Nineteen Killed As Migrant Vehicle Crashes In Turkey

Turkish police forensic experts examine the wreckage of a truck, carrying migrants, after it crashed in Izmir, on October 14, 2018. PHOTO: MEHMET CANDAN / DEMIROREN NEWS AGENCY / AFP

Nineteen people, including children, died on Sunday when a vehicle carrying migrants reportedly heading for EU member Greece plunged off the highway into a waterway in western Turkey, state media said.

The vehicle, believed to be a lorry, was travelling on a highway in the Izmir region close to Izmir airport when it flipped over and fell into the channel several metres below, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The nationality of the migrants was not made clear. Nineteen people were killed, the agency said, lifting an earlier toll of 15, while 11 more were wounded.

Turkish television pictures showed the stricken wreckage of the vehicle, which was reduced to burned-out metal by the impact of the crash.

Large numbers of emergency service personnel were sent to the scene.

The DHA news agency said that the vehicle was headed for the coast of the Izmir region, from where the migrants planned to take a boat to Greece’s Samos island.

Samos is just a few kilometres north of Turkey’s Dilek peninsula that juts out from the Izmir region.

Turkey is a key transit point for migrants from troubled countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a new life in Europe.

A million migrants crossed from Turkey into Greece in 2015, mostly by boats, in a crisis which forced a deal between Ankara and the EU to stem the flow of people.

Numbers have fallen since but people are still undertaking what is a highly perilous journey.

According to UN figures, more than 24,500 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea so far this year, with 118 people losing their lives via this route.

AFP

‘Migrant-Smuggling’ Car Crash Kills 11 In Greece – Police

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

 

Eleven people have died in northern Greece on Saturday morning after a car thought to be carrying migrants crashed head-on with a truck and burst into flames, police said.

Firefighters recovered 11 bodies from the car, which had been travelling towards Thessaloniki. The driver of the truck, which had been heading towards the town of Kavala, escaped the fire unscathed.

Greek police said the car involved in the crash had been used for migrant smuggling in the past. It had failed to stop earlier Saturday when police officers tried to pull it over for a check.

Last June, a migrant smuggling van carrying 16 people, mainly from Syria and Iran, crashed near Kavala, killing six people including three children.

Greece To Revamp Disaster Unit As Fire Toll Hits 93

Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras

 

Embattled Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday vowed to create a new national disaster unit as the death toll from last month’s deadliest-ever wildfires rose to 93.

“What’s important today is to objectively investigate the causes of the tragedy, and take all necessary measures so that it does not happen again,” Tsipras said in a televised speech as he announced a 500-million-euro ($578-million) revamp backed by European support funds.

“I am determined to do that,” he said.

Tsipras’ government has been severely criticised over its response to the July 23 wildfire in the coastal resort of Mati, the deadliest in Greek history.

The disaster has been followed by infighting between the police and the fire brigade, who initially insisted that the state response had been well-managed and blamed the high death toll on winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour.

Local residents received no warning and instead of being sent away from the fire zone, many passing drivers were mistakenly diverted into its path and died trapped in Mati’s narrow streets.

It later emerged that the police had failed to properly seal off the area because the fire brigade had not alerted them to the location and size of the fire.

And survivors fleeing the flames with just the clothes on their backs said they were left unaided on beaches for hours, where many died of burns and smoke inhalation.

The death toll rose to 93 on Thursday after two more people died in hospital.

The latest casualty was a 78-year-old woman, state TV ERT said. An 83-year-old man died on Wednesday.

Another 34 people are still hospitalised after the July 23 wildfire in Mati, six of them in critical condition.

Four senior officials including the minister responsible for the police and the heads of the police and fire brigade have been removed from their posts.

Earlier Thursday, a list compiled by the civil protection authority said the victims included 44 women — now 45 — 35 men, 11 children and two still-unidentified persons.

Tsipras on Thursday said he had approached a senior forest research scientist at the Max Planck Society to head an independent investigation into the causes of the fire, and recommend courses of action.

“Nothing can be forgotten, nothing should be covered up,” he said.

Earlier this week the PM said about 3,200 illegal buildings blocking access to roads, flood channels and the coast in the greater Attica region would be demolished.

A Greek judicial investigation into possible faults by state officials is also under way.

The relatives of two people who perished in the fires have also sued the authorities for negligence and exposure to danger.

AFP

74 Killed As Wildfire Ravages Greek Seaside

Firefighters and volunteers try to extinguish flames during a wildfire at the village of Kineta, near Athens, on July 24, 2018. Raging wildfires killed 74 people including small children in Greece, devouring homes and forests as terrified residents fled to the sea to escape the flames, authorities said Tuesday.
Valerie GACHE / AFP

 

One of the worst wildfires Europe has seen this century killed at least 74 people including small children in Greece, devouring homes and forests as terrified residents fled to the sea to escape the flames, authorities said Tuesday.

Orange flames engulfed pine forests, turning them to ash and leaving lines of charred cars in the smoke-filled streets of seaside towns near Athens after the fires broke on Monday.

Rescuers rushed to evacuate residents and tourists stranded on beaches as Greece battled blazes on the scale of those which hit the southern island of Evia in 2007 and left 77 people dead.

The toll of the latest fires threatens to surpass that toll having already risen above those which hit Portugal last year when 64 people were killed.

Dozens were overtaken by the flames in their homes, on foot or in their cars. AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of humans and dogs.

“Today, Greece is in mourning,” said Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who cut short a visit to Bosnia and announced three days of national mourning.

The charred bodies of 26 people, including small children, were discovered at a villa at the seaside resort of Mati, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the capital, said rescuer Vassilis Andriopoulos.

They were huddled together in small groups, “perhaps families, friends or strangers, entwined in a last attempt to protect themselves as they tried to reach the sea”, he said.

As world leaders including Pope Francis pledged their solidarity, Athens said 308 engineers will arrive on site by Wednesday to assess the damage.

But “the problem is what is still hidden under the ashes,” said Vice President of Emergency Services Miltiadis Mylonas.

Dramatic video footage showed people fleeing by car as the tourist-friendly Attica region declared a state of emergency.

“I saw the fire move down the hill at around 6:00 pm and five or ten minutes later it was in my garden,” said 60-year old Athanasia Oktapodi.

Her home is surrounded by dry pine trees.

“They caught fire. I ran out like a crazy person, got to the beach and put my head in the water. Then the patrol boats came.”

Resort “no longer exists”

Fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri said firefighters were still searching for more victims and taking “dozens of calls” from people looking for relatives, she said.

Winds of above 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in Mati caused a “sudden progression of fire” through the village, said Maliri.

“Mati no longer exists,” said the mayor of nearby Rafina, Evangelos Bournous, adding that more than a thousand buildings and 300 cars had been damaged.

Maliri said 82 people remained in hospital on Tuesday night, including 10 adults needing respiratory assistance, and almost a dozen children.

At least six people died trying to escape the flames into the sea. Some 715 people were evacuated by boats to Rafina, the government said.

“People are shocked, lost. Some of them have lost everything: children, parents, homes,” said Red Cross spokeswoman Georgia Trisbioti.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said “15 fires had started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens” on Monday.

The European Union activated its Civil Protection Mechanism after Greece sought help. Several countries said they were sending aircraft to help fight the flames.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted the EU “will spare no effort to help Greece and the Greek people” while Pope Francis spoke of his “deep sadness,” sentiments echoed by EU and NATO leaders.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg offered the alliance’s full solidarity with Greece, whose government earmarked financial aid for victims’ relatives.

40-degree heat

Tsipras said “all emergency forces” have been mobilised to battle the fires.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said the priority was to extinguish a fire still burning in Kineta, 50 kilometers from Athens.

Near the town of Marathon, residents fled to safety along the beach, while 600 children were evacuated from holiday camps.

Officials raised the possibility the blazes could have been started deliberately by criminals out to ransack abandoned homes.

“I am really concerned by the parallel outbreak of these fires,” Tsipras said as supreme court prosecutors announced they had opened an investigation into the causes of the fire.

Showers were set to see temperatures around Athens drop slightly after hitting 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Fires across Europe

Wildfires have also caused widespread damage in northern Europe in recent days.

Sweden, experiencing an unprecedented drought and the highest temperatures in a century, has counted more than 20 fires across the country.

Fires have also hit Finland’s northernmost Lapland province.

Norway, which experienced its hottest May temperatures on record, has seen several small fires. One firefighter was killed on July 15 trying to contain a blaze.

Fires have raged for five days in Latvia, destroying more than 1,000 hectares in the Baltic state.

The German Meteorological Service DWD warned of a significant risk of fires in fields and forests due to drought.

In the Netherlands, a wildfire broke out over about four hectares Tuesday in the central nature reserve of Hoge Velume, known for its red deer and wild boar, Dutch media said but was swiftly brought under control.

74 Killed In Greek Wildfires

Firefighters carry a dead person following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, on July 24, 2018. Sixty people have died and 160 have been injured in wildfires ravaging woodland and villages in the Athens region, as Greek authorities rush to evacuate residents and tourists stranded on beaches along the coast on July 24, 2018. STR / AFP

 

Raging wildfires killed 74 people including small children in Greece, devouring homes and forests as terrified residents fled to the sea to escape the flames, authorities said Tuesday.

Orange flames engulfed pine forests, turning them to ash and leaving lines of charred cars in the smoke-filled streets of seaside towns near Athens after the fires broke on Monday.

Rescuers rushed to evacuate residents and tourists stranded on beaches.

Others were overtaken by the flames in their homes, on foot or in their cars. AFP photographers saw the burnt bodies of humans and dogs.

The charred bodies of 26 people, including small children, were discovered in the courtyard of a villa at the seaside resort of Mati, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the capital, said rescuer Vassilis Andriopoulos.

They were huddled together in small groups, “perhaps families, friends or strangers, entwined in a last attempt to protect themselves as they tried to reach the sea”, he said.

Video footage showed people fleeing by car as the tourist-friendly Attica region declared a state of emergency.

“I saw the fire move down the hill at around 6:00 pm and five or ten minutes later it was in my garden,” said 60-year old Athanasia Oktapodi.

Her home is surrounded by dry pine trees.

“They caught fire. I ran out like a crazy person, got to the beach and put my head in the water. Then the patrol boats came.”

Death toll soars 

Fire service spokeswoman Stavroula Maliri raised the overall death toll on Tuesday to 74 from an earlier count of 60.

She said the toll was not yet final since firefighters were still searching for victims.

Winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) in Mati caused a “sudden progression of fire” through the village, said Stavroula Maliri.

“Mati no longer exists,” said the mayor of nearby Rafina, Evangelos Bournous. He added that more than a thousand buildings and 300 cars had been damaged.

The national government had earlier said at least 172 people were hurt, including 16 children, with 11 adults in a serious condition.

Officials said they were Greece’s deadliest blazes in more than a decade.

At least five people died trying to escape the flames into the sea. Some 715 people were evacuated by boats to Rafina, the government said.

“People are shocked, lost. Some of them have lost everything: children, parents, homes,” said Red Cross spokeswoman Georgia Trisbioti.

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cut short a visit to Bosnia to return home. He announced three days of national mourning.

Anticipating questions about the high death toll and the emergency planning, Tsipras stressed the “extreme” scale of the fires.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said “15 fires had started simultaneously on three different fronts in Athens” on Monday.

The European Union activated its Civil Protection Mechanism after Greece sought help. Several countries said they were sending aircraft to help fight the flames.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted Tuesday that the EU “will spare no effort to help Greece and the Greek people”.

 40-degree heat 

Tsipras said “all emergency forces” have been mobilised to battle the fires.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said Tuesday the priority was to extinguish a fire that was still burning in Kineta, 50 kilometres from Athens.

Near the town of Marathon, residents fled to safety along the beach, while 600 children were evacuated from holiday camps in the area.

Officials raised the possibility the blazes could have been started deliberately by criminals out to ransack abandoned homes.

“I am really concerned by the parallel outbreak of these fires,” Tsipras said.

Supreme court prosecutors announced they had opened an investigation into the causes of the fire.

Fires are a common problem in Greece during the summer. Blazes in 2007 on the southern island of Evia claimed 77 lives.

Temperatures have climbed to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) but showers and falling temperatures were expected later in Athens.

 Fires across Europe 

Wildfires have also caused widespread damage in northern Europe in recent days.

Sweden is experiencing an unprecedented drought and the highest temperatures in a century. It has counted more than 20 fires across the country.

In Finland’s northernmost Lapland province fires have ravaged woods and grassland close to the border with Russia.

Norway, which experienced its hottest May temperatures on record, has also seen several small fires. One firefighter was killed on July 15 trying to contain a blaze.

Fires have raged for five days in Latvia, destroying more than 1,000 hectares in the Baltic state’s western regions.

The German Meteorological Service DWD warned of a significant risk of fires in fields and forests due to drought.

In the Netherlands, a wildfire broke out over about four hectares Tuesday in the central nature reserve of Hoge Velume, known for its red deer and wild boar, Dutch media said.

The fire brigade brought the blaze quickly under control.

AFP

Salah-less Egypt Lose To Greece In World Cup Warm-up

Salah-less Egypt Lose To Greece
Egypt’s Omar Gaber (L) fights for the ball with Greece’s Dimitrios Pelkas during their international friendly football match at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on March 27, 2018. MICHELE LIMINA / AFP

 

Liverpool goal machine Mohamed Salah sat on the bench as Egypt barely created a chance when losing 1-0 to Greece Tuesday on a mixed night for African World Cup hopefuls.

Tunisia and Morocco won for the second time during the FIFA international window, but Senegal drew again and Nigeria lost after winning last weekend.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Salah has scored 36 goals in 41 appearances for Liverpool this season — 11 less than the record held by Ian Rush.

But Egypt coach Hector Cuper deemed the striker surplus to requirements in Swiss city Zurich and his decision backfired as the Pharaohs were outplayed.

The lone goal came after 29 minutes when Nikos Karelis soared unmarked to nod a cross into the net.

Greece dominated the second half against the seven-time African champions, who are back at the World Cup after a 28-year absence.

Salah scored last Friday against Portugal before Egypt conceded two stoppage-time goals to Cristiano Ronaldo and lost 2-1 against the European champions.

Tunisia, returning to the global showpiece after missing the last two tournaments, edged fellow qualifiers Costa Rica 1-0 in French city Nice.

Wahbi Khazri, on loan to Ligue 1 outfit Rennes from English second-tier strugglers Sunderland, scored the winner nine minutes before half-time.

It was the second solitary goal victory within five days for the Carthage Eagles after an own-goal brought success over Iran, another Russia-bound nation.

Ayoub el Kaabi, the nine-goal star of the recent African Nations Championship for home-based footballers, opened the scoring as Morocco overcame Uzbekistan 2-0 in Casablanca.

Victory for the Atlas Lions followed a win over Serbia in Turin and maintained impressive recent form under French coach Herve Renard.

After surprisingly winning in Poland, Nigeria disappointed when falling 2-0 to Serbia in London, where Aleksandar Mitrovic bagged a brace.

“We are a work in progress,” admitted Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr after a match controlled by the Serbs, who will not be going to the World Cup.

Senegal drew 0-0 with Bosnia and Herzogovina in French city Le Havre having also drawn with Uzbekistan in another World Cup warm-up.

In a match not involving World Cup qualifiers, Tanzania mocked the FIFA world rankings by beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-0 in Dar es Salaam.

Mbwana Samatta and Shiza Kichuya scored for the Taifa Stars, who are 107 places below the Leopards.

AFP

14 Migrants Die As Boat Capsizes Off Greece

FILE PHOTO

 

At least 14 migrants, including four children, died when a boat carrying about 20 people capsized overnight in the Aegean Sea, Greek police said Saturday.

The boat was ferrying migrants from Turkey to Greece. Police recovered eight more bodies after the corpses of a man, a woman and four children surfaced off the island of Agathonissi.

Two women and a man who managed to swim to safety sounded the alarm. Survivors said the boat was carrying 21 people, according to port officials.

A patrol boat, a military helicopter and three fishing vessels are taking part in the rescue operation and officials are waiting for reinforcements from Frontex, the European border agency.

Frontex said last month that in 2017, the European Union saw the lowest number of detected illegal border-crossings since the migrant crisis began four years ago.

The number dwindled to 204,700 from 1.8 million in 2015, it said. The drop was especially observed on the eastern Mediterranean migratory route which connects Turkey to Greece, and the central Mediterranean route connecting Libya to Italy.

The EU last year reached deal with Turkey in 2016, which sharply reduced the number of people crossing to Greece.

It has been criticised by humanitarian workers as it stipulates that all arrivals will be sent back to Turkey, including Syrian refugees. Greece is also detaining thousands of migrants in overcrowded squalid camps.

AFP

At Least 13 Dead In Greece Flash flood

A person walks past debris and a downed power line in a flooded street in the town of Mandra, northwest of Athens, on November 15, 2017,
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

At least 13 people died on Wednesday and more were missing after a strong overnight downpour flooded three towns in Greece, officials said.

The flooding struck the towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara, a semi-rural area west of Athens where many factories and warehouses are based.

Television images showed tanker trucks, buses and lorries nearly completely submerged in the muddy torrent snaking through entire neighbourhoods.

The dead included a handful of people who perished inside or near their homes, a truck driver, a hunter, and two men who were carried by the raging water miles (kilometres) away to the sea.

More than a dozen people were rescued from an intercity bus, while others fled a Johnson & Johnson factory whose outer wall collapsed.

“We have confirmation of seven deaths,” deputy regional governor Yiannis Vassileiou earlier told state-run TV network ERT as rain continued to fall.

“The weather forecast is poor, so we are on alert,” he said, adding that “torrents of water” had flooded a highway all the way to the sea.

“A river of debris went through Mandra… This is unprecedented,” Vassileiou said.

“Everything is lost, the disaster is biblical,” Mandra mayor Ioanna Kriekouki told the station.

“We have people who are trapped… we need machinery to get them out of their homes,” said Kriekouki, who was also immobilised in her home.

Parts of the area were without electricity, and authorities said many people would need shelter for the night.

“Access to the area is difficult, debris has nearly reached the height of homes,” said fire department spokesman Yiannis Kapakis.

The deputy governor said rubble-clearing equipment had been moved to the area but could not be used until the water levels subside.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the deaths had been caused by a “disastrous flood” and expressed deep sorrow for the deaths.

The fire service said it had received more than 300 calls for help and dispatched over 120 firemen to the area.

AFP

World War (II) Bomb Forces Huge Greek Evacuation

greekAt least 70,000 people are being evacuated to enable the defusion of the World War (II) bomb in the Greek city.

It is said to be one of the largest mass evacuations over one of the largest wartime bombs to be found in Greece.

Officials could not tell if the bomb, which was discovered last week during road works, is German or an allied bomb

Residents within a radius of about 2 km of the bomb have however been compelled to evacuate the area between ahead of Sunday morning when the defusion is expected to take place.

About 1,000 police officers and 300 volunteers will be deployed ahead of the disposal operation.

Australian Open: Serena Williams Through To Fourth Round

Serena Williams, Australian OpenSerena Williams has beaten fellow American Nicole Gibbs to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The world number two won 6-1 6-3 in 63 minutes on Saturday.

She is chasing a 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The 35-year-old six-time champion will play Czech’s Barbora Strycova, who also beat France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2 7-5.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova came through a dramatic match to beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

She goes on to face Britain’s Johanna Konta, who trashed Caroline Wozniaki 6-3 6-1.

Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni also advanced to the last 16 for the first time with a 3-6 6-2 6-3 win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Yusuf Invites 26 Players For Super Eagles Friendlies

Super Eagles-Salisu Yusuf-Eagles FriendliesSuper Eagles Head Coach, Salisu Yusuf, has called up 26 players for the international friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe.

The three-time African champions would take on the Les Aiglons of Mali in France on May 27 before flying to Luxembourg to play the country’s national team on June 1.

Yusuf, who was installed as interim Head Coach by the Nigeria Football Federation last week, picked a relatively young squad that also includes former U-20 and former U-23 players.

All the invitees in the goalkeeper categories are: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa), and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Sunshine Stars).

The defenders invited are: Abdullahi Shehu (Uniao da Madeira, Portugal), Musa Muhammed (Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France), Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa SK, Turkey), Leon Balogun (Mainz 05, Germany), Gbenga Arokoyo (Gaziantepspor, Turkey), William Troost Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway), and Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal).

For the midfielders, players called up are: Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England), Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk, Belgium), Raheem Lawal (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), and Etebo Oghenekaro (SC Farense, Portugal).

The players invited in the forward category are: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium), Victor Moses (West Ham United, England), Odion Ighalo (Watford FC, England), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England), Aminu Umar (Osmanlispor FK, Turkey), Aaron Samuel (CSKA Moscow, Russia), and Brown Ideye (Olympiakos FC, Greece).

Migrant Crisis: EU, Turkey Close In On Deal

Migrant- Ahmet Davutoglu and Donald TuskThe EU and Turkey said that they are close to reaching a deal on how to ease the migration crisis at a summit in Brussels.

European Council President, Donald Tusk on Tuesday, said that irregular migrants arriving in Greece will be returned to Turkey.

For each migrant returned, Turkey wants the EU to accept a Syrian refugee on a one-for-one basis, and offer more funding and progress on EU integration.

Mr Tusk said that leaders had made a “breakthrough”, and he was hopeful of concluding a deal next week.

He said the progress sent “a very clear message that the days of irregular migration to Europe are over”.

Talks would continue ahead of an EU meeting scheduled for March 17 and 18.

Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since world war two. Most migrants came via Turkey, which is already sheltering more than 2.7 million refugees from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.