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China demands answers after stampede in financial hub Shanghai

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, January 2nd, 2015

A friend of a victim covers his face as he waits outside a hospital where injured people of a stampede incident are treated, in Shanghai January 1, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/ALY SONG

(Reuters) – Chinese state media and the public criticized the government and police on Friday for failing to prevent a New Year’s Eve stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 people and dented the city’s image as modern China’s global financial hub.

Apart from Hong Kong, which is run as a separate territory, Shanghai is China’s most international and cosmopolitan city, a glitzy home to global companies with ambitions to become a world financial center by 2020.

The official Xinhua news agency said the government could not shake responsibility for what happened. It asked why there were apparently so few police on duty for the tens of thousands thronging Shanghai’s famous waterfront, known as the Bund.

“It was a lack of vigilance from the government, a sloppiness,” the news agency wrote.

Xinhua noted that the crush happened not far from a much trumpeted new free trade zone described as the “pride of the country”.

“The disaster, which happened in China’s financial hub of Shanghai, served as a wake-up call that the world’s second-largest economy is still a developing country which has fragile social management,” it said in an English-language commentary.

Shanghai people echoed those complaints.

“There was not enough policing and planning. It is really sad to see a stampede happen in a big city like Shanghai,” said resident Tang Lifeng, 38.

The site of the stampede was cordoned off on Friday, with grieving relatives holding a candlelight memorial. Most victims were students in their 20s.

City officials said one Taiwanese was among the dead. Of the 47 injured, 13 were in critical condition, they said.

The waterfront has become a New Year countdown site in recent years after authorities brought in performances such as 3D light shows and fireworks. Celebrations in 2013 drew more than 300,000 revelers.

Police have given few answers, saying an investigation is going on. On Thursday, they did not allow foreign media into a briefing, underscoring concern about negative coverage.

They have dismissed reports that a rush to pick up coupons thrown from a bar overlooking the Bund was the cause, with focus shifting to overcrowding on a raised viewing area.

The stampede has prompted unflattering comparisons with India, where stampedes are relatively common, another rapidly developing country and rival that many Chinese feel superior to.

“I originally thought that stampedes like this could only happen to Indians on pilgrimages,” Cheng Daolin, a manager at a Chinese engineering company, wrote on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

“In the space of one night, China has become like India, and Shanghai has become like Mumbai,” wrote another Weibo user.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Eleven pulled alive from rubble in China building collapse

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

A team of rescuers are trying to find survivors under rubble after a building collapsed in Shanghai, China on May 16. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Rescue services pulled out 11 people alive from a collapsed building in China’s financial hub of Shanghai on Thursday (May 16), and about same number are believed to be still trapped in the rubble.

The building in Shanghai’s Changning district was being renovated when it collapsed late in the morning, trapping some 20 people inside, fire services said in a statement.

Witnesses heard a big bang which lasted for five to six second and a cloud of dust that enveloped the building.

“The accident happened at 11 am and a big bang lasted five to six seconds. I immediately ran to the balcony and saw the entire factory was surrounded by dust. After the dust dispersed, I found the factory collapsed. As it was my first time to witness this, I was quiet shocked,” said Zhang Lei, who was working in an office next to the collapsed building

More than 150 rescuers are on the scene but they have not said how the building collapsed. (REUTERS)

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Trillanes belies allegations of having personal bank accounts in Singapore

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Sen. Trillanes visits Singapore

Sen. Antonio Trillanes in Singapore

 

Senator Antonio Trillanes personally went to Singapore to belie the allegations of President Rodrigo Duterte that he has an offshore account in the said country.

Trillanes went to DBS Bank and then to HSBC here in Singapore this morning, but found no account under his name.

The managers of the banks could not release certification as he is not their client.

Following his visit to Singapore, Trillanes has once again challenged the President to sign a waiver to allow authorities to scrutinize his bank accounts.

“So from this, everyone can see that all the allegations of the President against me are all made-up to divert the public’s attention away from the primary issue which is the President’s involvement in illegal drugs, and his hidden wealth,” Trillanes said. “They do this at the same to divert my attention and to harass me and damage my name.”

President Duterte initially disclosed that the lawmaker has currency accounts in Shanghai, China, Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland, Singapore, and in Cayman Islands.

Mr. Duterte, however, noted that the senator’s accounts in Zurich and here in Singapore are already closed.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said authorities have to validate Trillanes’ claims that he has a non-existent bank account in Singapore.

“Those things have to be verified, apparently like we said, the President already checked into the background of that particular account ,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said. – Mary Jo Maleriado | UNTV News & Rescue

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More than 700 pilgrims die in crush in worst haj disaster for 25 years

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, September 25th, 2015

The bodies of Muslim pilgrims are laid on stretchers after a stampede at Mina, outside the holy Muslim city of Mecca September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The bodies of Muslim pilgrims are laid on stretchers after a stampede at Mina, outside the holy Muslim city of Mecca September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

At least 717 pilgrims from around the world were killed on Thursday in a crush outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi authorities said, in the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage for 25 years.

At least 863 others were injured. Saudi King Salman said he had ordered a review of haj plans after the disaster, in which two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, on their way to performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual at Jamarat.

Thursday’s disaster was the worst to occur at the pilgrimage since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca. Both incidents occurred on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam’s most important feast and the day of the stoning ritual.

Photographs published on the Twitter feed of Saudi civil defense on Thursday showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance.

Other images showed bodies of men in white haj garments piled on top of each other. Some corpses bore visible injuries.

Unverified video posted on Twitter showed pilgrims and rescue workers trying to revive some victims.

The haj, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of numerous deadly stampedes, fires and riots in the past, but their frequency has been greatly reduced in recent years as the government spent billions of dollars upgrading and expanding haj infrastructure and crowd control technology.

Safety during haj is a politically sensitive issue for the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud dynasty, which presents itself internationally as the guardian of orthodox Islam and custodian of its holiest places in Mecca and Medina.

BLAME

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Saudi government should accept responsibility for the crush, in which more than 100 Iranian nationals were reported to have died.

“The Saudi government should accept the responsibility of this sorrowful incident … Mismanagement and improper actions have caused this catastrophe,” Khamenei said in a statement published on his website.

King Salman offered deep condolences.

“We have instructed concerned authorities to review the operations plan … (and) to raise the level of organization and management to ensure that the guests of God perform their rituals in comfort and ease,” the monarch said.

The Interior Ministry spokesman, Mansour Turki, said the investigation would look into what caused an unusual mass of pilgrims to congregate at the location of the disaster. “The reason for that is not known yet,” he told a news conference in Mina.

Speaking in New York, Pope Francis expressed “my sentiments of closeness” with the world’s Muslims after the tragedy.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the United States offered condolences.

“The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the hundreds of haj pilgrims killed and hundreds more injured in the heartbreaking stampede in Mina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Ned Price said.

Iran’s Tasnim and Fars news agencies reported that 125 Iranians were among the dead. Fars reported that Tehran summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires to lodge an official complaint over the disaster.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who leads the world’s most populous Muslim nation, said in a tweet from his official Twitter account late on Thursday that “there must be improvements in the management of the Haj so that this incident is not repeated”.

South African acting President Cyril Ramaphosa extended condolences to families of the victims and said his government was awaiting information about his country’s pilgrims.

JAMARAT

Street 204, where the crush occurred, is one of two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, the site where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars. In 2006, at least 346 pilgrims died in a stampede at Jamarat.

“Work is under way to separate large groups of people and direct pilgrims to alternative routes,” the Saudi Civil Defense said on its Twitter account.

It said more than 220 ambulances and 4,000 rescue workers had been sent to help the injured. Some of the wounded were evacuated by helicopters.

An Arab pilgrim who did not want to give his name said he had hoped to perform the stoning ritual later on Thursday afternoon but was now too frightened to risk doing so.

“I am very tired already and after this I can’t go. I will wait for the night and if it not resolved, I will see if maybe somebody else can do it on my behalf,” he said.

Efforts to improve safety at Jamarat have included enlarging the three pillars and constructing a three-decker bridge around them to increase the area and number of entry and exit points for pilgrims to perform the ritual.

More than 100,000 police and thousands of video cameras are also deployed to allow groups to be dispersed before they reach dangerous levels of density.

Two weeks ago, 110 people died in Mecca’s Grand Mosque when a crane working on an expansion project collapsed during a storm and toppled off the roof into the main courtyard, crushing pilgrims underneath.

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in Dubai, Michelle Nichols in New York, Will Dunham and Jeff Mason in Washington and Fergus Jensen in Jakarta; Writing by Sami Aboudi and Angus McDowall; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alex Richardson)

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