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India Bhubaneswar hospital fire kills at least 20

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  •  As Yemen sets to start 72-hour ceasefire, says UN special envoy

At least 20 people have died after a fire broke out in a hospital in eastern India, local police say.

They say the fire started in an intensive care unit (ICU) of the SUM hospital, a private facility in the city of Bhubaneswar in Orissa state.

Dozens of patients were taken to other medical facilities in the city.

About 120 firefighters were mobilised to tackle the blaze, which was later brought under control. PM Narendra Modi said he was “anguished” by the fire.

Eyewitnesses and hospital sources said the fire, suspected to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, was first spotted in the ICU of the medicine ward before spreading to the dialysis ward next door.

Most of the victims reportedly died from smoke inhalation.

“The fire left 20 people dead and more than 100 people injured. They have been admitted to various hospitals in Bhubaneswar and the medical college in Cuttack,” the state’s health secretary Arati Ahuja told BBC’s Sandeep Sahu.

Many of the injured are in a critical condition. Earlier reports had put the death toll at 23.

Some frightened patients and hospital employees tried to jump out of the building’s windows but were prevented from doing so by police, reports said

“Deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the hospital fire in Odisha. The tragedy is mind-numbing. My thoughts are with bereaved families,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

In 2011, 89 people died in a fire that broke out in a hospital in the eastern city of Kolkata.

In the meantime, the UN special envoy for Yemen has announced the plan for a ceasefire starting on Wednesday night.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has received assurances from all Yemeni parties for a ceasefire to begin at 23:59 Yemen time on Wednesday, for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal, a statement released on Monday said.

The country’s foreign minister has said in an official tweet that the president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has agreed to the 72-hour ceasefire. “The president agreed to a 72 hrs ceasefire to be extended if the other party adheres to it, activates the DCC and lifts the siege of Taiz,” Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi said. The DCC is the military commission responsible for overseeing ceasefires.

Monday’s announcements came hours after Britain and the US called for an immediate ceasefire as they tried to seize on outrage caused by the killing of 140 people in a Saudi airstrike.

Fighting between Iranian-backed Houthis and the Yemeni government, which is supported by Gulf states, has been going on for more than 18 months, far longer than the Gulf states expected.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said if Yemen’s opposing sides accepted and moved forward on a ceasefire then the UN special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, would work through the details and announce when and how it would take effect.

“This is the time to implement a ceasefire unconditionally and then move to the negotiating table,” Kerry said after a brief meeting with the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and other officials in London on Sunday. “We cannot emphasise enough today the urgency of ending the violence in Yemen.”

Kerry said he, Johnson and Cheikh Ahmed were calling for the implementation of a ceasefire “as rapidly as possible, meaning Monday, Tuesday”. Kerry and Johnson also met the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

On 8 October a Saudi air raid on a funeral killed 140 people and wounded 525 others, drawing severe criticism of the Arab coalition.

Cheikh Ahmed said the attack took place “amid significant progress in the long peace negotiations, and at a time when we were negotiating a durable accord”.

At the weekend Saudi Arabia admitted responsibility for the airstrike and blamed incorrect intelligence and improper procedures. It said it was taking disciplinary measures, awarding compensation to families of the victims and easing the air blockade that it enforces to allow the evacuation of the most seriously wounded for treatment abroad.

Britain’s Foreign Office said on Saturday it would take into account the Saudi investigation into the attack when deciding its policy on allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Britain knows it could be accused of hypocrisy if it condemns Russian backing for indiscriminate Syrian bombing but does not do the same in response to Saudi outrages.

Washington has accused Houthi rebels of firing missiles at US warships in the Red Sea on 9 and 12 October. The missiles fell short of their targets. On Saturday the US navy said it was investigating another possible missile attack on a group of American warships.

BBC with additional report from Guardian

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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