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Entries in Fire (23)

Saturday
Jul132013

London Dreamliner Fire Not Related to Previous Battery Problems

Duncan Chard/Bloomberg via Getty Images(LONDON) -- There is still no word as to what caused Friday's fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at London's Heathrow Airport, but British Aviation officials say that it was not linked to battery problems which had previously grounded the Dreamliners.

Officials told ABC News that there is "no evidence of a direct causal relationship" between Friday's fire and the previous battery issues.

A fire onboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner shut down runways at London's Heathrow Airport on Friday. There were no passengers on board the plane at the time of the fire.

In a statement, the U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch made clear that the investigation is expected to take several days. Based on initial evidence, officials say that the upper portion of the rear fuselage of the plane suffered extensive heat damage.

"However, it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and Auxiliary Power Unity batteries are located," says the Air Accidents Investigation Branch's statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan282013

Brazil Nightclub Fire: Police Arrest Three in Santa Maria

EduAndrade/LatinContent/Getty Images(SANTA MARIA, Brazil) -- Brazilian authorities have arrested three people in connection to the fire that killed more than 230 people and injured hundreds at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, this weekend.

The owner of the popular Kiss nightclub, a member of the band Gurizada Fandangueira and the club's security chief have been arrested and are being questioned by police, the BBC reported on Monday.

A fourth person, who the BBC reports is a co-owner of the club, is still being sought by police.

None of the names of those arrested and being sought have been released.

Coffins lined a gymnasium in Santa Maria on Monday as family members tried to identify their loved ones after a fast-moving fire tore through a crowded nightclub Sunday morning.

A community gym near the popular Kiss nightclub has been converted to a temporary morgue were family members were led in one by one Sunday night and early Monday morning to identify the dead.

Most of those killed on Sunday were either trampled to death or died from smoke inhalation as they tried to leave through the one working exit of the club.

Firefighters attempted to break holes in the walls to free victims at the club, which was said to be filled to its capacity of between 1,000 and 2,000 people.

Authorities in Santa Maria, a college town in southern Brazil, said preliminary evidence indicated the fire was started when a member of the band shot off a flare gun into the ceiling, which caused the fire to quickly spread.

The tragedy was reminiscent of a fire at The Station nightclub in Warwick, R.I., 10 years ago when a pyrotechnics display used by the band Great White sparked a blaze that quickly went out of control, causing a panic that left 100 people dead.

The first funerals for the victims in Brazil were scheduled to begin later Monday for those families who have identified their loved ones.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan272013

Over 200 People Dead in Brazil Night Club Fire

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over 200 people are reportedly dead after a fire broke out in a night club in Santa Maria, Brazil.

Eyewitnesses described a scene of terror with people trying to fight their way out through thick smoke and what some say was a single exit at the packed Kiss night club in the southern Brazilian town. People outside apparently tried to break through walls to get in to save those trapped inside. Hospitals in Santa Maria are at full capacity. The majority of victims are believed to have died from inhaling toxic fumes.

[CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS]


The blaze is believed to have ignited when a band started a fireworks display on stage, and acoustic insulation caught fire.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Factory Workers: We Were Locked In As Flames Spread

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(DHAKA, Bangladesh) -- More survivors of the factory fire in Bangladesh that killed more than 100 garment workers this weekend have told human rights and international labor groups they were actually locked in by security gates as the flames spread.

"The police and the fire department are confirming that the collapsible gates were locked on each floor," said Charles Kernighan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. "The fire department said they had to come in with bolt cutters to cut the locks."

The toll of the garment factory blaze now stands at 112, but Kernighan and others interviewed by ABC News said they believe the number may actually be much higher. The destruction inside made it difficult to identify bodies, and Kernighan said factory officials have yet to make public a list of the 1,500 workers believed to be working in the nine-story building at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, when the fire broke out in a first-floor warehouse.

Kalpona Akter, a labor activist based in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka, spoke with a number of survivors, who described a scene of horror as workers started to smell smoke, and then the power went out and they were thrown into darkness.

"Then they ran to the stairs and found it was already fire caught in the stairs," she said. "They broke one window in the east side of the factory and…they started to jump."

Akter said many groups of relatives worked together in the factory, and when the lights went out, many began to scream in search of their mothers and sisters and daughters. She said she also heard accounts of managers shutting the gates as alarms sounded to prevent workers from walking off the job, apparently thinking it was a false alarm.

Authorities in Bangladesh announced three arrests, all supervisors from the factory, whom the police accused of negligence in their handling of the incident.

A journalist who attended the police press conference told ABC News the three men were arrested "because they did not perform their duty" and prevented workers from escaping from the factory, instead of helping them get out.

Also Wednesday, there were new reports that clothing found in the burned-out remains included large quantities of sweatshirts with labels for Disney, the parent company of ABC News. Like Walmart and Sears, Disney said Wednesday it had no idea the Tazreen Fashions Limited factory was not supposed to be making its clothes.

"None of our licensees have been permitted to manufacture Disney-branded products in this facility for at least the last 12 months," a Disney statement read.

As with Disney, other retailers continue to question how their products could be found in a factory they did not know they had hired. Li & Fung, a Hong Kong supplier that works with several large brands, confirmed it was producing clothes in the factory for a Sean Combs label, ENYCE. But in a statement to ABC News Wednesday, Li & Fung said it had not brought clothes to the factory for any other client, including Sears, Disney and Walmart.

Asked why it hired a factory that had been cited by at least one auditor for having safety problems, Li & Fung said it was investigating that question.

"As this tragic event is still under official investigation by the authorities, and since Li & Fung will conduct our own investigation, it would be premature to comment on our prior assessment of the factory's compliance," the statement said.

Labor rights groups said the American clothing companies have an obligation to know where their clothing is being manufactured.

"They have the power to make demands on the factory owners, they don't do it though," Kernighan said. "Because they want to keep cutting the prices, and cutting the prices, and cutting the prices."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Fire Kills 112 Workers in Bangladesh Making Clothes for US Brands

STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(DHAKA, Bangladesh) -- The 100-plus workers who died in a fire late Saturday at a high-rise garment factory in Bangladesh were working overtime making clothes for major American retailers, including Walmart, according to workers' rights groups.

Officials in Bangladesh said the flames at the Tazreen Fashions factory outside Dhaka spread rapidly on the ground floor, trapping those on the higher floors of the nine-story building.  There were no exterior fire escapes, according to officials, and many died after jumping from upper floors to escape the flames.

As firemen continued to remove bodies on Sunday, officials said at least 112 people had died but that the number of fatalities could go higher.

The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers -- many making clothes for U.S. consumers -- have died in factory fires in the past five years.  As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions.

"The industry and parent brands in the U.S. have been warned again and again about the extreme danger to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action," said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies.  Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and "one of the worst in any country."

Workers' activists went into the burned-out remains on Sunday to document which major retailers were using the Tazreen factory.

They say they found labels for Faded Glory, a Walmart private label, along with labels they said traced back to Sears and a clothing company owned by music impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs.

"There's no question that Walmart and the other customers at this factory bear some blame for what happened in this factory," Nova said.

Nova also said that Walmart "knew exactly what's going on at these facilities.  They have staff on site in Bangladesh."

Walmart told ABC News that the company has not yet been able to confirm that it was still making clothes at the factory.

In a statement, Walmart told ABC News, "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragedy....[F]ire safety is a critically important area of Walmart's factory audit program and we have been working across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh."

"As part of this effort, we partnered with several independent organizations to develop and roll out fire safety training tools for factory management and workers. Continued engagement is critical to ensure that reliable, proactive measures are in place to reduce the chance of factory fires," the statement continued.

Spokespeople for Combs and Sears did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov082012

Iranian Fighter Jets Fire on US Predator Drone

File photo. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon disclosed Thursday that an unarmed U.S. military Predator surveillance drone was fired at by Iranian military jets last week in international airspace over the waters of the Persian Gulf.

Officials stressed that the U.S. drone had never entered Iranian territory and that the entire incident occurred in international airspace. The drone was not hit by the plane's gunfire and was able to return to its undisclosed base in the region.

At a Pentagon briefing, spokesman George Little told reporters that the incident had occurred last Thursday at approximately 4:50 a.m. Eastern Time when an unarmed Predator drone "conducting routine surveillance" over the Gulf "was intercepted by Iranian Su-25 Frogfoot aircraft and was fired upon with guns."

The incident occurred 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coastline, said Little. The internationally recognized territorial limit of waters and airspace begins 12 nautical miles from a nation's coastline. Though Little did not disclose where the incident occurred, a Defense official told ABC News that it occurred in the northern part of the Persian Gulf east of Kuwait.

The White House and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were informed of the incident as soon as it happened, as were relevant members of Congress. The incident was not disclosed until today when CNN was first to reveal the details of the incident. Little said that the Pentagon does not talk about classified missions like the one the Predator was undertaking, but decided to go public with details following "the unauthorized leak."

Little said that the United States communicated to Iran via Swiss intermediaries that "we will continue to conduct surveillance flights over international waters over the Arabian Gulf consistent with long-standing practice."

Little described last Thursday's incident as the first time that an unmanned American aircraft has been shot at over the international waters of the Persian Gulf.

When asked if the United States considered the shooting an "act of war," Little said he was "not going to get into legal labels." He added, "The reality is that we have a wide range of options, as I said before, to protect our assets and our forces in the region and will do so when necessary." He later acknowledged that no manned American aircraft had responded to the incident.

The spokesman said that Iranian Su-25 "Frogfoot" aircraft intercepted the drone in international waters and then fired at it with machine guns. The shots missed and the drone moved beyond the 16 nautical-mile range and it was fired upon again though the shots once again missed. At that point "the Iranian aircraft continued to pursue the MQ-1 for some period of time before letting it return to base." Little believed that the Iranian jets tailed the drone for at least "several miles."

When asked if the Iranian misses may have been "warning shots," Little replied, "Our working assumption is that they fired to take it down. You'll have to ask the Iranians why they engaged in this action."

"We believe that they fired at least twice," he added, "and made at least two passes." A Defense official told ABC News that the approaching Iranian aircraft were spotted by one of the cameras aboard the drone. After the first strafing run the official says the Iranian aircraft made a circular pass around the drone to get in position for another strafing run.

Little said that the Pentagon had not disclosed the incident until Thursday's CNN report because it doesn't talk about classified surveillance missions undertaken by drones. "There is absolutely no precedence for this, so this is the first time that a UAV has been fired upon, to our knowledge, by Iranian aircraft. So I wouldn't draw any parallels between this and past incidents. We routinely do not advertise our classified surveillance missions."

Little downplayed the idea that the White House might have asked the Pentagon to not talk about the incident for political reasons given it occurred so close to the upcoming election. "We don't typically comment on classified surveillance missions," he said. "And I'm not going to get into discussions at the classified level that occurred between this department and the White House. They were informed early on."

An unmanned RQ-170 surveillance drone crashed in Iran last December. At the time Iran claimed that it had been shot down, but U.S. officials said a technical malfunction had brought the aircraft down while conducting a secret surveillance mission over Iran for the CIA.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Hundreds Die in Pakistan's Worst-Ever Factory Fire

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- As many as 300 people were killed in a factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan, on Wednesday in what was believed to be the country's worst-ever industrial accident.

The blaze swept through a textile factory in a northwestern suburb of the city as employees tried in vain to escape through locked doors and barred windows at the complex.

Authorities said the situation became so desperate that workers threw themselves off fourth-floor roofs, with many sustaining fatal or critical injuries from the falls.

Medical teams tending to the victims said that most of the dead were killed by smoke inhalation while many survivors suffered excruciating third-degree burns.

According to witnesses, two loud explosions were heard before smoke enveloped the factory where clothes and tools were made.

Once rescue and recovery efforts are completed, there will be an investigation into the fire and why there were so few exits available to the victims.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan complained, "The head of the firefighting operations in Karachi has noted that the factory was dangerous, flimsily built and had no emergency exits. Why did all of that escape official attention earlier?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul132012

Scores Dead in Nigerian Fuel Truck Explosion

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- At least 95 people were killed Thursday in Nigeria while siphoning oil from a fuel truck that had crashed on a highway.  Authorities say the victims died when the truck exploded.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said residents from a nearby village were catching leaking fuel from the wrecked tanker truck with makeshift containers when the vehicle exploded.

Nigeria is the top crude oil producer in Africa and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., but its lack of proper roads in the country’s oil-rich swampland is responsible for countless deadly accidents.

In 2010, more than 200 people died when a wrecked tanker truck exploded into flames as they approached.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

Chinese Students Leave University in the Dust…Literally

CEN(LIAONING, China) -- As summer starts, Chinese students from Liaoning province are leaving their college … in the dust.

It looks like these students in northern China are celebrating the end, literally, of their school as it goes up in smoke. Rather harsh, no matter how happy they are to be leaving. Seniors from China’s Dalian University of Technology City College in Liaoning province, are seen in a widely dispersed online photo dressed in graduation day gowns and joyfully tossing their caps into the air. With smiles on their faces they appear as fresh-faced and full of hope as any happy student headed out into the world should be on his or her big day.

But behind them, just steps from their classroom buildings, a massive, black cloud of smoke rises into the air. Reports are a warehouse just behind university buildings caught fire on graduation day. The sequence of events suggest that the fire started just as students prepared to head to graduation ceremonies. As students were evacuated, a group stopped to snap photos. The visual effect makes it appear as if the university itself is going up in smoke, and its students could not be happier.

In China, where the rigor and competitive nature of academic study is widely known to be among the most intense in the world, the photo caused quite a sensation. The photo, and others from the same scene, went viral and according to the Daily Mail were forwarded 3,000 times in two hours.

The student who uploaded the photos, Netizen ‘Brent-J’, also posted the following caption, “It’s too big a coincidence to see the university on fire today, the students are filled with love in seeing the school burn.”

University officials were not pleased with the suggestion that students would celebrate the school’s destruction. They released subsequent photos of students helping to put out the fire on the college website and the statement that they “show the true spirit of the college. Our students should not be celebrating destruction.”

Either way, for the group of students in the photo school is definitely out for summer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar312012

Cruise Ship That Caught Fire Repaired, Heading to Malaysia

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A cruise ship that caught on fire after leaving the Phillipines with over 1,000 people on board has been repaired and is on its way to Malaysia, the BBC reports.

A fire erupted on the Azamara Quest one day after it left Manila for Malaysia on Friday night. Five crew members suffered smoke inhalation - one of them severely - and no passengers were injured. A coastguard spokesman said the ship was carrying 590 passengers and 411 crew.

One passenger said that an engineer ran through the dining room covered in oil just as dinner was about to be served. Everyone was then reportedly evacuated and given life jackets as smoke filled the dining room. The blaze reportedly started in one of the ship's engine rooms, and was immediately extinguished, according to Azamara Club Cruises.

The ship is now traveling at a nautical speed of three to six knots and is expected to arrive in Sandakan, Malaysia, in two days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio