Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 18th 2014 Contents A27
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SAN JUAN---Health officials in Puerto
Rico yesterday declared an epidemic of the
mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya.
Health Secretary Ana Rius said more than
200 cases have been confirmed on the island
as of June 25, and that the majority of them
have been reported in the capital of San Juan
and nearby areas.
The first case of chikungunya in the US
territory was reported in late May.
Also yesterday, officials in Jamaica
reported the island's first confirmed case.
Chief medical officer Dr Kevin Harvey said the
virus was found in a person who had recently
traveled to a country where there have been
locally transmitted cases.
Across the Caribbean, the Pan American
Health Organization has recorded more than
354,000 suspected and confirmed cases as of
July 11. The Western Hemisphere's first
locally transmitted case was confirmed in
December in the French Caribbean territory of
Chikungunya was first identified in Africa in
1953. It causes a high fever and severe pain in
the joints, but is rarely fatal. There is no
vaccine, and it mainly is treated with pain
Puerto Rico declares chikungunya epidemic
A Malaysia Airlines passenger
jet crashed in a rebel-controlled
area of eastern Ukraine yesterday,
prompting swift accusations
from Ukrainian officials that "ter-
rorists" shot down the aircraft.
The United States also has con-
cluded that the plane was shot
down, but hasn t pinpointed who
was responsible, a senior US offi-
cial told CNN s Barbara Starr.
The Boeing 777 carrying 295
people fell from the sky near the
town of Torez in the Donetsk
region of eastern Ukraine, accord-
ing to a Facebook post from a top
Ukrainian official, as it flew at
about nearly 33,000 feet on the
way from Amsterdam to Malaysia.
A radar system saw a surface-
to-air missile system turn on and
track an aircraft right before the
plane went down, the senior US
A second system saw a heat sig-
nature at the time the airliner was
hit, the official said. The United
States is analysing the trajectory
of the missile to try to learn where
the attack came from.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib
Razak said the plane never made
a distress call.
He called for an international
team to have full access to the
"We must and we will find out
precisely what happened to this
flight. No stone will be left
unturned," he said.
"If it transpires that the plane
was indeed shot down, we insist
that the perpetrators must swiftly
be brought to justice," Najib said.
Ukrainian officials maintained
that pro-Russian separatists were
behind the crash, which sent the
jet falling from the sky in a fireball
with a trail of black smoke.
Ukraine s state security chief
accused two Russian military intel-
ligence officers of involvement and
said they must be punished for
Emergency crews scrambled to
what witnesses described as a
staggering scene of death and utter
"People said the plane kind of
exploded in the air, and that every-
thing rained down in bits and
pieces, the plane itself, the people
inside," said Noah Sneider, an
American freelance journalist who
interviewed witnesses at the scene.
Charred wreckage stretched for
kilometers, he said. Stunned rescue
workers and rebel fighters combed
the area, Sneider said, planting
sticks with white cotton ribbons
where they found bodies in the
There were many bodies left to
be found as night fell, he said, and
people were trying to figure out
what to do next. (CNN)
Flight MH17 (inset), which was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew, was flying between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur after taking off at
lunchtime yesterday. One of the pro-Russian separatists is seen at the crash site while fire and rescue crews put out the smouldering wreck.
Gaza Strip---Israel launched a large-
scale ground offensive in the Gaza
Strip yesterday, escalating a 10-day
military operation to try to destroy
Hamas weapons arsenal, rocket fir-
ing abilities and tunnels under the
Palestinian territory s border with
It was the first major Israeli ground
offensive in Gaza in just over five years.
It came hours after Hamas militants
tried to infiltrate Israel through a tunnel
under the Gaza-Israel border, but were
stopped by Israel.
Lt Col Peter Lerner, an Israeli mil-
itary spokesman, said that the oper-
ation is open-ended.
"We will be striking the infrastruc-
ture," he said. "We will be striking the
operatives in order to safeguard the
civilians of the state of Israel especially
issues to do with tunneling, that was
exemplified earlier today."
Thousands of Israeli soldiers had
massed on the border with Gaza in
recent days, waiting for the order to
The operation also followed a brief
truce earlier yesterday in which Israel
held fire to allow Gazans to stock up
on food and other necessities after
being largely holed up at home since
the conflict began last month.
Israeli strikes have hit more than
2,000 targets in Gaza and Hamas
launched nearly 1,500 rockets at Israel,
the Israeli military has said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu s office said he instructed
the army to go ahead after Hamas
rejected an Egyptian cease-fire plan
earlier in the week and after Hamas
militants tried to infiltrate into Israel
through a tunnel from Gaza.
"In light of the despicable and
relentless aggression by Hamas and
the dangerous infiltration into Israel,
Israel is obliged to protect its citizens,"
the statement said.
Israeli media reported of the loud
rumblings of Israeli tanks and D9 bull-
dozers revving up their engines to
cross the border.
Israel last carried out a major ground
offensive in Gaza in January 2009.
Hamas officials had no immediate
comment. However, security officials
reported heavy Israeli shelling in east-
ern Gaza, near the border with Israel.
troops to Gaza
295 killed as
'jet shot down'
...radar system sees missile system track an aircraft
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