skip to main |
skip to sidebar
So, 23 years
after the Hillsborough disaster, the friends and loved ones of victims are to
get a second chance to uncover the truth, and today the British government
announced it would provide the money to ensure they get proper legal
representation at new inquests.
It was at the
FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989 that 96 Liverpool supporters died when a
severe crush developed at the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s
ground. Ordering new inquests, the Lord
Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said ‘deliberate misinformation’ had been disseminated
about the disaster.
expressed particular concern about the role of the police, and about false
accusations that drunkenness among fans had played an important part in the
tragedy. These allegations, he said,
were ‘unacceptable and unfair’.
judge also praised the victims’ families for their dogged pursuit of the
truth. What a disgrace that it has
taken so long for them to be heard. The
story of the disaster can be found in A
Disastrous History of Britain.
factory fire on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, in which at least
110 people died (see my blog of Nov 25) was caused by sabotage according to an
But the head of the
inquiry, Main Uddin Khandaker, added
that the owner had been guilty of ‘severe negligence’. He said factory officials had padlocked
exits and prevented workers from escaping.
It is claimed that the factory’s fire certificate was out of date and
that the company had permission for only a three-storey building even though it
stood nine storeys high.
Police in South
Africa have launched a fresh investigation into the plane crash in 1986 that
killed the Mozambican president Samora Machel and 33 other people, including government
ministers and officials. The
Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-134, taking them home from an international meeting in Lusaka,
came down in a mountainous area of South Africa.
The following year, a South African judge, assisted by experts from the
USA and the UK, said the cause was negligence on the part of the crew, but Russian
experts working with the Mozambican authorities claimed the pilot was lured to disaster by a
decoy navigation beacon.
Now there are reports that investigators have found detailed new
evidence, including a sworn statement from a military intelligence agent of the
apartheid era, plus documents, photographs and voice recordings.
The South African apartheid regime carried out a series of military
strikes in Mozambique and other Africa states in the 1980’s.
Sixty years ago this week, London was in the grip of perhaps the
deadliest fog in its history. The air
was thick yellow, with sulphur dioxide levels ten times higher than usual. Visibility was reduced to 20 yards,
Not surprisingly, transport came to a standstill, and the smog even got
inside buildings so that a performance at Sadler’s Wells Theatre had to be
abandoned because the audience couldn’t see the stage.
The foul air was estimated to have caused the deaths of up to 12,000
Londoners, and the government set up an inquiry to try and prevent anything
like it happening again. The result
was the Clean Air Act of 1956, which improved things dramatically.
Now the Clean Air in London campaign is complaining that Mayor Boris
Johnson has been quietly lobbying to dilute European rules on air standards in
spite of a report in 2010 which said that 4,300 Londoners a year were still
dying because of poor air quality in the capital.
*You can read more about the 1952 smog in my book London’s Disasters. It also
features the Regent’s Park skating disaster, recalled in a fascinating series
on London’s lesser known disasters on the Londonist website - http://londonist.com/2012/11/londons-forgotten-disasters-ice-skating-tragedy-in-regents-park.php
At least 200
people are now believed to have been killed in the southern Philippines by
Typhoon Bopha, and 70 per cent of the agricultural land in the area is said to
have been damaged.
Compostela Valley province, in eastern Mindanao, is the area worst hit,
where mudslides engulfed a school and a village hall being used as evacuation
centres. Among those killed or missing
are soldiers who had gone to help. Rescue
efforts are being hampered because many roads are blocked by fallen trees and
In December last
year, Typhoon Washi killed more than 1,300 people in the Southern Philippines. Bopha is actually stronger than its deadly
predecessor, but this time people were better prepared thanks to the
media, telephone warnings, early evacuations and a special website.
The death toll has also been reduced because Bopha had slowed down a
little before it hit some particularly vulnerable areas. The deadliest ever typhoon to hit the
Philippines is believed to have been Thelma which killed up to 8,000 people in
November 1991. (See also my blogs of 28
Sept and 10 Oct, 2009; and 6 Jan 2011.)
On the 28th
anniversary of the Bhopal chemical disaster, victims and their supporters held
rallies to complain that they have still not been adequately compensated. A march on the residence of a leading
politician to deliver a letter was halted by police.
complain that still no one has been properly called to account for the
disaster, in which poisonous methyl isocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide’s
plant, killing perhaps 3,800 people in the immediate aftermath and causing
illness and death to many thousands more in the years that followed.
Meanwhile the ‘Remember
Bhopal Trust’ is setting up a mobile museum made up of articles donated by the
families of victims, including materials used in protests over the last 28
years. From December 2013, it will tour
India on a bus.
The curator says
they have refused any government funding, arguing the government ‘has no moral
authority to set up the museum as they were themselves a party to the gas
disaster.' (See also my blogs of Aug 1,
2009; June 7, and July 13, 2010.)