Eurostar trains disrupted by faulty power cable during one of its busiest weeks

A faulty overhead power cable has left thousands of passengers stranded on trains for up to nine hours overnight, during one of Paris’ busiest weeks. 

Eurostar were forced to cancel services leaving thousands of passengers – including catwalk models that are trying to get to the French capital for Paris Fashion Week – with major disruptions to their travels. 

Yesterday four trains services were cancelled during the disruptions, and delays were expected throughout the day on other services. 

Angry passengers took to Twitter to rant about their disrupted journeys. 

Model Poppy Delevingne, tweeted that she was ‘deliriously tired’ following an eight-hour journey. 

In a response to fellow model Laura Bailey she said: ‘cheese and ham toasties are better on the Eurostar LB. The only plus. Been sitting on the track for four hours #cabinfashionfever’. 

She then continued: “Blew a kiss to the receptionist at my hotel as he gave me my key. He looked scared. So would I be. Deliriously tired. Snore #8houreurostar’. 

The former face of Marks and Spencers: Laura Bailey wrote: 

Less conspiracy theories. More wine and cheese… and Paris before breakfast please. #eurostar’. 

However designer Henry Holland was less impressed by Eurostar after tweeting: ‘Eurostar DISASTER’. 

Eurostar, in a message to travellers apologised for ‘any inconvenience caused’ and announced that passengers who were on cancelled Eurostar services have now been reallocated onto other services. 

The company have advised passengers to check the website for any updates.

Due to the delays passenger Ryan Armstrong missed his connecting flight to Amsterdam. 

He said: “We were basically on the train for nine hours. We hardly moved; there was a lot of standing still. At one point the power was cut so we couldn’t see anything or get any information”.

Article by Charlee Greenhalgh

The curse of two ships: siblings on the stricken liners

THE mother of a Costa Concordia ‘hero’ is suffering the same “nightmare” as she waits for her daughter  to return – who was stranded on the stricken sister ship.

At the beginning of the week a worried Jayne Thomas said she had to learn about the second disaster via an email from a friend.

Frantic Jayne has heard nothing from dancer daughter Becky, 23, since a blaze broke out on the Costa Allegra, leaving it adrift in the Indian Ocean.

Incredibly, her 19-year-old son James had been working on the doomed Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

The teenager was labelled a hero after helping rescue terrified passengers escape by acting as a human ladder.

Jayne, 48, from Sutton Coldfied,  Birmingham, said: “I only found out when one of Rebecca’s friends sent me an email having heard the news.

“We’ve had nothing from either Costa or the agency that Becky and James worked for.

“I’m not really expecting anything to be honest, we heard nothing when the Concordia went down.”

James and Becky both work for the same agency as dancers aboard Costa’s ships.

But Jayne never dreamed she’s be suffering the same worry again as when the Concordia sank in January.

“I never dreamed it could happen again,” she added. “I’ve been on both of those ships to see my children.

“In the email I got it told me the ship was on fire and that it had been extinguished in a couple of paragraphs so it was bittersweet news.

“There was a moment of agony when I read it though, fire is what I fear most, it’s the worst thing that can happen on a ship.

“Apparently it’s the engine that has caught fire but it’s all speculation at the moment, nobody really knows.

“I just hope they’re telling the truth this time. Originally when the Concordia went down, they told us that there was an electrical failure and everything was going to be fine

“They said it right up until they abandoned the ship.

“I just can’t believe it’s happening all over again it’s like a nightmare.“

The fire broke out when the Allegra was 260 miles from the Seychelles coast. There are said to be no casualties among the 1,049 passengers and crew members.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in the electric generators’ room and was quickly extinguished.

According to Jayne the vessel has since been taken under tow to a nearby island by a French fishing ship that responded to the Allegra’s mayday call.

Jayne had been in contact with Becky three or four times a day. They last had a conversation on mobile messenger service WhatsApp, yesterday morning. The mum said: “I said, `Good morning, how was your sleep?’ She said she was fine and getting on with the day.“

Fellow dancer James had previously told how he had acted as a ‘human climbing frame’ after the Concordia disaster.

According to mum Jayne the two had always wanted to dance.

“They have always danced and it was what they both always wanted to do,” she added.

“They both did diplomas at Leicester College of Arts, graduated within six months of each other and got jobs last year.

“I don’t think there’s any chance this will put Becky off, she’s always wanted to travel as well as dance.

“She said to me ‘I could go backpacking, but why bother when I can do it in more luxury?’

“I think this might be the end for James though, he had a big ordeal and has already turned down one offer of a job on a Norwegian cruise ship.”

After going through the same ordeal twice Jayne admits she will feel. Differently about cruise ships.

“I never, ever imagined this could happen,” she said. “The allegra was supposed to be completely safe, or that’s what they said.

“It’s smaller, so easier to keep safe. But I have to say, I will feel a bit uneasy if I go on a ship again.

“I’m not going to stop going, you don’t stop flying just because a plane has crashed, but it will certainly feel different.”

Foreign Secretary marks International Human Rights Day

The Foreign Secretary has paid tribute to courage and dedication of human rights activists campaigning for peaceful social and political change via the internet on social networking sites around the world.To mark the International Human Rights Day on 10 December, the Foreign Secretary said:

“This year thousands of ordinary citizens across the Middle East took to the streets demanding political freedom and economic opportunity in their countries. Many found their voices using social media and blogs.

“Today, on International Human Rights Day, I applaud their commitment and courage and renew Britain’s pledge to support the practical promotion of human rights worldwide, including on the internet.

“The Internet and social media has allowed people who would otherwise never meet to reach a potentially unlimited audience, to forge new connections and mobilise behind ideas, and change the course of governments and history.

“But we must constantly guard against the growing trend of the use of the internet as a means of political repression in many countries. Human rights should carry full force online: not just the right to privacy, but the right to freedom of expression. Britain is working with other countries to build a wider consensus about freedom of expression on the internet.

“So over the coming year and beyond, Britain will be at the forefront of efforts to promote freedom, on the internet and across the world; working with our allies to stand up for universal human rights.”

Chilean volcanic ash cloud reaching Cape Town airspace

The ash cloud from the Chilean Volcano Puyehue-Cordón Caulle that has been erupting since June 4 has reached Cape Town airspace, affecting flights in and out of Cape Town International Airport. The ash cloud has circled the globe and has, in the last 2 weeks, disrupted flights in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand.

Deon Cloete, General Manager of Cape Town International Airport, said on Saturday evening: “Airports Company South Africa would like to advise all passengers traveling today and in the next few days to contact their airline in order to confirm their flight details, as volcanic ash has been sighted in the Cape Town airspace and has impacted various flights in and out of Cape Town International, Port Elizabeth, and East London airports. Other airports will be affected as well. ACSA and the Air Traffic and Navigation Services company are monitoring the situation and will update travelers as and when new information becomes available.

Said Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism: “The volcano sent a massive plume of ash around the Southern Hemisphere, delaying flights out of many airports and causing inconvenience for thousands of passengers. It is still too early to gauge the ash cloud’s impact on tourism in Cape Town. We are expecting a marginal and short-term knock-on effect on tourism arrivals to the Mother City and are in close contact with ACSA to bring the latest updates to the tourism industry.”

Blackpool’s Golden Mile is set to be renamed

Blackpool’s Golden Mile is famous for its illuminations, amusement arcades and fish and chips, but it is now set to be renamed in an attempt to rid the resort of its tacky reputation.

The seafront will soon be known as Queen Elizabeth Promenade, following a £100million project to improve the area.

Peter Callow, the leader of the council, said: “Our new promenade is going to be world class so we believe it deserves a new title.”

The project includes improved walkways, ‘Spanish-style’ steps from the promenade to the beach and a new open-air events space, the Tower Festival Headland.

A new wedding venue and tourist information centre will also open this autumn.

The council have also announced that the number of licences for lap dancing clubs will be cut from 12 to two to help improve Blackpool’s reputation.

The resort will also see American animation come to town as the Pleasure Beach is set to build a new zone based on the US entertainment channel Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon Land will have 14 rides based on characters such as Dora The Explorer, The Rugrats, and SpongeBob Square Pants, who is set to be the star attraction.

Work on Nickelodeon Land will begin when the Pleasure Beach’s main summer season is finished this autumn.

29 killed on the first day of Songkran

On the first day of the Songkran festival in Thailand 29 people were killed in road accidents while another 400 were injured.

And a man was shot by a teenage gang following a fight in a snooker club.

The incidents occurred at the start of The Thai festival, which celebrates the traditional Thai New Year.

The festival, which lasts a week, is known as the seven dangerous days of Songkran.

The 29 deaths were caused by drunken driving and speeding, common during the celebrations.
But the figures are down on the 2010 festival.

During the same period last year there were 557 road accidents, this has dropped to 365 for this year.
And the number of deaths decreased by 35.5 percent.

Thailand’s road safety centre, who will release accident figures each day, said the provinces of Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and Prachuap Khiri Khan were leading in the number of fatalities.

The Thai man who was shot in the hip by ten youths, who followed him after the snooker hall dispute, was visiting relatives in Pattaya during the national festival.

He is in a stable condition.

This year’s seven days of Songkran started on Monday and will run until Sunday.

Each year Songkran is marred by road accidents and deaths, but it is also famous for the throwing of water.

During the festival Thais roam the streets armed with water pistols, hoses and buckets ready to drench each other with the water.

The throwing of water originated as a way of showing respect, and symbolises the washing away of all the bad.
The tradition has evolved amongst the young as a way of soaking themselves and others as relief from the summer heat.

The Songkran festival is also a time when people pay respect to their elders and visit Buddhist monasteries.
Songkran is also celebrated in Laos, Cambodia, and by the Dai people in Yunnan, China.

Sarah Taylor