Partygoers trash beach
The 2 million revelers who celebrated New Year’s Eve on Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana Beach left behind a calling card on Friday: 315 tonnes of trash for the Olympic host city to cart away. An army of nearly 1,200 workers and a fleet of 250 trash trucks began working at dawn to haul away the mountain of refuse strewn over 6km of beach. In some instances, workers had to continue their clean-up duties while weaving between exhausted New Year’s partygoers who stayed on the beach catching up on their sleep long after most of the merry-makers had gone home. Within about four hours of starting their labors, the beach was restored to its mostly pristine state, and was ready to welcome a new round of visitors on what looked to be scorching beach weather to start the New Year: Sunny and about 40°C.
Murders mark new year
The nation, suffering an epidemic of violence, opened the new year with 15 more people gunned down, officials said on Friday. Among them were two men, two women and an 11-year-old child slain in the early hours by men dressed as police, who stormed into two humble dwellings and sprayed them with gunfire. The killings occurred in the Los Cerritos community about 160km east of San Salvador. In a second incident, National Police Commissioner Veronica Uriarte said agents on patrol encountered five alleged gang members in Valle Nuevo just south of San Salvador and exchanged gunfire, killing five. Five more people were killed in various incidents, two in rural Nueva Concepcion north of the capital, two in the municipality of San Miguel in the east, and a suspected gang member in El Espino, near the capital. According to official statistics, 2014 ended with 3,942 homicides in the country, 1,429 more than 2013. According to preliminary figures, last year will have ended with more than 6,670 homicides, an average of 18 violent deaths per day.
Prison fight turns deadly
A fight at an overcrowded prison killed at least eight prisoners and wounded 20, Minister of the Interior Eunice Mendizabal said on Friday. An altercation between two inmates turned into a battle between rival gangs at the prison in Puerto Barrios, about 185km northeast of the capital, said Mendizabal, who arrived at the prison after the incident. Mendizabal said there were nearly 1,000 prisoners in the prison that was designed to hold 400. The incident was the latest in a string of deadly prison fights in the Central American country in recent years. In November, 16 prisoners were killed in a prison riot.
Climate delays gas export
The nation’s state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has delayed the export of natural gas to Colombia because of climate factors, the Colombian Mines and Energy Ministry said on Friday. In a letter to the Colombian government on Wednesday, PDVSA said the exports would not begin because of “climate variability,” the ministry said in a statement. The exports are part of a deal between the two countries, which includes provisions for the neighbors to supply their own markets if necessary before exporting. “The contract specifies the delivery of 39 million cubic feet [1.1 million cubic meters] a day from Venezuela, which corresponds to just over 3 percent of daily supply in Colombia,” the statement said. Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol has asked PDVSA to give a new date by which the exports could begin.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are