3.26.15:  More information revealed from black box


SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) — A French prosecutor says the cockpit voice recorder from the downed German aircraft includes the sound of passengers screaming just before the crash. There’s also the sound of pounding on the cockpit door during the final minutes of the flight — when the pilot was outside the cockpit, trying to get in. But the prosecutor says the co-pilot refused to open the door. According to the prosecutor, the co-pilot’s initial conversations with the pilot were “courteous.” But he says the co-pilot’s responses became “curt’ after the captain began the mid-flight briefing on the planned landing of the plane. He says the co-pilot appeared to want to “destroy the plane.”


Germany’s top security official says that there are “no indications of any kind of terrorist background” connected to the Germanwings crash — which a French prosecutor now says was a deliberate act by the German co-pilot. The country’s interior minister says German authorities checked intelligence and police databases on the day of the crash, and Lufthansa told them that regular security checks also turned up nothing untoward on the co-pilot. Tuesday’s crash in the French Alps killed 150 people.

3.25.15:  Search resumes at German jetliner crash site


SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) — France’s aviation investigation bureau has released photos of the badly mangled voice data recorder from the Germanwings flight that crashed into an Alpine mountainside.

The images show the metal black box — which is actually a bright orange-red — twisted, dented and scarred by the impact of the crash.

France’s transport minister says the initial focus of investigators trying to access data from a damaged cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered yesterday will be on the conversations prior to the crash in the Alps that killed 150 people.

He says officials believe it’s unlikely an intruder or attack caused the Germanwings plane to crash on a flight from Spain to Germany.

Helicopters are back in use for a second day of searching while ground crews slowly make their way to the crash site where 150 people were killed when the plane took a so-far unexplained eight-minute dive.

Meanwhile, the mayor of a town close to the site of the plane crash says bereaved families are expected to begin arriving today and that local families are offering to host bereaved because of a shortage of rooms to rent.

Leaders of France, Germany and Spain will also meet with them in a makeshift chapel set up in a gymnasium.


Germanwings has had to cancel a few flights since the crash because some crews declared themselves unfit to fly after losing colleagues.

A flight from Duesseldorf to Barcelona on Wednesday was scratched, along with some from Duesseldorf and Stuttgart on Tuesday.

Chief executive Thomas Winkelmann said some cockpit and cabin crews “didn’t want to fly today or yesterday for emotional reasons.”

He added that “the management completely understands this because we are a small family — everyone knows everybody inside Germanwings so it is a big shock for employees.”

3.24.15:  Looking for any plane crash survivors


PARIS (AP) — France’s president says no survivors are likely after a passenger jet crashed today in the French Alps.

The Germanwings Airbus passenger, carrying 144 passengers and six crew, jet went down as it traveled from Barcelona, Spain to Duesseldorf, Germany, and France’s Interior Ministry says the plane did send a distress signal.

He says debris from the crash has been spotted but that the search and rescue operation is expected to be difficult because the plane crashed in a remote area.

The plane that went down is an Airbus 320, a single-aisle, twin-engine jet that’s similar to the Boeing 737. A Boeing safety analysis says the A320 family has a good safety record, with just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs.



3.20.15:  UN warns world could have 40 percent water shortfall by 2030


NEW DELHI (AP) — The U.N. is warning that the world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water by 2030 unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource.

Many underground water reserves are already running low, while rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change. As the world’s population grows to an expected 9 billion by 2050, more groundwater will likely be used in farming, industry and for personal consumption.

In a report issued in India on Friday, the U.N. says if current trends don’t change, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs in 2030, and demand will rise 55 percent by 2050.

The shortfall could cause crops to fail, industries to collapse, ecosystems to break down, and trigger violent conflicts over water rights.

3.20.15:  Passenger train derails in north India, killing 26 people


LUCKNOW, India (AP) — At least 26 people are dead after three coaches of a passenger train derailed in the northern part of India today.

Rescuers are using gas cutters to rip apart the mangled wreckage to find trapped people.

At least 30 people have been injured.

3.19.15:  Death toll up in Tunisian attack


TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) —Tunisia’s health minister says the death toll in yesterday’s museum attack in Tunis has risen to 23 people, including 18 foreign tourists.

Five of the dead were Tunisians, including two gunmen.

Authorities say the gunman opened fire on buses at the famed Bardo museum and then inside the building.

Some of the victims were cruise ship passengers.

Spain’s foreign minister says two Spanish tourists were found safe after hiding out in the museum all night.


3.17.15:  Everest to speed up rescues, have more doctors at base camp


KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Officials in Nepal say this climbing season they’ll try to speed up rescues. They’ve also added more medical staff at Mount Everest’s base camp. The moves come after 16 local guides were killed by an avalanche last year in the deadliest disaster ever on the world’s highest peak. Officials say an emergency room tent at base camp will be equipped to handle almost any medical need. The spring climbing season runs through May 31.

3.17.15:  Philippines: 4 Filipino nurses in Libya safe, not kidnapped


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government says four Filipino nurses reported to have been kidnapped from a Libyan hospital by militants from an Islamic State group affiliate were actually taken to a safe place by a friend and were not abducted.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose says the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli got in touch with one of the four nurses, who said they were all safe.

An official of a militia battling the Islamic State group affiliate reported the kidnappings in the city of Sirte on Monday.

Jose said “a local friend who was concerned for their safety” took the four nurses from their accommodation to a “safer place.”

He said there still was no word about seven Filipino oil field workers kidnapped earlier in Libya.

3.16.15:  Still assessing damage after cyclone


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Vanuatu’s president says some 90 percent of the buildings in the capital sit damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Pam.

Baldwin Lonsdale says he’s been told of at least six dead, but he expects that to rise once the communication network is restored to outlying islands of the Pacific archipelago.

He’s appealing for international aid for the place he calls “paradise.”

3.16.15:  Putin reappears after 10-day absence, looks healthy


ST.PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has resurfaced and is looking healthy after a 10-day absence from public view.

The 62-year-old Russian leader was last seen in public on March 5, when he hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The Kremlin insisted that he continued holding official meetings and released photos and video of Putin at meetings on national television, but Russian media suggested the images had actually been shot much earlier.

Putin’s decision to abruptly postpone a trip to Kazakhstan planned for last week fueled speculation that he was unwell — claims the Kremlin denied.

On Monday, Putin met with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atanbayev in St. Petersburg’s ornate Konstantin Palace. There was nothing in his appearance that indicated any obvious health problems.