Egypt Independent: World-Main news en 20 miners rescued, five still missing in Nicaragua collapse <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Twenty miners trapped underground for more than 24 hours have been rescued after a cave-in at an unlicensed gold mine in Nicaragua, but five more workers were still missing.<br /><br />&quot;We give thanks to God our Lord and the Virgin Mary for having saved from death 20 artisanal miners,&quot; First Lady Rosario Murillo, the presidential spokeswoman, told reporters.<br /><br />Murillo said five miners had &quot;not surfaced&quot; and rescue crews were still working to locate them.<br /><br />&quot;Hopefully we can find them in the coming hours,&quot; she said.<br /><br />The miners were pulled out one at a time using a pulley system installed late Friday near the pit where they had been trapped.<br /><br />Most younger than 30, they were &quot;pretty tired, exhausted, dehydrated, muddy and dirty,&quot; an AFP photographer on the scene said.<br /><br />They were immediately embraced by family members, who had stayed nearby since the accident, and then taken to the nearest hospital.<br /><br />There had been 28 &quot;guiriseros,&quot; or informal gold miners, working in the shaft when the mouth of the mine caved in because of a landslide triggered by heavy downpours, early Thursday morning.<br /><br />Two workers buried near the surface had earlier managed to dig their way out after the collapse in the remote village of El Comal in northeastern Nicaragua, according to the local disaster prevention committee.<br /><br />Authorities had said earlier they were trying to confirm whether any miners had died, noting that the incident happened in a hard-to-reach area with poor communication.<br /><br />A local TV station showed what appeared to be the body of a dead miner being recovered.<br /><br />The accident happened at an artisanal mine near the town of Bonanza, which is perched on the side of a hill, in a region that is home to Nicaragua&#39;s biggest gold mines.<br /><br />Desperate relatives initially tried to dig through to the trapped miners before being stymied by the unstable terrain, news reports said.<br /><br />Word of the collapse only emerged late Thursday because the site is so remote, local disaster official Martha Lagos said.<br /><br /><strong>Modern gold rush</strong><br /><br />Business has boomed over the past decade for Nicaragua&#39;s &quot;guiriseros&quot; as the price of gold has risen from less than US$400 an ounce to more than $1,200.<br /><br />They descend into old shafts that have been abandoned by conventional mining companies and look for remaining gold or dig even deeper to find new veins.<br /><br />But the work can be perilous.<br /><br />The scene of the collapse &quot;is very high-risk and only they know the site because as the superficial veins of gold run out, they have to dig deeper and deeper in underground tunnels,&quot; said Lagos.<br /><br />Informal gold mining is the main source of employment in Bonanza, where officials estimate there are 6,000 &quot;guiriseros.&quot;<br /><br />Many of them have migrated there from other parts of the country in a modern-day gold rush.<br /><br />Bonanza&#39;s population has jumped in the past decade from around 8,000 people to 40,000, said Lagos.<br /><br />Locals can earn $1,500 to $3,000 a month selling gold to foreign mining companies -- a relative fortune in Nicaragua.<br /><br />Some informal miners work independently, while others are organized into officially authorized cooperatives.<br /><br />Bonanza forms one point of the Central American country&#39;s so-called &quot;mining triangle&quot; in the remote Autonomous North Atlantic Region.<br /><br />The latest accident comes four years after 33 workers were trapped deep inside Chile&#39;s San Jose copper and gold mine for more than two months, a drama that captured worldwide attention.<br /><br />It took rescuers 17 days to drill a small shaft to establish contact, and more than two months of painstaking effort to open a passage wide enough to pull them out one by one.</p> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:22:00 +0000 AFP 2438209 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/08/30/39/nicaragua.jpg Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The West African state of Senegal became the fifth country to be hit by the world&#39;s worst Ebola outbreak on Friday, while riots broke out in neighboring Guinea&#39;s remote southeast where infection rates are rising fast.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the latest sign that the outbreak of the virus, which has already killed at least 1,550 people, is spinning out of control, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Ebola cases rose last week at the fastest pace since the epidemic began in West Africa in March.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The epidemic has defied efforts by governments to control it, prompting the leading charity fighting the outbreak, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), to call for the UN Security Council to take charge of efforts to stop it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Including the fatalities, more than 3,000 have been infected since the virus was detected in the remote jungles of southeastern Guinea in March and quickly spread across the border to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It has also touched Nigeria, where six people have died.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sierra Leone&#39;s President Ernest Bai Koroma dismissed his Health Minister Miatta Kargbo on Friday over her handling of the epidemic, which has killed more than 400 people in the former British colony.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Liberia&#39;s Information Minister Lewis Brown said that two African healthcare workers treated with the experimental ZMapp Ebola drug would be released from hospital on Saturday, after making a full recovery.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Scientists on Friday also reported that ZMapp, the drug that last week cured two American aid workers who contracted the disease in Liberia, had cured all 18 lab monkeys infected with the virus in laboratory tests.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Senegal&#39;s first case is a student from Guinea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Senegalese Health Minister Awa Marie Coll Seck said the man turned up for treatment at a hospital in the capital Dakar on Tuesday, concealing the fact that he had had close contact with victims in his home country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We are tracing his whole itinerary and also identifying anyone who had contact with the patient, who now that he has been diagnosed is much more cooperative and supplied all the necessary information,&quot; the minister said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Health Ministry official, who asked not to be named, said that the 21-year-old crossed into Senegal via its southern border with Guinea and had been living in the densely populated Dakar suburb of Parcelles Assainies for weeks. He added that the man appeared to have a good chance of recovering.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The man had been under surveillance by health authorities in Guinea because of his contact with Ebola victims but escaped to Senegal, Seck said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Residents in Dakar reacted with anger and concern. &quot;When you are sick, why do you leave your own country to export the disease to another?&quot; asked radio host Taib Soce on RFM, a popular station owned by Senegalese music star Youssou N&#39;dour.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, Senegal last week banned flights to and from three of the affected countries and shut its land border with Guinea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The country, a regional hub for UN agencies and aid groups, has also refused to give clearance for UN aid flights to Ebola-hit countries in a move that humanitarian workers say is hampering their ability to respond to the epidemic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Catastrophe warning</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The director of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned on Friday of a &quot;catastrophe&quot; if emergency action were not taken immediately to reverse the trend of rising cases.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There is time to avoid a catastrophe but only if immediate and urgent action is taken at every level,&quot; Tom Frieden said in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that the actual number of Ebola cases could be up to four times higher than reported and said 20,000 people in total could be infected before the outbreak ends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the remote southeastern Guinean city of Nzerekore, riots broke out on Thursday night over rumours that health workers had infected people with Ebola, a Red Cross official and residents said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The government of Guinea says it has the epidemic under control, but the number of cases has flared up in southern Guinea, a trend the government blames on people spilling over the borders from Liberia and Sierra Leone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A crowd of young men, some armed with clubs and knives, set up barricades across Nzerekore on Thursday and threatened to attack the hospital before security forces moved in to restore order. Gunshots were fired and several people were injured, said Youssouf Traore, president of the Guinean Red Cross.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;A rumour, which was totally false, spread that we had sprayed the market in order to transmit the virus to locals,&quot; Traore said. &quot;People revolted and resorted to violence, prompting soldiers to intervene.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Local Red Cross workers had to flee to the military camp with their medical equipment. Another resident said the security forces were preventing people leaving their neighborhoods overnight. More than 400 people have died in Guinea, though the infection rate is slower than in Liberia and Sierra Leone.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Financial support</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Liberian government said it would end its quarantine of the oceanfront West Point neighborhood of its capital Monrovia at 0600 GMT on Saturday after residents there cooperated with authorities in putting in place health checks and public education about the disease.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Soldiers opened fire on angry West Point residents last week when the quarantine was imposed, following an attack days before on a holding center for Ebola victims in the teeming district.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The WHO, on Thursday, unveiled a $490 million road map to bring the outbreak under control over the next nine months.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it may give more support to affected countries. &quot;We&#39;re working on a financing package subject to the approval of the IMF Executive Board to help Liberia along with Guinea and Sierra Leone mitigate any socio-economic impacts of the epidemic,&quot; IMF Liberia representative Charles Amo-Yartey said on Friday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Freetown, a new WHO-backed mobile laboratory opened this week, speeding up the time needed to test suspected cases.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But often financial pledges have not translated into more clinics and staff on the ground, said Jorge Castilla, epidemiologist with the European Commission&#39;s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I&#39;ve seen many declarations, I see treatment centers on the maps but I know they are not working,&quot; he said in an interview after a trip to the affected countries.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Suspicion of healthcare workers has dogged government responses to the Ebola outbreak across West Africa.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Frightened by the sight of healthcare workers clad from head to toe in plastic protective gear and wearing protective masks, many locals have shunned their assistance, often preferring to die in their own homes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So far, more than 120 healthcare workers have died in the epidemic. Liberia reported five new cases of infection among them in a single day this week.</div> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:51:00 +0000 Reuters 2438206 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/08/30/484151/ebola.jpg UN says 43 Golan peacekeepers seized by Syria militants, 81 trapped <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Militants fighting the Syrian army have detained 43 UN peacekeepers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and trapped another 81 in the region, and the world body is working to secure their release, the United Nations said on Thursday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The affected peacekeepers are from the Philippines and Fiji, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;During a period of increased fighting beginning yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, 43 peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained early this morning by an armed group in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah,&quot; the UN. press office said in a statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It added that another 81 UNDOF peacekeepers were being restricted to their positions in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah. Dujarric said the 81 trapped troops were from the Philippines and the 43 seized ones from Fiji.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore the full freedom of movement of the force throughout its area of operation,&quot; it said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Britain&#39;s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, president of the Security Council this month, told reporters the trapped peacekeepers were surrounded by Islamist militants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 15-nation Security Council, which was meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria, was also discussing the issue of the kidnapped peacekeepers, Lyall Grant said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Philippine army said in a statement that militants and had surrounded the Philippine contingent&rsquo;s encampments with Fijian hostages in tow and demanded that the Filipino troops surrender their firearms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The Philippine peacekeepers held their ground and demonstrated their resolve to defend their positions,&quot; it said. &quot;They did not surrender their firearms as they may in turn be held hostage themselves.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Security Council issued a statement strongly condemning the seizure of the peacekeepers and calling for their immediate release. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed the council word&#39;s in his own statement of condemnation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Reporters asked Dujarric if the United Nations was in contact with the group holding the Fijians. He declined to specify who the world body was in contact with but said there was communication under way. &quot;There are contacts being held at different levels, on the mission and on the ground,&quot; he said. &quot;They are talking to representatives of various armed groups that they have ... operational contact with. They are talking to countries in the region.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dujarric was also asked about the rules for peacekeepers in such situations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;In extreme circumstances, these troops are trained and prepared and equipped to defend themselves, but, obviously, each situation has to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Fiji army chief says committed</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>UN officials say that the peacekeepers, whose job is to monitor the cessation of hostilities, carry small arms that are only to be used in extreme circumstances. In previous situations where UNDOF peacekeepers were held hostage, the troops did not use their weapons.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Quneitra crossing on the Golan is a strategic plateau captured by Israel in a 1967 Middle East war. Syria and Israel technically remain at war. Syrian troops are not allowed in an area of separation under a 1973 ceasefire formalized in 1974.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>UNDOF monitors the area of separation, a narrow strip of land running about 45 miles (70 km) from Mount Hermon on the Lebanese border to the Yarmouk River frontier with Jordan. There are 1,223 UNDOF peacekeepers from six countries.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Before the Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, the region was generally quiet and the peacekeepers had mostly found their biggest enemy to be boredom.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The force&#39;s personnel come from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines. The United Nations said this week that the Philippines has decided to pull out of UNDOF, and from a UN force in Liberia, which is struggling with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Blue-helmeted UN troops were seized by militants in March and May 2013. In both of those cases they were released safely.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Austria, Japan and Croatia have all pulled their troops out of UNDOF due to the deteriorating security situation and spillover from the Syrian war.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Fijian Army Commander Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga told Reuters in an interview on Friday that he would not be recommending to his government that Fiji follow suit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If I was to make any recommendation, I would increase our forces in Syria. That would be my recommendation,&quot; he said by phone from Fiji.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We will not make any recommendations of pulling out from the UN or any other engagement, because our contribution to UN peacekeeping - if we don&#39;t want to do this, then who else in the world would want to do this?&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added that he was confident the Fijians would be released soon based on the strength of their contacts in the Golan Heights region.</div> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:46:00 +0000 Reuters 2438198 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/08/29/484151/un_tank.jpg Separatists say will allow 'trapped' Ukrainian forces to withdraw <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Pro-Moscow rebels fighting in Ukraine said on Friday they would comply with a request from the Kremlin and open up a &#39;humanitarian corridor&#39; to allow the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops they have encircled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was not clear how the government in Kiev would react to the offer, suggested first by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but the first word from the Ukrainian military was negative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It said in a statement that Putin&#39;s call showed only that &quot;these people (the separatists) are led and controlled directly from the Kremlin&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kiev has accused Russian troops of illegally entering eastern Ukraine and, backed by its US and European allies, has said it will fight to defend its soil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Russia stands accused of pushing troops and weapons into the former Soviet republic to shore up a separatist rebellion that a week ago appeared to be on its last legs. That development has sharply escalated the five-month conflict over eastern Ukraine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In his late-night statement, released by the Kremlin, Putin adopted a softer tone, though without acknowledging that Russia&#39;s military is involved in the conflict.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It is clear that the rebellion has achieved some serious successes in stopping the armed operation by Kiev,&quot; Putin was quoted as saying in the statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I call on the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine servicemen in order to avoid pointless victims, to allow them to leave the fighting area without impediment, join their families ... to provide urgent medical aid to those wounded as a result of the military operation.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hours later, Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the main rebel entity in eastern Ukraine, told a Russian television station his forces were ready to let the encircled Ukrainian troops pull out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He said they would have to leave behind their heavy armored vehicles and ammunition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Russian troops</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an urgent meeting of security chiefs late on Thursday to work out how to respond to rapid advances made by rebels in the south of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He told the meeting that the situation was &quot;extraordinarily difficult ... but controllable&quot; after Russian-backed rebels seized the town of Novoazovsk in the southeast, on the shore of the Azov Sea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier Poroshenko said he had canceled a visit to Turkey because of the &quot;rapidly deteriorating situation&quot; in the eastern Donetsk region, &quot;as Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In comments overnight, Ukrainian Defence Minister Valery Heletey accused Russia of giving &quot;a criminal order&quot; sending paratroopers and military equipment into Ukraine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many Russian soldiers had been captured and many killed, he said. &quot;Unfortunately, they have been buried simply under building rubbish. We are trying to find their bodies to return them to their mothers for burial,&quot; Heletey said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Russia&#39;s defense ministry again denied the presence of its soldiers in Ukraine, using language redolent of the Cold War.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have noticed the launch of this informational &#39;canard&#39; and are obliged to disappoint its overseas authors and their few apologists in Russia,&quot; a ministry official, General-Major Igor Konashenkov, told Interfax news agency. &quot;The information contained in this material bears no relation to reality.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But some skeptical Western governments appeared to be running out of patience with Moscow&#39;s denials.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Referring to talks that Putin held with Poroshenko just two days ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: &quot;It is simply not enough to engage in talks in Minsk, while Russian tanks continue to roll over the border into Ukraine. Such activity must cease immediately.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Poland&#39;s foreign minister said Russian &quot;aggression&quot; had created the most serious security crisis in Europe for decades. A top NATO official said Russia had significantly escalated its &quot;military interference&quot; in Ukraine in the past two weeks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We assess well over 1,000 Russian troops are now operating inside Ukraine,&quot; said Dutch Brigadier-General Nico Tak, head of NATO&#39;s crisis management center. &quot;They are supporting separatists (and) fighting with them.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Moscow, and both Russia and NATO have stepped up military exercises, creating the tensest East-West standoff since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States is considering a number of options in response to Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine and believes increasing sanctions are the &quot;most effective tool&quot;, US State Department spokeswoman Jean Osaki said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>German Chancellor Angela Merkel said an EU summit at the weekend would discuss the possibility of further sanctions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Dust-covered column</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In southern Russia on Thursday, a Reuters reporter saw a column of armored vehicles and dust-covered troops, one of them with a face injury, about 3 km (2 miles) from the border with the part of Ukraine that Kiev says is occupied by Russian troops.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The column was driving east, away from the border, across open countryside near the village of Krasnoyarsk, in Russia&#39;s Ros region.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>None of the men or vehicles had standard military identification marks, but the reporter saw a Mi-8 helicopter with a red star insignia -- consistent with Russian military markings -- land next to a nearby military first-aid tent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Asked if he was with the Russian military, a man near the tent in camouflage fatigues but without any identifying insignia, said only: &quot;We are patriots.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The US ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pratt, tweeted: &quot;Russian supplied tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers have been insufficient to defeat Ukraine&#39; armed forces. So now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Russia has also sent its newest air defense systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine &amp; is now directly involved in the fighting,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Fighting in the east erupted in April, a month after Russia annexed Ukraine&#39;s Crimean peninsula in response to the toppling of a pro-Moscow president in Kiev.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A United Nations report this week said more than 2,200 people have been killed, not including the 298 who died when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over rebel-held territory in July.</div> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:39:00 +0000 Reuters 2438196 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/26/484151/pro-russian_checkpoint.jpg