Sand Mining ‘Undermining’ RIA Highway Bridge

first_imgResidents are worried about their respective properties and the condition of the three-leg bridge under which the sand mining is ongoing The only two-lane bridge over the Junk River that connects the Roberts International Airport (RIA) with Monrovia is now in danger as a result of alleged sand mining in the river, residents have informed the Daily Observer.The leadership of the community, represented by Atty. George Kailondo told a team of investigative reporters over the weekend that sand mining is threatening the life-span of the bridge, his multi-million dollars residential area, the Baracuda entertainment center and other facilities in the area.Atty. Kailondo has meanwhile expressed frustration over the situation, adding, “This has to stop or else the ELWA/RIA highway will eventually encounter a sudden closure when the bridge over this Junk River collapses.”While pointing in the direction of the many cracks on the wall of his house and the foundation of the fence around the house, Atty. Kailondo said the sand mining has continued to the extent that even the habitat of crocodiles may have been destroyed, exposing them and the fish to extreme danger.“The sand is so much under the river so the Chinese-owned company involved in the exercise uses many other sand compressors to navigate the river as a means to suck mostly the rich portion of it,” said an ‘environmentalist’ who did not want to be identified, but was hired by Kailondo and the other residents who claimed that their properties are being affected by the exercise.Mr. Prince Johnson (the son of the late D. Roosevelt Johnson) the general manager of the Goodrich Incorporated, a company that is at the center of the alleged sand mining, denied reports of the danger affecting the river and the neighborhood.He said “We gave the Chinese company the legal right to mine sand in the Junk River and their mining sand is not putting any property as well as the bridge as risk.”He told the Daily Observer via mobile phone that his company obtained a permit from three concerned government agencies including the Liberia Environmental Agency (EPA).“I can’t respond to whatever claims an individual may have against my company for mining, because I was duly licensed. So whatever issue Mr. Kailondo and his people have, let them take it to the government and those agencies including the EPA, but not to me,” Mr. Johnson said and hung up.Kailondo claimed he has earlier complained to the authorities of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME).His claim could not be confirmed by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy Public Relations Director, Joseph Matadly. Mr. Matadly said since reporters called him to confirm the report he would take up the issue this week.However, he said companies doing river sand mining are duly registered with the government, except for those doing beach mining.“As of the bridge or properties being affected, I cannot speak to that, but will take up the issue Monday, to the director of mines at the ministry,” Mr. Matadly assured the Daily Observer yesterday.Aloysius K. Kotee, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Manager for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Unit, could not be reached as his phone was switched off throughout the weekend, but an official in his office promised to provide appropriate response on the issue.“I will inform Mr. Kotee to launch immediate investigation into the concerns of the residents,” the EPA source said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Town, campus pray for answers after deadly rampage

first_imgBLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – The people of this once-peaceful mountain town and the university at its heart prayed for the victims of the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, struggling to find order in a tragedy of such unspeakable horror it defies reason. “For Ryan and Emily and for those whose names we do not know,” one woman pleaded in a church service held for those seeking solace. “For all the children in our community who are afraid,” another said. A third added: “For parents near and far who wonder at a time like this, ‘Is my child safe?’” That question promises to haunt Blacksburg long after Monday’s pair of attacks, which came two hours apart and left 33 people dead, including a gunman. Investigators offered no motive. The gunman’s name was not immediately released, and it was not known if he was a student. The shooting began about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory where two people died. Police were still investigating when a gunman wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. Some of the doors at Norris Hall were found chained from the inside, apparently by the shooter. The second attack left 31 dead, including the gunman, who put a bullet in his own head. At least 15 people were hurt, some seriously. The attacks forced students to jump from windows. Young people and faculty members carried away some of the wounded without waiting for ambulances to arrive. Many found themselves trapped behind chained and padlocked doors. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. A student used his cell-phone camera to record the sound of bullets echoing through a stone building. Inside Norris, the attack began with a thunderous sound from Room 206 – “what sounded like an enormous hammer,” said Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior who was in a solid mechanics lecture in a classroom next door. Screams followed an instant later, and the banging continued. When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, he started flipping over desks to make hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of Room 204, he said. “I must’ve been the eighth or ninth person who jumped, and I think I was the last,” said Calhoun, of Waynesboro, Va. He landed in a bush and ran. Calhoun said that the two students behind him were shot, but that he believed they survived. Just before he climbed out the window, Calhoun said, he turned to look at his professor, who had stayed behind, apparently to prevent the gunman from opening the door. The instructor was killed, Calhoun said. Erin Sheehan, who was in the German class next door to Calhoun’s class, told the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, that she was one of only four of about two dozen people in the class to walk out of the room. The rest were dead or wounded, she said. She said the gunman “was just a normal-looking kid, Asian, but he had on a Boy Scout-type outfit. He wore a tan button-up vest, and this black vest, maybe it was for ammo or something.” The gunman first shot the professor in the head and then fired on the class, another student, Trey Perkins, told The Washington Post. The gunman was about 19 years old and had a “very serious but very calm look on his face,” he said. “Everyone hit the floor at that moment,” said Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va., a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “And the shots seemed like it lasted forever.” At an evening news conference, Police Chief Wendell Flinchum refused to dismiss the possibility that a co-conspirator or second shooter was involved. He said police had interviewed a male who was a “person of interest” in the dorm shooting and who knew one of the victims, but he declined to give details. “I’m not saying there’s a gunman on the loose,” Flinchum said. Ballistics tests will help explain what happened, he said. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said the campus was “shocked and indeed horrified,” but he also faced difficult questions about whether the university did enough to warn students and protect them after the first burst of gunfire. Some students bitterly complained they got no warning from the university until an e-mail that arrived more than two hours after the first shots. “I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action after the first incident,” said Billy Bason, 18, who lives on the seventh floor of the dorm. Steger defended the university’s conduct, saying authorities believed the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus. “We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur,” he said. Steger emphasized that the university closed off the dorm after the first attack and decided to rely on e-mail and other electronic means to spread the word, but said that with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out. He said that before the e-mail was sent, the university began telephoning resident advisers in the dorms and sent people to knock on doors. Students were warned to stay inside and away from the windows. “We can only make decisions based on the information you had at the time. You don’t have hours to reflect on it,” Steger said. Some students and Laura Wedin, a student programs manager at Virginia Tech, said their first notification came in an e-mail at 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first shooting. The e-mail had few details. It read: “A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.” The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious. Until Monday, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby’s Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself. The massacre Monday took place almost eight years to the day after the Columbine High bloodbath near Littleton, Colo. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives. Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage that took place in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire with a rifle from the 28th-floor observation deck. He killed 16 people before he was shot to death by police. Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech is nestled in southwestern Virginia, about 160 miles west of Richmond. With more than 25,000 full-time students, it has the state’s largest full-time student population. The school is best known for its engineering school and its powerhouse Hokies football team. Police said there had been bomb threats on campus over the past two weeks but that they had not determined whether they were linked to the shootings. It was second time in less than a year that the campus was closed because of gunfire. Last August, the opening day of classes was canceled when an escaped jail inmate allegedly killed a hospital guard off campus and fled to the Tech area. A sheriff’s deputy was killed just off campus. The accused gunman, William Morva, faces capital murder charges. Among the dead were professors Liviu Librescu and Kevin Granata, said Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department. Librescu, an Israeli, was born in Romania and was known internationally for his research in aeronautical engineering, Puri wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Granata and his students researched muscle and reflex response and robotics. Puri called him one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. Also killed was Ryan Clark, a student from Martinez, Ga., who had several majors and carried a 4.0 grade-point average, said Vernon Collins, coroner in Columbia County, Ga. His friend Gregory Walton, a 25-year-old who graduated last year, said he feared the nightmare had just begun. “I knew when the number was so large that I would know at least one person on that list,” said Walton, a banquet manager. “I don’t want to look at that list. I don’t want to. “It’s just, it’s going to be horrible, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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