14 die as ships with Indian crew catch fire off Russia

Wednesday 23rd January 2019 02:06 EST

At least 14 people have been killed in a fire that broke out on two Tanzanian-flagged ships, both carrying Indian crew, near the Kerch Strait that separates Crimea and Russia, Crimea Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said. The victims have not been identified yet. Preliminary information said the fire erupted on Monday night due to the failure of a pump being used to transfer fuel between the two vessels - Candy and Maestro - in violation of security regulations, Russian state news agency said. The two ships had a total of 32 crew members - Turkish and Indian nationals. The news agency said Candy had a crew of 17 - eight Indian nationals and nine Turks while the Maestro carried seven Indians, seven Turks and an intern from Libya. A spokesman from Russia's Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport said that 12 people had been rescued and there were no chances of finding any more survivors.

British tourists to be deported from NZ

Members of a British family have been branded “worse than pigs” and face deportation from New Zealand after a spree of bad behaviour that left normally easygoing Kiwis outraged. The family have been involved in a string of incidents in and around Auckland and Hamilton, including accusations of littering, assault, not paying for restaurant meals and intimidating behaviour. Auckland mayor Phil Goff led national outcry at the tourists’ antics, demanding the police take action. “These guys are trash. They are leeches,” he told a local radio station. New Zealand's assistant general manager of immigration, Peter Devoy, said the family had been issued with a deportation notice on the grounds of “matters relating to character.”

PIO doc in US indicted for fraud freed on record bond

A 77-year-old Indian-American doctor, indicted in one of the largest healthcare fraud cases in the US history involving a $464 million conspiracy, was freed on a record-setting $7 million bond. Rajendra Bothra, who was awarded Padmashri by India, was indicted along with five other physicians in the alleged healthcare fraud conspiracy, which the federal government said fuelled the opioid epidemic. US district judge Stephen Murphy granted the bond for him despite the government’s concern that the doctor has hidden money that could bankroll an escape to India. Bothra, who will be released on home confinement and tracked by a GPS tether, must identify all assets under penalty of perjury, the Detroit News reported.

Security being provided to Saudi teenager in Canada

Amid threats to the safety of Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed, who was granted asylum in Canada, the Toronto agency helping her has hired a security guard to ensure “she is never alone” as she starts a normal life, its executive director said. Rahaf, 18, has received multiple threats online that have made her fear for her safety, said Mario Calla, executive director of Costi, a refugee agency contracted by the Canadian government to help her settle. Costi has hired a security guard and plans to “make sure she is never alone,” Calla said. “It’s hard to say how serious these threats are. We’re taking them seriously.”

Lankan President signs 3 loan agreements with ADB

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena signed three loan agreements totalling $455 million with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund projects in higher education, transport as well as a technical assistance loan in the urban sector. Sirisena signed the agreements during his first tour to the ADB headquarters while conducting a five-day state visit to the Philippines. The loans include $145 million for a project to support the development of science and technology faculties in four universities, $300 million to finance construction of about 5.3 km of an elevated toll highway to link Colombo's international port with the country's expressway network and another $10 million technical assistance loan to finance the establishment of a facility to help improve the design and implementation of urban projects in Sri Lanka.

5 arrested with 90 kg of heroin in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan police on Tuesday arrested five persons along with 90 kg heroin worth $5.5 million in international market. Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that there were three foreign nationals among the persons who were arrested in a Colombo suburb called "Kollupitiya." Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday launched a drug eradication week across the island country to prevent the drug menace. Sirisena said he would not relent in his efforts to curb drug trafficking and he would seek assistance from the Philippines in the fight against drug menace.

45 killed in Taliban attack on Afghan military centre

At least 45 members of the Afghan security forces were killed when Taliban militants attacked a military compound in central Maidan Wardak province on Monday, a senior defence official said. The official said the assault began on Monday morning when the attackers rammed a car full explosives through a military check point and detonated the vehicle inside the campus of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces training centre in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Maidan Wardak province. Two gunmen entered the campus right after the explosion and shot at many Afghan soldiers before being gunned down during the clashes. Defence Ministry officials said the Taliban had used US-made armoured Humvee vehicles captured from Afghan forces as a car bomb in order to breach the military fortifications.

Wife of Chinese ex-Interpol head seeks asylum

Wife of the former Chinese Interpol chief being held in his home country on corruption charges has applied for asylum in France, media reports said. Grace Meng has remained in the French city of Lyon, the site of Interpol’s headquarters, since her husband Meng Hongwei disappeared - and was later revealed to have been arrested - while visiting China in September. She said she fears for her life and that of their twin sons. “I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me and my children. I am afraid of being kidnapped.”

Germany bans Iranian airline on suspicion of spying

Berlin has revoked Iranian airline Mahan's right to operate in Germany, a senior government source said, giving both safety concerns and the suspicion that the airline was being used for military purposes as reasons. The government suspects the airline, which has been on a United States sanctions list since 2011, is used for military purposes by Iran's Revolutionary Guards as well as for terrorist activities. Several European Union countries accuse Iran of carrying out spying operations or planning attacks on the continent. The government source said that the flight did not constitute general sanctions against Iran.

Mexico gasoline pipeline explosion kills 79

The gasoline pipeline explosion in Tlahuelilpan in Mexico has taken the lives of at least 79 people. However, 66 people have been injured in the tragic incident. The governor of the State of Hidalgo, Omar Fayad confirmed that a few of the victims are minors. No arrests have been made as yet. The fire from the explosion has been completely doused. Meanwhile, residents living close to the pipeline have been evacuated, according to State oil company Pemex. The explosion comes at a time when there is a dearth of gas in several Mexican states, including the capital.

Silicon Valley landlord rents $1,500 studio to cats

Two cats are living large at a $1,500-a-month studio apartment their owner rents for them in Silicon Valley. According to reports, the 9kg cats named Tina and Louise moved to the studio in San Jose after their owner moved away to college. The student’s father, Troy Good, was unable to keep them and asked friend David Callisch to rent him the kitchen-less studio so he could keep his daughter’s beloved cats. The newspaper reports Good and his cats got a decent deal because an average studio apartment in San Jose rents for $1,951 a month.

This mynah flew business class from Singapore to UK

The video of a bird, which was found on a flight from Singapore to the UK, has triggered hilarious reactions on social media after it went viral. According to a report, a stowaway bird, mynah was spotted on a flight almost 12 hours after its take off. Found in the business class cabin, the black bird was seen sitting on top of a seat’s headrest. While in the video, a flight attendant can be seen trying to catch the bird, it was eventually caught and handed over to the animal quarantine authorities at the Heathrow airport, London. "It was subsequently caught by cabin crew with the assistance of some of the passengers," a Singapore Airlines spokesman said. Though it is not clear how the bird got inside the cabin and stayed unnoticed on the 6,736-mile long flight from Singapore to the UK, the incident surely has left many amused.

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