Recovered plane debris may be from missing MH370

A piece of debris found along the eastern African coast between Mozambique and Madagascar may be from the tail section of the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared two years ago.

Malaysian and Australian investigators who have looked at photos of the possible debris said the piece could be a horizontal stabiliser from a Boeing 777, the same type of plane as the flight MH370 aircraft that was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when authorities lost track of it in March 2014.

The report could not be confirmed and Mozambican authorities have no information on the sighting of such an object off the coast of Inhambane province, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Inacio Dina.

The US National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment and referred questions to the Malaysian authorities who oversaw the investigation. Boeing also declined to comment, referring all questions to investigating authorities.

It was reported that the debris was found on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel by an American man who has been tracking the investigation into the missing flight.

Engineers who have looked at the debris have said there is a good chance it belonged to MH370, reports said, citing sources close to the investigation.

Sources said the piece looks like it belongs to a Boeing 777 and that Boeing engineers were examining the photos.

Australian authorities said they were arranging for an investigation of the piece, which could have drifted to the sandbar. Authorities there have said they are stepping up their search for the missing plane, which had been carrying 239 passengers.

The report comes after authorities said last year that they had found a piece of the plane’s wing on the shore of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean on the other side of Madagascar.

Authorities have said other reported debris was not wreckage from flight MH370.

7.8-magnitude quake strikes Indonesia

JAKARTA: A powerful and shallow earthquake struck Wednesday (Mar 2) off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, sending panicked residents rushing from their homes in a region hit hard by quakes and tsunamis in the past.

There has been no information on any deaths from the earthquake, an official with the country’s search and rescue agency told Reuters.

“Up until now, there is no information about deaths,” said Heronimus Guru, the agency’s deputy head of operations. Guru had earlier told Reuters the earthquake had killed some people, but that he did not know how many.

The epicentre was 808 km (502 miles) southwest of Padang, USGS said. It was 24km deep. USGS originally put the magnitude at 8.2, and then 8.1, before lowering it to 7.9 then 7.8.

However the USGS said there was a “low likelihood of casualties and damage,” and added that there was “likely to be no affected structures in this region”.


By 9.15pm, Indonesia’s met agency had issued a tsunami warning and about an hour later, local media reported that it was lifted.

However the head of Indonesia’s met agency Andi Eka Sakya told media at 10.30pm that the alert was not officially lifted, although the possibility of a tsunami at that point was slim.

“The earthquake was felt in a big part of West Sumatra cities and Mentawai,” said West Sumatra governor Irwan Prayitno to Kompas TV.

“We continue to remind residents to be careful and be on standby, but at this point, the possibility of a tsunami is smaller as compared to much earlier, about an hour ago when the quake first occurred.”

Almost 1,000 Mentawai residents were at a tsunami evacuation shelter as of 9.30pm Singapore time.

“So far there have been no reports (of damage) yet,” Andi Eka Sakya, an official of the National Meteorological Agency, told TVOne. “In Bengkulu (on southwest coast of Sumatra) they didn’t feel it at all.”

The quake was felt strongly in Padang in West Sumatra for a few seconds, a AFP journalist in the city said. People ran out of their homes to higher ground. Traffic ground to a halt and there was a sense of panic on the streets, the journalist added.

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said. A Medan resident said he didn’t feel the quake.


Residents in Singapore reported feeling tremors in areas including Bishan, East Coast, Sengkang and Ang Mo Kio. However, Singapore is unlikely to be affected by the earthquake, said the National Environment Agency.

A Katong resident, who only wanted to be identified as Ms Amanda, said she felt tremors from her 12th-floor apartment shortly after the quake struck, at 9.05pm.

“I was lying down reading a book when suddenly I felt like the ground was moving side to side. I thought I was feeling tired, but my mum saw our lamps outside shaking, so we decided to evacuate,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

Amanda said there were about 15 residents gathered downstairs of her condominium. Her family of six stayed at the ground floor for about half an hour.

“We live quite high up, and we have two dining lamps which won’t shake if it’s just (strong) wind. It’s happened before during an earthquake as well,” said Ms Amanda of her family’s decision to self-evacuate from their apartment.

They eventually returned to their home at 9.30pm. “We just wanted to be safe first. We headed downstairs and saw other people, so that confirmed it,” she said.


Malaysian authorities have issued a statement saying that there was “no tsunami threat”, despite tremors being felt in some areas in Selangor and Johor.

Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre had urged the public to be prepared for potential tsunamis, with the quake hitting 1,436km off the Thai resort island of Phuket, but cancelled it later.

Australia also issued a tsunami warning for Western Australia and Christmas and Cocos Islands, but lifted the advisory for its Western coast.

Indonesia, especially Aceh, was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The country straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

Uzbek nanny in Russia says child beheading ‘ordered by Allah’

A nanny in Russia accused of murdering and then decapitating a little girl in her care has said that “Allah ordered” her to carry out the act.

Gulchekhra Bobokulova, a 38-year-old mother of three, spoke to reporters on her way into a Moscow court.

Bobokulova, a Muslim and a citizen of Uzbekistan, also replied “yes” when asked if she accepted her guilt.

CCTV appeared to show her, dressed in a hijab, walking near a metro station with a head in her hands.

Russian media reported that she pulled the head out of a bag and began screaming that she would blow herself up after a police officer asked to see her identity documents.

Russian TV silence over crime

Amateur video posted online showed a black-clad woman shouting “I am a terrorist. I am your death”.

Investigators told the Presnensky district court they had not found anyone else involved in the case.

But prosecutors also said they believed that Bobokulova had been “incited” to commit the crime.

Russian officials have said Bobokulova was suffering from mental health problems.

Investigators believe she waited for the four-year-old girl’s parents to leave the home before killing her, setting the apartment on fire and fleeing, the Moscow Times reported.

Moscow residents have left flowers and children’s toys outside the Oktyabrskoye Polye metro station, where Bobokulova was arrested, and outside the murdered child’s home.

Uzbekistan, which like other Central Asian states has a Muslim majority, has long supplied migrant labour for the Russian capital.

Donald Trump marches on as Hillary Clinton sweeps south on Super Tuesday

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominated on one of the most important nights of the 2016 presidential primaries.
On Tuesday, Republican and Democratic primary voters in a combined 13 states and US territories headed to the polls and caucuses to weigh in on the 2016 race.

Taken together, the “Super Tuesday” primaries and caucuses represented the largest amount of delegates up for grabs on a single day — more than 500 on the Republican side and 800 for Democrats.

On the GOP side, Trump extended his significant delegate lead, as he led the pack in most Super Tuesday state races. Almost immediately after polls closed, Trump was declared the winner in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Massachusetts, and picked up wins in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Arkansas later in the evening.

Sen. Ted Cruz also pulled out a surprise victory in Oklahoma, and secured a win in his home state of Texas, while Sen. Marco Rubio also nabbed a win in the Minnesota caucuses.

On the Democratic side, Clinton won contests in several Southern states immediately after the polls closed, including Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. But insurgent rival Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared poised to take a decent percentage of delegates, winning his home state of Vermont early in the night, and winning contests in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota.

As of 1:30 a.m. EST, Alaska was the only state that was yet to have a projected leader. Check further down for a full recap of the night.

Alabama: Trump projected winner.
Arkansas: Trump projected winner.
Georgia: Trump projected winner.
Massachusetts: Trump projected winner.
Minnesota: Rubio projected winner.
Oklahoma: Cruz projected winner.
Tennessee: Trump projected winner.
Texas: Cruz projected winner.
Vermont: Trump projected winner.
Virginia: Trump projected winner.
Alabama: Clinton projected winner.
Arkansas: Clinton projected winner.
Colorado: Sanders projected winner.
Georgia: Clinton projected winner.
Massachusetts: Clinton projected winner.
Minnesota: Sanders projected winner, according to the Associated Press.
Oklahoma: Sanders projected winner.
Tennessee: Clinton projected winner.
Texas: Clinton projected winner.
Vermont: Sanders projected winner.
Virginia: Clinton projected winner.

US lauds Pakistan for detaining JeM chief

WASHINGTON: The United States lauded Pakistan’s commitment to take prompt and decision action against Pathankot air base attackers, according to a State Department statement issued on Wednesday after the Pak-US strategic dialogue.

The dialogue held in Washington was co-chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

“Noting the steps taken by Pakistan to date, including the detention of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Maulana Masood Azhar, the US appreciated PM Nawaz’s stated commitment to take prompt and decisive action on this investigation and to bring the perpetrators of the January 2, 2016 attack on the Pathankot air base to justice,” the statement read.

The statement came a day after India linked Pakistan to a militant attack on an air base that killed seven soldiers in January. India had previously blamed militants from the extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for the assault on Pathankot air base in the northern state of Punjab, which triggered two days of gunbattles. But on Tuesday New Delhi said the militants could not have carried out the brazen attack on the air base near the border without Pakistan’s support.

The US also stressed the need for a meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India for the peaceful solution of all outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

The delegations underscored that all parties in the region should continuously act with maximum restraint and work collaboratively towards reducing tensions.

Further, both sides expressed their conviction that a robust, long-term bilateral relationship remains critical to regional and international security along with prosperity.

Leaderships of both countries agreed that a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan is an essential partner for the United States in advancing these shared goals.

“Pakistan’s prosperity is good for the region as well as for the United States,” Kerry said.

Kerry and Aziz expressed satisfaction on Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s visit to Islamabad for US-Pakistan Economic Partnership Week in 2015.

Reaffirming the importance of strategic dialogue, which provides vision and direction for this bilateral partnership, Aziz and Kerry reviewed the progress made in its six working groups, which represent core areas of joint interest and cooperation, including: energy, security, strategic stability, and nonproliferation, the Defense Consultative Group, law enforcement and counterterrorism, economics and finance and education, science, and technology.

They also looked forward to the fourth annual US-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, the first to be held in the United States, which will bring scores of US and Pakistani executives from across all sectors to New York City this year, and a meeting under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2016.

The two countries also acknowledged the importance of sustaining cooperation on shared interests through US civilian assistance, in line with the intent of legislation known as the ‘Kerry-Lugar-Berman’ act. Finally, they charged the Working Groups with continuing to meet according to a mutually determined schedule.

“The United States commended Pakistan’s exemplary generousity in hosting one of the largest, longest lasting refugee populations and reaffirmed the US commitment to humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees, returnees, and displaced persons in the region,” the statement read.

The two sides reiterated their commitment to facilitate the orderly return and reintegration of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Kerry and Aziz further commended the substantial progress made by Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan on the CASA-1000 electricity project. The four countries are now working together for implementation of the project by 2018. They welcomed the inaugural ceremony of the CASA-1000 project, to be hosted by Tajikistan in Dushanbe in May 2016.

The statement added, “Pakistan and US are committed to further strengthening the long-term partnership between the two countries, which is built on robust cooperation across a wide range of issues and reflecting shared interests and common values.”

Both sides reiterated their commitment towards democracy, human rights, economic growth, and respect for international law as essential for long-term regional peace and prosperity, and agreed that the two governments would meet for the next Ministerial-Level Strategic Dialogue in 2017.

Poll: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have huge, commanding leads over their fields

A new CNN/ORC poll of voters nationwide confirms what we already knew: A day ahead of Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand head and shoulders above the rest of their respective competitors.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump garnered fully 49 percent of Republican support, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz trailing him at 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively. This is Trump’s best showing yet in a CNN national poll, and his support now is greater than that of the next three competitors combined.

Still, it’s worth noting that Trump’s support, as measured by CNN, might be overblown. Though Trump indisputably holds the top position across national polls, his lead currently sits at about an average of 16 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Among the Democrats CNN polled, Clinton now leads Sen. Bernie Sanders 55 percent to 38 percent, a slightly wider margin than in the last such national poll, taken before the first four nominating contests. While Clinton’s lead is not as dramatic as Trump’s, she does hold a strong lead in the delegate count – a lead that’s poised to grow with upcoming contests.

Normally, national polls of presidential races don’t hold much water, since voters cast ballots by state and their preferences can swing wildly by geography. But it’s worth taking note of the large gaps between the top nominees and their closest contenders in this poll, as 13 states are set to vote in tomorrow’s Super Tuesday primaries.

In the first four states, candidates by and large placed their resources in local outreach, meeting voters and sending surrogates to knock on every voter’s door. But once the race hits Super Tuesday, too many states will hold contests at once, and it’s impossible for candidates to pour as many resources into each individual state.

For that reason, national headwinds are important, because they shape the media narratives that voters pay attention to. If voters believe that Clinton and Trump are more or less unstoppable – and this poll lends credence to that idea – they are more likely to flock to those candidates, perpetuating the cycle.

Go deeper:

Vox’s Andrew Prokop lays out the delegate math of Trump’s likely wins on Tuesday. If Trump wins big, Prokop writes, he will hold a prohibitive delegate lead.
Vox’s German Lopez explains why Bernie Sanders’s loss in South Carolina is not an anomaly – and why he’s likely in for more on Tuesday.
For those holding out for Trump to fizzle out, the Upshot calculated how, exactly, Marco Rubio can lose every Super Tuesday state and still win the nomination.

Suicide Bombing Kills 27 At Shi’ite Funeral In East Iraq

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: At least 27 people were killed when a bomber detonated his explosive vest at a funeral for the relative of a Shi’ite Muslim militia commander in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala today, security and medical sources said.

The attack in Muqdadiya, 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Baghdad follows the deadliest bombing inside the capital so far this year, which left 78 people dead in a Shi’ite district on Sunday.

Security officials and police in Diyala said the target of the attack was two local commanders of the Hashid Shaabi umbrella group of Shi’ite militias who were attending the funeral ceremony for one of their relatives.

“The suicide attacker approached the local Hashid commanders and then blew his vest up, killing both with many others,” said one police major on condition of anonymity. A further 55 people were wounded, the sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but attacks on Shi’ite Muslims are often claimed by ISIS terrorists who control large parts of north and western Iraq.

Iraqi officials declared victory over the insurgents in Diyala a year ago, but ISIS has remained active. The Badr Organisation has established itself as the ascendant militia in the region after rolling back the insurgents.

Security officials and witnesses say the situation inside Muqdadiya is very tense, with dozens of Shi’ite militia members deployed in the streets with no presence of the security forces.

Militia elements have been accused of attacking Sunni mosques and residents in Diyala following similar bombings in January, but the groups have denied the allegations and blamed ISIS.

Twin suicide bombing kills 70 in Baghdad’s deadliest attack this year

BAGHDAD – A twin suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State killed 70 people in a Shia district of Baghdad on Sunday in the deadliest attack inside the capital this year, as militants launched an assault on its western outskirts.
Police sources said the suicide bombers were riding motorcycles and blew themselves up in a crowded mobile phone market in Sadr City, wounding more than 100 people in addition to the dead.
A Reuters witness saw pools of blood on the ground with slippers, shoes and mobile phones at the site of the blasts, which was sealed off to prevent further attacks.
In a statement circulated online, Islamic State said it was responsible for the blasts: “Our swords will not cease to cut off the heads of the rejectionist polytheists, wherever they are,” it said.
Iraqi forces backed by airstrikes from a US-led coalition have driven Islamic State back in the western Anbar province recently and are preparing for an offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul.
But the militants are still able to strike outside territory they control, often targeting members of Iraq’s Shia majority, most recently on Thursday when two Islamic State suicide bombers killed 15 people at a mosque in the capital.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the attacks were in response to Islamic State’s recent defeats: “This gang targeted civilians after it lost the initiative and its dregs fled the battlefield before our proud fighters,” he said on his official Facebook page.
At dawn on Sunday, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi security forces in Abu Ghraib, seizing positions in a grain silo and a cemetery, and killing at least 17 members of the security forces, officials said.
Security officials blamed Islamic State, and a news agency that supports the group said it had launched a “wide attack” in Abu Ghraib, 25 km (15 miles) from the centre of Baghdad and next to the international airport.
Footage circulated online by the Amaq news agency appeared to show Islamic State fighters crouching behind dirt berms and launching the attack with automatic rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Reuters could not verify the video’s authenticity.
Security forces had mostly regained control by Sunday evening but officials said there were still clashes.
Baghdad-based security analyst Jasim al-Bahadli said the assault suggested it was premature to declare that Islamic State was losing the initiative in Iraq.
“Government forces must do a better job repelling attacks launched by Daesh. What happened today could be a setback for the security forces,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Army and police sources said the militants had attacked from the nearby Islamic State-controlled areas of Garma and Falluja, driving Humvees and pickup trucks fixed with machine guns.
A curfew was imposed as a regiment of Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism forces was mobilised to retake the silo in Abu Ghraib and prevent the militants approaching the nearby airport, security officials said.
Iraqi army helicopters bombarded Islamic State positions in the and Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said at least 20 militants had been killed in the government’s counter offensive.

At least 38 dead in bomb attack at market in Baghdad

Militants have attacked an outdoor market in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 38 people and leaving dozens more injured.
A bomb ripped through the crowded Mredi market in the Shia district of Sadr City, a police officer said. Minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up amid the crowd that had gathered at the site of the first blast.
Iraqi interior ministry spokesman Sad Main said the bombings killed 38 people and injured another 62.
The attack was the deadliest in a wave of recent explosions that have targeted commercial areas in and outside Baghdad.
In the town of Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, three shoppers were killed and 10 injured in a bomb explosion. Four others were killed in a separate bomb attack in Baghdad’s southern Dora neighbourhood.
The Islamic State-affiliated Aamaq news agency later claimed responsibility for the Sadr City bombings.
The militant Sunni Muslim group controls key areas in northern and western Iraq and regularly targets government forces, civilians and especially Shiites, who the IS regards as heretics.
The attacks came hours after security forces repelled an attack by Isis militants on the capital’s western suburb of Abu Ghraib.

Indian man kills 14 members of his family with knife: police

Thane: In a macabre incident, a 35-year-old man allegedly killed 14 of his family members, including his parents, wife and children among whom were two infants, by slitting their throats after sedating them and then committed suicide early Sunday, police said.

Seven children, the youngest being his three month-old daughter, six women and the father of the accused, lay dead in a pool of blood. The body of the man, Hasnen Anwar Warekar, was found hanging with a knife in his hand at his family’s ground plus one-storey house in Kasarvadawali area here, they said, adding that one of the family members, who survived the gruesome incident, has been admitted to hospital.

Thane’s joint commissioner of police Ashutosh Dhumbre said Hasnen had called his three sisters and their children from Koparkhairne in Navi Mumbai and Mahapoli near Bhiwandi for a ‘get-together’, which he used to host frequently.

Hasnen, a commerce graduate who used to prepare Income Tax-related documents with a CA firm in Navi Mumbai, is suspected to have offered them drinks laced with sedatives following which he slit their throats.

According to police, Hasnen offered prayers at around 3 a.m. at a mosque near his house. After returning home, he slit the throats of his family members one-by-one and then committed suicide by hanging himself.

At around 5-5.30 a.m., the lone survivor of the incident, Hasnel’s 22-year-old sister, Subiya Sojef Burmal, shouted for help from the window of the house, following which the neighbours gathered there and broke-open the window grill and pulled out the injured woman and admitted her to hospital. They also alerted the police.

“Hasnen slit the upper part of this sister’s throat, she survived the attack and screamed for help. The survivor’s in-laws, who were in the neighbouring house, heard her cries and tried opening the door, but it was locked from inside. The in-laws broke open the grill of a window on the ground floor and entered the house. It was then that the police was alerted of the incident,” Dhumbre said.

The 14 bodies with throats slit were found lying at the ground and first floor and blood was seen everywhere in the house owned by the family of the accused where they had been living for the last 10 years, police said. Besides, Hasnen’s body was found hanging from the ceiling with a knife dangling in his right hand, they said.

Dhumbre said the Hasnen’s mobile phone and laptop have been seized to get clues regarding the murders.

“Prima facie evidence suggests that the accused bolted all the doors of the house and murdered his family while they were asleep with a knife. The accused then hung himself after killing his family. There were three rooms in the house, while he was in a room with his wife and two daughters on the first floor, his parents and sisters were in separate rooms on the ground floor,” Dhumbre said.

While property dispute was suspected to be the reason behind the murders, the police officer said at this stage the motive could not be stated with certainty. He said blood samples, viscera and food samples collected from the house will be sent for forensic testing. The bodies, meanwhile, have been sent for post-mortem to Thane Civil Hospital, police said.

In a related development, a news channel cameraman covering the incident at Civil Hospital, where the bodies were taken, collapsed and died of heart attack, doctors said.

The deceased have been identified as – Zabin Hasnen The deceased have been identified as – Zabin Hasnen Warekar (28 – wife of Hasnen), Mushadshera Hasnen Warekar (06), Umera Hasnen Warekar (3 months) (both his daughters), Anwar Warekar (55 – father), Azgadi Anwar Warekar (50 – mother), Rabina Shaukat Khan (35), Batul Anwar Warekar (30), Maria Irfan Fakki (28) (all three sisters). The deceased also include children of the three sisters – Anas Shaukat Khan (12), Sabiya Shaukat Khan (16), Ali Hasan Shaukat Khan (05), Umer Irfan Fakki (7), Yusuf Irfan Fakki (4) and Asriya Sojef Burmal (5 months), they said.

The top brass of district police, including Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh, visited the spot. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone-1), Thane, Sachin Patil told reporters that offences under sections 302 and 309 of the IPC were registered with Kasarvadawali police in connection with the incident.

Police said that statement of the lone survivor, who is being treated at hospital for a wound in her neck, would be recorded when she is a proper state of mind and health. Thane district guardian minister Eknath Shinde visited the Civil Hospital to take stock of the situation. Thane Civil Surgeon Dr B. C. Kempi Patil carried out post-mortem of bodies and some were also sent to the civic-run Chatrapati Shivaji Hospital to speed up the autopsy process.

A close relative of the deceased, Liyakat Dhole, said the family was well-respected and the father of the accused was a trustee of a durgah. He also said that the family had a huge property including a company, which was later sold-off.

Hasnen’s close friend Jamir Patel, who had studied with him, said, “I did not expect him to do such a grave act. Something is wrong somewhere. I cannot digest that he has done such an act.” Police also said that they were trying to ascertain claims by Hasnen’s neighbours that he had made an unsuccessful attempt to poison to death his family members some years back.

One of the relatives said that the family members were soon planning to go to Ajmer on a pilgrimage. Some neighbours also claimed that he was well-versed with the procedure of kurbani (religious ritual of sacrificing an animal), and that is why he meticulously slit the throats of family members.

Meanwhile, news channel cameraman Ratan Bhowmik, who was covering the incident at the Civil Hospital, collapsed all off a sudden and died of heart stroke, doctors at the hospital said.