July 28, 2008 in Nation/World

Owner acquitted in ferry disaster


The owner of a ferry that sank two years ago in the Red Sea was acquitted Sunday of manslaughter charges in the deaths of more than 1,000 people who perished in the botched rescue.

Sunday’s ruling cleared a total of five people in the case, outraging families of those killed in the accident. One person – the captain of another ferry who failed to respond to the foundering vessel’s distress call – was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail.

The ferry owner, a former member of parliament, and his son were cleared of manslaughter and faulty injury charges by a court in the Red Sea port city of Hurghada, the country’s official news agency, MENA, reported. The men, who fled the country shortly before being ordered to stand trial, were tried in absentia. They are believed to be hiding in Europe.

The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in February 2006 after fire broke out in its vehicle bay while traveling from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. Most of the victims were Egyptian workers returning home.

SYDNEY, Australia

Qantas inspecting oxygen tanks

Qantas Airways’ chief executive says whatever caused a midair emergency aboard a jetliner carrying 350 passengers last week was more than likely beyond the control of the airline.

Geoff Dixon’s comment during a news conference today suggests the cause of the blast that ripped a hole in the fuselage of the passenger jet on Friday was mechanical, not human.

Qantas is inspecting oxygen cylinders as investigators focus on a missing tank as the suspected cause of a mid-air explosion.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the Sydney-based airline was ordered to quickly inspect every oxygen bottle aboard its 30 Boeing 747s.

Civil authority spokesman Peter Gibson confirmed an oxygen cylinder was missing from the Boeing 747-400 that landed in Manila, Philippines, on Friday after a section of its metal skin was ripped away at 29,000 feet over the South China Sea. There were no injuries.


4 panda cubs born at breeding center

Four giant panda cubs were born within 14 hours at a breeding center in southwest China, a mini baby boom for the rare animals, a state news agency reported Sunday.

The births began Saturday at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center, when 9-year-old Qiyuan, or Magic Luck, gave birth to female twins at 5:24 p.m. and 6:16 p.m., Xinhua News Agency reported, citing center expert Yang Feifei.

Eight-year-old Chenggong, or Success, gave birth to a cub at 7:51 p.m., followed by 8-year-old Zhuzhu, or Pearl, who delivered at 6:55 a.m. Sunday, Yang said.

The center has 71 pandas in captivity, Xinhua said.

Only about 1,600 pandas live in the wild mostly in southwestern Sichuan province. which was hit by an earthquake

From wire reports

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