News & Current Affairs

August 25, 2008

No leads on Thailand disappearance

No leads on Thailand disappearance

Courtesy BBC News

Danny Hall on The Weakest Link

Danny Hall is a former winner of TV quiz show The Weakest Link

How can someone disappear without trace on a small island?

That is the question nagging the family and friends of Danny Hall, a British backpacker who went missing in the southern Thai resort of Koh Pha Ngan six months ago.

The disappearance of the 36-year-old – last seen on 25 February – has baffled investigators and loved ones alike.

A roadie and former winner of TV quiz show The Weakest Link, Mr Hall had been on his third trip to Thailand when he was last seen after the island’s world-famous Full Moon Party.

Every month, it is estimated up to 25,000 revellers descend on Koh Pha Ngan for the all-night beach rave.

For most of the party-goers their worst experience is likely to be waking up with a hangover.

But the British foreign office website warns that incidents of date rape have been reported at the event.

Danny Hall
I’ve kind of accepted I’m never going to see him again. But someone must have seen something, someone must know something
Roy Twemlow
Danny Hall’s friend

The Bangkok Post reported in April that a Koh Pha Ngan police chief had recently been transferred amid a rising crime rate and complaints about visitors’ safety.

Meanwhile, a number of accounts of tourists being attacked on the island can be found on internet travel chatrooms.

Mr Hall’s friend, Roy Twemlow, was one of the last people to speak to him when he rang Mr Twemlow from a bar, in the afternoon following the Full Moon Party.

The pair became friends at Birmingham University, where Mr Hall, from Norwich, England, graduated with an honours degree in history.

The 36-year-old said: “It was about 2pm when [Danny] rang me and he sounded fine, he didn’t sound panicked. It’s just not like him to vanish without trace.

“I’ve kind of accepted I’m never going to see him again. But someone must have seen something, someone must know something.

Full Moon Party reveller

“Danny’s very sociable, makes friends easily and is highly intelligent. He’s also very non-confrontational.”

On arriving in Thailand at the end of January, Mr Hall, who had worked as a roadie for The Rolling Stones and at England’s Glastonbury music festival, spent a week in Bangkok at Mr Twemlow’s home.

“He wasn’t moping around or depressed,” recalls his friend. “It was just the same old Danny.”

Mr Twemlow, a teacher who has lived in Thailand for a decade, travelled down to Koh Pha Ngan to investigate after Mr Hall had been reported missing.

He expected to find police on the island in the midst of a full investigation when he arrived at the end of April.

‘Disgrace’

But he says: “When I got to Koh Pha Ngan, the police knew very little about the case, they hadn’t even searched the area where Danny was last seen. It’s a bit of a disgrace really.”

Danny Hall

Mr Hall (right) on the day he was last seen in the Backyard Bar

Mr Twemlow found his friend’s possessions – a backpack and an acoustic Yamaha guitar – left in his accommodation, a hut at the island’s secluded Hat Yao beach. But Mr Hall’s passport and money belt have not been found.

American backpacker Chris Chester, who met Mr Hall on Koh Pha Ngan a week before his disappearance, but did not attend the Full Moon Party, raised the alarm within three of four days of the Briton vanishing.

The 39-year-old said he and his German girlfriend had met up with Mr Hall almost daily, going to the beach, relaxing with a massage and shopping.

“He had been in regular contact with us the whole time, so when we didn’t hear from him for a couple of days I thought it was pretty strange. I started trying to find him and asking around,” he said.

Mr Chester checked hospitals and clinics on Koh Pha Ngan and neighbouring Koh Samui in his search for the missing tourist, but to no avail.

“There was nothing to suggest he was depressed. I really can’t fathom what happened to him,” he said.

‘Totally bizarre’

Mr Hall is known to have joined dozens of party-goers at the Backyard Bar for an “after-party”, on the morning after the Full Moon rave.

Danny Hall

Thai police say Mr Hall’s bank account remains dormant

Niki Kursakul, 45, from Sydney, Australia, who is married to the Thai owner of the bar, described Mr Hall’s disappearance as “totally bizarre”.

The mother-of-two, who has lived in Thailand for 16 years, said: “It’s very, very strange. The bar isn’t near a beach but I suppose it’s possible he could have wandered down to the sea, gone swimming and got into difficulty.

“But a body would usually get washed up if someone drowned. If he’d fallen or had an accident near the bar he would have been found by now.

“There can be the occasional fight [in the Backyard Bar] but no-one saw any argument taking place that day as far as I know.”

Bangkok’s ministry of foreign affairs said the Thai authorities were working closely with Mr Hall’s family and friends and the British embassy to investigate his disappearance.

Danny Hall

Mr Hall’s friends have launched an appeal to help find him on Facebook

Spokesman Tharit Charungvat said: “The safety of tourists in Thailand is a matter of great concern to the Royal Thai Government.”

He said the number of visitors to Thailand was on the rise and that the country’s popularity was “due, among other things, to the hospitality and safety tourists can expect when visiting Thailand”.

Thai Police Colonel Chataree Pandum said Mr Hall’s bank account remains dormant since he disappeared and investigators believe the Briton did not leave the island.

Norfolk Constabulary in England said they were treating Mr Hall as a missing person – as is the UK foreign office – but that officers currently had no plans to travel to Thailand.

In the meantime, the agony for Mr Hall’s loved ones continues.


Have you ever been to Koh Pha Ngan’s Full Moon Party? What was your experience? Tell us

August 19, 2008

One dead, many hurt in bus crash

One dead, many hurt in bus crash

 Crashed coach [BBC exclusive pic from Karen Taylor]

The passengers were foreign workers [BBC exclusive pic from Karen Taylor]

One man died and 70 others were injured when a coach carrying migrant workers rolled down an embankment and overturned in Staffordshire.

The vehicle collided with a car, crashed through a wall and ended up in a garden in Alton, near Alton Towers theme park, just before 1800 BST.

Those aboard were from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and South Africa.

Two people were flown to hospital and 29 others taken to hospital by road, ambulance officials said.

The man who died was 26 years old and from Poland, police said.

The passengers were reported to be living in the Peterborough area and to have been on a trip to Alton Towers.

Murray MacGregor, of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the coach driver, a man from Lincolnshire, was also seriously injured.

Ch Insp John Maddox, from Staffordshire Police, said officers were trying to establish what caused the crash.

“The bus was coming down a steep hill towards the bridge at the bottom, and from what I can see at the scene, that bus has not managed to go round the bend, and has careered through a wall and down a drop into a garden,” he said.

All people on the coach have been accounted for, he added.

The ambulance service said 44 walking wounded had been taken to Alton Towers for medical treatment.

Two air ambulances, 10 land ambulances, five rapid response vehicles and five fire engines were sent to the scene.

Ian Sloss, a spokesman for the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the scene was very difficult.

“There’s a bus in a difficult situation which crews have had to secure and obviously the crews are working very hard in difficult circumstances,” he said.

Two of the seriously injured were flown from the scene, one to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and one to University Hospital North Staffordshire.

Terri Peachey, whose garden the coach crashed into, said she heard a sound “like thunder” when the accident happened and found injured people “bleeding”, screaming and “laying on the floor crying” in her garden.

Proposals have been made for alternative routes, but nothing’s ever been built
David Hughes

“It all happened so quickly,” she said, adding that the coach landed meters from her house.

Bradley Ford, who lives at the nearby Alton Bridge Hotel, told he had helped with casualties.

He said: “I heard this massive crash, rumble, of either crunching metal or what sounded to me initially as a thunderstorm as it was heavily raining before.

Walking wounded

“Then after that we heard shouts and screams so we obviously put it down to a crash.

“When I got to the scene there was a bus overturned, it looked like it had ploughed into a car and then down a neighbor’s driveway into the garden.

“It must have dropped about 20ft (6m). It was on a slope, it’s diagonal, not head-first.”

He added: “There were people climbing out of the fire exits on the bus. There were many walking wounded, all being seen to by the ambulance staff.”

Emergency services near the scene [James Hughes]

It is believed the bus was carrying foreign workers

The collision happened on Station Road, between Alton and the theme park, which is about one mile away.

Margaret Grice, who lives near the scene, said some of the injured banged on her front door.

She said: “I went to the front door and there was… there was about 12 to 15 people, all crying hysterically, blood running down their faces and their arms and… they couldn’t speak English but they were able to say “accident, accident” so at that point I then rang 999.”

Martin Bredda, who lives close to the scene of the crash, described the road as “an accident waiting to happen”.

“It’s a narrow country road. It’s mayhem, absolute mayhem. We had a torrential downpour of rain just before it happened.

“I was in the local pub when someone came in screaming for blankets and sheets.

“We all went to help but the area had been cordoned off by police.”

The staff canteen at the theme park has been set aside to provide shelter and refreshments.

The park sent a minibus to the scene to collect anyone who had been released by the ambulance crews, a spokeswoman said.

The bus was not connected to Alton Towers, she added.


Did you witness the crash? Send us your eye witness accounts

August 5, 2008

Premier League ins and outs

Filed under: Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 6:41 am

Premier League ins and outs

Courtesy BBC

ARSENAL

Arsenal

Ins: Aaron Ramsey (Cardiff, £5m), Samir Nasri (Marseille, undisclosed), Amaury Bischoff (Werder Bremen, undisclosed).

Outs: Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos, £1m), Alexander Hleb (Barcelona, £11.8m), Jens Lehmann (Stuttgart, free), Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan, free), Kerrea Gilbert (Leicester, loan).

ASTON VILLA

Aston Villa

Ins: Steve Sidwell (Chelsea, £5m), Curtis Davies (West Brom, undisclosed), Brad Friedel (Blackburn, £2m).

Outs: Thomas Sorensen (released), Patrik Berger (Sparta Prague, free), Luke Moore (West Brom, £3m).

BLACKBURN ROVERS

Blackburn Rovers

Ins: Robbie Fowler (Cardiff, free), Paul Robinson (Tottenham, £3.5m), Carlos Villanueva (Audax Italiano, loan), Danny Simpson (Manchester United, loan).

Outs: Stephane Henchoz (released), Bruno Berner (released), Peter Enckelman (Cardiff, free), Brad Friedel (Aston Villa, £2m), David Bentley (Tottenham, £15m).

BOLTON WANDERERS

Bolton Wanderers

Ins: Johan Elmander (Toulouse, £10m), Fabrice Muamba (Birmingham, £5m), Mustapha Riga (Levante, undisclosed).

Outs: Daniel Braaten (Toulouse, undisclosed), Andranik Teymourian (Fulham, free), Stelios Giannakopoulos (released), Ivan Campo (released), El Hadji Diouf (Sunderland, £2.5m).

CHELSEA

Chelsea

Ins: Jose Bosingwa (FC Porto, £16.2m), Deco (Barcelona, £8m).

Outs: Steve Sidwell (Aston Villa, £5m), Ben Sahar (Portsmouth, loan), Ryan Bertrand (Norwich, loan), Slobodan Rajkovic (FC Twente, loan), Claude Makelele (Paris St Germain, free), Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart, £4m), Tal Ben Haim (Manchester City, undisclosed), Shaun Cummings (MK Dons, loan).

EVERTON

Everton

Ins: None.

Outs: Lee Carsley (Birmingham City, free), Stefan Wessels (VfL Osnabruck, free).

FULHAM

Fulham

Ins: John Pantsil and Bobby Zamora (West Ham, £6.3m), Tony Kallio (Young Boys Bern, undisclosed), Andranik Teymourian (Bolton, free), Zoltan Gera (West Brom, free), David Stockdale (Darlington, undisclosed), Mark Schwarzer (Middlesbrough, free), Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg, undisclosed).

Outs: Dejan Stefanovic (Norwich, undisclosed), Nathan Ashton (Wycombe, nominal fee), Elliot Omozusi (Norwich, loan), Ricardo Batista (Sporting, undisclosed), Tony Warner (Hull City, free), Carlos Bocanegra (Stade Rennais, free), Brian McBride (Toronto, free), Philippe Christanval, Jari Litmanen, Simon Elliott, Kasey Keller (all released).

HULL CITY

Hull City

Ins: Peter Halmosi (Plymouth, £2m), George Boateng (Middlesbrough, £1m), Tony Warner (Fulham, free), Bernard Mendy (Paris St Germain, free), Geovanni (Manchester City, free), Craig Fagan (Derby, £750,000), Anthony Gardner (Tottenham, loan).

Outs: Michael Bridges (Carlisle, loan), Henrik Pedersen (Silkeborg IF, free), David Livermore (Brighton, free).

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool

Ins: David Ngog (Paris St Germain, undisclosed), Emmanuel Mendy (Murcia Deportivo, free), Diego Cavalieri (Palmeiras, undisclosed), Andrea Dossena (Udinese, undisclosed), Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund, free), Robbie Keane (Tottenham, £20.3m).

Outs: Jack Hobbs (Leicester, loan), Godwin Antwi (Tranmere, loan), Adam Hammill (Blackpool, loan), Scott Carson (West Brom, £3.25m), Peter Crouch (Portsmouth, £11m), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray, free), Paul Anderson (Nottingham Forest, loan), Anthony le Tallec (Le Mans, undisclosed), John Arne Riise (Roma, £4m), Besian Idrizaj (Wacker Tirol, free), Danny Guthrie (Newcastle, undisclosed), Robbie Threlfall (Hereford, loan).

MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City

Ins: Jo (CSKA Moscow, £18m), Tal Ben Haim (Chelsea, undisclosed).

Outs: Georgios Samaras (Celtic, undisclosed), Andreas Isaksson (PSV Eindhoven, undisclosed), Geovanni (Hull, free), Emile Mpenza and Paul Dickov (both released), Sun Jihai (Sheffield United, free), Matthew Mills (Doncaster, £300,000).

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United

Ins: None.

Outs: Adam Eckersley (AC Horsens, free), Gerard Pique (Barcelona, £5m), Tom Heaton (Cardiff City, loan), Chris Eagles (Burnley, £1m), Danny Simpson (Blackburn, loan)

MIDDLESBROUGH

Middlesbrough

Ins: Didier Digard (Paris St Germain, £4m), Marvin Emnes (Sparta Rotterdam, £3.2m).

Outs: George Boateng (Hull City, £1m), Fabio Rochemback (Sporting, free), Lee Dong-Gook (released), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, free), Steve Thompson (Port Vale, free), Lee Cattermole (Wigan, £3.5m).

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Newcastle United

Ins: Danny Guthrie (Liverpool, undisclosed), Jonas Gutierrez (Real Mallorca, undisclosed).

Outs: Emre (Fenerbahce, undisclosed), David Rozehnal (Lazio, £2.9m), Peter Ramage (QPR, free).

PORTSMOUTH

Portsmouth

Ins: Peter Crouch (Liverpool, £11m), Ben Sahar (Chelsea, loan), Glen Little (Reading, free), Omar Alieu Koroma (Banjul Hawks, undisclosed).

Outs: Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan, £12.7m), Omar Alieu Koroma (Norwich, loan).

STOKE CITY

Stoke City

Ins: Seyi George Olofinjana (Wolves, £3m), Dave Kitson (Reading, £5.5m).

Outs: Marlon Broomes (Blackpool, free).

SUNDERLAND

Sunderland

Ins: Pascal Chimbonda (Tottenham, undisclosed), David Meyler (Cork City, undisclosed), Nick Colgan (Ipswich, free), Teemu Tainio (Tottenham, undisclosed), El Hadji Diouf (Bolton, £2.5m), Steed Malbranque (Tottenham, undisclosed).

Outs: Andrew Cole (Nottingham Forest, free), Greg Halford (Sheffield United, loan), Ian Harte and Stephen Wright (both released), Ross Wallace (Preston, loan).

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Tottenham Hotspur

Ins: John Bostock (Crystal Palace, £700,000), Heurelho Gomes (PSV Eindhoven, undisclosed), Luka Modric (£15.8m), Giovani dos Santos (Barcelona, £4.7m), David Bentley (Blackburn, £15m).

Outs: Pascal Chimbonda (Sunderland, undisclosed), Paul Robinson (Blackburn, £3.5m), Teemu Tainio (Sunderland, undisclosed), Joe Martin (Blackpool, undisclosed), Robbie Keane (Liverpool, £20.3m). Anthony Gardner (Hull City, loan), Steed Malbranque (Sunderland, undisclosed), Jake Livermore (Crewe, loan).

WEST BROM

West Brom

Ins: Scott Carson (Liverpool, £3.25m), Marek Cech (FC Porto, £1.4m), Gianni Zuiverloon (Heerenveen, £3.2m), Luke Moore (Aston Villa, £3m).

Outs: Kevin Phillips (Birmingham, free), Curtis Davies (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Martin Albrechtsen (Derby County, free), Zoltan Gera (Fulham, free), Luke Daniels (Shrewsbury, loan).

WEST HAM UNITED

West Ham United

Ins: Valon Behrami (Lazio, £5m), Balint Bajner (Liberty Salonta, undisclosed), Jan Lastuvka (Shakhtar Donetsk, loan).

Outs: John Pantsil and Bobby Zamora (Fulham, £6.3m), Richard Wright (Ipswich, undisclosed).

WIGAN ATHLETIC

Wigan Athletic

Ins: Amr Zaki (Zamalek, loan), Olivier Kapo (Birmingham, £3.5m), Daniel de Ridder (Birmingham, free), Lee Cattermole (Middlesbrough, £3.5m).

Outs: Andreas Granqvist (Groningen, £600,000), Julius Aghahowa (Kayserispor, undisclosed), Salomon Olembe (Kayserispor, free), Josip Skoko (Hajduk Split, free), David Cotterill (Sheffield United, undisclosed).

The best transfer of the summer

The best transfer of the summer

Courtesy BBC SPORTS

Nothing excites a football fan over the summer months quite as much as a few new faces.

I have always enjoyed turning up for a pre-season fixture to take a look at the summer signings. The fact that you can never really conclude anything about a player in a pedestrian and more or less completely meaningless game against some local amateur outfit takes a back seat while you try to wrestle with the big questions.

Are they any good? Has the gaffer finally found the missing piece of the jigsaw? Does this guy ever kick the ball with his left foot? How on earth did the manager find someone from the second tier of the Belgian league?

Come to think of it, summer signings probably don’t do any harm to season ticket sales and a constant flow of transfer speculation keeps the local paper ticking over during the fallow summer weeks.

But with the Football League starting on Saturday, just what has been the best bit of business during the summer?
I’m not talking necessarily about the most expensive or high-profile – it could be a wise old head on a free transfer or a real gem unearthed from non-league. What I’m looking for is the most inspired signing of the summer, the player who could make the difference between success and failure.

I’m not going to pretend for a moment that I’m familiar with every decent transfer – that is where you lot come in – but here are a few contenders for your consideration.

Derby County, not surprisingly, have been very busy and I think the striking partnership of Rob Hulse (£1.75m from Sheffield United) and Nathan Ellington (season-long loan from Watford) could be the best in the Championship.

Ellington was terrible last season but the word is that he is desperate to prove his knockers wrong while Rams boss Paul Jewell certainly knows how to get the best out of him. Hulse is a talented footballer but has different attributes to the pacy and athletic Ellington and they should complement each other. Defender Alan Stubbs also looks a good acquisition.

Freddy Eastwood’s move from Southend to Wolves really didn’t work out but he should be a decent acquisition for Coventry, while Arturo Lupoli, once of Arsenal, is an intriguing loan signing for Norwich from Italian side Fiorentina.

Nicky Maynard is an intelligent footballer, with good awareness in and around the box. If Bristol City were a touch predictable towards the end of last season then he should add a new dimension to their game, though at £2.25m from Crewe he did not come cheap.

A couple of veterans worth keeping an eye on are striker Andy Cole and midfielder Lee Carsley. Cole has moved to his home-town club of Nottingham Forest and the 36-year-old wants his final season as a player to end in promotion. A big ask. Carsley has joined Birmingham on a free transfer from Everton. He was a regular last season and I think he could prove to be a brilliant signing. The fact he has been made captain in the absence of Damien Johnson hints at the impact he has already had.

Several teams have looked to shore up their defences. They might not grab headlines but Mark Hudson (Palace to Charlton) and Kaspars Gorkss (Blackpool to QPR) could prove to be important and much-needed captures.

Leeds are desperate to win promotion to the Championship and reports suggest that midfielder Andy Robinson is set to play an important role. Argentine Luciano Becchio remains an unknown quantity but the striker has spent time with Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Mallorca (though last season he played in Spain’s third tier with Merida).

Derby County and Crystal Palace fans no doubt remember Marco Reich, the German forward who is back in English football with Walsall having joined from Kickers Offenbach. He was quality last time he was here and in League One he should have plenty to offer.

David Livermore was very consistent at Millwall but after joining Leeds in July 2006 the midfielder was sold by the Yorkshire club to Hull less than two weeks later. The Tigers loaned him to Oldham last season but after signing for Brighton permanently in July, I expect him to have real presence for the Seagulls.

A colleague of mine is adamant that the signing of the summer in League One is Kieran Lee, who has joined Oldham from Man Utd. I’ve never seen him play – have you? As a full-back/midfielder he certainly provides options for Latics boss John Sheridan.

Liverpool central defender Jack Hobbs is hoping to gain valuable first-team experience on a season-long loan at Leicester from Liverpool. The Foxes have also brought in defender Michael Morrison from Cambridge United. Manager Nigel Pearson is a former centre-half and both could blossom under his tutelage.

Huddersfield boss Stan Ternent, a wily old operator, has gone for experience with the likes of Chris Lucketti (Sheffield United) and Keigan Parker (Blackpool). Watch out for an improved showing from the Terriers.

In League Two, Lincoln boss Peter Jackson has also gone for experience, bringing in the likes of Frank Sinclair and Stefan Oakes.

Most deals at this level have been either free transfers or season-long loans but one move that caught the eye was Shrewsbury shelling out a club record £170,000 for Forest striker Grant Holt. He didn’t really deliver at Forest but has been prolific through pre-season and will be determined to deliver at his new club.

New boys Exeter have plumped for experience in striker Marcus Stewart. The 35-year-old has made more than 500 league appearances and should bring plenty of knowledge, though his scoring record at previous club Yeovil was far from spectacular.

But one of the best deals in League Two has surely got to be Notts County signing defender Michael Johnson on a permanent contract. He made a huge difference after arriving at Meadow Lane on loan last season and remains an impressive and consistent performer.

But how many potentially sensational signings have I missed and how many of the ones listed above do you think will make a big impression over the coming months?

Blog at WordPress.com.