Fifteen US Marines injured in California training incident

This file photo released by the US Marine Corps shows Marines with the 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion aboard AAV-7 Amphibious Assault vehicles during an exercise on the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tenn, on September 6, 2016. (File photo: US Marine Corps via AP)
Updated 14 September 2017
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Fifteen US Marines injured in California training incident

LOS ANGELES: Fifteen US Marines were injured Wednesday, five critically, when their amphibious assault vehicle caught fire during a training exercise, a military spokesman said.
The incident occurred at Camp Pendleton, California while a Marine battalion was undergoing a combat readiness evaluation, Marine spokesman Paul Gainey confirmed.
"Officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident at this time," his statement said.
No other details were given about the fire or possible causes.
The injured Marines were evacuated to hospitals in the area, with eight taken to the Burn Center at University of California San Diego Health.
Three of those were in critical condition and five in serious condition. Two more were in critical condition at the University of California Irvine Medical Center, the Marines said.
Amphibious Assault Vehicles have been used by the Marines since the 1970s and are designed for landings from the sea.
Wednesday's incident followed two other fatalities at Camp Pendleton, the Marines' biggest base on the west coast of the United States.
On August 30, a 22-year-old Marine was found dead during a training exercise. The cause of death has not yet been established.
In 2015, a 19-year-old Marine was found shot dead in the head on a firing range at the base.
In mid-June, seven sailors were killed when the destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off Japan.


Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Updated 26 June 2019
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Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

  • The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment
  • President Maithripala Sirisena says narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s president said on Wednesday that he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon, amid alarm over drug-related crimes in this Indian Ocean island nation.
The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.
President Maithripala Sirisena told a media discussion on Wednesday that he has signed the death warrants including the days of the executions and sent them to prison authorities.
He said narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts. According to Sirisena, 60 percent of 24,000 inmates have been jailed for drug-related offenses. Sri Lanka prisons are built to accommodate 11,000 people.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.
Prison authorities are now in the process of recruiting two hangmen after two others quit without executing anyone.
At present, 26 people have been shortlisted for a two-day training, said Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry.
Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is used by peddlers as a transit hub.
Rights groups and foreign governments including the EU have previously criticized Sirisena’s suggestions to revive the death penalty, saying there is no perfect criminal justice system and the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.
Sirisena, who visited the Philippines in January, praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs as “an example to the world.” Thousands of suspects, mostly urban poor, have been slain since Duterte took office in 2016. Rights groups have denounced what they say are extrajudicial killings. Police say most of the suspects were killed in encounters with officers.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion that advocates non-violence. Sirisena has previously said the country has had positive influences from all religions but tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
In April, police publicly destroyed 770 kilograms (1,695 pounds) of drugs seized in 2016 and 2017. Police have seized 731 kilograms (1,608 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and 1,607 kilograms (3,535 pounds) of marijuana so far this year.
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Sri Lanka, followed by heroin and cocaine. Drug-related arrests rose 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year to 81,156.