Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

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Network Rail engineers walk past members of the media near the scene of a train crash by Stonehaven in northeast Scotland on August 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Ambulances are pictured near the scene of a train crash by Stonehaven in northeast Scotland on August 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Emergency response vehicles are parked near the scene of a train crash by Stonehaven in northeast Scotland on August 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Three dead in Scotland passenger train derailment

  • Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels
  • The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised

Stonehaven, UK: Three people died when a passenger train derailed in northeast Scotland on Wednesday, police said, in what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described as "an extremely serious incident".
"Very sadly despite the best efforts of paramedics, we can confirm that three people have been pronounced dead at the scene," British Transport Police said in a statement.
The crash, close to the town of Stonehaven around 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of Aberdeen, followed severe flooding across parts of the region overnight.
Smoke could be seen rising from the scene in pictures broadcast on television news channels.
"The emergency services are currently on site and a major incident has been declared," Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
"I am afraid to say that there are early reports of serious injuries," she added, after earlier noting on Twitter it was an "extremely serious incident".
The driver is believed to be one of the fatalities, according to police, with six other people hospitalised, although none of their injuries are though to be serious.
Some 30 emergency vehicles were attending the scene of the derailment which happened at 9:40am (08:40 GMT).
Union TSSA said the train was the 06:38 (05:38 GMT) service travelling from Aberdeen to Glasgow.
Sturgeon added that the incident happened in an area where it was difficult for emergency services to access.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene."
Thunderstorms and torrential rain battered parts of central and eastern Scotland overnight, creating hazardous travelling conditions.
Photos posted on social media by local authorities showed heavy flooding in the nearby town of Stonehaven early Wednesday.
Network Rail Scotland, the company which looks after the rail infrastructure, said it was working alongside emergency services.
"It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known," it said.
Moments after the emergency services had been notified of the accident, Network Rail reported there had been a landslip close by.
The local arm of Britain's National Health Service said it was setting up "major incident support" in Aberdeen for relatives and friends of anyone involved in the incident.
The BBC reported that one casualty was airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.
Local MP Andrew Bowie said a "major emergency service response" was underway and he had spoken to the British transport minister, Grant Shapps, about the incident.
Shapps added on Twitter that he was in touch with Network Rail and other agencies and vowed "the UK Government will provide every support".
Britain's last major rail derailment was in 2007 in Cumbria, in northwest England, when a train on the main west coast line left the tracks, killing one passenger and seriously injuring 30 others.

 

 

 

 


US bans palm oil imports from Malaysian production giant over labor abuse claims

Updated 30 min 41 sec ago

US bans palm oil imports from Malaysian production giant over labor abuse claims

  • American customs agency probe into Malaysian government-linked firm FGV revealed indicators of forced and child labor, physical and sexual violence
  • The allegations of abuse related especially to migrant laborers who make up the company’s main plantation workforce

KUALA LUMPUR:  The US has banned palm oil imports from Malaysian production giant FGV Holdings after a probe revealed forced labor practices at its facilities.

Human rights groups said the abuse of agricultural workers had been rife across the whole sector for years.

The American ban came into effect after a year-long investigation by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) into FGV, which revealed indicators of forced and child labor, as well as physical and sexual violence, said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of the CBP’s Office of Trade.

FGV is a Malaysian government-linked company and one of the world’s largest palm oil producers.

In a statement, the company said it was “disappointed” with the decision by the US which had come at a time when it had been taking “concrete steps over the past several years in demonstrating its commitment to respect human rights and to uphold labor standards.”

The company said the issues raised by the US agency had “been the subject of public discourse since 2015 and FGV has taken several steps to correct the situation.”

It added: “FGV became a participating company of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and is currently implementing a long-term and comprehensive action plan under its affiliation to the FLA that comprises a number of initiatives to further strengthen various aspects of our labor practices such as our recruitment process, human rights training programs, working and living conditions, as well as grievance mechanisms.”

The allegations of abuse related especially to migrant laborers who make up the company’s main plantation workforce. According to FGV data from August, it had 11,286 Indonesian and 4,683 Indian workers.

Malaysia’s Minister of Human Resources M. Saravanan said on Thursday that he was unclear about the details of the ban and had only found out about plans to impose it several days ago from the US ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir. However, he had not expected the ban to be implemented “so soon.”

“As mentioned by the ambassador, these issues are mainly in Sabah and Sarawak (two states on Borneo island), especially in the plantation sector. Action will be taken,” said Saravanan, adding that the ban was “not a good sign” for the country which was heavily reliant on exports.

He said that the Ministry of Human Resources would work closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs which had much of the jurisdiction over foreign labor.

The timing of the ban is particularly unfortunate for Malaysia’s economy, which has been affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Palm oil exports from Malaysia — which constitute over a third of the world’s exports of the commodity — are one of the country’s key revenue sources.

“FGV would need to step up efforts to increase exports to other countries while addressing the US government’s concerns on the forced labor issues,” Prof. Yeah Kim Leng, economic studies director at Malaysia’s Sunway University, told Arab News.

He said that other palm oil companies would also need to take heed of the causes leading to the ban and address those concerns if they wished to avoid the US’ big stick.

Malaysian rights activists pointed out that they had been highlighting the issue of forced labor in palm oil supply chains for years.

In a statement, Glorene Das, director of Malaysian migrant rights group Tenaganita, said: “We demand all palm oil producers, including FGV Holdings, to take proactive steps to ensure human and labor rights of workers in plantations are respected and upheld at all time.

“Malaysia, as one of the main producers of palm oil in the world, must be an example of fair labor practices rather than be known and cited for exploitative practices.”