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30 years on, Ukraine mourns victims of Chernobyl

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CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE – Ukrainians held candlelit vigils Tuesday to mark 30 years since the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl spewed radiation across Europe and left several thousand people dead or dying.

Church bells rang and mourners laid flowers at Chernobyl’s memorial square as the clock turned 1:23 a.m. — the moment the plant’s reactor number four exploded and changed the fate of a generation living across the former Soviet Union.

“There was crying and screaming,” local pensioner Maria Urupa told AFP as she recalled the terror that struck locals as they watched poisonous clouds of radiation waft in from the plant.

At least 30 people were killed on site and several thousand more are feared to have died from radiation in what Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said appears to have been the world’s largest man-made catastrophe.

The exact number of dead remains a subject of intense debate because the Soviet authorities kept most of the information about the disaster hidden.

More than 200 tons of uranium remain inside the crippled reactor that spattered radiation across three quarters of Europe after a botched safety test.

Lingering fears of new leaks occurring should the aging structure covering the toxins crack have prompted a global push to fund the construction of a giant new arch that should keep the site safe for generations.

The U.N. watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency used the anniversary to warn against “complacency” in nuclear safety.

The “key lesson” from both Chernobyl and the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 was that “safety can never be taken for granted,” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said.

But Poroshenko said his country “will not be able to stop using atomic power” as it tries to wean itself off its energy dependence on its former master Russia.

Poroshenko also warned that Russia’s alleged support for a pro-Moscow insurgency in the east was threatening a repeat of the Chernobyl catastrophe — because Ukraine has its largest nuclear plant on the very edge of the war zone.

AFP

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NAC aims to bring more tourists

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KATHMANDU — Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) — the national flag carrier which bought two wide-body aircrafts — is exploring new destinations in Europe, North America and South East Asia to bring in more tourists to the country.

The NAC, with the new destinations, expects to increase its business and carry 400,000 tourists on board the NAC planes to Nepal every year.

The NAC’s move is expected to serve largely for the government’s announcement to mark 2020 as Nepal Visit Year.

The NAC is also planning to procure narrow-body planes that would make regional flights while the wide-body planes would fly to the new international destinations.

For the new destinations, the NAC has appointed issue manager.

With the agreement, the NAC planes would make flights to 14 destinations in a week. If things go as planned, the NAC planes would fly to Narita and Tokyo in Japan, easing the tourists visiting Nepal from there.

After getting approval from Japan and South Korea for flights, the inclusion in the significant safety concern list by the EU to Nepal would remove automatically while the flights to South Korea shall open up the golden door for Nepal Airlines.

South Korea is regarded as the safest country in the world in terms of civil aviation. Likewise, the ICAO has already removed Nepal from its blacklist.

Furthermore, the NAC is preparing to operate flights to bring in tourists from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Similarly, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari has directed the NAC for announcing new business plans by targeting the Indian and Chinese tourists, realizing the crucial role of the national flag carrier to make the Nepal Visit Year 2020 a success.

“Top priority has been given to the NAC as it is the major basis to bring in tourists,” Minister Adhikari shared.

Likewise, Minister Adhikari shared that expansion of services and facilities of the Tribhuvan International Airport has been prioritized.

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