Burning ship packed with Volkswagen and luxury cars adrift in mid-Atlantic without crew

Smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace cargo vessel as it drifts near Azores Islands in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. (Twitter photo)
Smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace cargo vessel as it drifts near Azores Islands in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. (Twitter photo)
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Updated 18 February 2022

Burning ship packed with Volkswagen and luxury cars adrift in mid-Atlantic without crew

Burning ship packed with Volkswagen and luxury cars adrift in mid-Atlantic without crew
  • Various reports say the ship was carrying 3,965 Volkswagen AG vehicles plus some Porsche, Audi, Lamborghinis and Bentleys

RIYADH/LISBON: A huge transport ship packed with Volkswagen vehicles as well as Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini cars has been abandoned by its crew in the mid-Atlantic after it caught fire, the Portuguese navy said on Thursday.

Portuguese navy spokesman Cmdr. José Sousa Luís identified the ship as the Felicity Ace, whose 22 crew members were evacuated due to the blaze, the Associated Press reported.

"Shipping in the area was warned that the 200-meter-long (650-feet-long) Felicity Ace was adrift near Portugal’s Azores Islands after the crew were taken off on Wednesday," the report said.

The Felicity Ace can carry more than 17,000 metric tons (18,700 tons) of cargo. Typically, car transport ships fit thousands of vehicles on multiple decks in their hold.

The ship’s operator, Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, said in an email to the AP it could not provide information about the cargo.

But Bloomberg, citing an internal email from Volkswagen’s US operations, said the ship was carrying 3,965 Volkswagen AG vehicles as well as Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini.

Online news site The Drive said the Felicity Ace was also loaded with 189 Bentleys, which has a rough total retail value of at least $30 million.

Volkswagen Group said in a brief statement the Felicity Ace was transporting to the US vehicles that the German automaker produced. The company declined to comment on what consequences the incident might have for US customers or the VW Group.

A Portuguese navy ship sailed to the vehicle transporter, which was sailing from Emden in Germany to the port of Davisville in the US state of Rhode Island, according to online vessel trackers. A navy statement said the fire was still burning and showed a photograph of large clouds of white smoke billowing out.

The navy ship was to check whether the cargo vessel was in danger of sinking or causing pollution, Sousa Luís told The Associated Press.

The ship’s owner is seeking an ocean-going tug, but the Felicity Ace is unlikely to be towed to a port in Portugal’s Azores Islands because of its size, Sousa Luis said.

The crew were taken by helicopter on Wednesday to Faial island on the archipelago, about 170 kilometers (100 miles) away, and are staying at a hotel there. None of them was hurt.
 

(With AP)

 

 


UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge
Updated 9 sec ago

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge

UK-Albania deportation pact undermined by legal challenge
  • Asylum-seekers from Balkan country will not be subjected to ‘rapid return’ scheme, ruling out over 90% of arrivals

LONDON: A UK government scheme to send Albanian asylum-seekers home quickly after their arrival has been undermined after it emerged few people would be eligible for it.

A legal challenge brought by campaign group Care4Calais against the “rapid return” deal signed between London and Tirana last month, which would have fast-tracked asylum applications and, subsequently, deportations for Albanians entering the UK illegally, means that only a very small minority of those who arrive — those who fail to claim asylum, or have criminal records — could be subject to removal in any event.

Under the initial terms of the deal, asylum applications by Albanians found to have reached Britain having passed through a safe country en route would be rejected, with those people put onto special chartered aircraft “within days” to return them to their Balkan homeland.

It was aimed predominantly at Albanians trying to enter the country via small boats from northern France, the numbers of whom have been growing rapidly throughout the year.

Ninety percent of Albanians who reach the UK via boats across the English Channel claim asylum. This year, more than 31,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far, around 60 percent believed to be Albanian, according to the UK Home Office.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, told The Times: “The government’s PR blitz outlined a fast-track removal scheme that appeared to deny people from Albania their right to a fair hearing for asylum claims.

“The suggestion was that asylum claims made by Albanians are spurious. In fact, 53 percent of Albanian asylum claims are accepted by the Home Office, demonstrating that for many Albanians their country is not a safe place to live.

“Under the threat of judicial review, the government has performed a major climbdown. In doing so, they are accepting that people from Albania have the right to make an asylum claim and have it fairly heard. This is a victory for human decency.”

In a statement, the Home Office said: “The Albania fast-track process focuses on removing the growing number of individuals from Albania who have no right to be in the UK. This includes failed asylum seekers, foreign national offenders, and individuals overstaying in the UK or seeking to game the system by not claiming asylum.

“Those who seek to abuse our system should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them, as the public rightly expects. Since signing our returns agreement with Albania in 2021, we have removed more than 1,000 Albanians, including some who crossed the Channel illegally to come to the UK.”


Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims
Updated 21 min 42 sec ago

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims

Daesh ‘Beatle’ dodges US supermax prison in ‘kick in the teeth’ to victims
  • El Shafee El-Sheikh carried out brutal aid worker killings during Syria’s civil war

LONDON: Daesh “Beatle” El Shafee El-Sheikh has avoided serving prison time in a US supermax prison after being moved to a lesser penitentiary following conviction, The Mirror reported.

The terrorist, who grew up in Britain and had his citizenship stripped in 2018, was part of the four-man Daesh terror group dubbed the “Beatles” that carried out brutal high-profile killings during Syria’s civil war.

But after being convicted in the US, the 34-year-old has avoided being transferred to Colorado’s ADX Florence — the country’s most notorious supermax prison — as was expected.

Instead, the Sudan-born terrorist is being held at nearby USP Florence High, where he will stay as part of the general prison population rather than in solitary confinement.

Earlier this year in August, El-Sheikh’s legal team argued during sentencing that due to mental health issues, the man dubbed “Jihadi Ringo” should serve time in a lesser prison.

“Sending Mr. El-Sheikh, an individual who is already showing signs of mental and physical deterioration from his present and past detention, to ADX Florence, is not an appropriate sentence,” they said.

However, trial judge Thomas Selby Ellis dismissed the plea at the time.

El-Sheikh was found guilty on eight charges, including four counts of hostage-taking resulting in death, murder conspiracy and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The “Beatles” group was responsible for the killings of British volunteers David Haines and Alan Henning, as well as US aid workers Kayla Mueller, James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.

A US prison source told The Mirror: “Quite how El-Sheikh avoided the supermax, none of the victim’s families know.

“They were sure he was to see out his days at ADX, but they have now been told he has been sent to the lesser penitentiary. It’s a huge kick in the teeth.”

The source added: “The supermax is reserved for the worst of the worst, and El-Sheikh’s CV shows he is more than qualified.

“But he has avoided being kept alongside some of the world’s most dangerous men and dying alone.

“While El-Sheikh’s cohort (Alexanda) Kotey admitted his guilt, he thought he would beat the system and fool a jury over his innocence. They saw through his lies, and now payback has begun.”

Prisoners held at Florence High have included US serial killer Gary Ridgway, as well as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers.


Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral
Updated 43 min 57 sec ago

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attended Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral on Tuesday.

During the funeral ceremony, Prince Faisal conveyed the condolences of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, also attended the funeral. He conveyed the condolences of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the Japanese government.

Sheikh Khalid met with the widow Aki Abe and a number of family members to also offer his condolences.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa also attended Abe’s state funeral. 

Prince Salman bin Hamad was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and several senior officials.

The crown prince praised the late Abe’s role in strengthening Bahrain-Japan relations. He also emphasized Bahrain’s commitment to further strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Other Arab leaders were present at the state funeral including Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.


Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
Updated 27 September 2022

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
  • The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region

DUBAI: Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid his respects to former Japanese Prime Minister ABE Shinzo during a summit meeting with current Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Tuesday.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, King Abdullah II, who attended the state funeral, said that Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.

Kishida expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late Abe.

The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA.)

Kishida also congratulated King Abdullah II Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.

The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan. 


Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
Updated 27 September 2022

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
  • Incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda the deadliest in years
  • Mobile phone footage showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over

BODA, Bangladesh: Rescuers and navy divers recovered 10 bodies Tuesday after a boat overloaded with religious pilgrims capsized in Bangladesh, police said, taking the death toll to 61 as anxious relatives waited for news of several people who were still missing.
The incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda was the deadliest in years in the South Asian country, which is crisscrossed by rivers where overcrowding on aged vessels is common.
Seventeen of those killed were children, authorities said, with video footage suggesting some were as young as around four years old.
The small vessel on its way to a popular temple flipped over in a river as onlookers screamed from the shore, in horrific scenes captured on cellphones.
Boda police chief Sujay Kumar Roy said rescue workers including firefighters, navy divers and villagers were searching for miles downstream on the Karotoa River, where the tragedy occurred.
The boat was carrying around 90 people, of whom around 50 were pilgrims on their way to the centuries-old Hindu temple for a major festival, according to police.
“We resumed the search this morning and rescuers found a few more bodies downstream and also under the water... Still a few more people are missing,” Roy said.
Abdur Razzaque, a police inspector, said at least 30 of the dead were women.
“A committee has been formed to probe the incident,” he said.
Dozens of relatives of the missing people were still crowding the riverbank on Tuesday, although most had left after authorities handed over their family members’ bodies.
“Three women of my family were missing since the boat capsized,” said one distraught relative, Bikash Chandra, late on Monday.
“We found one in the morning around 10:00 am, who was rescued earlier. But I couldn’t find the other two yet.”
District police chief Sirajul Huda said Monday the boat was carrying three times its permitted capacity.
“The boatman asked some people to disembark in an effort to ease the weight-load. But no one listened,” he said.
Mobile phone footage aired by TV station Channel 24 showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over, spilling the passengers into the muddy brown river.
Dozens of people watching from the shore started shouting and screaming. The weather was calm at the time.
Thousands of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh visit the famous Bodeshwari Temple every year.
Sunday marked the start of Durga Puja, a major Hindu festival drawing large crowds at the temple.
Last December, around 40 people perished when a packed three-story ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh.
A ferry sank in Dhaka in June 2020 after a collision with another vessel, killing at least 32 people.
And at least 78 people perished in 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.