British police: Four killed in Leicester explosion

In this image taken from video made available by Gem News, police attend the scene of an incident in Leicester, central England, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 26 February 2018
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British police: Four killed in Leicester explosion

DUBAI: British police said Monday four people were killed in an explosion at a property in Leicester, a central English city, last night, while four others remain in hospital, one with serious injuries.
There was no indication that the explosion was linked to terrorism.
“The cause of the explosion will be the subject of a joint investigation by the police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service,” local police said in a statement.
“We would ask that the media and public do not speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident, but at this stage there is no indication this is terrorist related.”
The police said that six fire crews were on scene, including a specialist search and rescue team, supported by two search dogs.
“We will work closely with colleagues from the police as our enquiries into the circumstances continue today,” the police said.
The apparent explosion occurred Sunday evening on a stretch of road containing commercial and residential properties close to the city center.
The electricity supply to a number of properties in the area was cut while emergency services deal with the incident, police said.
The Fire and Rescue Service said it received calls shortly after 7:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) from the public reporting an explosion and a building fire.
It immediately dispatched six fire engines, a spokeswoman said.
“We were en route when the police called to say a building had collapsed,” she added.
Additional specialist search and rescue units were then dispatched, including a search and rescue dog, according to the spokeswoman.
“We’ve got no indication of what the cause is at this moment,” the spokeswoman said.
Six people were taken by ambulance to Leicester Royal Infirmary hospital following the incident, according to University Hospitals of Leicester, which runs three area medical facilities.
“Two of these patients are in a critical condition, while four are walking wounded,” it said on Twitter.
Officials had earlier advised people only to attend the accident and emergency department “if absolutely necessary.”
The fire service spokeswoman also said representatives from gas and electric provider companies were in attendance at the scene, under routine procedures.
Pictures and videos posted on social media showed a property engulfed in flames visible from a distance, with rubble and debris scattered around.
Graeme Hudson told AFP he lives close to the scene and felt the blast.
“It was very scary,” he said. “I live five minutes away... but my house shook. I went out and saw massive smoke and big flames.
“I quickly went out to see what’s happened,” he added. “(I) didn’t stay for long there because (I felt) unsafe for my 11-year-old son.”


US moves 100 coffins to North Korean border for war remains

Updated 57 min 44 sec ago
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US moves 100 coffins to North Korean border for war remains

  • From 1996 to 2005, joint US-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains
  • The transfer of remains is usually done in a somber, formal ceremony, and that is what officials said was being planned

SEOUL, South Korea: The US military said it moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s returning of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War.
US Forces Korea spokesman Col. Chad Carroll also said Saturday that 158 metal transfer cases were sent to a US air base near Seoul, South Korea’s capital, and would be used to send the remains home.
North Korea agreed to return US war remains during the June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. While the US military preparations suggest that the repatriation of war remains could be imminent, it remains unclear when and how it would occur.
Earlier Saturday, Carroll denied a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that US military vehicles carrying more than 200 caskets were planning to cross into North Korea on Saturday. He said plans for the repatriation were “still preliminary.”
US Forces Korea said in a statement later in the day that 100 wooden “temporary transit cases” built in Seoul were sent to the Joint Security Area at the border as part of preparations to “receive and transport remains in a dignified manner when we get the call to do so.”
From 1996 to 2005, joint US-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains.
But efforts to recover and return other remains have stalled for more than a decade because of the North’s nuclear weapons development and US claims that the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W. Bush was not sufficiently guaranteed.
US officials have said earlier that the remains are believed to be some or all of the more than 200 that the North Koreans have had for some time. But the precise number and the identities — including whether they are US or allied service members — won’t be known until the remains are tested.
The transfer of remains is usually done in a somber, formal ceremony, and that is what officials said was being planned.
Richard Downes, executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, said last week that he had been told the North may have the remains of more than 200 American service members that were likely recovered from land during farming or construction and could be easily returned. But he said the vast majority have yet to be located and retrieved from various cemeteries and battlefields across the countryside.
More than 36,000 US troops died in the conflict, including those listed as missing in action. Close to 7,700 US troops remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, and about 5,300 of those were lost in North Korea.
The last time North Korea turned over remains was in 2007, when Bill Richardson, a former UN ambassador and New Mexico governor, secured the return of six sets.
According to Chuck Prichard, spokesman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, once the remains are turned over, they would be sent to one of two Defense Department facilities — Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska — for tests to determine identification.