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News Wrap: Keystone oil pipeline decision delayed again

April 18, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: A final decision on a much-debated plan to add on to the Keystone oil pipeline has been delayed again, possibly until after the November elections. The U.S. State Department today extended the federal review of the project indefinitely. It cited a Nebraska court fight over the route.

The pipeline would extend from Canada to Nebraska, then connect with existing lines carrying crude oil to refineries in Texas. Environmental groups welcomed the delay, but Republican Speaker John Boehner called it shameful.

An avalanche on Mount Everest killed at least 12 Sherpa guides today and left four others missing. The disaster was the deadliest ever on the world’s highest peak, in Nepal. It happened just shy of 21,000 feet, about 8,000 feet below the summit. Guides had gone out early to fix ropes for climbers, including Australian Gavin Turner.

GAVIN TURNER, Climber: The experience was great. It was going well, and then suddenly there was a huge thud. We got covered by this enormous cloud of snow and snow dust. But, for a few seconds, I thought, wow, this is going to take me out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hundreds of climbers and guides are at Everest’s base camp, preparing to scale the peak next month, when the weather is mildest.

Hope dimmed even further in South Korea today for some 270 people, many of them high school students, who were on a ferry that capsized Wednesday. Rescue teams kept up their efforts even as the ship sank from view.

Jane Dodge of Independent Television News narrates this report.

JANE DODGE: A last glimpse of the Sewol before it disappeared beneath the waves early this morning. Two large inflatables now mark its position. The rescue operation has become more of a recovery process, as bodies are brought ashore. There has been progress of sorts. Divers managed to gain entry to part of the vessel.

KO MYUNG-SUK, Coast Guard, South Korea (through interpreter): Two divers entered the water and opened the door of the cargo compartment and went in. But they couldn’t get further due to obstacles, and they didn’t find any survivors.

JANE DODGE: Anger at the South Korean authorities once again boiled over today. Originally told their children were safe, families now wait to hear their fate, aware time is against them.

KIM CHANG-GOO, Father of passenger (through interpreter): They have to hurry to rescue survivors, but the divers are not going in. The number of survivors will reach its limit after today.

JANE DODGE: The captain is believed to be one of the group seen leaving the ship before it capsized. Here, he’s wrapping himself in a blanket. Lee Joon-Seok and two other members of the crew have now been arrested. It emerged today he wasn’t at the wheel when the vessel started to list.

The captain didn’t give an order to evacuate until half-an-hour later. And it’s not clear if passengers ever heard it. Most of those on board were schoolchildren. The teacher in charge has been found hanged in woods close to the gym where parents are waiting for news. He had been rescued from the ferry, but in a suicide note said he couldn’t live for himself and asked for his ashes be scattered at the site of the tragedy.

Investigators now believe it may have been an abrupt change of direction that caused cargo to shift to one side and the ferry to tilt over. But it’s not the answers families want right now; they’re desperate to get their children back.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, the confirmed death count stands at 29.

A powerful earthquake shook Central and Southern Mexico today, but there were no reports of major damage. The epicenter was northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, but the quake was felt in Mexico City as well. The shaking lasted about 30 seconds and sent people running into the streets. The U.S. Geological Survey said it registered a 7.2 magnitude.

Around the world, Christians commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus on this Good Friday. In Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims lined the cobblestone streets of the Old City. Some carried wooden crosses, tracing the traditional route that Jesus walked. And in the Philippines, some people had themselves nailed to crosses despite the Catholic Church’s efforts to discourage the rite.

There’s a new warning on marijuana, even as cities and states move to decriminalize it. A study of young adults finds even casual use of pot may harm parts of the brain that control emotion and motivation. It’s not clear if the damage can be reversed. The study was done at Harvard and Northwestern medical schools and Massachusetts General Hospital. It’s being published in “The Journal of Neuroscience.”