One dead in ski chairlift accident in Switzerland

Thursday, January 3, 2008

At 12:50 pm on January 3, a ski chairlift ride cost a German skier’s life and another German woman was left with serious injuries after the lift cable derailed from the mast sheaves in a windstorm. The derailed chairlift is the two-seater Fallboden lift at Kleine Scheidegg, next to the Jungfrau mountain in Switzerland.

Two more Australian tourists were lightly injured. About 20 further people had to be evacuated from the stopped chairlift. Wind velocity peaking at 90km/h prevented a helicopter from rescuing the trapped passengers, complicating the rescue.

According to 20min.ch, the lift was manufactured by Garaventa AG, a major Swiss ski lift company, now a part of an international group Doppelmayr/Garaventa. When contacted no one was available for comment.

Shortly before the accident, a wind alarm was activated few times by a 60km/h wind. The operator decided to close the lift and waited for the lift to unload all passengers; at the moment of the catastrophe the bottom station of the lift was already closed, but 75 passengers were still on the lift.

According to the Swiss law, every chair lift must be designed to withstand a lateral wind load of 250 newtons (approx. 25kg) per square meter. However there is no law limit at which wind speed or lateral loads the chair lifts have to be stopped. This safety aspect is left to the responsibility of the operator. The safety of the lift was checked by the Swiss Federal Office of Transport in January 2006. This chairlift accident is said to be the worst in Switzerland for the last 8 years.

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8.8 magnitude earthquake hits Chile; tsunami warnings issued throughout Pacific rim

Saturday, February 27, 2010

An 8.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Chile on Saturday, killing at least 214 people and causing significant structural damage. The earthquake was felt in Chillan, Talca, Concepcion, and the capital Santiago. Sea level recording triggered tsunami warnings for Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. The earthquake, which started at 06.34.14 UTC, was felt as far as Argentina.

This earthquake occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. The two plates are converging at a rate of 80 millimeters per year.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has announced that a tsunami warning is in effect for much of the Pacific Rim, including parts of Oceania and Central America.

According to the BBC, “large waves” have struck Chile’s Juan Fernández Islands, reaching halfway into one inhabited area. Three people are missing local media says. Reuters reported the Tsunami hit Tahiti at 16.50 UTC, where the BBC reports that the first waves were “smaller,” measuring only 36 centimeters.

According to the AFP, part of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia was hit by a 13 foot wave. No casualties have been reported.

The New Zealand Herald reported New Zealand evacuated coastal areas at 8:00 AM local time (18.00 UTC). Waves of 20 centimeters or less were reported at the Chatham Islands (400 miles from the New Zealand mainland) at 19.05 UTC. The Ministry of Civil Defense told the BBC that “the greatest wave heights will occur between six and 12 hours after the initial arrivals.”

Coastal waters in Hilo, Hawaii were reported as “visibly receding” at 11:30 AM local time (21.30 UTC) by Hawaii News Now.According to MSNBC, a 5 1/2 foot wave reportedly made land fall on Hilo Bay, Hawaii a short while after 12:00 P.M. local time (22.00 UTC).

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Map of earthquake with star locating epicenter. Image: USGS.

The plates involved are the Nazca and South American plates Image: USGS.

Map of Chile from CIA World Factbook with the epicenter of 2010 Chile earthquake marked. Image: CIA World Factbook.

Preliminary forecast model energy map of the 2010 Chile earthquake tsunami. Image: NOAA.

Map of Chile with the epicentrer location of the earthquake Image: USGS.

Travel time projection of the 2010 Chile earthquake tsunami. Image: NOAA.

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Judge jails ‘monstrous’ London serial killer Stephen Port

Sunday, November 27, 2016

More than a year after he was first charged, a judge on Friday sentenced London serial killer Stephen Port to life imprisonment without parole for four murders and a host of poisoning and sexual offences, calling him “wicked and monstrous”. Port was convicted of the murders on Wednesday.

Chef Port, 41, was first charged on October 18 last year and made his first court appearance the following day. He initially faced four counts of murder and four of “administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”. Two days later a provisional trial date was set in April but Port did not end up entering his pleas of not guilty until July 25.

The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth

Delays were caused by post-charge investigations. By then Port was also facing the remaining charges; six more of administering a poison, seven of rape, and four of assault by penetration. These charges involved eight additional [alleged] victims. The poisoning charges were changed to “administering a substance with intent to stupefy / overpower to allow sexual activity” by the time of the trial.

The case revolved around allegations Port drugged, raped, and murdered men at his London flat. The prosecution told jurors Port’s modus operandi was to arrange to meet gay men via Grindr and other gay dating sites, then administer sometimes-lethal overdoses of recreational drug GHB.

Three of the deaths occurred in 2014. Anthony Patrick Walgate, 23, was found dead on June 19, 2014 in Cooke Street. Port lived in Cooke Street. The other three victims were found in the vicinity of St. Margaret’s Church on North Street. Gabriel Kovari, 22, was discovered dead on August 28, 2014. Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found dead the following month on September 20, 2014. Fourth victim Jack Taylor, 25, was found a year later on September 14, 2015.

The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concerning what police called “potential vulnerabilities in [our response] to the four deaths.” Police only linked the deaths less than a week before Port’s arrest.

Detectives released security footage of Taylor’s movements, with an officer telling the press “the man captured on CCTV may well be the last person to talk to Jack.” Shortly after Port was charged police again appealed for anybody with knowledge of him “no matter how insignificant” to come forward in what local press called a “highly unusual” move.

The ten male jurors and two women were warned at the opening of the trial to face potentially graphic evidence in “a cool, dispassionate and analytical manner” by Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting. He told the court Port satisfied his “appetite for penetrating drugged young men”. The case was tried before Mr Justice Openshaw, who sentenced Port on Friday, at the Old Bailey, a famous London courthouse. Port was represented by David Etherington QC.

CCTV of Port and Taylor at Barking Train Station featured in the trial. After exchanging Grindr messages the duo agreed a meet for September 13, 2014; the day prior to Taylor’s body being found. The meeting was set for 3:00 at the station; Port is seen walking to the scene while Taylor arrives in a taxi. By 7:20 Port had blocked Taylor’s Grindr account and later that day deleted his own account.

I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.

A rubbish collector found Taylor’s body, propped up and with his clothing ridden up as if he had been dragged. A bottle and bag of drugs were on his body, as was a syringe.

Port contacted Walgate on website Sleepyboys. Walgate worked as a prostitute and had notified a friend of the planned night “in case I get killed”. Port left the corpse outside his flat before phoning 999. Initially he denied knowing Walgate but later told police Walgate took drugs voluntarily while alone in the flat. Port, who said he “panicked” after returning from work to find Walgate dying, was imprisoned for eight months and released on licence after three in 2015 for lying in the investigation.

The prosecution told jurors Walgate was too cautious to consume drugs and it must have been Port who slipped him GHB, which led to death. Port’s 999 call was played to jurors; he hangs up early after saying he has to go to his parked car and the operator calls back to ask further questions. In the call Port says the man has apparently collapsed, is possibly drunk, and is a stranger to him.

Port was to tell police he slapped the man’s face and heard a “gurgling noise” in response, but a statement from the first paramedic on-scene stated the body was already cold when help arrived. After being alerted to the death by the ambulance service police tracked down Port. Pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki testified at the trial that Walgate’s death was due to GHB overdose, his underwear was both inside out and back to front, his fly was down, and there were fourteen injuries to the body.

Port’s police statement was that he had also propped the man into a sitting position, which was how paramedics found him. He said after ending the call he went to sleep rather than waiting for the ambulance. Walgate’s top was raised suggesting dragging of the body, and there were drugs in a holdall beside the body. After the trial the BBC reported a nearby CCTV camera was not working.

The bodies of both Kovari and Whitworth were found in the same spot as each other in St Margaret’s churchyard, about 500m (1600 feet) from Port’s home, within a month of each other. Both were found by Barbara Denham who testified she walked her dog at least once a day through the area. Like Walgate, both men were found sitting. Like Walgate, a bottle of GHB was with Whitworth’s body. Both of their clothing had again ridden up suggesting dragging. Whitworth was on a blue sheet; Port’s semen was on the sheet, which had come from his flat.

Whitworth’s body bore an apparent suicide note in which he seemed to blame himself for Kovari’s death, saying he had injected Kovari with GHB. The note said he could not confess to police for fear of his family seeing him going to prison. The note said “please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done.”

Rees told jurors an expert in handwriting analysis had ruled out Whitworth as the author and found it to be written by Port in what Rees called a “wicked” bid to frame Whitworth. Rees also said Port’s DNA was on the bottle of drugs on Whitworth’s corpse. Police initially accepted the note as genuine and did not investigate further; no effort was made to find who “the guy I was with last night” might be. The note was written on paper traced to Port’s flat, and in a plastic sleeve also traced to the flat.

Rees said the man was Port, the two having met via Fitlads, and that “cruel and manipulative” Port deleted his Fitlads account shortly after the meet. Rees also said Kovari told friends he had found a flat in the Barking area of London five days before he was found dead, alleging this was Port’s flat. Port’s defence was Whitworth had dictated the note to him.

Whitworth’s boyfriend, Ricky Waumsley, told the court Whitworth’s behaviour was inconsistent with guilty or suicidal thoughts. Waumsley also testified Port had never to his knowledge taken recreational drugs aside from experimenting with cannabis during a holiday in Amsterdam.

Katie Impey, a friend of Whitworth, said the deceased’s mother committed suicide and thereafter Whitworth viewed taking one’s own life as “the most selfish thing anyone could ever do, and you should never do it, so I know he didn’t kill himself.” Impey also spoke of the final conversation she had with her friend in which he spoke of a new romantic interest called Gab. “He was really excited. He said ‘I’ve met someone, he’s really artsy, he’s really cute, I don’t know how I’m going to tell Ricky’.”

The trial featured five months of content from a Facebook account named Jon Luck. Port’s computer was used to access the account, and Port admitted he was the user. The account was used to exchange messages with Kovari’s boyfriend Thierry Amodio, with Port pretending to be a Californian student who knew Kovari.

Port, via the Jon Luck account, told Amodio he spent two days with Kovari and that Kovari attended a drugs-fueled orgy with a man named Dan. Amodio was seeking information on his partner’s death; Port wrote “I hope he wasn’t murdered or anything like that as that would be awful.” After Amodio assured him this was unlikely Port replied “Thanks god for that I would hate anyone who could hurt him”.

Around the time of Whitworth’s death Port informed Amodio he had discovered Dan and Kovari had attended a party where young men were raped whilst drugged. Posing as Luck he said he had “been expecting [police] to come to my door any second cuss of my DNA and my messages on [Kovari’s] phone.” When Amodio told Port he’d been visited by police probing Whitworth’s death Port replied “OMG your joking[…] please don’t let them arrest me.”

please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done

Port would also press Amodio for information on police investigations and suggested Dan had accidentally killed Kovari with an overdose and then “did same to himself” because he “could not live with the guilt”, an apparent reference to Daniel Whitworth’s death. Amodio tried to get “Jon Luck” to contact police but this was never successful. Port told a neighbour Kovari died of infection in Spain after travelling to join somebody Kovari had met online.

Kovari had in fact moved from Spain to London, having been living with his Spanish boyfriend Thierry Amodio. After initially failing to find a place to live Kovari met John Pape. Pape allowed Kovari to stay with him, which he did for several weeks before securing a rented room with Port in the Barking area of London. Turning down an offer to stay longer, Kovari moved in with Port on August 23, 2014.

The same day Kovari sent another friend a map showing Port’s Cooke St home as his new abode. The next day Port invited friend and neighbour Ryan Edwards to meet Kovari. On August 25 Kovari texted Edwards “Stephen is not a nice person”. The same day Kovari messaged the friend he sent the map to, saying “I’m fine.”

Pape texted Kovari on August 26, asking “Hey, hows it going in Barking?” There was no reply. A text from Edwards to Port the same day asked “How is Gabriel?” Port responded Kovari had already moved out to live with “some soldier guy he had been chatting to online” in the area. The body was found two days later. The corpse was clad in sunglasses and Kovari’s possessions were in two bags beside him.

The first alleged victim to give evidence, a nineteen-year-old student when he encountered Port, told jurors he met Port via Grindr and accepted a glass of wine at Port’s flat. After noticing a bitter taste and sludge at the bottom of the glass, the complainant said he felt ill and upon sipping a second drink containing vodka he “felt so dizzy. I was ricocheting off the walls. The room was tilting.”

The man told the court he fell asleep and awoke naked on his front with Port raping him, describing himself as “half asleep, half aware of what was happening” before passing out again. He said he left the flat after coming round in the morning, still feeling the effects. The witness claimed that while he was considering having sex with Port when he arrived he did not at any stage consent.

The next alleged victim to give evidence, also a student, told the court he met Port via Fitlads. The witness said they met at Port’s flat on several occasions. He said he declined alcohol because he was Muslim but on his fourth visit he accepted a glass of coke. He said swallowing it caused an instant burning sensation like acid, but Port pled ignorance and they met a fifth time. On that occasion Port gave the man what he said was ‘poppers’, and a massage, according to the witness.

The witness said he fell asleep and on waking was given a glass of what Port claimed was water, which instantly knocked him out. “The next thing I remember I was on the floor screaming and shouting. It was like I was going mad.” The witness claimed he was naked and confused, not even recalling his own name.

Port drove the man to nearby Barking Rail Station. The victim was “screaming and shouting” and described Port “kind of dragging me along and holding me up.” Police and ambulance attended, with British Transport Police Constable Alesha Owers testifying Port seemed “worried and jittery” and accepted he had taken meth. Port claimed the man had turned up at his door and Port was helping him get home.

The witness did not give a statement to police, telling the trial he did not want his family to discover the encounters and simply wished to be home. He says on arriving he telephoned Port. “I was shouting at him: ‘What did you give me? What the hell did you give me, because it certainly wasn’t poppers?'[…] I got the impression it was a normal thing what happened to me.”

The witness added he had one final meeting with Port at the accused’s flat. Port, he claimed, apologised to him but still did not say what substance was involved.

He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.’

A transgender man in his early twenties told the court he met Port via Facebook and they met for sex because the witness was angry his boyfriend had cheated on him. The man said after consensual sex and drinking he passed out and Port filmed himself raping the complainant.

The witness claimed Port showed off the video the following morning: “I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.” The witness told the court he “felt angry because you don’t carry on having sex with someone when they pass out. I said, ‘you’re disgusting.'”

Another man, now 24, told the court he met Port via Gaydar when he was 16 and grew close to Port as the man had few friends. He said Port pressured him into taking mephedrone and he passed out, wakening to find himself on his back with his legs over Port’s shoulders and Port raping him. He said he returned a week later, at which time Port again gave him mephedrone and raped him, as well as non-consensually injecting drugs into him. He told the court Port was “god in his flat”, someone “you did not argue with”. He told the Old Bailey “I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a person.”

The court was played six homemade sex tapes from Port’s phone, with police and prosecutors alleging they showed Port raping an unconscious 24-year-old man. The six were amongst over 80 sex tapes in total Port had made involving himself. The alleged victim testified that while he and Port had consensual sex and sniffed poppers after meeting via Manhunt he did not consent to any activity in the videos.

At least three other men can be seen or heard in the videos. Port sniffs a bottle in one video and tells an unidentified man “you fuck him”. In another an unidentified voice says “I’ll leave you guys to carry on, I have got work in the morning.” Port then says to a second man “Shall we do more stuff?” “Yeah babe” comes the reply.

Two of the rape charges are sample counts relating to the videos. Sample counts are a method by which prosecutors can try multiple similar crimes based on a single count. Port routinely browsed the Internet for rape-themed pornography.

Stephen Port’s own sister, Sharon Port, was a prosecution witness. She spoke of a conversation with her brother — who smiled when she entered court to testify against him — the day before Slovakian national Kovari’s body was found. Speaking quietly, she said she had rung him and found him “very distressed”; he said there was a corpse in his flat.

Sharon Port testified that the conversation left her with the understanding the pair had been doing drugs together and Kovari expired. She said she urged Stephen Port to alert the police; the following day, she drove from her Essex home to visit him after he became unresponsive to messages. She described her brother as quiet, and saying he had been released on police bail to return in a month or two.

You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case

Kovari’s body was found that day. Sharon Port said Stephen didn’t mention the incident again at the time.

After Rees finished, defence lawyer Etherington questioned her further. During this she added that in March 2015, when he was imprisoned for lies to police after the first death, Stephen told her that the conversation had not referred to a body at all. Instead, he was talking about another man altogether.

Two former partners of Port testified early in the trial. Both said the accused wore a wig to help him feel confident about his appearance, and one further said both would watch ‘twink’ porn together. In the gay community, slender young men are sometimes referred to as twinks. The man also testified Port “never tried any sexual acts I wasn’t happy with.” The court also heard Port was a prostitute and sometimes wore the wig to meet men. Port was said to have called Kovari his “new Slovakian twink flatmate” who was “quite cute, tall and skinny” to friends.

Port’s sister, during her evidence, spoke of a bullied, quiet schoolboy who revealed his sexuality at 26. She said their mother did not approve. She also testified she was wholly unaware of Port’s drug use until the August 2014 phone call and even after did not know which substances were involved.

Port gave evidence in his own defence. Starting on October 27 he spoke of his version of the deaths. He started with the death of Walgate, confirming he offered the student £800 to spend the night with him. Port claimed Walgate visited the bathroom during sex, returning “high and very rampant.” Port testified he was unaware what Walgate had taken but spoke of his own experiences with GHB, which he said “could knock you out” before reawakening aroused. Port said he used it to have “hyper high” sex and in one relationship it was normal for him to have sex with his partner while the latter was unconscious through GHB use.

Port claimed Walgate became unwell and slept at the flat; Port went to work that morning and returned to find the deceased still there and woke that night to discover the “very rigid” body. Port said he “just panicked” when he carried Walgate’s corpse outside to call an ambulance, lying about the circumstances because he was “in shock”.

The next day Port confirmed Kovari shared his flat and said the pair went to a party to take drugs and have sex. He said his “friend” Kovari left early with ‘Dan’.

Port testified he realised weeks later Dan was Daniel Whitworth, whom he had met online. He spoke of Kovari and Whitworth having sex at the party with several onlookers but said he would not be able to find where the party was held and did not know who lived there. He said Kovari and Whitworth went to his flat “to get a bit more privacy”.

Rees asserted Port was “caught out” in a lie. The prosecution claimed Whitworth could be placed in a pub elsewhere when the alleged party happened and Rees said Port’s account amounted to the pair getting “coy and bashful” after public sex. Rees asked Port to explain Whitworth’s presence “in two places at once”. “I’ve no idea. I just know it was as I remember it,” said Port.

Port said Whitworth later recounted to him a story in which Whitworth and Kovari had sex at St Margaret’s. After both passed out, Whitworth claimed he was unable to rouse Kovari and could not revive him.

“He said he panicked. He was going to call an ambulance but did not know what to do, so he left him.” Port said he reassured a worried and guilt-ridden Whitworth and urged him to go to police. Port and Whitworth had sex with drugs at Whitworth’s suggestion, Port said, before Whitworth dictated the suicide note.

“I thought it was just the [drugs] talking and he was just getting his emotions out of his system,” Port told jurors. “I didn’t believe he was actually going to do it. I would have stopped him. I would have done anything to prevent him doing it.” Port said he added the line reading “please do not blame the guy I was with last night.”

one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered

Rees accused Port of manipulating evidence, saying he left a hoodie belonging to Kovari on Whitworth’s body alongside a bottle of GHB. Port countered he only agreed to write the suicide note because Whitworth promised sex in exchange for it. Port testified they did not in fact have sex because Whitworth gave him a drink laced with GHB, causing Port to fall unconscious.

“You are not suggesting he may have drugged you Mr Port?” asked Rees. “You are not suggesting he may have taken advantage of you whilst you were drugged?” Port confirmed this was possible, leading to Rees asking “Why did you raise the suggestion this young man may have raped or sexually assaulted you? Against this dead boy?” Port answered “I wouldn’t have minded if he did.”

“Come on, Mr Port!” Rees retaliated. “That’s not true, is it? You ‘top’ other people, they don’t top you. So you would have minded if he raped you whilst you were unconscious.” Port’s response was “It’s just a shame we didn’t get to do more together.” Rees later said “You just cannot bring yourself to accept the truth of what is going here. To the families. Lie after lie, that’s what’s being played out here in this court.”

He also recounted his time with Taylor. The pair met on Grindr and Port testified Taylor accepted a suggestion to get “mega high”, before the two left for “fresh air” and had “rampant” sex at St Margaret’s. Port described this in detail: “I realised our height difference was quite significant[…] It was a bit of a struggle at first, I had to hold him around the chest. Then we just had sex like that for two hours.”

Port testified he suggested going back to the flat; “He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.'” Port said he left around 2:30 in the morning and never saw Taylor again but he was “very much alive” at this point. He testified he left as he had a new job to go to the next day and did not expect anything further as Taylor “was not happy being gay.”

Port spoke of his previous accounts to police, especially his denials of knowing Taylor and Kovari while being uncertain if he knew Whitworth. He said “The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth.” Under cross-examination from Rees, he also admitted his version was hard to accept and appeared as if he was a “determined liar to save your own skin”.

“The essence of it is, you like playing God and manipulating and controlling young men”, Rees told him in front of jurors. “The key to this case is you like penetrating young men who are unconscious. That is at the heart of this case, isn’t it? You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case.”

Rees asked “Do you agree it is never too late to tell the truth? Do you agree it would be a good thing for the families of the four dead men to learn the truth about what happened to them?” Port responded “of course.” After agreeing all four deceased met similar deaths shortly after being in his company, Port was asked “I know it’s very late in the day, Mr Port, would you care to change any part of your account you have given to the jury?” “No,” he replied.

The jury began deliberations on Monday last week, deliberating for over 28 hours. They faced a question of intent. The prosecution had to prove intent to cause very serious harm for a murder conviction. The prosecution case was Port administered GHB in a bid to cause comas, and Walgate’s death at least was likely unexpected. The jury had to decide if a coma met the test; if not, they could convict on alternative charges of manslaughter. The jury unanimously convicted Port of three murders, and by an 11–1 majority of Walgate’s murder.

Port was simultaneously convicted of most other charges and on Wednesday Mr Justice Openshaw informed jurors a 10–2 verdict would be acceptable for the remaining counts. Port was ultimately convicted of all charges against six surviving victims. He was also convicted of offences against a seventh but acquitted of raping him. The jury acquitted him of two rapes relating to an eighth man.

During Port’s trial one of his drug dealers, Peter Hirons, 48, separately pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court to supplying ?MDMA, crystal meth, mephedrone, brephedrone, chloromsthcathinone, and GBL, the last being metabolised into GHB when ingested. He also admitted possessing £6,060 of drug-dealing proceeds. He was jailed for two and a half years. Gerald Matovu appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with supplying Port with mephedrone and GHB.

If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation

Lead investigator DCI Tim Duffield called Port “one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered”. Victims’ relatives clapped, cheered, and yelled as Port was sentenced.

Police were criticised early in the case after the LGBT website Pink News revealed a friend of Kovari had contacted them after the death. Pink News in turn contacted the Metropolitan Police but received assurances police did not view the death as suspicious. The revelations coincided with the police appeal following Port’s initial charges. “This appeal should have been made in June and August last year after the first two killings”, said human rights activist Peter Tatchell at the time. “If the police had done that, the killer may have been caught and some of these men might still be alive.”

Following murder convictions it was revealed Taylor’s family triggered the homicide investigation themselves after pressuring police. Taylor’s relatives have indicated they intend to sue the police. The IPCC probe is examining possible failings by seventeen officers. In July the IPCC appealed for anybody who raised concerns with police prior to the launch of the murder investigation to contact them, and revealed they had met with London’s LGBT community.

On Wednesday the IPCC reiterated its call for witnesses, revealing seven Metropolitan Police officers had been informed they faced gross misconduct probes and ten more faced less-serious misconduct probes. Officers under investigation rank from constable to inspector. British Transport Police are not under investigation.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said “It is important we establish whether the police response to the deaths of all four men was thorough and appropriate in the circumstances, including whether discrimination played any part in actions and decisions[…] our investigators are continuing to work hard to scrutinise the police response to the tragic deaths of these four young men.”

Tatchell accused police of “class, gender and sexuality bias” and called the verdict “no compensation for the loss of four young gay men who had their lives, hopes and dreams cut short.” “If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation”, he said on Wednesday. Tatchell said police could have prevented some murders; Taylor’s family agreed. “We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job” they said. “The police should be held accountable for Jack’s death. We do understand it’s not them who took Jack’s life, but Stephen Port would have been stopped.”

“This has been an incredibly detailed and wide-ranging inquiry with detectives not only investigating these crimes but providing full support to all the families and victims” said Stuart Cundy, a Metropolitan Police Commander. “Throughout this case we have worked very closely with the LGBT community” he added. Cundy claimed none of the surviving victims had been in touch with police prior to Port facing murder charges.

A Metropolitan Police statement said the force takes “Offences against members of the LGBT community[…] extremely seriously.” The force said it had 900 hate crimes investigators in addition to 150 specialist LGBT officers.

Cundy however acknowledged “potential missed opportunities” to catch Port. He said he has written to the deceaseds’ families, apologising. “I have offered to meet them if they would like to do so, both now and at the conclusion of the IPCC investigation.” He said police were co-operating with the IPCC probe.

When Port was arrested for perverting the course of justice police seized his laptop, but did not examine it. Detectives took advice from homicide specialists but a murder investigation was not launched and Port was released on bail while the Crown Prosecution Service considered charging him. Port murdered Kovari and Whitworth while on bail.

Port’s laptop, when eventually examined, showed Port first looked at Walgate’s escorting ad on June 13, 2014. On the same day he also sought out gay rape pornography. Searches included “sleeping boy”, “unconscious boys”, “drugged and raped”, “taking date rape drug”, “gay teen knocked out raped” and “guy raped and tortured young nude boy”. Friends of Walgate pressed police to examine the laptop, with one alleging police told her it was too expensive.

We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward

Amodio emailed a detective about the Jon Luck communications. Over several exchanges the detective asked Amodio to get Luck to contact him, but police did not take it upon themselves to trace Luck. Had they done so they would have found Port. Amodio also linked the deaths of Kovari and Whitworth to the earlier death of Walgate, but the detective told him the first death was “nothing about Gabriel or Daniel.”

Whitworth’s death also caused his friends to press police for further action, but police again did not treat the death as suspicious despite seeking advice from homicide specialists. Port’s DNA was on the blanket with Whitworth’s body; police already had his DNA from arresting Port during the Walgate investigation. Police did not trace his movements or investigate the man referred to in the apparent suicide note.

DCI Tony Kirk said to press the two deaths were “unusual and slightly confusing” but not murders. A pathologist found Whitworth had “bruising below both arms in the armpit regions which is unlikely to have been caused accidentally and may have resulted from manual handling of the deceased, most likely prior to death.” At inquest coroner Nadia Persaud recorded open verdicts and advised police to perform additional forensic tests, but this was not done.

Port was finally caught after Taylor’s murder when the victim’s older sisters linked his death to the other three. While pressing police to take action, they learned of CCTV showing Taylor and an unidentified person. Taylor’s sisters convinced police to release the footage in a bid to trace the man; when this was done, another officer recognised Port from the footage. He was arrested and the case became a murder probe.

Police are re-examining a further 58 fatal GHB overdoses from June 2011 to October 2015. “We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward,” Cundy said. “We would appeal for them to contact us as soon as possible.”

Other articles on Crime and Law
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  • 7 June 2022: Proud Boys indicted for conspiracy over January 6 U.S. Capitol riots
  • 3 June 2022: Ethics chief: UK PM’s reforms after Partygate “highly unsatisfactory”, won’t “restore public trust”
  • 25 May 2022: Attack at Texas elementary school kills at least 19, including 18 children

 

 

 

 

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Report urges Kenya to ban plastic bags

Wednesday, March 9, 2005File:Plastic bag stock sized.jpg

They are cheap, useful, and very plentiful, and that is exactly the problem, according to researchers. A report issued on Feb. 23 by a cadre of environment and economics researchers suggested that Kenya should ban the common plastic bag that one gets at the checkout counter of grocery stores, and place a levy on other plastic bags, all to combat the country’s environmental problems stemming from the bags’ popularity.

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Solutions For Buying Property After Mortgage Foreclosure

By Simon Volkov

Being a property owner has been a fundamental goal of Americans since the country was founded in 1776. Even though there has been great progress to help all Americans achieve the dream of homeownership, the recent past has nearly destroyed the dream for many.

Nearly 6 million property owners have had their house repossessed because of foreclosure. Although the number of foreclosure filings declined in 2011, industry experts believe that 2012 will experience another round of foreclosures that could cause another 2 million homeowners to lose their property.

If the real estate experts are correct, home values will likely further decline. This can bring about an increase in the number of people that decide to attempt strategic foreclosure. This strategy has been covered on the news lately because it is very controversial.

Not so long ago, strategic default was a tactic used primarily by people with pristine credit scores that allow them to recover rapidly even from events like foreclosure. Homeowners can afford to pay their loan installments, but they choose to quit paying in effort to make their lender negotiate a better rate on their loan or repossess their house.

Banks usually don’t offer loan modifications or other kinds of mortgage foreclosure options to property owners that aren’t having financial difficulties. For this reason, homeowners that can afford to pay decide to walk away instead of paying for property that is not worth the balance of the outstanding loan.

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While most people have a negative view of the real estate market, optimists are discovering ways to capitalize on the current situation. Savvy real estate investors understand that the millions of homeowners displaced by foreclosure need a place to live. A lot of these investors are buying houses to offer as rental properties to people that have lost their house to foreclosure.

Most people would consider this to be a risky maneuver. After all, if homeowners didn’t pay their mortgage payments why would they pay rent? Certainly, real estate investors need to conduct due diligence to ensure tenants can meet rental obligations. But, contrary to popular belief foreclosed homeowners often times make the best tenants.

Better yet, a lot of people really want to buy another house, but won’t qualify for bank financing for a couple years after foreclosure. In many cases, they have no other option than to become tenants while trying to improve their FICO score.

One technique investors use to boost cash flow is to sell houses using unconventional financing methods. A few of the more well-known include: lease to own purchase agreements, subject to, seller carry back mortgages, and take over payments.

Each technique requires investors to execute legally binding documents that record the purchase terms. It is always recommended to hire a real estate lawyer to write up sales contracts and file documents with appropriate agencies.

Lease to own purchase agreements are a good option for people that don’t have a large down payment. This strategy allows the buyer to live in the house as a tenant while buying the house. Buyers are required to provide the seller with a down payment and a percentage of rent money is applied toward the purchase price.

Take over payments allows buyers to take over the remaining mortgage installments using the seller’s credit rating. Careful consideration is required when using this kind of agreement. Nearly all mortgage deeds have a clause that states borrowers have to pay off the loan balance if the house is transferred or sold.

Subject to contracts assign property rights to the buyer in exchange for paying future loan installments. The mortgage note remains in the seller’s name until the buyer obtains bank financing in his own name.

Seller carry back mortgages require property owners to provide all or part of financing. Seller carry back is nearly identical to bank financing because it requires buyers to enter into a legal contract with the seller.

If buyers default the seller can repossess the property. Seller carry back transactions typically only last for a few years, then buyers have to obtain a bank loan or pay the balance in cash.

About the Author: Discover more ways to buy

property

after foreclosure from Simon Volkov, a California real estate investor. He offers a wide variety of real estate articles along with tips for buying houses and investment properties at

SimonVolkov.com

.

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Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

Monday, December 2, 2013

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or €36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.

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FBI to begin investigation into shooting of US Air Force MP

Thursday, February 2, 2006

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently investigating if a possible civil rights violation was committed by a sheriff’s deputy of the San Bernardino County after the shooting of an unarmed U.S. Air Force Security Force officer.

The military policeman, Senior Airman Elio Carrion, 21, was shot while on leave after serving a six month deployment in Iraq. The incident took place on Sunday, in Chino, California, after a short police chase. Carrion was the passenger of Luis Fernando Escobedo, 21, when police began chasing Escobedo’s blue Chevrolet Corvette for speeding. The car reached over speeds of 100 mph (160 km/h) during the short five minute chase.

After the chase ended in a crash near his house, Jose Luis Valdez began taping the accident aftermath. The grainy, low-quality videotape shows Carrion laying on the ground with the officer standing over him. The deputy appears to say, “Stay on the ground.” The deputy then seems to say “Get up” several times. Carrion then said, “I’m going to get up.” As Carrion begins to rise, the deputy fires three shots which hit Carrion in the chest, leg and side. After Carrion is hit he said, “I mean you no harm.” The deputy responded by shouting “Shut the fuck up” twice, and then “You don’t get up!” A neighbor is heard saying, “You told him to get up.” The video shot by Valdez was given to police, with a copy sold by him to television station KTLA.

Carrion is now in the hospital and in good condition.

Cindy Beavers, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department stated the deputy has been put on paid leave. Beavers also mentioned that Sheriff Gary Penrod had invited the FBI to join the investigation. The FBI released a statement confirming this.

Penrod issued a statement on Monday saying, “As with all investigations, the circumstances involved in this shooting will be reviewed, it would be inappropriate for me to make any additional comments until the investigation is completed.”

Experts say the video is open to interpretation.

Last week, in a similar but unrelated incident, a news helicopter caught footage of St. Louis, Missouri police officers using what appears to be excessive force on a suspect in detaining him.

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Use Nature And Colloidal Silver To Knock Out The Common Cold

Submitted by: Tony Isaacs

Mainstream medicine tells us that there is little we can do for the common cold other than treat the symptoms and let the cold run its course. To some extent, a cold does have to run its course, but what many do not know is that nature offers remedies that can greatly speed recovery from a common cold as well as treat symptoms – and do so more effectively and more safely than mainstream medicines.

An almost sure fire way to help lessen symptoms and speed recovery of a cold is to take a combination of colloidal silver and some of nature’s best cold fighters: echinacea, vitamin C, zinc, olive leaf extract and garlic.

Take plentiful amounts of vitamin C (up to 1,000 mg of vitamin C an hour for the first 6 hours and then up to 1000 mg three times daily thereafter) and one to three cloves of freshly minced garlic that has been allowed to sit for 15 minutes, along with the amounts specified on the product labels for olive leaf extract and zinc. Take plenty of echinacea – at least three to four times the amount on the label. It is best to have the echinacea in extract form so you can gargle with it too, as echinacea has antiseptic qualities and soothing qualities that can help with the sore throat when gargled and swallowed.

If there is any congestion or cough, nebulize with colloidal silver and lobelia (five parts colloidal silver to one part lobelia) several times daily. For even better results or for really tough congestion, also take a Chinese herbal formula found in the product ClearLungs.

In addition, get plenty of bed rest and drink plenty of liquids. Chicken noodle soup is a tried and true cold reliever and recent studies have attested to its effectiveness against the common cold.

The above combo will usually help you beat a cold in only a few days – the sooner you get started the quicker the cold will be gone (which is true of any effective cold remedy).

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Another remedy that is effective against the common cold:

Mix together the following ingredients:

* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne peppe

* 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginge

* 1/4 teaspoon cloves

* One tablespoon apple cider vinega

* One tablespoon honey (or to taste)

* Two tablespoons wate

Store the mixture in a small bottle and take three teaspoons whenever needed. Note: Use organic raw honey if at all possible. Manuka honey is the best of all.

Lastly, here is a Mexican-Apache cold cure as reported by the great granddaughter of Geronimo:

“My father, Crisosto Pena, a Mexican Apache, believed that chili could cure anything. He said that it was packed full of vitamins and therefore a cure-all, especially for colds.

“One day he returned from work and found his wife and five children in bed with the flu. He felt so bad for them that he took out the bag of hot chili pods and soaked them in hot water for 15 minutes. Then he put them into a grinder and ground them with the water they were soaked in. He gave each one of his family members a spoonful with a piece of tortilla. About an hour later the family was moving about. The children were out playing around, and his wife was cooking dinner.

“From that day on, I too believe that chili is a cure-all, especially for colds. As a preventive medicine, you can mix the chili with garlic and onions. It not only tastes good, but also keeps colds away.”

Told by I.M. Crisosto Pena, daughter of Crisosto Pena, and great great granddaughter of Geronimo.

About the Author: Tony Isaacs, is a natural health researcher and author of books and articles about natural health including Cancer’s Natural Enemy. Mr. Isaacs also has The Best Years in Life website

tbyil.com

for baby boomers and others wishing to live longer, healthier and happier lives.

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Two nuclear submarines collide in the Atlantic Ocean

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Nuclear ballistic missile submarines Triomphant, from France, and HMS Vanguard, of the British Royal Navy, collided deep under the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night between February 3 and 4, despite both vessels being equipped with sonar. The collision caused damage to both vessels but it did not release any radioactive material, a Ministry of Defence (MOD) official confirmed Monday.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said nuclear security had not been breached. “It is MOD policy not to comment on submarine operational matters, but we can confirm that the U.K.’s deterrent capability was unaffected at all times and there has been no compromise to nuclear safety. Triomphant had struck ‘a submerged object (probably a container)’ during a return from a patrol, damaging the sonar dome on the front of the submarine,” he said.

A French navy spokesman said that “the collision did not result in injuries among the crew and did not jeopardise nuclear security at any moment.” Lack of communication between France and other members of NATO over the location of their SLBM deterrents is believed to be another reason for the crash.

According to Daily Mail, the vessels collided 1,000ft underwater in the Bay of Biscay (Golfe de Gascogne; Golfo de Vizcaya and Mar Cantábrico), a gulf of the North Atlantic Ocean. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Punta de Estaca de Bares, and is named for the Spanish province of Biscay, with average depth of 5,723 feet (1,744 m) and maximum depth is 9,151 feet (2,789 m).

Each submarine is laden with missiles powerful enough for 1,248 Hiroshima bombings, The Independent said.

It is unlikely either vessel was operating its active sonar at the time of the collision, because the submarines are designed to “hide” while on patrol and the use of active sonar would immediately reveal the boat’s location. Both submarines’ hulls are covered with anechoic tile to reduce detection by sonar, so the boats’ navigational passive sonar would not have detected the presence of the other.

Lee Willett of London’s Royal United Services Institute said “the NATO allies would be very reluctant to share information on nuclear submarines. These are the strategic crown jewels of the nation. The whole purpose of a sea-based nuclear deterrent is to hide somewhere far out of sight. They are the ultimate tools of national survival in the event of war. Therefore, it’s the very last thing you would share with anybody.”

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB, ADC of the United Kingdom, the most senior serving officer in the Royal Navy, said that “…the submarines came into contact at very low speed. Both submarines remained safe. No injuries occurred. We can confirm the capability remains unaffected and there was no compromise to nuclear safety.”

“Both navies want quiet areas, deep areas, roughly the same distance from their home ports. So you find these station grounds have got quite a few submarines, not only French and Royal Navy but also from Russia and the United States. Navies often used the same nesting grounds,” said John H. Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst primarily known for his work in assessing and reporting upon nuclear safety and nuclear related accidents and incidents.

President of the Royal Naval Association John McAnally said that the incident was a “one in a million chance”. “It would be very unusual on deterrent patrol to use active sonar because that would expose the submarine to detection. They are, of course, designed to be very difficult to detect and one of the priorities for both the captain and the deterrent patrol is to avoid detection by anything,” he said.

The development of stealth technology, making the submarines less visible to other vessels has properly explained that a submarine does not seem to have been able to pick out another submarine nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-story building.

“The modus operandi of most submarines, particularly ballistic-missile submarines, is to operate stealthily and to proceed undetected. This means operating passively, by not transmitting on sonar, and making as little noise as possible. A great deal of technical effort has gone into making submarines quiet by reduction of machinery noise. And much effort has gone into improving the capability of sonars to detect other submarines; detection was clearly made too late or not at all in this case,” explained Stephen Saunders, the editor of Jane’s Fighting Ships, an annual reference book (also published online, on CD and microfiche) of information on all the world’s warships arranged by nation, including information on ship’s names, dimensions, armaments, silhouettes and photographs, etc.

According to Bob Ayres, a former CIA and US army officer, and former associate fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, however, the submarines were not undetectable, despite their “stealth” technology. “When such submarines came across similar vessels from other navies, they sought to get as close as possible without being detected, as part of routine training. They were playing games with each other – stalking each other under the sea. They were practising being able to kill the other guy’s submarine before he could launch a missile.Because of the sound of their nuclear reactors’ water pumps, they were still noisier than old diesel-electric craft, which ran on batteries while submerged. The greatest danger in a collision was the hull being punctured and the vessel sinking, rather than a nuclear explosion,” Ayres explained.

Submarine collisions are uncommon, but not unheard of: in 1992, the USS Baton Rouge, a submarine belonging to the United States, under command of Gordon Kremer, collided with the Russian Sierra-class attack submarine K-276 that was surfacing in the Barents Sea.

In 2001, the US submarine USS Greeneville surfaced and collided with Japanese fishing training ship Ehime Maru (????), off the coast of Hawaii. The Navy determined the commanding officer of Greeneville to be in “dereliction of duty.”

The tenth HMS Vanguard (S28) of the British Royal Navy is the lead boat of her class of Trident ballistic missile-capable submarines and is based at HMNB Clyde, Faslane. The 150m long, V-class submarine under the Trident programme, has a crew of 135, weighs nearly 16,000 tonnes and is armed with 16 Trident 2 D5 ballistic missiles carrying three warheads each.

It is now believed to have been towed Monday to its naval base Faslane in the Firth of Clyde, with dents and scrapes to its hull. Faslane lies on the eastern shore of Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, to the north of the Firth of Clyde and 25 miles west of the city of Glasgow.

Vanguard is one of the deadliest vessels on the planet. It was built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (now BAE Systems Submarine Solutions), was launched on 4 March, 1992, and commissioned on 14 August, 1993. The submarine’s first captain was Captain David Russell. In February 2002, Vanguard began a two-year refit at HMNB Devonport. The refit was completed in June 2004 and in October 2005 Vanguard completed her return to service trials (Demonstration and Shakedown Operations) with the firing of an unarmed Trident missile.

“The Vanguard has two periscopes, a CK51 search model and a CH91 attack model, both of which have a TV camera and thermal imager as well as conventional optics,” said John E. Pike, director and a national security analyst for http://www.globalsecurity.org/, an easily accessible pundit, and active in opposing the SDI, and ITAR, and consulting on NEO’s.File:Triomphant img 0394.jpg

“But the periscopes are useless at that depth. It’s pitch black after a couple of hundred feet. In the movies like ‘Hunt for Red October,’ you can see the subs in the water, but in reality it’s blindman’s bluff down there. The crash could have been a coincidence — some people win the lottery — but it’s much more possible that one vessel was chasing the other, trying to figure out what it was,” Pike explained.

Captain of HMS Vanguard, Commander Richard Lindsey said his men would not be there if they couldn’t go through with it. “I’m sure that if somebody was on board who did not want to be here, they would have followed a process of leaving the submarine service or finding something else to do in the Navy,” he noted.

The Triomphant is a strategic nuclear submarine, lead ship of her class (SNLE-NG). It was laid down on June 9, 1989, launched on March 26, 1994 and commissioned on March 21, 1997 with homeport at Île Longue. Equipped with 16 M45 ballistic missiles with six warheads each, it has 130 crew on board. It was completing a 70-day tour of duty at the time of the underwater crash. Its fibreglass sonar dome was damaged requiring three or four months in Drydock repair. “It has returned to its base on L’Ile Longue in Brittany on Saturday under its own power, escorted as usual by a frigate,” the ministry said.

A Ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident.

The Triomphant class of strategic missile submarines of the French Navy are currently being introduced into service to provide the sea based component (the Force Océanique Stratégique) of the French nuclear deterrent or Force de frappe, with the M45 SLBM. They are replacing the Redoutable-class boats. In French, they are called Sous-Marin Nucléaire Lanceur d’Engins de Nouvelle Génération (“SNLE-NG, literally “Device-launching nuclear submarine of the new generation”).

They are roughly one thousand times quieter than the Redoutable-class vessels, and ten times more sensitive in detecting other submarines [1]. They are designed to carry the M51 nuclear missile, which should enter active service around 2010.

Repairs for both heavily scraped and dented, missile-laden vessels were “conservatively” estimated to cost as much as €55m, with intricate missile guidance systems and navigation controls having to be replaced, and would be met by the French and British taxpayer, the Irish Independent reported.

Many observers are shocked by the deep sea disaster, as well as the amount of time it took for the news to reach the public. ”Two US and five Soviet submarine accidents in the past prove that the reactor protection system makes an explosion avoidable. But if the collision had been more powerful the submarines could have sunk very quickly and the fate of the 250 crew members would have been very serious indeed,” said Andrey Frolov, from Moscow’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

“I think this accident will force countries that possess nuclear submarines to sit down at the negotiating table and devise safety precautions that might avert such accidents in the future… But because submarines must be concealed and invisible, safety and navigation laws are hard to define,” Frolov said, noting further that there are no safety standards for submarines.

The unthinkable disaster – in the Atlantic’s 41 million square miles – has raised concern among nuclear activists. “This is a nuclear nightmare of the highest order. The collision of two submarines, both with nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons onboard, could have released vast amounts of radiation and scattered scores of nuclear warheads across the seabed,” said Kate Hudson, chair of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

“This is the most severe incident involving a nuclear submarine since the Russian submarine RFS Kursk K-141 explosion and sinking in 2000 and the first time since the Cold War that two nuclear-armed subs are known to have collided. Gordon Brown should seize this opportunity to end continuous patrols,” Hudson added. Despite a rescue attempt by British and Norwegian teams, all 118 sailors and officers aboard Kursk died.

“This reminds us that we could have a new catastrophe with a nuclear submarine at any moment. It is a risk that exists during missions but also in port. These are mobile nuclear reactors,” said Stephane Lhomme, a spokesman for the French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire.

Nicholas Barton “Nick” Harvey, British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for North Devon has called for an immediate internal probe. “While the British nuclear fleet has a good safety record, if there were ever to be a bang it would be a mighty big one. Now that this incident is public knowledge, the people of Britain, France and the rest of the world need to be reassured this can never happen again and that lessons are being learned,” he said.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP for Moray has demanded for a government statement. “The Ministry of Defence needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world’s second-largest ocean,” he said.

Michael Thomas Hancock, CBE, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and a City councillor for Fratton ward, and who sits on the Commons defence committee, has called on the Ministry of Defence Secretary of State John Hutton to make a statement when parliament sits next week.

“While I appreciate there are sensitive issues involved here, it is important that this is subject to parliamentary scrutiny. It’s fairly unbelievable that this has happened in the first place but we now need to know that lessons have been learnt. We need to know for everyone’s sakes that everything possible is now done to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident. There are serious issues as to how some of the most sophisticated naval vessels in the seas today can collide in this way,” Mr. Hancock said.

Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox, a British Conservative politician, currently Shadow Defence Secretary and Member of Parliament for Woodspring, said: “For two submarines to collide while apparently unaware of each other’s presence is extremely worrying.”

Meanwhile, Hervé Morin, the French Minister of Defence, has denied allegations the nuclear submarines, which are hard to detect, had been shadowing each other deliberately when they collided, saying their mission was to sit at the bottom of the sea and act as a nuclear deterrent.

“There’s no story to this — the British aren’t hunting French submarines, and the French submarines don’t hunt British submarines. We face an extremely simple technological problem, which is that these submarines are not detectable. They make less noise than a shrimp. Between France and Britain, there are things we can do together….one of the solutions would be to think about the patrol zones,” Morin noted, and further denying any attempt at a cover-up.

France’s Atlantic coast is known as a submarine graveyard because of the number of German U-boats and underwater craft sunk there during the Second World War.

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