Tuesday, March 22, 2016

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Bus Crash In Spain, While Travelling Between Valencia And Barcelona - 13 People Killed, 44 Injured!

The wreckage of the bus is lifted by a crane after the deadly crash. Reuters: Albert Gea

March 22, 2016 - SPAIN - Thirteen people have been killed and 44 injured when a bus carrying foreign exchange students crashed in north-eastern Spain.

The students were on a European exchange program in Catalonia and were from 16 different countries including Britain, Ukraine, Switzerland, Sweden but also Japan and New Zealand, said regional government official Jordi Jane.

It is not believed any Australians were on board the bus.

Six of those injured were in a critical condition in hospital, and all the fatalities were female, according to Mr Jane, who heads up interior matters for Catalonia.

The casualties' nationalities were not immediately known, said Mr Jane, revising down an earlier death toll of 14.

The accident occurred just before 6:00am local time near the small town of Freginals, about 150 kilometres south of Barcelona, as the students were returning from the Fallas festival in eastern Valencia known for the burning of giant statues.

The driver "hit the railing on the right and swerved to the left so violently that the bus veered onto the other side of the highway," Mr Jane said.

The bus then hit a car coming in the opposite direction, injuring two people inside, he added.

Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, who went to the scene, said it was still not clear why the bus driver hit the railing in the first place, adding however that the accident was likely due to a "human factor".

An AFP photographer at the scene several hours after the crash said many fire engines were there, as were three hearses and a heavy-lift crane.

The car's front was smashed in, and the bus was lying on its side after the accident.

It was eventually lifted onto a truck and driven away — its windscreen smashed and the back part of its roof caved in.

Emergency personnel attended the deadly bus crash in eastern Spain. AFP: Pau Barrena

The bus was carrying 57 people in all, including the driver.

Spain's national radio station RNE spoke to the son of the owner of the company that chartered the bus, who said his father was driving another bus in front of the one that crashed — one of a total of five vehicles ferrying students back from Valencia.

"All of a sudden, he stopped seeing it in his rear-view mirror. He stopped at the next service area, called the driver but he didn't pick up," said the son, named only as Raul.

He said his father then asked passengers in his own bus to call those in the other vehicle, and that is when he got news of the accident.

"The driver is in a state of shock, but he's OK physically," he added.

Catalonia's high court said in a statement that an initial probe revealed that "the bus driver tested negative for drugs and alcohol."

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted his concern on Sunday.

"My condolences to the families of the victims and I wish rapid recovery to the injured," he wrote.

Joining in mourning for the tragedy, players for Barcelona and Villarreal — which is only around 100 kilometres from the crash site — observed a moment of silence before kick-off, as will those from the Real Madrid and Sevilla. - ABC News Australia.


PARADIGM SHIFT: Obama Becomes The First U.S. President To Visit Cuba In Almost 90 Years - Calls For The Lifting Of The U.S. Embargo Against Cuba; And For Change And Freedom In Historic Address!

Obama meets with Castro in Havana on March 21.

March 22, 2016 - CUBA - Stepping into history, US President Barack Obama opened an extraordinary visit to Cuba, eager to push decades of acrimony deeper into the past and forge irreversible ties with America’s former adversary.

“This is a historic visit and a historic opportunity,” Obama said as he greeted staff of the new US Embassy in Havana.

Air Force One touched down on a rainy, day in the Cuban capital. The president was joined by his wife Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.

Obama called for the U.S. embargo against Cuba to be lifted and for Cubans themselves to embrace change in a historic address from Havana.

WATCH: President Obama makes history.

"It's time to lift the embargo," Obama told Cuban officials and dignitaries gathered at the Grad Teatro de la Havana Alicia Alonso, including President Raul Castro. "But even if we lifted the embargo tomorrow, Cubans would not realize their potential without continued change here in Cuba."

Obama's landmark visit to Cuba follows the December 17, 2014, agreement to begin normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba after a more than a half century of estrangement. He is the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1959.

In remarks Tuesday, the President used his visit -- unimaginable just a few years ago -- his presidency and even the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign as examples of the benefits and opportunities available to Cuba as it embraces change.

Even as terror attacks rattled Brussels and much of the West, Obama only briefly digressed from his prepared remarks to address the violence. The rest of his approximately 40-minute speech was devoted to pushing forward a new era with Cuba.

"I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas," he said to applause. "I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people."

The Obamas pose with Castro before a state dinner in Havana on Monday, March 21.

US President Barack Obama (centre) with his first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, and first lady’s mother Marian Robinson, take a walking tour of
Old Havana in the rain yesterday. Obama became the first US president to visit the island in nearly 90 years.

Obama walks up the stairs of the Palace of the Revolution on March 21.

But Obama noted that there were still "very real differences" between the two countries, stretching from their political systems to their economic models, and made an extended appeal for greater freedoms on the Communist island.

"I can't force you to agree," he said, before outlining his belief that "every person should be equal under the law" and that "citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear" -- a line that drew applause.

He also said that people should be able "to organize and to criticize their government and to protest peacefully," and that they should not be arrested for doing so.

"Not everyone agrees with me on this," Obama said, "but I believe those human rights are universal. I believe they are the rights of the American people, the Cuban people and people around the world."

Obama told the crowd that democracy allows for the fullest expression of the ideals of any revolution -- American, Cuban or otherwise, not because democracy is perfect, but because "It gives individuals the capacity to be catalysts."

Pointing to Democratic presidential candidates, Obama noted the diverse array of candidates.

"You had two Cuban-Americans in the Republican Party running against the legacy of a black man who was president while arguing that they're the best person to beat the Democratic nominee who will either be a woman or a democratic socialist," he said.

"Who would have believed that in 1959," Obama added, to the crowd's laughter. "That's a measure of our progress as a country."

Obama also pointed to some specific changes the U.S. would like to see, including less red tape for Cubans who want to open businesses or work for foreign companies investing in Cuba, and greater Internet access.

Even as Obama urged change, he pledged to Cubans that they had no reason to fear U.S. attempts to strong-arm them.

WATCH: President Obama delivers historic address in Cuba.

 WATCH: Obama - The embargo is going to end.

"I've made it clear that the United States has neither the capacity or the intention to impose change on Cuba," Obama said. "What changes come will depend on the Cuban people."

After his speech, the President met with a dozen Cuban dissidents and spoke of their "extreme courage" in a conversation that touched on their concerns about issues such as religious freedoms and freedom of the press. All the dissidents had been detained, some more recently than others.

White House officials wouldn't comment on participants of the meeting but did react to reports that Cuban authorities were arresting dissidents in Havana in advance of it.

"We reiterate our call for the Cuban government to end the practice of arbitrary detentions," National Security spokesman Ned Price said.

Obama returned to his call for greater Internet access in his address when he told his audience that sustainable economic growth and prosperity doesn't just require strong education systems, health care and environmental protections.

"It also depends on the free and open exchange of ideas," Obama said. "If you can't access information online, if you cannot be exposed to different points of view, you will not reach your full potential, and over time, the youth will lose hope."

He acknowledged that the issues were sensitive coming from a U.S. president.

"Since 1959, we've been shadow boxers in this battle of geopolitical politics and personalities," Obama said. "I know the history, but I refuse to be trapped by it."  - CNN.


MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Disaster Precursors - Mysterious Death Of Over 17,000 Fish, Turtles And Other Rare Sea Life Along 60km Of Coast Near Broome, Australia?!

An estimated 17,500 fish have died (pictured) in what is believed to be a naturally occurring fish kill in the Kimberly region, in Western Australia’s far north

March 22, 2016 - AUSTRALIA - An estimated 17,500 fish have died in what is believed to be a naturally occurring fish kill in the Kimberly region, in Western Australia's far north.

The discovery of the dead fish may be linked to a culmination of environmental factors.

More than 37 different species of fish began washing up dead on beaches near Broome last Monday.

Higher than normal water temperatures coupled with warm weather and sustained onshore winds have been floated by the department as contributing factors.

Experts predict the deaths were contained to a localised area before the fish carcases were spread by strong tides.

A Department of Fisheries spokesman said the fish kill had affected mainly small fish, with less than three per cent recorded at more than 30cm long.

Fish, turtles (pictured) and other rare sea life have been found washed up dead on beaches around Broome

A Department of Fisheries spokesman said the fish kill had affected mainly small fish (pictured), with less than three per cent recorded at more than 30cm long

Fish and water samples have been sent to the department's fish health unit for testing, with results expected in coming weeks

Dead marine species have been found along a 60km stretch of coastline between Willie Creek and Cape Bertholet, but the Department of Fisheries believes the deaths have passed, with no fresh discoveries on Sunday.

Fish and water samples have been sent to the department's fish health unit for testing, with results expected in coming weeks. - Daily Mail.


ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Rampaging Elephant Throws India Man In The Air And Tramples Him To Death?! [VIDEO]

Video shows Mr Boyra being trampled by the elephant on his land near Baghasole village, West Bengal

March 22, 2016 - INDIA - This is the shocking moment when an elephant kills a man by throwing him in the air and trampling him to death in east India.

It is the latest deadly attack by the wild elephant herd in the rural West Bengal area in the past few days.

The wild herd has been causing havoc in the Bardhaman and Bankura districts, where it has killed four villagers and injured two others this weekend.

Prakash Boyra, 40, died after one of the elephants threw him into the air with its trunk and then trampled him.

Images filmed by fellow villages show the man being flung into the air like a rag doll by the huge animal, who slams him back onto the floor as people look on horrified and helpless.

WATCH: Elephant kills man after rampaging through village.

Boyra had gone to check on his land near Baghasole village after hearing of the elephants' rampage, when he came in the way of the herd.

According to Divisional Forest Officer Ajay Kumar Das, the herd of five elephants had entered the area from Dalma forest in recent days.

Personnel from the forest department personnel had pushed three of the elephants back into the forest but they returned, 'damaging crops and killing and injuring people.'

Anandamoyee Rai and Narayan Chandra Maji, both 60, were trampled to death when they had gone to the fields near Nashigram village in the early hours of Sunday.

Siraj Sheikh, 45, was working in his field when he was killed in a subsequent elephant attack, which also left two people injured.

West Bengal forest minister Benoy Krishna Burman said the victims were trampled after angering the elephants by throwing stones to try to scare them off.

The male elephant died when it was hit by a tranquilliser dart fired by forestry officials summoned to help, and the other three - a female and two calves - ran away, Burman said.

Wildlife experts say encounters between humans and elephants are increasing in India's rural areas due to the destruction of the animals' habitat.

Last month a wild elephant went on an hours-long rampage in a town in eastern India, damaging about 100 homes, shops and other buildings.

Photos showed the bewildered animal wandering around Siliguri, about 360 miles north of Kolkata, crashing into structures, as people scurried out of the way. - Daily Mail.


GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Huge Landslide Caught On Camera In Central China!

March 22, 2016 - CHINA - A massive landslide was captured on camera on March 18 as it buried a highway in Anhua County, located in central China's Hunan Province. Despite its scale, no casualties or vehicle damage have been reported.

Chinese state media CCTV speculate that a heavy rainstorm on Thursday night contributed to the minute-long landslide, which hit the G536 Expressway at around 9:10am.

Speaking on behalf of her father who shot the video, the woman surnamed Zou told CCTV that drivers had stopped after noticing stones and other debris falling quickly down the hillside.

Chen Liping, an Anhua County highway bureau official, was quoted as saying that a clear-up operation would begin immediately and the highway would be back open by the end of the following day.

With mountains and hills making up more than 80 percent of Hunan Province, the region is no stranger to landslides. In July 2014, five people were killed and over 1,300 homes were destroyed after torrential rains triggered a number of major landslides across the province.

WATCH: Drivers stop just in time to avoid massive landslide in Anhua County.

- GB Times.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Ice Age Now - 350,000 Farm Animals Die Due To EXTREME COLD In Mongolia!

A pile of animal carcasses in Uvs province, Mongolia

March 22, 2016 - MONGOLIA - Hundreds of thousands of farm animals have perished in a slow-moving natural disaster in Mongolia and the international aid response has been insufficient, the Red Cross said Friday.

Mongolia has been hit by a devastating natural phenomenon known as a "dzud", said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) -- a hot summer drought followed by a severe winter.

The combination spells doom for livestock in a country where IFRC said a third of the thinly-spread population rely on animal husbandry for their livelihoods.

Goats, sheep and cows die en masse, unable to graze sufficiently in the warmer months to build up the reserves necessary to withstand later temperatures that regularly drop to -50 degrees Celsius.

More than 350,000 animals have already died, but more than a million deaths are expected, according to the latest available data from the UN mission in the country, IFRC said.

Its East Asia communications delegate Hler Gudjonsson told AFP: "We're only about one-third through the disaster."

Video footage released by the organisation showed a herder dragging the brown, furry carcass of a goat by the horn through the dirt, tossing it onto a pile of dead sheep, amid loose skulls, ribs and femurs scattered across the steppe.

Bayankhand Myagmar, 50, whose daughter is disabled and husband ill, said she had lost 400 of her 700 animals. She had borrowed to buy extra fodder, hoping to later repay her debts in cashmere, but had not been able to save them, despite bringing the weakest into the family tent, or ger.

"If they get weak and die in front of my eyes, it's very, very hard," she told IFRC, crying. "I feel so sorry for them. I tried to save them but I couldn't.

"This winter is the harshest I have experienced."

She feared for her family's future. "My husband and I are over 50, so nobody will employ us," she said. "We will not find any other jobs, but we are not yet entitled to pensions."

IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for more than $800,000 to assist around 25,000 vulnerable herders, but after more than two weeks has received less than half the goal, Gudjonsson said.

"We already knew this was going to happen in November, but we knew that there was no way we could raise funds for something that hasn't happened yet," he added.

"It's not a tsunami, it's not an earthquake and it's not a sudden disaster. It's a long-term condition and situation, so we don't have a breaking point where we can say, today this happened, and people suddenly need a lot of assistance.

"We're expecting to see a large number of families who will have lost everything, who will have gone from affluence to utter poverty."

The loss of their pastoral livelihoods leaves nomads with no other source of income or employment, he said, with most forced to move to tent districts on the outskirts of Mongolia's urban centres, living without basic infrastructure and little or no income.

Their arrival "magnifies urban social problems such as unemployment, crime, alcoholism, domestic violence and extreme poverty", IFRC said in a statement.

Former herder Khurelbaatar Tovuu, who lost his animals in the last dzud in 2010, told the IFRC: "My family used to sell wool and cashmere. I had something to do.

"Now I have nothing to do and my reputation has gone down. People treat me badly because I'm a poor man." - Seed Daily.