Tag Archives: killed

8 killed in Indonesia quake, president orders rescue effort

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered swift rescue and relief efforts after eight people died in an earthquake that hit off southern Java island.

Three others were badly injured in Saturday’s magnitude-5.9 quake and more than 1,180 buildings were damaged, most of them slightly, the disaster agency BNPB said. Some houses were flattened, images in Indonesian media showed.

Two shelters for the displaced have been set up in the town of Lumajang.

All of the casualties were reported in 15 districts and cities in East Java, the closest province to the epicentre of the quake, which struck in the Indian Ocean.


Residents salvage items from damaged homes in Malang, East Java after an earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s main Java island. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images)

“I have ordered … immediate emergency response to search and find victims under the rubble and to treat the wounded,” the president, known by his popular name Jokowi, said in broadcast remarks.

There were no reports of the quake disrupting production facilities, but the BNPB said 150 public facilities were damaged. Most industrial areas in East Java are located in the northern side of the island.

Jokowi noted that as Indonesia straddles the volcanic “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific, natural disasters such as earthquakes could happen anytime, adding that Indonesians should always be prepared.


A man salvages his belongings at a house damaged in Lumajang, East Java province, Indonesia on Sunday. (Zabur Karuru/Antara Foto/Reuters)

The Southeast Asian nation was struck last week by tropical cyclone Seroja, which triggered landslides and flash floods killing more than 170 people on islands in East Nusa Tenggara province.

A magnitude-6.2 quake that hit Sulawesi island in January killed more than 100 people.

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10 people, including police officer, killed in Colorado supermarket shooting

Ten people, including one police officer, were killed in a shooting at a Colorado supermarket Monday afternoon and a suspect was in custody, authorities said.

“A painstaking investigation is already underway both at the crime scene and in interviews to make sure we receive all the accurate information,” said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty.  Police say the investigation is likely to take at least five days. 

The police officer killed was the first officer on the scene Monday afternoon, according to Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold, who spoke to reporters late in the evening. Eric Talley, 51, had been with the department since 2010. 

The suspect was getting medical treatment and there was no further threat to the public, authorities said. Officers had escorted a shirtless man with blood running down his leg out of the store in handcuffs but authorities would not say if he was the suspect.

Earlier in the day, Boulder police Cmdr. Kerry Yamaguchi said police did not have any details on motive.


People are led out of the King Soopers grocery store after the shooting, Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. (Hart Van Denburg/Colorado Public Radio via The Associated Press)

‘You need to surrender’

A man who had just left the store in Boulder, Dean Schiller, told The Associated Press that he heard gunshots and saw three people lying face down, two in the parking lot and one near the doorway. He said he “couldn’t tell if they were breathing.”

Law enforcement vehicles and officers massed outside the store, including SWAT teams, and at least three helicopters landed on the roof in the city that’s home to the University of Colorado and is about 40 kilometres northwest of Denver.

Some windows at the front of the store were broken. At one point, authorities over a loudspeaker said the building was surrounded and that “you need to surrender.” They said to come out with hands up and unarmed.

Sarah Moonshadow told the Denver Post that two shots rang out just after she and her son, Nicolas Edwards, finished buying strawberries. She said she told her son to get down and then “we just ran.”

Once they got outside, she said they saw a body in the parking lot. Edwards said police were speeding into the lot and pulled up next to the body.

“I knew we couldn’t do anything for the guy,” he said. “We had to go.”

James Bentz told the Post that he was in the meat section when he heard what he thought was a misfire, then a series of pops.

“I was then at the front of a stampede,” he said.

Bentz said he jumped off a loading dock out back to escape and that younger people were helping older people off of it.


Law enforcement officers sweep the parking lot at the site of a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on Monday. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

Biden briefed on shooting

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis tweeted a statement that his “heart is breaking as we watch this unspeakable event unfold in our Boulder community.” He called it “very much an active situation” and said the state was “making every public safety resource available to assist the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department as they work to secure the store.”

Boulder police had told people to shelter in place amid a report of an “armed, dangerous individual” about five kilometres away from the grocery store but later lifted it and police vehicles were seen leaving the residential area near downtown and the University of Colorado. They had said they were investigating if that report was related to the shooting at the supermarket but said at the evening news conference that it wasn’t related.

The FBI said it’s helping in the investigation at the request of Boulder police.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the shooting.


Law enforcement officers rush to a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

In a statement, the King Soopers chain offered “thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation. We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.”

Kevin Daly, owner of Under the Sun Eatery and Pizzeria Restaurant a block or so from the supermarket, said he was in his shop when he saw police cars arriving and shoppers running from the grocery store. He said he took in several people to keep them warm, and others boarded a bus provided by Boulder police and were taken away.


Police on the scene outside the grocery store where the shooting took place. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

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8 people killed, including at least 4 women, in shootings at Atlanta-area massage parlours

Shootings at two massage parlours in Atlanta and one in the suburbs Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said.

The attacks began around 5 p.m., when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 50 kilometres north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said.

No one was arrested at the scene.

Around 5:50 p.m., police in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.

“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.


Crime scene tape is seen outside Aromatherapy Spa after shootings at a massage parlour and two day spas in the Atlanta area. (Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.

Suspect taken into custody

The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.

A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said. Baker said the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 240 kilometres south of Atlanta.


This undated photo provided by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office shows Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Ga., who was arrested following the three shootings. (Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office/The Associated Press)

Baker said they believe Long is also the suspect in the Atlanta shootings.

Police said video footage showed the suspect’s vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks as well. That, as well as other video evidence, “suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody,” Atlanta police said in a statement. Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.

FBI spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, around 8:30 p.m., he said.

A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, manoeuvre, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said. Long was then taken into custody “without incident” and was being held in the Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities, who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.

Due to the shootings, Atlanta police said they dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and increased patrols in the area.

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Myanmar military imposes martial law over country’s largest city after dozens killed

Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup.

The United Nations said at least 138 peaceful protesters have been killed in Myanmar since the Feb. 1 military coup, including at least 56 killed over the weekend.

The developments were the latest setback to hopes of resolving a crisis that started with the military’s seizure of power that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A grassroots movement has sprung up across the country to challenge the takeover with almost daily protests that the army has tried to crush with increasingly deadly violence.

State broadcaster MRTV said on Monday that the Yangon townships of North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa have been put under martial law. That was in addition to two others — Hlaing Thar Yar and neighbouring Shwepyitha — announced late Sunday.

More violence was reported around the country on Monday, with at least eight protesters killed in four cities or towns, according to the independent broadcaster and news service Democratic Voice of Burma.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed long convoys of trucks entering Yangon.


The body of Saw Pyae Naing is placed in a hearse in Mandalay on Sunday. Saw Pyae Naing, a 21-year old anti-coup protester, was shot and killed by Myanmar security forces during a demonstration on Saturday, according to his family. (The Associated Press)

At least 38 people were killed Sunday, the majority in the Hlaing Thar Yar area of Yangon, and 18 were killed on Saturday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. The total includes women and children, according to the figures from the UN human rights office.

UN condemns ‘continuing bloodshed’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns this ongoing violence against peaceful protesters and the continuing violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Myanmar,” Dujarric said.

The UN chief renewed his call on the international community, including regional countries, “to come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier Monday, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener condemned the “continuing bloodshed,” which has frustrated calls from the Security Council and other parties for restraint and dialogue.

“The ongoing brutality, including against medical personnel and destruction of public infrastructure, severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability,” she said.

WATCH | Myanmar’s military tightens its grip on power, targeting politicians and journalists:

Myanmar’s military has tightened its grip on power, further cracking down on protesters and targeting politicians and journalists. 2:07

Complicating efforts to organize new protests — as well as report on the crisis — cellphone internet service has been cut, although access is still available through fixed broadband connections.

Mobile data service had been used to stream live video coverage of protests, often showing security forces attacking demonstrators. It previously had been turned off only from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. local time for several weeks, with no official explanation.

The blockage of internet service forced postponement of a court hearing in the capital, Natpyitaw, for Myanmar’s detained leader Suu Kyi, who was supposed to take part via a video conference, said her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained during the coup, and have been charged with several criminal offences that their supporters say are politically motivated to keep them locked up.

Chinese-owned factories torched

Since the takeover, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency, with military leaders in charge of all government. But Sunday’s announcement was the first use of martial law since the coup and suggested more direct handling of security by the military instead of police.

Sunday’s announcement said the junta, formally called the State Administrative Council, acted to enhance security and restore law and order, and that the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial and military powers in the area under his command. The orders cover six of Yangon’s 33 townships, all of which suffered major violence in recent days.


Members of a volunteer rescue team carry an injured man on a stretcher in Mandalay on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Thirty-four of Sunday’s deaths were in Yangon. At least 22 occurred in Hlaing Thar Yar township, an industrial area with many factories that supply the garment industry, a major export earner for Myanmar. Several of the factories, many of which are Chinese-owned, were set aflame Sunday by unknown perpetrators.

The torching earned protesters a rebuke from the Chinese Embassy, which in turn received an outpouring of scorn on social media for expressing concern about factories but not mentioning the dozens of people killed by Myanmar’s security forces.

Four other deaths were reported in the cities of Bago, Mandalay, and Hpakant, according to the AAPP and local media.

Increased violence

In response to increased police violence, protesters in the past week have begun taking a more aggressive approach to self-defence, burning tires at barricades and pushing back when they can against attacks.

A statement issued Sunday by the Committee Representing Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw, the elected members of Parliament who were not allowed to take their seats, announced that the general public has the legal right to self-defence against the junta’s security forces.


Anti-coup protesters flash the three-fingered salute during a candlelight night rally in Yangon on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

The group, which operates underground inside the country and with representatives abroad, has established itself as a shadow government that claims to be the sole legitimate representative body of Myanmar’s citizens. It has been declared treasonous by the junta.

A small respite from the latest violence came before dawn Monday, when several dozen anti-coup protesters in southern Myanmar held candlelight vigils with calls for the end of the military government and a return to democracy.

In Kyae Nupyin village in Launglone township, villagers read Buddhist texts and prayed for the safety and security of all those risking their lives in the face of the increasingly lethal response of the security forces.

The area around the small city of Dawei has become a hot spot for resistance to the military takeover. On nearby country roads, a long convoy of motorcyclists carried the protest message through villages.

In Dawei itself, demonstrators built barricades out of rocks to hinder police on the main roads. There were marches, both in the morning and the afternoon, to try to keep up the momentum of weeks of resistance to the takeover.

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18 reportedly killed in Myanmar anti-coup protests; Canadian Embassy condemns crackdown

Security forces in Myanmar made mass arrests and appeared to use lethal force on Sunday as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed.

There were reports of gunfire as police in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, fired tear gas and water cannons while trying to clear the streets of demonstrators demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be restored to power. Photos of shell casings from live ammunition used in assault rifles were posted on social media.

Reports on social media identified by name one young man believed to have been killed in Yangon. His body was shown in photos and videos lying on a sidewalk until other protesters were able to carry him away.

A violent crackdown also occurred in Dawei, a much smaller city in southeastern Myanmar, where local media reported that at least three people were killed during a protest march. The fatalities could not immediately be independently confirmed, though photos posted on social media showed a wounded man in the care of medical personnel, and later laid out in a bed under a blanket with flowers placed on top.


Protesters gather in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

Confirming reports of protesters’ deaths has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources.

Prior to Sunday, there had been eight confirmed reports of killings linked to the army’s takeover, according to the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.

The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other top members of Suu Kyi’s government.

Sunday’s violence erupted in the early morning when medical students were marching in Yangon’s streets near the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the gathering point for protesters who then fan out to other parts of the city.

Videos and photos showed protesters running away as police charged at them, and residents setting up makeshift roadblocks to slow their advance. Some protesters managed to throw tear gas cannisters back at police. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away. Dozens or more were believed to have been detained.


Protesters take cover as they clash with riot police in the country’s largest city, Yangon, on Sunday. (Reuters)

Demonstrators regrouped later Sunday and security forces continued to chase them in several neighbourhoods.

There was no immediate word on Yangon casualties. Sounds of gunfire could be heard in the streets and there were what appeared to be smoke grenades thrown into the crowds.

“The Myanmar security forces’ clear escalation in use of lethal force in multiple towns and cities across the country in response to mostly peaceful anti-coup protesters is outrageous and unacceptable, and must be immediately halted,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Live ammunition should not be used to control or disperse protests and lethal force can only be used to protect life or prevent serious injury.”

“The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta, and will hold them accountable,” he said.

On Saturday, security forces began employing rougher tactics, taking preemptive actions to break up protests and making scores, if not hundreds, of arrests. Greater numbers of soldiers have also joined police. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners.


Protesters run after police fire tear gas to disperse them during a demonstration in Yangon. (Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, as of Saturday, 854 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced at one point in relation to the coup, and 771 were being detained or sought for arrest. The group said that while it had documented 75 new arrests, it understood that hundreds of other people were also picked up Saturday in Yangon and elsewhere.

MRTV, a Myanmar state-run television channel, broadcast an announcement Saturday night from the Foreign Ministry that the country’s ambassador to the United Nations had been fired because he had abused his power and misbehaved by failing to follow the instructions of the government and “betraying” it.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun had declared in an emotional speech Friday at the UN General Assembly in New York that he represented Suu Kyi’s “civilian government elected by the people” and supported the struggle against military rule.

He urged all countries to issue public statements strongly condemning the coup, and to refuse to recognize the military regime. He also called for stronger international measures to stop violence by security forces against peaceful demonstrators.

WATCH | From The National on Feb. 22 — Widespread strikes in Myanmar:

Protests and strikes in Myanmar against the military government following a coup three weeks ago have become so widespread the regime is using soldiers to try to fill workers’ jobs. People are demanding the elected leaders, including Aung San Su Kyi, be released from detention and their democracy be restored. 2:02

The Canadian Embassy in Yangon issued a statement on Sunday saying it is “appalled” by the increased use of force against the protesters.

“We unequivocally condemn any use of force by security forces against unarmed protesters, as well as ongoing arrests and detentions of protesters, politicians, civil servants, civil society activists, journalists and pro-democracy leaders.” the embassy said.

It called on Myanmar’s military and police to immediately cease “all attacks, intimidation and threats against protesters, and to release those detained.”

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40 killed in India as bus plunges off bridge into canal

An official says an overcrowded bus has driven off a bridge and into a canal in central India, killing at least 40 people.

District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Choudhary says six people were rescued after the crash Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh state.

He says more than 46 people were on board the bus, which was designed for 34.

Rescuers recovered 40 bodies and were searching for other passengers.

Officials stopped the water supply to the canal to aid the rescue effort.

Police say more than 110,000 people are killed every year in road crashes across India. Most crashes are blamed on reckless driving, poorly maintained roads and aging vehicles.

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Dozens killed after quake sets off landslides, topples homes in Indonesia

A strong, shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island just after midnight Friday, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 42 people.

More than 600 people were injured during the magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes in the darkness. Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas.

There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

In a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, a girl stuck in the wreckage of a house cried out for help and said she heard the sound of other family members also trapped. “Please help me, it hurts,” the girl told rescuers, who replied that they desperately wanted to help her.

The rescuers said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings. Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses.


Rescuers assist a survivor pulled out from the ruin of a government building in Mamuju on Friday. (Azhari Surahman/The Associated Press)

The earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside. Rescuers struggled to extract seven patients and staff who were trapped under tons of rubble. After several hours, an excavator came to help and the rescuers eventually retrieved four survivors and three bodies.

Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried.

Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

The quake was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 18 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Indonesian disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 34 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 26 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.


People react as the body of an earthquake victim is recovered by rescuers in Mamuju on Friday. (Yusuf Wahil/The Associated Press)

The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 others were injured in Mamuju’s neighbouring district of Majene.

It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.

‘We are racing against time’

West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor’s office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped.

Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering the operation to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save 20 people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor’s office, a hospital and hotels.

“We are racing against time to rescue them,” Rahmanjaya said.


Rescuers search for survivors a damaged hospital in Mamuju on Friday. (Firdaus /AFP via Getty Images)

Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull a body of a loved one from a damaged home in devastated Mamuju. It was placed in an orange body bag and taken away for burial.

“Oh my God, why did we have to go through this?” cried Rina, who uses one name. “I can’t save my dear sister … forgive me, sister, forgive us, God!”

President Joko Widodo said in a televised address that he had ordered his social minister and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures and search and rescue operations as quickly as possible.

“I, on behalf of the Government and all Indonesian people, would like to express my deep condolences to families of the victims,” Widodo said.


The National Search and Rescue Agency’s chief, Bagus Puruhito, said rescuers from the cities of Palu, Makassar, Balikpapan and Jakarta were being deployed to help in Mamuju and Majene.

Two ships were heading to the affected areas from Makassar and Balikpapan carrying rescuers and search and rescue equipment, while a Hercules plane carrying supplies was on its way from Jakarta.

Puruhito is already leading more than 4,100 rescue personnel in a separate massive search operation for victims of the crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet into the Java Sea last Saturday.

Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief.

Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground in fear one might occur.

Located on ‘Ring of Fire’

Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to the Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson.

On Thursday, a magnitude 5.9 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people died, many of the victims buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.

A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.

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At least 2 killed, dozens of homes destroyed after powerful Cyclone Yasa slams Fiji

A powerful cyclone hit Fiji overnight, killing at least two people and destroying dozens of homes in the Pacific island nation, authorities said Friday.

While Cyclone Yasa proved terrifying for those in its path, there was a sense of relief in other parts of the country that the devastation wasn’t as widespread as many had initially feared.

Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, told reporters the cyclone hit with wind gusts of up to 345 km/h.

“We will continue to assess the scale of damage in the coming days,” she said. “But we are likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Soko said they would provide more details on those who had died later.


Fiji National Disaster Management Office Director Vasiti Soko, left, speaks at a news conference in Suva on Wednesday. (Lice Movono/AFP via Getty Images)

FBC News reported one of those who died was 46-year-old farmer Ramesh Chand, who was sheltering from the cyclone in his home in the town of Lovelove on the island of Vanua Levu when part of his house fell on him, also injuring his eldest son.

The man’s wife, who wasn’t named, told FBC she grabbed her younger son and ran to a nearby home to seek help: “We called my husband. Wake up! Wake up! But he didn’t wake up.”

The storm destroyed many other homes on the island, which is Fiji’s second largest.

The eye of the storm moved through Vanua Levu from about 6 p.m. local time on Thursday. It missed the capital city Suva and the major tourist hub of Nadi on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu.

“It’s a nightmare,” Labasa resident Banuve Lasaqa Lusi told Radio New Zealand. “The thunderous sound of the wind and what is flying around is what’s frightening.”


A fallen electric pole is seen in in Savusavu, Fiji, on Friday. (Fiji Roads Authority via Reuters)

She said many people’s houses had been flattened, with some sheltering under their beds or escaping with just the clothes on their backs.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening Friday as it moved southeast over some of Fiji’s outer islands.

However, they warned of danger from flooding. Fiji’s government said that the Rewa River was rising, with rain continuing intermittently. The Rewa skirts Suva and runs through Nausori, where Suva’s airport is located.


A flooded road crossing is seen in Savusavu on Thursday. (Fiji Roads Authority/via Reuters)

Many had worried the storm could rival the destruction caused by Cyclone Winston, which killed 44 people and caused widespread damage when it hit in 2016.

The Fiji Times newspaper reported the cyclone had destroyed about 20 homes and a community hall in the village of Tiliva and that homes in other villages had also been damaged or destroyed.

Authorities had warned the cyclone would hit with sustained winds of up to 250 km/h. But by Friday, the cyclone’s winds had dropped to about half that speed.


The storm prompted more than 20,000 people to move into government evacuation centres. It also downed power lines, cut communications, and caused flash flooding and road closures.

Before the cyclone hit, authorities had imposed an overnight curfew throughout the nation and declared a state of natural disaster.

Located about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii, Fiji has a population of about 930,000.

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COVID-19 has now killed more Albertans than last 10 flu seasons combined

COVID-19 has now killed more people in Alberta than influenza did over the last 10 years combined, the province’s top public health doctor says.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw issued that stark reminder during her update on the pandemic, which has now killed 760 people since March.

“It is a sobering statistic that in less than 10 months, more Albertans have now died from COVID-19 than have died from influenza in the last 10 years combined,” Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday at a  news conference.

“Today I want to remind anyone who is in the 20 to 40 age range that this virus also impacts you,” she said.

“In Alberta to date, more than 32,000 people between the ages of 20 and 39 have contracted COVID-19. More than 380 of them have been hospitalized, and sadly, eight of these have died.

“To put this in perspective, if you gathered every Albertan between the ages of 20 and 39 who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they would fill the Saddledome in Calgary, the Centrium in Red Deer and the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge.”

Virus does not discriminate

The coronavirus does not discriminate, and can have long-term and potentially devastating impact for anyone who contracts the illness, she said, urging people of all ages not to take COVID-19 lightly. 

“For everyone of any age, including those between the ages of 20 and 39, it is vital to avoid in-person interactions whenever possible,” Hinshaw said.

“This includes not having holiday parties or other gatherings in our homes. Instead, we must all look for ways to connect virtually.”

WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw says COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe:

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that the new vaccination against COVID-19 is safe and it works. 1:54

Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services continues to take steps to increase hospital capacity and expand the number of acute-care and ICU beds. Some are new beds and, in some cases, existing beds will be made available as patients are moved into continuing-care centres.

AHS is also working with the Canadian Red Cross to set up an alternate care centre at the Butterdome on the University of Alberta’s campus, she said.

“It will take a few weeks to set up the care centre, which could add an additional 100 inpatient beds,” Hinshaw said. “There is no plan to staff these beds unless they are needed. This is a purely precautionary measure for use if needed in the future.”

Vaccine rollout still being developed

The first phase of the province’s vaccine program, which provided its initial doses on Tuesday, will target people who are at the highest risk of severe outcomes and those who care for them, Hinshaw said.

During the first quarter of 2021, she said the vaccine will be given to long-term care residents, staff who work in long-term care and designated supportive living centres, health-care workers in the highest risk areas of hospitals and people over the age of 75. 

“What we’re seeing as our Phase 2 would include priority groups who are more of those first-responders and front-line professionals, and that is set to roll out … at this time, we anticipate in April of 2021,” she said.

Decisions haven’t yet been made about which of the first-responder groups or front-line workers would be prioritized first, and Hinshaw said those discussions will happen early in the new year. 

“We don’t know yet exactly how much vaccine we will have. We continue to work with the federal government to make sure that we are getting updates.

“And as more vaccine is available, and as potentially new vaccines are licensed, we may be able to move those dates, if things move more quickly than anticipated. But at this point that is our anticipated timeline.”

Latest numbers

More than nine months into the worst pandemic in a century, Albertans have become accustomed to watching the daily numbers — new cases, active cases, hospitalizations, test numbers, outbreaks in schools, even something called the R value — essentially the number of people infected by each infected person. And the saddest number of all, deaths.

Here’s where things sat as of Wednesday’s update:

  • 1,270 new cases.
  • 20,169 active cases.
  • 749 people in hospital, including 139 in ICU.
  • 17,569 tests, a total of 1,587,574 people tested.
  • A positivity rate of 7.3 per cent.
  • 16 more deaths, for a total of 760.

The provincial R value from Dec. 7-13 was 0.98. (An R-value of one means each person with the illness only infects one other person.)

  • Edmonton Zone – 1.00.
  • Calgary Zone – 0.92.
  • Rest of Alberta – 1.01.

More than 84,000 Albertans have contracted the disease since the pandemic began, with 63,668 now listed as recovered.

The regional breakdown of cases on Wednesday was:

  • Edmonton zone: 9,715
  • Calgary zone: 7,122
  • Central zone: 1,496
  • North zone: 1,245
  • South zone: 553
  • Unknown: 76  

Health Minister Tyler Shandro is expected to provide an update on the next phase of rapid testing at a news conference scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday.

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Mystery illness in India has killed 1, hospitalized hundreds

At least one person has died and 200 others have been hospitalized due to an unidentified illness in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, reports said Monday.

The illness was detected Saturday evening in Eluru, an ancient city famous for its hand-woven products. Since then, patients have experienced symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousness, doctors said.

A 45-year-old man who was hospitalized with nausea and symptoms similar to epilepsy died Sunday evening, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Officials are trying to determine the cause of the illness. So far, water samples from impacted areas haven’t shown any signs of contamination, and the chief minister’s office said people not linked to the municipal water supply have also fallen ill.

The patients are of different ages and have tested negative for COVID-19 and other viral diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or herpes.

An expert team delegated by the federal government reached the city to investigate the sudden illness Monday.

State chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy visited a government hospital and met patients who were ill.

Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded on Twitter an “impartial, full-fledged inquiry into the incident.”

Andhra Pradesh state is among those worst hit by COVID-19, with more than 800,000 detected cases. The health system in the state, like the rest of India, has been frayed by the virus.

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