Connect with us

World

Phuket Gazette World News: 56 dead in Spanish train disaster; Interpol alert over Iraqi jailbreak; US keeps NSA taps; Gay violence in Montenegro

Published

 on 

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

At least 56 killed, 70 injured, after train derails in Spain
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: At least 56 people were killed and 70 injured when a train derailed on the outskirts of the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday in one of Europe’s worst rail disasters.

Bodies covered in blankets lay next to the overturned carriages as smoke billowed from the wreckage. Firefighters clambered over the twisted metal trying to get survivors out of the windows, while ambulances and fire engines surrounded the scene.

The government said it was working on the hypothesis the derailment was an accident – although the scene will stir memories of 2004’s Madrid train bombing, carried out by Islamist extremists, that killed 191 people. Sabotage or attack was unlikely to be involved, an official source said.

The train operated by state rail company Renfe with 247 people on board derailed on the eve of the ancient city’s main festival in honour of Saint James when thousands of Christian pilgrims from all over the world pack the streets.

“It was going so quickly. … It seems that on a curve the train started to twist, and the wagons piled up one on top of the other,” passenger Ricardo Montesco told Cadena Ser radio station.

“A lot of people were squashed on the bottom. We tried to squeeze out of the bottom of the wagons to get out and we realised the train was burning. … I was in the second wagon and there was fire. … I saw corpses,” he added.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, will visit the site on Thursday morning, his spokeswoman said.

“In the face of a tragedy such as just happened in Santiago de Compostela on the eve of its big day, I can only express my deepest sympathy as a Spaniard and a Galician,” Rajoy said in a statement.

Santiago de Compostela’s tourism board said all the festivities, including Wednesday’s traditional High Mass at the centuries-old cathedral, were cancelled as the city went into mourning.

Clinics in the city were overwhelmed with people flocking to give blood, while hotels organised free rooms for relatives. Madrid sent forensic scientists and hospital staff to the region on special flights.

The head of the surrounding Galicia region, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, said at least 56 people were killed and about 70 injured, more than 20 of them seriously.

“The scene is shocking, it’s Dante-esque,” he said in a radio interview.

The train was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol on the Galician coast when it derailed, Renfe said in a statement.

The disaster happened when Spain is struggling to emerge from a long-running recession marked by government-driven austerity to bring its finances into order. Firefighters called off a strike to help with the disaster, while hospital staff, many operating on reduced salaries because of spending cuts, worked overtime to tend the injured.

The city’s main festival focuses on St James, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples whose remains are said to rest in the city and who is patron saint of Galicia.

The apostle’s shrine there is the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.

The derailment happened less than two weeks after six people died when a train came off the tracks and hit the platform at a station in central France.

That accident may have been caused by a loose steel plate at a junction, French train operator SNCF said.

An official source said no statement would be made regarding the cause of the Spanish derailment until the black boxes of the train were examined, but said it was most likely an accident.

“We are moving away from the hypothesis of sabotage or attack,” he said.

It was one of the worst rail accidents in Europe over the past 25 years.

In November 2000, 155 people were killed when a fire in a tunnel engulfed a funicular train packed with skiers in Austria.

In Montenegro, up to 46 people were killed and nearly 200 injured in 2006 when a packed train derailed and plunged into a ravine outside the capital, Podgorica.

In Spain itself, 41 people were killed the same year when an underground train derailed and overturned in a tunnel just before entering the Jesus metro station in Valencia.

(Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Sonya Dowsett, Sarah White, Andres Gonzalez, Blanca Rodriguez and Julien Toyer; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Sarah White, Andrew Heavens and Peter Cooney)

U.S. House rejects bid to curb spy agency data collection
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A U.S. spy program that sweeps up vast amounts of electronic communications survived a legislative challenge in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the first attempt to curb the data gathering since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of its scope.

The House of Representatives voted 217-205 to defeat an amendment to the defence appropriations bill that would have limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect electronic information, including phone call records.

Opposition to government surveillance has created an unlikely alliance of libertarian Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, The House vote split the parties, with 94 Republicans in favour and 134 against, while 111 Democrats supported the amendment and 83 opposed it.

The White House and senior intelligence officials opposed the amendment by Republican Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, which had been prompted by Snowden’s revelations. Snowden, a fugitive from the United States, has been holed up at a Moscow airport for the past month unable to secure asylum.

The House later approved the defence appropriations bill, which included nearly $600 billion in Pentagon spending for the 2014 fiscal year, including the costs of the Afghanistan war.

Republican Representative Tom Cotton, who endorsed the NSA program, described the “metadata” being collected as essentially a five-column spreadsheet containing the number called, the number of the caller, the date, the time and the duration of call.

“This program has stopped dozens of terrorist attacks,” Cotton said. “That means it has saved untold American lives. This amendment … does not limit the program, it does not modify it, it does not constrain the program, it ends the program. It blows it up.”

Cotton, a former Army captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said a comprehensive set of phone call records was needed in order for the program to work.

“If you want to search for a needle in a haystack, you have to have the haystack. This (amendment) takes a leaf-blower and blows away they entire haystack. You will not have this program if this amendment passes.”

SIMPLY WRONG

But Amash, a conservative Republican, and other supporters of the amendment said the fundamental issue was whether the U.S. government had the right to collect and retain the personal communications data of American citizens.

“Government’s gone too far in the name of security,” said Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican. “Rein in government invasion, no more dragnet operations, get a specific warrant based on probable cause or stay out of our lives.”

Representative Joe Barton, another Texas Republican, said the issue was not whether the NSA was sincere

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Travel7 hours ago

10 Isan food you need to try at least once

Thailand8 hours ago

VIDEO: Floods tear through highway in northeast Thailand

Crime8 hours ago

13 murdered, including 7 kids by Russian neo-Nazi

Sponsored17 hours ago

International money transfers made fast, secure and transparent with DeeMoney Neo App

Thailand8 hours ago

Vegetarian Festival on Yaowarat Road starts today

Thailand9 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Baht continues surge against strong dollar

Bangkok9 hours ago

VIDEO: Fire falls like rain from communication cables in Bangkok

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand10 hours ago

Father allegedy kills daughter’s cat for stealing his meatballs

Central Thailand10 hours ago

Whale watching season begins in Phetcha Buri

Special Features10 hours ago

Top 10 studio condos in Phuket (2022)

Crime11 hours ago

Thai court overwhelmed with evidence in Forex-3D fraud case

Tourism11 hours ago

Airport expansion plans hastened across Thailand

Thailand11 hours ago

Viral video: American man joins Thai dance in Isaan rite

Politics12 hours ago

China backs Thailand to make APEC a success

Politics13 hours ago

Gen-Z students oppose an unelected senate 17 to 1

Thailand13 hours ago

Foreigner allegedly using dogs to scam Chiang Mai locals

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending