Heavy rain to continue
Hundreds of thousands of people already reeling from floods have been told to expect further heavy rains until March, authorities said yesterday, as the disaster death toll rose to 53. “There will be more rains in areas which should already be experiencing the dry season,” the national weather bureau’s spokeswoman Venus Valdemoro said. La Nina was partly responsible for the unseasonal downpours, she said. Heavier than normal rainfall is forecast for most of the country over the next three months, increasing the risk of flooding and landslides, especially in eastern regions, Valdemoro said. Heavy rains have swamped much of the country since late last month, with floods affecting nearly 1.6 million people, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Nine die in apartment fire
An apartment fire in the city of Wuhan has left at least nine people dead. The Xinhua news agency says the fire started late on Monday and was put out early yesterday. An unnamed fire official told Xinhua that most people escaped the four-story building. Fires are a hazard in the country as families try to stay warm. Officials with the State Council yesterday expressed concern about icy conditions in the southern part of the country.
Flood victims storm office
Hundreds of flood victims stormed a government office in one of the hardest-hit areas on Monday to demand that aid be distributed, police said. Heavy monsoon rains caused flooding across the island nation last week, killing at least 40 people and leaving 51,400 people in temporary shelters. Anger over the distribution of relief spilled over in Ariyampathi, near the eastern port of Batticaloa. Police rushed to the scene and the crowd left after officials promised to deliver the aid, police spokesman Prishanth Jayakody said. He declined to say how many people were involved or whether anyone was injured.
Medical visa on way in
Manila said yesterday it would introduce special medical visas for foreigners. The medical tourist visas, to be introduced this year, will allow foreigners to stay in the country for six months without having to apply for extensions as regular tourists are required to do, according to the Bureau of Immigration. “The visa will help the Philippines become competitive in the lucrative medical tourism market in Asia now dominated by Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand among others,” immigration bureau deputy head Ronaldo Ledesma reporters.
New Delhi said yesterday it was recalling a senior envoy from Britain following reports that he assaulted his wife, but indicated it would not consider waiving his diplomatic immunity. The diplomat, named by media as Anil Verma, allegedly attacked his wife on Dec. 11 in an argument at their home in London, Britain’s Mail on Sunday reported. Police were called after neighbors heard his wife, Paromita Verma, scream and saw her run out into the street with blood streaming from her nose, the paper said. The envoy was reportedly angry because there was a Christmas tree in the house that had been given to the family by one of his wife’s relatives.
Old whisky returns home
Three bottles of whisky abandoned in the Antarctic ice by British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton more than a century ago returned home to Scotland on Monday. The bottles of Mackinlay’s were part of a cache recovered last year beneath Shackleton’s Antarctic hut, built in 1908 as part of his failed attempt to reach the South Pole. They made it home on Monday to Whyte and Mackay, the brand’s owner, for analysis to see how they have fared after so long preserved in the polar chill. The wooden crate containing the whisky, marked “British Antarctic Expedition 1907,” was frozen solid in minus-30oC temperatures, but the whisky in the bottles was still liquid.
Pirates break record
Somali pirates kidnapped a record number of seafarers last year, in cases that left eight sailors dead, a maritime watchdog said yesterday. Pirates in the lawless region hijacked 53 ships and captured 1,181 seafarers last year, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report. The number of pirate attacks against ships has risen every year for the past four years, the bureau said. There were 445 attacks reported last year, up 10 percent from 2009. A total of 188 crew members were taken hostage in 2006, 1,050 in 2009 and 1,181 last year.
Russian arms trade for debt
Seoul has been negotiating with Russia to receive advanced defense technology as part of debt repayments, officials said yesterday. Russia has so far provided South Korea with US$740 million in weapons as a way of repaying US$1.3 billion in debt dating back to the days of the Soviet Union. Seoul is now in talks on the transfer of cutting-edge technology from Moscow, the South’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. Yonhap news agency quoted a military source as saying the Russian technologies include long-range radar and a defense system against an electromagnetic pulse attack.
Arson attack hits court
Unknown assailants set fire to the entrance of the country’s highest criminal court and spray painted the building with anti-establishment slogans, police said on Monday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and no one was hurt in the attack on the Federal Criminal Court in the town of Bellinzona, police Inspector Renato Pizolli said. Spray painted slogans condemning the judiciary were accompanied by the symbol of an encircled A often used by anarchists. Police said in a statement the fire was most likely arson. The attack in Ticino, near the Italian border, comes several weeks after Italy’s Informal Anarchist Federation claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb that seriously injured a man when it exploded in the Swiss embassy in Rome.
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
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
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