• Argentina Navy/EPA(NEW YORK) --  Family members of the 44 sailors aboard a missing Argentine sub were told that their loved ones were believed to be dead, one of the family members told ABC News Thursday.Itati Leguizamon, whose husband German Suarez was aboard the ARA San Juan, said the families had been given the grim news.Outside the ship's destination in Mar del Plata, where family members gathered, a brother of one of the missing sailors was heard screaming "They killed my brother!"The news came as Argentine naval officials said that a sound that was detected during the desperate search for the sub, which vanished last week in the South Atlantic Ocean, was consistent with an explosion.The vessel was last heard from Nov. 15 and officials feared that it would run out of oxygen soon.According to the Argentine navy officials, the sound, described as "consistent with a non-nuclear explosion" that was "abnormal, singular, short, violent" was detected just three hours after the last known communication.The sound, which occurred about 270 miles east of the Gulf of San Jorge in the southern part of the country, was picked up by U.S. sensors and international agencies that are capable of detecting nuclear explosions.According to the officials the site of the detected noise has a radius of 77 miles and a possible depth of approximately 650-10,000 feet.The officials do not believe the sound resulted from an attack or terrorism and said there was an indication on the morning of the last known communication of an electrical fault in the vessel.According the officials, there would not be a debris field because an explosion at that depth would be considered an implosion.Rescuers had been searching a 186,000 square mile area off the coast and rough weather had hampered their efforts.The vessel had been en route to Mar del Plata from a base in Ushia, Argentina.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Five hundred students stand in front of the school's main gate. With determined attitude, they take off their school uniform jackets, raise their fists in the air and, with all their might, yell as loud as they can. Their voices together form a loud thunder. But this eye-catching performance is not a prep rally for a football or basketball game -- it's South Korea's annual event to cheer on students who take the college entrance exam.As part of the country's tradition, on the day before the national exam, high schools in South Korea throw exuberant ceremonies to cheer up students who leave for the exam. The eve of the exam is considered an important part of test preparation. Students check out their seats at the exam site so they won’t get lost on the biggest day of their lives.South Korea is a competitive country where nearly 70 percent of high school graduates enter college. This year, nearly 590,000 students sat for Thursday's exam -- officially called the College Scholastic Ability Test -- that will most likely determine their paths to a successful career.Due to its grave importance, the whole country pays sharp attention to make sure there is no interference in the exam. Even airplane landings and departures are held back during the hours of English listening tests to prevent any fuss. The country's stock market even opens late.This year, the college entrance exam was delayed a week for safety concerns. A series of earthquakes hit the southeastern part of Korea on the eve of exam leading to the first postponement in the exam’s 24-year existence.Cheering ahead of this year’s examination was extra loud to give test takers more emotional support.High school sophomores and juniors in South Korea cheer for their seniors in various ways. There are flags and chants in each school to reflect their school tradition and characteristics. Among those, Joongdong High School’s event is famous for being the biggest and the loudest.Student council members play a key role in managing this cheering. The chants and routines go on for 30 minutes. The highlight of this once-a-year event is when they form a huge circle together and roll their feet on the ground for the final chant. After that, most of them are soaked in sweat despite the sub-freezing temperatures.First graders in Joongdong High school volunteer to cheer for the seniors. At the beginning of a fall semester, student council members put up a notice to recruit those who want to participate in this traditional event upheld for more than a decade. For months, these students give up their lunch breaks just to practice chants and routines."Students come up with cheer routines to pass on the positive energy to seniors taking the exam," said Minha Kim, representative of the student council at Joongdong High School.As senior students pass by the enthusiastic cheering, teachers wait in front of the main gate. They give warm hugs and words of encouragement to ready their pupils for the big day. This elaborate cheering tradition is not only meaningful for the students themselves, but also teachers and parents. Some parents even light candles and pray for the success of their children on the exams."Students take high pride in this cheering for seniors," said Hong-ju Kim, whose son takes the exam this year. "My son was one of the sophomores cheering, and now he’s taking the exam. It is very touching."The fervent longing for their school seniors to excel on the exams continues until the actual day of the examination. Excited and nervous at the same time, the cheering squad gather on the eve of the test day and wait overnight in front of the designated exam sites to greet seniors early in the morning from the best spot."I was moved by the cheering in front of the gate," said Jun-yong Lee, a senior at Joongdong High School taking the college entrance exam this year. "The cheers gave me strength and I want to do well on the exam to not
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Hospital records from a young North Korean soldier who defected earlier this month offer telling details about health problems in the closed country.The soldier had both parasitic infections and a dangerous hepatitis infection -- conditions that speak to the poor sanitation and rough conditions those in the hermit nation experience on a day-to-day basis.The most shocking details, perhaps, are the reports of large parasitic worms, some measuring 11 inches, recovered from the 24-year-old’s intestines.“An estimated five million people in North Korea have intestinal roundworms, that’s 20 percent of the population,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor.Doctors found the parasites -- likely Ascaris roundworms -- when repairing intestinal damage from multiple bullet wounds the soldier sustained during his escape. The eggs of these worms are frequently found in the soil, especially in developing countries that use human waste as an inexpensive fertilizer. Once inside the body, these eggs hatch to form larvae, eventually developing into large, mature worms that infect the small intestine. They can reach lengths of more than 13 inches.But despite the size of these creatures, Ascaris roundworm infections may not be accompanied by noticeable symptoms. However, Hotez said they can lead to malnutrition in those infected. In children, this can lead to developmental delays and short stature."Instead of feeding the kid, you’re feeding the worms," said Hotez. "They rob children of nutrition."Multiple large worms in an infected person, however, can also cause intestinal blockages, and these worms can travel to the nearby liver, gallbladder, or pancreas and cause damage and inflammation to these organs as well, Hotez said.While dramatic in appearance, roundworm infections are easy to treat, generally requiring only a single dose of anti-parasitic medication.Likewise, another parasitic worm infection the soldier reportedly had, Toxocara, is also fairly easily treated. Toxocara is a parasite similar to Ascaris, though it is normally found in the intestines of dogs and cats; the worms do not usually grow as large in the intestines of humans. The larvae of these parasites often migrate to other organs in the body –- often the liver, brain, lungs and eyes –- causing damage to the affected organs.But even more problematic than these parasitic infections are reports that the soldier was also infected with hepatitis B, a viral infection of the liver that can lead to life-threatening cirrhosis if untreated.The soldier is just the latest case report of health problems among hundreds of other refugees and defectors from North Korea. Past reports have shown that many who have successfully fled suffer from these maladies, as well as tuberculosis, a common and frequently difficult to treat lung infection.Studies comparing North Korean defectors to other refugee populations found they were more likely to be underweight -- and another estimated that about one-third of North Korean children under the age of 5 is malnourished. Dental and vision problems, such as cataracts, are also frequently reported.Though the reclusive nature of the country limits what is known about its active and ongoing health problems, Hotez said these health issues are common to other places in the world that face devastating economic conditions.“These are not unique to North Korea,” he said. “These are all infections that are extremely common in the poorest parts of Asia. Toxocara is found in poor neighborhoods in the United States, as well.”Worm eradication programs were successfully implemented in South Korea following the Korean War, Hotez added, and pharmaceutical companies have been willing to donate global supply of anti-parasitic drugs to countries in need.Other conditions afflicting North Koreans, such as hepatitis B, are completely
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The North Korean soldier who was captured on video defecting to the South is enjoying watching South Korean music videos and the American movie "Transformers 3," his doctor says.
    Read more...
  • Masfiqur Sohan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state as ethnic cleansing for the first time on Wednesday. Tillerson did not use the term during his brief visit to Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, on Nov. 15, deciding only after visiting and analyzing the situation to describe the situation that way.What does declaring the violence ethnic cleansing do in effect?In reality, the new descriptor does not immediately accomplish much. Ethnic cleansing is a term that is not legally defined by U.S. or international law. A declaration does not trigger any sort of obligation or consequence.For now, State Department officials said they are looking into targeted sanctions against individuals who may have carried out violence if the specific allegations can be confirmed. Some sanctions placed on Burma in 1998 due to anti-democratic activities of a military junta were lifted in 2016.State officials said they expect the determination to "increase pressure" on the civilian government and military in Myanmar to reach an agreement on repatriating the 600,000 or so Rohingya who have fled as refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.Who is perpetrating the ethnic cleansing?Though ethnic cleansing has been declared, the perpetrator has not been defined as the Myanmar military. State Department officials said there are a number of "potential sources" of conflict, including both military forces and vigilante groups.What will happen to the victims of the violence?The State Department is focusing on returning the Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh as refugees back to their homes. Even still, officials acknowledge that repatriating even a few hundred Rohingya per day would mean the process could last for years -- a huge logistical challenge at this point. The department will focus on voluntary repatriation, meaning they realize many Rohingya might not want to return to their former homes.Last week, Tillerson announced an additional $47 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected, bringing the total amount spent to aid the victims since August of last year to $87 million.Why aren't broader sanctions being imposed?Broader sanctions remain a challenge, as State Department officials are wary of hindering the fragile civilian government in Myanmar, which has shared power with the military as laid out in the Burmese Constitution about 18 months ago. Transition of power to the fledgling civilian government is a delicate process and could benefit all the persecuted civilian groups in Myanmar -- if it can be accomplished.What is Aung San Suu Kyi doing about the crisis?The State Department had little to say about the role of the de facto civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who many have criticized for not doing enough to stem the violence. State Department officials look to Suu Kyi's leadership but did not lay out a specific goal or role for her to play.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A U.S. Navy aircraft with 11 passengers and crew crashed into the Philippine Sea on Wednesday on its return to the USS Ronald Reagan, according to the Navy's 7th Fleet. Eight of the 11 have been rescued and are in good condition, the Navy said.Search and rescue efforts continue for the other three people onboard the aircraft when it went down.The crash, which took place about 500 nautical miles (575 miles) southeast of Okinawa, Japan, happened at 2:45 p.m. local time, which is 12:45 a.m. ET.The USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations, the Navy said.The cause of the crash is unknown.The Navy said the C2-A aircraft was conducting "a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan."The USS Ronald Reagan is currently operating in the Philippine Sea. The ship was taking part in Annual Exercise 2017 (AE17), a bilateral field-training exercise with the Japanese Navy conducted in waters off Japan from Nov. 16 to Nov. 26.It is one of three carriers currently operating in the area, along with the USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt. They took part in a military exercise a little over a week ago as a show of strength toward North Korea.The accident is the latest in a series of disasters in 2017 for the 7th Fleet, which is stationed in Japan. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water. The USS Lake Champlain collided with South Korean fishing boat on May 9.Seven U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Yokosuka on June 17.And the deadliest accident came on Aug. 21, when 10 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS John S. McCain collided with commercial vessel Alnic MC in waters east of Singapore, according to the Navy.The commander of the 7th Fleet was removed of his command in late August following the USS John S. McCain accident. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was relieved of duty due to a "loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to the Navy.
    Read more...