracksSky News – 1 hour 11 minutes ago The number of people dead after a train derailed in one of Spain’s worst rail disasters has reportedly risen as high as 69.Many more are said to be critically injured and Spanish media reported emergency services were attempting to rescue several people still trapped inside carriages.Lines of bodies covered with blankets were seen at the side of the tracks.Rescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain. (Reuters)
At least 45 killed as train derails in Spain
View PhotoReuters/Reuters – Rescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain, July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Oscar CorralView PhotoRescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern …View PhotoAn injured passenger is helped by a policeman after a train crashed near Santiago …View PhotoRescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern …View PhotoRescue workers pull victims from a train crash near Santiago de Compostela, northwestern …By Miguel Vidal SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (Reuters) – At least 45 people were killed and 70 injured when a train derailed on the outskirts of the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday in one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.Bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage. Firemen clambered over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows.The government said it was working on the hypothesis the derailment was an accident – though the scene will stir memories of 2004’s Madrid train bombing, carried out by Islamists, that killed 191 people.The train operated by state rail company Renfe with 247 people on board derailed on the eve of the ancient city’s main festival when thousands of Christian pilgrims travel in to pack the streets.”It was going so quickly … It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other,” passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station.”A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realised the train was burning … I was in the second wagon and there was fire … I saw corpses,” he added.One witness near the scene told the radio station she heard an explosion before seeing the derailed train.Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, held an emergency meeting with his ministers. He would visit the site on Thursday morning, his spokeswoman added.DANTE-ESQUE-The head of the surrounding Galicia region, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, said at least 45 people were killed and round 70 injured, more than 20 of them seriously.”The scene is shocking, it’s Dante-esque,” he said in a radio interview.The train was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol on the Galician coast when it derailed, state train company Renfe said in a statement.The crash happened a day before the city’s main festival focused on St James, one of Jesus’s 12 disciples whose remains are said to rest in the city.The apostle’s shrine there is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.The derailment happened less than two weeks after six people died when a train came off the tracks and hit the platform at a station in central France.That accident may have been caused by a loose steel plate at a junction, French train operator SNCF said.It was one of the worst rail accidents in Europe over the past 25 years.In November 2000, 155 people were killed when a fire in a tunnel engulfed a funicular train packed with skiers in Austria.In Montenegro, up to 46 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in 2006 when a packed train derailed and plunged into a ravine outside the capital Podgorica.In Spain itself, 41 people were killed the same year when an underground train derailed and overturned in a tunnel just before entering the Jesus metro station in Valencia.(Reporting By Inmaculada Sanz, Sonya Dowsett, Sarah White and Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Sarah White and Andrew Heavens)
Tropical Storm Chantal weakens to tropical waveView gallery DAVID McFADDEN July 10, 2013 Nature KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Tropical Storm Chantal was downgraded Wednesday to a tropical wave as its scattered clouds drifted quickly westward toward Jamaica. But heavy rains from the weakened system continued to drench parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and force the evacuation of thousands from flood-prone areas.One storm-related death was reported in the Dominican Republic: a firefighter swept away by floodwaters.What was once a fast-moving storm began degenerating late Wednesday afternoon about 230 miles (370 kilometers) east-southeast of the Jamaican capital of Kingston. Its remnants still packed maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), but a reconnaissance plane found that Chantal lacked the closed circulation necessary to be classified as a storm.The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the wave was expected to spread over Jamaica and eastern Cuba into Thursday. It was projected to move over or near the Florida peninsula by Friday, where heavy wind shear is expected to keep it from reforming as a storm.Jamaica’s Meteorological Service said „the main threat at this time is for outbreaks of heavy showers and thunderstorms,” starting over eastern parishes. It warned that flash flooding was possible and called for mariners to stay alert..”View galleryWomen stand outside their home on a flooded street in the Cristo Redentor, or Christ Redeemer neighb …As a storm earlier Wednesday, Chantal’s center skirted the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola. But its heavy rains still posed a threat to some of the region’s most vulnerable people, many of whom live in flimsy homes of plywood and corrugated steel.The only reported fatality was that of Juan Ramon Rodriguez, a 26-year-old Dominican firefighter, in the community of Maimon, about 50 miles (85 kilometers) north of the capital of Santo Domingo. Rodriguez was trying to clear a storm drain when rushing waters carried him away, said Luis Luna, director of the country’s civil defense agency.Dominican authorities were evacuating thousands of people from communities considered at high risk for flooding as rivers near the capital and along the southern coast reached dangerously high levels from the heavy rains. Authorities said more than 6,500 people had been evacuated by Wednesday night.”We’re not in the clear yet,” said Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the Emergency Operations Center.Even remnants of Chantal could create problems for the rural southern peninsula of Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic. Tropical systems can trigger flooding and landslides on Hispaniola, and severe deforestation and makeshift housing make Haiti especially vulnerable..”View galleryResidents watch from their homes as floodwaters run down a street in the Cristo Redentor, or Christ …Haitian officials urged people to move away from ravines, secure important records and stock up on food and water.Farmers in southern Haiti, where mountainside crops are particularly vulnerable to strong winds, feared the worst as heavy rain fell. „I’m scared for the people,” farmer Jean-Marc Tata said by telephone of his neighbors in Mapou, a village near the southeastern coast.All tropical storm warnings were cancelled late Wednesday afternoon. But people in Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas were urged to monitor the wave’s progress.American Airlines canceled flights to Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean, and cruise lines made numerous changes to their itineraries.Chantal raced through the eastern Caribbean early Tuesday, with officials in Dominica reporting that heavy winds ripped the roofs off over 15 homes and toppled power lines. No injuries were reported there or anywhere else in the small islands of the Eastern Caribbean..”View galleryA fisherman carrying a bucket of fish walks home after a day’s work under cloudy skies caused by Tro …Overnight, the storm passed south of Puerto Rico, leaving about 7,000 people in the U.S. territory without power and more than 2,500 people without water. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla ordered public employees back to work on Wednesday.In northeast Jamaica, Fredericus Enneking took it easy as gray clouds began swirling overhead and the breeze picked up at his eco-resort on a one-acre seaside property.”You can feel something is in the air,” said the Holland-born Enneking, who uses the Rastafarian name of „Free-I.” Of course, you can never know what Mother Nature will do, but I am waiting for the storms later in the season. They are typically the ones that do the damage.”__Associated Press writers Trenton Daniel and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.