EU’s Tusk urges Czech President Zeman to cooperate in Europe

Pro-Russian incumbent Milos Zeman waves to the audience as he celebrates his victory with his staff members after he was reelected Czech President on January 27, 2018 at the Top hotel in Prague. Zeman took 51.95 percent of the vote against 48.04 percent for Drahos with 96.87 percent of ballots counted, Czech Television reported quoting official results. / AFP / RADEK MICA
Updated 30 January 2018
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EU’s Tusk urges Czech President Zeman to cooperate in Europe

BRUSSELS : The chair of EU national leaders, Donald Tusk, urged Czech President Milos Zeman on Monday to pursue cooperation with the European Union following his re-election after a campaign critical of the bloc.
In a message of congratulations, European Council President Tusk wrote: “I trust that your country will continue to play an active and constructive role within the European Union.”
The former Polish prime minister, who has tried to calm mounting frictions between wealthier governments in the west and former-communist EU members in the east, highlighted his own efforts to get the Union to “better respond to European citizens’ concerns” — a nod to popular worries over issues such as immigration, on which Zeman based some of his campaigning.
Asked whether the European Commission was troubled by Zeman’s re-election, a spokesman for the EU executive said it respected the vote: “We are not worried,” he told reporters.
Later on Monday, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was to host Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who has support from Zeman as he struggles to form a government following a parliamentary election in October.


20 dead, 60 burned in fire at tap on Mexico fuel pipeline

This handout photo distributed by the Mexican Secretary of National Defence (Secretaria de Defensa Nacional) shows Mexican soldiers standing guard near a fire after a leaking gas pipeline triggered a blaze in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo state, on January 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 min 31 sec ago
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20 dead, 60 burned in fire at tap on Mexico fuel pipeline

  • Video from the scene earlier in the day showed what appeared to be gasoline spouting dozens of feet into the air

MEXICO CITY: MEXICO CITY: A huge fire exploded at a pipeline leaking fuel in central Mexico on Friday, killing at least 20 people and badly burning 60 others as locals collected the spilling gasoline in buckets, officials said.
The leak was caused by fuel thieves illegally tapping the pipeline in a small town in the state of Hidalgo, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Mexico City, according to state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.
Video footage showed dozens of residents near the town of Tlahuelilpan gathered to collect spilled fuel in buckets, garbage cans and other vessels. Fuel was seen spouting dozens of feet into the air from the tap. Footage then showed flames shooting high into the air against a night sky and the pipeline ablaze.
Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad said 20 people were killed immediately and 60 suffered burns in the blast at the duct that carries fuel — apparently gasoline — from the Gulf coast to the Mexico City area.
“Caring for the wounded is our top priority,” Fayad said.
Pemex attributed the blaze to “the manipulation of an illegal tap.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has declared an offensive against fuel theft, and on Friday he called on all branches of government to assist the victims.
Hidalgo state police said the leak was first reported at about 5:00 p.m. local time.
“There was a report that residents were on the scene trying to obtain fuel,” according to a police report. Two hours later, the pipeline burst into flames.
It is not the first time such an accident has occurred.
In December 2010, authorities blamed oil thieves for a pipeline explosion in a central Mexico near the capital that killed 28 people, including 13 children.
That blast burned people and scorched homes, affecting 5,000 residents in an area six miles (10 kilometers) wide in San Martin Texmelucan.
Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against the $3 billion per-year fuel theft industry after taking office Dec. 1. Thieves drilled about 12,581 illegal taps in the first 10 months of 2018 and the country has deployed 3,200 marines to guard pipelines and refineries.
The new administration has also shut down pipelines to detect and deter illegal taps, relying more on delivering fuel by tanker truck. But there aren’t enough trucks, and long lines at gas stations have plagued several states.