CANBERRA, Australia — A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday.
The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.
“I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home,” expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.
All 22 crew members stayed with their icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks’ worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that has paralyzed the ship breaks up.
The eagerly anticipated rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog, and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.
Three icebreakers were dispatched to try and crack their way through the ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora came within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the ship Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.
On Thursday, it appeared the weather had thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, with a barge then ferrying them to the Aurora.
But sea ice prevented the barge from reaching the Snow Dragon, and the maritime authority said the operation would have to be delayed.
A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead. The passengers were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, Turney said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of Hobart, Tasmania. The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson‘s 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.
Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship. Despite his disappointment over the expedition being cut short, he said his spirits remained high.
“I’m a bit sad it’s ended this way,” he said. “But we got lots and lots of great science done.”
The aircraft which landed at 10.50 am had a total of 104 passengers and crew members on board.
Nasir El-Rufai, who was aboard the plane, said in a tweet that the pilot and the crew of the plane did “a great job.”
“Upon landing in Lagos, our Aero aircraft lost a tyre. The pilot did a great job of breaking to a halt suitably. My phones flew under seats,” Mr. El-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, said via his official handle.
“It was amusing hearing shouts of Allah Akbar and Jesus…while the dutiful captain was trying to slow down the plane to a safe location.
“One of the passengers joked that he knew nothing would happen to us as I was onboard, nice of him, but Allah Decides our fate in His way,” he continued.
“The Aero pilot was good, the cabin staff calm and professional in the midst of mild drama and little panic by a few passengers. We thank God,” he added.
Confirming the incident, Yakubu Dati, Coordinating General Manager Aviation Parastatals, said that the aircraft had, immediately after arrival, been towed to the apron and that the Accident Investigation Prevention Bureau, AIPB, had commenced investigation.
“We wish to assure all air travelers of their safety and caution against magnifying a manageable incident out of proportion,” Mr. Dati said.
An evening of shopping ended in horror for a New Jersey couple when the husband was shot to death in a mall parking garage as his wife looked on and the two assailants then drove off in their luxury SUV.
The vehicle stolen Sunday, a silver Range Rover, was recovered Monday morning in a residential neighborhood in Newark, about 10 miles away from the Mall at Short Hills. The two carjackers were at large, and a local anti-crime group was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.
Killed in the attack was 30-year-old Dustin Friedland, a lawyer from Hoboken who had worked recently at his family’s HVAC company analyzing construction-related legal claims, according to his LinkedIn profile. Friedland’s wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, is listed as an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law at a firm in New York City. Both attended law school at Syracuse University, according to their online profiles.
A woman who answered the phone at Epic Mechanical in Neptune, N.J., declined to comment and said Friedland’s father, who also works there, was not in the office. No one answered at several phone numbers listed for other relatives.
Sunday’s encounter was the latest in a troubling pattern in Essex County, whose borders encompass crime-plagued Newark to the east as well as Short Hills and other affluent suburbs to the west. Carjackings have risen steeply in the past several years, leading local authorities to create a multi-agency task force three years ago after a spate of crimes that included brazen daytime attacks and the carjacking of a snowplow two days after a Christmas blizzard.
The partnership succeeded in arresting and prosecuting three groups responsible for most of the carjackings, and the crime rate fell temporarily. Since then, it has ticked up, with 416 last year in Essex County, a 44 percent increase from 2010.
Nearly 300 carjackings were reported through July 31 of this year, according to the county prosecutor’s office. In August, authorities announced a program that uses billboards to display mug shots of convicted carjackers next to the number of years they are serving in federal prison.
A major storm has hit northern Europe, leaving at least four people dead or missing, causing transport chaos and threatening the biggest tidal surge in decades.
Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland, while rail services were shut down in several countries.
One of Europe’s longest bridges – connecting Sweden to Denmark – closed.
Tens of thousands of homes were also left without power as the storm hit.
Winds of up to 228 km/h (142 mph) battered Scotland, where a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle was blown over near Edinburgh. At least two other people were injured by falling trees.
Police have confirmed reports that a man has been killed by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.
The storm has affected people across northern Europe, including Rotterdam where those venturing outside received a buffeting.
In Scotland, a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle blew over.
Preparations for a tidal surge are going on across several countries. Here, firefighters fortify an embankment in Cuxhaven-Sahlenburg, northern Germany.
Two sailors were reportedly swept overboard from a ship 22 km (14 miles) off the southern Swedish coast, and air-sea rescue services failed to find them.
A storm surge is due later on Thursday, coinciding with high tides in many areas.
Britain’s Environment Agency said tidal surges could bring significant coastal flooding, and the Thames Barrier was being closed to protect London.
British authorities said they had evacuated homes in Great Yarmouth, eastern England, adding that it could be the biggest storm surge for 60 years.
In the low-lying Netherlands, the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier has been closed off for the first time in six years. Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning for four areas in the north and north-west of the country.
The BBC’s Anna Holligan reports on heavy winds in the Netherlands
Germany reinforced emergency services in and around the northern port of Hamburg and cancelled lessons at several schools.
The storm was causing transport chaos throughout northern Europe.
Dutch airline KLM cancelled 84 flights from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, while about 20 were cancelled at Hamburg airport.
Weather presenter Matt Taylor explains how a storm surge happens
Flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports in Scotland were also cancelled.
Rail travel was badly affected, with all train services in Scotland cancelled because of debris on the lines and damage to equipment, and services in northern England were also hit.
The Oeresund road and rail bridge between Sweden and Denmark – which links the Danish capital Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmo and features in the hit television series The Bridge – was due to close from 1500 GMT.
Railway lines in Sweden and Denmark were closed, while Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruption across a swathe of northern Germany.
Ferries to Germany from Sweden and Denmark were cancelled.
Tragedy struck yesterday at Maronu Street in the Araromi area of Akure, the capital of Ondo State, as a former military officer, Desilva Adedipe, reportedly shot and killed his son, Ayo Adedipe. Family sources told SaharaReporters that Mr. Adedipe, who retired from service at the rank of major, shot his son at close range as the two argued over an electricity bill.
A resident of the street told our correspondent that many residents fled the area for fear of their lives as well as possible arrest by security operatives.
Our sources said that an argument broke out between the retired major and his son over payments for an electricity bill issued by the Power Holding Company of Nigerian (PHCN). One source said neighbors had tried to settle the matter between the two before the tragic incident.
A source said the former military officer’s son had verbally insulted his father. After a while, the ex-officer ran into his room and reemerged with a gun with which he shot his son in the chest at a close range. The young man died instantly.
Several residents who spoke to SaharaReporters described the incident as shocking. They expressed disappointment in the officer, disclosing that he had ignored their pleas to show restraint in dealing with his son. A few of the residents, however, blamed the late Ayo, saying he had a reputation in the community for stubbornness.
Popularly called “Osha,” the late Ayo was described as a notorious street boy in the community who reportedly masterminded many nefarious activities in the area including burglarizing shops to steal goods.
A source close to the family revealed that night guards on several occasion had come over to the family house to warn about the late youngster’s late-night escapades. “The night guard of our street on many occasions had knocked on our doors telling us to warn Osha because they won’t hesitate to hand him over to the police for associating with notorious street gangs and for his late walks,” the source said.
“Even his father knew him to be a bad boy,” said another resident of the community. He added: “Osha didn’t listen to advice from people. He would embarrass you or even send his gangs to trail you, beat or even molest you, if you talk about him.”
Olaide Adedipe, who claimed to be the wife of the deceased, said the shooting happened after Ayo’s father discovered that his son had not been depositing the electricity payments handed over to him.
Ms. Olaide said the former major found out that his son had been diverting the money but would show him fake electricity receipts as proof that the money had been paid.
SaharaReporters learnt that after killing Ayo, his father hurriedly carried his body out of the compound.
A source said that a commercial motorcyclist had raised an alarm after seeing the ex-military officer in a bush at Onigari, Shagari Village, Akure trying to dump his son’s body. The retired officer reportedly took to his heels.
Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the Nigerian Police Force, Ondo State Command, Wole Ogodo, said that Ms. Olaide, who claimed to be the wife of the deceased, reported the tragic development to them.
“The complainant rushed to the [police] station and said that the suspect, whom they used to call ‘Old Soldier,’ allegedly shot his own son during an argument over NEPA bill,” said the police spokesman.
Mr. Ogodo said police officers went in search of the alleged assailant, who remains elusive. The police investigators found the late Ayo’s body. He disclosed that the remains of the deceased had been deposited at a morgue in Akure, adding that an autopsy would be carried out.
The police spokesman also revealed that the case had been transferred to the state’s Criminal Investigation Department and that the police were on the trail of the suspect.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the big curve where the derailment occurred is in a slow speed area. The black box should be able to tell how fast the train was traveling, Anders said.
The derailment of the southbound Hudson Line train was reported at about 7:20 a.m., authorities said. The train left Poughkeepsie at 5:54 a.m. and was due to arrive at 7:43 a.m. at Grand Central Terminal.
Four or five cars on the seven-car train derailed about 100 yards north of the station, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said in a news release. But none of the cars entered the Hudson or Harlem rivers, which are adjacent, the MTA said.
The train appeared to be going “a lot faster” than usual as it approached the curve coming into the station, passenger Frank Tatulli told WABC-TV.
MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast was asked at the news conference if speed was something authorities planned to investigate.
“That’d be one of the factors,” he said, adding that the focus right now was on the passengers who were injured.
“I was asleep and I woke up when the car started rolling several times. Then I saw the gravel coming at me, and I heard people screaming. There was smoke everywhere and debris. People were thrown to the other side of the train,” he said, holding his bloody right hand.
Passengers were taken off the derailed train, with dozens of them bloodied and scratched, holding ice packs to their heads.
The Fire Department of New York said 130 firefighters had responded to the derailment.
The crash was reported by the engineer, and it wasn’t clear if any crew members were among the injured, the MTA said.
Edwin Valero was in an apartment building above the accident scene when the train derailed. He said none of the cars entered the water, but at least one ended up a few feet from the edge.
At first, he said, he didn’t notice that the train had flipped over.
“I didn’t realize it had been turned over until I saw a firefighter walking on the window,” he said.
Amtrak Empire service was halted between New York City and Albany after the derailment. Amtrak said its Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington was unaffected.
Prendergast said that when the NTSB gives them the go-ahead, they will begin efforts to restore service.
Sunday’s accident is the second passenger train derailment in six months for the rail service and presents Metro-North with another problem in a year plagued by safety issues.
On May 17, an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., and was struck by a westbound train. The crash injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor. Eleven days later, track foreman Robert Luden was struck and killed by a train in West Haven, Conn.
Earlier this month, Metro-North’s chief engineer, Robert Puciloski, told members of the NTSB investigating the May derailment and Ludent’s death that the railroad is “behind in several areas,” including a five-year schedule of cyclical maintenance that had not been conducted in the area of the Bridgeport derailment since 2005.
The NTSB issued an urgent recommendation to Metro-North that it use “redundant protection” such as a procedure known as “shunting” in which crews attach a device to the rail in a work zone alerting the dispatcher to inform approaching trains to stop.
“We heard about eight shots just in a row — bang, bang, bang! And then we all kind of hit the deck,” Henry told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
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“The shots were coming from the lower floor and we weren’t sure if the suspect was going to come up the escalator . . . It was a nightmare, exactly like something you see in a movie.”
The violence erupted at 9:20 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, when a 23-year-old man carrying anti-government material and toting an assault rifle began shooting, blasting his way through a security point.
As bulldozers and power saws repair the sunny boardwalks of Jersey’s vacation spots, one small piece of Sandy storm damage remains unattended: a weathered bronze church steeple.
The weathered bronze cross is silhouetted against the sky, bowing down as if in defeat.
It has been that way week after week, month after month, for nearly a year.
As bulldozers and power saws repair the sunny boardwalks of Jersey’s vacation spots, this small piece of Sandy storm damage remains unattended.
With the first anniversary of Sandy approaching, a quick fix has been thwarted at every turn.
“Every time I drive by and see it, my heart breaks. I say, ‘Lord, why is it so expensive?’” said Lily Ortiz, wife of the energetic pastor who bought the Belleville church in 2010 for their fledgling Hispanic congregation.
Relying on little more than faith and a handshake, Miguel Ortiz’s Inglesia Pentecostal La Senda Antigua (“The Old Path”) took ownership of a Dutch Reformed church whose roots predate George Washington.
What looks like a simple repair—perhaps just a hydraulic scaffold and a stiff yank to render the cross upright—turns out to be more complicated.
When Pastor Mike, as he is called, checked on his church the night Sandy struck, he saw the steeple swaying back and forth in the wind. More ominous was the accompanying sound:
“You could actually hear the wood cracking,” he recalled.
So he wasn’t surprised when the local engineering firm hired by the town to stabilize the structure told him the wooden belfrey and steeple were shot. The cross remained affixed because of a strong rod at its core, but bending it back upright might cause it to snap. The 160-year-old wooden structure would have to be taken down, repaired or replicated, then hoisted back up and re-installed.
The cost: $250,000.
It might as well be $250 million. The small congregation can barely pay its bills as it is.
If the church had that kind of money, Ortiz wouldn’t have allowed its property insurance to lapse in the months before the storm. He and his wife, who used to work for State Farm, knew they were taking a risk, but the money simply wasn’t there.
“Every penny that came in was going out,” he said.
They’d had to repair the roof of the fellowship hall (“You could see the stars at night”), replaster the walls of the cavernous sanctuary and install a handicap ramp.
FEMA will loan (but not give) money to churches, but Ortiz worries that if he were to get behind on his payments, he’d lose the church.
Ortiz originally wanted to remove the steeple and bent cross temporarily, replacing it with a flat roof. “But it’s historical,” he said. “The town said we can’t.”
The Dutch Reformed Church of Second River has been there, in some form or another, since 1697. During the Revolutionary War, lookouts in the original church tower sounded the alarm about approaching British troops, prompting villagers to drag their lone cannon to the churchyard facing the river.
The church cemetery contains the graves of 66 Continental Army soldiers. Next to those graves are a dozen burial plots for the Rutgers family. Yes, that Rutgers.
Whatever deep roots the church had in Belleville have simply dried up and given way to the forces of change.
The Reformed Church of America, formerly the Dutch Reformed Church, managed to maintain an active congregation until it celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1997. By then, however, it was more like an exhausted marathoner crossing the finish line — down to a few dozen congregants and actively contemplating a sale.
As an independent congregation, La Senda Antigua has no diocesan or synod emergency fund to tap. The local paper did an article about the predicament a month after the storm. In it, Ortiz asked for donations, listing his cell phone number. He didn’t get a single call.
(Kathleen O’Brien writes for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.)