Tag Archives: erupt

Hu leaves G8 as new protests erupt in China

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China’s President Hu Jintao arrives to attend a news conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome July 6, 2009.

Hu leaves G8 as new protests erupt in China

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Armed Chinese soldiers in riot gear block a main street leading to the end of the city occupied by ethnic Uighurs in Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 8, 2009.

URUMQI, China (Reuters) – Banks of anti-riot police tried to drive a wedge into a crowd of about 1,000 Han Chinese protesters on Wednesday in Urumqi after 156 people were killed at the weekend in the region’s worst ethnic violence for decades.

Urumqi, capital of the far-flung northwestern region of Xinjiang, imposed an overnight curfew after thousands of Han stormed through its streets demanding redress and sometimes extracting bloody vengeance on Uighurs for Sunday’s violence.

There were scuffles in the volatile crowd on Wednesday as police and security forces seized apparent ringleaders, prompting cries of “release them, release them”.

President Hu Jintao abandoned plans to attend a G8 summit in Italy, returning home to monitor developments in energy-rich Xinjiang, where 1,080 people have been wounded and 1,434 arrested since Sunday.

Financial markets again appeared unaffected and life was returning to the streets of Uighur neighborhoods. But residents said night-time arrests were continuing and they were quietly preparing to defend against further Han attacks.

Urumqi airport was crowded with people anxious to leave. “We fear Xinjiang is not safe any more,” said one passenger who refused to be identified.

The city was on edge. In one downtown street, two young boys were surrounded by an angry mob, with dozens trying to pull them down and grabbing at their hair.

Volatile and swelling Han crowds protested against security forces seizing young Han men.

“Why are you catching Han Chinese? They are only trying to protect us,” said one woman in the crowd, bickering with police.

Rumors swirled. A group of Uighur men said they were convinced two locals died in Tuesday’s confrontations and that there were many more deaths across the city.

A man in his 50s, who gave name as Mohammed Ali, said he had heard from neighbors and friends that two men had died and two had been seriously wounded.

“Now we are scared to go anywhere,” he said. “Doing even simple things becomes frightening.”

“BLOOD FOR BLOOD INCOMPATIBLE WITH RULE OF LAW”

Police say Sunday’s clashes were triggered by a brawl between Uighurs and Han at a factory in south China prompted by a rumor Uighurs had raped two women. Police have detained 15 people in connection with the factory brawl, including two suspected of spreading rumours on the Internet.

“If a wrong is avenged with another wrong, there would be no end to it,” the state-owned English-language China Daily said in an editorial.

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Iceland volcano ash causes fresh air travel chaos

Aviation chiefs predicted Thursday that the drifting dust could throw travel plans into disarray for a further two days, after flights were banned over more than 10 European countries.

Thousands of passengers from Hong Kong to Dublin were stranded when aviation chiefs decided it was too risky to allow planes to fly through the cloud of ash, which is upwards of 20,000 feet (6,000 metres) above the earth’s surface.

Although not visible from the ground, volcanic ash can be highly dangerous for aircraft, clogging up the engines and reducing visibility, experts say.

Up to 5,000 flights were affected by the flight bans Thursday, said Eurocontrol, the agency that coordinates flights in Europe.

Flights from all over the world, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris and Athens, were affected by the cancellations in northern Europe.

The ash from the volcano under Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier blew southeast after Wednesday’s eruption towards Scotland and Norway, before covering England and Scandinavia, according to the London-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

The drifting cloud also closed airspace in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the north of France, parts of northern Germany and part of northern Poland.

Passengers’ travel nightmare was far from over Friday, with airspace closures still in force and the European air traffic control group Eurocontrol predicting further travel chaos.

The disruption “could last two days,” spokesman Kyla Evans told AFP from the agency’s Brussel’s headquarters.

Flights between North America and Europe also faced major disruption, with half of all services expected to be cancelled Friday, according to Eurocontrol.

Farmer tells of Iceland volcano blast There are an average of 600 flights between Europe and North America a day, it said.

Britain — which closed its airspace at 1100 GMT Thursday — said the ban would stay in force until 1800 GMT Friday for most flights in its airspace.

Belgian airspace is to remain closed Friday, authorities confirmed, while Air France said its flights in and out of Paris would not run.

In Scotland, health authorities warned people to beware of possible health problems from volcano ash falling to the ground.

Norway was the first to ground its flights on Wednesday evening, followed by Scotland overnight into Thursday and then London, before air traffic controllers announced no flights could go through British and Irish airspace.

Finland closed its northern airspace an hour later, followed by Denmark and Sweden.

Paris’s two main airports and more than a dozen others in the north of France were closed Thursday, aviation officials said.

A total of 466 flights between Spain and European destinations were cancelled Thursday because of the ash by 1530 GMT, Spain’s AENA aviation authority said.

Icelandic airports, however, reported no problems.

“The wind is blowing the ash to the east,” Hjordis Gudmundsdottir of the Icelandic Airport Authority told AFP, adding: “It’s amazing really.”

About 300 flights in and out of London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports had already been cancelled before the airspace was closed, leaving many of the 260,000 passengers who typically use the airports each day with nowhere to go.

“Basically we’re stranded here, and a lot of people are angry. I realise it’s an act of God — however it would be nice to have another exit strategy,” said Isobel Connolly, who was due to fly from Heathrow to Ireland.

In 1982, British Airways and Singapore Airways jumbo jets lost their engines when they flew into an ash cloud over Indonesia, while a KLM flight had a similar experience in 1989 over Alaska.

“On each occasion, the plane fell to within a few thousand feet of the ground before it was possible to restart the engines,” Rothery said.