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Daily Archives: 10/26/2010

Photostream : Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupts

A villager watches Mount Merapi in Kaliadem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. Indonesia's most volatile volcano started erupting Tuesday, after scientists warned that pressure building beneath its dome could trigger the most powerful eruption in years (AP Photo)

A picture of Indonesia's Mount Merapi taken from Umbul Harjo village in Sleman, Yogyakarta, shows the volcano spewing smoke, early on October 26. The volcano erupted three times emitting searing cloud and volcanic ashes, a volcanologist said« Read less (AFP/Clara Prima)

Villagers standing on a truck are evacuated to Girikerto village in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. Authorities will evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the Mount Merapi volcano near Yogyakarta on Java after the alert status for an eruption was raised to the highest level, officials said. REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

Villagers who live on the slope of Mount Merapi gather at a temporary shelter in Pakem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. Indonesia's most volatile volcano started erupting Tuesday, after scientists warned that pressure building beneath its dome could trigger the most powerful eruption in years. (AP Photo)

A woman covers her baby as she runs from ash falling from an erupting volcano at Kaliurang village in Sleman, near Indonesia's ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. Mount Merapi erupted on Tuesday, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes, witnesses said. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Rescue workers help villagers upon arrival at a temporary shelter after they were evacuated from their homes on the slope of Mount Merapi following its eruption in Pakem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. Indonesia's most volatile volcano started erupting Tuesday, after scientists warned that pressure building beneath its dome could trigger the most powerful eruption in years. (AP Photo)

Villagers sit in a truck as they are evacuated from their village to Girikerto village in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. Authorities will evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the Mount Merapi volcano near Yogyakarta on Java after the alert status for an eruption was raised to the highest level, officials said. REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

A villager watches as Indonesia's Vice President Boediono visits a temporary shelter in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 26, 2010. More than 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the Mount Merapi volcano are being evacuated after the alert status for an eruption was raised to the highest level, officials said. REUTERS/Beawiharta

PM Netanyahu: Shayetet 13 commandos acted ‘heroically’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ,left, and Israel's military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, second right, visit Israeli naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May, in Atlit naval base, northern Israel Tuesday,Oct. 26. 2010. Israel's leader has paid a special visit to a military base in northern Israel to praise the naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May.(Getty Images / AP Photos/Dan Balilty, Pool)

October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / JPOST) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a special visit to the Atlit military base in northern Israel on Tuesday, to praise the Shayetet 13 commandos who participated in Israel’s Naval interception of the Mavi Marmara last May.

“Gaza has become an Iranian terror base — very close and very dangerous,” Netanyahu told the fighters. The raid was “vital, imperative, important and legal,” he added.

Facing a deadly threat, “you responded professionally, heroically, with restraint and ethically.”

After Netanyahu delivered his remarks, he met privately with some of the commandos on the base, including one who is still recovering from injuries sustained when activists seized him and threw onto a lower deck. Gidi Schmerling, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said the commando told Netanyahu he sought to return to active duty.

He was among four commandos wounded in the operation who met with Netanyahu.

Addressing the commandos who had been wounded, the prime minister said, “I am happy to see those who were injured, and I salute you all. You acted in the name of the State of Israel.”

The commandos violently clashed with pro-Palestinian activists on one of the Gaza-bound ships, resulting in nine fatalities. Both sides have accused the other of sparking the violence.

At the end of his comments, Netanyahu thanked Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi who accompanied him on the tour, and said the Shayetet 13 fighters proved the IDF chief’s determination during his four years in the position.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu Tells Navy Commandos, ‘You’re the Greatest’

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and army chief Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi

October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / IsraelNationalNews.Com) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday praised the Navy commandos who stopped IHH terrorists from reaching Gaza last May 31, telling them they are heroes who “exposed the true nature of the IHH.”

In a special visit to the naval base at Atlit, north of Haifa, the Prime Minister told the soldiers that ”no naval force in the world” would have responded more ethically and better than they did.

He praised them for their attempt to use non-violent means to stop the Mavi Marmara ship and five sister ships from carrying out their mission to break Israel’s maritime embargo on Hamas-controlled Gaza.

After the ensuing clash that took place when the IHH terrorist activists attacked the commandos, the boat was taken to the Ashdod port, where it was discovered that there was no humanitarian aid on board the vessel, despite previously claims.

The clash on the Mavi Marmara resulted in several commandos being wounded – some of them kidnapped for a brief period of time – and nine IHH members, thoroughly trained in terror tactics, being killed.

IDF videos showed the commandos boarding the Mavi Marmara via ropes from a hovering helicopter armed with nothing but a paintball gun and a small revolver. Audio and video evidence later collected clearly showed the IHH activists as having prepared their attack on the commandos, beating them with metal rods as they helplessly descended on the ropes.

The IHH attackers used at least two handguns of their own, along with revolvers taken from the commandos, and shot at them. The Navy seals then overpowered them, and nine of them died by the time the clash was over.

Photostream : PM Netanyahu visited the base of Israeli naval commandos

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ,left, and Israel's military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, second right, visit Israeli naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May, in Atlit naval base, northern Israel Tuesday,Oct. 26. 2010. Israel's leader has paid a special visit to a military base in northern Israel to praise the naval commandos who participated in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May. (Getty Images / AP Photos/Dan Balilty, Pool)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands with naval commandos during his visit to the Atlit naval base near the northern city of Haifa October 26, 2010. Saying "I salute you," Netanyahu on Tuesday visited the base of Israeli naval commandos who killed nine pro-Palestinian Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Dan Balilty/Pool )

Merapi dust killed baby

Mount Merapi

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October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA POST) — A three-month-old baby died after experiencing respiratory problems after Indonesia’s most volatile volcano Mount Merapi started erupting Tuesday afternoon in Muntilan, Central Java.

Muntilan General Hospital director Sasongko told journalists Tuesday evening that the baby died on the way to hospital.

“We have tried our best, it was just too severe a problem,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.

The hospital was treating 10 people suffering from breathing difficulties.

About 11,400 villagers on the mountain were urged to evacuate. But most who fled were the elderly and children, while adults stayed to tend to homes and farms on the mountain’s fertile slopes.

Scientists warned that pressure building beneath the volcano dome could trigger the most powerful eruption in years.

Medvedev to attend ASEAN summit in Vietnam

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October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Kremlin press service said on Tuesday.

Medvedev will arrive in Vietnam on an official visit at the invitation of Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

ASEAN was established in August 1967, and comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the EU, South Korea, India, China and Russia hold a partner status in the organization. Papua New Guinea has a special observer status.

The organization’s goal is contributing to the development of member countries’ social economic and cultural cooperation, as well as to the consolidation of peace and stability in Southeast Asia.

MOSCOW, October 26 (RIA Novosti)

Paul The Octopus dies

(FILE) : "Paul", the so-called "octopus oracle", is presented with a jersey and a bronze statuette at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 22, 2010. The octopus on Thursday was nominated as the "favourite friend" of the Spanish town Carballino. The octopus became a media star after correctly picking all six German World Cup results including their first-round defeat against Serbia and their semi-final defeat against Spain. "Paul" also predicted Spain's World Cup victory over The Netherlands and Germany's victory in their third place match against Uruguay. (Getty Images / REUTERS / Kirsten Neumann )

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October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA POST) — Paul the Octopus, the tentacled tipster who fascinated football fans by correctly predicting results at this year’s World Cup, died Tuesday.

Paul had reached octopus old age of 2{ years and died in his tank on Tuesday morning in an aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen, spokeswoman Ariane Vieregge said.

Paul seemed to be in good shape when he was checked late Monday, but he did not make it through the night. He died of natural causes, Vieregge added.

“We had all naturally grown very fond of him and he will be sorely missed,” Sea Life manager Stefan Porwoll said in a statement.

The aquarium has not yet decided how best to commemorate their most famous resident, he said.

“We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds, and erect a modest permanent shrine,” Porwoll said.

After rising to global prominence during the World Cup in South Africa in June and July, Paul retired from the predictions business after the final between Spain and the Netherlands – the result of which he also forecast correctly – and returned to his prime role of making children happy.

The blogosphere erupted in sympathy for Paul, although some saw him more as a tasty morsel than a departed friend. “Will they cook him Galician-style? I wonder how much a plate of Paul with a beer must cost,” wrote Jordi, alluding to the popularity of octopus as a dish in the northwest Galicia region and much of Spain.

Others were more philosophical on hearing of Paul’s death.

“For the next month I will go to class dressed in mourning, wrapped in a black suit and with my gaze lost in the horizon, as this calamitous event deserves no less,” wrote ‘relojero’ which means watchmaker. Another blogger, Pedro, saw a sinister hand at work. “An autopsy should be carried out, it’s certain some betting office killed him.”

In July, the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen said Paul was stepping “back from the official oracle business.

“He won’t give any more oracle predictions – neither in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy,” said spokeswoman Tanja Munzig. “Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh.”

Paul correctly tipped the outcome of all seven of Germany’s games. He made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag.

After his World Cup soothsaying skills were revealed, the English-born Paul was appointed as an ambassador to England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He had English roots, having been hatched at Weymouth Sea Life Center on England’s south coast in 2008.

Imitators sprang up all over the world, including Mani the Parakeet in Singapore and Lorenzo the Parrot in Hannover, Germany.

The latest was a saltwater crocodile named Dirty Harry, who predicted Spain’s World Cup final win and called the result of Australia’s general election by snatching a chicken carcass dangling beneath a caricature of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“El Pulpo Paul” became so popular in Spain that the northwestern Spanish town of O Carballino tried to borrow him and made him an “honorary friend.”

In response to hundreds of requests to bring Paul to Spain, the Madrid Zoo asked Sea Life if it would be willing to make a deal to bring him in as a tribute to the Spanish football team’s victory, either temporarily or for good. But the German aquarium turned down that offer, too.

Paul also had an agent and Paul’s name will live on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where a permanent sea turtle rescue center funded in part by donations generated by the famous octopus is being established.

Indonesia tsunami death toll rises

Women and children flee to higher ground in Padang, West Sumatra
Many residents in Padang, West Sumatra, fled to higher ground after the earthquake

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October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — At least 23 people have been killed and 167 are missing in Indonesia after a localised tsunami triggered by Monday’s earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

Scores of houses were destroyed by waves after the 7.7 magnitude quake, which struck 13 miles (20km) under the ocean floor near the Mentawai islands.

Ten villages on the islands were swept away by the tsunami, a disaster official told the AFP news agency.

Australian officials are trying to contact a group of missing surfers.

The group of between eight and 10 missing Australians was on a surfing charter boat in the area, which is a popular surfing destination reached only by boat.

The search and rescue operation is being seriously hampered by bad weather, officials have told the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta.

Heavy rain is preventing helicopters from accessing the area and boats cannot reach the islands either, because the dock on the island of South Pagai has been completely destroyed.

 

Children ‘swept away’

 

There is no tsunami warning system in place around the Mentawai islands, and initial reports about whether a tsunami had actually been generated were confused.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert of a local tsunami – within 100km of the quake epicentre. It later said a “significant tsunami” had been generated but that the threat was now reduced and the alert was cancelled.

Multiple eyewitnesses say a huge wave was created by the quake, which seriously damaged villages or even washed them away entirely.

The islands of South Pagai and North Pagai were reported to be particularly badly affected.

 

Map

Waves reached 3m (10 feet) high and the water swept inland as far as 600m on South Pagai island, said Mudjiharto – the head of Indonesia’s health ministry crisis centre, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

He said 200 body bags were being sent to the region in case they were needed.

“Ten villages have been swept away by the tsunami,” National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Agolo Suparto told AFP.

Most buildings in the South Pagai coastal village of Betu Monga were destroyed, Hardimansyah, an official with the regional branch of the Department of Fisheries, told the Reuters news agency by phone.

“Of the 200 people living in that village, only 40 have been found. 160 are still missing, mostly women and children,” he said.

“We have people reporting to the security post here that they could not hold onto their children, that they were swept away. A lot of people are crying.”

Heri Suprapto, the head of Kepuhargo village in the Mentawai islands, told the BBC’s Indonesia service that 372 “very weak” people from three villages had been evacuated.

“Transportation has also been prepared for villagers who are in good health whenever evacuation needs to be done. Preparations are also under way to evacuate individuals by using motorbike and small cars.”

‘Wall of white water’

 

Rescue workers on a ferry in Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia (26 Oct 2010)
Rescue workers are preparing to evacuate victims from quake-hit areas

Australian officials say they have so far had no contact with a boat which had been in the area of the quake.

The Southern Cross was carrying up to 10 people – Australia’s AAP news agency said nine Australians and a Japanese man had been on board.

SurfAid, a charity which supports villages in the Mentawai islands, said the boat’s skipper was experienced and knew the area well.

“He knew to contact in if he could. So that’s why we’re extra concerned,” said the charity’s founder, Dave Jenkins.

Meanwhile, another group of Australians said their boat was destroyed by a wall of water.

Captain Rick Hallet told Australian media that his boat was anchored off the shore when the waves came.

“We felt a bit of a shake underneath the boat… then within several minutes, we heard an almighty roar,” he said.

“I immediately thought of a tsunami and looked out to sea and that’s when we saw the wall of white water coming at us,” he said.

The wave brought another boat crashing into them and sparked a fire, forcing them to jump into the sea.

Some of those on board were swept up to 200m inland by the wave, he said.

Indonesia’s Most Active Volcano Erupts

Mount Merapi

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October 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) —  Indonesian scientists say the country’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, has erupted after days of rumbling that prompted authorities to order evacuations of surrounding villages.

Volcanologists say Mount Merapi began erupting on Java island late Tuesday. Earlier, they had warned that increasing seismic activity at the volcano in recent days indicated a major eruption was possible.

Authorities had evacuated several thousand children and the elderly from villages on the volcano’s slopes ahead of the eruption. But thousands of other villagers had stayed behind to take care of their livestock and crops.

An Associated Press reporter said several people had been injured by hot ash and were taken to a hospital for treatment.

Mount Merapi last erupted in 2006, killing two people. A similar eruption in 1994 killed at least 60 people, while a 1930 eruption killed 1,300.

Volcano erupts in Indonesia, forcing thousands to flee

Merapi volcano spews smoke, taken from Umbul Harjo village in Sleman, Yogyakarta on early October 26, 2010.

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October 26, 2010 Jakarta, Indonesia (KATAKAMI / CNN) — The Mount Merapi volcano in Indonesia erupted Tuesday, forcing thousands of nearby residents to flee, the Antara national news agency reported.

Mount Merapi, which looms on the horizon north of the major city of Yogyakarta, is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes and lies in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.

Some non-governmental relief agencies were poised to offer immediate help. One of them was World Vision Indonesia, a Christian relief and development agency.

“Right now, our biggest concern is the children,” said Fadli Usman, World Vision Indonesia’s rapid assessment team leader. “Children are always forgotten in the early moments of a disaster like this. My first task will be to assess the needs of the children and their families in the evacuation centers so our team can begin to help them.”

Images on Indonesian TV showed the volcano lighting the sky with a fiery glow and sending thick clouds of gray smoke high into the air. The volcano has a summit elevation of nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

Photostream : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Japan

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd L) and his wife Gursharan Kaur meet Japan's Emperor Akihito (4th R) and Empress Michiko (2nd R) at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo October 25, 2010 in this handout photo released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday urged closer ties with Japan to bolster Asian economic growth, as Tokyo struggles to offset the risk of its growing dependence on giant rival China. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout )

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) and his wife Gursharan Kaur (R) meets Japan's Emperor Akihito (2nd L) and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo October 25, 2010 in this handout photo released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Singh on Monday urged closer ties with Japan to bolster Asian economic growth, as Tokyo struggles to offset the risk of its growing dependence on giant rival China. (REUTERS/Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout/ Getty Images)

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Tokyo October 25, 2010. Singh on Monday urged closer ties with Japan to bolster Asian economic growth, as Tokyo struggles to offset the risk of its growing dependence on giant rival China. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Everett Kennedy Brown/Pool )

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at a Tokyo hotel on October 25, 2010. Singh is on a visit aimed at progressing towards a civilian nuclear deal and boosting trade ties. (Photo : YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2nd L) toasts with the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura (2nd R) during a luncheon with Japanese business leaders in Tokyo October 25, 2010. (Getty Images)

Mahmoud Abbas: Israel has been taking unilateral measures for years

Palestinian Authority president responds to Netanyahu's criticism of Palestinians possibly seeking UN recognition of state; "settlements are a unilateral step done by Israel," Abbas says.

October 25, 2010 BETHLEHEM, West Bank (KATAKAMI / JPOST)   — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that Israel has been taking unilateral steps for decades by building settlements, so the Palestinians might take one of their own — asking the United Nations to recognize their independent state.

Abbas was replying to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said the only path to peace is negotiations. The threat of unilateral action indicates the depth of the crisis over peace talks restarted just last month by US President Barack Obama.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are at the heart of the current stalemate. Netanyahu imposed a 10-month halt to new construction in settlements last November to bring Palestinians back to the table. But it took nine months of intensive US mediation to restart direct talks.

Netanyahu faced stiff opposition to the building restrictions from inside his government and said he would not renew the measure, which expired Sept. 26. Construction has begun on more than 500 new homes since then, according to settler officials and a count by The Associated Press.

Palestinians insist they will not hold talks while settlement construction continues. They have been suggesting recently that they would seek other solutions if the talks fail.

One possibility would be asking the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

That would not dislodge the Israeli military from the West Bank, dismantle the 120 Jewish settlements there or give Palestinians free access to east Jerusalem. But it could isolate Israel and change the diplomatic equation.

On Sunday, Netanyahu criticized this idea.

“I think any attempt to circumvent it by going to international bodies isn’t realistic and won’t advance true peacemaking in any way,” Netanyahu said. “Peace will be achieved only through direct talks.”

During a visit to Bethlehem on Monday, Abbas responded that Israel has been taking unilateral measures in the West Bank for decades — especially by building settlements.

“Settlements are a unilateral step done by Israel,” Abbas said. “Is there anything clearer than settlements and invasions and roadblocks and all that has been done on Palestinian land?”

Given that reality, Abbas said, Netanyahu should not lecture the Palestinians about a step they might take in the future, “which is to resort to the United Nations.”

Palestinian officials have mentioned this possibility before, but Abbas’ statement was a rare on-the-record reference to the idea.