AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on April 19, 2014 at 5:02 AM

Updated Saturday, Apr 19 at 5:04 AM

Captain, 2 crew members of sunken SKorean ferry arrested; confirmed death toll climbs to 32

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

The number of confirmed dead rose to 32 when three bodies were found in the murky water near the ferry, said coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in. Divers know at least some bodies remain inside the vessel, but they have been unable to get inside.

The ferry's captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, was arrested along with one of the Sewol's three helmsmen and the 25-year-old third mate, prosecutors said.

"I am sorry to the people of South Korea for causing a disturbance and I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims," Lee told reporters Saturday morning as he left the Mokpo Branch of Gwangju District Court to be jailed. But he defended his much-criticized decision to wait about 30 minutes before ordering an evacuation.

"At the time, the current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without (proper) judgment, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties," Lee said. "The rescue boats had not arrived yet, nor were there any civilian fishing ships or other boats nearby at that time."

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Everest search teams recover body of 13th Sherpa killed in mountain's deadliest avalanche

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

Another three guides remained missing, and searchers were working quickly to find them in case weather conditions deteriorated, said Maddhu Sunan Burlakoti, head of the Nepalese government's mountaineering department. But the painstaking effort involved testing the strength of newly fallen snow and using extra ropes, clamps and aluminum ladders to navigate the unstable field.

The avalanche barreled down a narrow climbing pass known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m. Friday. The group of about 25 Sherpa guides were the first people making their way up this climbing season to dig paths and fix ropes for their foreign clients to use in attempting to reach the summit next month.

One of the survivors told his relatives that the path had been unstable just before the snow slide hit at an elevation near 5,800 meters (19,000 feet). The area is considered particularly dangerous due to its steep slope and deep crevasses that cut through the snow and ice covering the pass year round.

As soon as the avalanche occurred, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help, and all other climbing was suspended.

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Malaysia asks world to pray for Flight 370 clue; robotic sub should finish search in a week

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A Malaysian official on Saturday asked the world to "pray hard" for a clue to help find Flight 370, while authorities said a robotic submarine was expected to finish searching a patch of the Indian Ocean seabed within a week after so far coming up empty.

As the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines plane hit the six-week mark, the Bluefin 21 unmanned sub began its seventh trip into the depths off the coast of western Australia. Its search area forms a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) circle around the location of an underwater signal that was believed to have come from the aircraft's black boxes before their batteries died. The sonar scan of the seafloor in that area is expected to be completed in five to seven days, the search center said in an email to The Associated Press.

The U.S. Navy sub has covered around 133 square kilometers (51 square miles) since it began diving into the depths on Monday. The latest data are being analyzed, but nothing has yet been identified.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that the weekend search is crucial.

"The narrowing of the search for today and tomorrow is at a very critical juncture, so I appeal to everybody around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days," he said.

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4 questions on the lips of Asian travelers about missing jet answered

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Samuel Rogers, a 20-year-old German on a backpacking trip, in Bangkok and on his way to Malaysia.

He asked: "Why did the Malaysian military see the plane on their radar but not report it immediately?"

A: The Malaysian Air Force's official line is that its radar operators spotted the plane but didn't have any reason to suspect it. This is why they didn't attempt to contact the plane or scramble jets to intercept it. Many aviation and defense experts say there are grounds to doubt this. They speculate the air force failed to spot the unidentified plane entering its airspace, or if it did, didn't respond to what could potentially have been a national security threat. Admitting that would be a highly embarrassing and sensitive for any air force, and could be the reason for the delay in publicly confirming that the plane did turn back.

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WASHINGTON NOTEBOOK: Clock ticking on tentative Geneva agreement for Russia-Ukraine detente

WASHINGTON (AP) — Not until the final minutes of more than seven hours of negotiating was an agreement struck in Geneva this week to calm boiling tensions along the shared border between Russia and Ukraine. But the deal won't be sealed until its terms are met, and patience is wearing thin as time runs out.

Skepticism that it might work deepened Friday as pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine continued to occupy government buildings in defiance of the accord and showed no inclination to abide by its call to surrender their weapons.

The U.S. and European Union say they will slap Moscow with a new round of sanctions against oligarchs and advisers to President Vladimir Putin by the middle of next week if the separatists do not disarm and give up control of buildings they seized in recent riots against local authorities.

In return, Moscow is demanding guarantees that Ukraine's promised constitutional reforms will give pro-Russian separatists a say in the distribution of government power.

Few believe that either side will get what they want before the clock runs out.

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Analysis: Both parties hope to boost turnout this fall with doomed legislation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Flip sides of the same campaign-season coin, the Republican drive in Congress to repeal the nation's health care law and the Democratic call to close the pay gap for women have much in common.

Divided government assures that neither has even a remote chance of becoming law anytime soon. Instead, they figure prominently in rival strategies to maximize turnout in the fall — Democrats hoping women will vote in huge numbers, while Republicans try to stoke election year enthusiasm among tea party activists and other conservatives.

More of the same is ahead, much more.

Democrats concede the stakes are higher for their party, which is laboring to retain its Senate majority, has little or no prospect of capturing control of the House, and faces a gap in voter intensity.

Democratic voters are 7 percentage points less likely than Republicans to say they are almost certain to vote in the off-year election in November, according to a poll by the Democracy Corps and the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund. They propose trying to close the gap by focusing on an "economic agenda that puts working women first" and sheds any talk of recovery.

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HealthCare.gov users told to change passwords after government's Heartbleed probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — People who have accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the confounding Heartbleed Internet security flaw.

Senior administration officials said there is no indication that the HealthCare.gov site has been compromised and the action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. The government's Heartbleed review is ongoing, the officials said, and users of other websites may also be told to change their passwords in the coming days, including those with accounts on the popular WhiteHouse.gov petitions page.

The Heartbleed programming flaw has caused major security concerns across the Internet and affected a widely used encryption technology that was designed to protect online accounts. Major Internet services have been working to insulate themselves against the problem and are also recommending that users change their website passwords.

Officials said the administration was prioritizing its analysis of websites with heavy traffic and the most sensitive user information. A message that will be posted on the health care website starting Saturday reads: "While there's no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers' passwords out of an abundance of caution."

The health care website became a prime target for critics of the Obamacare law last fall when the opening of the insurance enrollment period revealed widespread flaws in the online system. Critics have also raised concerns about potential security vulnerabilities on a site where users input large amounts of personal data.

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Lurching landslide splits Wyoming home in two, threatens to come down in huge pieces

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A sudden lurch in a creeping landslide in the northwest Wyoming resort town of Jackson split a house in two and forced workers to abandon just-begun efforts to stabilize the hillside.

A huge crack in the ground that had opened up under the house a couple weeks ago shifted several feet downhill in less than a day, breaking off a room or two and leaving a door swinging above the precipice. Rocks and dirt tumbled down in an almost constant stream and a geologist warned much bigger chunks could fall. The ground had been moving at a rate of an inch a day.

"As it starts to get moving, it will start to get faster," George Machan, a landslide specialist consulting for the town, said at a town meeting Friday.

Still, Machan said the ground was unlikely to liquefy and collapse suddenly like the March 22 landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 39 people.

More likely, large blocks of earth would tumble down piece by piece, he said, perpetuating the drawn-out threat to four homes on the hill and to two apartment buildings and four businesses below.

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Pavel Datsyuk's goal with 3:01 left gives Red Wings 1-0 win and home-ice advantage over Bruins

BOSTON (AP) — At one end of the ice, Jimmy Howard made his best save of the game. At the other, Pavel Datsyuk scored the only goal.

All within 30 seconds.

Datsyuk's goal with 3:01 left gave the Detroit Red Wings a 1-0 win in their playoff opener as they grabbed home-ice advantage away from the top-seeded Boston Bruins on Friday night.

"Sometimes when the upper seed gets the upper hand right away, you start questioning whether you're good enough," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "And we know we're good enough."

The eighth-seeded Red Wings showed it in the regular season when they went 3-1 against the Bruins, who won the Presidents' Cup for the best record.

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Latest delay to Keystone XL pipeline review won't quell political wrangling in 2014 races

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

Fat chance.

An indefinite extension of the government's review of the contentious oil pipeline, announced late Friday by the State Department, almost certainly pushes a final decision past the November elections, keeping the project in a politically expedient holding pattern. But it is doing little to quell posturing over the project, which has taken on a life of its own as climate change activists battle with energy advocates from both parties.

Republicans jumped at the chance to paint Democrats as powerless to rein in their own party's president. Keystone opponents were split, with some praising the delay and others chiding President Barack Obama for not vetoing the project outright.

"It reinforces how ineffective, powerless and without influence senators like Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, Mark Warner and Kay Hagan are," said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, rattling off vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in November.

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