World Notes

November 22 1999

World Notes

November 22 1999

World Notes

Earthquake in Turkey

Hundreds of people were believed dead and thousands injured after a powerful earthquake struck northwestern Turkey. Measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, it was the second major quake to strike the area this year. A massive 7.4-magnitude earthquake in August killed 17,000 people. Last week’s quake was centred at the town of Duzce, leaving many buildings levelled and survivors coping with freezing temperatures.

Baptists split over wives

The powerful Southern Baptists of Texas voted to reject church dogma dictating that women are subservient to their husbands. Last year, the national convention of the 15.7-millionstrong church said a woman must “submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” Texas is the church’s largest state convention, with 2.7 million members.

Tragedy in Italy

A six-storey building collapsed in the southern Italian town of Foggia while more than 25 families were sleeping, killing at least 48 people and leaving many buried under tons of concrete and steel. Rescue workers and fire brigades dug with their bare hands in an attempt to find survivors.

Y2K fears in Russia

The U.S. state department, fearing year 2000 computer glitches, is allowing diplomats in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova to leave their posts temporarily until the new year. It also issued a travel warning for the region, saying breakdowns in the electrical system could result in disruptions in heat, water and telephones.

School killer gets 1 1 1 years

Kip Kinkel, the 17-year-old Springfield, Ore., boy who gunned down his parents and then killed two students at his high school in a hail of bullets, was sentenced to 111 years in prison. At his hearing, nearly 50 people, including relatives of the dead, demanded he spend the rest of his life in prison.

A stress on rights

Human rights issues— past and present—dominated Prime Minister Jean Chrétiens first official trip to Africa. After seeing the horrors of an old slave market in Senegal and hearing praise for Canadas activist stance in newly democratic Nigeria, Chrétien turned his focus to Pakistan at the annual Commonwealth summit in Durban, South Africa. Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was toppled in a military coup engineered by Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf in October. In response, the 54-member Commonwealth suspended Pakistan, and Chrétien said he wants Musharraf to set a specific timetable for a return to democracy. “We are very unhappy with the situation,” he said.

Before the meeting, Canadian High Commissioner Ferry de Kerckhove and another senior Commonwealth envoy became the first outsiders to meet with Sharif, who is under house arrest. Analysts saw the visit as a sign that Musharraf may be responsive to Commonwealth concerns, and the summit avoided sanctions against Pakistan. Under Commonwealth rules, it has two years to return to democracy before facing a mandatory

Farewell, Kosovo

In tacit recognition that Canada’s forces are overextended, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has ordered nearly all of the country’s soldiers to leave Kosovo by spring. As part of an agreement to cut back troop levels, Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Canada will reduce its force in Kosovo to a token 100 from the present 1,450, while beefing up its contingent in neighbouring Bosnia to about 1,800 from 1,300. The changes are in line with

expulsion. The country’s delicate state was emphasized again when six rockets exploded near a U.S. cultural centre and a UN office in Islamabad. No one was killed in the attack, and no one claimed responsibility.

Earlier, Chrétien denounced human rights abuses and promised to boost foreign aid to the region after he sombrely toured Gorée Island in democratic Senegal. It was there that millions of slaves were herded onto ships and sent to America from the mid-16th to mid19th centuries. The Prime Minister then travelled on to Nigeria where Mounties in full regalia stood guard as he officially reopened Canadas high commission in Abuja, the capital. Ottawa left the building unstaffed for more than a year in the waning days of the former military dictatorship. President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was elected in May, thanked Canada for its strong support of Nigeria’s opposition.

NATO efforts to reduce the number of troops in the former Yugoslavia, but Chrétien told Eggleton in a letter last week that a reduction was necessary because of “the costs involved and the lack of capability to respond to new peace and security challenges.” Canada now has about 4,500 troops overseas, but with the Kosovo withdrawal and the return of 650 peacekeepers from East Timor, the total by late spring or early summer will be about 3,000—a number Eggleton said the Canadian Forces can sustain.

The precipitous plunge of Flight 990

The mystery deepened over the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 off the coast of Massachusetts, which killed all 217 aboard, including 22 Canadians. Officials of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in Washington released information from the jetliners flight data recorder, one of its two so-called black boxes. It showed there was nothing wrong with the Boeing 767s systems before it began its fatal plunge into the Adantic Ocean in the early hours of Oct. 31. But during the planes sudden descent, the engines were turned off from the cockpit—raising the dire possibility that the pilot or someone deliberately took it into a steep, controlled dive. At one point, on a sharp 40-degree angle, the plane approached the speed of sound, making the passengers weightless.

The doomed flight was bound from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Cairo, cruising at an altitude of 10,000 m, when the trouble began. The plane’s crew did not contact air traffic controllers. But the flight data recorder, recovered from the wreckage some 80 m below the surface of the ocean 100 km southeast of Nantucket Island, showed that the 767 s autopilot was disconnected—either by the crew or for some unknown mechanical reason. “About eight seconds later,” said NTSB chairman James Hall, “the airplane begins what appears to be a controlled descent.” A warning signal apparently sounded in the cockpit—possibly as a result of depressurization or excessive speed—just before the engines were shut down. After that 40second plunge, the plane apparendy levelled off before again diving, this time to its death.

The new details raised the question whether or not someone—either the pilot or another person—deliberately put the craft into its steep dive. Hall refused to the-

orize: “We cannot at this time explain the circumstances on Flight 990, and we will not attempt to speculate about it” he said. He did rule out one possible explanation for the crash that was widely discussed previously—that one of the 767s thrust reverses might have accidentally deployed, sending it into an uncontrolled death spiral. That was the cause of another crash involving a Boeing 767 in Thailand in 1991, but the data recorder showed that Flight

990’s thrust reverses did not deploy.

The new information added urgency to the search for more clues. At week’s end, U.S. navy salvage crews were trying to recover the other “black box”—the plane’s cockpit voice recorder—using remotely operated underwater drones. The box is designed to record the last 30 minutes of conversation among the flight crew, and may provide the best hope for understanding what happened aboard Flight 990. The voice recorder was believed to be buried under debris, and officials were optimistic about recovering it.