EarthLink – News
Death toll in Danube River tour boat collision rises to 20
Sun, June 9, 2019 03:30 EDT
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian police say the body of another South Korean tourist has been recovered following the May 29 accident in which a sightseeing boat sank in seconds after colliding with a cruise ship on the Danube River, raising the confirmed death toll to 20.
Police said Sunday that they are still searching for seven other South Koreans and the sunken tour boat’s captain.
Police said the body of the South Korean woman was found at the town of Szazhalombatta, about 29 kilometers (18 miles) downstream from the scene of the collision in Budapest, near the Hungarian Parliament building.
Only seven people, all South Koreans, were rescued.
A huge floating crane is in place at Margit Bridge as preparations continue to lift the boat off the river floor.
EarthLink – News
Wildfire prompts evacuation at California Six Flags park
Mon, June 10, 2019 11:59 EDT
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A fast-moving brush fire erupted near a huge amusement and water park in Southern California on Sunday, sending hundreds of visitors to the exit to escape clouds of smoke and ash before fire officials asked them to stay put while they worked to contain the blaze.
Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor announced the evacuation shortly after noon, citing concern for the safety of park visitors and employees. About a half-hour later, the park said on its Twitter account that fire officials asked guests to shelter in place due to nearby road closures.
Park visitors were asked to move to the back of the 260-acre (105-hectare) property, away from firefighting activity near the entrance, said Rachel Gallat, who was visiting a friend who works at the park.
“I was getting iced coffee and when I walked outside, ash was raining down on me,” Gallat said. “There was a big cloud of smoke. I saw people around me panicking; they didn’t know where they were supposed to go.”
A Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher told the Los Angeles Times the park voluntarily evacuated visitors.
“We did not tell them to do this,” Melanie Flores said.
Los Angeles County fire officials said nine people were taken to the hospital due to smoke exposure.
Shalane Gonzales, 34, said she saw people running out of the park in bathing suits.
“It was pretty scary. We saw trucks packing people,” Gonzales said. “They were just telling people to load up on their truck beds.”
She said when she tried to drive to the entrance to pick up her partner and their two young sons, police told her to return to the parking lot.
“The fire was feet away from where we were,” she said.
The park later announced it was closed for the day after police reopened the roads, allowing everyone to leave in their cars.
Magic Mountain is located north of Los Angeles and its twisting roller coasters are a familiar sight to motorists on Interstate 5.
Firefighters battled the 40-acre (16-hectare) blaze in hot, dry and windy conditions during the first day of a heat wave baking the region in nearly 100-degree (37.8-Celsius) heat.
The National Weather Service said temperatures reached 96 degrees (35.6 Celsius) at Magic Mountain, with humidity dipping to 10% and winds gusting to 25 mph (40 kph).
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Associated Press writers Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco and Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed to this report.
EarthLink – News
Indian ground team looking for climbers’ bodies in Himalayas
Mon, June 10, 2019 02:12 EDT
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s mountaineering foundation has launched a ground expedition on a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain to retrieve the bodies of five people believed to be from a missing team of international climbers, an official said Monday.
The foundation spokesman Amit Chaudhary said a fully equipped 12-member team hopes to reach the area where the bodies were spotted by Saturday. Helicopter missions have failed to reach the area at an altitude of 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) due to strong turbulence.
Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led the team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on the expedition on Nanda Devi East.
Moran’s Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche. All eight missing climbers are feared dead.
The foundation said its expedition has a window of 15-20 days to complete the operation before monsoon rains arrive. The expedition was using the Pindari glacier side to reach the site.
EarthLink – News
Ally of Kazakhstan’s longtime ex-leader wins presidency
Mon, June 10, 2019 02:50 EDT
MOSCOW (AP) — Preliminary results show an ally of Kazakhstan’s former president has won the presidential election.
The Central Election Commission in this Central Asian country said Monday that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won nearly 71 percent of the vote with all the ballots counted.
Tokayev became acting president when Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, abruptly stepped down. Shortly after Nazarbayev resigned, Kazakhstan’s ruling party nominated Tokayev for presidency in what was largely seen as an orchestrated handover of power.
Sunday’s vote was marred a police crackdown on protesters who took to the streets against what they see as a mockery of democracy. Some 500 people were taken into custody after police broke rallies in Kazakhstan’s two largest cities.
EarthLink – News
Near-erasure of Cambodian opposition makes noodles a target
By SOPHENG CHEANG | Sun, June 9, 2019 09:26 EDT
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The bitter rivalry between Cambodian strongman Hun Sen and his self-exiled chief political rival Sam Rainsy has sometimes played out in deadly violence. But on Sunday, soup rather than blood was likely to be spilled.
The two titans of Cambodian politics normally agree over nothing but made stunningly similar calls to their followers this past week. They both said all Cambodians should gather with their neighbors on Sunday and sit for a meal of num banh chok, a popular Cambodian rice noodle soup usually eaten at breakfast.
From his prime minister’s perch of unchallenged authority, Hun Sen promoted eating “the Khmer (Cambodian) noodles of unity and solidarity.” Sam Rainsy, co-founder of the country’s only credible but now disbanded political party, called for “eating Khmer noodles for the sake of friendship in the framework of the entire, giant Cambodian family.”
Both encouraged sharing the meal with folks from the other side of the political fence.
It sounds utopian, but its roots are in hard-nosed politics.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved by the Supreme Court in 2017 in what was widely seen as a maneuver to ensure victory by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party in the 2018 general election. The 118 opposition lawmakers were kicked out of Parliament and banned from any political activity for five years.
Former party members were left at loose ends. Many of its leaders fled the country, fearing arrest. Even those in local political positions were booted from their jobs.
Sin Rozeth had been an admired young CNRP commune chief in the northwestern province of Battambang. Forced out of politics, she opened a shop selling Cambodian noodles. Her old colleagues would drop by for a meal and chat about politics, and she and others would post their thoughts on Facebook.
Their comments about Sam Rainsy drew the attention of authorities. A court called in Sin Rozeth and about three dozen colleagues for questioning, citing their noodle soup meals as political gatherings in violation of the Supreme Court ban on political activity.
According to Human Rights Watch, authorities this year have issued at least 147 arbitrary court and police summonses against members or supporters of the Cambodia National Rescue Party. “Summons seen by Human Rights Watch lacked legal specifics, containing only vague references to allegations that the person summoned may have violated the Supreme Court ruling that dissolved the CNRP in November 2017,” the rights group said.
Soon, word spread that the former CNRP leaders wanted their party members to gather where they could on Sunday and eat the kind of noodles Sin Rozeth sold in her shop — a novel act of political solidarity.
Hun Sen, known for his prowess in chess, quickly countered, sending word down to his party members that they should also gather on Sunday to eat noodle soup: “Please don’t forget to eat Khmer noodles together. These are the Khmer noodles of unity and solidarity, not destructive noodles.” Hun Sen also suggested that the activity could kick off a campaign to promote Cambodian food and culture.
Effectively co-opted, Sam Rainsy, interviewed by The Associated Press in Paris, said his party had forced Hun Sen’s hand with its bid to make a show of strength.
“Since people eat noodles all over the country, Hun Sen may first accuse them of being opposition supporters, but after seeing such a tide, so many people joining the noodle parties, Hun Sen said no, we cannot stop these noodle parties. If you can’t beat them, join them,” Sam Rainsy said.
At a Buddhist temple in Phnom Pehn, Hun Sen’s party set up tables on a stage for about 300 people. As they eagerly slurped the breakfast noodle soup and chatted with one another, some confessed they were unaware of or didn’t care for the event’s political undertones. Others Quote: d the prime minister’s message of solidarity and national unity.
“I have been eating the Khmer noodles since I was young,” said Pov Tha, 43. “I did not hear their appeals but I saw many people eating for free and then I joined them.”
Sam Rainsy speculated that the action might improve the political atmosphere.
“I think this may be a good sign. A good start to come to some kind of understanding between the ruling party and the opposition, so that the ruling party becomes more tolerant and accepts the very existence of an opposition,” he said.
However, Hun Sen denied any such prospect.
“Please don’t take what I said to be analyzed outside the intention of eating Khmer noodles, as some people think that it is a step toward negotiations (with the CNRP),” Hun Sen said at a graduation ceremony Thursday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, according to the English-language Phnom Penh Post.
“Don’t be confused,” he said. “I’m talking purely about Khmer noodles and solidarity, about national unity through the eating of Khmer noodles on June 9.”
Associated Press journalists Grant Peck in Bangkok and Nadine Achoui-Lesage in Paris contributed to this report.