PHUKET MEDIA WATCH– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket's international community
Aussie cruise liner passengers fall overboard
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Australian emergency crews were searching on Friday for two people who fell overboard from a Carnival Corp cruise liner off the New South Wales coast.
Police said surveillance camera footage from the ship showed the 30-year-old man and 27-year-old woman, both Australian, fell from the mid-deck around 8:50 p.m. AEST (1150 GMT) on Wednesday.
The pair were reported missing when the Carnival Spirit docked in Sydney on Thursday after completing a South Pacific tour.
Search-and-rescue planes and boats were scouring an area covering about 500 square nautical miles off Australia's eastern coastline.
"I must be honest, our hopes are fading because of the length of time but we are going full throttle to try find them," NSW Police Marine Area Commander Mark Hutchings told Sky News television on Friday when asked if police believed the pair were still alive.
Hutchings said the couple had gone off the ship "one after the other", but it was unclear whether they had jumped or fallen by accident.
Miami-based Carnival Corp, the world's largest cruise operator, has been plagued by a series of high-profile problems in recent months.
In February, its Carnival Triumph cruise ship was adrift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine fire, stranding more than 3,000 passengers without electricity and adequate sanitation.
It is also coping with repercussions from the sinking of its Costa Concordia ship in Italy in January 2012, which claimed 32 lives.
Body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber entombed - police
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been entombed and is no longer in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, where it had been held at a funeral home, the Worcester Police Department said on Thursday.
The police did not disclose where the body had been moved.
"A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance to properly bury the deceased," said Worcester Police Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst.
The 26-year-old ethnic Chechen died in an April 19 gun battle with police, four days after he and his younger brother Dzhokhar are suspected of having set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 264.
The question of where to bury the elder Tsarnaev had proven to be a thorny one, with city officials in Boston and in neighbouring Cambridge, where he lived, refusing to accept the body for burial.
His widow, Katherine Russell, had asked that Tsarnaev's body be released to his family. An uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Maryland, said on Sunday he had wanted his nephew to be buried in Massachusetts.
Russell's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tsarni could not be reached.
A crowd had picketed outside the Worcester Graham Putnam & Mahoney funeral home where the body had been held since it was claimed from the medical examiner last week.
Dzohkhar Tsarnaev, who faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted on charges related to the April 15 bombings, is being held at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He was moved there on April 26 after nearly a week in a Boston hospital where he received treatment for wounds sustained in the gun battle that left his brother dead.
Tamerlan died of gunshot wounds as well as blunt trauma to the head and torso, which resulted from both an exchange of fire with police in Watertown, outside Boston, as well as injuries that resulted when his brother drove over him as he fled.
Separately on Thursday, the family of the youngest victim to die in the attack - 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was standing by the finish line when the bombs went off - said that their 7-year-old daughter Jane was showing improvement, with surgeons at Boston Children's Hospital closing the wound left when the blast tore off her left leg below the knee.
"By closing the wound, the incredible medical team at Boston Children's Hospital laid the groundwork for Jane to take an important step forward on the long and difficult road ahead of her," the family said in a statement. "We take today's development as positive news."
British sailing champ dies in America's Cup training off California
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: British yacht-racing champion Andrew "Bart" Simpson, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was killed on Thursday when his vessel capsized in San Francisco Bay during training for the America's Cup, his team said.
Simpson, 36, a two-time Olympic medallist, had been sailing on the Artemis, Sweden's entry in the America's Cup, when the catamaran overturned, according to a statement posted on the Artemis racing website.
"The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened," CEO Paul Cayard said in the statement. "Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family."
The Artemis website said Simpson was part of an 11-member sailing team and that all other crew members had been accounted for following the mishap.
A U.S. Coast Guard officer, Pam Boehland, said support boats had pulled 12 crew members from the water, and that one was taken to a San Francisco hospital.
San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge confirmed that one male crew member had died in the accident and said he was estimated to have remained under water for 10 to 15 minutes before he was recovered.
She said one other sailor from the Artemis crew was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries and later released.
Boehland said the Artemis capsized at about 1 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. British time) northwest of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The crippled vessel remained in the bay, and the Coast Guard established a 100-yard (91-meter) safety zone around the boat, she said.
The wreck was at least the fourth major accident in just over a year off the California coast or involving California vessels.
In March, a crew member was killed when a 30-foot (9-meter) sailboat broke apart in rough seas during a race near San Clemente Island.
In April 2012, four crewmen in a race from Southern California to Mexico died after their yacht ran aground. Two weeks earlier, five sailors died in a racing accident near the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco.
The Farallon incident prompted the Coast Guard to temporarily suspend racing in the Pacific Ocean off northern California.
U.S. charges eight in $45 million cyber crime scheme
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Individuals employed around the world by a sophisticated cyber crime ring stole US$45 million from thousands of bank automated teller machines within a matter of hours, using hacked debit-card data, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.
Members of the global criminal organization hacked into two credit card processors and used stolen data to make more than 40,500 withdrawals in 27 countries, during two separate coordinated incidents in December 2012 and February 2013, the Justice Department said.
The government charged eight individuals in New York with participating in the larger scheme by withdrawing $2.8 million in thousands of ATM transactions, in what U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said was the second-biggest bank robbery in the history of New York City.
Lynch said it was likely that the headquarters of the global scheme was located outside the United States and that the current charges focused only on the New York-based cell. Investigators were examining whether other cells were operating elsewhere in the United States, she said.
"In the place of guns and masks, this cyber crime organization used laptops and the Internet. Moving as swiftly as data over the Internet, the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York City, with the defendants fanning out across Manhattan to steal millions of dollars from hundreds of ATMs in a matter of hours," said Lynch, whose office in Brooklyn, New York, brought the case.
The case demonstrates the major threat that cyber crime poses to banks around the world. Security experts frequently identify electronic fraud as one of the key challenges facing banks today.
"Hackers only need to find one vulnerability to cause millions of dollars of damage," said Mark Rasch, a former federal cyber crimes prosecutor, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
In the December attack, hackers gained access to an Indian credit card processor that handled prepaid Mastercard Inc debit cards for National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah PSC, or RAKBANK, according to a criminal indictment.
In February, the hackers broke into the system of a U.S.-based credit card processor to steal account numbers for prepaid Mastercard debit cards issued by Bank of Muscat, the indictment said.
The second operation was far larger than the first attack, eventually totalling $40 million in losses to Bank of Muscat.
In late February, Bank Muscat disclosed that it would take an impairment charge of up to 15 million rials (25.2 million pounds) because it had been defrauded overseas using 12 prepaid debit cards used for travel. That charge was equal to more than half of the 25 million rials profit it posted in its first quarter ended March 31.
The indictment does not identify the processor companies.
Bank representatives could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.
In both cases, the hackers boosted the available balance for each card and eliminated the withdrawal limits, allowing them to take out huge sums of money from ATMs in what prosecutors called an "unlimited operation."
A single account number, for instance, yielded nearly $9 million in profits, including $2.4 million in New York City alone, prosecutors said.
The hackers distributed the account numbers to coordinated "casher" crews stationed across the globe, who siphoned millions of dollars from ATMs within a span of hours in December 2012 and February 2013.
One of the New York defendants was caught in surveillance footage from ATMs in Manhattan during the February operation, prosecutors said.
After the cards were shut down, cashers laundered the proceeds, often by purchasing luxury goods, and sent a portion of the money back to the organization's leaders, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said they seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and bank accounts, as well as two Rolex watches and a Mercedes SUV, from the New York defendants.
No individual bank accounts were compromised by the scheme, Lynch said.
Authorities said they arrested seven of the eight defendants, all U.S. citizens and residents of Yonkers, New York. They are Jael Mejia Collado, Joan Luis Minier Lara, Evan Jose Peña, Jose Familia Reyes, Elvis Rafael Rodriguez, Emir Yasser Yeje and Chung Yu-Holguin.
The eighth defendant charged in the indictment, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, also known as "Prime" and "Albertico," was murdered on April 27 in the Dominican Republic, according to prosecutors. Lynch said it was unclear whether the murder was related to the cybercrime case.
It wasn't immediately known which lawyers were representing the defendants.
China reports one more bird flu death, toll rises to 32
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: China reported one more death from a new strain of bird flu on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 32, with the number of infections staying at 129, the official Xinhua news agency said.
A 56-year-old man died in the central province of Henan, two weeks after his infection was confirmed, Xinhua cited a statement from the local health bureau.
The man had no direct contact with birds, but there were birdcages hanging in the corridor of the building he lived in, the report said.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) has said it has no evidence that the new strain of bird flu, first detected in patients in China in March, is easily transmissible between humans.
Chinese scientists have confirmed that the H7N9 strain has been transmitted to humans from chickens. But the WHO has said 40 percent of people infected with H7N9 appear to have had no contact with poultry.