Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike sweeps away other news coverage

Hurricane Ike is continuing to dominate news bulletins; but there have been several other major stories over the last 48 hours that have only made a few seconds airtime.

There have been bombs in India, typhoons in Taipei, a plane crash, a train crash and sinking boats. Even increased tensions between the US and Russia have failed to make major headlines.
The political row that is building between the US and the South American countries of Venezuela and Bolivia has also drawn Russia into the tense diplomatic fight. The US Ambassador in Bolivia was expelled following riots that the ruling party says were instigated by the United States. At least 16 have died in the disturbances. The US retaliated by expelling the Bolivian Ambassador, but now the dispute has widened with Hugo Chavez expelling the US Ambassador from Venezuela [CNN].

“This reflects the weakness and desperation of these leaders as they face internal challenges and an inability to communicate effectively internationally in order to build international support” Sean McCormack, the US State Dept spokesman said. He added that charges against the US Ambassadors were false and that “leaders of both those countries know it”. It has long been suggested that the US has attempted to destabilize the two socialist allies of Venezuela and Bolivia. Both countries supply the US with oil and it is this issue that may drive a deeper wedge between the two continents. The situation has been made more difficult for the US as Russia sends in a small defence force of warships. President Bush and President Putin have already been at loggerheads over the conflict in Georgia. And with only a few months left in office, President Bush, who has already been called a ‘lame-duck president’, will find any decision all the more difficult [BBC / CNN].

The United States was not the only country being hit by storms this weekend. As Texas began to sift through the destruction brought by hurricane Ike, halfway round the world another storm was slamming into Taiwan. Severe damage was reported after the category 3 storm swept across the island on Saturday. Typhoon Sinlaku brought down trees and brought mud slides as it hit the capital Taipei packing winds of 200 km/h. It is the fourth typhoon to hit the country this year. The typhoon is expected to head north towards Japan [Al Jazeera / CNN].

But Japan was already in the news before the typhoon arrived. A Japanese news agency reported that a man had gone on the rampage with a knife killing at least one person and injuring several others. The attack took place during a festival at a shrine in Ishikawa Prefecture. Toshiaki Arai, a 42-year-old vendor, was seen indiscriminately slashing people with a sickle, the Kyodo news agency reported [CNN].

More violence was seen once again in India with another series of bombings, the fourth in the last 5 months. A shopping district in New Delhi was struck on Saturday by several low intensity blasts leaving 21 dead and over 100 injured. Eight bombs had been placed around the area, though only five exploded. The BBC described it as another front in the global war on terror with the Islamic Mujahadeen promising yet more attacks. The same group is believed to be responsible for bomb blasts on 13th May which left 80 dead and on the 26th July which killed 45 [BBC / CNN].

There were also several other disasters around the world. In Russia a Boeing 737 crashed late Saturday killing all 87 passengers on board. The Russian Tass News Agency said the plane came down near the city of Perm in central Russia. Seven children are thought to be amongst the dead. The Aeroflot plane was on a scheduled flight from Moscow. Contact with the aircraft was apparently lost as the plane came into land at an altitude of 1,800 metres according to Russia Today quoting emergency service sources [BBC / CNN].

A tourist boat sank in Paris resulting in two deaths. Ten people jumped into the river Seine to escape the sinking vessel. But two people, including a six year old child, were said to be in a serious condition following the incident which happened late Saturday. Authorities said that the two died in the night from their injuries [BBC / CNN].

Back in the US and investigations are continuing following a train crash which left 25 dead. A commuter train struck a freight train late afternoon on Friday in Los Angeles. Some 200 people were on board the train and at least half were injured [CNN].

Investigations are also underway in China after milk contamination scare. The government inquiry came after several babies fell ill. A baby milk formula said to be tainted with melamine has killed at least one child according to reports. But there is further concern after warnings, sent out by a partner company over a month ago, were not heeded [BBC]. Tragedy also continues in Shaanxi province where the death toll continues to rise at an unlicensed mine where a mud slide buried hundreds. The number killed in the incident which occurred last week has now risen to 254 [CNN].

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