- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2009


Kenya oil blaze death toll hits 111

MOLO | The death toll from an oil-spill blaze in central Kenya has risen to 111, making it one of the East African nation’s worst disasters of recent times, police said on Sunday.

“We counted 91 bodies at the site, and there were 20 others that had been taken to the local mortuary,” Rift Valley police provincial Commissioner Hassan Noor Hassan told Reuters.

A truck crashed near the central Rift Valley town of Molo on Saturday, spilling oil that burst into flames as hundreds of locals crowded round in search of free fuel. Many bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Rescuers said someone may have accidentally dropped a cigarette, although there was also suspicion someone angered at being blocked by police may have started the fire on purpose.


Retirement home fire kills 23

MOSCOW | Twenty-three people died Saturday when a major fire engulfed a village retirement home in northern Russia’s remote Komi Republic, a local government spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse.

“According to preliminary information, 23 people died and three were saved,” said Liubov Terentieva, a spokeswoman from the emergency situations ministry, reached by phone at the Komi capital, Syktyvkar. The home is located in the village of Podielsk, more than 60 miles from Syktyvkar.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a high-level probe into the incident, Russian media reported.


15 die in bar blaze caused by fireworks

BEIJING | Fifteen people suffocated when a fire sparked by birthday fireworks swept through a bar and restaurant in eastern China, state media reported Sunday.

Seventeen people were injured in the blaze in Fujian province on Saturday night, Xinhua news agency said.

The Latin-style bar and restaurant in Changle, about 20 miles from the provincial capital, Fuzhou, was set ablaze just before midnight, when a party of about 10 celebrating a birthday set off fireworks at their table, Xinhua said.

“The festive explosive set the ceiling on fire, and the entire place was soon engulfed in flames,” it quoted a local government spokesman as saying. After the fire was put out, 15 people were found in the charred debris, having died from suffocation.

“The flames spread very fast, and many of the diners were unable to escape,” Li Ming, a guest who suffered slight injuries.


Obama relative held on drug charge

NAIROBI | The half-brother of President Obama was arrested for possession of marijuana Saturday near his home in a Nairobi shantytown, police said.

George Obama, who is in his 20s and barely knows the president, had one joint of marijuana on him, said Joshua Omokulongolo, the police chief in the area.

“He is not a drug peddler,” Mr. Omokulongolo said. “But it’s illegal, it’s a banned substance.”

George Obama has a court appearance scheduled for Monday morning.

He and the president have the same father, who died in a car crash in 1982. The White House declined comment Saturday on the president’s half-brother. George is the youngest of the senior Mr. Obama’s seven children, born six months before his father died.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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