Phuket Media Watch: 7 adrift in wooden boat rescued after 7 days; fire claims 29 homes in Reno


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

Seven Chinese rescued after a week adrift in wooden boat
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Seven Chinese fishermen who went missing in the South China Sea last week have been rescued alive, state-run media reported on yesterday. They were said to be in good condition.

The seven went missing on January 12 when they went to reap oysters in a 10 meter (32.8 feet) long wooden boat. The group, which was first reported missing by their families on January 13, had left for the South China Sea in a dense fog off Guangdong province.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said the group had been rescued safely late Thursday afternoon. Xinhua said the group had run out of fuel and drifted at sea until they were picked up near the city of Zhanjiang in the Qiongzhou Strait, which connects the Gulf of Tonkin in the west to the James Shoal on the eastern edge of the South China Sea.

The boat ‘captain’, who was identified as Wu, told Xinhua that the group drank sea water and ate moss to stay alive. “We just dehydrated a little,” he was quoted as saying.

Crews contain another Nevada mega-fire; 29 homes and 8,000 rai destroyed
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Firefighters early yesterday morning contained a large wildfire near the U.S. city of Reno, Nevada. The blaze destroyed 29 homes and burned nearly 3,200 acres (8,100 rai) in two days.

The fire broke out on Thursday when an elderly man discarded fireplace ashes at his home about 32 kilometers south of downtown Reno.

The fire, fueled by heavy fuels and high winds, forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 people in the old Washoe City, Pleasant Valley, and the Saint James Village areas. Washoe County Manager Katy Simon declared a state of emergency within hours, followed later that day by a state declaration of emergency by Governor Brian Sandoval.

Sierra Fire Protection District spokesman Mark Regan said the fire was 100 percent contained by 6am local time on Saturday. “All evacuations were lifted as of 8am this morning,” he said. T

The Washoe County manager’s office said the wildfire had burned 8,000 rai of land and destroyed 29 homes.

Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said that an elderly man had come forward and admitted to causing the fire when he threw out ashes in a utility trailer in the area. It was not immediately clear if the man, described as being ‘extremely remorseful’, would face criminal charges.

Officials expect the damages will reach millions of dollars once a full assessment has been carried out.

Two months ago, more than 30 homes were destroyed when a wildfire broke out near Reno, forcing nearly 10,000 people to evacuate the area. That fire burned about 5,000 rai, injured a firefighter, and saw one man die of a heart attack while evacuating.

Helicopter crash in Venezuela kills 5 tourists
Phuket Gazette / News Wires

PHUKET: Rescue workers have found the bodies of five people who were on board a tour helicopter which crashed on a table-top mountain in Venezuela on Thursday, officials said early yesterday.

The Civil Protection and Disaster Administration (PCAD) department said the tour helicopter crashed on Thursday on the Auyantepui Mountain peak, which is located in Canaima National Park in the state of Bolivar.

The Bell Long Ranger 206 helicopter was carrying a pilot and four passengers on a tour route between the Wonken area and Canaima Camp in the municipality of Gran Saban. PCAD Director José García said two helicopters found the aircraft on Friday.

Officials said the aircraft was on its roof with the five bodies still trapped inside. The pilot was identified as Henry Francisco Viana Arcia.

The name Auyantepui translates to ‘Devil’s Mountain’ in the Pemon language and became famous in the 1930s when U.S. pilot Jimmie Angel discovered Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall, which is part of the Auyantepui. Angel’s small plane crashed on Auyantepui and he as well as his three crew members were forced to descend the mountain on foot, taking them 11 days.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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