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Passenger list a rich tapestry

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 09 Maret 2014 | 23.08

1Teenage sweethearts ... Hadrien Wattrelos, 17, and Zhao Yan, 18, students at a French school in Beijing who were returning from a two-week holiday. Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied

NUMBERED 1 to 227, the passenger manifest for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is an outwardly unremarkable document.

But behind the columns of capitalised names, nationalities and ages are 227 unique stories, part of a rich human tapestry that assembles every time a flight departs. There were middle-aged Australians with wanderlust, an acclaimed Chinese calligrapher, a young Indonesian man heading to begin a new career, and two people traveling on stolen passports.

More than a day and a half has passed since the Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens in the first hour of a six-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. From France to Australia and China, families and friends are enduring an agonising wait for news about Flight MH370.

The flight had a crew of 12, all from Malaysia, a melting pot nation of ethnic Malays, Chinese and Indians. Passengers on the popular business and tourist route were mostly from China and Malaysia, along with smatterings of people from other corners of the world: Americans, Australians, Indians, French, Indonesians, Ukrainians and other nationalities.

Some traveled alone, some in groups. They were young sweethearts and wrinkled older couples. Some had business in mind, others thought of art. Seventy-four years separates the youngest, 2-year-old Moheng Wang, and the oldest, 76-year-old Rusheng Liu.

"I can only pray for a miracle,'' said Daniel Liau, the organiser of a calligraphic and painting exhibition in Malaysia attended by acclaimed Chinese calligrapher Meng Gaosheng, who boarded the flight with 18 other artists plus six family members and four staff.

"I feel very sad. Even though I knew them for a short time, they have become my friends,'' Mr Liau said.

Also traveling as a group were eight Chinese and 12 Malaysian employees of Austin, Texas, semiconductor company Freescale, which said it was assembling "around-the-clock support'' for their families.

Seasoned travellers ... Australians Robert Lawton, 58, and his wife, Catherine, 54, were beginning another adventure. Source: Facebook

Each day more than 80,000 flights take off and land around the world without incident. For seasoned Australian travelers Robert Lawton, 58, and his wife, Catherine, 54, the seemingly routine takeoff of flight MH370 was the beginning of another adventure.

"They mentioned in passing they were going on another big trip and they were really excited,'' Caroline Daintith, a neighbor, told ABC television of the couple described as doting grandparents.

Sharing their adventure was another 50-something Australian couple, Rodney and Mary Burrows. Neighbour Don Stokes said the trip was intended as the beginning of the "next step in their life.''

School break ... Zhao Yan, 18, from Beijing, who was on board with boyfriend Hadrien Wattrelos, as well as his mother and younger sister. Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied

Among the family groups on board were teenage sweethearts Hadrien Wattrelos, 17, and Zhao Yan, 18, students at a French school in Beijing who were returning from the Malaysian leg of a two-week holiday along with Hadrien's mother and younger sister.

In December, Zhao changed her Facebook profile photo to one of her and Hadrien. He had commented: "Je t'aime,'' followed by a heart, and she had "liked'' his comment.

Some boarded the plane with more serious purposes in mind.

Colleagues of Chandrika Sharma said the 50-year-old director of the Chennai chapter of an organisation that works with fishermen was on her way from the southern Indian city to Mongolia for a Food and Agriculture Organization conference.

"There must still be hope,'' said a colleague, Venogupal, who like many in India goes by one name.

He seemed, however, to be bracing for the worst. "She was friendly and very loveable, very industrious and astute. We will miss her.''

Tearful ... the parents of Firman Chandra Siregar, a 24 year-old passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 that went missing on March 8, at Firman's family home. Source: AFP

For 24-year-old Firman Chandra Siregar from Medan, Indonesia, the flight was a new chapter. In Beijing, he was to start a three-year contract with Schlumberger, an oilfield services company.

Dozens of relatives and neighbors gathered at his family's home, some tearful, praying or watching news of the search and rescue operation. Like Ms Sharma's colleagues, they were forced to let hope ebb away.

A team from the Indonesian police's Disaster Victim Identification unit collected DNA samples and medical records from Mr Firman's family and photographed pictures of Mr Firman that hung on the walls of the family home.

The motivation of some on board is murky. Two passengers were traveling with stolen EU passports - fueling speculation that the plane's disappearance was not an accident.

Yet the documents are just two of at least 39 million lost and stolen passports around the world. Last year, there were more than 29.3 million flights worldwide. By chance, many of those flights would have a passenger traveling on a stolen passport. They may be criminals, people seeking a better life, or something else.

Also by chance: Liu Hongwei was not on Flight MH370.

The Beijing-based head of an investment company and friend of the calligrapher Mr Meng said that he was invited to the exhibition and cultural exchange in Malaysia as a sponsor, but that business commitments kept him from going.

"That could have been me on that plane,'' he said. "We're all very worried.''


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Sit skiing taking heavy toll

They've been described as the craziest athletes at the Sochi Paralympics and theres already been plenty of carnage at the sit skiing.

Japanese skier Akira Kano competes during the Men's Downhill Sitting. Source: AFP

THEY'VE been described as the craziest athletes at the Sochi Paralympics.

All it takes is one slight bump to start in motion a fall that quickly descends into out-of-control chaos for sit skiers who are locked into a chair attached to a ski and are hurtling down the mountain at over 100km/h.

The downhill race - where competitors start at the top of a steep, winding mountain and it's fastest to the bottom wins - was marred by repeated carnage on Saturday when 11 of the 27 competitors in their mono-skis failed to finish.

Some were lucky and skid off course before sliding sideways into a fence.

The picture of himself that Kyle Walker posted on social media after his crash. Source: Supplied

Others like American Tyler Walker, Briton Anna Turney, Mexican Arly Velasquez and German Franz Hanfstingl fell violently, bounced repeatedly off the ground and catapulted high into the air before finally coming to rest hundreds of metres from where the drama started.

In some cases the ski snapped from their chair and equipment worth thousands of dollars was sprawled across the snow like a train wreck.

Walker cartwheeled several times before coming to a stop where he lay motionless before medical staff arrived and he was airlifted from the mountain in a helicopter.

The US team later announced the 27-year-old, who was born with lumbar sacral agenesis and had both legs amputated at the knee at the age of four, was stable and conscious.

He later tweeted:

Great Britain's Anna Turney, who is paralysed from the waist down, remarkably emerged from her high-speed crash at Rosa Khutor with little more than a swollen lip.

"This is an extreme downhill damn it and I really wanted to win it," Turney said.

"I really wanted it and at the end of the day I got my line slightly wrong, then it was so bumpy and I just popped out," Turney said.

"It's challenging and certainly where I crashed that was bumpy, but I think the course guys have worked really hard and made it as safe as they could.

"I don't think it was unsafe, it was challenging.

"There's a knuckle you bounce over and then it's quite like undulating snow, ice really, and everyone is like 'oh, it's so dangerous' but it's a downhill at the end of the day."

Mexico's Arly Velasquez falls during the men's downhill. Source: AFP

Turney barely had time to think when her sit ski kicked into the air and she was tumbling downward.

"I was just thinking 'go straight, go straight, go straight' and trying to be on a flat ski.

"I came over that jump, I landed on one edge and bounced onto the other edge, I felt like I was thrown around a bit and suddenly I was falling because it's very quick - it's so annoying."

Some sit-skiers have no legs while others have little or no function in them and they are strapped into a large seat that sits inches off the snow with only their arms free to hold out-riggers in the hope they can stay on course.

Matthias Lanzinger: "For me in disabled sport, all the guys are heroes." Source: AFP

Austrian Matthias Lanzinger was a world class able-bodied skier before losing his left leg in a racing crash and is now at the Sochi Paralympics where he competes in the standing class with a prosthetic.

Days before competition began Lanzinger said he was in awe of the sit skiers.

"For me in disabled sport, all the guys are heroes," Lanzinger said.

"But the sitting category are all absolutely crazy and heroes."

Australia has one sit skier in its team in Sochi, Victoria Pendergast, who will compete in the slower but more technical slalom event this week.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Missing plane may have turned back

The search for Malaysian Airlines jet continues as six Australian passengers were named by DFAT. Courtesy Channel Ten

A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane waits for information in Beijing. Source: AP

AS THE FBI joins the international search for answers to what downed missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, security experts say China may have been the intended target.

It has emerged that two travellers being investigated for travelling with stolen passports were travelling together and had booked through China Southern Airlines.

Although there were 14 nationalities aboard the Boeing 777, the vast majority were Chinese and the plane was flying to Beijing as a code share with China Southern Airlines.

FAMILIES SHATTERED BY PLANE MYSTERY

TIMELINE: HOW FLIGHT MH370 VANISHED

VIEW THE FULL PASSENGER AND CREW LIST

Two European names - Austrian Christian Kozel and Luigi Maraldi of Italy - were listed on the passenger manifest but neither man boarded the plane to Beijing, officials said. Both had their passports stolen in Thailand over the past two years.

The BBC is reporting that the men falsely using these passports purchased tickets at the same time. They had consecutive ticket numbers and were both booked on the same onward plane from Beijing to Europe on Saturday, the BBC said.

Malaysia's department of civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says radar indicates the plane may have turned back. Source: Getty Images

Rescue teams are continuing the search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which was carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

Oil slicks were found in the South China sea on Sunday, but no debris or wreckage has been found yet.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the Malaysian Prime Minister on Sunday night and offered two RAAF Orion aircraft for the search and rescue operation. Two aircraft were despatched from Darwin late on Sunday.

Malaysian officials are due to hold a media conference at 11pm AEDT.

Associate Professor Felix Patrikeeff from the University of Adelaide said there could be a connection to Uighur militants from China's restive Xinjiang province in the country's northwest, who were responsible for a knife attack that left 33 dead on March 1.

A Chinese woman cries as she leaves a hotel room for relatives or friends of passengers in Beijing. Source: AP

"We had that terrible knife attack at the train station and I just begin to wonder if there might not be some sort of asymmetric action going on, on the part of the separatists … that they've taken the struggle out of Xinjiang itself and moved it into China and perhaps abroad," he said.

But security expert Professor Clive Williams downplayed the Uighur connection, saying if a bomb had been detonated, it was more likely to be a random act connected to organised crime, a personal grudge or an insurance policy.

Earlier, Malaysia's aviation chief said investigators were examining airport CCTV footage of the two passengers with stolen passports who boarded the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Devoted Brisbane pair Catherine and Robert Lawton are among the missing. Source: Facebook

The development came as Malaysia's air force chief raised the possibility that the missing plane may have turned back.

"There are only two passengers on record with false passports,'' department of civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.

"We have CCTV recordings of the two passengers. The recordings in the CCTV are now being investigated.''

The FBI is sending specialists to Kuala Lumpur to assist with the investigation.

Malaysia's air force chief told a joint media conference with other officials that radar indicated the missing Boeing 777 may have turned back, but declined to give further details on how far the plane may have veered off course.

Brisbane couple Rodney and Mary Burrows were travelling with their friends. Source: Supplied

Rodzali Daud said there "is a possible indication that the aircraft made a turnback," adding that authorities were "trying to make sense of that.

Rescue teams searching for the missing flight have widened their search area.

Malaysian authorities expanded their search for wreckage to the country's west coast, and asked for help from Indonesia. Searches so far had concentrated on waters to the country's east, in the South China Sea.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says counter-terrorism units have been activated. Source: AP

A total of 40 ships and 22 aircraft from an array of countries including China and the US are now involved in the hunt across the two areas, officials said.

Another pilot who was flying ahead of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane revealed he made contact with the missing aircraft minutes after he was asked to do so by Vietnamese air traffic control.

He said he heard mumbling and static from the cockpit of flight MH370.

Six Australians including two couples from Queensland and one couple from New South Wales are among the 239 people on board who are missing and feared dead.

First officer Fariq ab Hamid was on the missing aircraft. Source: Facebook

Brisbane couples Rodney and Mary Burrows, and Catherine and Robert Lawton of Springfield Lakes are believed to be friends travelling together.

Sydney couple Niajun Gu and Yuan Li, from the Sutherland Shire, were also travelling to China for a long-planned holiday.

Perth-based father-of-two Paul Weeks, originally from New Zealand, is also among those feared dead.

Mr Weeks, a 39-year-old mechanical engineer, was travelling to Mongolia for his first shift in a fly-in-fly-out job.

His devasated wife Danica is praying for a miracle that he will return home safely.

Perth engineer Paul Weeks, with his sons Lincoln and Jack, was travelling to Mongolia for a fly-in-fly-out job. Source: Supplied

"I can't give up hope. I would love him to walk through that door, hold him one more time ... I see him everywhere in the house,'' she told the Nine Network.

"It's so hard, so hard. I mean we are praying for a miracle.''

The couple have a three-year-old son, Lincoln, and a 10-month-old son, Jack.

Mr Weeks was born in New Zealand and moved to WA with his young family in 2011, following the devastating Christchurch earthquake.

Danica Weeks, wife of missing engineer Paul Weeks, says she and her family are praying for a miracle. Source: Supplied


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Santalab denies racism allegations

The Sunday Shootout team discuss the alleged racial abuse of Ali Abbas.

Ali Abbas is separated from Brendon Santalab by teammates. Source: News Corp Australia

THE angry fallout from the Sydney derby will go on for weeks, with Western Sydney striker Brendan Santalab vehemently denying allegations that he racially abused Sydney FC midfielder Ali Abbas during the Sky Blues' 3-1 victory on Saturday night.

Sydney FC on Sunday set in train what is likely to be a lengthy and high-profile disciplinary case for the A-League by making a formal complaint to Football Federation Australia over the comments Abbas claims infuriated him late in the game.

Though it is unclear whether any witnesses on the field will step forward, the allegations will attract a substantial penalty if found to be proved. It's understood that Western Sydney's new owners will consider the future of any player found guilty of such an offence.

Sydney FC midfielder Ali Abbas explains his on-field outburst against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Though Western Sydney made no comment on the matter before flying to China on Sunday night for an Asian Champions League game, Santalab is understood to have strongly denied making the slur when asked about it after the game by a club official, and to have reiterated those denials again on Sunday.

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Abbas's journey from Iraq to Sydney

Ali Abbas 'culturally abused' during derby

FFA chief David Gallop has confirmed the FFA will investigate allegations of racism made by Sydney FCs Ali Abbas.

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Abbas had to be restrained by teammates late in the second half and said after the match his outburst was a result of slurs made about his ethnic background and religion.

He told teammates that Santalab called him a highly derogatory term, coupled with specific references to his ethnicity and Muslim religion.

Sydney FC's 3-1 Derby win over Western Sydney has been overshadowed by accusations of racial abuse by the Wanderers. Ali Abbas said post-game that he was attacked for his religion and culture during the match.

A visibly irate Abbas told Fox Sports straight after Saturday's game that he had felt no alternative but to respond to what he heard.

"We are not here to attack religion or culture, we are here to play football," he said. "I come from a different country, I respect everyone here. I should get it back. If I don't get it back, I'm going to attack. That's what happened. If people attack religion, if people attack culture — I'm against that. We need to stop that."

On Sunday, with Abbas described as still furious, Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata confirmed the club had made the complaint official.

Sunday Shootout host Adam Peacock talks to Fox Sports about the allegations of racist abuse lodged by Sydney FC and Ali Abbas.

"We will be undergoing due process with FFA," Pignata said in a statement. "We ask that the privacy of Ali Abbas is respected at this time and no further comment will be made while the complaint procedure takes it course."

There is no clear timeline for the dispute process, with FFA guidelines noting that it may include attempts at mediation or referral straight to a tribunal.

If it goes to a full hearing then witnesses can be called — that may include Sydney FC striker Corey Gameriro who tweeted after the game that he was "disgusted to what I heard tonight!!! #SAYNOTORACISM."

Ali Abbas (R) of Sydney FC is held back by acting captain Sasa Ognenovski during the derby. Source: Getty Images

The players' union is likely to become involved on Monday though it faces a difficult balancing act in supporting both players. Adelaide striker Bruce Djite, a prominent PFA member, called on Saturday night for FFA to take action if Abbas's claims were true.

In terms of precedents, Sydney striker Joel Griffiths received a three-match ban two years ago for a racial term shouted at a linesman, while in the UK Liverpool striker Luis Suarez earned an eight-match ban for calling Patrice Evra of Manchester United a "negro".

To add to the Wanderers' woes, they could lose Iacopo La Rocca if the match review panel decides to have a closer look at the Italian's challenge on Abbas, where his elbow appeared come into contact with the Sydney FC player's head.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Widower dives tsunami waters

'I have to keep looking' ... Yasuo Takamatsu, 57, started taking scuba diving lessons in November to find his wife who is still missing after the tsunami. Picture: Toru Yamanaka Source: AFP

YASUO Takamatsu, 57, grunts with the effort of hoisting a scuba diving tank onto his back, as he prepares to step into the cold waters off Japan's tsunami-ravaged coast to look for the body of his wife, one of thousands still missing three years on.

A swell lifts the wooden boat as he tugs on an over-sized rubber dry-suit that will protect him from the chill when he sinks into the murky, March-grey Pacific Ocean, just days before the anniversary of the disaster.

"She was a gentle and kind person,'' said Mr Takamatsu. "She would always be next to me, physically and mentally. I miss her, I miss the big part of me that was her.''

Persistent ... Harumi Ozawa Yasuo Takamatsu (right) and an instructor head for a diving spot in Onagawa. Picture: Toru Yamanaka Source: AFP

Mr Takamatsu, a bus driver by trade, was never a natural candidate for learning to scuba dive and was worried he would not be able to do it.

But he feels driven to the water when he thinks about the last time he heard from his wife Yuko, before the nearly 20-metre wave engulfed her.

In a text message sent at 3.21 pm, half an hour after a huge undersea earthquake shook Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011 and unleashed a towering tsunami that travelled with the speed of a jet plane towards the Japanese coast, Yuko said simply: "I want to go home''.

"That was the last message from her,'' he said.

"I feel terrible thinking she is still out there. I want to bring her home as soon as possible,'' he said.

On a mission ... Yasuo Takamatsu (right) listens to his instructor in the ice-cold sea water in Onagawa. Picture: Toru Tamanaka Source: AFP

Weeks later, while scouring the area, bank workers found Yuko's mobile phone and handed it back to Takamatsu.

He dried it off and fired it up to see that she had written a text message he had never received, at almost exactly the time the water was thought to have reached the roof of the bank.

"'Tsunami huge'. That was all she wrote in the very last one,'' he said.

Within minutes of the tsunami striking, communities were turned to matchwood, and whole families had drowned.

When the waves subsided and the water rushed back out to sea, it took homes, cars and the bodies of thousands of the people it had killed.

Officially, more than 15,800 are known to have died in the disaster, Japan's worst peacetime loss of life. Another 2636 are listed as missing.

No-one thinks they will ever turn up alive, but for the bereaved, it is important to be able to find their bodies and finally lay them to rest.

Into the vast ocean ... Yasuo Takamatsu jumps into the ice-cold water with a diving tank on. He says he has 'not moved on a bit' since losing his wife Yuko in the 2011 tsunami. Picture: Toru Yamanaka Source: AFP

More than 800 people were lost in the small fishing town of Onagawa alone, of whom more than 250 are still missing, including Mr Takamatsu's wife, Yuko, then 47.

Minutes after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, Yuko and a dozen of her colleagues at the local bank went up to the rooftop of the building, aware that a tsunami was rushing ashore.

It was from there that she sent her last text message to her husband.

"It was about the time the tsunami went over the dock of Onagawa. I think the water reached the rooftop a few minutes later,'' Takamatsu said. "I was not too worried after the quake because she was with her colleagues at the bank, although it bothered me that I couldn't contact her,'' he said.

Mr Takamatsu was with his mother-in-law at a hospital in the next town when the sea came ashore.

He was not allowed to go back into the wrecked town, which was by then a seething, bobbing mass of buildings, fishing boats and cars, where pools of gasoline burned on the surface of the water.

When the barriers were lifted the next day, he rushed to Onagawa's hospital, which sits on a hilltop, as the designated evacuation site where hundreds had fled soon after the huge quake.

It was there that he learned the bank employees had been swept away.

"I felt my knees buckling. I felt nothing in my body.''

Devastated ... debris, including a wrecked train carriage, at Onagawa following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Source: AFP

Three years after the disaster, Japan is not officially prepared to give up the search for its missing.

Police, coastguard officers and volunteers have mobilised in their thousands to comb muddy areas around the mouths of rivers or to scour the seabed. Search squads still recover some human remains.

Among the searchers is Mr Takamatsu's instructor, Masayoshi Takahashi, who leads volunteer divers to look for the missing and clean the ocean floor.

Mr Takahashi said he was happy to help his novice student and is keen to ensure he can learn to dive safely.

"During underwater search, unlike leisure diving, we have to dive in unclear water and there is also the risk of getting trapped in the wreckage,'' he said.

"I want him to become able to relax and look around carefully in water. He has a clear object to find.''

Mr Takamatsu knows that the chances of finding his wife are slim. In the three years since she died, swirling currents have carried all sorts of things across the Pacific; many others have sunk deep into the ocean.

But he knows that he cannot stop trying.

"I still feel just as I did when the disaster hit. Emotion-wise, I have not moved a bit since then,'' he said.

"I will feel like this, I think, until I find her. I do want to find her, but I also feel that she may never be discovered. The ocean is way too vast.

"But I have to keep looking.''


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Video game turns real-world craze

Hotline ... Boban Melkus (right) and his wife Nina, managers of a game in which players escape a room by unlocking it with a number of clues. Picture: Andrej Isakovic Source: AFP

IT IS the peak of the Cold War, a secret agent has launched nuclear weapons and a small team of sleuths has one hour to prevent the end of the world.

The team has a single clue: a coded message left in a typewriter by a secret agent.

With 60 minutes ticking down on the large electronic wall clock, they must unravel dozens of codes, clues and leads to discover the keys that can stop the blast.

'Escape Room' - the real-life adaptation of a classic 1980s video game - is a new craze popping up around the world.

Pressure ... players have 60 minutes to unravel dozens of codes, clues and leads to prevent the end of the world. Picture: Andrej Isakovic Source: AFP

Having already made its mark in London, Paris and Bangkok, games are being organised in some unlikely spots around central Europe, including the picturesque Danube city of Novi Sad in Serbia where it has reached the number three spot for "things to do'' on travel website Trip Advisor.

"This is a complex game that requires ability, intelligence, education and team work, much more than the online version,'' said Boban Melkus, a 36-year-old high school teacher who set up the game in Novi Sad.

Mr Melkus and his wife Nina began offering the game in December in a rented apartment. Teams pay 4000 dinars ($50) to play in one of two rooms that have been given a Cold War makeover.

Team building ... fans of the former computer game in their 30s and 40s are the most common. Picture: Andrej Isakovic Source: AFP

There are old-fashioned telephones that act as "hotlines'' to Berlin, Madrid, Athens; a decades-old typewriter, and walls plastered with military maps and photos of Cold War-era leaders.

The business was profitable from the very first day, even though they only put a small ad on their Facebook page, said Melkus.

"We have two rooms: players can save the world from a nuclear catastrophe or rob a bank,'' Mr Melkus explains.

He says players can get their money back if they are not satisfied, but "so far, nobody has asked for it.

"We even had a team from a computer games company, but it was difficult for them and they only just saved the world,'' joked Nina.

It attracts all ages - from 15 to 60 - but fans of the former computer game in their 30s and 40s are the most common, she added.

Time travel ... there are old-fashioned telephones that act as "hotlines'' to Berlin, Madrid, Athens; a decades-old typewriter, and walls plastered with military maps and photos of Cold War-era leaders. Picture: Andrej Isakovic Source: AFP

Zorica Ljubicic, a 53-year old clerk who had no experience with the virtual version, came out beaming with satisfaction after she and two friends averted the apocalypse.

"This was such good fun - everything was so exciting, we saved the world!''

Her friend Zarko said their team skills were key to their success.

"Next we will rob a bank,'' she said.

The game was first transferred from the virtual to the real world in Asia, appearing in Bangkok under a variety of names including ClueQuest and HintHunt.

The Melkus couple first played it in Budapest in Hungary, where it has seriously caught on, with over 40 companies organising the game in more than 100 rooms around the city.

The couple plans to take the game next to the Serbian capital Belgrade, as well as Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland.

Nuclear catastrophe ... a large electronic wall clock ticks down the time left to save the world. Picture: Andrej Isakovic Source: AFP

It's become a popular team-building event for businesses - in contrast to the original version of the game which was a purely solo affair.

"Here, you are nothing without a team,'' Nina said.

Building on this part of the business, the Melkuses have even engaged the services of a psychologist to make a profile of each player based on their response to the puzzle.


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Dream trip turns to tragedy

The fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is still unknown and the search continues. The WSJ's Jake Maxwell Watts tells us the focus remains in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

THEY were four friends from Brisbane giving one of their own the trip of a lifetime before her eyesight deteriorated.

Bob Lawton told his boss he was taking five weeks' long-service leave to give his wife Cathy a trip to Malaysia and China to celebrate her birthday "before she lost her eyesight".

They were joined by Rodney and Mary Burrows.

Close friends have told how Cathy and Bob – an artistic grandmother and a grandfather who would "give you the shirt off his back" – had one last laugh with them before setting off last Monday.

Bob Lawton (right) told his boss he was taking five weeks' long-service leave to give his wife Cathy (left) a trip to Malaysia and China to celebrate her birthday "before she lost her eyesight". Picture: Supplied

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Stunned colleagues from the company where Bob worked for more than 30 years yesterday paid tribute to the "genuine and trusted" employee who was devoted to his family.

"He was a really family-orientated man," said Rodney Sharp, managing director of Sharp Plywood. "I knew him from when he was a young lad."

Mary and Rodney Burrows are missing on Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Picture: Supplied

Mr Sharp said Bob had only just started his leave.

"He had only been away a week. He was taking five weeks and wanted to go on a holiday to take her (Cathy) away while she could still see. It's a tragedy," he said.

Peter Pallister, another workmate, said he was "still expecting Bob to come into work again".

Malaysia has launched a terror probe into the disappearance of a passenger jet carrying 239 people.

"He was the offsider. He used to get all the stuff out for me and would get it all organised," he said.

Friends of 28 years, Karen and Les Stonehouse, wished the Lawtons a safe trip before they left Brisbane.

The careful travellers said their only concern was eating chicken in China.

No sign of missing Malaysia Airlines plane more than 24 hours on but questions arise over passenger identities. Paul Chapman reports

"It was a bit of a joke," Ms Stonehouse said. "They were concerned about eating chicken.

"I spoke to them on Monday night before they left for the airport and they were both having some chicken because they weren't going to eat any chicken in China."

Just two weeks ago, Bob and Cathy had visited the Stonehouses to talk about their plans for their trip.

They would travel to Malaysia and then Beijing. Cathy would celebrate her birthday during the trip.

"After China they were going to Hong Kong and then going on a cruise down the coast of Vietnam," she said. "My husband and I have been to Vietnam a couple of times so they came over to look at our photos."

Bob and Les, both 57, had the same birthday and shared a passion for watching the Broncos and State of Origin.

The lifelong friends would joke about who was born first in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

"They always used to get together for their birthdays for a beer or two," Ms Stonehouse said. "Cathy and I would have a weekly phone chat, usually on a Thursday morning, and it would usually go for about an hour."


23.08 | 0 komentar | Read More

Suspected plane debris spotted in sea

The search for Malaysian Airlines jet continues as six Australian passengers were named by DFAT. Courtesy Channel Ten

A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane waits for information in Beijing. Source: AP

AS THE FBI joins the international search for answers to what downed missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Vietnam may have spotted the first debris.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no debris from the plane has been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remain a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

A massive international sea search has so far turned up no trace of the jet, though Vietnamese authorities said late Sunday that a low-flying plane had spotted a rectangular object in waters about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday. State media speculated the object might be from the missing plane.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the fragments were thought to be a composite inner door and a piece of the tail.

The aircraft which spotted the objects could not land near them due to fading sunlight, but the search was set to resume in the area on Monday morning.

It has also emerged that two travellers being investigated for travelling with stolen passports were travelling together and had booked through China Southern Airlines.

Although there were 14 nationalities aboard the Boeing 777, the vast majority were Chinese and the plane was flying to Beijing as a code share with China Southern Airlines.

At a press conference late Sunday night in Kuala Lumpur the Director-General of Malaysia's Civil Aviation body, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said: "On the possibility of hijack, we are not ruling any possibility however it is important to state that our main concern is to focus our effort to find the missing aircraft."

"We are looking at all angles, all possibilities," Mr Rahman said of the investigation into what

happened to the airliner.

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Two European names — Austrian Christian Kozel and Luigi Maraldi of Italy — were listed on the passenger manifest but neither man boarded the plane to Beijing, officials said. Both had their passports stolen in Thailand over the past two years.

The BBC is reporting that the men falsely using these passports purchased tickets at the same time. They had consecutive ticket numbers and were both booked on the same onward plane from Beijing to Europe on Saturday, the BBC said.

The duo were captured together on CCTV from check-in to boarding and the vision is

being examined by investigators desperate to find out what happened to the flight.

Mr Rahman would not confirm the nationalities of the two men or their origins.

Malaysia's department of civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says radar indicates the plane may have turned back. Source: Getty Images

Rescue teams continue to search for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which was carrying 239 people, including six Australians.

The air search was halted at 7pm last night but the ships continued searching through the night. The search region had been widened from 20 nautical miles to 50 nautical miles of the last point of contact of the plane.

Oil slicks were found in the South China sea on Sunday, but no debris or wreckage has been found yet.

"The outcome so far , there is no sign of the aircraft and although we have reports of some oil spills but this has not been verified, not been confirmed by the authorities," Mr Rahman said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the Malaysian Prime Minister on Sunday night and offered two RAAF Orion aircraft for the search and rescue operation. Two aircraft were dispatched from Darwin late on Sunday.

Malaysian officials are due to hold a media conference at 11pm AEDT.

Associate Professor Felix Patrikeeff from the University of Adelaide said there could be a connection to Uighur militants from China's restive Xinjiang province in the country's northwest, who were responsible for a knife attack that left 33 dead on March 1.

A Chinese woman cries as she leaves a hotel room for relatives or friends of passengers in Beijing. Source: AP

"We had that terrible knife attack at the train station and I just begin to wonder if there might not be some sort of asymmetric action going on, on the part of the separatists … that they've taken the struggle out of Xinjiang itself and moved it into China and perhaps abroad," he said.

But security expert Professor Clive Williams downplayed the Uighur connection, saying if a bomb had been detonated, it was more likely to be a random act connected to organised crime, a personal grudge or an insurance policy.

Mr Rahman said he was not aware of any claims of responsibility by a group in China, again

reiterating that all angles will be pursued.

Earlier, Malaysia's aviation chief said investigators were examining airport CCTV footage of the two passengers with stolen passports who boarded the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Devoted Brisbane pair Catherine and Robert Lawton are among the missing. Source: Facebook

The development came as Malaysia's air force chief raised the possibility that the missing plane may have turned back.

"There are only two passengers on record with false passports,'' department of civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.

"We have CCTV recordings of the two passengers. The recordings in the CCTV are now being investigated.''

The FBI is sending specialists to Kuala Lumpur to assist with the investigation.

Malaysia's air force chief told a joint media conference with other officials that radar indicated the missing Boeing 777 may have turned back, but declined to give further details on how far the plane may have veered off course.

Brisbane couple Rodney and Mary Burrows were travelling with their friends. Source: Supplied

Rodzali Daud said there "is a possible indication that the aircraft made a turnback," adding that authorities were "trying to make sense of that.

Rescue teams searching for the missing flight have widened their search area.

Malaysian authorities expanded their search for wreckage to the country's west coast, and asked for help from Indonesia. Searches so far had concentrated on waters to the country's east, in the South China Sea.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says counterterrorism units have been activated. Source: AP

A total of 40 ships and 34 aircraft from an array of countries, including China and the US, are now involved in the hunt across the two areas, officials said.

Another pilot who was flying ahead of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane revealed he made contact with the missing aircraft minutes after he was asked to do so by Vietnamese air traffic control.

He said he heard mumbling and static from the cockpit of flight MH370.

Six Australians including two couples from Queensland and one couple from New South Wales are among the 239 people on board who are missing and feared dead.

First officer Fariq ab Hamid was on the missing aircraft. Source: Facebook

Brisbane couples Rodney and Mary Burrows, and Catherine and Robert Lawton of Springfield Lakes are believed to be friends travelling together.

Sydney couple Niajun Gu and Yuan Li, from the Sutherland Shire, were also travelling to China for a long-planned holiday.

Perth-based father-of-two Paul Weeks, originally from New Zealand, is also among those feared dead.

Mr Weeks, a 39-year-old mechanical engineer, was travelling to Mongolia for his first shift in a fly-in-fly-out job.

His devastated wife Danica is praying for a miracle that he will return home safely.

Perth engineer Paul Weeks, with his sons Lincoln and Jack, was travelling to Mongolia for a fly-in-fly-out job. Source: Supplied

"I can't give up hope. I would love him to walk through that door, hold him one more time ... I see him everywhere in the house,'' she told the Nine Network.

"It's so hard, so hard. I mean we are praying for a miracle.''

The couple have a three-year-old son, Lincoln, and a 10-month-old son, Jack.

Mr Weeks was born in New Zealand and moved to WA with his young family in 2011, following the devastating Christchurch earthquake.

Danica Weeks, wife of missing engineer Paul Weeks, says she and her family are praying for a miracle. Source: Supplied


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