Fears raised that 25,000 barrels of oil now gushing into the Gulf of Mexico
OIL from the stricken Deepwater Horizon rig is feared to be gushing into the Gulf of Mexico at five times the latest estimate of the US Coastguard, satellite imagery studied by industry experts suggests. The view from space indicates that the oil -- the surface area of which has quickly tripled in size, according to experts -- may be leaking at a rate of 25,000 barrels a day, dwarfing the figure of 5,000 barrels that American officials and BP, the British oil company, have used in recent days.
That would mean that some nine million gallons may already have escaped from the underwater well following the explosion last month that killed 11 rig workers.
It also means that the disaster is almost certainly to prove worse than the Exxon Valdez tanker spill off Alaska in 1989, which released 11 million gallons. US President Barack Obama is due to visit the region this morning, aides announced. The trip comes amid mounting criticism that the White House has been slow to react to the crisis.
Spending cuts spark riots in Athens
Hundreds of youths rioted in Athens yesterday, throwing petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas at a May Day rally against austerity measures being enacted by the cash-strapped government to secure foreign loans to stave off bankruptcy. Police made at least nine arrests, including six people suspected of looting a shop. Seven officers were injured along with two demonstrators. Responding to calls from the country's two main labour unions, several thousand people marched in major Greek cities against the anticipated spending cuts and consumer tax hikes.
In Athens, groups of black-clad anarchists in hoods and motorcycle helmets smashed shop and hotel windows and set up barricades of burning trash bins. Around 17,000 people took part in the march, according to police estimates. Leftist and anarchist demonstrators heckled and threw plastic water bottles at former parliamentary speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, a governing Socialist lawmaker, after spotting him among pedestrians on the sidelines of the Athens march.
At least 30 killed by mosque bombs
TWO bombs exploded inside a mosque in Mogadishu's main market yesterday in the first Iraq-style bombing inside a house of worship in Somalia.
At least 30 people were killed and 70 wounded, officials have said.
The blasts in the Bakara market went off while people were sitting inside the Abdala Shideye mosque, waiting for noon prayers.
The bombings highlight the increasingly violent path Somali militants are taking following an influx of insurgents into the country from the Afghanistan conflict. The fighters are now training Somali militants.
Emergency meeting on Bangkok crisis
THAI officials yesterday called an emergency cabinet meeting in the face of unrelenting anti-government street protests. With negotiations between the protesters and the government on hold and hopes for a peaceful end to the stand-off dwindling, calls have grown for international mediators to be involved.
Government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn said the cabinet would meet this morning in a special session. He declined to say what the agenda would be, but it was widely expected to focus on the seven-week crisis that has paralysed parts of Bangkok.
In recent days, pro-establishment protesters have called on the government to declare martial law and crack down on the Red Shirt protesters, whose barricaded camp occupies streets in Bangkok's commercial centre.
The Red Shirts are demanding that the government disband parliament and call elections.
A spokesman said yesterday that they would ignore any imposition of martial law.
Vatican will reform order over abuse
THE Vatican has said the Pope will name an envoy and appoint a commission to overhaul the Legionaries of Christ, following disclosures that the conservative order's founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least one child.
In a statement, the Vatican denounced the Rev Marciel Maciel for creating a "system of power" built on silence and obedience.
It said this had enabled him to lead a double life "devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment" and allowed him to abuse young boys unchecked over the course of several decades.
However, the Vatican also sought to assure the Legion's current members that it would help them "purify" what goodness remained in the order.
The Vatican issued the statement after Pope Benedict XVI held a meeting with five bishops who investigated the Legion in order to determine its future direction.