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FEARS RISE FOR MISSING IN SKOREA FERRY SINKING

Thursday, 17 April 2014 06:09 Published in National News

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Strong currents, rain and bad visibility hampered an increasingly anxious search Thursday for 287 passengers still missing a day after their ferry flipped onto its side and sank in cold waters off the southern coast of South Korea.

Nine people, including five students and two teachers, were confirmed dead, but many expect a sharp jump in that number because of the long period of time the missing have now spent either trapped in the ferry or in the cold seawater. There was also fury among families waiting for word of passengers who were mostly high school students.

There were 475 people aboard, and some of the frantic parents of the 325 student passengers who had been heading to Jeju island for a four-day trip gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan, which is near Seoul, and on Jindo, an island near where the ferry slipped beneath the surface until only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel was visible.

Relatives of the three dead students wailed and sobbed as ambulances at a hospital in Mokpo, a city close to the accident site, took the bodies to Ansan. The families, who spent a mostly sleepless night at the hospital, followed the ambulances in their own cars.

The family of one of the victims, 24-year-old teacher Choi Hye-jung, spoke about a young woman who loved to boast of how her students would come to her office and give her hugs.

"She was very active and wanted to be a good leader," her father, Choi Jae-kyu, 53, said at Mokpo Jung-Ang Hospital while waiting for the arrival of his daughter's body. Choi's mother, sitting on a bench at the hospital, sobbed quietly with her head bent down on her knee.

Meanwhile, more than 400 rescuers searched nearby waters overnight and into Thursday morning. Coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in said that in the next two days, three vessels with cranes onboard would arrive to help with the rescue and salvage the ship. Divers worked round the clock in shifts in an attempt to get inside the vessel, he said. But the current wouldn't allow them to enter.

Kim said coast guard officials were questioning the captain, but declined to provide details or speculate on the cause of sinking. Kim denied earlier reports by Yonhap news agency that the ferry had turned too swiftly when it was supposed to make a slow turn. He also declined to say whether the ferry had wandered from its usual route.

"I am really sorry and deeply ashamed," a man identified by broadcaster YTN and Yonhap news agency as the captain, 60-year-old Lee Joon-seok, said in brief comments shown on TV, his face covered with a gray hoodie. "I don't know what to say."

Coast guard officers, experts on marine science and other experts and officers planned to gather Thursday in Mokpo to start discussions on how the ship sank.

The coast guard said it found two more bodies in the sea Thursday morning, pushing the death toll to nine. The dead have so far been identified as a female crew member in her 20s, three male high school students; an 18-year-old woman and 18-year-old man, who authorities aren't yet sure are linked to the high school; Choi, the female high school teacher; Nam Yoon-chul, a male high school teacher; and a man named Kim Ki-woong.

Dozens were injured. Coast guard officials put the number of survivors early Thursday at 179.

The Sewol, a 146-meter (480-foot) vessel that can reportedly hold more than 900 people, set sail Tuesday from Incheon, in northwestern South Korea, on an overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.

The ferry was three hours from its destination when it sent a distress call after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

Koo Bon-hee, 36, told The Associated Press that many people were trapped inside by windows that were too hard to break.

"The rescue wasn't done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time," Koo, who was on a business trip to Jeju with a co-worker, said from a hospital bed in Mokpo where he was treated for minor injuries. "If people had jumped into the water ... they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out."

Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain, told AP that rescue efforts were hampered by the ferry's severe tilt. "We couldn't even move one step. The slope was too big," Oh said.

The Sewol's wreckage is in waters a little north of Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland and about 470 kilometers (290 miles) from Seoul.

The last major ferry disaster in South Korea was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

The water temperature in the area was about 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit), cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 90 minutes of exposure, according to an emergency official who spoke on condition of anonymity because department rules did not allow talking to the media. Officials said the ocean was 37 meters (121 feet) deep in the area.

The survivors — wet, stunned and many without shoes — were brought to Jindo, where medical teams wrapped them in pink blankets and checked for injuries before taking them to a cavernous gymnasium.

As the search dragged on, families of the missing gathered at a nearby dock, some crying and holding each other.

Angry shouts could be heard when Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited a shelter where relatives of the missing passengers waited for news. Some yelled that the government should have sent more divers to search the wreckage.

Many South Korean high schools organize trips for first- or second-year students, and Jeju is a popular destination. The students on the ferry were in their second year, which would make most of them 16 or 17.

KELLY HURT AS CARDINALS LOSE TO BREWERS 5-1

Thursday, 17 April 2014 06:07 Published in Sports

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals' 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday may prove more costly than one defeat in the NL Central standings.

Cardinals starter Joe Kelly left in the middle of the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness after trying to beat out a bunt attempt in the top half.

"I felt like I tried to step a little quicker, maybe a little overextend and hit the bag a little bit before it and ended up tweaking it," Kelly said.

He was scheduled to return to St. Louis for additional examination and treatment.

"I was feeling pretty good. I had three pitches working for me first time the whole year," he said. "I had a slider and a pretty good curveball breaking down, and had some velocity on my fastball and was locating it."

Kelly (1-1), who gave up an unearned run and three hits in four innings, did not know whether he would miss his next turn.

"If I miss my next start, I do," he said. "It's early in the year. It's best to be precautionary and go out and be healthy and go to my next one."

Wily Peralta (2-0) allowed one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, helping the Brewers avoid a series sweep.

Milwaukee, which entered the series with a nine-game winning streak, had one run and six hits in losing the first two games to St. Louis. The Cardinals won last year's season series 14-5.

"It felt good. That's a pretty good team over there," Lucroy said. "They've had some momentum against us the last few years, so it was nice to get a win. To finish a homestand 4-2, that's pretty good. If we do that the rest of the year, we're going to be there at the end. They're a good team, a good club, but we're glad to pull one out against them on the last day."

After Kelly departed, the Brewers boosted their lead to 4-0 in the fifth against Seth Maness.

Wily Peralta reached when his two-out liner went off the glove of shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Gomez walked, Jean Segura reached on an infield single, Lucroy followed with a two-run single and Aramis Ramirez had an RBI single.

Milwaukee went ahead in the third inning when first baseman Matt Adams misplayed Logan Schafer's leadoff bouncer for an error, Peralta sacrificed, and Carlos Gomez hit an RBI double to the wall in right-center, one pitch after bunting foul.

"That just goes back to prove the point that that's something we've got to bring every day," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've got to bring that good defense. ... We've got the kind of guys who can make the plays. In games like this where we're not stacking up a bunch of runs."

Allen Craig hit his first home run of the season, a sixth-inning drive off Peralta. Pat Neshek walked pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay with the bases loaded in the eighth for the Brewers final run.

Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg and Francisco Rodriguez combined for 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Thornburg retired three batters, extending his streak to 20 batters over six outings.

"I expect good things through this season," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of his bullpen. "We'll try to manage them right and make sure we're not using too many of the guys. I think Thornburg is stepping in, and what he's doing is huge."

NOTES: Ryan Braun, still bothered by an ailing right thumb, was held out of the starting lineup. Braun, hitting 269, has three homers and 10 RBIs - but all the homers and seven RBIs came at Philadelphia on April 8. ... Official scorer Tim O'Driscoll originally credited Wily Peralta with a single in the fifth, then changed it to an error on Jhonny Peralta, then after the game ruled it a hit for Wily Peralta.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.

The drop is mainly attributed to better screening, medicines and care. The improvements came even as the number of U.S. adults with diabetes more than tripled in those 20 years.

"It is great news," said Dr. John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist, of the drop in rates.

"The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care," Buse said in an email. He was not involved in the study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research is reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Diabetes is a disease in which sugar builds up in the blood. The most common form is tied to obesity, and the number of diabetics has ballooned with the rise in obesity. Today, roughly 1 in 10 U.S. adults has the disease, and it is the nation's seventh leading cause of death, according to the CDC.

The obese are already at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. But diabetics seem to have more narrowing of their blood vessels - a condition that can further foster those problems.

In the 1990s, key studies showed that diabetics could keep their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol under control. The research suggested that vision and heart problems, leg and foot amputations and other diabetes complications were not necessarily inevitable.

Meanwhile, insurance programs expanded coverage of blood sugar monitors and diabetes treatment. Gradually, larger numbers of diabetics were diagnosed earlier and with milder disease.

For the new study, the CDC tallied complication rates from 1990 to 2010 for diabetics ages 20 or older.

During that time, the heart attack rate fell 68 percent, from 141 to 45.5 per 10,000 diabetics, according to hospital records.

The decline was so great that, despite the growing ranks of diabetics, the actual number hospitalized with heart attacks dropped from more than 140,000 to about 136,000.

The stroke rate fell less dramatically - but still declined by more than half, finishing at 53 per 10,000. The heart attack and stroke rates for diabetics are essentially even now, lead author Edward Gregg noted.

The researchers saw declines in hearts attack and stroke rates for non-diabetics as well, but those improvements weren't nearly as big as they were for diabetics.

Amputation rates also fell by more than half. However, like strokes, the actual number increased over the two decades.

The growth in the number of diabetics "wiped out most of the gains" from the declining rates, so the number who ended up in the hospital for strokes or amputations swelled, said Dr. Robert Gabbay, of Boston's Joslin Diabetes Center.

The study also found that the rate of kidney failure dropped by 28 percent. But that wasn't true for all ages - the rate in those 65 and older actually increased, for reasons that aren't clear. That could be a sign diabetics are living longer - long enough to get kidney disease, Gregg speculated.

The researchers also looked at a less common complication, death caused by dangerous levels of blood sugar. The rate of such deaths dropped by 64 percent; the numbers also declined by 18 percent. In 2010, those deaths totaled 2,361.

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