News Wrap: Bangkok Residents Pile Sandbags Ahead of High Tide
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KWAME HOLMAN: The people of Bangkok, Thailand, awaited their flooding fate today. Soldiers, Buddhist monks and others piled sandbags ahead of high tides expected to peak on Saturday. The tidal surge is pushing the already swollen main river even higher.
Overflows filled streets of the capital city today. Residents floated through the newly created waterways in whatever mode of transport they could find. The flooding, brought on by three months of monsoon rains, is the worst in nearly 60 years.
Another young survivor was found alive today in eastern Turkey, five days after a devastating earthquake. State-run TV said he survived by drinking rainwater seeping into the ruins of his apartment building.
We have a report from Tom Barton of Independent Television News.
TOM BARTON: Keeping hope alive in the face of devastation. Nearly 600 people have been killed by the Turkish earthquake, but still rescuers pick through the rubble.
And more than four-and-a-half days after the 7.2 magnitude quake, their persistence pays off — pulled from the rubble, a 13-year-old boy, tired, weak. His rescuers cover his eyes to protect him from the bright searchlights.
Serhat Tokay had spent 108 hours trapped beneath his apartment block. According to the government, he becomes the 187th person to be rescued since Sunday’s disaster. His rescue came just hours after that of another teenager, a team from Azerbaijan pulling the 18-year-old to safety and on to hospital.
TOM BARTON: The search and clearance operation continues across the earthquake zone in eastern Turkey. More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed, replaced by tented villages for some of the 50,000 people affected.
But in the cold of a Turkish winter, conditions are difficult.
“They’re doing their best,” says one camp resident, “but I don’t know what it’ll be like in the coming days as it keeps getting colder.”
And as those temperatures continue to fall, this crisis threatens to deepen.
KWAME HOLMAN: A dozen countries have sent aid to the Turkish quake survivors. And today, crews delivered pre-fabricated homes, blankets and heaters.
In Syria, activists say security forces shot and killed at least 40 people, in the deadliest day in weeks. Amateur video showed thousands of demonstrators in the cities of Homs and Hama. They shouted slogans against President Bashar al-Assad and called for outside intervention against his regime. Protest leaders said troops chased people after the rallies ended and hunted them house to house.
The moderate Islamist party that won Tunisia’s elections appealed for calm today. Supporters of a rival party rioted overnight in Sidi Bouzid, the town where the Arab spring uprisings began. Troops fired into the air to restore order. Hours later, the leader of the winning Ennahda Party blamed troublemakers loyal to ousted President Ben Ali.
And in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned the violence.
VICTORIA NULAND, State Department spokeswoman: And we call on the Tunisian people to uphold their own society’s long tradition of tolerance and moderation, and to demonstrate with the same peaceful dignity and restraint that earned them the admiration of the region and the world just a few months ago.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Ennahda Party leader promised today to create a broad-based coalition and to pursue a liberal economic policy.
Crowds in New York City and online marked a milestone today for the Statue of Liberty. The statue was dedicated on this day in 1886, a gift to the United States from France.
For 125 years, the Statue of Liberty has stood as an iconic greeting to immigrants arriving in New York Harbor. And officials chose to began today’s anniversary events with a naturalization ceremony for 125 newly-sworn American citizens who came from 46 countries. One was a man from Colombia, a U.S. Marine for the last two years. He took the citizenship oath this morning.
U.S. MARINE: It really shows the meaning of the Statue of Liberty, the freedom, the opportunities. Back in the — back in the day of grandfathers or ancestors that came to this country came for the same dream. They came from Ellis Island, the same steps. And now that we’re taking the same steps in some kind of way, it really proves the truth of the Statue of Liberty.
KWAME HOLMAN: Lady Liberty also got new high-tech equipment today. Webcams were installed in the torch. Visitors to EarthCam.com now can view live the New York City skyline across the harbor and shots of visitors down below.
And for now, that will be the only way to see the view. Starting tomorrow, the statue will be closed for a year, allowing the National Park Service to install new staircases and elevators inside. Liberty Island will remain open. Roughly three-and-a-half million people visit the statue each year.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.