Boat carrying 70 Muslim Rohingya capsizes off Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar — A boat carrying at least 70 Muslim Rohingya capsized and sank Sunday off the western coast of Myanmar, an aid worker said. Only eight survivors have been found.
The boat was in the Bay of Bengal and headed for Bangladesh when it went down early Sunday, said Abdul Melik, who works for a humanitarian organization in the region.
The incident comes after the United Nations warned that an annual and often deadly exodus of desperate people from Myanmar’s Rakhine state appears to have begun. The exodus usually kicks off in November, when seas begin to calm following the annual monsoon.
As many as 1,500 people have fled in the last week, Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, said at a press briefing Saturday in Geneva.
He said the agency had received several reports of drownings and was seeking details from authorities.
In Sunday’s incident, Melik said the wooden boat, which was carrying at least 70 Rohingya from Ohn Taw Gyi village, left at around 3 a.m. and broke apart about four hours later. Women, children and babies were among those on board.
Family members and friends were scouring the Bay of Bengal and coastlines for survivors, but so far only eight survivors have been found, he said.
It was not immediately clear whether any bodies had been recovered.
Mexico braces for Tropical Storm Sonia
MEXICO CITY — Officials on Mexico’s storm-struck Pacific coast braced on Sunday for the possibility of heavy rains with the arrival of fast-moving Tropical Storm Sonia, which was projected to hit the mainland by early Monday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sonia was centered about 95 miles south of the tip of the Baja California and 170 miles south-southwest of Culicacan on Sunday evening.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and it was heading north-northeast at 17 mph. Sonia could weaken some before coming ashore, and was likely to dissipate rapidly once over land.
Ismael Checa Landeros, civil defense director for Sinaloa, the state in the storm’s path, said it was likely to hit near Culiacan, Navolato and Elota, all areas hit in September by Hurricane Manuel.
The government of Sinaloa state said school classes were canceled for Monday in five municipalities that could be affected by the storm. Sixty shelters were being opened in case anyone had to evacuate their homes.
Checa said officials were on alert but had not yet decided if anyone would need to be evacuated.
Toronto mayor apologizes, but won’t step down
TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologized Sunday for being “hammered” in public and acknowledged the need to curb his drinking, but the mayor of Canada’s largest city didn’t address allegations of drug use and said he will remain in his job despite mounting pressure to resign.
“I’m going to weather this storm,” Ford said.
Ford made his remarks on his local weekly radio show at a time when he is facing growing pressure to resign after police said they had obtained a copy of a video that appears to show him puffing on a crack cocaine pipe. Ford didn’t address the contents of the tape, saying he cannot comment on a tape he hasn’t seen.
“I just got to maybe slow down on my drinking,” Ford said.
Ford acknowledged making “mistakes” and that he can’t change the past, but vowed “to ride the storm out.”
“I want to move forward but to move forward I also have to make changes in my life which I will assure I will do,” Ford said.
Ford declined to take a leave of absence or resign.
By wire sources
“I sincerely apologize, there’s absolutely no excuse, no one to blame but myself,” Ford said. “I am going to fight like no one has seen before to win the next election.”
Ford said he shouldn’t’ have been drunk in public when he appeared at the Taste of the Danforth street festival in August.
“That was pure stupidity,” Ford said. “I shouldn’t have got hammered down at the Danforth. If you are going to have a couple of drinks, you stay at home and that’s it. You don’t make a public spectacle of yourself,” Ford said.
Ford also said he got “a little out of control” after St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. A city spokeswoman released last week an incident report from city hall security guards who said they witnessed a “very intoxicated’ Ford having trouble walking and swearing at aides that day.
By wire sources