In brief | Nation & world | 8-1-14


W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths; 2 aid workers might be brought back to US

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

Fears grew as the United States warned against travel to the three infected countries — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — and Sierra Leone’s soccer team was blocked from boarding a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, that was to take them to the Seychelles for a game on Saturday. Airport authorities in Kenya said Seychelles immigration told them to prevent the team from traveling.

Almost half of the 57 new deaths reported by the World Health Organization occurred in Liberia, where two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly of Texas and Nancy Writebol, a North Carolina-based missionary, are also sick with Ebola.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. is looking into options to bring them back to the U.S. Officials at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital said they expected one of the Americans to be transferred there “within the next several days.” The hospital declined to identify which aid worker, citing privacy laws.

Writebol is in stable but serious condition and is receiving an experimental treatment that doctors hope will better address her condition, according to a statement released by SIM, a Christian missions organization. Her husband, David, is close by but can only visit his wife through a window or dressed in a haz-mat suit, the statement said.

Underground gas explosions kill 24, injure 271 in southwestern Taiwanese port

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — At least 24 people were killed and 271 others injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan’s second-largest city overnight, hurling concrete through the air and blasting long trenches in the streets, authorities said Friday.

The series of explosions about midnight Thursday and early Friday struck a district where several petrochemical companies operate pipelines alongside the sewer system in Kaohsiung, a southwestern port with 2.8 million people.

The fires were believed caused by a leak of propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, but the source of the gas was not immediately clear, officials said.

Video from the TVBS broadcaster showed residents searching for victims in shattered storefronts and rescuers pulling injured people from the rubble of a road and placing them on stretchers while passers-by helped other victims on a sidewalk. Broadcaster ETTV showed rows of large fires sending smoke into the night sky.

Four firefighters were among the 24 dead and 271 people were injured, the National Fire Agency said. The firefighters had been at the scene investigating reports of a gas leak when the explosions occurred, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

Rain hampers rescue as death toll rises to 51 from landslide that buried Indian village

MALIN, India — Heavy rains hampered efforts Friday by hundreds of rescue workers digging through heavy mud and debris, as the death toll from a landslide that engulfed an entire village in western India rose to 51.

Rescuers are still looking for about 100 people missing and feared dead, after another 10 bodies were pulled out of the debris overnight.

“We have reached the main inhabited area and are continuing efforts,” one district official, D.D. Kale, said Friday.

There has been no let-up in the rain this week, he said.

More than two days after the Wednesday morning landslide, authorities said the chances of survival were slim for anyone still trapped under the mud in Malin, a village of about 700 people in Pune district of Maharashtra state.

By wire sources