UK Completes Repatriation Of Thomas Cook Passengers

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Britain’s government on Monday completed the country’s biggest peacetime repatriation that returned 140,000 UK-based Thomas Cook customers stranded abroad after the collapse of the holiday operator.

The final flight arrived at 8.31 am (0731 GMT), touching down at Manchester airport in northern England from Orlando, Florida, said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The flight, with 392 passengers onboard, marks the end of two-week-long Operation Matterhorn — Britain’s biggest repatriation since World War II.

Matterhorn, which involved 150 aircraft from 50 partners worldwide, “required an extraordinary effort from all involved,” CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty said in a statement.

Moriarty paid tribute “to the many amazing former Thomas Cook employees” who helped to make the operation successful.

“It needed an unprecedented team effort from our commercial partners, our friends across government and my colleagues at the CAA,” he added.

The regulator on Monday said it would now launch its largest ever customer reimbursement programme under the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) scheme.

The scheme is a safety net, based on an EU directive and managed by the CAA, which covers tourists who have bought all-inclusive trips with flights and hotels.

“We know that customers are devastated by the cancellation of their holidays,” Moriarty said.

“Those who bought a Thomas Cook ATOL-protected holiday are entitled to a full refund of all the money they have paid towards the cost of their holiday.

“In addition to this, ATOL protected passengers that were abroad when the company went into liquidation might be able to claim for out of pocket expenses.”

Debt-plagued Thomas Cook, which struggled against fierce online competition for years and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a drop in bookings, declared bankruptcy on September 23 after failing to secure fresh funds.

AFP

Gunmen Kill 14 Bus Passengers In Pakistan

 

Gunmen killed at least 14 people after forcing them to disembark from buses in Pakistan’s Balochistan, officials said Thursday, in the latest attack claimed by separatists in the restive southwestern province.

The attackers, who numbered around two dozen, were wearing uniforms of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, provincial home secretary Haider Ali told AFP.

They “stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway and gunned down 14 people”, he said, adding that the four vehicles were travelling to the port megacity of Karachi from the coastal town of Ormara.

The gunmen identified non-Baloch passengers by their identity cards and shot them, he said. All the victims are believed to be Pakistani, with a naval official and a coast guard member among the dead.

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The attack was claimed by a Baloch separatist group. A militant spokesman denied that any civilian passengers had been killed and said the group had only targeted coast guard and navy service members.

Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s poorest province and the largest by landmass, with Islamist as well as ethnic Baloch separatists active there.

Pakistani security forces have been targeting insurgents in the province since 2004, and have also been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there. The military denies the allegations.

Provincial home minister Mir Zia Langov told AFP a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack, and authorities are trying to track down the gunmen, who he said had fled the scene.

“Such incidents are intolerable and we will not spare the terrorists who carried out this dastardly attack,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the killings in a statement from his office.

 Poorest province 

The attack came less than a week after a suicide blast claimed by the Islamic State group in the provincial capital Quetta killed 20 people.

Balochistan is also host to a number of major projects under the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The massive infrastructure project seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

But it has also drawn its share of attacks, particularly by separatists who have long complained that residents do not receive a fair share of profits from the province’s resources.

Violence in Pakistan has dropped significantly since the country’s deadliest-ever militant attack, an assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 people — most of them children.

But militants still retain the ability to carry out attacks, and analysts have long warned that Pakistan is yet to tackle the root causes of extremism.

AFP

Police Rescue Kidnapped Passengers In Rivers

The Rivers State Police Command has announced the rescue of 14 persons who were kidnapped while travelling in a commercial bus along the Ndele/Rumuji axis of the state.

Gunmen had abducted the passengers on Monday night and dragged them into the bush. Initial reports had indicated that 11 passengers were abducted.

But the police today put the figure at 14.

According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, the rescue comes after a major operation in the four communities – Ndele, Rumuji, Rumuekpe and Ebele – around the area.

The Police PRO said the command eventually rescued those abducted after combing the bushes and using tear gas in spots believed to house the kidnappers’ den.n the process, the kidnappers abandoned their victims.

In the process, he said, the kidnappers abandoned their victims.

Gunmen Attack Bus, Abduct Passengers In Rivers

Gunmen abducted 11 people from a bus as they travelled close to Nigeria’s southern oil hub Port Harcourt late on Monday, a passenger who escaped from the attack told AFP.

The region near Port Harcourt is a known hotspot for kidnappings by groups looking to receive ransom pay-offs and was the scene of an abduction that saw 16 people snatched earlier this month.

“They ambushed us at about 9.00 pm… and after asking us to come out from the bus, they tried to take us inside the bush. But five of us escaped before police and military personnel arrived,” said Amiekro Princewill.

Security forces searched the area following the attack, according to another passenger who managed to escape the gunmen.

“They had gone far into the forest with the victims before the security operatives arrived,” said the escapee, Bright Belekwe.

“Hoodlums ambushed us and tried to take us inside the bush. I and four others escaped before police personnel arrived at the scene.”

The kidnapping is the third such incident in just two months.

Rivers State Police Commissioner Ahmed Zaki confirmed the kidnapping at a press conference at command’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, adding that efforts to locate the victims were ongoing.

“The incident is quite unfortunate and the police is on top of the situation in ensuring that the hoodlums are arrested and brought to book,” he said.

Kidnapping for ransom used to be confined to Nigeria’s oil-rich south, where criminal gangs would typically target expatriate workers.

But the practice has spread across the country as the economy has faltered with Control Risks consultancy warning that the phenomenon has become “entrenched” nationwide.

Nnamdi Obasi, senior Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group, said poverty had made “anybody” a target and had led to a rise in “spontaneous” kidnappings.

Most victims are usually released unhurt after ransom money is paid.

AFP

FRSC Confirms Four Dead,Analyses Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Situation

Lagos-Ibadan expressway, gridlock, Tanker accident,One more person has been confirmed dead, by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Marshall, Boboye Oyeyemi, bringing the death toll of the Lagos-Ibadan express way accident, to Four.

He also made the confirmation that five, not four vehicles as against Wednesday’s report, were involved, while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily.

Mr Oyeyemi, explaining the situation that led up to the recent road congestion, said:

“The Lagos Ibadan expressway has the highest traffic density in the country, of about 25,000 vehicles per hour.”

Hence, the need for the ongoing road construction, aimed at expanding the roads from two-way lanes to three.

He explained that “when this kind of construction is on-going, there is bound to be such chaotic situation, however, even before the construction started, there have been series of traffic alerts by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)”.

After rescue efforts were completed, on Wednesday, the aftermath of the accident was the gridlock which commuters still have to suffer a day or more after.

The FRSC Boss, explaining further said:

“All those tankers, trailers that were packed because of the gridlock yesterday, started moving, and because the inbound lane had been shut down for repairs, leaving only one lane, there is bound to be a band-wagon effect.

“When those tankers are moving, there’s no way for any other vehicle to attempt to over-take,” he said.

He however stated that his men had worked over-night and were still on ground, while suggesting that “what we require now, is traffic redistribution.

“All those trailers should be re-routed so that there can be flow of traffic for smaller vehicles and buses,” he stated.

Mr Oyeyemi, then suggested three ways by which the situation could be abated.

He said, vehicles could re-route through Lekki-epe, Ikorodu or Sango-ota, Abeokuta routes.

However to make that move possible, he hinted that he would be relocating from Abuja to Lagos on Thursday, so that proper discussion could be held on how to further ease the situation.

The ghastly accident occurred when a tanker collided with another truck, causing a fire explosion, on a major bridge along Lagos-Ibadan expressway, in the early hours of Wednesday.

The prompt deployment of men of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), NSCDC, fire service and the police prevented the situation from escalating further.

Three Confirmed Dead In Diesel Tanker Accident

Tanker accident, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, gridlockThree persons have been confirmed dead on Wednesday, after an accident that occurred on the Lagos-Ibadan express way.

The ghastly accident occurred when a tanker collided with another truck, causing a fire explosion, on a major bridge along Lagos-Ibadan expressway, in the early hours of Wednesday.

The roads reached a gridlock following the incident, although traffic officials have been working to ease the road tension so far, and joint evacuation efforts were being carried out by men of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), NSCDC, fire service and the police.

FRSC Marshall, Boboye Oyeyemi, explaining the situation that led up to the recent road congestion, said:

“The Lagos Ibadan expressway has the highest traffic density in the country, of about 25,000 vehicles per hour.”

Hence, the need for the ongoing road construction, aimed at expanding the roads from two-way lanes to three.

He explained that “when this kind of construction is on-going, there is bound to be such chaotic situation, however, even before the construction started, there have been series of traffic alerts by the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)”.

As early as 3:30am on Wednesday, traffic already started building-up, in what many thought was the usual traffic, which started last week due to the re-construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Unknown to them, the ghastly accident had just occurred, involving goods-laden truck, diesel tanker and some vehicles.

According to passers-by, vehicles heading toward the axis were diverted to the inward-Lagos lane as officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) cordoned off the outward Lagos-lane.

A bus driver giving account of the event said he got caught up in the traffic which he thought was due to the u-turn before Secretariat bus-stop, but on getting to the u-turn, he saw FRSC officials diverting vehicles to the inward-Lagos lane.

Tanker accident, Lagos-IbadanVehicles that were already ahead on the cordoned off lane started making a u-turn to join the inward-Lagos lane on sighting the diesel tanker accident.

Public vehicles that are Mowe-Ibafo bound, began dropping off passengers at Berger bus-stop, refusing to go further because of the situation, with passengers left with no other choice than to trek from Berger to their various destinations.

Another eye-witness who requested anonymity, explained that the failure of the fuel tanker’s brake system caused it to lose control and collide with the truck.

Thanks to the prompt alertness of the FRSC, LASEMA, Lagos State Firefighters, and Police who were able to bring the situation under control with rescue operations still ongoing.

FRSC Officials however warned motorists that were now driving against traffic, to be careful.

Petrol Tanker accidentA spokesman for the FRSC told Channels Television that immediately the event occurred, “Our men, LASEMA and many other emergency response organizations, rushed to the scene of the accident.

He believes that the accident was as a result of indiscipline of drivers.

“What you have seen is a classical example of indiscipline that has been happening on this road, since the commencement of the rehabilitation of the roads.

“As you can see, there are about four vehicles involved, which means two-lane carriage way had been converted to four-lanes and as a result, they struck themselves and there was a crash and also an explosion of fire.

He however, gave the assurance that the debris would be cleared while the traffic would ease as soon as possible.

13 People Killed in California Tour Bus Crash

Accident, Palm Springs, Los AngelesOfficial reports say 13 people were killed in southern California, US after a tour bus ran into the back of a lorry.  

The crash which occurred on Interstate 10, near Palm Springs on Sunday, also left 30 people with various degrees of injury. Five of the injured passengers are reportedly in critical condition.

Most of the passengers are believed to be from Latin America and were on their way to Los Angeles.

Officials say they are investigating what may have caused the crash. One of the theories they are working with is whether the truck driver had fallen asleep or had a heart attack before the bus veered into the rear of the lorry.

They are also looking to see if it could have been caused by some sort of mechanical failure.

The lorry involved in the accident damaged extensively and clear-up operations have started at the crash site.

The crash has been called the ‘deadliest’ in California for many decades as officials say identifying victims of the accident could take a couple of days.

Ogun Set To Curb Commercial Cycle-Related Crimes

The Ogun state government has introduced new reflective jackets to be worn henceforth by commercial motorcycle riders known as “okada riders” across the state.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Transportation, Barrister Gbenga Opesanwo who made this known while speaking to newsmen in Abeokuta indicated that it is part of the measures put in place by the government to ensure safety of passengers and their luggages.

Opesanwo said the policy which had been approved by the State Executive Council made it mandatory for all commercial motorcyclists to obtain identification cards, registered reflective jacket which has serial riders permit number conspicuously written on them.

According to him, the identification numbers and units of all riders would be computerised, pointing out that if a passenger or security agent reports any of them for committing any crime, the information stored would become handy to track them.

“Apparently, there are bad eggs among commercial motorcycle riders who had been involved in crimes like kidnapping, raping, smuggling and other social vices, this new reflective jackets would help put a stop to all these, because even where they succeed to escape, the reflective jackets with all the information registered against their name would make it easier to trace them” said Opesanwo.

He added that apart from promoting security and safety of passengers and luggage, the wine colour reflective jacket would also prevent night accidents as well as assist in differentiating between private and commercial motorcyclists.

Barrister Opesanwo therefore enjoined members of the public who patronize the motorcyclists to first of all take note of the information written on their uniform so that they could recall such in case of eventualities.

NCAA Proposed Rules:Airlines asked to review schedules to delays

In the area of flight delays from airlines,the NCAA decided to step in as passengers can begin to heave a sigh of relief.

The Nigerian Civial Aviation Authority asked airlines to reduce their frequencies when necessary to avoid this recurring situation.