Sun, Apr 09, 2017 - Page 4 News List

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Search for survivors ends

Officials on Friday formally abandoned the search for survivors of floods that killed at least 314 people in the small southern city of Mocoa, although 106 people remain listed as missing. Emergency workers are to turn to excavating roads and buildings, distributing aid and trying to avoid the outbreak of epidemics in the town, where water and power services remained cut a week after the avalanche of debris-filled water poured down from the mountains. “Without adverse conditions, a person can survive a long time, but with the quantity of mud and rocks in Mocoa, that is very difficult,” said Manuel Infante, who has been leading volunteer firefighters who arrived from Cali. “I’d say that the missing are dead.” Minister of National Defense Luis Carlos Villegas said it “will take a generation” to completely restore the city.


Authorities raid pollster

Prosecutors and police on Friday searched the office of a Gallup polling affiliate whose presidential election exit poll fueled protests by projecting a six-point win for the losing opposition candidate. An exit poll by Cedatos and two other firms showed conservative banker Guillermo Lasso winning the race on Sunday last week. Official results wound up showing him losing by two points to ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno. Outgoing President Rafael Correa accused people close to Lasso’s campaign of hiring Cedatos to intentionally spread false results and sow confusion. Cedatos executive president Polibio Cordoba said in an interview with Notimundo radio that the firm has nothing to hide. “If honesty brings us to this point, then this is the price of honesty,” he said. The raid appeared to be linked to a formal complaint by National Assembly Vice President Rosana Alvarado, which echoed the president’s allegation. Cedatos accurately predicted the results of the eight-way first round. Lasso has cited Cedatos’ exit poll in his allegations that the race was stolen.


ETA surrenders arms caches

Basque militant group ETA has handed a list of eight arms caches to police through intermediaries, sources close to the matter told reporters yesterday. The surrender of its weapons is expected to end the group’s more than four decades of armed struggle that gained it notoriety as one of Europe’s most intractable separatist movements. The hidden caches could include about 130 handguns and two tonnes of explosives, French anti-terrorism experts have said. The orchestrated handover in the city of Bayonne will not dissolve the group, which declared a ceasefire in 2011 after killing more than 850 people during a campaign for an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France.


Gay couple face caning

Two men in conservative Aceh Province each face up to 100 strokes of the cane after neighbors reported them to Shariah police for having gay sex. Shariah police chief investigator Marzuki yesterday said that residents in a neighborhood of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, reported the men, aged 23 and 20, to police on March 29. He said the two men had “confessed” to being a gay couple and that this was supported by video footage taken by a resident. Aceh is the only province to practice Shariah law, which was a concession made by the central government to end a years-long war with separatists. A Shariah code implemented two years ago allows up to 100 lashes for morality offenses, including gay sex.

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