52 people killed in Kazakhstan bus fire

Above, the charred bus where 52 people were killed when it caught fire while headed from the Russian city of Samara on the Volga river to the town of Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018

52 people killed in Kazakhstan bus fire

ASTANA, Kazakhstan: Fifty-two people were killed Thursday when the bus they were traveling on caught fire in Kazakhstan, the central Asian nation’s emergency services ministry said in a statement.
“On January 18 at 10:30 am (0430 GMT), a bus caught fire ... 55 passengers and two drivers were on board. Five people who managed to escape are receiving medical assistance. The rest died on the spot,” the ministry said, without elaborating on the cause of the blaze.
The bus driver said the passengers were Uzbek nationals while the vehicle was registered in Kazakhstan, emergency services ministry official Ruslan Imankulov said.
He said the fire spread through the bus extremely quickly.
Video broadcast by Russian and Kazakh media showed black smoke and flames billowing from the vehicle on a flat stretch of road carving through a snowy steppe. A photograph taken later showed the vehicle completely charred.
The ministry named the vehicle as a Hungarian-made Ikarus. These buses are still widely used in ex-Soviet nations, even though they are often decades old.
The bus was headed from the Russian city of Samara on the Volga river to the town of Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan, the ministry said.
The tragedy, which struck in the area around the city of Aktobe, came less than three years after 16 people, including three children, died in the country when a minibus collided with a van on April 20, 2015.


India: No extension of 21-day coronavirus lockdown

Updated 21 min 5 sec ago

India: No extension of 21-day coronavirus lockdown

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15
  • India has 1,071 cases of the coronavirus of whom 29 have died, the health ministry said on Monday

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: India has no plans to extend a 21-day lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the government said on Monday, as it struggled to keep essential supplies flowing and prevent tens of thousands of out-of-work people fleeing to the countryside.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country’s 1.3 billion people to remain indoors until April 15 saying that was the only hope to stop the epidemic. But the order has left millions of impoverished Indians jobless and hungry.
Defying the lockdown, hundreds of thousands of workers who live on daily wages left big cities like Delhi and Mumbai on foot for their homes in the countryside, many with families. They said they had no food or money.
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba told Reuters partner, ANI, that there was no plan to extend the shutdown beyond the three weeks, rejecting reports that a prolonged closure was likely.
India has 1,071 cases of the coronavirus of whom 29 have died, the health ministry said on Monday. The numbers are small compared with the United States, Italy and China, but health officials say India is weeks away from a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system.
Neighboring Nepal, however, announced it would extend its shutdown for another week beginning on Tuesday. The landlocked country has had only five cases of the virus and no deaths, but it is concerned the virus will spread as people start traveling.
“If the lockdown is not extended then the movement of people increases raising the risk of more virus cases,” said Surya Thapa, an aide to Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.
A major concern in India is that the hundreds of thousands of workers going homes will spread the virus deep into the hinterland, said a top health official.
“It’s an evolving situation with daily new challenges coming up like having migratory populations moving from one place to another. Like non-affected states, adjoining affected states,” said Dr. S.K. Singh, director of the National Center for Disease Control, which investigates and recommends control measures for outbreaks.
The government on Sunday ordered authorities in states to stop the migrant workers from moving and to set up shelters on highways where stranded people can get access to food and water until the lockdown is lifted.