The U.S. government pleaded Saturday for North Korean authorities to release 85-year-old Merrill Newman, with a spokeswoman saying officials are "deeply concerned" about him and another American being held in the isolated East Asian nation, reports CNN's Barbara Starr.
"Given Mr. Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge (North Korea) to release Mr. Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
Washington's plea came on the day North Korean state media released print stories and video showing what they called Newman's "apology."
Newman is not the only American being detained in North Korea. In her statement, Hayden also asked for the release of Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November 2012 in North Korea.
Last May, Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after North Korea's government found him guilty of "hostile acts" and attempts to topple the government.
Bae's sister Terri Chung says her brother was working as a tour operator in the country, and “never had any ill intentions, in fact, he only wanted to help. He felt by bringing economic development to the area he was helping their economy. However, his zeal might like and his religious faith and convictions might have gotten him in trouble.” (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
Now Chung has new hope her brother will be released, saying the U.S. government tells her family it is doing everything possible to bring him home.
“It's hard to describe the kind of sheer pain and agony that our family has been enduring for the past 13 months, just uncertainty and just not having him come home especially for the holidays has been particularly difficult. This is the second Thanksgiving we spent without him and Christmas is coming up and we’re really hoping and praying that he’ll be home for Christmas.”
A commuter train derailed in a curve in the New York borough of the Bronx on Sunday, killing four people and leaving dozens hurt, investigators said.
All seven passenger cars and the locomotive jumped the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station, about 10 miles north of Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, the National Transportation Safety Board reported. Three of the dead were thrown out of the train as it "came off the track and was twisting and turning," New York Fire Department Chief Edward Kilduff told reporters.
The train was en route to Grand Central from Poughkeepsie, 74 miles up the Hudson River, when it derailed about 7:20 a.m., NTSB member Earl Weener said Sunday. At least 67 people were injured, said Joe Bruno, New York's commissioner of emergency management, and 11 remained in critical condition Sunday evening, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters.
Surviving passenger Amanda Swanson told CNN the windows of the coaches broke out, and "the gravel came flying up in our faces."
"I really didn't know if I would survive," said Swanson, who put her bag in front of her face to block the rubble. "The train felt like it was on its side and dragging for a long time. ... The whole thing felt like slow motion."
On "New Day", she says, "the only thing I was thinking was I have to stay alive." (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
NTSB board member Earl Weener has been on scene at the train derailment site and says the board is in the process of downloading and validating the data collected from the train's recording devices. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
"We hope to interview the conductor and the engineer later today or tomorrow and that combined with the data from the event recorders will give us a pretty good insight into what was going on," Weener says.
"With this particular train, we will be looking at the maintenance records as well as the records related to the operator and the maintenance of the tracks and signaling equipment."
Governor Cuomo is backing the investigating and tells "New Day", "We want to find out what the specific cause of the accident was, to see if there’s anything we can learn from to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)
He says emergency responders have meanwhile been working through the night and the trains will be moved out so service can resume by the end of the week.
“Our first concern is the safety and the treatment of the families who’ve been injured. Second, we want to find out what happened so we can learn. But third we want to get the rail back up. There are tens of thousands of commuters who use this rail and hopefully by the end of the week it’ll be up and running.”