slice of life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1977

The worst civil aviation disaster in history took place in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, when two jumbo jets collided head-on and burst into flames, killing more than 500 passengers and crew.

Ninety-five per cent of the dead were burned beyond recognition.

Only 72 of the 645 passengers and crew survived the fiery collision as both planes prepared to take off from the island.

The planes involved were a Pan American 747 and a Dutch KLM plane. All the survivors, including the captain, were on board the American plane.

The accident occurred in heavy fog, which cut visibility to less than 20 metres. Both planes had been diverted to Santa Cruz de Tenerife because of a bomb explosion on a neighbouring island.

The head of the Dutch team investigating the disaster said the KLM plane took off without receiving final clearance from the control tower.

A Pan Am spokesman said that when the collision took place, the American jumbo was taxiing down the same runway, and was about 120 metres from the point where it was due to turn off the runway.

He said the KLM plane was gathering speed for takeoff at the time.

It was probably true, he said, that the Dutch pilot tried to lift his plane off the ground to jump over the Pan Am jumbo - and thus saved the lives of those who survived on the American airliner.

Karen Ann Quinlan turned 23 almost a year after the New Jersey Supreme Court gave her parents the right to let her die, in a landmark ruling.

A spokesman for the nursing home where she lived said she remained unconscious, breathing without the help of a respirator that had sustained her for more than a year.

Quinlan fell into a coma after taking a mixture of alcohol and tranquillizers at a party in 1975.

She was taken off the respirator after the Supreme Court made a precedent-setting decision allowing her parents to let their daughter die rather than live in a 'chronic vegetative state'.

She did not die immediately, and doctors said she could remain comatose indefinitely.

Quinlan took another nine years to die.

Families earning low wages were willing to contribute to a social insurance scheme, according to the chairman of the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee.

He said the need for a social insurance scheme was becoming more urgent as more workers moved into the 40-60 age bracket, where it became difficult to find employment.

He doubted whether the government could afford to finance a scheme from general revenue comprehensive enough to benefit the group.

Hong Kong, a centre of enterprise, industry and growth, had nothing in the way of creative architecture to reflect its unique nature, in the opinion of six leading Hong Kong architects.

The anonymous architects, with collective experience in cities on five continents, expressed amazement that Hong Kong, a spectacular site with the potential of being an architectural showplace, was so lacking in visual stimulation.

Four young women rode prize horses through picket lines in Epsom to carry donated food to a few of the thousands of sick people caught in a wildcat labour strike.

Hospital workers and visitors not affected by the walkout in Surrey County, southwest of London, cheered the three teenagers and their 21-year-old leader as they rode unmolested through the gates.

The Press Association, Britain's domestic news agency, dubbed their action 'the charge of the lunch brigade'.

A watchman was charged with attempting to obtain a Mark Six prize from the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club by presenting and uttering a forged ticket.

He was accused of trying to obtain $44,046 with the forgery.

He pleaded not guilty and was remanded in jail.