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WRAPUP 5: Plane debris on remote island points to breakthrough in MH370 mystery

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WRAPUP 5: Plane debris on remote island points to breakthrough in MH370 mystery | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

WRAPUP 5-Plane debris on remote island points to breakthrough in MH370 mystery
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: Plane debris washed up on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean is almost certainly part of a Boeing 777, a Malaysian official and aviation experts said, potentially the biggest breakthrough in the search for missing Flight MH370.

Malaysian investigators are expected in Reunion on this afternoon and the object, identified by aviation experts as part of a wing, would then be sent to a French military laboratory near Toulouse for checks, French police sources said.

National carrier Malaysia Airlines was operating a Boeing 777 when the ill-fated flight disappeared in March last year en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, creating one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history. It was carrying 239 passengers and crew.

The plane piece was found on Wednesday washed up on Reunion, a volcanic island of 850,000 people that is a full part of France, located in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar.

Reunion is roughly 3,700 km (2,300 miles) from the broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia where search efforts have focused, but officials and experts said currents could have carried wreckage that way, thousands of kilometres from where the plane is thought to have crashed.

MH370 is believed to be the only 777 to have crashed south of the equator since the jet came into service 20 years ago.

If the debris is confirmed to be from MH370, experts will try to retrace its drift back to where the bulk of the plane likely sank on impact. However, they cautioned that the discovery was unlikely to provide any more precise information about the aircraft’s final resting place.

Nevertheless, the search area for MH370 could be refined, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

“I presume that if this wreckage does turn out to be from a Boeing 777 that the analysts will do their best to try to work out exactly where it came from,” he told Australian radio.

“I don’t know how accurate that will be but I dare say it will give us some more evidence and it might enable us to further refine the search area, it might,” Abbott said.

CODE FOUND IN MANUAL

Aviation experts who have seen widely circulated pictures of the piece of debris, which is about 2-2.5 metres (6.5-8 feet) long, said it may be a moving wing surface known as a flaperon.

France 2 television showed a picture of the part with the figures “657 BB” stamped on its interior. That corresponds to a code in the 777 manual identifying it as a flaperon and telling workers to place it on the right wing, according to a copy of a Boeing document that appeared on aviation websites.

“It is almost certain that the flaperon is from a Boeing 777 aircraft,” Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told Reuters.

Boeing Co has declined to comment on the photos.

A source close to the French investigation said the plan was to transfer the wing flap to France’s European mainland, along with a fragment of luggage that had also been found in the area.

“We’re trying to get the debris of wing and the bag fragment sent off as soon as possible, if possible Friday, arriving probably on Saturday,” said the source. The wing part would be sent to a military unit near Toulouse, while the luggage fragment may go to a police unit that specialises in DNA tests.

A spokesman for Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said a preliminary look indicated the luggage had not been in the water for long.

Truss said the search for the main wreckage site would ramp up again once the stormy southern hemisphere winter had passed.

“There is still a significant part of the priority search area that we haven’t looked at … I’m still confident that we’ll be able to find the aircraft in that area,” he told Australia’s Sky television.

Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370’s transponder before diverting the plane thousands of miles off course. Most of the passengers were Chinese. Beijing has said it was following developments closely.

PAIN FOR FAMILIES

Lingering uncertainty surrounding the fate of the plane has been agony for the families of those on board.

“Even if we find out that this piece of debris belongs to MH370, there is no way to prove that our people were with that plane,” said Jiang Hui, 41, whose father was on the flight.

Ghyslain Wattrelos, a French businessman whose wife and two children were on the missing flight, told French BFMTV the discovery of the debris had been “extremely painful”.

“This doesn’t give hope, this is a moment I have been fearing,” he said. “As long as there wasn’t any evidence of a crash, of wounded, of dead or whatever, there was a little glimmer of hope for us.”

Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer representing some of the passengers’ families, said a group of around 30 relatives had agreed they would proceed with a lawsuit against the airline if the debris was confirmed to be from MH370.

Daniel Rose, a partner at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP in New York, which is representing more than 50 victims’ families, said the discovery was unlikely to trigger a wave of lawsuits.

Families are pursuing a settlement with insurer Allianz through Kreindler, he said, but the firm could sue
before a two-year statute of limitations under the Montreal Convention, which governs such accidents, expires in March 2016.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival

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IATA proposes Covid testing before travelling to replace quarantine on arrival | The Thaiger

The International Air Transport Association is proposing travellers to take a Covid test prior to departure to replace worldwide mandatory quarantines on arrival. The push comes after it announces that international travel is down by 92% this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As many countries are imposing mandatory quarantines that can be not only expensive but up to 14 days long, the IATA is calling for all countries to work together to create a pre-flight testing requirement in all airports.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO says that Covid testing is getting faster, cheaper and more accurate, which is why it is urgent to help kick-start the world economy by doing away with mandatory quarantines.

“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic COVID-19 testing of all travelers before departure. This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work.”

He says the removal of such quarantine requirements for nations like Canada and UK would also help those nationals to leave their countries confidently by knowing that accurate testing would be in place. IATA has also asked for feedback and says of those travellers polled, 65% agree that if a person tests negative for Covid-19, then they should not have to undergo a quarantine on arrival. 84% also agree that, instead, travellers should be required to get tested with 88% even agreeing that they would submit to testing as part of the travel process.

Over 5000 travel businesses have reportedly backed the IATA’s proposal after submitting an open letter to the president of the European Commission, demanding the EU to take action. However, testing and later vaccinating 75 billion people could prove to be a monumental task, one that may take months to devise a streamlined plan to carry out.

SOURCE: Travel Off Path

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog”

The Thaiger

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Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients’ “brain fog” | The Thaiger

The world’s Covid-19-related deaths will pass 1 million today as the the cycle of country lockdowns and re-openings are getting mixed results. As of this morning, Thai time, the number of total deaths has reached 998,721 , with 4-6,000 deaths still being recorded, globally, every day. The surge in daily new world Covid-19 cases has levelled off a bit since July but there has still been 300-320,000 new cases being added every day in September. On a more positive note, the number of daily deaths continues to level off, even dropping some weeks, as treatments continue to improve. At this stage, officially, only .42% of the world’s population has so far been infected.

The milestone comes in a week where another report from the UK catalogues the “brain fog” experienced by former Covid-19 sufferers.

 

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'The current hotspots for the virus, now 9 months in circulation, of new daily cases is led by India. Yesterday India added nearly 90,000 cases to the world total whilst the US is showing a resurgence in new cases after dropping the average down during August. There is also a resurgence in new cases in parts of Europe, including the UK, which is now recording more new cases as it was at its peak in the first wave in April and May this year. The following graphs records the top 10 countries for new Covid-19 cases recorded yesterday…

Covid-19 deaths about to surpass 1 million whilst more reports emerge about former patients'

SOURCE: worldometers.info

Both South America and India are showing the highest rates of new cases, in pure numbers whilst US health authorities are concerned about the latest surge in new cases as the country starts to head into its autumn and cooler weather.

Meanwhile, more former Covid-19 patients, even those who only suffered mild symptoms, continue to report about long-term effects from the coronavirus.

In Canada, some 130,000 Canadians have recovered but some patients report that they’re experiencing “debilitating side effects” months after their infection. Canadian scientists report that they are finding some of the long-term effects of Covid-19 include heart damage as well as neurological issues like “brain fog” and “difficulty thinking”. Other patients are reporting hair loss, fatigue and even painful lesions called “Covid toes,” many weeks or even months after infection.

One study based out of Italy reports that nearly 90% of patients who have recovered from Covid-19 reported at least one persistent symptom two months later.

39 doctors wrote about these “long-haulers” and their battle with Covid-19 and their persistent symptoms in a manifesto published in the British Medical Journal. Following the report, the doctors called on politicians, scientists and public health officials to conduct more research into chronic Covid-19 symptoms and to create additional clinical services.

“Failure to understand the underlying biological mechanisms causing these persisting symptoms risks missing opportunities to identify risk factors, prevent chronicity, and find treatment approaches for people affected now and in the future.”

The reports also defined the affected patients as not in the current list of “at risk” Covid-19 patients – usually elderly with underlying conditions – but instead representing a much wider demographic of younger and healthy patients who were experiencing the post-Covid symptoms.

SOURCE: BBC | CTV News

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Economy

Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand

The Thaiger

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Vietnam’s booming manufacturing sector reduced to a trickle as world pandemic kills demand | The Thaiger

Vietnamese finance officials are downgrading expectations for a recovery of the south east Asian nation’s economy in 2021. The normally fast-growing gross domestic product in 2020 has stalled due to a huge drop in local and global demand, and the absence of international tourism. The booming economy, growing at an average of 6% per year since 2012, will struggle to reach a growth rate of 2% this year.

Fuelled by manufactured exports, the Vietnam economy has dropped back to a trickle. The Asian Development Bank estimates that this year’s GDP growth could be as low as 1.8%. The Vietnamese factories, that usually crank out shoes, garments, furniture and cheap electronics, are seeing dropping demand as the world’s consumer confidence drops dramatically.

Stay-at-home rules in Europe and America are keeping are keeping people away from retail stores. And despite the acceleration of online retail, many of the consumers are emerging from the Covid Spring and Summer with vastly reduced spending power.

The headaches of 2020 are also challenging Vietnam to maintain its reputation as south east Asia’s manufacturing hotspot. Rising costs and xenophobic foreign policy have put China ‘on the nose’ with some governments, complicating factory work in China, whilst other south east Asian countries lack infrastructure and are incurring higher wage costs.

One Vietnamese factory operated by Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group, which produces footwear for top international brands, has laid off 150 workers earlier this year. There are hundreds more examples of the impact of falling demand in the bustling Vietnamese manufacturing economy.

Vietnam’s border closure is also preventing investors from making trips, setting up meetings and pushing projects forward. Those projects in turn create jobs, fostering Vietnam’s growing middle class. Tourism has also been badly affected by the restrictions on travel. “International tourism is dead,” says Jack Nguyen, a partner at Mazars in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Inbound tourism usually makes up 6% of the economy.”

“Things will only pick up only when the borders are open and there’s no quarantine requirements. Who knows when that’s going to be.”

A mid-year COVID-19 outbreak in the coastal resort city Danang followed by the start of the school year has reduced domestic travel, analysts say. Some of the country’s hotels are up for sale as a result.

“Recovery could take 4 years.”

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment is now warning that global post-pandemic recovery could take as long as 4 years, perhaps more.

Not that foreign investors in the country are pulling out. Indeed, many are tainge a long-term view that Vietnam’s underlying strengths will outlive Covid-19. Vietnam reports just 1,069 coronavirus cases overall.

SOURCE: VOA News

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