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Phuket Gazette World News: Dramatic balloon crash caught on film; Brazilians lose bikinis for the Pope; Cop-turned-actor Dennis Farina dead

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Phuket Gazette World News: Dramatic balloon crash caught on film; Brazilians lose bikinis for the Pope; Cop-turned-actor Dennis Farina dead | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Hot air balloon carrying 11 crashes in Dutch lake, injuring 2
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: A hot air balloon carrying eleven people crashed into a lake in the Netherlands on late yesterday evening, injuring two of the people on board, emergency services said. The exact cause of the accident was not immediately known.

The accident happened at around 9:40pm when the hot air balloon came down in Gooi Lake near the city of Almere, which is located in central Flevoland province on the artificial island of Flevopolder. The crash was witnessed by a few dozen people who were on land nearby.

“The rescue boats from Huizen and Blaricum were immediately alerted. Rescue boats from two rescue brigades and one boat from a local salvor also came to the scene,” Coast Guard spokesman Peter Verburg said.

“At 9:50 p.m. a report came in that all occupants were safe ashore and that police, fire and ambulances were at the scene.”

Dramatic video posted by De Telegraaf newspaper showed how the basket of the balloon came down in the water but was dragged along until it hit the shore (click here). With the basket on its side in the water, the balloon eventually came down on a road near the shore as witnesses rushed in to help.

Verburg said two people were injured in the crash and were transported to a local hospital by ambulance, but their conditions were not immediately known. The exact cause of the accident was also not immediately clear, but officials said an investigation is being carried out by provincial police and the Environment and Transport Inspection (ILT).

Hot air balloon accidents are fairly uncommon, although deadly crashes have taken place in recent years. On February 26, nineteen people were killed and two others were seriously injured when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed near the city of Luxor in southern Egypt, making it the world’s deadliest ballooning disaster in history.

Prior to that, in January 2012, eleven people were killed when a hot air balloon hit wires on a power line and crashed in the Wellington Region on the North Island of New Zealand. The second deadliest ballooning disaster in history occurred in August 1989 when two balloons collided over Australia’s Northern Territory, causing one of the balloons to crash to the ground and killing all thirteen people on board.

Bikinis make way for rosaries on Brazil beach as youths await pope
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Tens of thousands of young Catholics from around the world flocked to Rio’s famed Copacabana beach to kick off a youth festival that will feature several appearances by Pope Francis.

Bikinis and beach volleyball gave way to rosaries and prayers for world peace as youths settled on the urban shoreline for a night of religious events related to World Youth Day, a biennial gathering of young Catholics.

The 76-year-old pope, the first pontiff from Latin America, took a rest day yesterday after a tumultuous welcome during his arrival on Monday that prompted security concerns when police failed to contain frenzied crowds that mobbed his car.

As Brazilian officials worked to avoid a repeat of such incidents for the remainder of his weeklong visit, Catholic youth, waving their national flags and singing religious songs, gathered along the beach for an evening Mass.

Musicians and dancers entertained the youths, who braved a chilly drizzle. The beach, lined with a series of large monitors, was the site of an evening Mass by local priests and Vatican officials. Later in the week it will serve as an altar for two big appearances by Francis.

A metro malfunction in the evening left some stations out of service for two hours, leaving some people stranded on their way to the inaugural Mass.

Francis, meanwhile, rested at a Church residence and recovered from jet lag ahead of a rigorous five days during which he will preside at about a dozen events before returning to Rome on Sunday night.

The security scare on Monday occurred when his driver took a wrong turn in central Rio. The street had no barriers, which allowed a crowd of well-wishers to swarm the car and reach through the open window to touch the pontiff. Bodyguards moved in to push back the crowd. At one point, the crowd was so heavy that the car was forced to a halt.

On Wednesday, the pope flies by helicopter to Aparecida, about 260 km (162 miles) away, to visit the shrine of the Madonna of Aparecida, whom Catholics venerate as the patroness of Brazil.

In the afternoon, he returns to Rio to visit a hospital run by the Franciscan religious order and address young people taking part in a drug rehabilitation program.

Benedict XVI, now “pope emeritus,” was scheduled to make the trip to Brazil for the youth festival before he resigned on February 28, becoming the first pope to step down in 600 years.

The visit to the Aparecida shrine, the hospital and a slum once controlled by drug lords on Thursday were added to the program at Francis’ request after he was elected on March 13.

Cop-turned-actor Dennis Farina, star of “Law & Order,” dead at 69
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Dennis Farina, a Chicago police officer who went on to become an actor and played Detective Joe Fontana on the NBC legal drama television series “Law & Order,” died Monday at a hospital in Arizona, his publicist said. He was 69 years old.

Farina, who was born in Chicago and served on the city’s police force for eighteen years, died early Monday morning at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his girlfriend of 35 years, Marianne Cahill, at his bedside. Publicist Lori De Waal said the actor died of a blood clot in his lung.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a great actor and a wonderful man. Dennis Farina was always warm-hearted and professional, with a great sense of humor and passion for his profession,” De Waal said in an e-mailed statement. “He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.”

The publicist asked Farina’s family to be left alone to allow them to grieve in private. “We hope that he finds a new life where great roles are plentiful and the Cubs are always winning the pennant,” she said.

“We ask that the press refrain from contacting his family at this time so that they can mourn their loss together.”

While still employed as a Chicago police officer, Farina served as a police consultant for director Michael Mann who eventually gave him a small role in the 1981 film “Thief.” He went on to moonlight as an actor in the Chicago theater scene before Mann chose him for his “Crime Story” series on NBC.

Farina also starred as Jimmy Serrano in the 1988 action-comedy film “Midnight Run,” Ray “Bones” Barboni in the 1995 crime-comedy film “Get Shorty,” Lt. Col. Walter Anderson in the 1998 epic war film “Saving Private Ryan,” and as Abraham “Avi” Denovitz in the 2000 crime comedy “Snatch.”

His TV roles included Albert Lombard on the crime drama series “Miami Vice” and Victor Pellet on the comedy “In-Laws.”

But one of his most not

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Moderna vaccine is proved ‘protective’ against Covid-19 variants

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Moderna vaccine is proved ‘protective’ against Covid-19 variants | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

As fear over new variants of Covid-19 had prompted the travel restrictions to tighten worldwide, the United States biotech firm Moderna announced that its vaccine should protect against the variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Latest studies on the efficacy of Moderna vaccines confirmed that the vaccines are effective and protective against new variants. The company will continue more tests adding a second booster of its vaccine, bringing to 3 shots in a total.

“We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants.”

Last month, a private hospital in Bangkok advertised pre-orders for the Moderna vaccine, which still needs approval from Thailand’s FDA. Thailand’s Department of Health Service Support demanded that the hospital remove the advertisements.

In the ads, the hospital was charging 4,000 baht for a booking of the vaccine. In the post the hospital said the vaccine would arrive in Thailand in October 2021. They also announced that the vaccine would cost 6,000-10,000 baht.

Health officials say private hospitals will be allowed to administer vaccines that are approved by the FDA. So far, the Thai government has only approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. The first batch of 50,000 doses are expected to arrive next month. Frontline health care workers and vulnerable groups in high risk areas will be first to receive the vaccine.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Florida is ready to host Olympics if Tokyo draws back

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Florida is ready to host Olympics if Tokyo draws back | The Thaiger
PHOTO: abc News

If Tokyo backs out of hosting the Olympics, Florida might step in. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rescheduled for this July. With a fairly unpredictable future, Tokyo could back out of its plan to host the Olympics. Florida’s chief financial officer says the Sunshine State is ready.

The CFO, Jimmy Patronis, sent a letter to the head of the International Olympic Committee saying he encourages him to consider relocating the games to Florida.

In a letter, he pointed out strong points of Florida that make it a good site for the games, including the state’s vaccination roll-out, reopening of businesses, and ongoing sports events hosted in the state during the pandemic. Tampa, Florida is also set to host the 55th Super Bowl on February 7.

“Whatever precautions are required let’s figure it out and get it done.”

Although businesses are open and sports events still going on, Florida is rated as the third state with the highest number of Covid-19 cases with a total of 1,658,169 reported cases and 25,446 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

“With media reports of leaders in Japan ‘privately’ concluding that they are too concerned about the pandemic for the 2021 Olympics to take place, there is still time to deploy a site selection team to Florida.”

But those planning the Tokyo games say they’re sticking with the plan to host the Olympics from July 23 until August 8. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also says he’s keeping to the plan.

“I am determined to realise a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus.”

SOURCE:AFP

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AstraZeneca says reports of vaccine’s low efficacy among elderly is “completely incorrect”

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AstraZeneca says reports of vaccine’s low efficacy among elderly is “completely incorrect” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Finnomena

The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says reports that its Covid-19 vaccine has an extremely low efficacy among the elderly is “completely incorrect.” German newspapers published articles today reporting that the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, has an efficacy less than 10% in those over 65 years old.

The economic daily Handelsblatt reported that Berlin estimated the vaccine’s efficacy for those over 65 years old was just 8%. The vaccine is set to be approved by the European Union this week, but the report adds that Berlin does not expect the vaccine will receive a license allowing use for the elderly.

AstraZeneca released a statement saying the reports of the low efficacy rate for adults over 65 is “completely incorrect.”

“In November, we published data in The Lancet demonstrating that older adults showed strong immune responses to the vaccine, with 100% of older adults generating spike-specific antibodies after the second dose.”

Thailand is lined up to receive 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next month and the Thai government has approved the vaccine for emergency use. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is now calling on hospitals, both public and private, to prepare for the first phase of vaccinations, starting with health care workers and vulnerable groups in high risk areas. The vaccine requires 2 doses injected 4 to 12 weeks apart.

SOURCES: Reuters | Nation Thailand | AFP

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