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Deadly Texas fertilizer warehouse blast preventable: investigators

DALLAS (Reuters) - A deadly 2013 fertilizer warehouse explosion in Texas that claimed at least 14 lives could have been prevented, U.S. safety investigators said on Tuesday. Between 40 and 60 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded 22 minutes after a fire broke out at the West Fertilizer Co warehouse on April 17, 2013, leveling a neighborhood in the town of West, 70 miles southwest of Dallas.

Madagascar fights to prevent oil spill from stricken tanker

Madagascar has launched an emergency operation to prevent a stricken tanker from unleashing 10,000 cubic metres of crude oil into the postcard-perfect Emerald Sea off the country's north coast. Jerome Sambalis of Madagascar's port authority said specialist teams are being flown to the Indian Ocean island after the Bahamian-flagged ship Tromso ran aground last Thursday. The 120-metre (393-foot) vessel has bust one of its two hulls, according to Sambalis.

Obama departs US for Asia tour

President Barack Obama departed Washington Tuesday for a weeklong tour of Asia in what the White House has called a "rebalancing" eastward of US foreign policy. Obama left Andrews Air Force Base at 10:30 am (1430 GMT) aboard Air Force One, on a trip that was first to make a stopover in Washington state to visit the scene of a deadly landslide. From there, the president's itinerary was to take him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The visit is Obama's fifth to the region during his presidency.

Kerry: 'It was easier' in Cold War

Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring "it was easier" during the Cold War. In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would "crouch under our desks at school and practice" safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

Tennis: Nishikori makes winning return

Japan's Kei Nishikori won his first clay match of the season returning from a three week absence due to a groin injury with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the third-round of the Barcelona Open on Tuesday. The 24-year-old fourth-seeded Nishikori, who hadn't played since pulling out of his Miami Masters semi-final with Novak Djokovic on March 28th, said he had felt no pain during the match which he won in just under two hours against the 45th-ranked Spaniard.

General Motors asks bankruptcy court for protection from ignition claims before bankruptcy

DETROIT - General Motors Co. is asking a U.S. bankruptcy judge to shield it from legal claims for actions that took place before the company's 2009 bankruptcy. But the reasons behind a company motion filed late Monday are in dispute. GM says it's only asking the judge to bar claims that some of its cars lost value due to a huge ignition switch recall. But a lawyer who is suing GM says it's part of a broader strategy to force settlement of lawsuits alleging the faulty switches caused deaths and injuries.

FDA looks to accelerate development of medical implants for deadly diseases, rare conditions

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration unveiled a proposal Tuesday designed to speed up development and approval of medical devices that treat life-threatening diseases and debilitating conditions. Under the Expedited Access Program, companies developing devices for critical and unmet medical needs would get earlier access to FDA staff to discuss their products. The agency says the earlier contact with regulators should result in "earlier access to safe and effective medical devices."

Amsterdam chief conductor Mariss Jansons to step down

The chief conductor of Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mariss Jansons, is to step down at the end of the season after leading the world-famous ensemble for a decade, the RCO announced on Tuesday. "Today... chief conductor Mariss Jansons informed the musicians and staff members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra that Maestro Jansons will resign his position after the 2014-2015 season," the RCO said in a statement.

Vessel safety agency overlooked safety violations: report

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- A government inspection has shown that the country's main agency in charge of ensuring the safety of maritime vessels overlooked safety violations by ship operators, a civic group said Tuesday. Citing a report on the inspection into the Korea Ship Safety Technology Authority, the Center for Freedom of Information said the agency overlooked safety violations by some local ship operators. The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries released the report after carrying out the inspection in October and November last year.

Korean ferry mate says couldn't reach lifeboat due to tilt

SEOUL (Reuters) - A crew member of a South Korean ferry than sank last Wednesday said the crew tried to launch lifeboats, but could not get near because of the tilt of the ship. News reports said he was a second mate but did not provide his name. He was one of four who have been detained and charged with negligence. The four stood with heads hanging low as they were questioned outside a court where he was questioned by prosecutors.
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