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Daily Archives: March 25, 2011

At Least 120 Dead in Burma Earthquake

An earthquake damaged building is seen in Tarlay March 25, 2011. At least 63 people were killed in a strong earthquake that struck Myanmar, state media said On Friday, while a series of aftershocks have caused panic but only limited damage from Thailand to Laos. The death toll from Thursday's 6.8 magnitude tremor was expected to rise slightly in Myanmar after more than 100 buildings were destroyed. Over 100 people were injured, according to state television. The quake sparked panic, but no major damage, in other countries across Southeast Asia. REUTERS/Democratic Voice of Burma/Handout

 

25/3/2011 (TIME) — Aid workers said Friday that at least 120 people were killed by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit Thursday, rattling high-rises in Bangkok and sending people streaming into the streets of Hanoi. Details of the disaster were slowly seeping out from Shan State in northeastern Burma, a relatively remote region near the border with Laos and Thailand in the heart of the area known as the Golden Triangle. Homes, monasteries and government offices were among the 390 buildings damaged or destroyed, according to Burma’s state-run media.

Burma’s government put the death toll at 74 and 111 injured. But a reporter working for The Irrawaddy who traveled to the quake zone on Friday, said local Red Cross officials confirmed 120 dead, with the figure expected to rise. He also said that the military was tightening checkpoints along the border. During the last natural disaster to hit Burma – Cyclone Nargis in 2008 – the government was criticized for placing state security over humanitarian concerns and refusing international relief workers access to the disaster area in a timely fashion. There has been no call yet from the Burmese government for international assistance in dealing with the latest quake.

 

In this photo released by Democratic Voice of Burma, a soldier stands in front of a house destroyed by an earthquake in Tarlay, Shan state, Myanmar, Friday, March 25, 2011. The Thursday night quake, measured at a magnitude 6.8 by the U.S. Geological Survey, toppled homes in northeastern Myanmar and killed dozens of people. (AP Photo/DVB, Alinyaung)

Although Burma’s state-run media reported on the earthquake promptly on Thursday evening, no video footage was shown Thursday or Friday. The only image was in a state-run newspaper that showed a damaged bathroom in a home. The government is, nonetheless, becoming more open about disasters than in the past. During the 1980s, a large section of the city of Mandalay was destroyed by fire, but news did not reach the outside world until a Western journalist traveled there nearly five years later. Burma’s rulers, and many of its people, are notoriously superstitious, and disasters, natural or otherwise, or seen as portents of bad fortune to come.

Thursday’s earthquake was centered near the small towns of Loimwe, and was just six miles (10 kilometers) below the ground’s surface, according to the United States Geological Survey. The mountains of Shan State are the foothills of the Himalayas where the Indo-Australian plate butts up against the Eurasian plate. Earthquakes in northern Burma are fairly common, but details are often sketchy because the area is remote and Burma’s government keeps a tight rein on information. Parts of Shan State are notoriously lawless, places where ethnic militias smuggle drugs, weapons, people and other contraband across the Mekong River and into Laos and Thailand. Some use the proceeds to fund insurgencies against the government, while others are allied with the government.

Scores of homes were leveled in the towns surrounding the quake’s epicenter, and The Irrawaddy reported that one military barracks had collapsed. Keng Tung, the largest nearby town with a population somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 appeared untouched. Neither electricity nor water had been disrupted in Keng Tung, 56 kilometers north of Loimwe, according to state media.

In neighboring Thailand, one woman died in the northern province of Chiang Rai when a wall of her house collapsed. Condominiums and office towers swayed for more than ten seconds in the Thai capital of Bangkok, more than 500 kilometers to the south of Shan State. Two aftershocks, measuring 4.8 and 5.4, were felt in Mandalay and Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, also hundreds of kilometers away. Thai officials have put on hold plans to build nuclear power plants following the recent earthquake in Japan that damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima.  (*)

 

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

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Berharap Shimon Peres Dan Netanyahu Menahan Diri Atas Teror Hamas Demi Perdamaian Israel dan Palestina

Presiden Rusia Dmitry Medvedev berjabatan tangan dengan Perdana Menteri Israel yang datang berkunjung ke Rusia, Kamis 24 Maret 2011.

 

Jakarta ( 25/3/2011) —- Ibarat api yang percikannya sudah mulai menyambar ranting-ranting pohon di hutan belantara, saat ini situasi antara Israel dan Palestina ( khususnya kubu Hamas yang menguasai Jalur Gaza ) sudah mulai membara.

Panas.

Menyala.

Jika boleh memakai ilustrasi yang sangat sederhana, situasinya kini memang sudah menyerupai api yang siap membakar “hutan belantara” tadi. Jika api itu tak cepat dipadamkan maka api akan menyambar kemana-mana. Lalu akhirnya, akan membakar hutan itu secara keseluruhan. Jika sudah terjadi kebakaran yang hebat, maka apa saja akan dilahap oleh sang api.

Meningkatnya eskalasi keamanan antara Israel dan Hamas sudah pantas untuk diwaspadai.

Saling serang dan saling balas-membalas, sedang jadi tren yang kuat antara kekuatan militer Israel dan Hamas.

Tampaknya, Hamas mulai menguasai watak dan kebiasaan Israel yang tak bisa diprovokasi.

Sedikit saja Israel diusik, maka mereka akan membalas.

Dan kalau Israel sudah membalas, maka akan mudah menciptakan suasana yang sangat panas membara seperti saat ini.

Tidak biasa-biasanya, provokasi Hamas sangat berkepanjangan ( ibarat kalimat yang tidak memerlukan titik dan koma. Main hantam saja. Sehingga siapapun yang membaca kalimat itu akan jadi ngos-ngosan. Kehabisan nafas).

 

Inilah Keluarga UDI FOGEL yang dibunuh secara brutal di Itamar, Nablus : Sang ayah UDI FOGEL (36 tahun), isterinya Ruth ( 35 tahun) dan ketiga anak mereka : Yoav ( 11 tahun), Elad ( 4 tahun ) dan Hadas ( 3 bulan ). Mereka dibunuh secara brutal tanggal 11 Maret 2011. Kasus pembunuhan Itamar ( Itamar Killings) merupakan sebuah tragedi pembunuhan yang sangat brutal dan mengerikan sekali.Mereka sekeluarga mati ditikam sampai di atas tempat tidur mereka. Ada dua anak lain dari keluarga UDI FOGEL ini yang juga di rumah tetapi mereka tidak ikut celaka. Pembunuhan Itamar ( Itamar Killings) ini bisa bisa diketahui saat anak perempuan tertua dalam keluarga itu (Tamar) tiba di rumahnya. Pembunuhan ini dikecam oleh Perserikatan Bangsa Bangsa dan komunitas internasional lainnya.

 

Berawal dari terbunuhnya satu keluarga Yahudi beberapa minggu lalu di kawasan Itamar. Sepasang suami isteri dan 3 orang anaknya, habis dibantai secara sadis.

Tragedi ini saja sudah hampir dapat dipastikan memancing kemarahan yang sangat dalam dari Pemerintah dan rakyat Israel.

Israel membalas.

Lalu disambung lagi dengan ledakan bom yang terjadi di Yerusalem hari Rabu ( 23/3/2011). Satu orang warga asing mati akibat ledakan itu dan korban luka juga sangat banyak.

Tak kurang dari Sekretaris Jenderal Perserikatan Bangsa Bangsa (Sekjen PBB) Ban Ki-moon dan komunitas internasional lain mengutuk serangan bom di Yerusalem.

Bom itu yang meledak di hari keberangkatan Perdana Menteri Israel Benjamin Netanyahu ke Rusia.

Bibi memang tidak membatalkan kunjungannya ke Rusia.

Ia hanya menunda selama beberapa jam jadwal keberangkatannya ke Rusia.

Dan hari Kamis (24/3/2011), Bibi Netanyahu telah menuntaskan agenda kunjungannya ke Rusia dengan bertemu dengan Presiden Rusia Dmitry Medvedev, Perdana Menteri Vladimir Putin dan Menteri Luar Negeri Sergei Lavrov.

Bisa jadi PM Netanyahu merasa galau sepanjang ia menjalani agenda kunjungannya ke Rusia.

Sebab situasi di negaranya sedang tak “nyaman” akibat ledakan bom sebuah halte bis di Yerusalem.

Memang korbannya tidak terlalu mengerikan tetapi ledakan bom itu seakan melukai perasaan dan martabat Israel sebagai sebuah bangsa.

Satu orang perempuan warga negara Inggris mati akibat ledakan bom itu dan sejumlah besar lainnya menjadi korban luka.

Korban tewas tersebut adalah MARY GARDNER ( 55 tahun ), ia adalah MISIONARIS yang sehari-hari bekerja sebagai penterjemah injil. Tetapi MARY, yang merupakan keturunan SKOTLANDIA ini, juga sedang menjalani pendidikannya di HEBREW UNIVERSITY di Israel.

 

Perdana Menteri Israel Benjamin Netanyahu ( duduk di tengah ), didampingi Menteri Pertahanan Ehud Barak dalam acara pergantian Kepala Staf Angkatan Darat Israel (IDF), dari Letnan Jenderal Gabi Ashkenazi ( duduk paling kiri ) kepada Letnan Jenderal Benny Gantz ( berdiri ), di Yerusalem, 14 Februari 2011.

 

Siapapun yang saat ini bicara dari pihak Israel ( entah itu Menteri Pertahanan Ehud Barak, Menteri Luar Negeri Avigdor Liebermen atau Wakil Menteri Luar Negeri Danny Ayalon), semua akan sama nuansa dan nadanya dalam pernyataan-pernyataan mereka saat ini yaitu semua menyatakan kemarahan Israel atas tantangan dan provokasi fisik dari pihak Hamas.

Pertanyaannya sekarang, apakah Israel mau mengikuti gendang permainan Hamas ?

Waspadai trik yang sengaja dibuat sangat berani seperti ini yaitu menyerang, menyerang dan terus menyerang Israel.

Supaya sampai pada satu titik tujuan yang sesungguhnya yaitu membuat Israel tiba pada puncak kemarahan mereka yang tak akan bisa dikendalikan lagi.

Jika kemarahan Israel sudah tak mungkin lagi dikendalikan maka jangan heran jika perang baru ( yang menyamai atau bahkan jauh lebih parah dari Perang Gaza pada periode Desember 2008 – Januari 2009 ) akan terulang kembali dalam format yang sama.

Perang Gaza yang sangat mengerikan itu, dipicu atas teror HAMAS yang mengirimkan ratusan mortar ke wilayah Israel persis di MALAM NATAL tanggal 24 Desember 2008.

Bayangkan, di saat semua umat Kristani sedang hening mengarahkan hati menyambut datangnya NATAL, ratusan MORTAR menghujani wilayah Israel.

Israel tak  membalas di saat yang sama. Sehari duahari mereka diam.

Tapi dua hari setelah teror mortar di MALAM NATAL itu, Israel mengamuk menyerang ke arah Jalur GAZA dengan kekuatan militer penuh yang menewaskan begitu banyak warga Palestina di jalur Gaza.

Format peperangan yang menempatkan Israel sebagai agresor kejam yang tak akan berhenti menumpas Hamas dan warga sipil di Jalur Gaza, akan terulang kembali kalau Israel tidak bisa menahan diri dan mengendalikan kemarahan mereka.

 

Presiden Israel Shimon Peres ( kiri ) didampingi Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu ( tampak samping ) dalam upacara pemakaman Ibu Negara Sonia Peres yang meninggal dunia tanggal 21 Januari 2011 di Ben Shemen, Israel

 

Itu sebabnya, Presiden Shimon Peres dan Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu harus sangat hati-hati merespon situasi belakangan ini.

Maukah Israel masuk dan mengikuti gendang irama lawan ?

Maukah Israel diarahkan untuk terus terpancing, tertantang dan terprovokasi emosinya sehingga akhirnya ( patut dapat diduga ) memang diharapkan menumpas habis pihak lawan ?

Cepatlah menyadari indikasi seperti ini …

Jangan mau mengikuti gendang irama lawan !

Kendalikan semua perangkat militer dan maksimalkan semua jalur diplomatik Israel ( terutama di Perserikatan Bangsa Bangsa ).

Jika memang terjadi lagi gangguan keamanan yang sangat serius, tempuhlah jalur diplomatik di tingkat internasional.

Kendalikan, sekali lagi, kendalikan diri secara baik !

Dalam sebuah taktik perang, kedok yang paling jitu untuk menyembunyikan agenda-agenda dan operasi yang sesungguhnya, memang dibutuhkan umpan pemancing.

Jangan mau dipaksa untuk menjadi agresor yang ujung-ujungnya akan mendapat cap sebagai pembantai kalangan sipil.

Disinilah dibutuhkan kematangan, ketenangan dan sikap yang bijaksana dari Presiden Shimon Peres dan Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu.

Panasnya situasi di kawasan Timur Tengah, jangan sampai menjalar ke Israel dan Palestina.

Hati-hati dengan taktik dan jaring perangkap yang sedang dipasang.

Untuk membuat Israel bisa menjadi sangat garang, buas dan tak kenal ampun dalam membabat habis musuh-musuhnya, tampaknya memang sengaja dipancing dengan satu dan dua umpan provokasi.

Sekali lagi, jangan mau mengikuti irama gendang permainan lawan.

Memang sangat menyakitkan hati jika ada rangkaian provokasi fisik yang sangat serius ditujukan pada Israel.

Kalau tak dibalas, rasanya belum puas dan tuntas.

Tetapi kalau dibalas, maka nyanyian “kutukan” akan berkumandang dari komunitas internasional.

Waspadai juga pihak terselubung yang barangkali saja menjadi aktor intelektual dari semua kejadian ini.

Sengaja didorong dan digosok-gosok situasi, “Ayo serang Israel, ayo serang lagi, terus, ayo terus, bikin serangan yang lebih spektakuler !”.

 

(Tampak belakang dari paling kiri ) : Raja Abdullah dari Kerajaan Yordania, Presiden Mesir Hosni Mubarak, Presiden Palestina Mahmoud Abbas, Perdana Menteri Israel Benjamin Netanyahu dan Presiden Amerika Barack Obama seusai melakukan konferensi pers di Gedung Putih, 1 September 2010

 

Siapa bilang tidak mungkin ada pihak ketiga yang menikmati memanasnya hubungan antara Israel dan Palestina ?

Sebab barangkali saja, dianggap memang tidak mungkin alias sulit membuat Israel menjadi kacau balau, seperti yang terjadi di sejumlah negara yaitu sangat babak belur situasi politik dan keamanannya sejak 3 bulan terakhir ini di kawasan Timur Tengah.

Sehingga patut dapat diduga, satu-satunya cara yang dianggap sangat manjur untuk bisa memojokkan Israel di mata dunia internasional adalah memancing dulu agar Israel bertindak brutal.

Israel harus dibuat sangat brutal dulu.

Kalau Israel sudah murka semurka-murkanya ( apalagi kalau angka kematian di pihak sipil sudah sangat banyak ), maka tercapailah keinginan untuk bisa mencaci maki dan menyeret Israel menjadi seorang pesakitan yang dihujat oleh komunitas internasional.

Jadi kalau Israel tidak bisa menahan diri dan mengendalikan semua kekuatan militernya, pihak lawan yang akan bertepuk tangan gembira.

Senang kalau misalnya taktik mereka berhasil.

Senang kalau misalnya agenda menghidupkan koor atau paduan suara komunitas internasional untuk mengutuk Israel, akan segera tercapai.

Dan bagi siapapun yang bermain di belakang layar agar situasi antara Israel dan Hamas semakin memanas, janganlah memancing di air keruh.

Biarkan proses damai itu dilanjutkan dan tercapai dengan hasil yang sangat memuaskan.

Jangan justru proses damai antara Israel dan Palestina justru sengaja dibuat agar jalan di tempat ( atau malah berjalan mundur ).

Jangan menyerang, kalau tak ingin diserang.

Dan jangan lakukan kepada orang lain, apa yang kita tidak ingin agar orang lain melakukan hal itu kepada diri kita.

Janganlah menganggap diri sendiri sebagai orang yang paling mahir mengusung nilai-nilai perdamaian ( tetapi sebenarnya di belakang layar menjadi provokator ulung yang mengaca-acak situasi politik dan keamanan dari negara lain ).

Jangan pojokkan Israel.

Bahkan seolah-olah mereka ini adalah sebuah  bangsa yang tidak terkendali.

Keselamatan mereka diancam secara nyata, apakah mereka harus diam ?

 

Foto dari kiri ke kanan : Kepala Staf Angkatan Darat Israel ( IDF ) Letnan Jenderal Benny Gantz, Menteri Pertahanan Ehud Barak, Presiden Shimon Peres, Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu dan Mantan Kepala Staf Angkatan Darat Israel (IDF Chief of Staff) Letnan Jenderal Gabi Ashkenazi

 

Keselamatan rakyat mereka ( dan warga asing yang sedang berada di negara mereka ), diancam, diganggu dan dilukai secara nyata), apakah mereka harus diam ?

Sungguh dilematis saat ini posisi Israel.

Tetapi semua ini dikembalikan kepada Presiden Shimon Peres dan Perdana Menteri Benjamin Netanyahu, apakah anda berdua bersedia meladeni gendang permainan lawan ?

Sebaiknya, situasi ini dipelajari lagi dengan sangat hati-hati.

Waspadai agenda besar yang sedang dipasang sebagai sebuah perangkap untuk Israel.

Perangkap berbahaya yang muaranya adalah menghancurkan dan menggagalkan misi damai antara Israel dan Palestina.

Namanya juga permainan politik.

Jangan lampiaskan kemarahan secara berlebihan.

Jangan kerahkan seluruh kesiap-siagaan personil dan persenjataan militer Israel  dengan sangat maksimal dan berkekuatan penuh.

Pikirkan, pikiran semua dengan sangat bijaksana.

Sebab pengalaman adalah guru yang baik.

Belajarlah dari banyak kejadian di masa lalu yang menempatkan Israel sebagai pihak yang selalu dan selalu terpojokkan.

Jika ada satu nyawa saja dari kalangan sipil yang jadi korban ( baik itu dari pihak Israel atau Hamas dan masyarakatnya di Jalur Gaza), maka respon dari komunitas internasional akan sangat cepat menyambar bagaikan petir di siang bolong.

Jadi, waspadalah. Waspadalah. Waspadalah.

 

Perdana Menteri Israel Benjamin ( Bibi ) Netanyahu

 

Dan secara khusus kepada Perdana Menteri Bibi Netanyahu, hendaklah tidak terus menekan Hamas untuk menuntaskan rangkaian pembalasan yang sangat setimpal.

Jangan Bibi, jangan kerahkan kekuatan militer anda dengan kekuatan sangat penuh untuk membalas ke arah Hamas di Jalur Gaza.

Sekali lagi, jangan.

Tolong jangan !

Setiap kata yang anda ucapkan, hampir dapat dipastikan tidak akan anda ingkari.

Pikirkan segala sesuatunya dengan tenang.

Pikirkan dampak terburuk jika Israel terpancing dan termakan dalam emosi yang berkepanjangan.

Jika anda katakan akan menyerang dengan kekuatan militer yang penuh maka itu akan segera menjadi kenyataan.

Tapi jangan Bibi, jangan …

Kekuatan militer Israel sebenarnya sangat tidak seimbang jika dibandingkan dengan Hamas.

Mau diatas kertas, atau secara riil di lapangan, IDF ( militer Israel ) pasti akan sangat mudah menekan, memberangus dan memenangkan setiap bentuk pertempuran.

Mau dari darat, laut atau udara, jangan ragukan kemampuan militer Israel.

Tapi, disini ada begitu banyak warga sipil yang bisa terkorbankan alias mati sia-sia kalau peperangan baru antara Israel dan Hamas dibiarkan membuka babak baru mereka di tahun 2011 ini.

Jadi, Pemerintah Israel harus menahan diri sebab sesungguhnya ( dan sejujurnya ) kemarahan Israel sedang sangat DITUNGGU-TUNGGU oleh pihak tertentu.

 

Sayap militer Hamas

 

Dan kepada Hamas, berhentilah berteriak kepada dunia internasional untuk menekan Israel dengan dalih untuk melindungi warga sipil di Jalur Gaza !

Mengapa ?

Eh, sebelum kalian meminta Israel berhenti mengancam keselamatan warga sipil di pihak kalian, hentikanlah terlebih dahulu semua aksi TEROR dan provokasi fisik kalian kepada rakyat Israel.

Bukankah itu TEROR namanya, mengancam dan merusak rasa aman serta keamanan di wilayah orang ?

Anda merasa berhak menyerang tetapi pihak lawan tak boleh membalas menyerang ?

Harus pihak anda saja yang sah dan legal melakukan teror dan provokasi fisik ke wilayah orang ?

Lho, kalian itu siapa, kok bisa-bisanya menghajar negara orang dengan seenaknya ?

Dan ingatlah bahwa di Israel, juga terdapat begitu banyak warga asing yang berkunjung untuk kepentingan yang sifatnya relijius ( mengingat Israel adalah tanah suci bagi umat Kristiani ).

Sehingga ancaman fisik yang diarakan secara langsung ke Israel, juga mengancam warga asing yang sedang berada di sana.

Sekali lagi, jangan menyerang, kalau tak mau diserang.

Dan jangan lakukan kepada orang lain, apa yang kita tidak ingin agar orang lain melakukan hal itu kepada diri kita.

Seakan-akan, jari tangan anda hendak menunjuk ke arah muka Shimon Peres dan Benjamin Netanyahu bahwa pihak mereka yang paling brutal.

Eh, tunjuk dulu muka anda sendiri, baru tunjuk muka orang lain !

Sebab segala sesuatunya memiliki unsur sebab akibat.

Hormatilah proses damai yang sedang diperjuangkan semua pihak dari komunitas internasional kepada pihak Israel dan Palestina. Jangan dirusak. Jangan dihambat. Dan jangan digagalkan.

Semua juga tahu bahwa HAMAS adalah kekuatan politik riil yang harus diakui eksistensinya di mata dunia internasional.

Tetapi sebagai kekuatan politik riil yang mendapat kepercayaan dari warga di Jalur Gaza, HAMAS harus lebih elegan dalam bersikap.

Akan jauh lebih baik, jika HAMAS merespon tawaran dari Presiden Mahmoud Abbas untuk segera mendamaikan dan menyatukan antara kubu Fatah dan Hamas.

Fokuskanlah semua perhatian dan upaya untuk mewujudkan perdamaian dan persatuan antara Fatah dan Hamas.

Jangan melebar ke topik lain, apalagi sampai melakukan teror kepada negara lain.

Begitu gigih komunitas internasional mengusahakan agar perdamaian itu terwujud.

Apa yang akan terjadi, kalau ternyata semua usaha itu menjadi sebuah kesia-siaan belaka ?

Jangan lagi ada perang baru yang sangat mengerikan dan mengancam keselamatan rakyat di masing-masing pihak.

Israel dan Palestina.

Berdamailah !

 

 

 

(MS)

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

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Over 25 killed in Myanmar quake: officials

At least 25 people were killed and dozens of buildings destroyed when a strong earthquake struck Myanmar near the Thai border, according to information from officials in both countries on Friday. (AFP/File/Kc Ortiz)

 

 

YANGON, March 25, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – At least 25 people were killed and dozens of buildings destroyed when a strong earthquake struck Myanmar near the Thai border, officials from both countries said Friday, AFP reported.

Tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the epicentre, Hanoi and parts of China during the earthquake on Thursday, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8.

A Myanmar official warned that there could be “many more casualties” in the town of Tarlay, close to the epicentre, as he confirmed 10 men, a boy and 13 women had been killed when the quake struck.

“Five monasteries and 35 buildings collapsed in the town. Those people were killed when the buildings collapsed,” said the official, who declined to be named.

Twenty people were injured in Tarlay in the district of Tachileik, and the official said the main road into the area was closed after being damaged in the quake.

Just across the border from Tachileik, Thai authorities said a 52-year-old woman was killed in Mae Sai district after a wall of her house collapsed.

Terrified residents across the region fled their homes, tall buildings swayed and hospitals and schools were evacuated during the tremors.

The quake struck 90 kilometres (60 miles) north of Chiang Rai and 235 kilometres (150 miles) north-northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city and a popular tourist destination. Tall buildings shuddered in Bangkok during the tremor.

Its epicentre was close to the borders with Thailand and Laos and was just 10 kilometres (six miles) deep.

Thailand’s meteorological department on Friday said it had registered six large aftershocks following the initial quake.

Chiang Rai governor Somchai Hatayatanti told AFP late Thursday that efforts were made to evacuate people from tall buildings and he had ordered all patients from Mae Sai District Hospital to be taken to Chiang Rai.

The shaking was felt throughout China’s southwest province of Yunnan, according to state-run China National Radio, but no casualties or structural collapses had been reported as of Friday morning.

However, the earthquake reportedly caused cracks in some homes and schools in and around the rugged Xishuangbanna region which borders Myanmar, and fear of aftershocks forced many people in the area to spend the night outdoors.

Some residents of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi fled their homes in panic when the quake shook the city.

Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, 36, who lives on the 10th floor of a highrise, said her husband noticed their pet fish shaking in their tank.

“We all rushed to the street. All the other people in the apartments also rushed out,” she said.

Hanoi felt the tremor at about magnitude 5.0, according to Dinh Quoc Van, deputy head of the earthquake monitoring department.

The quake comes two weeks after Japan was hit by a monster earthquake, which unleashed a devastating tsunami that left around 27,000 people dead or missing and triggered a crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.

No tsunami warning was issued after the Myanmar quake as US seismologists said it was too far inland to generate a devastating wave in the Indian Ocean.

The USGS initially recorded the quake as magnitude 7.0, but later revised it down to 6.8. (*)

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

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Evacuation Ordered at Japan Plant After Radiation Burns

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee records reactor data in a control room, lit only by flashlights due to a power outage, for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Station on March 23, 2011. Photo: Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency via Kyodo

JAPAN, March 25, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / BLOOMBERG) — Engineers at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant were evacuated from the third of its four damaged units after three men suffered radiation burns, the second retreat from the location in as many days, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the plant located 220 kilometers (135 miles) north of Tokyo, had resumed efforts to restore electricity to the No. 3 reactor yesterday. The area was cleared of technicians the day before after smoke was detected. Tokyo Electric will stop workers from conducting similar work that led to yesterday’s incident, said Sakae Muto, a company vice president.

The injured workers were contaminated with up to 180 millisieverts of radiation, close to the recommended limit, as they were wading in water 30 centimeters (1 foot) deep while laying a power cable. Two of the workers were hospitalized with beta radiation burns on their feet after water had seeped into their boots.

“It’s not unexpected and it’s probably not a big setback,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog group. “They’ll try to protect the workers, but there will be continuing bumps in the road.”

Dangerous radiation levels, fires and explosions at four of the six reactors have hampered repair work since a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 knocked out electricity needed to operate cooling systems and prevent a meltdown.
Restore Power

“We’re trying to prevent further deterioration as well as restore the power,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said yesterday in Tokyo. “We cannot let our guard down.”

Samples taken yesterday indicated further spread of radioactivity above government limits. Tokyo officials found radioactive cesium above the government limit on komatsuna, a leafy vegetable similar to spinach, harvested in the city’s Edogawa ward yesterday, Japan’s health ministry said on its website. Samples of milk and six other vegetables from Tokyo farms were within radiation limits, the ministry said.

Tokyo authorities already were handing out bottled water after determining that tap water may be unsafe for babies. Radioactive iodine in tap water was above the government limit for infants today in Utsunomiya, a city about 80 miles southwest of the plant, Kyodo News reported.
Death Toll

Workers wearing protective suits work to restore electricity to the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima, on March 18, 2011. Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo

The death toll from Japan’s worst postwar disaster climbed to 9,811 as of 9 p.m. yesterday, with 17,541 people missing, according to the National Police Agency in Tokyo. More than 250,000 people are living in 1,913 evacuation centers after the quake and tsunami devastated the country’s northern coastline.

Elevated iodine levels in water and food triggered bulk buying at supermarkets even as the government said that health risks are minimal. The Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average decreased 0.2 percent yesterday following a 1.7 percent drop March 23 after Tokyo issued the water advisory.

“This is an evolving crisis and we don’t know whether the problem of radiation has reached its peak,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, senior economist in Tokyo at Itochu Corp. (8001), an Osaka- based trading company that gets about 30 percent of its sales from food. “The challenge will be whether the government can continue to manage the situation to keep people from panicking.”

‘Never Restart’

At the Dai-Ichi plant lights were switched on at the No. 1 unit’s control room yesterday. Workers also made progress cooling the reactor following a spike in temperatures the previous day, Edano said. There were no signs of damage to the containment vessel, he said.

“They will never restart those first four units,” said Charles G. Pardee, chief operating officer of the power generation unit for Exelon Corp. (EXC), the largest U.S. nuclear- reactor owner. The reactors are beyond repair, given blast damage and corrosion from seawater pumped in to cool them, he said.

Tokyo Electric stopped spraying the No. 3 unit after the workers were evacuated and aims to resume work today, Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters.

Power is being supplied to the No. 5 reactor’s cooling system, Isao Shirai, a company official, said in Fukushima yesterday. That unit was shut down for maintenance when the quake hit and is considered less of a radiation threat.

Tap Water


Levels of iodine-131 in Tokyo’s tap water rose to 210 Becquerels per kilogram (2.2 pounds) three days ago, according to the Tokyo city government. The recommended limit is 300 for adults and 100 for infants. The level fell to 79 at a sampling site yesterday, Kyodo News reported.

The Health Ministry yesterday advised against eating leafy vegetables produced near the disaster site. The degree of contamination detected isn’t harmful, Edano said. While parents shouldn’t use tap water to mix baby formula, it can be drunk safely by adults and children, he said.

Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia banned imports of vegetables and fruits harvested in five quake-stricken prefectures in Japan. Singapore suspended imports of milk and milk products, seafood and meat from those areas of Japan. The U.S. authorized seizure of spinach from four prefectures and milk from Fukushima prefecture.

Changing weather systems will drive radiation from the Fukushima plant over the Pacific Ocean on March 26, Austria’s Meteorological and Geophysics Center reported, citing data from the United Nations nuclear-test ban treaty organization
Wind Forecasts

Wind will today carry the radionuclides for a “short while” inland, the center said on its website. Reactors at Fukushima may have released as much as 20 percent of the radioactive iodine and up to 60 percent of the radioactive cesium that resulted from the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, according to the report yesterday.

The maximum radiation reading reported so far at the nuclear plant is 500 millisieverts per hour, meaning a worker in the vicinity would receive the maximum allowed dose in 30 minutes. Tokyo Electric said 17 workers had received more than 100 millisieverts of radiation since the crisis started.   (*)
 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

Japanese Swap Fish for Burgers Due to Radiation Fears

Mothers receive bottles of water at a distribution office in the Adachi ward of Tokyo on March 24, 2011. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

JAPAN, March 25, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / BLOOMBERG) — Tokyo resident Namiko Murata’s children are no longer getting their favorite salmon, saury and mackerel for dinner, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

“I’m really paying attention to food because of the radiation problems,” said Murata, a mother of three. “We gave up eating fish even though my family likes it very much. Now, for protein, we drink three cups of soy milk a day.”

The detection of cobalt, iodine and cesium in the sea near the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant north of Tokyo this week hurt fish sales in the world’s second-biggest seafood market. Shoppers ignored government reassurances that their food and water supplies were safe even as countries from Australia to the U.S. restricted food imports from Japan on fears of radioactive contamination.

Ryoko Mizumoto, a 27-year-old mother of two, said she stopped buying dried Shirasu fish and horse mackerel. “I gave up buying maritime products and started buying cheap meat,” she said while lining up to buy bottled water at one of Seven & I Holdings Co.’s Ito-Yokado stores in Tokyo. “I make hamburger steak to replace the fish.”

Japan has restricted shipments of milk, spinach and other vegetables from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures as radiation from the plant, damaged on March 11 by the country’s strongest earthquake on record, contaminated agricultural products.
Bottled-Water Shortage

The country’s biggest beverage makers, with plants running at full capacity, face renewed pressure to raise bottled-water production as shoppers cleared store shelves following news that radiation contaminated Tokyo’s water supply. A Lawson Inc. (2651) convenience store in the capital last night had a sign saying customers could only buy one bottle of water each. Its shelves for water, juice and tea were empty.

The health ministry has tentatively set tolerable levels of radioactivity for each product. For fish, the level is set at 500 Becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium and 100 Becquerels per kilogram of uranium. Japan’s Food Safety Commission will assess the standards for possible revision as early as next week.

“We have not received any test results showing fish contaminated by more-than-acceptable levels of radioactivity,” Taiju Abe at the health ministry’s inspection and safety division said. “Prefectural governments are putting priority on testing vegetables as they are at the highest risk for contamination through the air and rain.”
Some Fishing Halted

Fishing in the northeastern prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate has been halted since the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that engulfed towns in northeastern Japan, damaged the Fukushima nuclear facility and shook buildings in Tokyo.

The suspension lowered the risk that “tainted fish will be in the market,” said Yasuo Sasaki, senior press counselor at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “We don’t see fish at a high risk of contamination because of radiation dilution,”

Kazuko Nishihara said she isn’t convinced. “We don’t trust the government,” said the 41-year-old mother of two who left Tokyo for Hiroshima on March 18, where she said food supplies are safe. “It hasn’t disclosed enough information. When we get back to Tokyo, I won’t eat vegetables produced in the Kanto region and will only eat fish from the western part of Japan.”

The Kanto region encompasses Tokyo and six prefectures, and contains about one-third of Japan’s 127 million people.
Sales Drop

Japan consumes about 9 million metric tons of seafood a year, second behind China’s more than 1.3 billion people, according to the website of the Sea Around Us Project, a collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the Pew Environment Group. It’s the world’s largest fish importer, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

“We are worrying about the marine radiation contamination problem,” said 35-year-old Takashi Inoue, who works at Shoei Suisan wholesaler at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. “Unlike vegetables, the source of production is quite vague.”

Susumu Takana, a 68-year-old worker at nearby fish wholesaler Harahide, said business dropped by 40 percent since the earthquake. “Our main customers are restaurants who say they have few customers at night,” he said. “Some clients have started to say they don’t want fish from north of Choshi,” a city on near the northern border of Chiba, a prefecture neighboring Tokyo.
Switching to Meat

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said March 23 the government instructed regulators to implement maximum monitoring on Japan’s seafood. Fukushima and neighboring prefectures Miyagi and Iwate produce 707,500 tons of seafood, accounting for 13 percent of Japan’s 5.6 million tons of annual production, according to Statistics Japan.

Hiroyuki Metoki, a spokesman for Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc. (1334) which sells prawns, crabs, octopus and shrimp from both Japan and overseas, said his company is getting more queries about where its produce is from. While it doesn’t buy from areas near the damaged nuclear plant because all supplies have stopped, “it’s possible customers will avoid products processed or caught in those areas in the future,” he said.

“We may have to depend on products from other parts of Japan and imports,” Metoki said. Because imported fish is expensive, people may “have to switch some portion of their fish consumption to something else, such as meat,” he said.

Getting enough fish hasn’t been a problem for Yoshiaki Saito, president of Saito Suisan, a fish wholesaler at Tsukiji. “Our sales have fallen to about one-fifth,” he said, declining to provide specific figures. “There is plenty of supply but there’s no demand.”

The decline in tourists is partly to blame, he said. “There are usually many customers from overseas. For example, tourists from China and Hong Kong come here to buy seafood. They buy crabs, tuna and scallops. There are no tourists now.”

Saito said he hasn’t heard of any impact of radiation on fish. “Even if there is, it’s only a small amount. We can’t worry about every little problem or there won’t be anything left for us to eat.”  (*)
 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

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Medvedev and Netanyahu discussed bilateral relations between the two states and the situation in the Middle East

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Gorki residence outside Moscow in March 24, 2011 ( Photo : Kremlin.Ru)

March 25, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / KREMLIN.RU) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday discussed bilateral relations between the two states and the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.

At the start of the meeting, the Russian President expressed his condolences to the families of those killed in Jerusalem terrorist attack on March 23.
* * *

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Prime Minister, it is a great pleasure to see you again and welcome you here in Moscow.

First of all I would like to express our condolences in connection with the terrorist attack which took place yesterday in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, innocent people have been affected in this case, as in other similar situations, and this should strengthen our resolve to combat terrorism through joint efforts.

We have firsthand knowledge of the dangers posed by terrorism. Unfortunately, Russia, too, has been hit by terrorist attacks this year. That makes our meeting today especially valuable because the main thing is that we must not let the terrorists believe that they are close to achieving their atrocious goals.

We have a great deal to discuss. It has been a long time since our last meeting and great many events have taken place since then, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. The changes taking place there are truly tectonic and cannot but affect the overall situation, which we should discuss as partners.

Naturally, we will also review the Middle East peace process, just as we always do. I have a few things to say on this topic. I am sure that you will share your thoughts as well, because we have not seen any positive developments recently. Let’s see how all these events affect the opportunities for compromise.

We could also discuss issues pertaining to our bilateral relations, which have been developing well on the whole, but perhaps we could give an additional impetus to Russian-Israeli relations.


Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the Gorki presidential residence outside Moscow March 24, 2011. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin


PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (re-translated): Thank you, Mr President.

Indeed, we have not met for quite a long time but we have spoken on the telephone. I agree, it was not only New Zealand and Japan that were hit by earthquake, as well as a storm and a tsunami, but the Middle East and North Africa as well.

After the fire which occurred in the north of our country, you sent brave and skilled pilots to assist us. We were all truly impressed by their work. I thanked you then, but I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude once again for your sympathy and help. Now we have to put out several other “fires”.

No one knows how the events currently unfolding in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world will end. I am confident that our common aspiration is to have stable, progressive governments committed to promoting peace. But there is a danger – a danger for Israel, Russia and all of humankind – that radical Islamic regimes will spring up, posing a threat to our countries and the entire world.

We can already see one such regime – in Iran, a regime that is a threat, that is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and is constantly trying to derail efforts to conclude peaceful agreements. Our goal is to stop evil and to promote good. I would be glad to discuss with you ways to move towards peace and achieve security in our region.

I am sure that we need to further develop our cooperation in every sector. There are still many areas for joint efforts.   (*)
 
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Posted by on March 25, 2011 in World News

 

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