Ukraine declares day of mourning for victims of Iran jet crash

UNTV News   •   January 9, 2020   •   193

Relatives, colleagues, and friends of crew members of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 which crashed near Tehran lay flowers and light candles at Boryspil International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine, 08 January 2020. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Kiev – Ukraine on Thursday declared a day of national mourning to honor the victims of a plane crash near Tehran, the biggest catastrophe of its kind in the country’s recent history.

“To commemorate the victims, the President orders that the state flags of Ukraine be flown at half-mast on the headquarters and offices of state authorities, local governments, state-owned enterprises, institutions and organizations,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement.

On Wednesday 8 January a Ukrainian jetliner carrying 176 people, mainly Ukrainian and Canadian passengers, crashed near the Iranian capital after takeoff.

“Of course, the priority for Ukraine is to establish the causes of the crash,” he added.

“We will certainly find out the truth. To this end, a detailed and independent investigation will be carried out in accordance with international law.”

The president hopes that the Ukrainian specialists who arrived in Iran early on Thursday will join the team looking into the accident by analyzing the black boxes of the plane.

Experts will also carry out the work of identification and repatriation of the mortal remains of Ukrainian passengers.

The president called on Ukrainian citizens to avoid trips to the region and not to speculate on the reasons for the accident until the official results of the investigation were announced.

“This is not a topic for hype, likes in social networks, sensationalism and conspiracy theories. We need patience, endurance, and wisdom.”

“And also this terrible story should teach us all, every citizen of Ukraine, and every world leader, to value human lives. It should be done before they are taken so quickly and painfully,” Zelensky said.

The Boeing 737 to Kiev of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), in which 167 passengers and nine crew members were traveling, left at dawn on Wednesday from the Iranian international airport Imam Khomeini.

Minutes after takeoff it crashed when attempting to return to the airport.

The reasons for the sudden crash remain unknown.

All the passengers, including 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Britons died.

The UIA denied that the accident could have been caused by a human error and announced the suspension of flights to Iran until the details of the accident were clarified.

Shortly after, the authorities issued the same ban for all Ukrainian airlines.

The plane was manufactured in 2016 and passed its last technical review two days before the fateful flight, the company added.

According to UIA, many passengers on flight PS752 intended to continue traveling from Kiev to European countries and North America. EFE

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Fearing infection, residents protest against coronavirus evacuees landing in Ukraine

UNTV News   •   February 20, 2020

Residents in central Ukraine protested the arrival of a plane carrying evacuees from China’s Hubei province on Thursday (February 20), fearing they could be infected with the coronavirus despite authorities insisting there was no danger.

Protesters from the village of Novi Sanzhary blocked the road leading to a sanatorium where the evacuees are due to be held in quarantine for at least two weeks to make sure they were not carrying the virus.

Hundreds of police were dispatched to keep order.

The protest prompted President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to issue a statement reassuring Ukrainians that there was no danger, that the authorities had done everything possible to make sure the virus would not spread to Ukraine.

“But there is another danger that I would like to mention. The danger of forgetting that we are all human and we are all Ukrainian,” he said.

“Attempts to block routes, block hospitals, not allow Ukrainian citizens into Ukraine – this does not show the best side of our character. Especially when you consider that most passengers are people under 30 years of age. For many of us, they are almost like children.”

In addition to 45 Ukrainians, there were 27 citizens of Argentina on the plane that landed in Ukraine on Thursday, as well as citizens from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, and other countries.

The Ukrainian authorities say all passengers on board had been screened twice for the virus before being allowed to fly, but that was not enough to quell the protesters.

Ukraine has no confirmed cases of the virus.

China reported a drop in new cases in the province at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, though the death toll so far at over 2,000 has made it one of the biggest global health emergencies in recent decades.

(Production: Vitality Hnidyy, Margaryta Chornokondratenko)

PH Navy ships arrive in Oman for repatriation amid Middle East tensions

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 7, 2020

The Philippine Navy ships, BRP Davao del Sur (LD602) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16), have arrived in Oman to help in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the tensions in the Middle East.

The ships arrived at Sultan Qaboos Port late on Wednesday afternoon (February 5).

In a statement, Philippine envoy to Oman, Ambassador Narciso Castañeda said the navy contingent are “all safe and sound” upon arriving in Oman.

“The troops are very happy and in high spirits since this event serves as another milestone for our Navy that we can already transcend across the deep waters of Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea,” he said.

He also assured that the embarked sailors and marines “are ready to assist and support the government effort in repatriating our unsung heroes, the OFWs in this Middle East conflict.”—AAC

US soldiers injured in Iran’s attack on Iraqi military bases

UNTV News   •   January 17, 2020

US soldiers stand next to the damage caused by Iran’s missile attack inside Ain al-Assad air base in Anbar province, Iraq, 14 January 2020. EPA-EFE FILE/STR

Washington, DC — Eleven United States soldiers were injured in the Jan. 8 Iranian bombing of a military base in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani in a targeted strike, the US Central Command said in a statement Thursday.

Initially, the Pentagon had said that the attack had not caused any injuries but now, after re-evaluating the victims, it has identified some symptoms of possible concussions due to the force of the impact of the missiles.

“While no US service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” Centcom spokesperson Bill Urban said in a statement.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” in the days following the attack, eight soldiers were transported from the Al Asad air base in western Iraq to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, while three others were sent to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait for follow-on screening, the official said.

“When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” he added.

After the attack on the air base, Iran warned that it was only the beginning of a series of retaliatory actions it would take to avenge the death of Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force and a highly respected figure in the Persian county, in a US targeted strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.

At the time, US President Donald Trump chose not to respond to the Iranian offensive with military force and said in a speech to the nation that he would impose more sanctions against Iran.

Those sanctions were directed against eight senior Iranian officials, including Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, as well as against the country’s steel, iron, aluminum and copper industry.

“The United States is targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement and complicity in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strikes,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said in a statement outlining the sanctions.

“We are also designating Iran’s largest metals manufacturers, and imposing sanctions on new sectors of the Iranian economy including construction, manufacturing, and mining,” he added.

Tehran and Washington, which have had no diplomatic relations since 1979, have experienced multiple crises since Trump ordered the US’ exit from a landmark multilateral agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program in 2018.

The current escalation of tension coincides with the downing of a Ukrainian aircraft by the Islamic Republic, which caused the death of all 176 people aboard. EFE-EPA

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