Click for St. Louis, Missouri Forecast

// a href = ./ // St Louis News, Weather, Sports, The Big 550 AM, St Louis Traffic, Breaking News in St Louis

Online pharmacy:fesmag.com/tem

Have you a sex problem? Please visit our site:fesmag.com/medic

Site map
 
 
 

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — Fresh questions arose about whether quicker action by the captain of a doomed ferry could have saved lives, even as rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of passengers still missing Friday and feared dead.

Officials also offered a rare look at their investigations, saying they were looking into whether a crewman's order to abruptly turn the ship contributed to the 6,852-ton Sewol ferry tilting severely to the side and filling with water Wednesday.

The confirmed death toll from Wednesday's sinking off southern South Korea was 28, the coast guard said. Most of bodies have been found floating in the ocean because divers have been continually prevented from getting inside the ship by strong currents and bad weather. But 48 hours after the sinking the number of deaths was expected to rise sharply with about 270 people missing, many of them high school students on a class trip. Officials said there were 179 survivors.

New questions were raised by a transcript of a ship-to-shore exchange and interviews by The Associated Press that showed the captain delayed evacuation for half an hour after a South Korean transportation official ordered preparations to abandon ship.

The order at 9 a.m. by an unidentified official at the Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center to put on lifejackets and prepare for evacuation came just five minutes after a Wednesday morning distress call by the Sewol ferry. A crewmember on the ferry, which was bound for Jeju island, replied that "it's hard for people to move."

The ship made a sharp turn between 8:48 a.m. and 8:49 a.m. Korea time, but it's not known whether the turn was made voluntarily or because of some external factor, Nam Jae-heon, a director for public relations at the Maritime Ministry, said Friday.

The captain has not spoken publicly about his decision making, and officials aren't talking much about their investigation, which includes continued talks with the captain and crew. But the new details about communication between the bridge and transportation officials follow a revelation by a crewmember in an interview with The Associated Press that the captain's eventual evacuation order came at least half an hour after the 9 a.m. distress signal.

Meanwhile, strong currents and rain made rescue attempts difficult again as they entered a third day. Divers worked in shifts to try to get into the sunken vessel, where most of the missing passengers are thought to be, said coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in.

Coast guard officials said divers began pumping air into the ship Friday, but it wasn't immediately clear if the air was for survivors or for a salvage operation. Officials said in a statement that divers were still trying to enter the ship.

South Korean officials also offered a glimpse into their investigation of what may have led to the sinking. They said the accident happened at a point where the ferry from Incheon to Jeju had to make a turn. Prosecutor Park Jae-eok said in a briefing that investigators were looking at whether the third mate ordered a turn whose degree was so sharp that it caused the ship to list. The captain was not on the bridge at the time, Park said, adding that officials were looking at other possible causes, too.

Park also said crews' testimonies differed about where the captain was when the ship started listing. As that listing continued, the captain was "near" the bridge, Park said, but he couldn't say whether the captain was inside or right outside the bridge.

The operator of the ferry added more cabin rooms to three floors after its purchase the ship, which was built in Japan in 1994, an official at the private Korean Register of Shipping told the AP on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to discuss matters under investigation, said the extension work between October 2012 and February 2013 increased the Sewol's weight by 187 tons and added enough room for 117 more people. The Sewol had a capacity of 921 when it sank.

As is common in South Korea, the ship's owner, Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, paid for a safety check by the Korean Register of Shipping, the official said, which found that the Sewol passed all safety tests, including whether the ship could stabilize in the event of tilting to the right or to the left after adding more weight.

Ian Winkle, a British naval architect and ferry expert said many ships have such modifications, to increase capacity, for instance. "In this particular case, it would have affected the stability by a small amount, but as it seems from the structure of the vessel, generally, it looks as if it was adequate to meet statutory regulations," Winkle said.

Near the site of the ferry, angry and bewildered relatives gathered on a nearby island watched the rescue attempts. Some held a Buddhist prayer ritual, crying and praying for their relatives' safe return.

"I want to jump into the water with them," said Park Geum-san, 59, the great-aunt of another missing student, Park Ye-ji. "My loved one is under the water and it's raining. Anger is not enough."

Kim, the coast guard spokesman, said two vessels with cranes arrived and would help with the rescue and to salvage the ferry, which sank not far from the southern city of Mokpo. But salvage operations hadn't started yet because of the rescue attempts.

Out of 29 crewmembers, 20 people, including the captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, survived, the coast guard said.

The captain made a brief, videotaped appearance, although his face was hidden by a gray hoodie. "I am really sorry and deeply ashamed," Lee said. "I don't know what to say."

Kim Soo-hyun, a senior coast guard official, said officials were investigating whether the captain got on one of the first rescue boats.

The 146-meter (480-foot) Sewol had left Incheon on the northwestern coast of South Korea on Tuesday for the overnight journey to the southern resort island of Jeju. There were 475 people aboard, including 325 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, which is near Seoul,

It was three hours from its destination Wednesday morning when it began to list for an unknown reason.

Oh Yong-seok, a helmsman on the ferry with 10 years of shipping experience, said that when the crew gathered on the bridge and sent a distress call, the ship was already listing more than 5 degrees, the critical angle at which a vessel can be brought back to even keel.

The first instructions from the captain were for passengers to put on life jackets and stay where they were, Oh said.

A third mate reported that the ship could not be righted, and the captain ordered another attempt, which also failed, Oh said. A crew member then tried to reach a lifeboat but fell because the vessel was tilting, prompting the first mate to suggest to the captain that he order an evacuation, Oh said.

About 30 minutes after passengers were told to stay in place, the captain finally gave the order to evacuate, Oh said, adding that he wasn't sure in the confusion and chaos on the bridge if the order was relayed to the passengers. Several survivors told the AP that they never heard any evacuation order.

By then, it was impossible for crew members to move to passengers' rooms to help them because the ship was tilted at an impossibly acute angle, he said. The delay in evacuation also likely prevented lifeboats from being deployed.

"We couldn't even move one step. The slope was too big," said Oh, who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain.

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

___

Klug reported from Seoul. Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Ansan and Jung-yoon Choi in Seoul contributed to this report.

Read more...

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.

It was the fifth attempt by the Bluefin-21 unmanned sub to find wreckage or the black boxes from Flight 370 in a distant patch of seabed. The sub, which can create sonar maps of the ocean bottom, has now covered 110 square kilometers (42 square miles) of the silt-covered seabed, but has thus far found nothing, the search coordination center said. The sub's last mission hit a record depth beyond its recommended diving parameters, which can potentially cause risk to the equipment, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement. However, it is being closely monitored.

Officials are desperate to find some physical evidence that they are searching in the right spot for the Boeing 777, which vanished March 8 with 239 on board on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. A weeks-long search of the ocean surface hasn't turned up a single piece of debris, and officials on Thursday determined that an oil slick found in the search zone did not come from the plane.

The Bluefin is searching a remote stretch of ocean floor about 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) deep in an area where sound-locating equipment picked up a series of underwater sounds consistent with an airplane's black box, but it went down to 4,695 meters (15,404 feet) during mission four. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said officials are "very confident" the sounds came from the Malaysian jet's cockpit voice and flight data recorders, but finding the devices in such deep water is an incredibly difficult task.

Radar and satellite data show the plane flew far off-course and would have run out of fuel in a remote section of the Indian Ocean. Planes and ships have been scouring the ocean surface for a month, to no avail.

On Friday, 11 planes and 12 ships were continuing the surface search across about 52,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) of ocean. The U.S. alone has flown 35 missions, racking up 319 hours of flight time over nearly 450,000 nautical miles of ocean, according to the Seventh Fleet.

Angus Houston, who is heading up the search effort, said earlier this week that the hunt for floating debris would be ending within days, because it is unlikely that anything will be found. But the search coordination center said the effort would continue into next week, more than six weeks after the plane vanished.

Malaysia's defense minister, Hishamuddin Hussein, confirmed that the search would continue through the Easter weekend, but acknowledged that officials would have to rethink their strategy at some point if nothing is found.

"There will come a time when we need to regroup and reconsider, but in any event, the search will always continue. It's just a matter of approach," he said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

The U.S. Navy's unmanned sub cut short its first mission on Monday because it exceeded its maximum operating depth of 4,500 meters (15,000 feet). Searchers moved it away from the deepest waters before redeploying the sub to scan the seabed with sonar to map a potential debris field.

But the search coordination center said Thursday that officials are now confident the sub can safely go deeper than was thought, allowing it to cover the entire search area, which has been narrowed based on further analysis of the four underwater signals previously detected.

___

Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.

___

Follow Margie Mason on Twitter at twitter.com/MargieMasonAP

Read more...

GENEVA (AP) — In a surprise accord, Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday on tentative steps to halt violence and calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold War-style military posturing triggered by Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

Russia's pledge to refrain from further provocative actions drew support but also a measure of skepticism from President Barack Obama, who said at a news conference at the White House that the United States and its allies were prepared to ratchet up sanctions if Moscow doesn't fulfill its commitments.

"I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point," Obama said after Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and diplomats from Ukraine and Europe sealed their agreement after hours of talks in Geneva.

The abruptly announced agreement, brokered by the West, provides no long-term guide for Ukraine's future nor any guarantee that the crisis in eastern Ukraine will abate. But it eases international pressure both on Moscow and nervous European Union nations that depend on Russia for their energy.

Reached after seven hours of negotiations, the deal requires all sides to refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions. It calls for disarming all illegally armed groups and returning to Ukrainian authorities control of buildings seized by pro-Russian separatists during protests.

Notably, though, it does not require Russia to withdraw an estimated 40,000 troops massed near the Ukrainian border. Nor does it call for direct talks between Russia and Ukraine.

The agreement says Kiev's plans to reform its constitution and transfer more power from the central government to regional authorities must be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It gives amnesty to protesters who comply with the demands, except those found guilty of committing capital crimes.

The negotiations came against the backdrop of the bloodiest episode to date in the clashes that pit the new government in Kiev against an eastern insurgency the West believes is backed by Moscow.

In the eastern Ukraine Black Sea port of Mariupol, authorities said three pro-Russian protesters were killed and 13 injured overnight Wednesday during an attempted raid on a Ukrainian National Guard base.

As for the agreement reached in Geneva, monitors with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be tasked with helping Ukraine authorities and local communities comply with the requirements. Lavrov said the OSCE mission "should play a leading role" moving forward.

Kerry called the one-page agreement "a good day's work." But, anticipating Obama's remarks a few hours later, he stressed that if Russia does not abide by a pledge to de-escalate the crisis by the end of the upcoming Easter weekend, the West would have no choice but to impose new sanctions as initially planned.

In a further sign of impatience on the part of the Obama administration, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. would send non-lethal assistance to Ukraine's military in light of what he called Russia's ongoing destabilizing actions in the country. The aid will include medical supplies, helmets, water purification units and power generators.

In remarks at his own news conference in Geneva, Kerry said, "It is important that these words are translated immediately into actions. None of us leaves here with a sense that the job is done because of words on a paper."

Lavrov said the agreement was the product of compromise by the two sides that as recently as a several weeks ago refused to speak, intensifying the crisis and ratcheting up East-West tensions to levels not seen since the Cold War.

"Most important is that all participants recognize the fact that Ukrainians should assume leadership and ownership of settlement of the crisis in all aspects, be that resolving the issue in all aspects," Lavrov said.

He repeated Moscow's statement that it does not intend to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered slightly less assuring words. He reserved the right to act to protect ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, but said he hoped it wouldn't be necessary to send in troops to do so.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia called the agreement "a test for Russia to show that it is really willing to have stability in this region."

The U.S. and EU were prepared to broaden their list of Russian and Ukrainian officials and oligarchs whose assets and Western travel have been frozen if Thursday's talks hadn't shown movement.

Even more punishing sanctions against Moscow's energy and banking sectors have been threatened. The EU is Russia's biggest trading partner and oil and gas client, and it has been reluctant to push ahead with penalties that would undercut its own citizens.

The EU instead has chastised Russia for threatening to cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine — a route for pipelines to Europe.

In a letter Thursday, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso told Putin that Russia would risk its reputation as a reliable supplier should Ukraine's gas supplies be cut off. Moscow had threatened to end the deliveries to force Kiev to pay debts.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, the interior ministry described a mob in Mariupol of about 300 people armed with stun grenades and firebombs — following the pattern of battle-ready militia bearing sophisticated weapons that have been involved in seizing government offices in the country's eastern regions.

Ukraine also began stringent checks for Russian citizens seeking to enter the country, and Russian airline Aeroflot reported a ban on Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 visiting except when traveling with family or to funerals of relatives.

In a four-hour nationally televised call-in show in Moscow, Putin insisted that Russian special forces were not fomenting unrest in Ukraine, as Kiev and the U.S. claim.

But Putin also seemed to keep the door open for Russia to recognize Ukraine's presidential election set for May 25, softening his previous demand that it must be postponed until the fall and preceded by a referendum on broader powers for the regions.

Ukraine has asked for military assistance from the U.S., a request that was believed to include lethal aid such as weapons and ammunition. Obama administration officials have said they were not actively considering lethal assistance for fear it could escalate an already tense situation.

The U.S. has already sent Ukraine other assistance, such as pre-packaged meals for its military.

In Brussels, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the military alliance would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, including flying more sorties over the Baltic region west of Ukraine and deploying allied warships to the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. NATO's supreme commander in Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, told reporters that ground forces also could be involved at some point, but he gave no details.

___

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee, National Security Writer Robert Burns and Special Correspondent David Espo in Washington contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lara Jakes at https://twitter.com/larajakesAP

Read more...

Latest News

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
Prev Next
Probe could complicate Rick Perry's prospect

Probe could complicate Rick Perry's prospect

  AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent a record 14 years in office vanquishing nearly all who dared confront him. But with eight months left on the ...

Star sea lion at the St. Louis Zoo has died

Star sea lion at the St. Louis Zoo has died

  ST. LOUIS (AP) — A star sea lion at the St. Louis Zoo has died. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Bennie the sea lion died Friday. He was 11. Zoo spoke...

Ride-sharing service hits snags in St. Louis

Ride-sharing service hits snags in St. Louis

  ST. LOUIS (AP) — A smartphone app-based ride-sharing service has started service in St. Louis, ignoring a cease and desist order from the city's taxi commission. ...

Missouri Republicans outline new gun proposal

Missouri Republicans outline new gun proposal

  JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Republicans have outlined a new approach to prevent federal agents from enforcing gun control laws the state considers to be infri...

Documents detail another delayed GM recall

Documents detail another delayed GM recall

  DETROIT (AP) — Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands o...

Ferry stops service on Mississippi River

  MEYER, Ill. (AP) — A farm cooperative has shut down a ferry service that shuttled agricultural products and other goods across the Mississippi River between western I...

Pepsi franchise to open center in Cape Girardeau

Pepsi franchise to open center in Cape Girardeau

  CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — A Pepsi franchise is planning to build a new customer service center in Cape Girardeau (juh-RAHR'-doh) that could create 74 jobs. The M...

Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings

  KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City-area man has been charged with 18 felony counts in connection with about a dozen recent random highway shootings...

© 2013 KTRS All Rights Reserved