Powerful quakes hit
A series of earthquakes struck off the South Pacific island nation yesterday, causing minor damage, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Local tsunami advisories were issued, but later lifted. No tsunami was recorded. The US Geological Survey said a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck at 3:55am at a depth of 40.6km. Its epicenter was 63km south-southwest of the capital, Port-Vila. The temblor was followed by several aftershocks, including a magnitude 7.0 quake that struck at 5:19am at a depth of 28.5km. Its epicenter was 69km south-southwest of Port-Vila. The Geohazards Observatory said it issued four local tsunami advisories that were lifted after about two hours. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning. Some minor damage was reported in the southern part of the country and in the surrounding areas of Port-Vila.
Minibus falls into gorge
At least 21 people were killed and more than a dozen injured on Saturday when an overcrowded minibus plunged into a gorge in Kashmir, police said. The accident took place in southern Poonch District, a police spokesman said, adding that 15 injured passengers were in a critical condition. “So far we have 21 confirmed deaths,” the spokesman said, adding that it was feared the toll would rise. The speeding bus rolled down into a gorge while negotiating a sharp curve in the mountains of Poonch, police said.
Plane crashes in airshow
A Red Arrows pilot died on Saturday when his plane crashed following an acrobatic air display over the southern coast, defense officials said. Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging’s Hawk jet crashed in a field at Throop village several hundred meters from Bournemouth airport after taking part in the nearby air show with the famous team from the Royal Air Force (RAF). The 33-year-old, who previously served in Afghanistan with the RAF and was known to colleagues as “Eggman,” was thrown from the plane when it crashed at about 1:50pm, emergency services said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. After the air show, Egging was coming in to land, but his jet lost height and flew meters above the ground before crashing into a field and ending with its nose in a river, witnesses said. Officials said it was too early to speculate on what could have caused the crash.
UN rights envoy arrives
A UN rights envoy arrived yesterday for the first time in more than a year for talks with senior government officials, amid signs the regime is seeking to engage its critics. Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights for the country, was due to meet the foreign and home ministers in Naypyidaw before attending parliament today, officials said. He has been a vocal critic of the country’s rulers, enraging the generals after his last trip by suggesting that human rights violations in the country may amount to crimes against humanity and could warrant a UN inquiry. The international community has called for a number of reforms, including the release of about 2,000 political prisoners. UN spokesman Aye Win in Yangon confirmed that Quintana had arrived yesterday and would stay for five days. He is scheduled to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Wednesday, a spokesman for her party said, in what would be the first talks between the Argentine lawyer and the democracy icon.