Emirates flight quarantined on tarmac in New York with up to 100 passengers complaining of illness

A commercial jet from Dubai prompted a large-scale emergency response at New York's Kennedy Airport this morning after a pilot reported that several passengers and crew members were complaining about having a flu-like illness.

The Emirates flight arriving at 9:10am Wednesday morning (1.10am today NZT) with 520 passengers was swarmed by police vehicles and ambulances and immediately quarantined for an assessment by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Passenger Erin Sykes posted video of officials wearing masks and gloves taking the temperature of passengers on the tarmac.

In an interview, Sykes said she saw a few passengers being taken off the plane first for medical attention, but she added that "many, many" others were showing signs of illness.

In this frame from video emergency response crews gather outside a plane at JFK Airport amid reports of ill passengers aboard a flight from Dubai on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in New York. (WABC 7 via AP)
Emergency response crews gather outside a plane at JFK Airport. Source: Associated Press

"Very intense coughing. Violently sick. Going into the bathroom a lot," she said when asked to describe the scene.

By afternoon, there were still conflicting reports about how many people were sick and unanswered questions about the cause. The airline said about 10 passengers needed medical attention "as a precaution," while the CDC said about 100 of the 520 people aboard the plane were being evaluated after complaining of illness, including cough and fever. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said 10 people were hospitalised and another eight were being treated at the airport.

Video from news helicopters showed the jet stranded on the tarmac for several minutes before passengers began to emerge. Those who were cleared were put on buses to get to the terminal.

A traveller in the business section of the aircraft, Raghida Dergham, said in an interview that sick passengers were in a "lower level" economy section of the plane.

"I feel great. I feel fine," she said. "Nobody was alarmed. ... It was handled very well."

But other passengers said they suspected that some passengers were sick before they got on the plane and that the airline should have done more to protect others.

"Why did they allow them on the flight? ... I sat with them for 13 hours. If it's a virus, we're all getting sick," Srinivasa Rao said.

Sykes partly faulted the ill passengers themselves.

"These people should know not to travel in a confined space with other healthy people," she said.



Britain can flourish even without Brexit deal, says UK's Foreign Secretary

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the UK will flourish with or without an agreement on its relationship with the European Union after it leaves the grouping next year.

A "no-deal" Brexit is possible, he said in an interview in Tokyo, "but I don't think it's in anyone's interest for that to happen. So that's why we are cautiously optimistic that we will get a deal. But there's a lot of work to do to get there."

British Prime Minister Theresa May travels to Salzburg, Austria, on today to meet other EU leaders. She needs to win over both the European Union and critics of her Brexit proposal within her own Conservative Party. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29.

Japanese companies with operations in Britain are among those worried about the impact of a "no-deal" Brexit, in particular on their ability to export from the U.K. to the rest of Europe without tariffs or other trade restrictions. Under a no-deal scenario, the U.K. would leave the EU without establishing rules for future trade between Britain and the 27 remaining EU member countries.

"The U.K. will flourish and prosper as one of the strongest economies in the world whatever the outcome of these talks," Hunt said, noting its business-friendly environment and strong universities.

He defended the May government's proposed Brexit deal, which has been roundly attacked by his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Hunt succeeded Johnson as foreign secretary in July.

"British politics is littered with the graveyards of people who have predicted the demise of Theresa May and been proved wrong," he said.

"Of course Boris Johnson doesn't agree with some of the policy decisions that she's taken, but Theresa May has to speak not just for the 52 percent who voted for Brexit, she has to speak for 100 percent of the country," he added.

Hunt is in the Japanese capital to hold annual U.K.-Japan strategic dialogue talks with Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

He said he welcomes the summit that started Tuesday between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but that the time has come for the North to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear weapons.

"Words get you so far. I think words have helped, they've changed the atmosphere, but we need to see actions now," he said.

Britain has sent warships to the Pacific to help patrol for transfers between ships at sea that violate economic sanctions on North Korea. Hunt said Britain is ready to relax sanctions if there is concrete evidence of change on the North Korean side.

Hunt, who lived in Japan in the early 1990s, delivered a short speech without notes in Japanese to about 50 people from U.K.-Japan exchange programs.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Hunt said it’s time for North Korea to take concrete actions toward eliminating its nuclear weapons. Hunt told that Britain is ready to relax economic sanctions on North Korea when there is concrete evidence of a change from the North Korean side. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech during a "strategic dialogue” at British Embassy in Tokyo. Source: Associated Press


At least 21 reported killed in crash between bus and tanker in Iran

Iranian media are reporting that at least 21 people died in a road accident when a bus overturned following a collision with a tanker on a road in central Iran.

Today's report by the semi-official Tasnim news agency says the accident happened today on the road linking the cities of Kashan and Natanz, about some 250 kilometres southeast of the capital, Tehran.

It says 20 people were also injured in the crash and were taken to local hospitals.

Amateur video broadcast on Iranian media shows a burning bus, with flames rising into the nighttime sky.

With some 17,000 motorists killed annually, Iran has one of the world's worst traffic safety records, attributed to disregard for traffic laws, unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services.

Iran map (file picture).
Iran map (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Tornado spawned by Hurricane Florence hits town in Virginia, smashing building and killing one

One person was killed after the remnants of Hurricane Florence spawned an apparent tornado that touched down in the Richmond area in Virginia today and caused a building to collapse, authorities said.

A Chesterfield Fire/EMS spokesman said the victim was a man who worked at Old Dominion Flooring. 

The spokesman said when fire crews arrived the store's manager told them that all of the store's employees were accounted for, except for one man.

The spokesman said emergency personnel were working to recover the unidentified man's body. 

A second person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Dominion Energy reported 6,000 customers were without power due to the storm.

A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said his agency considers the storms part of the remains of Florence, which left flooding rains across much of North Carolina and parts of South Carolina over the weekend.

One person was killed in the tornado that touched down in Richmond. Source: Associated Press


Needle found in Sydney apple amid strawberry contamination crisis - report

A mother has reportedly found a needle inside an apple she bought from a Woolworths supermarket in Sydney's northwest.

The Seven Network today reported the needle was found in a six-pack of Pink Lady apples purchased from a supermarket at The Ponds.

The Kellyville Ridge mother reportedly found the needle when peeling an apple for her daughters this morning.

"I just thought wow this can't possibly be happening," she told the Seven Network.

"Not in apples. I'd seen the news about the strawberries and I'd been vigilant about cutting those up for the girls but to see this in an apple ..."

A Woolworths spokesman told AAP "we're aware of the customer report and understand police are investigating".

"The details have been referred to the authorities leading the response to this matter and we'll consult with them on next steps," he said in a statement.

New South Wales Police say they are investigating and have called a press conference to discuss the matter.

Needles have been found in strawberries across Australia with New Zealand announcing this week it would pull the Australian-grown fruit from its supermarket shelves.

A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.

Cripps Pink apples just in from harvest at an apple orchard
Apples (file picture). Source: istock.com