’Youngest and brightest’ lost in Pacific ferry disaster

This undated handout photo released by Maritime New Zealand and received on January 31, 2018 shows boys jumping off the deck of the ferry MV Butiraoi, a 17.5-metre (57.4-foot) wooden catamaran, at an unknown location. (AFP)
Updated 01 February 2018
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’Youngest and brightest’ lost in Pacific ferry disaster

WELLINGTON: Many children and teenagers are among those missing after a ferry sank in the remote Pacific, official figures have revealed, with victims described as their region’s “youngest and brightest.”
Radio Kiribati reported late Wednesday that a council survey of Nonouti island, where the ferry departed on January 18, showed there were 88 people aboard.
It said they included 10 children of primary age and 13 high school students.
The youngsters are believed to have been traveling to the Kiribati capital South Tarawa for the start of a new school term.
Only seven people, including a 14-year-old girl, have been found alive so far and hopes are fading of locating any more.
Four aircraft, from the United States, Australia and New Zealand, are combing vast swathes of ocean looking for survivors, along with six boats.
Kiribati President Taneti Maamau told public radio Wednesday that the sinking was a “tragic moment” for the tiny island nation but the search for survivors would continue.
“There are objects that have been spotted like wooden pieces and a gas cylinder and a few other things, but sadly there are still no signs of people spotted yet,” he said.
Former president Anote Tong said Nonouti had lost its “youngest and brightest” and the whole of Kiribati was in shock.
“This is by far the biggest disaster in terms of numbers and also in terms of the people involved,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Tong said there were questions about why it took authorities more than a week to raise the alarm after the ferry, MV Butiraoi, set off on a passage that was only supposed to last two days.
The seven survivors were found drifting in a dinghy on Sunday and the search is now concentrating on finding a life raft that was launched from the sinking ferry.


North Korea says it has tested new “high-tech tactical” weapon

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects Samjiyon County, in this undated photo released on October 30, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). (REUTERS)
Updated 33 min 54 sec ago
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North Korea says it has tested new “high-tech tactical” weapon

  • The North has reportedly expressed anger in recent days at South Korea’s resumption of small-scale military drills with the United States

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the successful test of a “newly developed high-tech tactical” weapon, the nation’s state media reported Friday, though it didn’t describe what sort of weapon it was.
It didn’t appear to be a nuclear or missile-related test, a string of which last year had many fearing war before the North turned to engagement and diplomacy early this year. Still, any mention of weapons testing could influence the direction of stalled diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang that’s meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.
The North said the test took place at the Academy of National Defense Science and that Kim couldn’t suppress his “passionate joy” at the success of the test.
The North has reportedly expressed anger in recent days at South Korea’s resumption of small-scale military drills with the United States. But Friday’s report didn’t appear to focus on North Korean claims of US and South Korean hostility, as it did when announcing previous weapons tests. Last year’s weapons tests, many experts believe, put the North on the brink of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can target anywhere in the mainland United States.
The North says this recent unspecified weapon has been under development for a long time and will help strengthen the country’s defense and the combat power of its army.
It was the first publicly known field inspection of a weapons test by Kim Jong Un since he observed the testing of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November of last year, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
Diplomacy has stalled since a June summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore, with Washington pushing for more action on nuclear disarmament and the North insisting that the US first approve a peace declaration formally ending the Korean War.