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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

SABC, South Africa’s public broadcaster, refused to broadcast a campaign ad from the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) as it incited violence.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) denied that the advert was banned because it came from the EFF.

EFF’s election ad calls for people to “destroy e-Tolls”, a controversial new road tolling system.

The EFF, set up by ex-ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, is contesting an election for the first time next month.

Julius Malema likened the SABC’s actions to those used by the apartheid government, which censored messages with anti-government sentiment

“Once you suppress the people contesting elections it means you not ready to give us free and fair elections because unfair coverage leads to unfair elections,” Julius Malema told reporters in Johannesburg.

However, SABC spokesman Kaiser Kganyago said it was to do with regulations, not politics.

SABC refused to broadcast a campaign ad from the Julius Malema’s EFF as it incited violence photo

SABC refused to broadcast a campaign ad from the Julius Malema’s EFF as it incited violence (photo SABC)

“They submitted it, we looked at it, and we found that we couldn’t put it on air,” the South African Press Association news agency quotes him as saying.

“The EFF, like any other political party, signed the code of conduct with the IEC [Independent Election Commission] that says it will not incite violence…. [the advert] goes against the code.”

The SABC has reportedly written to the EFF telling them to amend the advert, but the party has refused to do so.

Earlier this month, the SABC also rejected an ad from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the country’s main opposition party, saying it used language that promoted violence and amounted to a “personal attack” against President Jacob Zuma.

However, the ad was eventually aired after the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (ICASA) complaints and compliance committee ruled in the party’s favor.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlovu said their party had also lodged an ICASA complaint.

The ad, which has been posted on YouTube, starts with a widow of one of the striking miners killed by police in August 2012 in what is called the Marikana massacre.

It is followed by a message from Julius Malema asking South Africans to vote against the “empty promises of the last 20 years”, then several slogans appear across the screen, one of which says: “Destroy e-tolls physically!”

Julius Malema was once a close ally of Jacob Zuma but was expelled from the governing African National Congress (ANC) in 2012 for sowing divisions in the party.

Opposition parties have in the past accused the SABC of a bias towards the ANC and censoring messages, which the broadcaster denied.

However, the refusal by the SABC to air these adverts plays into that perception.

After a hotly contested election campaign, South Africans go to the polls on May 7.

Four more crew members from Sewol ferry that sank last week have been arrested by the South Korean authorities, bringing the total number detained to 11.

Police have also raided offices of companies linked to the ferry’s owners.

Search teams are continuing to recover bodies from the submerged hull of the passenger ferry.

One survivor has described taking the agonizing decision to save himself as the ship capsized and water washed away students he was trying to rescue.

The number of people known to have died in the accident has reached 150, with another 152 still missing, most of them teenage children from a single school in Ansan, outside the capital Seoul.

An emotional memorial service took place near the school on Wednesday, with friends and family members laying flowers in front of photographs of some of those who died.

The government is under strong public pressure to find out why the ferry capsized.

Four more crew members from Sewol ferry have been arrested bringing the total number detained to 11 640x439 photo

Four more crew members from Sewol ferry have been arrested, bringing the total number detained to 11 (photo EPA)

Twenty-two of the 29 members of the ferry’s crew survived and prosecutors say the 11 arrested were on the bridge when the ship listed and sank within two hours of distress signals being sent.

Companies associated with Incheon-based Chonghaejin Marine Company, which owned the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry, have also been raided by police as part of the investigation.

Authorities have issued 30-day travel bans to more than 70 executives connected with Chonghaejin and its affiliates while they are investigated on possible charges ranging from criminal negligence to embezzlement.

“We will also make efforts to retrieve profits made out of criminal acts and track down hidden assets to support financial compensations for [potential] lawsuits by families of the victims and the missing,” a prosecutor told AFP.

Survivors have spoken of the struggle to save the hundreds of passengers trapped below the tilting decks as cargo containers toppled into the sea.

Reports suggest that passengers were told to remain in their rooms and cabins as the ship listed, amid confusion on the bridge over whether to order them to abandon ship.

The first distress call from the sinking ferry was made from a mobile phone by a boy with a shaking voice, officials told Reuters.

His plea for help was followed by about 20 other emergency calls from children on board the ship.

A crew member quoted by local media said that attempts to launch lifeboats were unsuccessful because the ship was listing too severely. Only two of the vessel’s 46 lifeboats were reported to have been deployed.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has condemned the conduct of some of the crew, calling it “akin to murder”.

Australian authorities are examining material washed ashore to determine if it is related to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The debris was found by a member of the public near the town of Augusta, some 190 miles south of Perth.

Images of the debris have been sent to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is now investigating.

“It’s sufficiently interesting for us to take a look,” an ATSB chief Martin Dolan told CNN.

Martin Dolan said the debris looked like sheet metal with rivets in it, but added: “The more we look at it, the less excited we get.”

The ATSB confirmed it was examining the photographs “to determine whether further physical analysis is required and if there is any relevance to the search of missing flight MH370″.

The images have also been sent to authorities in Malaysia and the ATSB is expected to collect the material later on Wednesday.

The material was metallic and about 8ft long, ABC News reported.

The debris was found by a member of the public near the town of Augusta some 190 miles south of Perth 640x358 photo

The debris was found by a member of the public near the town of Augusta, some 190 miles south of Perth

The Malaysia Airlines aircraft was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared in March.

Malaysia is running the investigation into the plane’s disappearance, but search efforts are being led by Australia’s Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC).

For the past two days, bad weather has prevented planes from taking part in the search about 990 miles north-west of Perth.

The US Navy Bluefin-21 mini-submarine scanning the ocean bed has covered more than 80% of a120 sq mile search area in the southern Indian Ocean, without finding any sign of debris in water.

Up to 10 military aircraft and 12 ships are currently taking part in the hunt. The daily operation, involving some two dozen nations, is already shaping up to be the most expensive in aviation history.

Australia said on Wednesday that it would not abandon the hunt, insisting that the cost of the operation was not a concern.

Australian PM Tony Abbott said if the current underwater search was unsuccessful, a new strategy would begin.

Defense Minister David Johnston has said that sophisticated sonar equipment will probably be used in the next stage.

“The next phase, I think, is that we step up with potentially a more powerful, more capable side-scan sonar to do deeper water,” David Johnston said.

Tony Abbott said the probable impact zone of the airliner was in an area of the sea floor 430 miles long and 50 miles wide.

In a separate development, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that his country’s cabinet had approved the formation of an international investigation team to find out what happened to the missing plane.

“The main purpose of the team is to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the accident so similar accidents could be avoided in the future,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

Australia says that it is now consulting with Malaysia, China and the US on the next phase of the search, which is likely to be announced next week.

Tony Abbott said a new search strategy would be put into action if nothing was found in the current seabed search.

“If at the end of that period we find nothing, we are not going to abandon the search, we may well rethink the search, but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery,” he said.

“We owe it to the families of the 239 people on board, we owe it to the hundreds of millions – indeed billions – of people who travel by air to try to get to the bottom of this.”

“The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to keep searching the probable impact zone until we find something or until we have searched it as thoroughly as human ingenuity allows at this time,” Tony Abbott said.

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President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations.

Barack Obama is not going to Beijing, but relations with China are expected to dominate his meetings with regional leaders.

The US president’s trip – April 23-29 – comes nearly seven months after he cancelled a visit to the region due to a government shutdown.

Stops include a private dinner with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, as well as bilateral meetings with the South Korean, Malaysian and Philippine leaders.

President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations photo

President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing will be high on the agenda when Barack Obama touches down in Japan.

Relations are severely strained over a raft of issues, including East China Sea islands – called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China – that both claim.

Japan controls the islands but Chinese ships have sailed repeatedly in and out of what Japan says are its territorial waters as Beijing presses its claim. Last year, China declared an air defense identification zone over the islands, drawing widespread criticism.

Japan depends on the US for its security, under a decades-old alliance that dates back to the end of World War Two.

The US, however, is keen for Japan to take on greater responsibility for its own security – an area where Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe are likely to be in general agreement.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal which requires each country to strike an agreement with other prospective members.

A rift between Japan and the US over agriculture product tariffs has proven a major sticking point.

Barack Obama is also expected to have to balance bolstering US ties with each Asian ally with improving communication among them, particularly between South Korea and Japan.

The two Asian nations are at odds over a separate set of disputed islands, as well as historical issues linked to Japan’s war history.

Police and protesters clashed in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro following the death of a young man allegedly beaten by police.

Violent protests broke out in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday after the body of a 25-year-old man, Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, was found in the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela near the Copacabana beach.

Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira regularly appeared on Brazil’s largest TV network, Globo.

Main streets through the tourist area of Copacabana were closed as angry demonstrators from a nearby favela set barricades of tires alight.

The unrest started after a dancer was killed by police who reportedly mistook him for a drug trafficker.

It comes less than two months before Brazil hosts the football World Cup.

Police and protesters clashed in Rio de Janeiro following the death of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira 640x360 photo

Police and protesters clashed in Rio de Janeiro following the death of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira (photo Reuters)

One man was shot dead during the violence on Tuesday night, local media quoted officials as saying. A 12-year-old boy was also reportedly wounded.

Witnesses said cars were set ablaze, a police station was attacked and gunfire could be heard from the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela.

Douglas Rafael da Silva, a professional dancer, was reportedly found dead inside a school earlier on Tuesday.

According to his family, his body was covered in wounds and they accused local police of beating him to death after mistaking him for a member of a local drugs gang.

The circumstances surrounding his death are under investigation, AFP news agency quoted police as saying.

“An on-site report indicates Douglas’s injuries are compatible with a death caused by a fall,” the police statement said.

Amnesty International says some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil due to police violence.

Huge crowds, demanding an explanation for the death, gathered near the entrance to the favela, which is just a few streets away from Rio’s famous beaches and tourist hot-spots.

Pavao-Pavaozinho is one of several Rio favelas or slums that have been part of the recent “pacification” program.

It is an attempt by the city authorities to drive the heavily armed drugs gangs away from the communities and to restore some peace and police authority ahead of the football World Cup in June and July.

World Cup 2014 will begin in Sao Paulo on June 12 and will end with the final in Rio’s famous Maracana stadium on July 13.

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The confirmed death toll of Sewol ferry disaster has passed 100, as divers recovered more bodies from the sunken hull.

A total of 108 people are now known to have died, but another 194 are missing, presumed trapped inside the vessel.

Last week, the South Korean ferry tipped over and sank within two hours, but it is not yet clear why.

Seven crew members have been detained, however, amid intense criticism of their failure to evacuate all passengers as the ship listed.

Passengers were told to remain in rooms and cabins, reports suggest, amid confusion on the bridge over whether to order them to abandon ship.

A total of 108 people are now known to have died in the Sewol ferry disaster but another 194 are missing presumed trapped inside the vessel photo

A total of 108 people are now known to have died in the Sewol ferry disaster, but another 194 are missing, presumed trapped inside the vessel (photo AP)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday condemned the conduct of some of the crew, calling it “akin to murder”.

A total of 174 passengers were rescued from the Sewol, which capsized as it sailed from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju.

But there were 476 people on board, including 339 children and teachers on a school trip. Many were trapped inside the ship as it listed to one side and then sank.

Military divers have been searching the ship for those who died. Bodies of victims are being brought back to the port on Jindo island at a steady rate now.

Divers have managed to reach many of the cabins in the hull of the upturned ferry, although they are still trying to get into the ship’s restaurant, where they believe many of the passengers were trapped.

They have also loaded an underwater robot at the port this morning, ready to be used in the operation to bring the hull to the surface.

Rescue officials say they will keep searching with divers for another two days, but that the families of the victims have agreed that the salvage operation can begin after that.

Investigations are focusing on whether the ferry took too sharp a turn – perhaps destabilizing the vessel – before it started listing and whether an earlier evacuation order could have saved lives.

Sewol’s Captain Lee Joon-seok was not on the bridge when the ferry began listing. It was being steered by a third mate who had never navigated the waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors say.

Captain Lee Joon-seok and two other crew members have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law. Four more crew members were detained on Monday.

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About 150 Japanese lawmakers have visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, in a move likely to further sour ties with China and South Korea.

Yasukuni shrine commemorates Japan’s war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War Two.

The visit, marking a spring festival, comes a day before President Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo.

It also comes amid strained relations between Japan and its neighbors over geopolitical and historical tensions.

Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe was not among those who visited the shrine, but he sent a traditional offering on Monday.

The Chinese foreign ministry denounced Shinzo Abe’s offering as a “negative asset for Japan”, saying that both it and visits by Japanese cabinet ministers reflected “the erroneous attitude towards history adopted by Japan’s incumbent cabinet”.

About 150 Japanese lawmakers have visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine 640x360 photo

About 150 Japanese lawmakers have visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine (photo Reuters)

South Korea’s foreign ministry said that Shinzo Abe had “romanticized Japanese colonialism and its war of aggression” by paying tribute to the shrine.

Japanese officials visit the shrine during seasonal festivals and on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Japanese lawmaker Hidehisa Otsuji told the Associated Press news agency that he visited the shrine “with a calm mind” and that there was “no further meaning” to the visit.

“I have been visiting here for decades,” he said.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo, meanwhile, said: “As this visit was my own personal visit, I don’t believe that it will have any effect on the US president’s visit.”

China and South Korea view the shrine as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression and have accused Tokyo of failing to show the necessary remorse for wartime atrocities.

When Shinzo Abe visited the shrine on December 26, 2013, the US embassy in Tokyo expressed disappointment and said Abe’s actions would “exacerbate tensions” with neighbors.

Washington has also been trying to get Japan and South Korea to set aside their differences and work more closely together, both on North Korea and in terms of counter-balancing China’s growing power in the region.

Ties between China and Japan meanwhile, remain severely strained, over historical tensions and a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

The Syrian plan to hold a presidential election on June 3 has been dismissed by the US as a “parody of democracy”.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned the plan, saying it could torpedo efforts to broker a deal to end the three-year civil war, which has killed 150,000.

Syrian government forces have made gains recently, but rebels still control vast territories. It is unlikely that voting would be held in those areas.

President Bashar al-Assad is expected to seek a third seven-year term.

The government recently framed an election law that stipulated all candidates must have lived in Syria for the past 10 years.

Most opposition leaders have fled the country, so are in effect barred from standing.

Syrian parliament announced the presidential election will be held on June 3 photo

Syrian parliament announced the presidential election will be held on June 3 (photo Reuters)

Opposition activist Ahmad Alqusair accused Bashar al-Assad of “holding elections over the blood of Syrians” and said only the president’s supporters would vote.

“If we are being blockaded from even eating bread, how can I vote,” he told the Associated Press.

One government lawmaker said there would be no voting in rebel-held areas, but no official announcement has yet been made.

The US, EU and UN were united in condemning the planned vote.

“Calling for a de-facto referendum rings especially hollow now as the regime continues to massacre the very electorate it purports to represent,” said state department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki.

Ban Ki-moon warned that it would “damage the political process and hamper the prospects for a political solution”.

And both the EU and the US labeled it a “parody of democracy”.

Parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Lahham announced the election, and said overseas Syrians would be able to vote from May 28.

It is unclear how the government plans to organize voting in contested areas, or how the six million people who have fled their homes could register.

Also, more than 2.7 million Syrians are living as refugees in neighboring countries, and many other expatriates live in countries where Syrian embassies have been closed since 2011.

The announcement came just hours after mortar shells exploded about 300ft from the parliament building in central Damascus, killing five people, according to state TV.

President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad in 2000 and was re-elected in 2007, taking 98% of the vote in a referendum.

He has not said publicly whether he will stand, however, no-one doubts that he will seek a third term.

Amendments to the constitution approved in a widely criticized referendum in 2012 mean that there can be multiple candidates in the election.

However, it is unlikely that anyone will seriously challenge Bashar al-Assad.

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South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has condemned the conduct of some of the crew of the Sewol ferry that sank last week, calling it “akin to murder”.

Park Geun-hye said that those to blame would have to take “criminal and civil” responsibility for their actions.

Divers are continuing to recover bodies from the ferry, as they gain access to more of the submerged hull.

The death toll now stands at 64, with 238 people still missing, most of them students from a school near Seoul.

Bodies are being brought two or three at a time back to Jindo, a southern island close to where the ferry sank.

Police, meanwhile, have been given access to hundreds of messages sent by passengers and crew so they can construct a detailed chronology of the ferry’s last hour.

South Korean President Park Geun hye met the families of the Sewol ferry missing passengers 640x415 photo

South Korean President Park Geun-hye met the families of the Sewol ferry missing passengers

Park Geun-hye, whose government has faced criticism over its initial response to the disaster, told aides that the actions of the captain and some of the crew “were utterly incomprehensible, unacceptable and tantamount to murder”, the presidential office said.

A total of 174 passengers were rescued from the Sewol, which capsized as it sailed from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju.

But there were 476 people on board – including 339 children and teachers on a school trip. Many were trapped inside the ship as it listed to one side and then sank.

Investigations are focusing on whether the vessel took too sharp a turn – perhaps destabilizing the vessel – before it started listing and whether an earlier evacuation order could have saved lives.

Details of the panic and indecision on the bridge emerged on Sunday, when the coastguard released a transcript of the last communications between the crew and controllers.

In the transcript, a crew member repeatedly asks if vessels are on hand to rescue passengers if evacuation is ordered.

Sewol captain, Lee Joon-seok, has said he delayed the move for fear people would drift away.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was not on the bridge when the ferry began listing. It was steered by a third mate who had never navigated the waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors said on Saturday.

Sewol captain and two other crew members have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Four more crew members were reported to have been detained on Monday over allegations they failed to protect passengers.

It has since emerged that Lee Joon-seok appeared in a promotional video for the journey four years ago describing the ferry journey as safe as long as the passengers followed the crew’s instructions.

Over the weekend, there were angry confrontations between relatives of those on board and police, after a group began a protest march.

The relatives say they want more information both about what happened and about how soon the remains of their loved ones can be recovered.

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The transcript of the last communications between South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday and traffic services reveal panic and indecision by the crew.

In the newly released transcript, a crew member repeatedly asks if there were vessels on hand to rescue passengers if evacuation was ordered.

The captain has said he delayed the move for fear people would drift away.

After three days, divers have now entered the ferry and retrieved 26 bodies, bringing the death toll to 58.

However, another 244 people are still missing. Some 174 passengers were rescued.

The Sewol capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju. There were 476 people on board – including 339 children and teachers on a school trip,

Investigations are focusing on whether the vessel took too sharp a turn before it started listing and whether an earlier evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe the turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel.

Messages and phone calls from those inside paint a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Sewol ferry capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north west to the southern island of Jeju photo

Sewol ferry capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju

Details of the panic on the bridge emerged on Sunday, when the coastguard released a transcript of the last communications between the crew and controllers.

At 09:24 – 29 minutes after the Sewol issued its first distress call – a controller says: “Please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.”

The unidentified crew member says: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?”

“At least make them wear life rings and make them escape,” the controller from the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre replies.

As he continues to urge the crew to prepare for evacuation, the crew member twice asks if passengers would be “rescued straight away”.

It was not until 09:37 – a few seconds before the last communication – that it became clear to controllers that evacuation had been ordered.

On Saturday the captain, Lee Joon-seok, appeared on TV saying: “I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims.

“The current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without proper judgement, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties.”

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was not on the bridge when the ferry began listing. It was steered inexperienced by a third mate who had never navigated the waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors said on Saturday.

The captain and two other crew members have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Since the capsize, many of the relatives of those on board have been on Jindo island, near the site of the accident. Some have protested over the rescue operation.

Boats carrying 13 of the recently retrieved bodies arrived at Paengmok Port on Jindo on Sunday.

About 200 ships, 34 aircraft and 600 divers have been taking part in the search operation. Fishing boats with powerful lights have been brought in to help the divers operate at night.

But the currents are still strong and the visibility remains challenging.

Sewol communications excerpt:

Controller: “Please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.”

Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?”

Controller: “At least make them wear life rings and make them escape.”

Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?”

Controller: “Don’t let them go bare. At least make them wear life rings and make them escape… We don’t know the situation very well. The captain should make the final decision and decide whether you’re going to evacuate passengers or not.”

Crew member: “I’m not talking about that. I asked, if they evacuate now, can they be rescued right away?”

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Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass and delivered the Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis delivered his traditional blessing and address.

The pontiff prayed for peace in Syria and Ukraine and “an end to all war and every conflict”.

And he also prayed for those people around the world suffering from hunger, poverty, disease and neglect.

This is the second Easter mass and “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message Pope Francis, 77, has delivered as Pope.

 photo

Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square

The avenue leading up to the Vatican was filled with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

“Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible,” Pope Francis prayed.

He appealed for more medical attention for those suffering from the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa and also prayed for the protection of the most vulnerable members of society.

Pope Francis asked God to “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved… will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future”.

“We pray in a particular way for Syria,” he said, expressing the hope that the “defenseless civil population” will be protected from the violence and get the aid they need.

In reference to Syria, Pope Francis urged the international community to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue”.

Pope Francis’ message came as Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad marked Easter by visiting the ancient Christian town of Maalula.

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People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis will deliver his traditional blessing and address.

People have gathered in St Peters Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis photo

People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis (photo Reuters)

Pope Francis is expected to use his message to highlight the suffering of people in areas of conflict, including Ukraine.

The avenue leading up to the Vatican has been decorated with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

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Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation.

Police stopped up to 100 people trying to leave Jindo island intending to march to Seoul.

After more than three days, divers have now finally entered the ferry, retrieving 22 bodies and bringing the death toll to 54.

However, another 248 people are still missing from the Sewol ferry, which sank on Wednesday.

Some 174 passengers were rescued.

Since the capsize, many of the relatives of those on board have been on Jindo, in the south-west of the country.

Hundreds have been camping at a gymnasium on the island, awaiting news from the rescue operation.

Scuffles broke out when some family members tried to cross a bridge to the mainland, reportedly to march on the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, some 260 miles to the north.

Relatives are anxious for the bodies to be retrieved before they decompose.

Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation photo

Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation

Even the prime minister came down to try to dissuade the protesters from marching on Seoul, with officials worried that the controversy could turn into a national political issue and harm the government.

About 200 ships, 34 aircraft and 600 divers have been taking part in the search operation.

Squid fishing boats with powerful lights have been brought in to help the divers operate at night.

But the currents are still strong and the visibility remains challenging.

Coastguard official Koh Myung-seok told a briefing that divers had discovered a number of routes into the ferry, and found bodies in different locations.

Captain Lee Joon-seok and two other crew members are in custody and have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Officials said on Saturday that the ferry was being steered by an inexperienced third mate in unfamiliar waters when it sank.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was not initially on the bridge when the ship ran into trouble.

The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized during a journey from the port of Incheon in the north-west to the southern holiday island of Jeju.

Investigations are focusing on a sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe the ship’s tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest the sinking could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Footage from the ship appeared to show instructions from crew members for passengers to remain on board even as it tilted dramatically to one side.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

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Orthodox Church patriarchs in Kiev and Moscow have highlighted during their Easter messages the deep division in Ukraine, where a tense stand-off is continuing in the east.

The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Patriarch Filaret accused Russia of “aggression” and “evil”.

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine.

Pro-Russian activists in the east continue to occupy government offices.

Meanwhile Russia media are reporting several deaths in a gun battle near the eastern town of Sloviansk.

Reports of fatalities in the region have appeared before but have not been independently confirmed.

A mediator from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is scheduled to hold talks with them on Sunday.

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine 640x472 photo

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine

Ertogrul Apakan, who heads the special OSCE mission in Kiev, said his deputy would be in Donetsk to try to get them to comply with an agreement reached on Thursday to ease the crisis.

In his Easter message, Patriarch Filaret said: “Against our peace-loving nation, which voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons, there has been aggression, there has been injustice.

“A country which guaranteed the integrity and inviolability of our territory has committed aggression. God cannot be on the side of evil, so the enemy of the Ukrainian people is condemned to defeat.

“Lord, help us resurrect Ukraine.”

In Moscow, Patriarch Kirill appealed for peace, saying it “should reign in the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters by blood and by faith”.

But he also said Ukraine was “spiritually and historically” at one with Russia, and he prayed for it to have authorities that were “legitimately elected”.

“We are a single people before God,” he said.

Ukraine’s acting President, Oleksandr Turchynov, said in his Easter message: “We are living in a fateful time when the Ukrainian people have decisively affirmed their striving for freedom and justice.”

In an interview to be aired in full later on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ukraine’s interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “restore the Soviet Union”.

If Vladimir Putin succeeded, Arseniy Yatsenyuk says, it would be “the biggest disaster of this century”.

Ukraine has been in crisis since President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February.

Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula – part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority – in a move that provoked international outrage.

The annexation followed a referendum in Crimea that backed a move to join the Russian Federation.

Pro-Russian activists then occupied buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities, many calling on Moscow to support them.

Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US agreed during talks in Geneva on Thursday that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.

But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.

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Lee Joon-seok, the captain of South Korean ferry Sewol that sank this week, said he delayed giving evacuation orders because he feared passengers would “drift away”.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was arrested with two crew members on Friday.

Divers saw three bodies in the ship on Saturday but were not able to retrieve them. The number of missing stands at 270 with 32 now confirmed dead, after three bodies were found in the water.

The official leading the rescue said it “may last one or two months.”

Some 174 passengers were rescued, but poor visibility and strong currents are making the search – now in its fourth day – difficult.

Captain Lee Joon-seok faces charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law after being criticized for not giving orders to evacuate soon enough.

Meanwhile relatives of the victims have begun providing DNA samples to help identify bodies recovered from the wreckage.

Investigations are focusing on a sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Sewol’s Captain Lee Joon seok was arrested with two crew members 640x360 photo

Sewol’s Captain Lee Joon-seok was arrested with two crew members (photo AP)

The ferry Sewol was sailing from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within two hours.

Lee Joon-seok, who had already been questioned by police, was shown on television on Saturday after his arrest.

“I am sorry to the people of South Korea for causing a disturbance and I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims,” he said.

“I gave instructions regarding the route, then I briefly went to the bedroom and then [the sinking] happened.

“The current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without proper judgement, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties,” he said.

He added that rescue boats had not arrived at the time of capsizing.

The helmsman at the time, Cho Joon-ki, was also among those arrested. He said that the ship reacted differently to what he had expected.

“There was a mistake on my behalf as well but the steering [gear of the ship] turned further than it was supposed to,” he told reporters.

According to documents seen by the Associated Press news agency, maritime safety officials recommended a full evacuation of the ship five minutes after a distress call was raised.

But a crew member told the agency that it took the captain 30 minutes to issue the order.

Some experts believe the ship’s tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest the sinking could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Officials say air has been pumped into the ship to aid any people trapped inside and to help refloat the vessel.

The South Korean coastguard said on Saturday that a civilian diver had seen three bodies through a window in the fourth floor of the ship.

The diver was not able to retrieve the bodies because of floating objects and time restrictions on diving, the coastguard said.

But three other bodies found in the water near the wreck were recovered, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 32.

Choi Sang-hwan, deputy director of the national coastguard, said nets would be placed around the sunken ferry to prevent any bodies drifting away.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

Hundreds of relatives of those on board have been camping at a gymnasium on Jindo island near the scene of the disaster.

Asked how long the rescue operation was likely to continue, Shin Won-Nam, the head of the Emergency Management Centre, told reporters that it could take weeks, if not months.

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Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has announced that the search area for the missing MH370 plane has narrowed and will be at “a critical juncture” in the next two days.

Hishammuddin Hussein said underwater drone Bluefin-21 would finish searching the area within the next week.

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine has so far found nothing after six missions.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people.

The Bluefin is mapping the area of the sea bed within 6 miles radius of where acoustic signals were detected believed to have come from the aircraft’s flight recorder.

It is operating at a depth of more than 13,000 feet.

The Bluefin 21 mini submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions photo

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions

Hishammuddin Hussein said it was important to focus on the search on Saturday and Sunday.

“The narrowing of the search for today and tomorrow is at a critical juncture,” he said.

“I appeal to everyone around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on in the next couple of days.”

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that the MH370 ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and finding the plane’s flight recorders is seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

Submersible Bluefin-21 has an operating depth of 4,500m (15,000ft) and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

The authorities have now adjusted the device to allow it to go as deep as 4,695m.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said on Thursday that the machine could operate deeper than 4,500m at “a small but acceptable level of risk”.

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Easter’s Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned.

Via Crucis ceremony marks Christians’ commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday. Tens of thousands of people lined the route near the 2,000-year-old Colosseum.

Pope Francis heard the Vatican’s official preacher deliver a sermon denouncing greed and the love of money.

The procession is part of the Church’s Easter triduum festival.

Pope Francis urged the crowd to “remember all the abandoned people” and spoke of the “monstrosity of man” when he lets evil guide him.

Easters Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis with prayers for the poor and the abandoned 640x426 photo

Easter’s Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned

“Evil won’t have the last word, but love, mercy and pardon will” he added at the end of the Way of the Cross.

The sermon, by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, spoke of the injustice of human trafficking and suffering caused by environmental damage.

“Money is behind every evil in our society” the preacher declared.

The procession route included 14 stages, known as Stations of the Cross, at which specially written meditations were recited.

One meditation touched on the plight of child soldiers, while another recalled the deaths of migrants trying to reach more prosperous countries.

Other meditations criticized overcrowding in prisons and the treatment of the elderly.

Immigrants, prisoners, former drug addicts and elderly people were among those who helped carry a large cross between the different stations.

On Saturday night, Pope Francis will celebrate an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Easter services will then conclude on Sunday with a Mass celebrating Jesus’s resurrection.

Pope Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

On Thursday, the Pope washed the feet of 12 disabled people in Rome as part of the Maundy Thursday service commemorating Christ’s Last Supper.

Pope Francis broke with tradition by washing the feet of several women and a Muslim man in a ceremony traditionally restricted to men only.

Lee Joon-seok, the captain of South Korean ferry Sewol that capsized and sank earlier this week has been arrested, Yonhap news agency reports.

Captain Lee Joon-seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Yonhap said a local court had issued arrest warrants for him and two other crew members on these charges.

Efforts to find the 268 people still missing have been hampered by low visibility and strong currents.

Twenty-eight people are now known to have died in the disaster, with 179 rescued.

The ferry Sewol was sailing from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within two hours.

Captain Lee Joon seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law photo

Captain Lee Joon-seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law (photo Yonhap)

Lee Joon-seok, who had already been questioned by police, was shown on television on Thursday, his face partially obscured, apologizing to the victims and their relatives.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

It has emerged that a junior officer – and not the captain – was at the helm of the ferry when it capsized.

Investigations are focusing on the sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe such a tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest it could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Survivors have accused the crew of instructing them to remain where they were rather than evacuate the ship.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Earlier on Friday, coastguard officials said that two divers had managed to enter the cargo bay of the vessel, but could not identify or rescue anyone because of items obstructing their way.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

The vice principal of Danwon High School, who was rescued from the ferry, was found dead on nearby Jindo island on Friday.

Kang Min-Kyu, 52, had been missing since Thursday and was discovered hanging from a tree near the gym on Jindo island – where many of the relatives of missing passengers have been staying.

Amid a major search and rescue operation, officials say air has been pumped into the ship to help any people trapped inside and to help refloat the vessel. But officials say it is unlikely anyone has survived.

Three salvage cranes have reached the site and they may be used to raise the ship or move it to another area with weaker currents.

Challenging conditions have hampered the search for a third consecutive day.

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According to South Korean investigators, the third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off Jindo island.

A total of 268 people – including scores of high school students – remain missing after Wednesday’s disaster.

Twenty-eight people are now known to have died and 179 were rescued.

It is not clear why the ferry sank, but experts have suggested it either hit a rock or turned sharply, unbalancing the vessel as cargo shifted.

Sewol ferry had been travelling from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within a period of two hours, officials said.

A major search and rescue operation has been under way. Bad weather, poor visibility and strong currents hampered the divers’ search on Thursday.

Some of the divers have managed to enter the cargo bay of the ship, a coast guard official confirmed in a press conference on Friday.

But they could not identify or rescue any people due to items obstructing the way, the unnamed official added.

The third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off South Korea coast 640x359 photo

The third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off South Korea coast

Air was also now being injected into the ship to help any people trapped inside – though officials have said that survivors are unlikely – and to help refloat the vessel.

Coast guard officials, quoted by AFP, say the bodies picked up were found floating in the water, and none had been retrieved from the ship itself.

Three salvage cranes have also arrived at the scene, to raise the ship or move it to another area with weaker currents.

“We will review the options very carefully, as the salvage operations may hurt survivors trapped inside,” Yonhap news agency quoted a coast guard officer as saying.

Meanwhile, investigators have stated that the captain of the ferry, Lee Joon-seok, was not in charge when the ferry ran into trouble.

“It was the third officer who was in command of steering the ship when the accident took place,” state prosecutor Park Jae-Eok told journalists.

“Whether or not they took a drastic turnaround… is under investigation,” he said.

“Though surviving crews have different testimonies about the situation, we’ve been investigating the captain as he was suspected to leave the steering room for an unknown reason,” Park Jae-Eok added.

In a separate development, reports say the vice principal of Danwon High School, who was rescued from the ferry, was found dead on Friday.

Yonhap news agency quotes police as saying Kang Min-Kyu, 52, was found hanging from a tree near the gym where many of the relatives of missing passengers have been staying.

Witnesses have accused the crew of telling passengers to remain where they were, rather than evacuate the sinking ship.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the severely-listing ferry.

Some 350 of those on board were students from the same high school in a suburb of Seoul who were on a field trip.

Their relatives have endured a long wait for news – their anguish compounded by conflicting information about numbers of survivors issued early on.

In a public statement issued on Friday, families of the missing called for more urgent action.

“Nobody told us about what went wrong and what was happening out there. There was not even a situation room in charge by late Wednesday,” a representative said.

“Our children would be shouting for help in the freezing water,” he said.

“Please help us save our children.”

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Four anti-corruption activists linked to the New Citizens’ Movement – which campaigns for government transparency – have been jailed by a Chinese court.

Human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi was jailed for three and a half years, while veteran activist Zhao Changqing was jailed for two and a half years.

Activists Zhang Baocheng and Li Wei each received two-year sentences.

The verdicts come after Beijing’s high court upheld a four-year jail term given to movement founder Xu Zhiyong.

Four anti corruption activists linked to the New Citizens Movement have been jailed by Beijing court photo

Four anti-corruption activists linked to the New Citizens’ Movement have been jailed by Beijing court

The New Citizens’ Movement a loose network of activists is campaigning for government officials to disclose their wealth.

Xu Zhiyong had appealed against his sentence for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.

The four activists were charged with the same offence, Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Court said in a blog post.

Zhang Baocheng’s lawyer, Ge Yongxi, told the AFP news agency that the ruling was “a warning and a threat”.

“We think he’s completely innocent; there is no legal basis for the court’s ruling, and the punishment is too heavy,” Ge Yongxi said.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to crack down on corruption – but the party has also tried critics and anti-corruption activists.

Human rights groups said the crackdown on the activists was part of a wider campaign against civil society by the government, despite President Xi Jinping’s high-profile public campaign against corruption.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re-election campaign at an event his brother and campaign aide has called “history in the making”.

Rob Ford is expected to deliver a 20-minute speech at the Toronto Congress Centre, where he celebrated his mayoral win in 2010.

He has been stripped of many of his powers after admitting to using and purchasing drugs while mayor.

Rob Ford faces two major challengers in the 27 October election.

His brother and campaign manager City Councilor, Doug Ford, said he expected “thousands” to turn out after the campaign sent automated phone invitations to many Toronto residents.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re election campaign photo

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re-election campaign

Rob Ford was first elected in 2010 to lead Canada’s largest city on a pledge to tackle wasteful spending at city hall. He draws much of his support from the suburban areas of Toronto.

He soon privatized rubbish collection across much of the city and did away with a vehicle tax, but quickly became bogged down in disputes with the council.

And over the past year, Rob Ford has admitted smoking crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor” and to purchasing illegal drugs while mayor.

Allegations have also surfaced in police documents that Rob Ford used racially abusive language, threatened staff, harassing a female colleague, and snorted cocaine in a restaurant.

He denies the allegations.

In the fallout from the drugs scandal, the city council stripped Rob Ford of most of his mayoral powers and his budget, rendering him effectively mayor in name only, analysts say.

However, Rob Ford has brushed aside pressure to quit, saying voters will decide whether to keep him in office in the October election. He has said his “track record speaks for itself”, and recent polls show him running in contention with his chief challengers.

On Thursday, Doug Ford told reporters his brother’s campaign kick-off would include “some humility, a lot of accomplishments” but no new campaign policy announcements.

The Toronto mayor faces serious challenges from centre-right candidate John Tory, a broadcaster and former member of the provincial parliament, and former New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Olivia Chow.

John Tory has released a “Code of Conduct” in which he vows to “respect and defend our laws, not break them”, and to “show up for work each day”, in a clear rebuke to Rob Ford’s recent behavior.

Karen Stintz, a city councilor, and David Soknacki, a former councilor, are also running.

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The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather, murky water and strong currents.

Emergency services are still searching for about 280 people missing after a ship carrying 475 people sank.

Officials say 179 people have been rescued. Most of the passengers were pupils at the same high school.

South Korea’s president visited the wreck and urged rescuers to “hurry”.

President Park Geun-hye said that time was running out and that every minute and every second was critical.

Eighteen people are confirmed to have died, with dozens more injured.

The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather murky water and strong currents photo

The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather, murky water and strong currents (photo Yonhap)

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported earlier that one Russian and two Chinese were among the missing.

Military divers have been fighting high winds and waves to try to access the vessel but were not able to get into any of the cabins, the Chief of the West Regional Headquarters of the South Korean Coastguard, Kim Soo-hyun, said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Kim Soo-hyun said reports that the ferry went off its course were being investigated.

It is not yet clear what caused the ship to list at a severe angle and flip over, leaving only a small part of its hull visible above water, but some experts have suggested the ship may have hit an underwater obstacle.

Passengers’ relatives are also questioning the role of the captain, who is being quizzed by police.

Captain Lee Joon-seok was shown apologizing on television.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

It comes amid reports he was one of the first to escape the doomed ship.

Naval and coastguard vessels have been using floodlights and flares as darkness falls to maintain a search now involving more than 500 divers, 171 vessels and 29 aircraft.

Distraught relatives gathered in a gymnasium on nearby Jindo island insisted more should be done, and vented their grief and frustration to anyone who would listen.

The vessel – named Sewol – was travelling from Incheon port, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Yonhap said the dead included four 17-year-old students and a 25-year-old teacher as well as a 22-year-old female crew member. Identities of the other victims were not immediately known.

The latest figures say 475 people were on board and 278 are still missing. Figures issued by the government have changed several times, prompting criticism.

Search efforts have been concentrated on the ship, which sank in about 100ft of water.

“We carried out underwater searches five times from midnight until early in the morning, but strong currents and the murky water pose tremendous obstacles,” said Kang Byung-kyu, Minister for Security and Public Administration.

Meanwhile, the coastguard chief denied reports that three divers had been swept away and had to be rescued themselves.

Privately, some officials admit it is unlikely the remaining passengers will be found alive.

“Honestly, I think the chances of finding anyone alive are close to zero,” one coastguard official told an AFP journalist on a rescue boat.

The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search.

Cranes are expected to reach the scene on Saturday.

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Mini-submarine Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt.

Two previous missions to scour the floor of the Indian Ocean for wreckage were cut short by technical problems.

The data from the sub’s latest mission is being analyzed. Previous forays have not shown anything significant.

It is searching in the area acoustic signals thought to be from the missing plane’s “black box” flight recorders were heard.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that it ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

Bluefin 21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt photo

Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and an investigation is ongoing. Finding the plane’s flight recorders are seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

The submersible has an operating depth of 15,000ft and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

Its second mission was also cut short because of unspecified technical difficulties, but the third mission – a full 16 hours, plus two hours each way for diving and surfacing – went according to plan.

“Overnight Bluefin-21 AUV completed a full mission in the search area and is currently planning for its next mission,” the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

“Bluefin-21 has searched approximately 90 square kilometres to date and the data from its latest mission is being analyzed.”

JACC also said that an oil sample collected in the area the acoustic signals were heard had arrived in Perth for testing.

“We will provide details of the results when they become available,” it said.

Officials have warned that the search for wreckage on the sea floor could take weeks or months.

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP.

Polling takes place in 121 seats in 12 states, including the key states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The nine-phase vote began on April 7 and will conclude on May 12. Votes will be counted on May 16.

More than 814 million Indians are eligible to vote in the polls.

Polling has been already completed in 111 seats, and voter turnout in most states has been higher than in 2009.

April 17 is one of the most critical days of voting spread across 12 states, from Indian-administered Kashmir in the north, to the information-technology hub of Bangalore in the south, Rajasthan in the west and the tea-growing Himalayan town of Darjeeling in the east.

With all of its 28 seats going to polls on Thursday, the southern state of Karnataka is a key battleground.

Bangalore South is one of the keenly contested seats in the state with Congress party’s Nandan Nilekani, BJP’s Ananth Kumar and the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Nina Nayak as candidates.

Nandan Nilekani is the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Infosys, one of India’s largest IT services firms, while Ananth Kumar is a former federal minister.

The anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man’s) Party, which secured a spectacular result in local polls in Delhi last year, offers a challenge to the main parties.

Several smaller regional parties are also in the fray and if no single party wins a clear majority, they could play a crucial role in the formation of a government.

Thousands of police and paramilitary security personnel have been deployed across the country to ensure smooth polling.

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP 640x427 photo

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP

The marathon vote is being staggered over five weeks for security and logistical reasons.

The main contest in the elections is between the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, and the BJP, led by the charismatic and controversial Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi.

Narendra Modi, who is ahead in all the pre-election opinion polls, is the leader of Gujarat state, which witnessed one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

The BJP has promised to improve the economy and infrastructure and curb corruption if it wins in the general elections.

The Congress party has promised “inclusive growth” if it returns to power, with a raft of welfare schemes, including a right to healthcare for all and pensions for the elderly and disabled.

Any party or a coalition needs a minimum of 272 lawmakers to form a government.

Dates when different states and Union Territories vote:

Andaman and Nicobar islands: April 10
Andhra Pradesh:
April 30 and May 7
Arunachal Pradesh: April 9
Assam: April 7, 12 and 24
Bihar: April 10, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12
Chandigarh: April 10
Chhattisgarh: April 10, 17, 24
Dadra and Nagar Haveli: April 30
Daman and Diu: April 30
Delhi: April 10
Goa: April 17
Gujarat:
April 30
Haryana: April 10
Himachal Pradesh: May 7
Jammu and Kashmir: April 10, 17, 24, 30 and May 7
Jharkhand: April 10, 17, 24
Karnataka: April 17
Kerala: April 10
Lakshadeep:
April 10
Madhya Pradesh: April 10, 17, 24
Maharashtra: April 10, 17, 24
Manipur: April 9, 17
Meghalaya: April 9
Mizoram: April 9
Nagaland: April 9
Odisha: April 10, 17
Puducherry: April 24
Punjab: April 30
Rajasthan: April 17 and 24
Sikkim: April 12
Tamil Nadu: April 24
Tripura:
April 7, 12
Uttarakhand: May 7
Uttar Pradesh:
April 10, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12
West Bengal: April 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12

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South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island.

According to officials, 174 people were rescued from the ship, which was travelling from Incheon Port, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Emergency teams have been using floodlights and flares to search the vessel for passengers into the night.

At least six people are thought to have died, with dozens more injured.

It is not yet clear what caused the ship to list at a severe angle and flip over, leaving only a small part of its hull visible above water.

Rescue efforts are concentrated on the ship’s wreckage, which sank in 30 metres of water. Many passengers are thought to be trapped inside.

South Korea’s PM Chung Hong-won, has warned there is not “a minute or a second to waste” in the search for survivors, urging those involved to do their utmost to save more lives.

South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island 640x346 photo

South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island (photo NBC News)

But officials say the rescue operation involving coast guard, military and commercial vessels has been hampered by poor visibility and strong currents.

“There is so much mud in the sea water and the visibility is very low,” said Lee Gyeong-og, vice-minister of security and public administration.

The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search.

Navy divers have managed to enter three compartments of the ship but have not yet found any bodies.

Relatives of the missing have gathered in the town of Jindo, near to where ferry capsized, awaiting news of their loved ones.

Many of the passengers on board the ship were school students and teachers from the same school near the capital, Seoul, heading on a field trip to Jeju island.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has expressed sadness over the incident, saying it was “truly tragic” that students on a field trip were involved in “such an unfortunate accident”.

Kim Young-boong, an official from the company which owns the ferry, has apologized.

“I would like to say sorry to the passengers, which include a number of students and their parents, and promise that our company will do its best to minimise loss of life. We are sorry,” he said, according to the AP news agency.

“We will try to determine the cause of the accident after rescue operations are over,” Lee Gyeong-og said.

MV Sewol:

Passengers on board: 459

Maximum capacity: 900

Length: 146 metres

Built: 1994

Source: Reuters

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