|Turkish frigate TCG Giresun is seen near Turkey’s Aksaz naval base in this June 2009 file photo. (Photo: AA)|
|The Turkish Navy is planning to dispatch three frigates to the Eastern Mediterranean to ensure freedom of navigation and to confront Israeli warships if necessary, a Turkish news report said on Monday.|
|The Turkish frigates, to be dispatched by the Navy’s Southern Sea Area Command, will provide protection to civilian ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, blockaded by Israel since 2007, the Turkish daily Sabah reported. If the Turkish warships encounter an Israeli military ship outside Israel’s 12-mile territorial waters, they will advance up to 100 meters close to the ship and disable its weapon system, in a confrontation that resembles dogfights in the Aegean Sea with Greek jet fighters, according to the report.
The report comes days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkish warships will escort civilian aid ships headed to Gaza to prevent a repetition of last year’s Israeli raid on a Turkish-owned ship that killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American, setting the stage for a potential naval confrontation with its former ally.
Turkey announced a set of sanctions against Israel after it refused to apologize for the 2010 raid, expelling the Israeli ambassador and other senior diplomats and suspending military agreements with Israel. Turkey also promised to take measures to ensure freedom of navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said Erdoğan’s remarks were “harsh and serious,” but stressed that Israel was not interested in a war of words with its once-close ally. “Our silence is the best response. I hope this phenomenon will pass,” he said on Friday.
NAIROBI: More than 100 people burned to death when a fuel pipeline burst into flames in a slum area in the Kenyan capital, police said Monday.
“We are putting the number of dead at over 100, we are waiting for body bags to put the victims into,” said Thomas Atuti, area police commander.
The explosion happened in Nairobi’s Lunga Lunga industrial area, which is surrounded by the densely packed tin-shack housing of the Sinai slum.
“There had been a leak in the fuel pipeline earlier, and people were going to collect the fuel that was coming out,” said Joseph Mwego, a resident.
“Then there was a loud bang, a big explosion, and smoke and fire burst up high.”
Many residents were caught up in the blaze, which started around 0530 GMT, and an AFP reporter at the scene counted scores of charred bodies around the fire.
“People were trying to scoop fuel from the pipeline,” a Red Cross official confirmed by telephone, adding that the organisation had sent a team to the scene of the fire.
“I have never seen this in my life. I have seen women and children burnt like firewood. The very worst was a woman burned with her baby on her back,” a local resident Francis Muendo told AFP.
“We’re not sure about the number (of casualties)” said Dan Mutinda, a Red Cross official coordinating relief efforts at the scene of the fire. “From where I am I can see over 40 bodies burned completely. A couple have been swept away by the river.”
Some of those who caught fire jumped into a nearby stream to try to extinguish the flames when their clothing and hair caught fire, but many succumbed to their injuries in the water. Police have placed a net across the stream to prevent the bodies from drifting away.
Mutinda said the last of the injured have now been evacuated and he and his colleagues are now concentrating on “support and tracing services.”
The sound of ambulance sirens ferrying away the injured for medical care gave way to the shouts of children, some in school uniform, running around searching for their parents.
Bystanders covered their mouths to avoid choking on the acrid smoke. Firefighters in protective clothing sprayed chemical foam to try to contain the fire, while both police and soldiers roped off the area and pushed people back from the area.
Houses close to the pipeline were also engulfed in flames, their tin roofs buckling and disintegrating and their badly burned residents evacuated for medical care.
Local televisions said scores of burn victims had been taken to hospital and showed footage of the injured being ferried by ambulance.
Fuel leaks and oil tanker accidents in Africa often draw huge crowds scrambling to scoop fuel, resulting in many deaths due to accidental fires.
In 2009, 122 people were killed after a fire erupted while they were drawing fuel from an overturned tanker in western Kenya.
One person has been killed and four injured, one seriously, by an explosion at the southern French nuclear plant of Marcoule.
There were no radioactive leaks after the blast, caused by a fire near a furnace in a radioactive waste storage site, a French nuclear official said.
A security perimeter has been set up because of the risk of leakage.
The plant produces MOX fuel, which recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons, but does not include reactors.
It is a major site involved with the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
The Centraco treatment centre belongs to a subsidiary of national electricity provider EDF.
The explosion hit the plant at 1145 local time (0945 GMT).
“For the time being nothing has made it outside,” said a spokesman for France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
Marcoule, one of France’s oldest nuclear plants, is located in the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon region, near France’s Mediterranean coast.
Nuclear energy provides more than 70% of France’s energy needs.
All the country’s 58 nuclear reactors have been put through stress tests in recent months, following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.
EDF’s share prices fell by more than 6% as news of the blast emerged.