The Dutch PM's leadership is put to the test and opinions differ on toxicity of chemical fire. Football supporters pay tribute to former Feyenoord player, while Boney M fans bid farewell to Bobby Farrell. And clemency is the last hope for Dutch-Iranian woman on death row.
Mark Rutte's leadership tested by Afghan training mission
While support in parliament for a training mission announced by the cabinet on Friday is growing, according to Saturday's edition of the de Telegraaf. AD reports that 70 percent of Dutch people oppose another risky and expensive adventure in Afghanistan.
It seems as though no sooner have Dutch troops have got back from Uruzgan, than the government wants to send more than 500 police officers and troops to Kunduz.
The Freedom Party, which lends the government its parliamentary support in most matters, totally opposes deploying troops to Afghanistan again. That means the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats have to lobby for the support of other opposition parties.
The orthodox Christian SGP is behind the government plan and the Christian Union looks likely to back it too. Green Left and democrats D66 are also in favour of a training mission. But the Labour Party is so far refusing to send soldiers back to Afghanistan. "Incredible" de Volkskrant quotes the new Green Left leader Jolande Sap from a television programme at the weekend.
Opinions differ over toxicity of chemical fire
Smoke from last week's fire in the southern town of Moerdijk was toxic, claims AD in its headline. The paper has asked an expert from the Free University in Amsterdam to analyse a 52-page list of substances stored at the Chemie-Pack chemical plant which went up in flames on Wednesday night.
"There are substances on that list that I would rather not have seen, because they are hazardous." This conclusion completely contradicts the reassuring tone the authorities have been using up to now. The authorities insist there are no health risks to the public, as the hazardous substances were burnt.
However, AD's expert explains that the toxic cloud of smoke would have contained heavy metals, which will eventually fall on the ground, enormous quantities of carcinogenic perchlorethylene and 200 litres of xylene.
Not only are the toxic substances extremely dangerous, chemical reactions between different substances means that it could be some weeks before the authorities know exactly what was in the plume of smoke. Nevertheless, there will be no investigation into the health of residents following the fire.
The authorities are doing their best to reassure local residents. At a public meeting, people were told not to worry, despite reports of irritated eyes and bronchi, reports Trouw. The people of Moerdijk are used to living close to an industrial estate. A local vicar says, "Moerdijkers are proud of their industry, but they live in the knowledge that something could go wrong."
A photo on the front page of de Volkskrant shows just how wrong: buildings destroyed by the fire are covered in grey ash and there is a big pink lake in the middle where the water used to put out the fire has been discoloured by chemicals.
Football hero and pop star paid last respects
There were two funerals for famous people at the weekend in the Netherlands. While in Rotterdam supporters bade farewell to Feyenoord footballer Coen Moulijn. In the capital, Amsterdam, Boney M fans paid their last respects to pop star Bobby Farrell.
Trouw compares the tribute to their "Coentje" to the funeral of murdered politician Pim Fortuyn almost nine years ago. A few thousand people lined the streets as the cortege passed and clapped. On the Erasmus Bridge fans held up red flares and sang "You'll never walk alone". Coen Moulijn, who played in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s for Feyenoord, was described as "the best number 11 the Netherlands has ever seen."
He may not have sung the songs, but that didn't make Bobby Farrell any less popular, writes Trouw. The farewell service for the 1980s pop star held in Amsterdam's Stadschouwburg Theatre is compared to the commemoration of Dutch author Harry Mulisch in November. Around 400 relatives and friends took their seats for a musical tribute to the Boney M. front man. Among the acts were the band's three female singers, who had got together for the first time since the band broke up in 1986.
Farrell may not have been able to sing, but he could certainly dance. His co-band members told the audience that they often felt like spectators on the stage, because Farrell stole the show with his brilliant dancing. The band sold millions of records with hits like Rasputin, Ma Baker, Sunny, Daddy Cool and Brown Girl in the Ring. The popstar who died on 30 December after performing in St Petersburg, lived in Amsterdam.
Predicted high waters inundate southern Netherlands
High water in the south of the Netherlands has also hit the headlines in many of today's papers. De Telegraaf reports that a 52-year-old man drowned trying to save his dog. His son tried to rescue him but was forced to get out of the water himself. The dog managed to make its own way to safety.
Nrc.next informs us that the Water Management Centre in Lelystad in the north of the Netherlands correctly predicted the high water levels. "You have to learn how to read a river like the Meuse," says hydrologist Jasper Stam.
The Centre only calculates water levels up to three days in advance as all kinds of factors can make a difference. It takes several days for water which has melted in the Alps to reach the Netherlands, but melt water from the Belgian Ardennes can get to the south of Limburg in just six hours. Since the threat of floods in 1995, various schemes to accommodate excess water have been floated so that the chance of serious flooding is reduced from once every 50 years to once every 250 years.
Clemency last hope for Dutch-Iranian woman
Clemency is the last hope for a Dutch-Iranian women sentenced to death in Tehran last week, according to Trouw. Zahra Bahrami was arrested during anti-government protests. She has been found guilty of smuggling drugs - a crime so serious in Iran that there is no opportunity for appeal.
Zahra Bahrami protests her innocence, her lawyer says earlier statements that a Dutch neighbour who travelled with her planted cocaine in her house were made under duress and have been withdrawn.
Mrs Bahrami's previous lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested and is still being held. Her current lawyer Zhinoosh Sharif says she will "do her best to remain positive, but it is very difficult".
Her daughter, Banafsheh Najebpour, who lives in Teheran says, "My mother is very worried and has no hope anymore."
She says her mother has no idea how drugs got into her house. Zahra Bahrami is in bad shape. She is vegetarian and refuses to eat meat in prison. Her daughter appeals to the Dutch authorities not to give up on her mother. "Please don't let the Dutch government give up! It is the last bit of hope my mother and I have."