56 dead as Russian fishing trawler sinks in icy water

Updated 02 April 2015

56 dead as Russian fishing trawler sinks in icy water

MOSCOW: A Russian fishing trawler sank in minutes early Thursday in the icy waters off Russia’s Far East coast, killing at least 56 of the 132 people onboard, rescue workers and investigators said. At least 13 others were missing.
Despite the speed at which the Dalny Vostok ship went down, 63 people were rescued, picked up by nearby fishing boats.
Rescued crew members reported that the ship was unstable because of empty fuel tanks and a lack of ballast, and tipped over when a fishing net weighing 80 tons was pulled in, said Oleg Kozhemyako, acting governor of the nearby Sakhalin region.
Kozhemyako’s comments on Russian television came after the federal Investigative Committee said it was considering all possible causes for the sinking, but it was likely that the trawler hit “an object” floating in the sea, perhaps drifting ice.
The 100-meter trawler went down in just 15 minutes after encountering trouble, investigators said. Those saved had managed to get into lifeboats and some had put on wet suits, rescue workers said.
The Dalny Vostok sank about 4 a.m. (local time) in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula. It didn’t send a distress signal prior to the sinking.
Video of the rescue operation broadcast on state television showed clear skies and relatively calm seas. The water temperature was near freezing.
Among the people on board, 78 were from Russia, 42 from Myanmar and the rest were from Latvia, Ukraine and Vanuatu.
Pyotr Osichansky, president of the Far Eastern Association of Sea Captains, told Russian television that when the trawler last docked in Russia, in January, it had fewer than 70 crew members. The additional crew members were most likely picked up in Pusan, South Korea, and were working illegally, he said.
The Dalny Vostok, which was built in 1989, was equipped to freeze and can fish. About 26 fishing boats and 1,300 fishermen and emergency workers were taking part in the rescue operation, and scouring the water for survivors and bodies even after darkness fell, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said.
The fishing boats have recovered 56 bodies so far. The Interfax news agency quoted a local emergency services representative as saying two of the bodies were found Thursday evening — one in a lifeboat 105 kilometers away and the other in the water nearby.
A Mi-8 helicopter with rescue workers and doctors was deployed to deliver medical help and transport crew members to hospitals in the city of Magadan.


Needlework by female artisans in Pakistan’s white desert reaches royal courts of Arabia

Updated 2 min 40 sec ago

Needlework by female artisans in Pakistan’s white desert reaches royal courts of Arabia

KHIPRO: Naaji Meghwar, a middle-aged artisan in a desert village in southeastern Pakistan, said that she was looking forward to going shopping for her family before the upcoming Diwali festival this year.
For a change, she can make her own decisions about how to spend money: The 10,000 rupees ($62) that she makes each month from needlework is hard-earned and all her own.
Meghwar — from Pakistan’s Achro Thar desert, known for its white sand dunes and saline lakes — is one of dozens of local women who have turned the craft of thread work into a means of financial independence, and whose elaborate embroidery designs are now admired and appropriated abroad, with regular orders from royals in the Middle East.
“This Diwali festival in mid-November, I have planned shopping for my family from my embroidery work savings,” Meghwar told Arab New, referring to the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated each year in the impoverished desert whose population of 300,000 people is majority Hindu.
“This financial freedom is because of money in my hand, as I don’t have to be dependent on male members of the family,” the artisan said.
Things are about to get even better for Mehgwar. With winter approaching, she and her colleagues are expecting a rise in orders for their richly detailed tapestries.
“Normally winter is peak season for local orders because of wedding season and dowries,” she said.
Demand for the embroidered pieces also rises in winter with the arrival of migratory birds and foreign hunters, who come mostly from Arab countries to hunt rare desert birds such as the houbara bustard. They also buy local craft.
“Achro Thar normally hosts dignitaries from royal families of the United Arab Emirates for hunting,” Malhar Chaniho, a local Arabic translator, who organizes hunting trips, told Arab News. “During the past 20 years, I have purchased countless homemade items, especially rugs and shawls on the demand of
royal guests.”

HIGHLIGHT

The designs are now admired and appropriated abroad with regular orders from Arab countries.

Needlework from Achro Thar is vividly colored with geometrical and wildlife motifs and comes in many variations.
Aari embroidery, for example, is popular for its fine and delicate threadwork and usually decorates scarves. Ralli work, with interlocking circles and stepped square patterns, appears on bigger items such as quilts and bedcovers.
These decorative handworks have international appeal as gifts. Allahyar Muhammad Khan Keerio, a resident of Achro Thar’s Sanghar district, said that he had spent 30 years working as a driver in Madinah and always took embroidered pieces with him as gifts when he returned to Saudi Arabia. 
“During my stay in the Kingdom as an expat and now as a frequent visitor, I take local handicrafts as souvenirs for my family and friends and for former Saudi bosses,” he said. “For my next Umrah trip, I have already placed some handicrafts orders to take as gifts.”
Because handicraft from Achro Thar is unregulated, it is hard to pin down how much of it is sent abroad and whether the women artisans are paid fairly for their work.
“This women-led craft is of high potential but remains undocumented,” Ashiq Hussain Khoso, head of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan’s Hyderabad branch, told Arab News. “In personal and individual capacity, women-made products from Achro Thar go to Middle East, Europe and US.”
But the TDAP, he said, was planning to “uplift” desert craftswomen and help them to capture the online market. Indeed, in an impoverished region where most are illiterate and internet access is scarce, the craftswomen say all that they need is the government’s help in getting rid of middlemen.
“Government should establish purchasing centers where it can buy embroidery work and sell elsewhere and give us due payment,” said Khadija Samoon, an embroidery master from Dodhar village, who used to work with the Sindh Rural Support Organization.
As she sewed brightly colored patches onto a black tunic, she said: “In the absence of government infrastructure, women artisans are at the mercy of private vendors.”

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