The Philippine president flew yesterday to the devastated island of Leyte, where authorities declared a calamity following weekend floods and mudslides that killed at least 160 people on the country's southern and central islands. \nIn another pre-Christmas disaster, the Philippine navy and coast guard said dozens of people remained missing from a ferry that sank with 75 people aboard in rough seas southwest of Manila on Sunday. At least 20 people have been rescued. \nLeyte and the southern island of Mindanao, both near the Pacific Ocean, were worst hit by the floods and mudslides unleashed Friday and Saturday after a week of pounding rains. Authorities said 133 of the victims were on Leyte, while 27 were on Mindanao. \nPresident Gloria Macapagal Arroyo flew to Leyte aboard her jet She was accompanied on the visit by US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, US Agency for International Development director Michael Yates and cabinet officials. \nShe met with local officials and comforted relatives of the dead in San Francisco town, the worst hit in Southern Leyte, where more than 100 people remain missing. \n"We are undertaking measures to mitigate the immediate effects of the calamity and we are looking at the need for long-term prevention," she assured the victims. \n"The celebration of Christmas takes a back seat for many rescue and humanitarian workers, who will continue day and night to perform their duties," she added. \nSouthern Leyte Governor Rosette Lerias declared a state of calamity in her province late Monday in a bid to speed up delivery of emergency supplies and secure recovery funds. \nCaptain Nonilon Lawas of the army's 802nd Infantry Brigade, which was helping in rescue and recovery efforts, said 103 people died in San Francisco, including 26 previously listed as missing and presumed dead. Other badly hit areas on Leyte included Liloan, where 22 people died, the provincial capital of Maasin, with three dead, and San Ricardo with five dead and 20 missing. \nSporadic rains and strong waves have hampered recovery efforts. \nRescue workers reported finding entire families buried alive in their village homes. The bodies of a family of five -- mother, father and children ages 5, 12 and 14 -- were broadcast on television, lying in the mud and rain of their collapsed house in Liloan on Leyte. \nAuthorities have blamed illegal logging for exacerbating the landslides. Arroyo said earlier this week that most of the affected areas were near over-logged hills and mountains. \nArroyo has asked for US help with the rescue efforts. \nRicciardone said the US was sending a C-130 transport aircraft with emergency supplies, including meals ready-to-eat, medical supplies and clothing, later yesterday. The aircraft will also carry Philippine Red Cross supplies, including tents and plastic sheets, from Manila to Leyte, he said. \nAlso yesterday, Japan sent a shipment of humanitarian goods and equipment worth about US$145,500, the embassy in Manila said.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed