Tag Archives: horrific

Romain Grosjean escapes after horrific F1 crash at Bahrain GP

Formula One driver Romain Grosjean appears to have escaped without serious injury after his car crashed and burst into flames moments after the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

The 34-year-old French driver slid off track on the first lap and his Haas car burst into flames after being sliced in two by a barrier. Grosjean clambered out with the fire roaring behind him and his race helmet singed.

Moments later, Grosjean was shown on television chatting with the race doctor in the medical car.

Grosjean was then helped out of the car and into an ambulance. He appeared to be shaken but did not immediately seem injured other than a slight limp.

WATCH | Massive crash at Bahrain Grand Prix splits F1 car in half:

France’s Romain Grosjean crashed heavily into barrier splitting the car in half at the Bahrain F1 race. Grosjean walked away from the crash with minor injuries. 2:59

Drivers and team members stood and applauded as they saw the images of Grosjean climbing over the barrier to safety and being sprayed with a fire extinguisher.

It appeared an extraordinary escape after his car was sliced in half upon impact with the barrier.

The accident happened when Grosjean lost grip and slid to the right, where his back wheel clipped the front of Daniil Kvyat’s Alpha-Tauri and flew off into the barrier.


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CBC | Sports News

Despite horrific bike crash, Para-cyclist Kate O’Brien refuses to quit chasing her dreams

Even before the emergence of COVID-19, Kate O’Brien was accustomed to her personal game plan going off track.

Sure, she has no idea when she’ll be able to race on the international stage again. And sure, she really has no clue if the Tokyo Paralympics will go ahead next year or be cancelled outright.

But O’Brien, 32, realizes there are no guarantees in life regardless of whether we’re living in a global pandemic.

She is a bobsledder who turned to track cycling after narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2014 Winter Games. She is a 2016 Summer Olympian. She is a survivor of a horrific bike crash that put her in a coma and left her mom, an emergency room nurse, waiting to hear if her daughter would live or die.

She also has epilepsy, yet another challenge that won’t stop her from chasing her dreams.

“There’s only so much you can control,” the para-world cycling champion says from her training base in Vancouver. “Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and breathe.”

O’Brien couldn’t breathe on her own after she crashed in a track cycling demonstration at Calgary’s Glenmore Velodrome in July 2017. When her rear tire blew, she hit the back of the pacing motorbike in front of her, catapulting her up the track.

Paramedics rushed the unresponsive O’Brien to hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain. She also suffered a laundry list of other injuries including a punctured lung, cracked ribs and broken clavicle.

“I flew out to Calgary with the idea I was there to help her mom with organ donation and that kind of thing,” says Meghan Grant, O’Brien’s fiance and former member of the Canadian track cycling team.

“I thought I was going there to say good-bye.”

WATCH | Kate O’Brien sets women’s C4 500m Para-cycling world record:

O’Brien set the world record mark at 35.223 seconds in the women’s C4 500m time trial at 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Ont. 1:42

Over the next two months, medical professionals warned O’Brien that she would never again walk, never ride a bike or never speak properly. The end of her elite sports career seemed certain.

O’Brien listened to those dire predictions, but she refused to believe them.

“I didn’t like those discussions,” she says. “But it also didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t do those things. It wasn’t so much that I thought I’d still be a competitor in cycling, but I wanted to ride a bike. So why wouldn’t I?”

Upon release from hospital, O’Brien worked tirelessly with her home physiotherapists. They set her bike up on rollers, pushed it toward a wall and formed a human semi-circle in case she toppled.

She stayed upright, and cycling became one of her primary means of transportation on the road to recovery.

“Following her journey from even before her accident, you knew that you were witnessing a very rare athlete,” says Curt Harnett, a three-time Olympic medallist in cycling who served as Canada’s chef de mission at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. “She’s determined, resilient, and she’s a fighter.”

WATCH | O’Brien back in touch with competitive drive after Para-cycling debut:

Olympian Kate O’Brien spoke after setting a women’s C4 500m world record in here Para-cycling Track World Championships debut. 1:47

Not that it was easy. She felt like giving up the fight in the fall of 2018 when she started to experience seizures, leading to an epilepsy diagnosis.

“I refused to accept it,” she says. “I refused to go on medication. I was just so ashamed.”

Her life became smaller and smaller. She didn’t drive. She didn’t ride her bike. She was too scared to fall asleep and too scared to take a bus for fear of a seizure.

‘Change is part of life’

Until one day, she realized she could perhaps cycle and enjoy her life again with help from medication and personal research into how to keep seizures at bay.

“The truth is, stuff isn’t back to normal,” says O’Brien, who recently celebrated a year without a seizure. “But I’ve realized that `normal’ is just a word. My life will never be the same as it was, but that’s not a bad thing. Things don’t need to stay the same all the time.

“I’ve realized that change is part of life, good, bad or ugly, but that’s one of the great things about being human.”

In January, O’Brien represented Canada at the 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.

She won two world titles and set two world records.

“There is a reason she is admired by all who cross her path,” Harnett says. “She is a rockstar athlete with a humble `did I just do that’ attitude. That’s pretty special.”

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Military alleges horrific conditions, abuse in pandemic-hit Ontario nursing homes

The Canadian military has drawn the curtain back on horrific allegations of elder abuse in five Ontario long-term care homes, with precise, graphic reports of residents being bullied, drugged, improperly fed and in some cases left for hours and days in soiled bedding.

Within the military’s shocking catalogue of abuse, neglect and cruelty is an accusation that delinquent care led to the death of a resident.

Soldiers were called into the facilities as part of an effort to backstop the provincial system, which has been overwhelmed by novel coronavirus cases.

What they found has been recorded in assessments of each of the homes — in Pickering, Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York and Brampton — and presented in a report to the Ontario government.

“It’s gut-wrenching,” said a grim-faced Premier Doug Ford Tuesday. “Reading this report is the hardest thing I have done as premier.”

According to the report, conditions in two of the seniors homes — Orchard Villa in Pickering and Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke — appeared to be nothing short of horrid and inhumane as ill-trained, burned-out and, in some cases, neglectful staff coped with the growing care needs of elderly residents.

It was in Orchard Villa that troops observed the choking death of one senior, who was lying down while being fed.

“Staff were unable to dislodge food or revive the resident,” said the report, which went on to conclude that the practice of not having patients sit up “appeared to have contributed” to the patient’s death.

In the same centre, according to the report, troops had to send a senior to hospital after the resident fractured a hip and was not cared for by staff. Other patients were “left in beds soiled, in diapers, rather than being ambulated to the toilets.”

‘Cockroaches and flies present’

“Cockroaches and flies present,” one assessment said. “Rotten food smell noted in the hallway outside. CAF members found multiple old food trays stacked inside the bed table.”

Staff members were overwhelmed and burned out, the report said.

“Respecting the dignity of patients is not always a priority,” it said. 

The report details conditions at five facilities where troops have been helping out:

  • Orchard Villa in Pickering.
  • Altamont Care Community in Scarborough.
  • Eatonville in Etobicoke.
  • Hawthorne Place in North York.
  • Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor in Brampton.

At the Eatonville Care Centre, soldiers reported “witnessing aggressive behaviour” by staff — reports that prompted an investigation by facility management.

It was there that troops also reported seeing the drugging of patients whom staff claimed were “difficult or agitated.”

“But when you talk to them they just say they’re ‘scared and feeling alone like they’re in jail’ — no agitation or sedation required,” the report said.

At the Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, said the report, residents faced “inadequate nutrition” because most of them were not getting three meals a day — and when they did, “underfeeding was reported.”

It was also there that a “non-verbal resident wrote a disturbing letter alleging neglect and abuse” by a personal support worker. The letter was given to the military medic by the senior and the allegations were reported to the facility’s management.

PM calls findings ‘deeply disturbing’

Several of the assessments noted unsafe conditions that could help spread COVID-19, including instances where patients who had tested positive for the virus “were allowed to wander” and staff members left with inadequate personal protective equipment.

In his daily media briefing today, the prime minister said he was aware of the assessments and was saddened, shocked, disappointed and angered by what he’d heard.

“It is deeply disturbing,” Justin Trudeau said.

The allegations were first reported in an online story Tuesday morning by Global News.

The military compiles daily situation reports on the deployment and the allegations first surfaced in those assessments in early May, within two weeks of troops beginning the deployment.

Watch: Ontario premier calls military report on long-term care homes ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘gut-wrenching’

Doug Ford promises accountability and justice after the report describes ‘extremely troubling’ conditions in the homes. 1:26

Troops are obliged to report cases of abuse and mistreatment to the military chain of command or, if they are a nurse or a doctor, to their own health certification bodies.

The overall assessment, dated May 14, was compiled by the commander of the 4th Canadian Division, Brig.-Gen. Conrad Mialkowski, and forwarded on to National Defence Headquarters.

It did not arrive on Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s desk until a week later later, at which point other federal ministers were notified.

The Ontario government wasn’t formally notified until Sunday and the premier said he learned about the situation Monday night.

The report notes that the military’s concerns were raised with the management of each of the homes in “collegial manner” in a series of teleconferences, starting on May 4.

In the House of Commons today, the Conservatives accused the Liberal government of foot-dragging. The federal NDP, meanwhile, called for a thorough investigation of every allegation “and criminal charges where appropriate.”

‘Anger, sadness, frustration’

The Department of National Defence refused to comment, saying that the Ontario government is responsible for the institutions.

“On reading the deeply disturbing report, I had obviously a range of emotions of anger, of sadness, of frustration, of grief,” Trudeau said. “It is extremely troubling, and as I’ve said from the very beginning of this, we need to do a better job of supporting our seniors in long-term care right across the country, through this pandemic and beyond.”

Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on ‘deeply disturbing’ reports out of long-term care homes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters including the CBC’s Tom Parry on Tuesday. 3:02

Trudeau said the report underscores the need to improve standards of care for seniors in long-term care homes across the country, and said the federal government will support the provinces’ efforts to do that going forward. Long-term care falls under provincial jurisdiction.

“We need to do a better job of caring for the people who built this country,” Trudeau said. “The greatest generation saw us through World War Two. We need to be there to support them properly through this global crisis.” 

Over 1,675 troops have been brought in to backstop five long-term care homes in Ontario and a further 25 in Quebec. Their duties include helping residents with day-to-day needs, cleaning the facilities and meal distribution.

It is unclear whether similar abuse allegations have been levelled at long-term care facilities in Quebec. The federal Public Safety department has said a similar assessment is being prepared for that much larger operation.

Class action suit filed against Pickering home

Trudeau said Ontario and Quebec have asked that the deployment of troops in long-term care homes be extended until the end of June.

A Department of National Defence slide deck presentation, released along with the assessments, shows the Ontario government has a total of 27 seniors homes “critically affected” by the pandemic and provincial authorities want the military to move to different facilities as existing ones are stabilized.

A class action lawsuit was filed on Monday against the Orchard Villa, alleging the spread of COVID-19 in the home was “a needless tragedy which has now caused 77 deaths and over 200 infections of residents.”

A copy of the statement of claim was obtained by CBC News. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

“Orchard Villa was not prepared for the outbreak of COVID-19 and did not have adequate policies and procedures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said lawyer Gary Will, who filed the class action suit.

“The results of this incompetence were devastating to the residents of Orchard Villa.”

Sylvia Lyon, of Pickering, Ont., lost her mother Ursula Drehlich, a resident of the home, on April 23 and will act as the lead plaintiff in the case.

The suit alleges Orchard Villa continued to allow residents to sit together for meals after the Ontario government had issued strict guidelines on physical distancing in late March.

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'I never gave up:' Track cyclist Georgia Simmerling rebounds from horrific injury

A year ago, Canada's first three-sport Olympian was broken.

Georgia Simmerling had crashed during a ski cross competition weeks before the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she was expected to be a medal contender.

Bones snapped in both of her legs. Nearly every ligament in her left knee was torn.

WATCH | Georgia Simmerling's Olympic hopes come to an end:

The multi-sport athlete was a medal favourite heading into Pyeongchang​ 1:03
But just 14 months later, the 29-year-old West Vancouver, B.C., native is preparing to race at the top level once again, competing this week at the track cycling world championships in Poland.

The journey back to competition has been a tough one, Simmerling said.

"It was a lot of tears," she said from Cycling Canada's training facility in Milton, Ont. "I was broken for sure. But in the grand scheme of things, I never gave up."

Returning from injury wasn't new for Simmerling, who'd suffered previous breaks throughout her long athletic career.

A year after being part of Canada’s alpine ski team at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Georgia Simmerling wanted to compete at the Summer Games but wasn’t sure in which sport. (Clive Rose/Getty Images/File)

She made her Olympic debut at Vancouver in 2010 as part of Canada's alpine ski team, then switched to freestyle the following year. At the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, she competed in ski cross.

Soon after, she decided she wanted to compete in the Summer Games, too.

Simmerling tried rowing first but found she was better suited for track cycling and started training for the team pursuit.

"I definitely get that sense of adrenaline that I got from ski cross," she said of the sport. "I think that competing as a team was something that I really fell in love with."

In 2016, Simmerling was part of the women's team pursuit squad that won Olympic bronze in Rio.

After winning Olympic bronze in Rio in 2016, Georgia Simmerling returned to training for one last Winter Games. But a crash in January 2018 ruined her chance to compete at the Olympics the following month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Kevin Light/CBC Sports/File)

She also made history, becoming the first Canadian to compete in different sports at three separate Olympics.

Still, she wasn't done with skiing just yet. Simmerling went back to training for one last Winter Games and racked up multiple podium appearances on the World Cup circuit.

Then, in January 2018, she crashed during a race in Nakiska, Alta.

Her injuries required multiple surgeries. Simmerling lost 20 pounds of muscle and spent 11 weeks walking with crutches.

I think challenges really test us as human beings, not only as athletes. I've definitely been tested over my career.— Canadian Olympic track cyclist Georgia Simmerling

Then there was the emotional toll — simply seeing cyclists riding casually along Vancouver's picturesque streets would make her seethe with anger.

"I was just miserable," she said. "I did not send those happy cyclists any good vibes."

Many tears were shed as Simmerling spoke to her parents and girlfriend Stephanie Labbe — goalkeeper for Canada's women's soccer team — on FaceTime.

"I think challenges really test us as human beings, not only as athletes," she said. "I've definitely been tested over my career, for sure, and this last injury was just another test for me. It puts your life into perspective and it puts your job into perspective."

Midway through her recovery, Simmerling announced her retirement from skiing. She had long thought that she’d leave the sport after the Games in South Korea.

"It wasn't a difficult choice because that was always my plan," she said.

Georgia Simmerling, who retired from ski cross racing midway through her injury recovery in December 2012, had an overwhelming urge to get back to track cycling. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press/File)

Despite the disheartening finish to her skiing career, the dedicated athlete had a persistent, overwhelming urge to get back to track cycling, a sport that she'd left on such a high.

Returning to the velodrome, though, would require gruelling rehab for as much as six hours a day.

"I told myself 'If you want to race, you have to get back on your bike and you have to get over this.' And I did," Simmerling said.

She wasn't able to get back on her bike until September and even then, her injuries weren't fully healed.

"She came in, atrophied muscles. She couldn't even really properly take her feet out of the pedals, it was so painful," said Kris Westwood, Cycling Canada's high performance director.

Last month, Simmerling returned to competition for the first time at a World Cup event in New Zealand, and helped Canada to a silver medal in the team pursuit.

'Stoic perseverance'

"It was just so exciting to be back on the line and to feel that adrenaline in me and perform under pressure," Simmerling said.

Her team — which also included Allison Beveridge of Calgary, Ariane Bonhomme of Gatineau, Que., and Annie Foreman-Mackey of Kingston, Ont. — posted a time of four minutes 15.179 seconds in the first round, less than one second off the national record set at the 2016 Olympics.

Simmerling's "stoic perseverance" has lifted the rest of the Canadian cyclists, said Westwood.

"It's truly incredible and quite inspirational to see her just taking her natural talents and drive and turn her season around like that," he said.

Heading into the world championships in Poland, Simmerling said she's feeling "super excited" and stronger every day.

"We're super strong as a unit, as a team," she said.

Eyes on Genest, Barrette in sprint races

Canada's cyclists aren't at their absolute peak right now but they're still hoping for a medal in the women's team pursuit, Westwood said.

"We know we can do the times to get us on the podium," he said.

"We just don't know what everyone else is bringing to the worlds."

They're also hoping for a top-five finish in the men's team pursuit after Aidan Caves of Vancouver, Derek Gee of Ottawa, Adam Jamieson of Barrie, Ont., and Jay Lamoureux of Victoria, B.C., broke a Canadian record and captured silver at a World Cup event in New Zealand last month.

Lauriane Genest of Levis, Que., is also expect to turn in a big performance in the women's sprint and Hugo Barrette of Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que., has been dubbed a cyclist to watch in the men's sprint.

The Canadians are in a fortunate position where their performance levels are high enough that they don't have to worry too much about whether they'll qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Westwood said. Instead, they can focus on perfecting specific parts of their ride.

While Simmerling is excited to be working towards yet another Olympics, she's also taking time to reflect.

"I'm so happy and grateful for where I am now," she said. "I think it's really a testament to what I've put in, the work that's been required to get here today. It's been a lot of work."

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'The X-Files': Creator Responds to Gillian Anderson's Threats to Leave, Fans React to Horrific Premiere Reveal

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Gillian Anderson’s threats to quit The X-Files have gotten an official response. The 49-year-old actress has previously said that after this season of X-Files airs, she’s done playing Agent Dana Scully. The 11th season of the sci-fi series premiered on Fox on Wednesday. The show’s creator, Chris Carter, responded to Anderson’s claims during a Reddit AMA with fans on Tuesday, saying, “For me, the show has always been Mulder and Scully. So the idea of doing the show without her isn’t something…

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'Bodies piled up on top of me': Survivors recall Egypt's horrific mosque attack

They arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his Friday sermon from atop the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 worshippers, many of them Sufis, inside.

When the violence finally stopped, more than 300 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 injured.

As the gunfire rang out and the blasts shook the mosque, worshippers screamed and cried out in pain. A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms. Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows.

Those who survived spoke of children screaming as they saw parents and older brothers mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts. Some marveled at their narrow escape from a certain death. Some families lost all or most male members in the massacre.

GRAPHIC WARNING: Aftermath of mosque attack in Egypt0:55

So composed were the militants that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.

A grim milestone

Friday’s assault was Egypt’s deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. Al-Rawdah Mosque was in a sleepy village by the same name in Egypt’s troubled northern Sinai, near the small town of Bir al-Abd.

A statement by the country’s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq, said the attackers, some masked, numbered between 25 and 30. Those without masks sported heavy beards and long hair, it added. Clad in military-style camouflage pants and black T-shirts, one of them carried a black banner with the declaration of the Muslim faith — there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

‘Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you got shot.’– Ebid Salem Mansour, attack survivor

The banner matched those carried by ISIS, which has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

They also torched seven cars parked outside the mosque that belonged to worshippers, the statement added.

The chief prosecutor’s statement was the most detailed account given by authorities and it generally agreed with what witnesses told The Associated Press on Saturday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, where some of the wounded are hospitalized.

“We knew that the mosque was under attack by [militants],” said witness Ebid Salem Mansour, recalling the intense gunfire. Mansour, a 38-year-old worker in a nearby salt factory, said he had settled in Bir al-Abd three years ago to escape the bloodshed and fighting elsewhere in northern Sinai. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his legs on Friday.

“Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you got shot,” he said. “The shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate. Whoever they weren’t sure was dead or still breathing was shot dead.”

The militants were shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great, as they fired at the worshippers and the children were screaming, Mansour added.

“I knew I was injured but I was in a situation that was much scarier than being wounded. I was only seconds away from a certain death,” he said.

Amid the shooting many worshippers recited their final prayers, he added.

Sufis targeted

Friday’s attack targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of a mystic movement within Islam. Islamic militants, including the local ISIS affiliate, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi vowed that the attack “will not go unpunished” and that Egypt would persevere with its war on terrorism. He did not specify what new steps might be taken. On Saturday, he ordered that a mausoleum be built in memory of the victims of Friday’s attack and cancelled a visit to the Gulf Sultanate of Oman that was scheduled for next week.

Egypt

A photo released by Egypt’s presidency shows Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, centre, meeting with officials in Cairo after militants attacked a crowded mosque during Friday prayers on the Sinai Peninsula. (Egyptian presidency/Associated Press)

The military and security forces have already been waging a tough and costly campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai, and Egypt has been in a state of emergency since April. Across the country, thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on suspected Islamists as well as against other dissenters and critics, raising concerns about human rights violations.

Seeking to spread the violence, militants over the past year have carried out deadly bombings on churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. The ISIS affiliate is also believed to be behind the 2016 downing of a Russian passenger jet that killed 224 people over Sinai, an incident that crippled the country’s already ailing tourism industry.

Friday’s assault was the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation, and it eclipsed past attacks, even dating back to a previous Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s. The death of so many civilians in one day recalls the killing of at least 600 in August 2013, when Egyptian security forces broke up two sit-in protests in Cairo by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president ousted by the military the previous month.

Another witness to Friday’s attack said worshippers tried to jump out of windows as soon as the militants opened fire.

“The small door that leads to the corridor for the washrooms was about the only one where worshippers rushed to escape,” said a 38-year-old government employee who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation.

“There was a stampede. I fell down and then bodies piled up on top of me,” he said.

Campaign of violence

The local ISIS group affiliate has targeted Sufis in the past.

Last year, the militants beheaded a leading local Sufi religious figure, the blind sheikh Suleiman Abu Heraz, and posted photos of the killing online.

Bir al-Abd-BOMBING-VICTIMS

Some of the casualties in Bir al-Abd, Egypt, in the country’s North Sinai region on Friday. ( EPA)

Islamic State group propaganda often denounces Sufis. In the January edition of an ISIS online magazine, a figure purporting to be a high level official in the Sinai affiliate of the group vowed to target Sufis, accusing them of idolatry and heretical “innovation” in religion and warning that the group will “not permit (their) presence” in Sinai or Egypt.

Millions of Egyptians belong to Sufi orders, which hold sessions of ritual chanting and dancing to draw the faithful closer to God. Sufis also hold shrines containing the tombs of holy men in particular reverence.

Islamic militants stepped up their campaign of violence in northern Sinai after the military ousted the elected but divisive Morsi. Authorities followed up with a fierce crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group, jailing thousands.

The result has been a long, grinding conflict centred on el-Arish and nearby villages and towns in north Sinai. The militants have been unable to control territory, but the military and security forces have also been unable to bring security, as the extremists continuously carry out surprise attacks, mostly targeting outposts and convoys.

The attacks have largely focused on military and police and, more recently, Christians. Hundreds have been killed, although exact numbers are unclear. The militants have also assassinated individuals the group considers to be spies for the government or religious heretics. Egypt has also faced attacks by militants in its Western Desert.

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Kate Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, Brad Paisley & More Celebrities React to Horrific Las Vegas Shooting

Celebrities and the public alike took to social media on Sunday night and in the early morning hours on Monday as news broke of a mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Police have confirmed that an unidentified gunman fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino into the outdoor crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. Singer Jason Aldean was on the stage at the time of the incident, and abruptly stopped playing as concert goers fled the scene. 

Though no official number has been given, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department noted that there have been at least 50 fatalities and more than 200 people injured at this time. 

Aldean took to Instagram several hours later to confirm that he and his team are safe, writing, “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate.”

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Survivor recalls horrific scene inside tractor-trailer in Texas human smuggling case

The tractor-trailer was pitch-black inside, crammed with maybe 90 immigrants or more, and already hot when it left the Texas border town of Laredo for the 240-kilometre trip north to San Antonio.

It wasn’t long before the passengers, sweating profusely in the rising oven-like heat, started crying and pleading for water. Children whimpered. People took turns breathing through a single hole in the wall. They pounded on the sides of the truck and yelled to try to get the driver’s attention. Then they began passing out.

By the time police showed up at a Walmart in San Antonio around 12:30 a.m. Sunday and looked in the back of the truck, eight passengers were dead and two more would soon die in an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone tragically awry.

The details of the journey were recounted Monday by a survivor who spoke to The Associated Press and in a federal criminal complaint against the driver, James Matthew Bradley, who could face the death penalty over the 10 lives lost.

“After an hour I heard … people crying and asking for water. I, too, was sweating and people were despairing. That’s when I lost consciousness,” Adan Lara Vega, 27, told the AP from his hospital bed. By the time he came to, he was in the hospital, where his ID bracelet identified him by the last name Lalravega. Mexican consulate and U.S. officials later told AP the correct spelling was Lara Vega.

Bradley, 60, of Clearwater, Fla., appeared in federal court on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. He was ordered held for another hearing on Thursday.

Tractor Trailer Trafficking Deaths

Eldia Contreras wipes away a tear as she takes part in a vigil at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, for victims who died as a result of being transported in a tractor-trailer Sunday. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

He did not enter a plea or say anything about what happened. But in court papers, he told authorities he didn’t realize anyone was inside his 18-wheeler until he parked and got out to relieve himself.

On Tuesday it was revealed the state of Florida had suspended his commercial driving privileges three months before he was arrested.

Alexis Bakofsky, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, confirmed that the agency disqualified Bradley’s commercial driving privileges in April when he failed to file an updated medical card. Federal law requires commercial drivers supply the card to show they are physically fit for the road.

Bradley’s driving record shows he was issued a commercial driver’s license in Florida in 2004. Bakofsky also says it would have been illegal for him to have held a second license from another state.

Dehydration, heatstroke

In addition to the dead, nearly 20 others rescued from the rig were hospitalized in dire condition, many suffering from extreme dehydration and heatstroke.

Mexico’s foreign ministry released a statement Monday night that said “according to preliminary information,” 25 of the migrants inside the rig were Mexican.

Four of those who died and 21 of those hospitalized were Mexican, the statement said. Some of the others inside the truck were from Guatemala.

Tractor Trailer Trafficking Deaths

James Mathew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla,, left, is escorted out of the federal courthouse after a hearing Monday in San Antonio, Texas. Bradley was arrested in the deaths of multiple people packed into a broiling tractor-trailer. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

Many of the immigrants had hired smugglers who brought them across the U.S. border, hid them in safe houses and then put them aboard the tractor-trailer for the ride northward, according to accounts given to investigators.

“Even though they have the driver in custody, I can guarantee you there’s going to be many more people we’re looking for to prosecute,” said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bradley told investigators that the trailer had been sold and he was transporting it for his boss from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas. After hearing banging and shaking, he opened the door and was “surprised when he was run over by ‘Spanish’ people and knocked to the ground,” according to the criminal complaint.

‘I’m absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It’s shocking. I’m sorry my name was on it.’– Brian Pyle, truck seller

He said he did not call 911, even though he knew at least one passenger was dead.

Bradley told authorities that he knew the trailer refrigeration system didn’t work and that the four ventilation holes were probably clogged.

The truck was registered to Pyle Transportation Inc. of Schaller, Iowa. President Brian Pyle said that he had sold the truck to someone in Mexico and that Bradley was supposed to deliver it to a pick-up point in Brownsville.

USA SAN ANTONIO 8 PEOPLE DEAD TRACTOR TRAILER

A San Antonio police officer clears crime scene barrier tape on Sunday near where the truck was found. (Darren Abate/EPA)

“I’m absolutely sorry it happened. I really am. It’s shocking. I’m sorry my name was on it,” Pyle said, referring to the truck. He said he had no idea why Bradley took the roundabout route he described to investigators.

Bradley told authorities that he had stopped in Laredo — which would have been out of his way if he were travelling directly to Brownsville — to get the truck washed and detailed before heading back 240 kilometres north to San Antonio. From there, he would have had to drive 440 kilometres south again to get to Brownsville.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m stunned, shocked. He is too good a person to do anything like this,” said Bradley’s fiancee, Darnisha Rose of Louisville, Ky. “He helps people, he doesn’t hurt people.”

One passenger described a perilous journey that began in Mexico, telling investigators he and others crossed into the U.S. by raft, paying smugglers 12,500 Mexican pesos (about $ 700 US), an amount that also bought protection offered by the Zeta drug cartel.

‘A person makes decisions without thinking through the consequences.’– Survivor Adan Lara Vega, 27

They then walked until the next day and rode in a pickup truck to Laredo, where they were put aboard the tractor-trailer to be taken to San Antonio, according to the complaint. The passenger said he was supposed to pay the smugglers $ 5,500 once he got there.

Another passenger told authorities that he was in a group of 24 people who had been in a “stash house” in Laredo for 11 days before being taken to the tractor-trailer.

Lara Vega told the AP that he was told by smugglers who hid him and six friends in a safe house in Laredo that they would be riding in an air-conditioned space.

The Mexican labourer from the state of Aguascalientes said that when they boarded the truck on a Laredo street Saturday night for the two-hour trip to San Antonio, it was already full of people but so dark he couldn’t tell how many.

He said he was never offered water and never saw the driver. Lara Vega said that when people are being smuggled, they are told not to look at the faces of their handlers — and it’s a good idea to obey.

texas-truck-trafficking-cnn

A medical examiner’s vehicle parked near the truck, which was found in a Walmart parking lot. It was a store employee who alerted police after they were approached by someone from the truck who asked for water. (CNN)

Bradley told authorities that when he arrived in San Antonio, nobody met the tractor-trailer. But one passenger said six black SUVs were waiting to pick up the immigrants and were full in a matter of minutes. And San Antonio police said store surveillance video showed vehicles picking up some of the immigrants.

Lara Vega said he was deported from the U.S. three years ago but decided to take another chance because the economy is depressed where he lives with his wife, four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.

“A person makes decisions without thinking through the consequences,” he said, “but, well, thanks to God, here we are.”

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