Saturday, March 8, 2014

WORLD WAR III: Putin Ups The Ante In Ukraine - The Russian Defence Ministry Will Suspend Reception Of Foreign Inspectors Under The New START Treaty!

March 08, 2014 - RUSSIA - The Russian Defence Ministry will stop receiving foreign inspectors under the New START Treaty and the Vienna Document of 2011, a highly-placed source in the ministry told ITAR-TASS on Saturday, March 8.




“We are ready to take this step in reply to the Pentagon’s statement on the suspension of cooperation between the defence ministries of Russia and the United States,” he said.

“Since such inspections are a confidence-building measure, there can be no normal regular bilateral contacts on compliance with the treaty now that the U.S. has basically announced ‘sanctions’,” the source said. “We take the unjustified U.S. and NATO threats against Russia over its policy with regard to Ukraine as an unfriendly gesture that allows us to declare force majeure,” he added.

New START that entered into force on February 5, 2011 allows each country to have 1,500 deployed warheads and 700 intercontinental ballistic missiles, sea-based ICBMs and bombers on combat duty.

The new START Treaty was signed by President Obama and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on April 8, 2011. The previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expired on December 5, 2009.

The main instrument for mutual control over compliance with the treaty is inspections, during which inspectors have to confirm the declared number of strategic offensive weapons.

The Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe was adopted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in November 2011. It calls for inspections of specific areas and units in order to oversee military activities and make annual assessments of information provided by each member state. The U.S. is a member of the OSCE since 1973, Russia since 1992. - ITAR-TASS.



MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Great Deluge Brings Once In A HUNDRED YEARS Flood To New Zealand - A Powerful Storm System, Gale Force Winds And 36 HOURS Of Heavy Rainfall Swamps Christchurch; Widespread Disruption And Despair! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

March 08, 2014 - NEW ZEALAND - The satellite image above shows the powerful storm that brought gale force winds and 36 hours of heavy rainfall to New Zealand, triggering what has been described as a 100-year flood in the city of Christchurch.


NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of a powerful storm swirling off the coast of New Zealand on March 4. The storm has caused what has been reported as a 100-year flood in the city of Christchurch. (Source: NASA)


The city has been beset by flooding before, as well as a devastating magnitude 6.3 earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people.


Police help rescue a woman trapped in her flooded house.
@Lacey_Wilson


Authorities warned residents to consider the floodwaters contaminated. It's unclear how many homes were flooded. One account puts the number at up to 100.


 WATCH: New Zealand storm.

 


The storm is seen swirling off the coast of New Zealand in this 24-hour animation of MTSAT-2 images.

- Discover Magazine.



One-In-A-100-Year Flood Swamps Christchurch
Krystal Merrick and Dan Evans from the NZRT-12 Emergency Response/Rescue Team travel up the Heathcote River flooding waters along Riverlaw Terrace in their new rescue boat, donated from the lotteries ministry travel with a Red Cross member from RC23 team. Photo: Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ

Residents are being warned of health risks from contaminated floodwaters now pouring through homes, businesses and streets in flooding described as a one-in-100 year event.    The gale-force blast that wreaked havoc across Canterbury yesterday has eased, but heavy rain overnight has caused widespread disruption and despair.  Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the storm had "quickly escalated" from a one-in-50 to be graded a one-in-100-year event.  Worst affected suburbs were St Albans, Avondale, New Brighton and Woolston.  Householders needing emergency repairs could call 0800 777 846 to go through the Fletchers EQR emergency repair process.  Dalziel is urging employers to stagger finish times to help the city reduce peak traffic loads.    The gale-force blast that wreaked havoc across Canterbury yesterday has eased, but heavy rain overnight has caused widespread disruption and despair.  Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the storm had "quickly escalated" from a one-in-50 to be graded a one-in-100-year event.  Worst affected suburbs were St Albans, Avondale, New Brighton and Woolston.  Householders needing emergency repairs could call 0800 777 846 to go through the Fletchers EQR emergency repair process.  Dalziel is urging employers to stagger finish times to help the city reduce peak traffic loads.  Information on cancellations and closures can be found here.

RESIDENTS HELPLESS AS HOMES INUNDATED

Homes in Woolston have been swamped as the Heathcote River breached its banks before high tide this morning.  Residents watched helplessly as water crept up and eventually invaded their homes.  In Sheldon St, Mike Barber maintained a brave face as he waded through waist deep water carrying belongings from the property he rented.  Inside, the home's carpets were covered by at least 30cm of water.  Valuables were perched above the water on tables and beds.  Barber said he and his flatmate's belongings were uninsured.  "You've just got to get on with it. There's not a lot you can do."  Meanwhile, Warrington St and surrounding areas were blocked off by floodwaters with many residents evacuated.  Residents said they were frustrated by the lack of support they have received from authorities following flooding events last year.  Water is also nearly waist-deep in Thornton St where homes have flooded.  Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly said last night that shops on Edgeware Rd and at the intersection of Hills and Shirley roads had been sandbagged, but sandbags had not been used at many houses.  "There's a lot of people out there in distressed situations. This is a significant event.  "We've deployed sandbags where we think they'll be some use . . . but sadly for a lot of people we just can't go out and sandbag every house."


MAD RUSH: Residents shovel swiftly to save this Exeter St, Lyttelton, home from water damage.
Julia Sugarman


POWER OUTAGES MAY WORSEN

About 3500 homes remained without power at 4pm - most in Banks Peninsula, although some pockets of Christchurch and surrounding areas were also experiencing outages.  Lines company Orion said winds were easing, but flooding, slips and water-logged ground in the hills was preventing access to parts of the electricity network. Access issues were likely to continue for the next few days.    It was not known how long it would take to restore power, but it was likely some homes would be without power overnight. Orion said many customers may face days without power and asked people to prepare accordingly.  Orion had been forced to cut supply to two kiosks on its network today because of floodwaters.  The move was for vital for safety reasons and to limit damage to infrastructure, the company said.  People were advised to prepare for further possible power outages, particularly around the Avon and Heathcote rivers.  Anyone who saw a fallen power line was warned to stay clear and call Orion on 0800 363 9898 immediately.

BUSINESSES BATTLING

Children played in the water as streets turned into a pool near the Warrington shopping centre.  Supreme Chinese Restaurant owner Lim Huang was the only business owner in the centre. His restaurant had stayed dry, but no customers would venture there for the day.  ''We can't open without customers,'' he said.  Damage was visible outside Schroeder's Tavern with bits of wood and gravel all over the terrace.  In Woolston, the Tannery was open, but most of the carpark was flooded.  Brewery co-owner Zak Cassels said water started coming inside the door the night before, but staff had it draining away in time.  The Tannery was quieter than usual but still ''reasonably busy,'' he said.  Parts of Edgeware Rd were closed and several shops had to pile sandbags in front of their doors.  Beckenham Post Shop and Pharmacy owner Grant Kilday said water had risen to about 12 centimetres of water in the shop.  ''Things are floating around here like a duck pond,'' he said.  He had called the council, the fire brigade and his insurance and was waiting for help.  He said the shop was the only one standing in the neighbourhood after the quakes.  ''We survived the quakes but we are just undergoing the flood now.''  Kilday hoped to be able to reopen tomorrow.   Peter Timbs Meat on Edgeware Rd had about six inches of water throughout the shop.  Owner Peter Timbs was not too worried as the council had reacted swiftly and had send someone to pump water out of the shop.   ''There's water right through the shop, but fortunately it's clean,'' he said.  At the Westfield Riccarton mall, it was business as usual.  A spokesperson said a few retailers had to open a bit later this morning, but it was business as usual otherwise.  ''It's a typical day here at the moment.''


CASCADING: Flooding down Canterbury St in Lyttelton reaches new highs. Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ

INSURANCE CLAIMS POUR IN

AA Insurance said it had received about 20 claims for flood and storm-related damage in Christchurch and expected that number to more than double by the end of the day.  Customer relations head Suzanne Wolton said it was too early to estimate the cost of the damage.  Most damage was water-related and included flooded houses and garages, damaged roofs and vehicles that had become stuck in water.  Wolton urged customers to make any necessary claims as soon as possible, especially if emergency repairs were needed to make homes watertight.  In the meantime, residents were advised to check their property and secure anything that could cause damage to another part of the property or a neighbours' property.    "During a storm we generally have a number of claims related to trampolines and other outdoor equipment flying over to the neighbours' and damaging their property, or creating havoc on your own property," Wolton said.

WORST FLOODING IN 40 YEARS

Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly said the storm was the "worst since 1975". "That was a 100-year rainfall event. We know [this is] more than a 50-year event. It's very significant."  He said all floodwater should be treated as contaminated.  Anyone who came in contact with contaminated water should wash their hands and remove and wash any clothing that got wet.  The council was "continually analysing" the full effect of the storm and hoped to have more data available within a few hours, he said.  A Fire Service spokesman said firefighters had received about 300 calls for help in Canterbury overnight and had about 40 jobs in the queue at 8.30am.  Almost all of the calls were related to flooding, including people needing help evacuating or weather-proofing their homes.  "They were doing evacuations through the night. A lot's just going to people, reassuring people."  Police have rescued a number of people stuck in cars and helped evacuate homes. Acting Inspector Glenn Nalder said police had also found vehicles floating in water on Barrington St.  At 4.40am, two cars collided on Johns Rd when one vehicle "aqua-planed" on surface water.  Nalder said police were not issuing a blanket warning to stay off the roads but advised against unnecessary travel.

RAINFALL HEAVIER THAN EXPECTED

The Christchurch City Council said the rain was much heavier than expected and up to 100 houses were believed to have been affected by floodwaters.  High tide was expected to hit Kerrs Reach about 10.15am, causing the Heathcote and Avon rivers to spill their banks in places.  MetService forecaster John Law said Banks Peninsula had experienced the most rainfall over the last 24 hours, with almost 150mm recorded in Lyttelton.  The amount of rain was less further west, with 72mm recorded at Christchurch Airport.  The wild weather had been brought by southwesterly winds and a low pressure system off the east coast of the South Island.  The system was still hanging out, meaning more wind and rain was in store for Canterbury.  Severe weather warnings of gales and heavy rain were expected to remain until 2pm today, when the wild weather was forecast to ease.  "Unfortunately we've still got more to come. It will start to ease off, but it's another 20 to 50mm on top of what we've already seen."  North Canterbury could get even more, with MetService forecasting a further 50 to 80mm for the region north of Oxford, including the seaward Kaikoura Range.


HAZARDOUS DRIVING: Hillside slips along Evans Pass above Sumner. Lee Buhagiar


WORSE THAN 'FRIGGING EARTHQUAKES'

"Woolston resident Christina Binnema said this morning's flooding of her Smith St property was the worst she had seen in 30 years.  "It's worse than the friggin' earthquakes."  She said her sleepout and garage were flooded and all the contents damaged. "I walk off my back deck and straight into two to three inches of water."  Water was creeping up to Louise Oskam's front door on Fifield Tce in Opawa this morning.  "My neighbours, who've been here 35 years, said it's the worst flooding they've ever seen."  She had lived on the street for about two years and had seen the road on other side of the Heathcote River flood about "half a dozen times".  "It's just such a surprise to see this side of the river flood."  Oskam was preparing her 7-year-old daughter Bethany for possible power cuts or an evacuation.  "[She] is really excited about it all. She said 'what if it gets higher, will we have to get my boat out of the garage'.

CONSTANTLY FLOODING SINCE EARTHQUAKE

Debs Sinclair said she had been trying to get someone to check the water that comes up on her land since the February 2011 earthquake.  "I had EQC out in the early days, but nothing happened. I'm trying basically to get a proper inspection done."  Her Hargood St property had been constantly flooded since the quake, with water and silt stuck under the house.  "There's water there all the time. There was water there when it was 30 degrees the other week."  The house was green-zoned, but deemed TC3.  "It is going to get worse. I had to get someone to pick me up [for work], I wouldn't have got the car out this morning."


WATCH: One-in-100-year flood swamps Christchurch.

video



'AT A LEVEL WHERE LIVES WOULD BE LOST'

Early this morning Burwood-Pegasus Community Board chairwoman Andrea Cummings urged people to stay home today and not go to work or school.  "It's at that level where lives would be lost."  She had opened her home at 58 Waratah St as an unofficial welfare centre and took in an elderly neighbour and her cat after their Hulverstone Dr home was "inundated" with water.  She waded through waist-deep water to reach the woman, whose home had been red-zoned.  "She will lose most of her possessions. She's safe and warm and her family know. We couldn't get her out to her family across the city because of the flooding."  However, an elderly man living nearby refused to leave his home overnight, despite warnings from emergency services that they might not be able to rescue him if the flooding got worse.  "The emergency services were saying last night they can't come and rescue you if you get your car flooded or whatever unless there's a danger to your life."  Cummings' husband experienced a "very very dangerous" drive home from an overnight shift at Lyttelton Port this morning.  "Lyttelton is just basically one big mud field. Redcliffs had a collapsing [hillside] because of the rain, the tunnel road has slips all along it," she said.  "It's definitely scary out there. It's at the level where we have to look after each other like we did after the February earthquake."  - Stuff.



MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: NASA Captures Incredible Eruption Of Jupiter's Moon Io - The Most Volcanic Place In The Solar System; Volcanoes Produce Plumes As High As 1.6 MILLION FEET! [PHOTOS+VIDEO]

March 08, 2014 - JUPITER - Incredible footage of an eruption on Io, Jupiter’s third moon, considered the most volcanic place in the solar system, has been released by the US space agency.


Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. At 2,263 miles in diameter, it is slightly
larger than Earth’s moon (Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

The video, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, pictures a drama that unfolded more than 6.2 million km away from Earth back in 2007. NASA only made it public on Tuesday.


video


Some 400 active volcanoes are situated on Io and they produce plumes as high as 500 kilometers (1,640,040 feet) above Io’s surface.

The latest eruption captured by the spacecraft saw plumes over 300 kilometers in height, according to NASA’s website.


Lava spills onto the surface of Io during a volcanic eruption
(Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Collapsed volcanoes form large, dark spots on Io’s surface
(Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)


The reason for the extreme volcanic activity on Io is that it’s “locked in a perpetual tug of war between the imposing gravity of Jupiter and the smaller, consistent pulls of its neighboring moons,” NASA explains.

As a result, Io’s orbit is distorted and it stretches. This causes friction and intense heat inside the moon, which in turn triggers eruptions across its surface. - RT.



WORLD WAR III: Putin Transforms Russian Army Into Lean, Mean Fighting Machine, Well-Prepared For Ukraine - Kremlin Mocks The West And Threatens To Turn Off European Gas Supplies, Signaling That It Is Prepared To Annex Crimea As "Most Sophisticated" Aggressive Cyber Snake Plagues Ukraine Computer Networks!

March 08, 2014 - UKRAINE - President Vladimir Putin has turned a once-moribund Russian military into a lean, quick-strike force that can invade Chechnya, Georgia and now Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Putin Transforms Russian Army Into  Lean, Mean Fighting Machine, Well-Prepared For Ukraine.


Under Mr. Putin, Russia has developed the world’s third-largest defense budget, at $70 billion. The underpaid army of post-Cold War conscripts has given way to special operations troops and experienced guns for hire, some of whom showed up in Crimea in not readily identifiable uniforms. Overall, headquarters have been consolidated and soldiers fight out of brigades, not large divisions.  Mr. Putin, who has lamented the end of the Soviet empire, is using Russia’s energy riches to buy military technology overseas such as communications networks and drones. Germany, its eastern half once ruled by Stalinist countrymen, built for Russia a sophisticated training center for infantry units that can simulate an array of war scenarios, such as invading a neighbor.  After Mr. Putin’s re-election in 2012, the military began a series of “snap exercises” — surprise orders to see how fast army units mobilize, leave bases and arrive at objectives. Orders for larger exercises recognize the military’s inability to fight a long war and include the use of nuclear weapons to defend the homeland.  In all, Mr. Putin has built a military that can unleash a force to reclaim territory lost in the Soviet empire’s demise.  “What they’ve done is fashion a force structure that can deal with local crises in adjoining states, and right now that means states that, by rights in their view, should belong to the Russian Federation,” said David Glantz, a retired Army officer trained as a Sovietologist who just completed a book about the Battle of Stalingrad. “Crimea is the most sensitive and obvious place to operate because that is where they’ve had the military bases.”  “Putin has left his stamp by essentially supporting a much more aggressive Russian response,” said Jacob Kipp, a Russia military historian and former director of the Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. “The Russian military today is clearly intended early on to conduct initial combat operations. The problem is it doesn’t have the capacity to conduct protracted combat operations.”

A local crisis

The re-emergence of the Russian bear has rattled Europe and the Obama administration, which is pulling combat troops out of Europe and closing bases as it shifts more assets to the western Pacific and an assertive China.  “These people are still living in an era of realpolitik,” Mr. Glantz said. “We’ve lost it. We’ve lost our ability to sense it. We have no Kissingers around anymore. Putin’s taking advantages of this thing to the hilt.”  Mr. Kipp said Mr. Putin began his foray in war planning in 1999. President Boris Yeltsin had brought the former KGB colonel into the Kremlin and put him in charge of federal security, then made him prime minister and then acting president. That October, Russian troops invaded Chechnya, as they had in 1994, in response to attacks by separatists, many of them Islamists.  Unlike 1994, when Yeltsin allowed his army to get chewed up in mountain warfare, Mr. Putin went straight for the capital of Grozny, established a pro-Russian government and fought a counterinsurgency that ended in victory.  Ever since, Mr. Putin has focused on combat readiness and technology for 2 million active-duty and reserve troops.  “He took charge of the Second Chechen War, and if you notice, you can’t find anything about that war because there is a cloak of secrecy around it,” Mr. Glantz said. “He was basically testing the kind of force structure he believed Russia needed down the road.”  Mr. Putin’s rise and that second war marked the beginning of a Russian rearmament that continues today. Moscow’s 2013 defense budget funds a 40 percent increase over the next three years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, putting the Kremlin only behind the U.S. and China in military spending. - Washington Times.


Putin Mocks The West And Threatens To Turn Off European Gas Supplies.
President of Russia, Vladimir Putin Photo: Getty

Vladimir Putin has mocked diplomatic efforts to end the Ukraine crisis as Russia threatened to disrupt European gas supplies by cutting off sales to Kiev over its unpaid debts.  The Russian president said through his official spokesman that, despite deep disagreements with the West, he did not want a confrontation over Ukraine to spiral into a “new cold war”.  Nevertheless Dmitry Peskov ridiculed Western demands for direct talks between the Kremlin and the new Kiev government, claiming that the loss of credibility involved “puts a smile on our face”.  The remarks were broadcast during the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, where the Ukrainian athlete carrying his national flag was given a loud cheer.

Earlier, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, said it would start to reduce deliveries to Kiev, a move that would disrupt supplies to Europe. Gazprom said Ukraine had failed to make payments on its £1.2 billion debts.  Ukraine is one of the main transit routes for the continent’s gas and the suspension of Gazprom exports in freezing temperatures in 2006 and in 2009 endangered national grids and caused sharp rises in prices. “We can’t supply gas for free,” Alexey Miller, the head of Gazprom, said. “Either Ukraine settles its debt and pays for current deliveries or the risk arises of a return to the situation we saw at the start of 2009.”  Energy experts said Russia had the power to cause problems in markets across Europe, even though peak winter demand was past. “Europe still relies heavily – in some cases 100 per cent – on Russian gas. And if that was interrupted very suddenly, there would be difficulties all round,” said Lord Howell, the former energy secretary.  But the White House brushed off the Russian announcement as less of a blow for EU economies than in previous years. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said reduced Russian exports would not have an immediate effect since stocks in Europe were above normal levels because of a mild winter. Structural changes in the industry also mean that less of Europe’s gas went through Ukraine.  Russian foreign ministry officials issued the tit-for-tat warnings a day after an EU summit suspended talks on visa-free access for Russians to Europe and threatened sanctions if Moscow did not change course. “Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats,” a foreign ministry statement said.  Two potential Ukrainian presidential contenders demanded a single, tough Western stance against Russia. Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer, and Petro Poroshenko, a businessman, both of whom are seen as likely candidates in presidential elections in May, used a visit to Paris to shore up European resolve.  Moscow displayed no signs of pulling back in the flashpoint region of Crimea despite the summit outcome and a subsequent telephone conversation between Mr Putin and President Barack Obama.  Russia’s parliament made preparations to endorse next week’s referendum in Crimea on joining the Russian Federation as a group of Crimean MPs were accorded a hero’s welcome in Moscow.

 Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the outcome would be accepted “unquestionably”. Officials in Kiev retorted that no country in the “civilised world” would recognise a vote for merging with Russia.  Checkpoints manned by Russian soldiers and Crimea militias blocked efforts by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enter the peninsula.  The OSCE convoy, led by a police car and followed by two buses carrying the observers, returned to the southern city of Kherson to decide if the unarmed monitoring mission can go ahead at all.  Russia said the mission was blocked because it had begun without seeking the traditional consensus support from all the organisation’s members.  Russia also scuttled a third ship in the Crimean harbour of Donuzlav to tighten its blockade on the doggedly loyal Ukrainian navy vessels trapped behind Russian lines.  The only bright point of the day came when Ukraine’s Paralympic team announced it would participate in the Winter Games in Sochi.  Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine prime minister, said his government was still pressing for direct talks with Russia to resolve the crisis. He demanded that Russia pull back its forces and stop supporting “separatist” activities inside Ukraine.  “We are ready to build relations with Russia,” he said. “But Ukraine will never be a subordinate or branch of Russia.”  Mr Yasenyuk also revealed the Kiev and the EU would soon sign an agreement on the political aspects of a strategic accord that fell through late last year.  The collapse of the EU association agreement provoked the mass pro-Western demonstration movement that led to the collapse of the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych.  “It is the matter of weeks now,” Mr Yatsenyuk said. “This is the most important decision that the whole country has been waiting for. This is what people were going to the streets for.”  - Telegraph.


For First Time, Kremlin Signals It Is Prepared To Annex Crimea.


Russia signaled for the first time on Friday that it was prepared to annex the Crimea region of Ukraine, significantly intensifying its confrontation with the West over the political crisis in Ukraine and threatening to undermine a system of respect for national boundaries that has helped keep the peace in Europe and elsewhere for decades.  Leaders of both houses of Russia’s Parliament said that they would support a vote by Crimeans to break away from Ukraine and become a region of the Russian Federation, ignoring sanction threats and warnings, from the United States and other countries, that a vote for secession would violate Ukraine’s Constitution and international law. The Russian message was yet another in a series of political and military actions undertaken over the past week that outraged the West, even while the Kremlin’s final intentions remained unclear.  As new tensions flared between Russian and Ukrainian forces in Crimea, the moves by Russia raised the specter of a protracted conflict over the status of the region, which Russian forces occupied last weekend, calling into question not only Russia’s relations with the West but also post-Cold War agreements on the sovereignty of the nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The developments underscored how quickly the crisis has evolved. Earlier this week, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had said he did not foresee the possibility of the Crimean Peninsula becoming part of Russia. But on Friday, Russia’s parliamentary leaders, both strong allies of Mr. Putin, welcomed a delegation from Crimea’s regional assembly and declared that they would support a vote to break away from Ukraine, now scheduled for March 16.  The referendum has been denounced by the fledgling national government in Kiev, which said it would invalidate the outcome and dissolve the Crimean Parliament. President Obama has also rejected the referendum, and the United States government announced sanctions on Thursday in response to Russia’s de facto military occupation.  Russia denounced those sanctions in a blunt rejoinder on Friday evening, posted on the Foreign Ministry website. The statement said that Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had spoken by telephone with Secretary of State John Kerry and warned that “hasty and ill-considered steps” to impose sanctions on Russian officials “would inevitably backfire on the United States itself.”  Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kerry would soon meet again. A senior State Department official traveling with Mr. Kerry, who was flying back to Washington after a trip to Europe and the Middle East, confirmed that Mr. Kerry had spoken with Mr. Lavrov, but that it was unclear when they would meet again.  The Russians also sent menacing economic signals to the financially ailing interim central government in Kiev, which Russia has refused to recognize. Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, which supplies Ukraine with most of its gas, warned that it might shut off supplies unless Ukraine paid $1.89 billion owed to the company.  “We cannot deliver gas for free,” Russian news agencies quoted Gazprom’s chief executive, Alexei Miller, as saying.  Gazprom cut off gas to Ukraine for nearly two weeks in January 2009, causing severe economic problems for Ukraine and for other European customers who were dependent on supplies delivered through Ukraine.  Valentina I. Matviyenko, the chairwoman of the upper house of the Russian Parliament, the Federation Council, compared the planned referendum in Crimea to Scotland’s scheduled vote on whether to become independent from Britain. She did not mention that the national government in Britain had agreed to hold a referendum, while the Ukrainian government has not.

The speaker of the Russian lower house, Sergei Y. Naryshkin, echoed Ms. Matviyenko’s remarks. “We will respect the historic choice of the people of Crimea,” he said. Their assertions came a day after Crimea’s regional assembly voted in a closed session to secede from Ukraine and apply to join the Russian Federation, and to hold a referendum for voters in the region to ratify the decision. On Friday, a delegation of lawmakers from Crimea arrived in Moscow to lay the groundwork for joining Russia, strongly supported by senior lawmakers.  In another telling sign of Russian government support, the Crimean delegates were cheered at an officially sanctioned rally in central Moscow that was shown at length on Russian state television, with songs and chants of “Russia, Moscow, Crimea.” News agencies quoted the police as saying 60,000 people attended.  Even if the referendum proceeds, it was unclear what would happen next, given the wide gap between the positions of Russia and the West — most notably between Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama, who spoke for an hour by phone on Thursday night.  According to the White House, Mr. Obama urged Mr. Putin to authorize direct talks with Ukraine’s new government, permit the entry of international monitors and return his forces to the bases that Russia leases in Crimea.  In a statement, the Kremlin offered a starkly different account of the phone call, emphasizing Russia’s view that the new government in Kiev had no authority because it was the result of what Mr. Putin called an anticonstitutional coup last month that had ousted Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Kremlin president.  The official Russian account of the phone call went on to say that the current Ukrainian leadership had imposed “absolutely illegitimate decisions” on the eastern and southeastern regions of the country, where pro-Russian sentiment is widespread. “Russia cannot ignore appeals connected to this, calls for help, and acts appropriately, in accordance with international law,” the statement said.  In the United States, Mr. Obama was taking a wait-and-see attitude. He spoke by phone to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who has been reluctant to pursue muscular sanctions against Russia because of the deep and interwoven economic relationship between the two countries. He headed to Florida for a speech on education and then a weekend off with his family, but aides promised he would be monitoring the crisis. - NY Times.


Cyber Snake Plagues Ukraine Networks.


An aggressive cyber weapon called Snake has infected dozens of Ukrainian computer networks including government systems in one of the most sophisticated attacks of recent years.  Also known as Ouroboros, after the serpent of Greek mythology that swallowed its own tail, experts say it is comparable in its complexity with Stuxnet, the malware that was found to have disrupted Iran’s uranium enrichment programme in 2010.

The cyber weapon has been deployed most aggressively since the start of last year ahead of protests that climaxed two weeks ago with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich’s government.  Ouroboros gives its operators unfettered access to networks for surveillance purposes. But it can also act as a highly advanced “digital beachhead” that could destroy computer networks with wide-ranging repercussions for the public.  Cyber warfare experts have long warned that digital weapons could shut off civilian power or water supplies, cripple banks or even blow up industrial sites that depend on computer-controlled safety programmes.  The origins of Ouroboros remain unclear, but its programmers appear to have developed it in a GMT+4 timezone – which encompasses Moscow – according to clues left in the code, parts of which also contain fragments of Russian text. It is believed to be an upgrade of the Agent.BTZ attack that penetrated US military systems in 2008.  The malware has infected networks run by the Kiev government and systemically important organisations. Lithuanian systems have also been disproportionately hit by it.

Ouroboros has been in development for nearly a decade and is too sophisticated to have been programmed by an individual or a non-state organisation, according to the applied intelligence unit at BAE Systems, which was the first to identify and analyse the malware.  The Financial Times has corroborated the existence of Snake with security and military analysts.  BAE has identified 56 apparent infections by Snake globally since 2010, almost all in the past 14 months. Ukraine is the primary target, with 32 recorded instances, 22 of which have occurred since January 2013.  “Ukraine is top of the list [of infections] and increasing,” said Dave Garfield, managing director for cyber security at BAE, who added that the instances were almost certainly “the tip of the iceberg”.  “Whoever made it really is a very professional outfit,” Mr Garfield added. “It has a very high level of sophistication. It is a complex architecture with 50 sub-modules designed to give it extreme flexibility and the ability to evolve. It has neat and novel technical features.”  “You never get beyond reasonable doubt levels of proof in this area but if you look at it in probabilistic terms – who benefits and who has the resources – then the list of suspects boils down to one,” said Nigel Inkster, until 2006 director of operations and intelligence for MI6 and now director of transnational threats at the think tank IISS.  “Until recently the Russians have kept a low profile, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they can do the full scope of cyber attacks, from denial of service to the very, very sophisticated.” - FT.



GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Report For March 8, 2014 - Updates On Etna, Tungurahua, Ubinas, Sakurajima, Kilauea And Popocatépetl!

March 08, 2014 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing reports of volcanoes across the globe.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Weak lava effusion from the vent at the eastern base of the New SE crater, as well as sporadic small explosions from its summit crater continue with no significant variations over the past days.


Thermal image of the eastern side of Etna with the active effusive vent at the base of the NSEC


Tungurahua (Ecuador): The volcano could be entering another eruptive phase in the near future, the latest report of IGPEN suggests. After a relatively calm week, a number of small to moderate explosions occurred again during 5-6 March.


Tungurahua volcano last evening

The first eruption was around 23:56 (local time) on 5 March. A small explosion was felt in areas near the volcano, followed by a slightly stronger one at 00:40 on 6 March, heard as a gunshot noise in nearby areas such as Pondoa and Bilbao, as well at IGPEN's volcano observatory. Direct observations could not be made because of cloud cover. When weather cleared in the morning, pulses of steam emissions with low ash content could be noted.

The explosions during the night had caused some ash fall of gray and black color in between the sectors of El Manzano and Palictahua (Penipe).

A 3rd explosion occurred at 10:20, forming a column with moderate ash content reaching 2 km above the summit that drifted NE and produced light ash fall for one hour.

This activity could mean that fresh magma again has started to rise in the volcano's conduit. The black color of the ash suggests it originates from new magma.

A swarm of 460 small long-period earthquakes had been registered between 27 Feb and 1 Mar, and interpreted as signs of fluid (gas and magma) movements in the volcanic edifice. This activity decreased during the past week and at the surface, the volcano only produced occasional steam, but no more explosions until the ones described above.

IGPEN further mentions that deformation measurements indicate ongoing inflation of the summit of the volcano since 15 February, which fits the interpretation of new magma arriving at the summit. Whether this magma is sufficiently large in volume to produce another series of violent activity such as at the beginning of past month ago is impossible to say.


Ubinas (Peru): A pilot reported a possible ash plume at flight level 290 (29,000 ft, 9 km altitude) this afternoon, which would mean a significant eruption took place. However, this needs to be confirmed yet.


The new lava inside the crater of Ubinas volcano (photo: IGP)

IGP in its latest press release confirmed the presence of new magma in the crater. This correlates well with the detected hybrid earthquakes and bluish gas emissions, as well as the thermal hot spot visible on satellite data since mid February.

The new lava forms a flat elongated dome about 30-40 meters long.


Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Explosions have been becoming more frequent again. During the past 48 hours, VAAC Tokyo counted 8 eruptions of small to moderate size (ash plumes rising up to between 5-9,000 ft altitude).


Kilauea (Hawai'i): Nineteen earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano in the past 24 hours - just below average for one day!

The summit tiltmeter at Kilauea recorded a switch to DI inflationary tilt and the summit lava-lake rose several meters last night!


Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): A small explosion occurred yesterday morning, ejecting glowing material to up to 600 m distance from the crater. Otherwise, the activity at the volcano has been low, similar to previous weeks.


Small explosion at Popocatépetl yesterday morning (CENAPRED)


CENAPRED counted 14 low-intensity emissions yesterday.


Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 8, 2014.



GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Cars Swallowed By Sinkhole In Hayden Lake, North Idaho; 9 Foot Sinkhole Depression In Skipper Road, Tampa, Florida; And Massive Sinkhole In Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

March 08, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The following stories are the latest reports of sinkholes in the United States over the last few days:

Cars Swallowed By Sinkhole In Hayden Lake, North Idaho.
Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Several people were injured early Thursday after driving their cars into a gaping hole on a washed-out road in North Idaho.

It happened around 3 a.m. on Rimrock Road at York Court, near Hayden Lake.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office found two people had driven their cars into the large gap in the road that spanned about 10 ft. across and 8 ft. deep.

Clifton C. McMahon, 24, was headed southbound on the road when he drove into the gap, according to sheriff’s deputies.  Melissa Ehrmantraut, 31, and passenger Anthony Moreno, 47, then slammed into the hole as they travelled northbound on the road.  All three were transported to Kootenai Health and Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries.


Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

During the investigation, deputies found that a culvert under Rimrock Road had failed due to heavy runoff.  As the roadway began to deteriorate, the main water line above it broke, washing out the entire width of the road.

Rimrock Road was expected to be closed between Lakeview Dr. and Lancaster as crews repaired the roadway. In addition, about 150 residents in the area are without water until the water pipe has been fixed. Authorities said as repairs are made, other utilities such as gas and telephone might also be affected. - KTVB.


9 Foot Sinkhole Depression In Skipper Road, Tampa, Florida.
A small hole opened Thursday at the Breezewood Mobile Home Park off Bearss Avenue in Tampa.
CLIFF MCCBRIDE


Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is on the scene of a what is being called a 6-by-9 foot depression in the ground of a mobile home park off of Skipper Road in Tampa.

Two homes were evacuated at the Breezewood Mobile Home Park, 1701 Skipper Road.

The Code Enforcement department and Tampa Electric are sending representatives to the scene. - Tampa Bay Tribune.


Massive Sinkhole In Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A massive sinkhole that formed at the intersection of Palmer and Townsend on the Milwaukee's north side created a world of headaches for homeowners and DPW crews.

"It was like two days ago when it first started. I was coming out of the crib and I heard some water rushing so I looked over there and I couldn't see where it was coming from. I looked down and it was a hole the size of a golf ball," said Anthony Gray who lives near the sinkhole.

The sound of rushing water was the sound of a broken watermain. In order to clamp down on the problem, workers needed to dig up the street and turn off the water.

"I noticed my water is gone so I came out this morning and the work was like 'Oh, they're fixing the thing, okay,'" said Keith Butler.


WATCH: Large sinkhole forms on Milwaukee's north side.

 


"I came home from work and wanted to get in the shower, couldn't take a shower. Then this morning, I couldn't take a shower. It's still off now so you can't use a bathroom, can't take a shower. It's kinda inconvenient," said Gray.

The city called for an emergency shut-off on Wednesday evening. Workers then tore up a street surface that was on the verge of collapse.

By mid-afternoon on Thursday, city workers had completed repairs to the watermain - and filled in the massive sinkhole. They hoped to have the water running again by Thursday evening. - Fox6Now.



FIRE IN THE SKY: Fireball Seen Blazing Across The Skies Over Leon, Mexico!

March 08, 2014 - MEXICO - A fireball was seen over León at 7:02 p.m. A journalist working at Milenio took a picture.


The fireball seen over León, Mexico.  Milenio


The rock was seen traveling towards the West. It appeared suddenly and then faded away in the horizon, around the Jalisco border. It was described as a fireball with a yellow trail.

It corresponds to Asteroid 2014 DX110, traveling at 15 kilometers per second. It is a rock of a larger size than the meteorite that caused damages in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013.

The asteroid travelled between the Moon and the Earth, and it was seen in Leon for three minutes. The celestial body didn't present any risk to humanity. - Milenio. [Translated]



MASS BEES/BIRD DIE-OFF: The Latest Incidents Across The Earth - MILLIONS Of Bees Dying Off "Due To Harsh Winter" In Ohio, United States; Hundreds Of Native Birds Found Dead In A Reserve In Dubbo, Australia; And Hundreds Of Chicken Found Mysteriously Dead In Bantul, Indonesia!

March 08, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass bird and bees die-offs across the Earth:

MILLIONS Of Bees Dying Off "Due To Harsh Winter" In Ohio, United States.


The cold weather is responsible for more problems than just potholes, it's causing massive losses for beekeepers. 13abc's Lissa Guyton spent the day in Hancock County at the Keller Bison and Bee Farm to learn more about the serious problem that could affect us all.

The farm normally has about 1,800 hives at dozens of different sites around the Arcadia area but the owner thinks that more than half of them have been lost this winter. Lyle Keller has been a beekeeper for more than three decades. He says this is setting up to be one of his toughest years, "When you start losing 50-60% of your total number it is not easy to recover from that quickly." Bees provide more than honey, they also pollinate fruit and vegetable crops.

We were with Keller on Tuesday as he checked on some of his hives, "The bees need to get out and fly every 4-6 weeks to cleanse themselves and they haven't been able to do the cleansing flights this winter. It's rough on them. They are under heavy snow and in the extreme cold."


WATCH: Cold weather is killing off bees.




In addition to the extreme cold, Keller says pesticides and the lack of quality food sources are two main reasons for the population decrease, "About 25 years ago losing 10% of your hives during the winter was a big deal, this year I'll be happy if I only lose 50%."Keller plans to rebuild hundreds of his hives this spring," I will always have bees. I truly enjoy them. I may just have to scale down a bit because it takes a lot of work and I am not getting any younger."

Honey prices have gone up dramatically in the last few years. Keller expects the increase to continue this year. His bees produce some honey but their main job is the pollination of local fruit and vegetable crops. He takes them to farms around the region to do their work. Each hive costs more than $100 to maintain throughout the year. - 13ABC.


Hundreds Of Native Birds Found Dead In A Reserve In Dubbo, Australia.
Some of the recused corellas found with hundreds of dead birds near Dubbo
(WIRES Dubbo - ABC Western Plains)

Wildlife Information and Rescue Service volunteers have been responding to rescue calls with hundreds of native birds found dead or extremely ill in the Troy Reserve area.

Around 25 birds have been rescued so far but hundreds are reported to have died with WIRES volunteers saying calls from the public are still coming in.

It appears that a significant number of corellas have been killed, but sulphur crested cockatoos and galahs have also been effected.

Ann Mara is Chair of Dubbo WIRES Volunteers, "There's Carcass after carcass after carcass, many dead and some of them dying, lots of carcasses in the river itself. You know that's really hard on our volunteers. It's a terrible scene."

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is investigating the deaths.

Initial laboratory tests conducted by the EPA indicate that they may have died as a result of pesticide exposure. The EPA is also investigating the source of the pesticides.

As a precaution, people are warned to keep away from sick or dead birds and are advised not to handle them. Pets should also be kept away from affected birds.

Stuart McLeod is the Director of Technical Services with Dubbo City Council, "By all accounts it's a commercially available pesticide which is causing the problem. Where dead birds are seen in the river council workers have been out on the river collecting those birds."

Mr. McLeod reassured residents that there's no danger to the Dubbo City water supply as the effected area is ten kilometres downstream of the city's water treatment plant.

For assistance with any sick birds, people should call WIRES on 1300 556 686.

Calls can also be made to the NSW WIRES Rescue Line on 13 000 WIRES or 1300 094 737.

The EPA is also seeking public assistance. If anyone has any information about the bird deaths or information about pesticide misuse, they should contact the EPA's Enviro Line on 131 555.

People should not only report what they've seen but any unusual odours and sounds and what time these may have occurred. - ABC Australia.


Hundreds Of Chicken Found Mysteriously Dead In Bantul, Indonesia.
Subtypes of influenza that attacks poultry, H9N2 was reported to infect humans in Hong Kong. (Illustration)

Department of Agriculture and Forestry Bantul, Yogyakarta Special Region, fielded animal health officials to investigate the cause of death of hundreds of chicken breeders belonging Segoroyoso village.

"We have not been able to ascertain the cause for the new officers were deployed today to conduct the examination," said Head of Animal Health, Department of Agriculture and Forestry (Dispertahut) Bantul, while Rahmat Agus confirmed on Thursday (6/3).

The case of the death of hundreds of chickens were reported in Kloron hamlet, village Segoroyoso, District Pleret, even some breeders claim to at least about 300 chickens belonging to six farmers in the local area died after suffering one or two days.

"Had I only have 25 chickens that died after sick for two days, if plus has six breeders here, numbering around 300an chicken," said one farmer in Segoroyoso Pleret, Irwan Suryono.

According to him, before the dead chicken was spotted unhealthy and inactive moves like a chicken in general, then every other day until the Count two, suddenly found dead.

"There are no injuries on his body, it's just that, usually when approached directly run, but these chickens are not active and silent," he said.

He claimed, the incidence of death of hundreds of chickens, has occurred gradually since mid-February, however, he was reluctant to report to the relevant office because he thinks there is no treatment as expected.

"Last year there was never anything like this, then just sprayed the cage, it's just a way for the prevention of ill health, if no rescue sick, still dead," he said. - Republika. [Translated]



EUROPEAN VAMPIRISM & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: "The Situation Is Very Worrying" - Western Countries Alarmed As Libya Slides Towards Chaos!

March 08, 2014 - LIBYA - Western countries voiced concern on Thursday that tensions in Libya could slip out of control in the absence of a functioning political system, and they urged the government and rival factions to start talking.


People hold Libyan flags amid smoke and fire after protesters set tyres on fire in a street during a demonstration
against the General National Congress (GNC) in Benghazi February 21, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Two-and-a-half years after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, the oil-rich North African state is struggling to contain violence between rival forces, with Islamist militants gaining an ever-stronger grip on the south of the country.

"The situation in Libya is very worrying," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the margins of a conference in Rome to discuss the Libyan crisis.

He said the uncertain security position, especially in the south, worsened an unstable political situation which required Libyan political forces to come together to reach a solution.

"We are asking the Libyans to talk to each other and to find a stable solution," he said.

 The conference in Rome was overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine, with a hectic round of bilateral talks at the margins culminating in a 40-minute meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But with violent disputes between rival tribal factions disrupting exports of Libyan oil, the lack of a stable political foundation is causing growing concern for energy-hungry western countries, several of which were involved in overthrowing the Gaddafi government.

"It's incredibly important for the simple reason that oil is clearly a key driver of the economy," said Hugh Robertson, a junior minister in Britain's Foreign Office. "As long as the economy remains depressed that means there are a lot of young people in Libya for whom there is no real viable future inside a new democratic state of Libya."

MILITIAS

The weak government in Tripoli is struggling to control well-armed former anti-Gaddafi rebels and Islamist militias, while parliament was stormed by protestors at the weekend who blamed the politicians for the growing chaos.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Tarek Mitri said the Libya situation would be discussed at a Security Council meeting on Monday.

"There must be a consensus also within Libya to address what seems like the intractable problem of insecurity," he said.

However no concrete decisions were announced after the meeting beyond vague promises of help with security.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz pointed to the difficulties of creating a stable political culture in a country that had only recently gone through a civil war after four decades of authoritarian rule.

"We do not deny that we have political struggles and problems," he said. "We suffer from the absence of a regime. Libya was kidnapped for more than 40 years. Political parties were forbidden under the former regime."

But he said that stability and security could not be the responsibility of Libya alone, which was fundamentally weaker than neighbouring states in North Africa and the Middle East.

"We suffer from the inexistence of institutions, and that's what makes us different from Tunisia and Egypt," he said. - Reuters.



INFRASTRUCTURE & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Malaysian Plane, Flight MH370, Goes Missing, Crashes Into The Sea - Flight Carried 239 People, All Assumed Dead!

March 08, 2014 - MALAYSIA - Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 carrying 239 people crashed into the sea, reports Vietnamese state media citing a Navy official. The craft disappeared from radars early on Saturday morning over Vietnamese airspace.


File photo. Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 (Image from wikipedia.org)

Vietnamese state media said the plane came down close to Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island, however these reports have not yet been confirmed by Malaysia Airlines who still describe the flight as "missing". At a press conference in Beijing, representatives from Malaysia Airlines said no wreckage has yet been found and they have deployed boats and helicopters in the area to verify reports from the Vietnamese Navy.

Malaysia Airlines said flight MH370 lost touch with Subang Air Traffic Control around 02:40 local time Saturday morning

The aircraft left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 and was expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

Despite local news reports, Vietnamese and Malaysian rescue crews have not located the plane’s signal, but Hanoi believes the craft disappeared in Vietnamese airspace.




The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said in a statement.

"Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft," the airline added.

There were 14 nationalities represented among the 227 passengers, according to airline officials. Passengers include 153 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, seven Australians, five Indians, four Americans, and one Russian, among others.

 “Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” Malaysia Airlines said in a further statement.“Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support.”


A man takes pictures of a flight information board displaying the Scheduled Time of Arrival (STA) of Malaysia
Airlines flight MH370 (top, in red) at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, March 8, 2014.
(Reuters / Kim Kyung Hoon)

A woman (C), believed to be the relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, covers her face as
she cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014. (Reuters / Kim Kyung Hoon)

Police at Beijing airport directing journalists & relatives to Lido hotel for info on missing MH370 flight
@MalcolmMoore

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. http://on.wsj.com/1qhlQwb  (Reuters)
@WSJAsia

Reporters listen in silence to wailing families of Airlines in Beijing hotel.
@eyoonCNBC

The last contact the plane had with air traffic controllers was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, the airline said on Saturday. The pilot of the flight was 53-year-old Malaysian national Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who has logged a total of 18,365 flying hours and has been working for Malaysian airlines since 1981.

China is assisting Malaysia Airlines with the search for the plane, Chinese state television reported.

 "We are very worried after learning the news. We are trying to get in touch with relevant parties to check it out," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in statement.


WATCH:  Malaysia Airways plane search.





 


The flight was a codeshare with China Southern Airlines.

Prior to July 2013's deadly crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco, the aircraft had been one of only a few long-range jets built by Boeing and Airbus to have never recorded a fatality.

The 777 first flew in 1994, and was introduced into commercial service in 1995. Boeing had delivered 1,100 of the aircraft around the world as of last year.

"We're closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370," Boeing tweeted. "Our thoughts are with everyone on board." - RT.