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Phuket Gazette World News: Italy ship crash kills 7; $50mn Brussels diamond heist; Ohio captives recount grisly ordeal; Berlusconi jailed

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Phuket Gazette World News: Italy ship crash kills 7; $50mn Brussels diamond heist; Ohio captives recount grisly ordeal; Berlusconi jailed | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Seven killed, two missing after ship hits tower in Italian port
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Seven people were killed and two were missing after a container ship crashed into a concrete control tower in the northern Italian port of Genoa, rescuers said on Wednesday.

The tower, which was 50 metres (160 feet) high and looked much like those at airports, collapsed into the sea late on Tuesday after being struck by the vessel, the Jolly Nero.

Among the dead were three of its officers, a coastguard statement said. Divers were searching for two missing people at the site and cranes were sifting through debris along the shore.

The other victims have yet to be identified. Two were recovered on Wednesday from the wreckage of the tower’s lift, an fire department spokesman said.

The accident happened as staff were changing shifts and there were 13 people in the tower when it was struck, the coastguard said.

As well as the dead and missing, officials said four other people were injured and had been taken to hospital. Two were seriously hurt and a third had lost a foot, investigators said.

“The main injuries are fractures, crushed body parts, significant traumas,” emergency services doctor Andrea Furgani said.

The crash occurred shortly after 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) in calm conditions as the Jolly Nero was manoeuvring out of the port.

Genoa prosecutor Michele Di Lecce has opened an investigation and is focusing on a possible malfunction of the ship’s engine, judicial sources said.

In testimony to parliament after visiting the port, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi also said an engine problem could be behind the incident, which took place in “perfect” weather conditions.

Other causes could have been a human error or problems with tow cables fixed to two tug boats that were accompanying the ship out of the harbour, Lupi said.

The crash is the most serious maritime accident in Italy since the Costa Concordia liner struck a rock and capsized off the island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people.

“There’s no logical explanation because two tug boats were moving the ship and there was a port pilot on board and sea conditions were optimal,” the head of the Genoa Port Authority, Luigi Merlo, said.

All that was left of the tower was a leaning metal stairway.

The Jolly Nero, which is 238 metres (781 feet) long with a gross tonnage of 40,594 tonnes, is owned by local operator Ignazio Messina and Co.

“A thing like this has never happened, we are devastated,” said Stefano Messina, one of the directors of the family-owned firm, who was in tears when he spoke to a local TV channel.

Police arrest 17 over $50 million Brussels diamond heist
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police have detained 17 people over the heist of $50 million (32.1 million pounds) in diamonds in February – one of the biggest jewellery robberies in history – after coordinated raids in Belgium, France and Switzerland, Belgian prosecutors said on Wednesday.

More than 300 police were involved in the Belgian operations near Brussels which led to 10 people being detained, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor said. One suspect was held in France and the rest in Switzerland.

Heavily armed and dressed as police, the robbers stole 120 parcels of diamonds from the runway of Brussels airport without firing a shot. The suspect detained in France was believed to be a member of the gang of eight who carried out the heist.

“It’s the only person that we can say at this stage that could have participated in the events on the tarmac,” said Jean-Marc Meilleur, the prosecutor’s spokesman.

“As for the others, we still need to investigate to find out whether they are intermediaries or if they are people who participated directly.”

Belgian authorities have asked for the French suspect to be extradited.

Initially 24 people were rounded up in the Belgian raids, all aged between 30 and 35 years old, and late on Wednesday a Brussels judge decided to keep 10 of them in custody, the prosecution spokesman said.

Under Belgian law, a judge must decide within 24 hours whether to release a person.

Police in Geneva said they had questioned eight people after raids there and had subsequently released six of them, leaving two under investigation. Those figures differed slightly from the details provided by Belgian authorities.

Among those seized in Geneva were a businessman and a lawyer, while around 100,000 Swiss Francs (68,282 pounds) in cash and a number of diamonds were recovered, the police there said. In Belgium, the raids recovered cash and luxury cars, the prosecutor’s spokesman said.

Cleveland captive tells police she took first chance to escape
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Amanda Berry and two other women were isolated, held captive and raped in a house stocked with ropes and chains for nearly a decade, and she told police her escape two days ago was her first chance to break free.

Ohio authorities on Wednesday revealed some of the grisly details of the years Berry, now 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, and a six-year old girl allegedly spent as prisoners of suspect Ariel Castro, who was charged with kidnapping and rape.

His brothers, who were originally arrested in the case, were not charged and had no knowledge of what Castro, 52, is accused of doing, according to police.

Castro, who owns the house where the women were found on Monday, was charged with three counts of rape, relating to the women, and four counts of kidnapping, said Cleveland city prosecutor Victor Perez at a news conference.

The charges came as police disclosed that the women, who were rescued after Berry fled with the help of a neighbour, had not seen any previous chances to escape in nearly ten years of captivity.

“The only opportunity, after interviewing the young ladies, to escape was the other day when Amanda escaped,” Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at the news conference. “They don’t believe that they’ve been outside that home for the last 10 years respectively.”

Authorities said the women recalled leaving the house twice, only to go to the garage on the small lot, when they were disguised in wigs and hats.

Tomba said Berry, DeJesus and Knight had been kept separately in the house, where police have found ropes and chains.

“They were not in one room, but they did know each other and they did know the others were there,” he said.

Also rescued from the house was Berry’s daughter, who was born on December 25, 2006, during her mother’s captivity, authorities said. A paternity test will be conducted to determine the girl’s father.

As authorities readied their case against Castro, Berry and DeJesus went to their families’ homes on Wednesday. Knight was in a Cleveland hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in good condition.

Berry and her daughter could be seen from an aerial television camera arriving in a convoy of vehicles at her sister’s house and going in the back door.

Before Monday evening, Berry had last been seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant the day before her 17th birthday in April 2003. Her disappearanc

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus spreads north and south in China – 139 new cases reported | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New cases reported over the weekend are concerning health offficials - BBC.com

Another 139 new cases of a flu-like disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus in China has shocked health officials. There’s also been a third confirmed death reported today. Worse, the outbreak has now spread beyond Wuhan in central China where the virus was first identified. There have been cases reported in Beijing, a province next door to Shanghai and Shenzhen in southern China.

Health authorities in Beijing have now confirmed two cases of the new coronavirus today, while Guangdong authorities in southern China reported one new case in Shenzhen as well. The Shenzhen case is the first confirmation that the virus has spread domestically beyond Wuhan.

The Wuhan Health Commission announced today that 136 new patients had been diagnosed over the weekend – 1 person died from the virus, 2 remain in critical condition, 33 are in serious condition. All three patients that have died are believed to have visited Wuhan in the last month or so.

The new cases have brought the total number of people diagnosed with the virus in China to 201. That’s a big jump over numbers reported over the weekend.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, say they are monitoring eight patient. All eight have been quarantined for treatment. In coastal Zhejiang province, bordering Shanghai, authorities have now reported five new suspected cases who have been confirmed to have visited Wuhan. Last week, three cases were detected outside China — two in Thailand and one in Japan. All cases have been linked to Wuhan. On Monday, South Korea also confirmed its first case of the virus.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market at the centre of the pneumonia outbreak in he city of tWuhan has been closed for disinfection since January 1.

Meanwhile, Thai officials are stepping up screening efforts with many flights flying in from Wuhan over the next few weeks for the Chinese New Year holidays. Health officials say they’re confident that their screening efforts will detect any infected passengers getting off flights at Thai airports.

SOURCE: CNN

Coronavirus spreads north and south in China - 139 new cases reported | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Bangkok Post

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year

The Thaiger

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More coronavirus cases detected in China, global alert for Chinese New Year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Conversation

Chinese medical officials have now reported four more cases of the viral pneumonia strain caused by a new coronavirus. The discoveries are causing rising concern that the disease is not fully understand and could spread during the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays.

The new virus, originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the apparent epicentre of the outbreak – is believed to belong in the same class of coronaviruses that includes the deadly SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people around the world in 2002/03. That outbreak also started in China.

At this stage all signs are that the virus isn’t as lethal as SARS, but there is still little known about the coronavirus’ origins and how it is transmitted. But it has been established at this stage that it is not spread human to human.

Both Thailand and Japan have confirmed new cases of the virus. In Thailand the patient was detected when arriving on a flight from Wuhan. And Japan’s health ministry reported that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan was hospitalised on January 10, four days after his return to Japan.

Both patients have fully recovered.

The new cases detected in China, and the cases detected overseas, are stoking global concerns as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese will head overseas during the Chinese New Year holidays that begin next week and run through to early February.

The Wuhan Health Commission reports that the the four new cases are now in stable condition. 45 cases have been reported in the city as of last Thursday. A second patient died on Wednesday this week. Nearly 50 people are now known to have been infected globally, but all of them either lived in Wuhan or have travelled to the city.

The London Imperial College’s MRC Center for Global Infectious Disease Analysis speculates that there are probably “substantially more cases” of the new coronavirus than currently declared by Wuhan authorities. Their modelling estimates that there would be 1,723 cases showing onset of related symptoms by the second week in January.

Meanwhile US authorities say they are now screening at three airports to detect passengers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan. And in Asia, authorities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are stepping up monitoring of travellers from Wuhan at airports.

SOURCE: Reuters | Science Alert

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released

Greeley Pulitzer

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Dutchman jailed for 100 years in Thailand for money laundering is released | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Johan van Laarhoven walks free after serving six years of a 100 year sentence in Thai prison - The Chiang Rai Times

A Dutch citizen who was jailed for 100 years in Thailand, is now on his way home after years of campaigning for his release. His sentence was reduced to 75 years on appeal and later to 50 years by the Supreme court. Johan van Laarhoven, who ran several cannabis “coffee shops” in Holland, was jailed in Thailand for money laundering, along with his Thai wife, though the offences took place in The Netherlands.

Thai authorities began investigating Van Laarhoven in 2014 after a letter from a Dutch public prosecutor’s office, informing them that he had earned his money selling marijuana and requesting their help. Last year, MPs called on the government to to extradite Van Laarhoven and his wife back to Netherlands. The Dutch justice minister even met with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin to discuss the case.

Even though cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, Dutch officials bungled a tax query to Thai authorities regarding the sale of the Dutchman’s cannabis cafe chain. This led to a criminal investigation and his televised arrest in Thailand.

Thai authorities seized the Dutchman’s assets and he was sentenced to 100 years in prison. His young Thai wife, Mingkwan, was jailed for 13 years as an accomplice. The Netherlands has an extradition treaty with Thailand, but it can only be implemented after a case has been ruled “definitive.” Van Laarhoven’s sentence was upheld late last year, clearing the way for a diplomatic solution. It’s unclear whether his wife will be allowed to join him in the Netherlands.

Once back, Van Laarhoven will spend two years in a Dutch jail to complete his sentence, and also face criminal investigation for money laundering. The investigation will focus on tax fraud, membership in a criminal organisation and laundering €20m (675 million baht) according to a Dutch public prosecutor.

SOURCE: The Chiang Rai Times | Dutchnews.nl

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