The rain held off and even the champagne bottle smashed at the first attempt as Queen Elizabeth named the largest cruise liner ever built on Thursday. \nThe Queen Mary 2, which is the longest, heaviest and tallest passenger ship in the world, claims to take cruising into a new era with every conceivable luxury, including a planetarium on board and a ?3 million (US$5.5 million) art collection, housed in its own gallery. \nIn front of 2,000 guests on the dockside in Southampton, the Queen, following in the footsteps of her grandmother Queen Mary, who launched the first Queen Mary ship on Clydeside, Scotland, in 1934, uttered the traditional blessing: "I name this ship Queen Mary 2. May God bless her and all who sail in her." \nThe Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, speaking in French for part of the prayers, asked for the crowd to remember the 15 people who died in November when a gang plank collapsed at the St Nazaire shipyard in western France where the ship was being built. \nCunard's director of communications, Eric Flounders, said organizers of the naming ceremony were "mindful" of the tragedy. \nBefore the naming, attended by the UK's deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and the UK transport secretary, Alistair Darling, the guests were entertained by the pop singer Heather Small and the opera singer Lesley Garrett, who sang Amazing Grace. The Queen and the guests then watched a film of the Queen Mary launch in 1936 and the launches of the first Queen Elizabeth, by the Queen Mother, and her own 1967 QE2 launch. \nEarlier the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were given a tour of the 150,000-tonne liner, which can carry up to 2,620 passengers. \nAside from endless restaurants, bars, casinos and shops the ship offers an education program devised by Oxford University and a library. Prices for a six-day voyage start at ?999, but run to ?20,000 for those taking one of the vast duplex apartments. \nThe QM2 will leave on its maiden fare-paying passenger voyage on Monday, when it sails from Southampton, which will be its home port, to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. With 17 decks and a crew of 1,253, the QM2 is due to take over transatlantic duties from the QE2 in late April. \nThe two vessels will leave New York together and dock together at Southampton before the QE2 takes on other duties, including Mediterranean cruises. \nA massive security operation had been launched ahead of yesterday's ceremony with divers searching the dock and the ship's keel. \nThe first Queen Mary is now kept in Long Beach, California, having been sold in 1967, and is used as a hotel and conference and exhibition center.
LOST AT SEA: Survivors of a sunken Cambodian ship said they floated for two days in open waters, while a UN official said that traffickers might continue undeterred Chinese survivors from a boat that sank near a Cambodian island, killing three people and leaving eight missing, said they embarked on what they believed would be a short-term fishing job and ended up without food and water aboard the vessel, and their belongings were taken away. Cambodian authorities said on Friday they rescued 21 people one day after the boat small wooden fishing vessel sank near Koh Tang, a Cambodian island close to the maritime border with Vietnam. Nine more people were rescued by the Vietnamese and three bodies were recovered by Cambodia, leaving eight people still missing, Preah Sihanouk provincial
UNREST: Images posted online showed women removing their headscarves in defiance of religious law, with some even setting them on fire or symbolically cutting their hair Protests spread to 15 cities across Iran overnight over the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the country’s “morality police,” state media reported yesterday, adding that four police officers were injured and one “police assistant” died from injuries on Tuesday in the southern city of Shiraz. In the fifth night of street rallies, police used tear gas and made arrests to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said. Demonstrators blockaded streets, hurled stones at security forces, set fire to police vehicles and garbage bins, and chanted anti-government slogans, it added. “On Tuesday evening,
SOUTH CHINA SEA: Despite differences on some matters, Marcos has pledged to foster closer ties with China, calling the relationship ‘advantageous’ to both nations The Philippines is interested in renewing talks with China on joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea to expand and diversify its sources of energy, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said in an interview. The Southeast Asian country seeks a compromise with China, which is claiming parts of the South China Sea that are within Philippine territory, Marcos said, stressing that any agreement must not contravene his nation’s laws. While the Philippines and China could not agree on which nation’s law would apply, “we continue to explore, perhaps there can be other ways that we can do it,” Marcos
Most people packed up and left the remote North Macedonian village of Babino years ago, but Stevo Stepanovski and his remarkable collection of 20,000 books stayed put in his almost abandoned valley. The library began with Stepanovski’s great-grandfather who was given his first tranche of books by passing Ottoman soldiers in the late 19th century. Along with history books and novels in the Macedonian language, there are tomes in Farsi, Arabic and Turkish along with a whole host of books in Serbo-Croat, the main language of the old Yugoslavia of which the village was once a part. The library is home to original