The Observer from London, Greater London, England on August 16, 1987 · 6
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The Observer from London, Greater London, England · 6

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 16, 1987
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6 THE OBSERVER, SUNDAY 16 AUGUST 1987 Hidden eyes in sky to spy on hijackers HIDDEN ' eye in the sky ' cameras are being installed in passenger aircraft as part of the war against terrorism . Two foreign airlines have bought British-built pinhole cameras which can transmit pictures from inside a hijacked plane to a receiver in a James Bond-style attache case. British Airways and British Caledonian are considering fitting the hidden cameras on their international jets. A Government anti-hijack committee is also investigating radio-controlled cameras, and is likely to recommend that they be built into new aircraft bought by British airlines. The ' eye in the sky ' consists of video cameras which require only a tiny aperture, making them almost impossible to detect. They are able to operate in virtual darkness while their built-in microphones pick up conversation. The crew would not be told the locations of the hidden cameras, which could number from four to 20. There would be no way that the crew could control, the system, so the hijackers would be unable to get the cameras switched off by threatening them. The ' eye in the sky " would be activated by radio command from outside the aircraft. Its pictures would reveal the number of hijackers, their weaponry and their mental state, as well as the condition of the passengers. If a decision were made to tor VTIONAL BUHJWKr, SOCIETY. MORTGAGE SERVICES DEPARTMENT. 201 GRAFTON GATE EAST, MILTON Ml wmro 'I'-Uils ur jvjiubk- bum address ibove. All mortgages subject to status and valuation. by MARTIN BAILEY storm the aircraft, the pictures would enable troops to know precisely where the hijackers would be found. This would reduce the risks of passengers being hurt during an armed assault. The only 'eye in the sky' system in operation is ' Medusa,' developed by Grantham-based Contemporary Systems Design. It transmits instantaneous pictures to a portable receiver Ground control : How cabin """S ..... 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Repayment can be over a maximum of 25 years or up to retirement for a pension mortgage. which can be installed in an airport control tower. Contemporary Systems Design began work on the 20,000-an-aircraft Medusa cameras after the Egyptair hijack two years ago, when 57 passengers were killed as the plane was stormed in Malta. Medusa has recently been installed on 31 aircraft belonging to two major airlines, one European and the other Middle Eastern. movement is monitored AS3EY NATIONAL MORTGAGE SERVICE youi're Eookin to one Another ' eye in the sky ' is marketed by Uxbridge-based Saysen, which claims that its 50,000 system is being bought : by four major airlines. Its cameras beam pictures on the aircraft's radio frequency, which can be picked up at a base station anywhere in the world. The Saysen system also enables base station operators to control most of the aircraft's equipment. ' We could alter the fuel gauge to give the hijackers the impression the tanks were empty. We could even fly the aircraft by remote control without the pilot lifting a finger,' according to Saysen's chairman, Mr Tony Crabb. The British Airline Pilots Association has given a guarded welcome to the hidden cameras as long as they do not become 'spies' in the sky. Chairman Mr Michael Clarke said his members would accept the new equipment ' providing it is used solely for security purposes, and management does not use them for monitoring our work.' Officially the Government is saying little. ' At present we do not have a view. It is a matter for individual airlines,' a Department of Transport spokesman said. But behind the scenes Whitehall has shown considerable interest in the hidden cameras. The National Aviation Security Committee, an inter-departmental group, is now investigating the 'eye in the sky ' and is likely to make a recommendation in the autumn. Of Instant quotation. Ask us for an instant quotation. 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FOCUS ON DESPAIR: One frustrations of DHSS benefits claimants now on show in an exhibition at the National Theatre in London, until 19 September. w ABB ATI of 'Observer' photographer Neil Libbert's studies of the EC rules may slam door on refugees by JOHN MERRITT REFUGEES from torture and oppression will fall prey to new European plans aimed at fighting terror ism, drugs and the spread of Aids, claim human rights agencies. The new policies are already being drawn up by Justice and Interior Ministers of the European Community in preparation for free movement of Community citizens from 1992. Reports from the high' powered body responsible for coming up with the new guidelines have already been used to push forward the British Carriers' Liability Law, which fines airlines 1,000 for every passenger requiring a visa but brought in without one. Amnesty International has condemned the legislation as an effective ban on real refugees who are not able to obtain travel documents. Amnesty and international refugee organisations believe further laws could block fcur ope's doors to the majority of genuine asylum seekers within the next five years. But refugee agencies are not allowed consultation with the main policy makers. Most of the policy meetings are held in closed sessions by a body known as Trevi, based in Brussels. The name stands for Terrorism, Radicalism, Extremism and Violence and the body has been briefed to look at controls in those areas Trevi has refused representation, from human rights agencies and takes its lead instead from customs bodies, police and security experts. Mr Philip Rudge, general secretary of the European Consultation on Refugees and Exiles, which co-ordinates 45 agencies, including the Red Cross and national refugee councils, said : New policies are being raced through on the basis of highly secret initiat ives from Trevi. ' We are extremely alarmed by these developments, which are clearly intended further to restrict access to asylum seekers on the grounds of terrorism, drug tratncKing and Aids.' Mr Martin Barber, director of the British Refugee Council, said : ' We are in grave danger of dealing with human rights by deterrent, not help. It is part of a comprehensive policy that says asylum-seekers should go to neighbouring Third World countries.' The Home Office said tightened regulations are necessary ' to make sure that our immigration controls remain effective in the face of chancing international pressures.' But the number of refugees getting through to Britain and appealing for asylum is falling drastically, from about 4,000 last year to just over 1,000 in the first seven months of this year. Africa facing risk of more gas disasters ROBIN McKIE Science Correspondent A YEAR AGO, Sule Umare, a young Cameroon cattle herder, survived a cataclysm that wiped out most of his family and tribe as they lay in their huts. ' We thought that rain was coming, ' he recalled. ' I went out and saw the moon shining. I wondered about how rain could come without clouds : I started exclaiming " Allah Akbar" and then I fell.' Sule was a victim of a tidal wave of carbon dioxide and water particles that swept over his village from nearby Lake Nyos on the evening of 21 August, 1986. The toxic wave contained about 85 million cubic feet of gas and 200,000 gallons of water, and poured into valleys, killing 1,700 people. Only a handful, including Sule, survived West Africa's worst natural calamity. Now, exactly 12 months later, British scientists who investigated the catastrophe revealed that it could have been prevented. They have also warned that other lakes in Cameroon and nearby Nigeria could also erupt with similar death tolls. Seeps up They say the only solution is to build special pipelines and pumps that will stop carbon dioxide building up in the lakes. However, no efforts are being made at present to implement such measures even though they would protect hundreds of thousands of people now at risk from carbon dioxide poisoning. The British team presented its report to the Foreign Office earlier this year. Contrary to speculation at the time, it concluded that the disaster, in the remote highlands of equatorial Cameroon, was not caused by a volcanic eruption of poison gas. 'The problem comes from carbon dioxide that seeps up through the Earth's crust in this part of the world,' said one investigator, geologist Dr Sam Freeth, of University College, Swansea. ' The gas gets dissolved in lakes. In very deep ones, such as Nyos, a great deal of carbon dioxide is forced into solution by the huge pressures at the bottom of the lake.' When this solution nears saturation it becomes unstable, the scientists say. ' Only a slight disturbance in lake conditions would trigger a catastrophic release of gas at this pressure,' Dr Freeth said. ' For instance, a strong wind over the surface could have been sufficient, ' although we may never find the exact trigger of the Nyos disaster.' The overturn of this deep layer of carbon dioxide solution Why afternoon nappers can take heart ANNABEL FERRIMAN Health Correspondent PEOPLE who enjoy a quiet snooze after their Sunday lunch may be doing themselves some good. New research shows that a 30-minute siesta could reduce the risk of heart attack by 30 per cent. Doctors have long known that the relaxed - inhabitants of Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece have fewer heart attacks than their tense neighbours in northern Europe. Various ideas have been put forward to explain this, such as the life-prolonging effects of garlic and olive oil. Now, some Greek doctors, in between their siestas, have tried to discover whether an afternoon doze could be one reason. They compared a group of 90 patients with heart disease to 90 without, and found that many more of the healthy people were afternoon nappers. The researchers, from the University of Athens medical school, do not suggest that this, by itself, is the whole story. Summarising their findings in The Lancet, they point out that those with heart disease also had higher blood pressure, more cholesterol in their blood and drank more coffee, although, surprisingly, they smoked less. But they do report ' a strong and significant association ' between an afternoon sleep and a reduction in coronary heart disease. The longer the nap, moreover, the less likely the patient was to have suffered a heart attack. Their findings confirm earlier research by the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich that an afternoon rest comes naturally to most people. Researchers at the institute incarcerated a team of human guinea pigs in sleep laboratories for three consecutive days and nights and observed their sleep- caused the gas to be released as it rose to the surface and the pressure dropped. 'At the surface, the release of gas. transformed the accompanying water into a fine mist and sent a wave of water crashing across the lake,' the report says. ' The water and carbon dioxide swept down the valleys to the north of the lake through Nyos and on to Subum, Cha and Fang, leaving a terrible toll of injury and death in its wake. ' Air contains small amounts of carbon dioxide but at the high concentration found in the Nyos tidal wave it was toxic. The fumes killed victims in villages and market towns over a huge area within a minute, while those who survived often suffered gas burns. Others were injured as they fell. At the time, the disaster was considered to be unprecedented. Yet there had been several warnings. In particular, an identical carbon dioxide eruption occurred at Lake Monoun in Cameroon in 1984 but was not properly investigated because the death toll 37 people was considered low. ' Had a full-scale study been done, we might then have realised the extent of this problem,' said Dr Freeth. 'In fact, there are about 60 or so lakes in Cameroon and Nigeria, any of which might be at risk. Some are too shallow to allow carbon dioxide to build up, but several must be deep enough. Certainly, it is very unlikely that there are not at least half a dozen lakes in this region that do not pose a serious threat to life.' These dangers can be resolved, maintain the scientists. The construction of pumping stations would permit the removal of gas-saturated water layers from the bottom of affected lakes. ' The British Government could do more but there is also a need for some greater international effort to solve this very worrying problem.' IlipiiiKlp A child victim of Cameroon poison mist ing rhythms. The vast majority dropped off between noon and lp.m. and, to a lesser extent, around 9 a.m. and S p.m. But the message goes entirely against the theme of the 1.5 million Health Education Authority ' Look after your Heart ' campaign launched last week. This tells people to modify their diet, stop smoking and, above all, take more exercise. 'You put your feet up at your peril ' is its general flavour. British doctors are also sceptical about the Greek research. Dr Gerald Shaper, professor of clinical epidemiology at the Royal Free Hospital, Hamp-stead, said: 'I found the research amusing but I am not sure the methodology was entirely reliable. 'One has a sneaking suspicion, however, that it is a good idea to take life easily,' he said. ' In our recent research, published in the British Medical Journal, we found that people with competitive personalities did not have higher rates of heart attack than others. But if people with underlying heart disease stressed themselves through aggressive behaviour they were more likely to suffer chest pains. 'It confirmed something we had always known, that people with angina make things worse if they lose their cool. ' There is no doubt that in a country like ours, where a high proportion of men have some underlying heart disease, a siesta might be a good idea. ' It will only have the required effect if it is taken alone, however.' So if your eyelids are drooping as you read this after your Sunday lunch, please don't let me disturb you any longer. Your heart may depend upon 1

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