AirAsia Flight 8501: Weather hampering search and recovery effort

CBS/AP   December 30, 2014, 3:44 PM

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia – A massive hunt for the 162 victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 resumed in the Java Sea on Wednesday, focusing on an area of the aqua-colored waters where the first bodies and debris were located a day earlier.

But wind, strong currents and high surf hampered recovery efforts as distraught family members anxiously waited to identify their loved ones.

The first proof of the fate of AirAsia Flight 8501 emerged Tuesday from the shallow, aqua-colored waters of the Java Sea, confirming that the plane crashed with 162 people aboard in an area not far from where it dropped off radar screens.

Two days after the jet vanished, searchers found began finding bodies and debris that included a life jacket, an emergency exit door and a suitcase about 10 miles from the plane’s last known coordinates.

Lightning is seen through the window of

What Makes Thunderstorms Such a Threat to Airliners?

  • 4:24 PM

“Thunderstorms are sort of the grandaddy of all aviation hazards because they sort of contain it all,” says Dr. Bruce Carmichael, who runs the Aviation Applications Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Turbulence, severe structural icing, engine icing, loss of visibility, lightning, wind shear, extreme updrafts and downdrafts. So virtually any hazard to aviation you can imagine.”

Today’s airliners can withstand extreme turbulence without structural damage, but a bumpy ride can injure those aboard, particularly if they’re not buckled in. About 60 people in the US are injured by turbulence annually, according to the FAA, and three people died between 1980 and 2008. Therefore, the violent updrafts and downdrafts common in thunderstorms are best avoided. “Microbursts” are especially rough; these pockets of sinking air, which occur in small or developing storms, can produce winds up to 150 mph. That’s not something you want to subject even the hardiest aircraft to.

MEANWHILE. . . (something to think about):

 AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes sells shares in Tune Insurance

AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes’ investmest vehicle Tune Group Sdn Bhd has sold a total of 944,800 shares in Tune Insurance Holdings Bhd.

According to a filing with Bursa Malaysia, some 850,000 shares were sold on December 22 and an additional 94,800 shares the day after. All shares were sold at RM1.60 each.

( AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore on 28 December 2014)

And Tune Insurance Holdings owns:

Tune Insure AirAsia Travel Protection

Additional sources:


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Ebola in Britain: Why was the sick nurse allowed to fly (from Heathrow to Glasgow, Scotland)?

Nurse Pauline Cafferkey had been volunteering at a Save the Children specialist Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, said health officials should have been “more precautionary” before allowing Pauline Cafferkey to board an internal flight from London to her home in Glasgow on Sunday night.

Miss Cafferkey had complained of a high temperature at a screening area at the airport but after being retested six more times was allowed to continue her journey.

Miss Cafferkey, 39, was identified yesterday as the nurse currently being treated in an isolation unit for the Ebola virus. She had written movingly of her time in Sierra Leone in a diary, extracts of which are published in today’s Telegraph.

A colleague of Miss Cafferkey, who had sat next to her on the flight into Heathrow, described the screening process at the airport as “shambolic”.

In further developments it also emerged that officials had still to trace more than 100 passengers – including eight people who sat in her immediate vicinity – who had travelled with Miss Cafferkey, either on a flight from Morocco to London or her connecting flight to Glasgow.

Miss Cafferkey, 39, was flown back to London yesterday in a ‘military-style’ plane for specialised treatment at the Royal Free Hospital.

She may receive blood plasma from Ebola survivors as part of her pioneering treatment. Plasma is likely to be donated by William Pooley, the British nurse diagnosed in west Africa with Ebola and successfully treated at the Royal Free. An experimental drug – ZMapp – used to treat Mr Pooley is “not available at the moment”, Professor Davies disclosed at an emergency press conference.

At the briefing, the senior official in charge of Public Health England, which has overall responsibility for Ebola screening, said Miss Cafferkey was tested seven times after she landed at Heathrow airport within the space of two hours.

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Ebola case confirmed in Glasgow hospital

Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital

A healthcare worker who has just returned from West Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola and is being treated in hospital in Glasgow.

The woman, who arrived from Sierra Leone on Sunday night, is in isolation at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital.

All possible contacts with the case are being investigated, including on flights to Scotland via Heathrow.

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the woman would be taken to a specialist unit in London.

She will be flown from Glasgow and taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London “as soon as we possibly can,” Mr Hunt said.

It is expected she will be transferred overnight by air ambulance.

The hospital has a specialist isolation unit and treated William Pooley, the British nurse who contracted and recovered from Ebola.

Low risk

Mr Hunt said the government was doing “absolutely everything it needs to be” to keep the UK safe.

He insisted NHS processes “worked well” after the woman starting exhibiting symptoms.

The health secretary added: “We are also reviewing our procedures and protocols for all the other NHS workers who are working at the moment in Sierra Leone.”

Read much more:


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Japan culls 42,000 chickens after second bird flu outbreak


Japan on Monday ordered the slaughter of some 42,000 chickens after officials confirmed the country’s second bird flu outbreak in less than a month.

DNA tests confirmed the H5 strain of the virus at a farm in Miyazaki prefecture in the country’s southwest after its owner reported Sunday that several chickens had suddenly died, the local government said.

Officials began the slaughter Monday and asked farms within a 10 kilometre (62 miles) radius not to move their poultry outside of that geographic area.

The case comes about two weeks after the government ordered the slaughter of some 4,000 chickens at another poultry farm in Miyazaki — the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu at a Japanese poultry farm since April.

Local authorities locked down that farm and others nearby, with the movement of chickens banned while the area was being sanitised.

Officials also set up stations to disinfect vehicles travelling on major roads near the affected farm to prevent the virus from spreading.

It is uncertain whether there is a link between the first outbreak and the second, a farm ministry official said Monday, adding that further testing of the strain would be conducted at a government-backed research institute.

The second poultry farm is about 100 kilometres away from the site that was affected earlier this month.

Japan’s agriculture ministry regularly warns farmers about the risk of infection, citing the continued spread of the disease in Asia, including in neighbouring South Korea.

© 2014 AFP

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Indonesia says missing AirAsia plane could be at ‘bottom of sea’

SURABAYA, Indonesia/JAKARTA Mon Dec 29, 2014 4:22pm EST

(Reuters) – A missing AirAsia jet carrying 162 people could be at the bottom of the sea after it was presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said on Monday, as countries around Asia sent ships and planes to help in the search.

The Indonesia AirAsia plane, an Airbus A320-200, disappeared after its pilot failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather during a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore on Sunday.

Flight QZ8501 did not issue a distress signal and disappeared over the Java Sea five minutes after requesting the change of course, which was refused because of heavy air traffic, officials said.

“Based on our coordinates, we expect it is in the sea, so for now (we think) it is on the sea floor,” Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told reporters when asked about the missing plane’s likely location.

On board Flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.

The disappearance caps a disastrous year for Malaysia-affiliated airlines. Indonesia AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew and has not been found. On July 17, the same airline’s Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002. The group’s shares in Kuala Lumpur closed 8.5 percent lower.


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Death toll in Ebola outbreak rises to 7,588 – WHO

A man walks by a mural that reads "Symptoms of Ebola" in Monrovia, Liberia, October 12, 2014. REUTERS/James Giahyue

GENEVA (Reuters) – The global death toll from Ebola has risen to 7,588 out of 19,497 confirmed cases recorded in the year-old epidemic raging in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The virus is still spreading intensely in Sierra Leone, especially in the north and west, with 315 new confirmed cases reported in the former British colony in the week to December 21, it said. These included 115 cases in the capital Freetown.

“The neighbouring district of Port Loko experienced a surge in new cases, reporting 92 confirmed cases compared with 56 the previous week,” the WHO said.

In Sierra Leone, information about how to prevent and treat Ebola was provided to more than 5,000 households between 10 and 17 December as part of a major awareness campaign, it said.

In Guinea, 156 confirmed cases were recorded during the same period, “the highest weekly case incidence reported by the country in this outbreak”, the WHO said.

“This largely due to a surge in cases in the south-eastern district of Kissidougou, which reported 58 confirmed cases – one-third of cases reported in the country in the past week.”

Noting the district had previously reported no more than five cases per week, it said the surge showed the need for continuing vigilance even where the virus was not widespread.

In Liberia, where case incidence has been declining for the past month, 21 cases were reported in the week to December 21.

Montserrado county, including the capital Monrovia, still has the highest rates of the disease nationwide, while along the Côte d’Ivoire border to the east, Nimba county reported 3 confirmed cases, its first in 9 weeks, the WHO said.

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Kansas Says New Virus Found After Resident’s Death

By JOHN HANNA Associated Press

A new virus thought to be carried by ticks or other insects has been discovered following the death of a southeast Kansas resident during the summer, public health officials said Monday.

The new virus is called Bourbon virus, after Bourbon County, home of the patient who died. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the patient’s symptoms, including fever and fatigue, were similar to symptoms from other tick-borne diseases.

The Kansas health department said testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the patient had a virus not previously identified. Health department spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said it’s still not clear how much the Bourbon virus contributed to the patient’s death.

“This was the first known instance and the only confirmed case,” Rosenow said. “This is a new virus, and we are still learning.”

The health department declined to identify the victim of the virus or provide details about the case, saying it was protecting the privacy of the patient and family members.

The department said there’s no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease from the Bourbon virus but described the risk as “minimal” during the winter, given health officials’ belief that it is transmitted through tick or insect bites.

The health agency also suggested the same precautions outdoors for avoiding other tick- and insect-borne illnesses. Those include using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and avoiding wooded and busy areas with high grass or leaf litter.

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