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Three days after Ecuador quake, hopes for survivors dwindle

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Three days after Ecuador quake, hopes for survivors dwindle | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Three days after Ecuador quake, hopes for survivors dwindle
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


ECUADOR: Earthquake-stricken Ecuador faced the grim reality of recovering more bodies than survivors as rescue efforts moved into a third day on Tuesday and the death toll climbed over 400 in the poor South American country.

Praying for miracles, desperate family members beseeched rescue teams to find their missing loved ones as they dug through the debris of flattened homes, hotels, and stores in the hardest-hit Pacific coastal region.

In Pedernales, a devastated rustic beach town, crowds gathered behind yellow tape to watch firemen and police sift through rubble into the night. The town’s soccer stadium was serving as a makeshift relief centre and a morgue.

“Find my brother! Please!” shouted Manuel, 17, throwing his arms up to the sky in front of a small corner store where his younger brother had been working when the quake struck on Saturday night.

When an onlooker said recovering a body would at least give him the comfort of burying his sibling, Manuel yelled: “Don’t say that!”

But for Manuel and hundreds of other anxious Ecuadoreans with relatives missing, time was running out.

As of Tuesday, rescue efforts would become more of a search for corpses, Interior Minister Jose Serrano told Reuters. The death toll stood at 413, but was expected to rise.

The quake has injured at least 2,600 people, damaged over 1,500 buildings, and left 18,000 people spending the night in shelters, according to the leftist government.

Visiting the disaster zone on Monday, a moved President Rafael Correa said rebuilding would cost billions of dollars and may inflict a “huge” economic toll on the OPEC nation of 16 million people.

CRUSHED BODIES

In many isolated villages or towns struck by the quake, survivors struggled without water, power, or transport. Rescue operations continued, but the sickly, sweet stench of death told them what they were most likely to find.

“There are bodies crushed in the wreckage and from the smell it’s obvious they are dead,” said army captain Marco Borja in the small tourist village of Canoa.

“Today we brought out between seven and eight bodies.”

Nearly 400 rescue workers flew in from various Latin American neighbors, along with 83 specialists from Switzerland and Spain, to boost rescue efforts. The United States said it would dispatch a team of disaster experts while Cuba was sending a team of doctors.

To finance the costs of the emergency, some $600 million in credit from multilateral lenders was immediately activated, the government said.

Ecuador also announced late on Monday that it had signed off on a credit line for $2 billion from the China Development Bank (CDB) to finance public investment. China has been the largest financier of Ecuador since 2009 and the credit had been under negotiation before the quake.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Crime

Thai women in Japan drug bust

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai women in Japan drug bust | The Thaiger

Japanese Police and Customs Officials at Fukuoka Airport reported the arrest of seven Thai women who smuggled in drugs weighing more than a kilogram into Japan. The women separated the drugs into tiny bags and hid them in random places on their bodies.

The women purchased tour tickets and tried to blend in as Thai tourists. When caught with the evidence, they admitted smuggling the drugs for foreigners living in Japan, alleging that they received orders from tourists to bring in the drugs.

Another recent arrest Thai women smuggling cocaine has prompted Japanese officials to consider tightening entry requirements for Thai tourists to protect against drug smuggling.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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