5 Resolutions Every Avid Traveler Should Make for Earth Day



5 Resolutions Every Avid Traveler Should Make for Earth Day

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Since the annual event was first celebrated in 1970, people around the globe have participated by hosting environmental cleanup projects, planting trees, or speaking to lawmakers about how to protect the planet. But what about travel? “The Independent” reports that tourism is responsible for one-tenth of the planet’s carbon emissions. What can travelers do to decrease their carbon footprint and make their global excursions more eco-friendly? Here are five resolutions you can make for your next trip in honor of Earth Day.

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Credit: evanthewise/ Unsplash

Staying hydrated when you travel is a must. It can help you battle jet lag and ward off illnesses while on the road. How you stay hydrated can have a big impact on the planet though. “The Guardian” reported in 2017 that people buy one million plastic bottles every minute. While the materials that make those bottles are mostly recyclable, fewer than half of the bottles get recycled and approximately 7% of them get used to make new bottles.

So what can you do to stay hydrated? Switch to a reusable water bottle. While you might have limited packing space, you can buy plastic, metal, or glass reusable water bottles with a carabiner clip on them. This will allow you to easily attach the bottle to your backpack, purse, or suitcase so that you have it wherever you go. You’ll find a lot of places to fill it up too. More public places are offering free water bottle refills to encourage the use of refillable containers.

Eat Local When You Can

Eat Local When You Can

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Trying new foods is part of the adventure to a new destination. What, how, and where you choose to eat, however, could have a negative impact on the planet. A study published by the University of Sheffield found that sweets, alcohol, and restaurant food were actually worse for the environment than meat consumption. Eating out contributes to an average of 0.8 tons of carbon in the environment each year, while meat consumption contributes an average of 0.3 tons.

While you’ll probably have to eat out when traveling, you can commit to making smarter choices about how you do it. First, ditch the fast-food chains. They typically have to ship in their food items from farther away, which increases the carbon footprint. Plus, most chains wrap their food in single-use items, which are bad for the environment. Choose to dine at restaurants that have a recycling policy and source their products locally as much as possible. Not only will you be making better choices for the environment, but you’ll also be eating more locally authentic meals. If you stay at an Airbnb or somewhere else with kitchen access, make some of your meals there too. You’ll cut down on waste and your travel costs.

Treat Your Hotel Like Home

Treat Your Hotel Like Home

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According to the United Nations (UN), the hotel industry is responsible for 1% of global carbon emissions. Things like energy consumption, water consumption, and single-use plastics are all major factors in how hotels are harming the planet. The UN is encouraging hotels around the world to adhere to guidelines that will help reduce their carbon emissions and waste.

How can travelers help? By treating their hotel like they would their own home. That means doing simple tasks like hanging up and reusing towels after a shower. While it used to be customary to get clean towels every day, hotels can cut out water and energy waste when guests choose to keep their towels for a few days. You should also turn off lights and air conditioning when you aren’t using them to keep the energy usage down in your room. These are small things you’d do in your own home, so continue to do them at your hotel. Also, don’t use the hotel’s shampoo and conditioner. Those single-use bottles get tossed into the trash — even if you only use a little bit of product.

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Use Public Transportation

Use Public Transportation

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When it comes to the environment, public transportation is a good thing. When you hop on a bus or a train, you minimize your carbon footprint — unlike when you use a personal car or a taxi. The “BBC” reports that using public transportation is the key to a cleaner environment. It gets people out of their cars and helps control climate change. The rapid growth of car usage is one of the main contributing factors to climate change.

Instead of renting a car on your next trip, head for the bus station. You’ll end up seeing a more authentic side of your vacation destination when you are traveling the way the locals do. Plus, it’s a lot more cost-effective for your travel budget. In most places, you can hop on a bus for a few dollars and travel without worrying about directions, gas prices, or where to park when you get there. Google Maps is a great source for helping you decipher bus routes.

Commit to Traveling Slowly

Commit to Traveling Slowly

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The element of travel that contributes the most to carbon emissions is traveling itself. “The New York Times” reports that the airline industry’s contribution to global emissions is growing faster than anyone expected — jumping 32% from 2013 to 2018. Concern over how much damage flights are doing to the planet have led to flight shaming, according to “Forbes.” Some activists are swearing off airline travel in favor of other methods. For the average traveler, however, flights are the only option for getting from point A to point B.

To cut down on how much your flying habits are contributing to pollution, then simply slow down. Instead of hopping from destination to destination during your next two-week vacation, opt to spend the entire time in one place. If you still want to move around, look for overground transportation options like trains and buses. Slowing down your travel allows you to immerse yourself in the culture instead of rushing to complete a busy itinerary. You might find you actually end up getting more out of a slower schedule.

Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US



Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US

Media caption The US President made the announcement from the Oval Office at the White House

US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address on Wednesday, he said all travel from Europe would be suspended for the next 30 days.

But he said the “strong but necessary” restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.

There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths.

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” Mr Trump said.

“The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,” he added.

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Mr Trump also announced plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small businesses, in an attempt to stymie the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on the US economy.

He also urged Congress to pass major tax relief measures as part of an “aggressive and comprehensive effort” to combat the virus.

“We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people,” he said.

What is the situation in the US?

Officials said the risk of infection was low for the general US public, but concern deepened after a number of new cases were confirmed earlier this month.

Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New Rochelle, just north of New York City, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.

The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told to self-isolate there.

The governor of Washington state has banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38 deaths across the country.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress that “it’s going to get worse”, and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.

High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic – many Americans avoid doctor’s visits because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available tests.

But Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that “any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders”, and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.

5 States Without Sales Tax



5 States Without Sales Tax

Sales taxes account for 30.1 percent of overall revenue at the state level. Unlike income taxes, which are managed at the federal level, sales taxes are handled by each individual state, which means some states don’t impose sales taxes at all. Here are the only five states that currently have no sales tax.



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Alaska is one of only two U.S. states without sales or income taxes. But, while there is no sales tax at the state level, local governments throughout Alaska have the right to impose taxes at their own discretion, and there are some areas of Alaska where a sales tax is charged on certain items.

You’ll need to pay attention as you travel through the vast state, as the taxes can be somewhat unpredictable as you do. If you’re in Anchorage or Fairbanks, you’ll pay no sales tax; if you travel to Juneau, you’ll pay a five percent sales tax on any item you purchase.



Credit: Christopher Boswell/ Shutterstock

We’re jumping straight from the largest U.S. state to one of the smallest — Delaware is the second smallest state in the U.S., measuring in at just 96 miles long. Unlike Alaska, Delaware makes up for a lack of sales tax by imposing fairly high income taxes. In fact, this little state has the 17th highest income tax in the nation. Delaware also relies heavily on excise taxes, which are taxes imposed on specific types of goods, services, or activities. For example, while there is no general sales tax, there are taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and gas.

One interesting facet of Delaware’s tax policy is its impact on the art scene. Art collectors and dealers often work here in order to avoid the high taxes imposed on art sales in other states. This appeal is part of what allows the state to continue not charging sales tax; businesses will often register in Delaware to avoid sales tax, meaning that the state gets a good amount of its revenue from corporate taxes instead.



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Montana may be nicknamed the Treasure State, but this moniker comes from its many mineral reserves, not from the money it rakes in from sales taxes. In fact, a significant portion of Montana’s tax receipts come from the taxes corporations need to pay when they mine in this state. The other biggest tax charge in Montana is income taxes.

Unlike most other states, individual jurisdictions in Montana cannot choose to collect sales taxes at their own discretion. Instead, Montana makes use of what is known as a resort and local option tax, which is a sales tax implemented in areas with a lot of tourist traffic but a low population. This type of tax, which affects lodging, restaurants, and recreational facilities, enables small towns to support large influxes of tourists without raising taxes for permanent residents. Only cities with populations of under 5,500 are allowed to use this tax — but given that Montana’s population density is just seven people per square mile, many areas meet this qualification.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire

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Along with Alaska, New Hampshire is one of the two states with no sales or income tax. The majority of New Hampshire’s tax receipts come, instead, from its property taxes, which are the third highest in the country.

In addition to its high property taxes, New Hampshire makes heavy use of excise taxes. Like Montana, local governments in New Hampshire cannot choose to charge sales taxes. Instead, the state as a whole taxes beer, electricity, tobacco, and gasoline. There is also a nine percent sales tax that is always charged on restaurant bills, car rentals, and hotel lodging. In addition to all of this, New Hampshire charges a 10 percent timber tax for trees chopped down in the state — although Christmas trees, fruit trees, nursery stock, ornamental trees, and sugar orchards are all exempt from this particular tax. All of these taxes combined make up a large portion of New Hampshire’s revenue.



Credit: Josemaria Toscano/ Shutterstock

Oregon is the most populous state on this list. Although it doesn’t charge a sales tax, Oregon does make use of excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and phone services. Local governments throughout the state also impose sales taxes in certain jurisdictions.

Despite its lack of statewide sales tax, Oregon does charge heavily in other areas. In fact, this state has the third highest income tax rate in the country, something it relies on to meet budgetary goals. This has led to Oregon being listed as one of the worst places to retire.

Oregon lawmakers aren’t actually all that happy about this tax situation. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, they have tried nine times to impose a sales tax — but all of these attempts were wildly unpopular among voters. Even one of the state’s most popular governors, Tom McCall, was unable to discuss a plan for imposing a sales tax without getting booed. Present day lawmakers are still trying to get a sales tax going in Oregon — but for now, this state remains sales-tax free.

Italy train crash: Two dead in high-speed derailment



Italy train crash: Two dead in high-speed derailment

Wreck of train - Italian police pictureImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe train derailed and apparently hit a building

Two people have been killed after a high-speed train derailed near the northern Italian city of Lodi, emergency services say.

Both of the dead are drivers. Two others, one of them a cleaner on the train, had significant but not life-threatening injuries.

The train was travelling from Milan to the southern city of Salerno.

All services on the Milan-Bologna high-speed route have been suspended and diverted via conventional lines.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Rome says that while there have been occasional crashes on Italy’s regional trains, this is the first such incident on its high-speed Frecciarossa – or Red Arrow – network, the country’s transport pride.

The trains run at 300 km/h (186 mph) and are generally efficient, punctual and safe.

Derailed trainImage copyright POLIZIA DI STATO
Image caption Several people were injured as carriages derailed

The engine left the tracks some 40 km (25 miles) from Milan at around 05:30 local time (04:30 GMT), the railway company said.

It apparently hit a freight wagon on a parallel track before running into a building and was separated from the rest of the train. Both it and the first carriage turned on their sides.

“I thought I was dead,” a survivor told local newspaper Liberta. “I closed my eyes and prayed.

“The train was going very fast… suddenly, I felt a violent blow. A really loud roar.”

The survivor added that he and a friend were stuck on the train for 15 minutes before escaping through a hole.

The causes of the accident are being investigated.

Ansa news agency said maintenance work was being carried out on the track where the accident happened.

There were 28 passengers on the train, Ansa said, a number of whom received minor injuries.

Lodi Prefect Marcello Cardona said the accident “could have been carnage” but there were relatively few passengers at the time, and no more fatalities were expected.

Fire services are at the scene.

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Brazil: Truckers promise national strike and claim betrayed by Bolsonaro



Truckers promise national strike and claim betrayed by Bolsonaro

“The government has not fulfilled anything it promised. The price of diesel fuel had 11 consecutive highs in 2019. We can no longer be fooled by Mr. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, who protects agribusiness and says the truck driver only knows how to destroy highways, ”says autonomous trucker leader Marconi France.

(Photo: Reuters)

247 – “Leader of the autonomous truck drivers, Marconi França said, this Friday (6/12) that, at 0h of next Monday (16), at least 70% of the 4.5 million autonomous professionals and celetistas will stop all over the country. The reason is the dissatisfaction of the category with the government of Jair Bolsonaro, which, according to France, did not fulfill what promised to the workers, “reports a report published in Correio Braziliense.

“The government has not fulfilled anything it promised. The price of diesel fuel had 11 consecutive highs in 2019. We can no longer be fooled by Mr. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, who protects agribusiness and says that the truck driver only knows how to destroy highways, ”complained France to the newspaper.

The truck driver also asks for the support of the population. “Of all who use gasoline, diesel oil and also cooking gas. Jair Bolsonaro forgets that we transport the products of industries and agribusiness, ”he said.

Woman and 2 kids in SUV die after collision with Amtrak train in Florida



Woman and 2 kids in SUV die after collision with Amtrak train in Florida

John Pacenti, Jodie Wagner and Julius Whigham II
Palm Beach Post

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A woman and two children, apparently heading camping, died Saturday when their SUV was struck by an Amtrak train at the entrance of the Corbett Wildlife Management Area in suburban Jupiter.

The victims were identified by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday morning as Valery Jo Rintamaki, 58, of West Palm Beach, and Trystan Prestano, 10, and Skylar Prestano, 8, of Wellington.

The railroad crossing had no gate and the tracks were just about 25 yards from the turn off Beeline Highway. There was a yield sign and two railroad markers but a driver entering Corbett was shielded from oncoming trains by brush.

Photos from the scene: Train collides with SUV in Florida

Rintamaki, driving a Subaru Outback, was traveling west on North Grade Road after turning left from Beeline Highway, and then slowed as she began crossing the railroad tracks, the sheriff’s office said. She failed to yield for the westbound train, which collided with the left side of the SUV.

Camping gear was strewn at the site of the collision along with the Subaru’s bumpers.

The northbound Amtrak train was carrying 200 passengers with a final destination of New York City. The impact of the crash pushed the SUV about a half mile before it came to rest, a mass of twisted wreckage.

“It sounded like a shotgun going off,” said Earl Megonigal, a check station operator at the wildlife management area. “Then we heard the train stopping and ran up there and saw all the car parts.”

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said crews responded at about 2 p.m. to the scene at the 18000 block of Beeline Highway. There were no reports of injuries to any of the Amtrak’s passengers and crew, Capt. Albert Borroto, spokesman for Palm Beach Fire Rescue said.

Fire Rescue called in a special operations unit to extract one of the deceased from the Subaru and crews began removing the vehicle shortly before 7 p.m.

After the car was detached from the front of the train, crews were seen making repairs with a welding torch in preparation for the train to continue its trip.

The Amtrak’s passenger cars were lit up, silhouetting the train against the swampland as all passengers remained aboard. According to a tweet from Amtrak, the train was back on the move shortly after 8 p.m. and “operating approximately 6 hours late.”

Amtrak said in a statement that Train 92 was traveling from Miami to New York when it made contact with a vehicle on the tracks. There were no reported injuries to the 200 passengers or crew, said Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds.

Megonigal said that previous crashes involving trains at the Corbett crossing have prompted calls for improved safety measures.

“Everybody has been saying for years we need some sort of crossing gate,” he said.” It’s dangerous there. Trains come flying by. ”

Why the Tesla Cybertruck Looks So Weird



If Raphael Zammit is being perfectly honest, his first reaction when someone texted him a photo of Tesla’s new Cybertruck was horror. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! What did Tesla do?’” he says. “What did they do?”

Zammit isn’t just a neutral observer. He heads the MFA Transportation Design program at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and has been involved in automotive design for a quarter century. And to him, the Cybertruck is “extreme.”

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“It literally breaks every rule we tell to our students,” Zammit says. “It’s what we tell them not to do.” No, this is not a truck built for truck designers.

For example: See the top of the vehicle up there, and how thin it is? See the truck’s fine, narrow D-pillar, the slanted back stand that supports the roof? Based on all the triangles involved, there’s no reason to believe that the top of the truck is weak. But the thinness makes it appear to be. Zammit says he and other automotive designers teach students to add a little extra something to make the vehicle look stable, to look strong—even if it doesn’t add much to the engineering.

Yep, this is a vehicle design without compromises. That might be why the initial reaction to the truck, seemingly built to haul carcasses in a postapocalyptic videogame, was a collective “wut.” Those design choices also diverge dramatically from the other products in Tesla’s decade-long existence. Even its Semi, unveiled two years ago and meant to start rolling off production lines next year, is made of elegant, swooping lines.

interior of Tesla Truck
The interior of the Cybertruck Tesla unveiled Thursday.


With the Cybertruck (or CYBRTRCK, as Musk styles it), all that refinement goes out the slightly spider-webbed window. “Other car companies keep their form language very consistent for 100 years,” says Lee Walton, a vehicle designer who teaches at Finland’s Lahti University of Applied Sciences. “To completely change the form language at this point in [Tesla’s] history is very, very unusual.”

Here’s another reason the Cybertruck may seem strange: It doesn’t look like it has all of the necessary elements to make it road-ready. The model shown onstage on Thursday night didn’t have side mirrors, which are required in the US (though the federal government is considering changing the rule). Its headlights, a strip of illumination, wouldn’t be street legal. Automotive engineering experts say they’re also worried about the lack of a visible “crumple zone,” built to collapse and absorb the brunt of the force in a forward collision. Tesla did not respond to questions about whether the truck’s design would change before it goes into production in 2021.

For these reasons, the Cybertruck feels more like a concept car, says Walton, and “a really interesting one.” Other carmakers produce “concepts all the time, but then they don’t list them on their website with a ‘buy now’ button.” Yes, you can reserve your Cybertruck right now for $100.

And yet: Zammit, the auto design instructor, thinks the Cybertruck just might be brilliant. His horror turned to a kind of admiration when he heard about the price: $39,900 for the base model, and $49,900 for the dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 300-plus mile range.

Zammit realized then that the truck’s DeLorean-mated-with-a-Pontiac-Aztek aesthetic might be an effort to streamline the manufacturing process. “By being philosophically so pure and so functional, Tesla has completely eliminated a very large part of what is the traditional automotive assembly,” he says. The company might cut down on expensive tool and die costs by keeping all elements of the car flat, straight, and, frankly, a little weird looking. “Musk might be pulling off one of the most brilliant moves in automotive history,” he says.

Still, someone has to buy the thing to make it successful, and the departure from the usual Tesla brand is confusing. Musk and company have positioned themselves as a bulwark against globe-wracking climate change. But this truck doesn’t look hopeful. Tom Matano, who teaches industrial design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, calls the whole thing “anti-humanistic” (though notes he’d like to see the truck on the road before he can really judge it.) Blade Runner, which Musk has said helped inspire his newest creation, is about lab-grown humanoids created to be slaves.

The Cybertruck says, “Pack up your blasters, honey—let’s get the hell out of here.” Maybe that’s the genius, though, to make a truck for the sort of people who might not think of Tesla otherwise. Does that person exist? At the very least, says Walton, “I really admire the balls.”

Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain



Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain

Vietnamese police accelerate illegal immigration probe following lorry deaths in Britain


Bui Phan Chinh, father of 37-year-old of Bui Phan Thang who is feared to be among the 39 people found dead in a truck in Britain, sits outside his house in Hong Linh district of Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province on October 29, 2019.

Police of Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province have detained two individuals following reports of local families seeking for their missing relatives in Britain.

The provincial police have instituted legal proceedings against one among them for organizing, brokering illegal immigration and residence in foreign countries, Vietnam News Agency reported on Friday, quoting deputy head of Ha Tinh police Nguyen Tien Nam as saying.

Local police are also collecting testimony from others related to the case, Nam said, adding that they are working with the Ministry of Public Security and police of other localities to further investigate the case.

The investigation, which was officially announced on Thursday, follows reports of 10 families in the province who lost contact with their relatives on the way to Britain after the Essex lorry incident.

Ha Tinh authorities have collected DNA samples from members of those families to send to Britain for victim identification.

On Thursday, police of Vietnam’s central Thua Thien Hue province also pressed criminal charges and instituted legal proceedings against three Vietnamese individuals for organizing and brokering illegal immigration, Vietnam News Agency reported.

A resident from the province was duped into paying the trio over 36,000 U.S. dollars to immigrate to the United States.

Earlier on October 26, police of central Nghe An province filed the same charges against four people, who between 2015 and 2019 received hundreds of thousands dollars from more than 400 people without sending anyone abroad, local online newspaper VnExpress cited Nghe An police as reporting.

Pakistan: 73 People Die From Fire On Train



Seventy-three people have died after a moving train in Pakistan caught fire when two stoves being used by passengers to cook food exploded, a senior Pakistani railway official, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider.

Pakistani officials first reported the fire at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The train is known as the Tezgam train and was traveling from the city of Karachi across the country to Rawalpindi.

A further 47 people were injured as three of the train’s carriages caught fire when it was approaching the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab, the official added.

Pakistan Train Fire
A map showing the route of the train and the location where the fire broke out. 
Google Maps.

Pakistan’s minister for railways, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said the fire started from a gas cylinder that was used by the passengers to cook breakfast, according to the BBC.

“Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had [cooking] oil, which added fuel to fire,” Ahmed said, according to the BBC.

Survivors reported it took the train over 20 minutes to stop after the fire broke out, and some pulled emergency cords and ran to notify the conductor farther down the train, according to the Associated Press.

According to several local news reports, many of the victims jumped to their death as the train was still moving.

Video footage from AFP shows the scorched remains of the carriages that caught fire. Rescue teams can be seen on the scene:

The Pakistani Army dispatched doctors and paramedics to assist with rescue missions and sent helicopters to the scene of the incident to evacuate the critically injured, according to the local news site The Express Tribune.

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan offered their condolences to the victims of the train fire.

Khan said an immediate inquiry had been ordered “to be completed on an urgent basis” on the incident.

Imran Khan


Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train. My condolences go to the victims’ families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.

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According to the BBC, many of the passengers were traveling to the city of Raiwind to attend a major religious festival hosted by the Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Muslim missionary movement.

China completes world’s longest cross-sea road-rail bridge



China completes world’s longest cross-sea road-rail bridge

China completes world's longest cross-sea road-rail bridge


An aerial photo taken on September 21 shows the construction site of the Pingtan Strait Road-rail Bridge in China’s southeastern Fujian Province.

China on Wednesday completed the main structure of the world’s longest cross-sea road-rail bridge in its southeastern province of Fujian.

The last steel truss girder, weighing 473 tonnes, was bolted on the Pingtan Strait Road-rail Bridge, another mega project in China, on Wednesday morning.

Hundreds of bridge builders clad in orange overalls, as well as government officials, hailed the completion on the bridge deck, with several rounds of fireworks being set off to celebrate the moment.

With a staggering span of 16.34 km, the bridge connects Pingtan Island and four nearby islets to the mainland of Fujian Province.

The bridge, which is expected to open to traffic next year, can help shorten travel time from two hours to half an hour between Fuzhou, capital city of Fujian Province and Pingtan, a pilot zone set up to facilitate trade and cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.

“Of all the bridges being built across the world, this is no doubt the most challenging,” said Wang Donghui, chief engineer of the project, adding that it is China’s first and the world’s longest cross-sea road-rail bridge.

The project has attracted worldwide attention from the start of construction in 2013 as it spans an area off the coast of southeast China long seen as a “no-go zone” for bridge-building.

The region has strong gales and high waves for most of the year and is known as one of the world’s three most perilous seas along with Bermuda and the Cape of Good Hope.

Workers had to battle the notoriously strong winds, choppy waters and rugged seabed in the region to drill 1,895 piles into the ocean.

More than mega project

The road-rail bridge has a six-lane highway on the top and a high-speed railway at the bottom, which is designed to support bullet trains traveling as fast as 200 km per hour. It is a part of the 88-km Fuzhou-Pingtan railway.

In the past, Pingtan was a backwater island of humble fisheries. It did not even have a bridge connecting it to the mainland until 2010 when the Strait Bridge began operating for cars only.

In 2010, China established the Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone to facilitate cross-Strait exchange and cooperation, ramping up its efforts to improve the island’s infrastructure.

Today, skyscrapers are popping up all along the shoreline, with the glow of construction work filling the night sky. Meanwhile, thousands of Taiwan residents swarm into the booming island to live and start businesses.

The island has accommodated more than 1,000 shops and companies set up by Taiwan residents, according to government statistics.

Chen Chien-hsiang, a 29-year-old man who moved from Taiwan to Pingtan two years ago, believes that the new bridge will help attract more businesses to the island and further boost its economic development.

“The new bridge means more than a mere mega project,” Chen said. “It also promises a brighter future for people from Taiwan who chose to live and work here.”

Infrastructure maniac

Huang Zhiwei, 22, found himself making history by lifting the last piece of the bridge girder from a ship about 80 meters below the bridge deck, an undertaking that he had never expected when he joined the project a year ago as an intern.

His parents, unhappy about their son’s career choice, felt relieved after several video chats during which their son showed them his working and living conditions at the construction site.

“With so many advanced technologies and safety measures, I am convinced that we will accomplish the mission, and I am very proud of my contribution,” said the young operator.

More than 1.24 million tonnes of steel have been used for the bridge, enough to build 190 Eiffel Towers, and 2.97 million cubic meters of cement, nine times the amount of cement used to build the Burj Khalifa towers in Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

“We could not possibly have realized the construction 15 years ago for lack of advanced construction technologies and equipment such as the drilling machine and ship cranes we have developed today,” said Xiao Shibo, an engineer of the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co., Ltd. The bridge has made history in many aspects, Xiao added.

China is dubbed as an “infrastructure maniac” for countless dazzling megaprojects, with the Chinese builders breaking their own world records.

China is home to the world’s highest bridge, longest cross-sea bridge and 90 out of the 100 highest bridges built this century.

From 2015 to 2020, China’s transportation investment is expected to exceed 15 trillion yuan (US$2.1 trillion), with a substantial portion reserved for bridge construction.