Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

Above, an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland in this 2014 photo. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018
0

Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

SYDNEY: Two elderly American tourists have been killed in a helicopter crash at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, police said Thursday, despite onlookers’ desperate attempts to revive the pair.
The 79-year-old man and 65-year-old women died when the chopper went down near a pontoon on the reef off popular tourist hotspot Airlie Beach late Wednesday. Two other passengers, also from the United States, and the pilot survived with minor injuries.
“As a result of that crash, emergency services have attended and an independent, transparent and robust investigation is currently underway,” local police inspector Ian Haughton said.
There was no indication of what caused the crash but Haughton said the probe would look at the mechanical servicing of the helicopter, what happened at the scene that may have been a contributing factor, and any possibility of error.
Witnesses on a nearby dive platform helped drag the passengers from the water, the Brisbane Courier Mail reported, performing resuscitation under phone instruction from emergency services who were an hour away from the remote site in Queensland’s Whitsunday region.
But the two Americans could not be saved.
“It’s just gut-wrenching. It’s not good. My deepest sympathies goes out to those who lost their lives and those that were injured,” Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox told broadcaster ABC.
“I know most of the tourism operators in the Whitsundays personally and I know they all hold their passenger experience and safety as their number one priority, so it will be a somber day for us in the Whitsundays.”
The company that operated the helicopter, reportedly Whitsunday Air Services, has suspended operations.


Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

Updated 25 April 2018
0

Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Wednesday found a high-profile spiritual guru Asaram Bapu guilty of raping a teenage female devotee in 2013 and he faces a maximum of life in prison.
The verdict against 77-year-old Bapu was read out inside a prison in the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state because of fears that his followers may resort to violence.
The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
In August last year, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma will announce the prison term for Bapu later after hearing arguments from the prosecution and Bapu’s attorneys.
Bapu has denied the rape and can appeal his conviction in a higher court.
The girl in her complaint to the police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.
On Wednesday, security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the self-styled guru has a considerable following.
Religious sects also wield considerable political clout in India with several politicians as followers. Asaram is also on trial along with his son Narayan Sai in a separate rape case where two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.