At least 16 killed as train hits bus in Russia

In this video grab provided by the RU-RTR Russian television via APTN, Russian Emergency Situation employees work at the scene of a derailment at a railway crossing near in the town of Pokrov, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, on October 6, 2017. (RU-RTR Russian Television/APTN via AP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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At least 16 killed as train hits bus in Russia

MOSCOW: At least 16 people were killed on Friday when a train slammed into a bus that had broken down on a level crossing east of Moscow, authorities said.
Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that 19 Uzbek citizens had died in the crash, but Russia’s Investigative Committee reported a lower figure.
The accident occurred before dawn on Friday near the town of Pokrov, some 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of the Russian capital.
“According to preliminary information, 16 people, including a child, have been killed,” the Investigative Committee said.
“Other passengers, including minors, have been taken to hospital with various injuries. The number of dead and injured is being ascertained,” it said, confirming it had opened an investigation.
The regional interior ministry said the bus broke down on the level crossing.
The train, traveling at 90 kilometers per hour from the second city of Saint Petersburg to Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, slammed into the bus at 3:29 am (0029 GMT) on Friday.
The train was 400 meters away from the crossing when the driver slammed on emergency brakes and sounded a warning alarm, but it was not able to stop before it hit the vehicle, Russian Railways said.
All of those killed were on the bus, which was carrying 58 people, 56 of them Uzbek nationals.
The remaining two were drivers from Kazakhstan.
“There are no victims among the train passengers,” the interior ministry said.
Images from the scene showed the white Mercedes bus had been almost completely torn apart with most of its roof ripped off and debris scattered across the tracks.
The Uzbek ambassador to Russia was on his way to the scene along with other staff from the embassy, it said.
A team of experts were flying to the region to offer assistance, it added.
The foreign ministry of neighboring Kazakhstan confirmed the two bus drivers, one of whom was killed, were Kazakh nationals.
The train continued on its route at around 11:00 am local time.
The collision appears to be Russia’s most deadly accident involving a train since 2006 when 22 people were killed when a train struck a bus at an unprotected crossing in the southern Krasnodar region.
In 1996, a train hit a school bus in the area of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, killing 21 children and injuring 19 others. The driver was unable to see the bus early enough to brake because of a heavy fog.
Russia’s road accident mortality rate is extremely high, although it has been declining over the past few years.
Some 20,000 people died in car crashes in Russia in 2016.
Seventeen people were killed in August when a bus carrying construction workers veered off a pier and plunged into the Black Sea.


British PM accepts key amendments from hard-line Brexiteers

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2018
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British PM accepts key amendments from hard-line Brexiteers

  • Lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 305 to 302 to approve the amendment to the customs legislation, known as the Taxation
  • May’s authority has been weakened with the resignations of major figures Boris Johnson and David Davis and a series of lesser officials who disagree with her Brexit plan

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday accepted amendments to a customs bill put forward by Brexit hard-liners who oppose her plan for a “common rule book” with the European Union after the country leaves the bloc.
Even with those unwanted concessions, the government only barely won a Monday night vote, gaining 305 votes in favor and 302 against. The bill would prevent Britain from collecting tariffs on behalf of EU nations unless the EU does the same for the UK
The government avoided what would have been an embarrassing defeat, but the razor-thin margin reveals the fragility of May’s support as she tries to find a way to move the complex Brexit process forward.
A Downing Street spokesman said the government accepted the amendments because it sees them as consistent with the prime minister’s plan as set out in a formal white paper last week.
However, critics said May had caved in to pressure from Brexit supporters who want a complete break with Europe. They said the changes would greatly limit May’s ability to move forward with the plan that prompted two hard-liners in her Cabinet to resign in protest last week — and fresh resignations of lesser figures Monday.
The amendments seek to limit the government’s ability to set up the customs arrangements May has advocated, which would keep close ties to Europe. They were proposed by the European Research Group, the research arm of May’s Conservative Party which is headed by lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Another Conservative Party legislator, Anna Soubry, who opposes the “hard” Brexit that would see Britain leave the EU without a trade deal in place, said the government’s acceptance of the four amendments mean that Rees-Mogg is now effectively “running Britain.”
May also came under fire Monday from a former Cabinet minister who called for a new Brexit referendum, an idea immediately rejected by the prime minister’s team.
Former Education Secretary Justine Greening, also a Conservative, said the UK Parliament was “gridlocked” over the divisive issue. She said she and other senior Tory lawmakers favor a new vote.
Greening said she would campaign to keep Britain in the EU, if a new referendum were held.
The day’s developments heaped additional pressure on the beleaguered May, whose party is deeply split and does not enjoy majority control in Parliament.
Her recent white paper outlining plans for a common rule book with the EU over trade in goods has infuriated those who favor a complete break even if it risks causing an economic shock.
May defended her plan as she opened the Farnborough International Airshow. She said it would safeguard vital jobs in the aviation industry and keep Britain’s tradition as a nation in the forefront of the aviation industry.
The issue is sensitive because Airbus signaled in June that it would have to consider its long-term plans for Britain if there is no Brexit deal.
May said the plan outlined in the white paper honors the wishes of British voters — who in June 2016 backed Brexit with 52 percent of the vote — while protecting industry and national security.
May’s authority has been weakened with the resignations of major figures Boris Johnson and David Davis and a series of lesser officials who disagree with her Brexit plan.
The skirmishes are expected to continue Tuesday when a different trade bill is debated. There is also a move for Parliament to begin its summer recess several days early in a bid to curtail the chaos of recent weeks.