At least 41 people were killed and more than 60 injured after a Taiwanese train carrying almost 500 passengers derailed in a tunnel on Friday when it apparently hit a truck that slid off a road leading to a nearby construction site.
The crash, which also killed the train’s driver, is the island’s worst rail disaster in at least four decades.
The train, an express travelling from Taipei to Taitung, came off the rails north of Hualien in eastern Taiwan. It was carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend traditional holiday to tend to family tombs.
Images of the crash scene showed carriages inside the tunnel ripped apart from the impact, while others crumpled, hindering rescuers reaching passengers, though as of mid-afternoon only two people remained trapped in the wreckage.
Transport Minister Lin Chia-lung told reporters on the scene that the train was carrying about 490 people — higher than an earlier fire department figure of 350.
Taiwan media said many people were standing as the train was so full, and were thrown about when it crashed, and showed pictures of survivors being led out the tunnel.
“People just fell all over each other, on top of one another,” one female survivor told local television. “It was terrifying. There were whole families there.”
The official Central News Agency said a truck whose handbrake was not engaged was suspected of sliding off a sloping road into the path of the train, and that police had taken in the driver for questioning.
The fire department showed a picture of what appeared to be the truck’s wreckage lying next to the derailed train, and an aerial image of the end of the train sitting on the track next to a construction site.
‘The truck came falling down’
“Our train crashed into a truck,” one man said in a video aired on Taiwanese television, showing pictures of the wreckage. “The truck came falling down.”
Part of the train was situated outside the tunnel, and those passengers in carriages still in the tunnel had to be led to safety, Taiwan’s railway administration said.
Images showed an injured passenger being stretchered out of the crash scene, her head and neck in a brace, passengers gathering suitcases and bags in a tilted, derailed carriage and others walking out of the tunnel on the roof of the train.
The accident occurred at the start of a long weekend for the traditional Tomb Sweeping Day, when people return home to look after family grave sites.
Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is a popular tourist destination, and the railway line from Taipei down the east coast is renowned for its tunnels and route that hugs the coast just north of Hualien where the crash occurred. The line connecting Taipei with Hualien was opened only in 1979.
Taiwan’s state-owned railways are generally reliable and efficient, but have had a patchy safety record over the years.
In 2018, 18 people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in northeastern Taiwan. In 1981, 30 were killed in a collision in northern Taiwan, and in 1991 another 30 died in a train crash.
Toronto FC has been given a bye into the CONCACAF Champions League with Forge FC, its opponent in the Canadian Championship final, unable to return to full training.
Canada Soccer, which runs the Canadian tournament, said the final will be played at a later date.
The pandemic has taken a toll on both clubs. Hamilton’s Forge is still waiting approval from local authorities to start camp while TFC, which started training Feb. 17, has been sidelined by a series of positive COVID-19 tests.
Canada Soccer was facing a time crunch given the winner of the Canadian Championship final has an April 7 date with Mexico’s Club Leon in the first leg of round-of-16 play in the CONCACAF Champions League, the confederation’s flagship club competition.
Canada Soccer said TFC and Forge had both signed off on the decision, adding “every effort will be made to hold the Canadian Championship at a later date pending league schedules and in accordance with all public health and safety measures.”
Canada Soccer, which had previously only said the final would be played in the first quarter of 2021, confirmed Thursday that March 20 had been the tentative date. The Champions League dates and a FIFA international window opening March 22 left it little wiggle room.
Eventually, we will crown a Battle of the North champion and award the Voyageurs Cup for the 2020 season.– Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis
Still it did not sit well with Forge owner Bob Young, who released an open letter last Saturday complaining his team was not prepared given the lack of training. Forge has not played since a Dec. 8 loss to Honduras’ CD Marathon in the CONCACAF League, a feeder competition to the Champions League.
Two days after the Young letter, TFC announced its camp had been closed with players and staff sent home to self-isolate after several positive COVID-19 tests.
Canada Olympic coach Mauro Biello opted not to pick any of TFC’s youngsters for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in Guadalajara, Mexico, saying they would not be ready for Canada’s first game March 19.
The Canadian Championship final will be played at a later date in Hamilton.
“Canada Soccer looks forward to hosting the Canadian Championship final at Tim Hortons Field and celebrating the achievements of both clubs with their fans in the stands in a safe manner,” Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis said in a statement. “Eventually, we will crown a Battle of the North champion and award the Voyageurs Cup for the 2020 season.”
The 2020 Canadian Championship originally was to have featured 11 clubs — three Canadian teams from Major League Soccer and eight Canadian Premier League sides. The tournament was slated to kick off June 16 and run through Sept. 23, but was delayed when soccer suspended play due to global pandemic.
In August, Canada Soccer decided to scrap the tournament and just stage a one-off final.
Forge qualified for the final by winning the CPL’s Island Games in Charlottetown last summer. Toronto made it by finishing first among the Canadian teams in the first phase of the revised MLS 2020 schedule.
The Canadian Championship was first held in 2008. Toronto FC has won the Voyageurs Cup seven times compared to four for Montreal and once for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Toronto (2018) and Montreal (2014-15) have both finished runners-up in CONCACAF Champions League.
They stuck with him, right down to his presidency’s democracy-rattling end.
Fewer than five per cent of Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Donald Trump, a president now accused of the gravest charge laid against any American commander-in-chief: inciting an insurrection.
But it’s too soon to conclude the Senate will once again spare Trump a conviction, as it did during his first impeachment trial last February, and any further punishment because Wednesday’s developments point to some trouble spots for him.
Yet here’s what we do already know: Trump will complete his term unimpeded, because the Republican-led Senate says it won’t take up the impeachment case until after the presidential transition on Jan. 20. A supermajority of two-thirds of the upper house, which will be evenly divided once the newly elected Democratic senators from Georgia are sworn in, is needed to convict an impeached president.
So this polarizing debate will loom over the early phase of Joe Biden’s presidency, slowing adoption of legislation and threatening to cast its shadow over Biden’s inauguration-day theme: “America United.”
Surveys say: Trump still controls this party
A number of new surveys show just how divided Americans are over Trump. They also illustrate a clear cause for fear among any Republicans who cross Trump: the reaction of his voters, the base who votes in Republican primaries.
Trump’s popularity may have taken a bit of a hit in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and polls say most Americans do want him impeached, but the overwhelming majority of Republicans continue supporting him.
The president’s critics grappled Wednesday with the implications of what this immutable support means for the viability of American democracy.
WATCH | Trump first U.S. president to be impeached twice:
The U.S. House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for a second time, over his role in last week’s attack on Capitol Hill, but authorities across the country are now bracing for more possible violence from an Trump army of supporters, one week before president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 4:11
A Democrat who worked for the United Nations in conflict zones, congresswoman Sara Jacobs, said one lesson about political violence is it spreads if left unpunished.
Another Democrat, Gerry Connolly of Virginia, asked the House of Representatives: “Is there any depravity too low? Is there any outrage too far? Is there any blood and violence too much, to turn hearts and minds in this body?”
Fears for personal safety
Connolly called it a moment of truth.
It was also reportedly a moment of fear for some Republicans. And that points to what’s said to be a darker reason so few Republicans voted to impeach.
Lawmakers arrived for the vote in a heavily fortified Capitol, where soldiers were quartered for the first time since the Civil War.
Two members of Congress, one Republican and one Democrat, and some reporters, said they heard from Republican lawmakers who privately expressed fear of voting to impeach out of concern they might be physically harmed by Trump supporters.
Colorado Democrat Jason Crow said he saw a couple of them break down in tears, paralyzed by terror about being attacked. He told the chamber that the moment required courage: “Leadership is hard. It’s time to impeach.”
But the longer-term takeaway about what comes next for Republicans is hardly etched in stone. That will only become clearer over the coming weeks.
There’s an alternative way, for starters, to perceive the partisan breakdown in Wednesday’s vote.
On the one hand only 10 Republicans voted to impeach the president. On the other hand, that’s an American record.
10 Republicans still broke a record
Trump will not just enter the history books as the only president impeached twice; he’s also drawn more votes to impeach from his own party than any other president in history.
In 1868, no Democrat voted to impeach Andrew Johnson; in 1998, five Democrats voted to impeach Bill Clinton; no Republicans in the House voted to impeach Trump in 2019. (Senator Mitt Romney was the lone Republican who voted to convict Trump at the end of the impeachment trial.)
Yet on Wednesday, a record number of Republicans sanctioned their party’s most popular figure — some of those lawmakers were old, some were young, some from heavily conservative districts, some from swing districts.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is now being deluged with threats of a primary in his Illinois district from voters livid that he helped impeach Trump.
But the 41-year-old Air Force veteran said he felt at peace, having done the right thing.
Jaime Herrera Beutler, a 42-year-old recently re-elected for the sixth time in a conservative-leaning Washington State district, said she was choosing not to be afraid as she cast her vote against Trump.
“Fear is our enemy,” she said.
“Truth sets us free from fear…. I am not choosing a side. I’m choosing truth. It’s the only way to defeat fear.”
Another Washington State Republican said he blamed everyone for American politics degenerating to this point — including himself.
Dan Newhouse said he should have stood up earlier to Trump’s lies about the election he lost.
“This is a sad day in our republic,” he said.
But he said Democrats should also have been more vocal when rioters and anarchists in his state and elsewhere caused damage during protests last summer.
A number of Republicans mentioned destructive Black Lives Matter protests as evidence of what they perceive as double-standard against their supporters.
Several unknowns in Senate case
Another reason it’s too early to draw permanent conclusions from Wednesday’s vote is that we don’t yet know how the Senate will react.
Trump might still become the first impeached president to be convicted. The top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, has expressed uncharacteristic annoyance with Trump lately, and few senators are vocally defending him.
Those senators have slightly less reason to fear a primary challenge, as their terms last six years compared to two in the House.
And a few intend to run for president in 2024, which creates an incentive to see Trump forever banished from electoral politics.
Senators must choose the penalty for Trump if they choose to convict him and the possibilities include disqualifying him from ever seeking office again.
The path to conviction could be made simpler in a way illustrated by Wednesday’s House of Representatives vote: four Republicans skipped the vote, offering a variety of justifications.
And a few Republican no-shows in the Senate would make it easier to reach the required constitutional threshold to convict, which is not two-thirds of all senators, but two-thirds of senators present.
There’s another way things will get harder for Trump. His party will no longer set the Senate rules like it did during his first impeachment.
Democrats have just won control of the chamber, which means they can call witnesses; grill Trump’s allies; and gather evidence from the Justice Department, which they will also soon control.
Argument against Senate trial as unconstitutional
Yet some Republicans might argue the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is already out of office.
Twice in American history, the Senate has heard an impeachment trial for someone no longer holding office, both involving corruption cases, one in 1799 for U.S. Sen. William Blount, and in 1876 for war secretary William Belknap.
A retired judge, Michael Luttig, however, recently argued in The Washington Post that a post-presidential trial is unlikely to be legitimate under his interpretation of the wording of the Constitution’s impeachment clause, Article I, Section 3, Clause 7.
One more showdown on the Republican side will help illustrate just how much pull Trump has in his post-presidency.
One of Trump’s staunchest backers on Capitol Hill, Jim Jordan, has reportedly made a move to unseat congresswoman Liz Cheney from her senior leadership role in the Republican Party after she voted to impeach.
Kinzinger said her vote has gained Cheney respect in the party.
Yet the Republicans who agreed with her were mostly discreet Wednesday. More vocal were those diehards riding the Trump train right to the very end.
People like Dough LaMalfa, who accused Democrats of trying to silence half the country by humiliating Trump: “You hate him,” he said.
Andy Biggs of Arizona referred to Democrats as “the beast” trying to devour Trump, harbouring an unsatiated craving to crush him through investigations, false allegations and impeachment.
“Your craving was never a Biden victory, nor even a Trump defeat. … You don’t merely seek victory — you seek obliteration of your nemesis,” he said.
A young pro-Trump congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz, also derided Democrats for remaining silent when rioters burned city buildings and looted businesses.
Gaetz said Trump has weathered unprecedented hatred — “from big media, big tech and big egos.”
Around the same time Wednesday morning, the Trump campaign crackled momentarily back to life.
The president’s political team, which has been mostly silent during the impeachment fight, sent supporters a text message with internal poll numbers suggesting Republicans who vote for impeachment would see support plummet from their own party voters.
Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller spent the day tweeting support for lawmakers like Gaetz — and stories about threats to unseat Cheney and others who crossed Trump.
The president couldn’t tweet himself as Twitter banned his account, alleging he had been stoking violence.
Instead, Trump released a video through the White House late Wednesday warning against violent acts.
WATCH | Trump says his ‘true supporters’ don’t support violence:
Toronto FC players will be sleeping in their own beds in the lead-up to the MLS playoffs.
Rather than return to Hartford, Toronto remained home Wednesday thanks to a relaxation of the rules regarding training during the pandemic.
“”Major League Soccer has received approval for a modified work-quarantine that permits in-market training under strict testing and safety protocols,” the league said in a statement.
The players will continue to undergo COVID-19 testing every other day and are limited to what they can do.
“Basically it’s home, training, home,” said Toronto president Bill Manning. “That’s kind of our routine. But I can tell you it’s better than being away.”
I think this is going to be a great chance to kind of recharge the batteries, being at home again,” he added.
Toronto shifted its base to Hartford in late September, playing “home games” in Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.
When time permitted, the travelling party has returned to Toronto to spend time with loved ones under quarantine. In past weeks, that has not involved training — and players and staff have returned to Hartford after two days at home.
The other Canadians teams were also forced to move south of the border.
Vancouver shifted operations to Portland’s Providence Park while Montreal played out of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Impact back in Montreal
The Impact are also back training in Montreal under the new guidelines. The Impact (8-13-2) play Nov. 20 at New England in an Eastern Conference play-in game.
Vancouver (9-14-0) missed the playoffs.
Toronto (13-5-5) played all but four games of its 23 regular-season games away from home. It has played 14 straight games away from BMO Field, posting an 8-4-2 record since its last game in Toronto on Sept. 1.
Toronto starts its playoff run Nov. 24 in East Hartford, where it will face one of the winners from the Eastern Conference play-in games.
Ontario could be “on the brink of disaster,” a Toronto epidemiologist said Wednesday, as officials continued to urge families to scrap Thanksgiving gatherings amid soaring COVID-19 cases.
This week, the province — and public health officials in the hot zones of Toronto and Ottawa — stressed the safest way to celebrate is with only members of your own household.
Should Ontarians not heed those warnings, some weekend gatherings could become superspreading events once infected attendees return to their homes, schools and workplaces, said Dr. Jeff Kwong, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of Toronto.
“It’s not just about this one transmission event; it’s the onward transmission,” he said. “Ten people gathering, say four or five get infected, then they go on to their social circles and infect another five or 10, and so on.”
The result could be like a “runaway train” given the millions of residents potentially congregating indoors with extended family members from different households, he said.
Against that backdrop, Ontario officials are now encouraging household-only celebrations for Thanksgiving while saying people who live alone can pair up with one other household.
Activities now ‘much higher risk’
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said residents let their guard down on previous holidays, such as Labour Day weekend, which led to increased cases.
But there are several stark differences between those earlier festivities and Thanksgiving, Kwong said.
Unlike the long weekend holidays of spring and summer, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated indoors given the colder weather. Also, it often marks the first time college and university students return home from campus, and it now falls against a backdrop of already-rising cases.
“Things are a little bit out of control already,” he said. “It’s not like cases are going down steadily like they were earlier in the summer.”
Dr. Irfan Dhalla, vice-president of physician quality at Unity Health, which includes St. Michael’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Toronto, agreed the climate has changed.
“The same activities that we could do with relatively low risk at 50-70 cases per day are now much higher risk at 500-700 cases per day,” he said.
One park gathering, 27 cases
According to Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health for Ottawa, even outdoor dinners aren’t advised for Thanksgiving, given the risks tied to close contact in settings like a park.
One outdoor gathering in that city already wound up becoming a superspreading event, she said.
It was a barbecue in a park, Etches revealed last month, with 40 attendees, including two who went on to develop COVID-19 symptoms. Those infections led to outbreaks in their households, a workplace and a daycare — causing dozens of exposures and at least 27 cases.
The messaging throughout the pandemic has long been “outdoors is better than indoors,” said University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite, but she stressed that only goes so far.
“I think the concern is still, you’re eating a meal together, it’s hard to keep a distance,” she explained. “You’re sharing food. You’re passing dishes.”
Thanksgiving a ‘potent accelerator’
Experts say there are ways to avoid those risks while still celebrating the spirit of the occasion.
Tuite said a family hike, if physical distancing is maintained, is one option. Kwong said he’s carving up a turkey, offering curbside pickup for family and gathering online for the meal.
The challenge, both agree, is people trying to gather together like usual and slipping up once food and drinks start flowing.
With that in mind, Kwong issued a public plea for Ontarians, and particularly those in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, to cancel any planned gatherings.
“We are on the brink of disaster,” he said in a tweet on Wednesday.
WATCH | Canadians confused by advice on Thanksgiving celebrations
Canadians are trying to decipher confusing advice from public health officials about what kind of gathering, if any, is appropriate and safe for Thanksgiving. 1:57
Toronto warns of spring peak
In Toronto, where medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa is also calling on residents to celebrate Thanksgiving with only their own household, there’s growing concern about rising case counts beyond just the holiday.
The city’s latest modelling shows without further public health interventions — like month-long restaurant and gym closures de Villa is requesting from the province — the spread of COVID-19 throughout October could exceed the April peak.
“If the virus is left unchecked, heading into November, things can get much worse,” she said. “Infections continue to rise week over week, peaking between early March and early May 2021.”
When asked when the city will know if Thanksgiving gatherings caused even more infections, de Villa’s answer was blunt: “I hope we don’t get there.”
Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) says robust measures taken by Major League Baseball to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is what led the government to issue an exemption to the mandatory isolation order for the Blue Jays to hold training camp in Toronto.
It’s a decision PHAC says was based on “national interest grounds.”
In an email to CBC Sports late Thursday, the health agency said it had received written commitments from both Toronto Public Health and Ontario Public Health supporting the “proposed risk mitigation measures” being taken by the MLB plan.
Jays president Mark Shapiro revealed on a conference call a 100-page document presented to the government highlighting the safety measures.
What exactly national interest grounds entails isn’t completely clear but federal health officials say they see professional sports returning to Canada as a positive.
WATCH | Devin Heroux on the Jays’ isolation plan ahead of summer training:
CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux outlines the Toronto Blue Jays’ plans to isolate inside the Rogers Centre for summer training, and possibly for home games during the shortened regular season. 2:17
“This is a gradual and measured resumption of professional sports, and is another step towards safely restarting many of the activities that were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the organization wrote in an email.
The PHAC says Blue Jays players and staff who have traveled from outside of Canada will have to stay within the Rogers Centre and the specified areas of the attached hotel for 14 days.
“We have approved the MLB only for the preseason training phase 1 and 2 in Canada. Pre- and regular-season games still need to be evaluated,” the email said.
The federal government has reportedly granted the same exemption to the NHL to allow Edmonton and Toronto to act as hub cities for its expected resumption of play, though no official announcement has been made. The two hub cities will have 12 teams in each location staying inside a bubble-like scenario — they will be positioned in either city from start to finish and move from hotel to venue to play games.
WATCH | Toronto poised to host MLB, NHL games:
As professional sports leagues are getting closer to restarting, it’s looking like the city of Toronto will be hosting a lot of games. 3:43
The Jays, however, and their opponents, would be coming in and out of Toronto during its 60-game schedule. That’s the complicating factor to being able to play the season in Toronto.
Shapiro said Jays want to play at the Rogers Centre in Toronto but recognizes the health concerns of having hundreds of players traveling in and out of the city over the season. He said the organization and league are currently finalizing their safety protocol plan to present to the government.
“We will look to end up with a similar result where we protect the public in every way possible, but we have to deal with not just our team coming in and out of the country but the visiting team as well,” Shapiro said Thursday.
PHAC will decide whether to grant the Jays and all opposing teams exemption from the mandatory isolation order for the entire season.
While some see this move as irresponsible in light of the months of stringent restrictions for the public, Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and researcher based at Toronto General Hospital, says the plan can work.
“On the riskometer, this is really, really low,” he said.
“It basically isn’t skirting a quarantine act, it’s modifying it to make the quarantine be a larger umbrella between your hotel and the playing facility,” he said. “The key thing is, are you taking away resources from the local community? It doesn’t sound like it. Are you putting the local community at risk? It doesn’t sound like it.”
Bogoch said people should think of the Rogers Centre and adjoining hotel as a big home with a backyard that includes a baseball stadium. He said the risk of transmission to the public from pro baseball players is low if they adhere to staying inside the hotel and Rogers Centre.
But Bogoch admitted the efficacy of the plan relies solely on whether players follow the rules and don’t leave the confines.
“It’s going to be pretty obvious if a professional baseball player is hanging out having a beer down the street. The optics of that would be terrible,” Bogoch said.
‘Devil is in details’
“The devil is in the details. How it’s implemented will be important. Players and teams have been given such a tremendous privilege, they better not screw this up.”
The Blue Jays will be flying into Toronto this weekend and will immediately begin summer training camp. Opening Day is scheduled for either July 23 or 24 — that gives the team three weeks to prepare for the season, not knowing if they’ll play at the Rogers Centre.
But Bogoch sees a scenario working for the Jays and opposing teams to play at the venue. Teams visiting Toronto, including the Jays when they return from a road trip, would take a charter flight that lands at Pearson. They would arrive and go directly to pre-arranged private transportation, he said.
From there, Bogoch said, teams would travel directly to the hotel attached to the Rogers Centre where rooms would already be assigned and there would be no need for hotel staff to be in contact with players or team personnel.
“You go right to the field, you don’t mingle, you don’t go out. Play the game. Then you leave,” Bogoch said.
“Baseball is a relatively safe sport. It’s outdoors. And people are relatively far apart from each other.”
Once the games are over, the Jays and their opposition would then go from hotel, to transportation, and fly away to the next city. And then do it all over again.
“You have to ask yourself, does that put the general public at risk? And the answer is probably not,” Bogoch said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says players and staff must comply with the MLB’s public health plan and if anything changes, PHAC would have to approve those plans.
Andre De Grasse’s goal of winning Olympic gold is currently on hold due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Canadian sprinter is still managing to stay in shape despite the ongoing social distancing measures.
During an incredibly uncertain time for all Olympic athletes, the 25-year-old Markham, Ont., native said he is just trying to make the most of the situation while being at home in Florida.
“It [training] doesn’t really consist of much because of the quarantine, basically just doing a lot of core, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, those type of things,” De Grasse said on Instagram Live with CBC Sports’ Anson Henry on Saturday. “Of course I can go for a little jog around my block, so I usually try to jog to the mailbox, jog back, stuff like that.
“It’s pretty tough, but I try to stay somewhat in shape. I think everyone is in the same position, so you try to do what you can.”
WATCH | De Grasse isn’t mailing in his workouts:
While physical distancing, the Canadian track star says the only time he manages to get in a workout is while his kids are napping. 1:26
The Tokyo Games will be De Grasse’s first opportunity to pursue an Olympic gold medal without the great Usain Bolt competing against him.
De Grasse claimed three medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, including silver in the 200 metres and bronze in the 100, and he also added two more world championship medals to his collection in Doha last October.
The International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics until 2021 last month, a decision De Grasse said he was “at peace with” when speaking to The Canadian Press after the announcement.
Although De Grasse is staying in shape during the pandemic, he says he is spending most of his extra time at home with his two kids.
“I would say from start to finish, I’m mostly with the kids trying to keep them occupied,” De Grasse said when describing his current daily routine. “I got a pool in the backyard, so they go swimming some days in the backyard. I teach them how to swim.”
Like most people right now, the majority of De Grasse’s time is being spent inside in an effort to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, but he has found ways to pass the time with his kids.
“I play puzzles with them, some board games, card games, just random stuff like that,” De Grasse said. “And of course when they’re watching Netflix or watching Disney Plus, that’s when I’m just chilling and watching the stuff with them. Yesterday they watched Frozen, this morning they were watching Lion King.”
With most of his daily schedule dedicated to his kids, De Grasse has to seize training opportunities whenever they present themselves.
“When they’re taking a nap, that’s when I try to do some training myself,” De Grasse said.
When the Tokyo Games finally arrive, De Grasse will be squaring off against a fresh crop of impressive talent in Americans Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles.
De Grasse posted a personal-best time of 9.90 seconds in the 100 metre race at the world championships last October, but he finished one-hundredth of a second behind silver medallist Coleman.
A raging fire swept through a train in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab Province on Thursday, killing 74 people. Survivors said afterward it took nearly 20 minutes for the train to stop amid contradictory reports about the condition of its brakes.
Three carriages were consumed by flames from a fire caused by a cooking gas stove, and dozens of people jumped in panic from the speeding train.
Conductor Sadiue Ahmed Khan told The Associated Press the train’s emergency braking system was in perfect working order and the train stopped within three minutes after the first signs of fire.
“This is the worst tragedy in my life as a driver,” he said.
Investigators said they will look at the train’s braking system to determine its condition at the time of the fire. Survivors recounted pulling at emergency cords that weave through the train to notify the conductor, but they said the train continued to speed down the tracks.
Ghulam Abbas, a passenger who had boarded the train in the town of Nawabshah in neighbouring Sindh province with his wife and two children, recounted watching panicked passengers jumping off.
“We learned afterward that most of them had died,” he said.
His wife, Sulai Khan Bibi, said she was horrified about what would happen to their two small children. “We were so close to death, but Allah saved us,” she said, clutching the children.
The train, which was travelling from the southern Arabian Sea port city of Karachi to Rawalpindi, just 10 kilometres from the federal capital, was carrying 857 passengers. Most of the dead were members of Tableeqi-e-Jamaat, an organization of Islamic missionaries. The fire was believed to have started in their compartment.
Mufti Wahab, a district chief of the Tableeqi-e-Jamaat, said as many as 52 members of his organization were “martyred because of the fire.”
‘We felt so helpless’
The fire apparently started after one of several small stoves brought on to the train by the the Tableeqi members exploded, setting other gas cylinders used to fuel the stoves on fire, said Deputy Railways Commissioner Jamil Ahmed.
Flames roared through the train, engulfing three carriages as it approached the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab. Survivors recounted horrific scenes of fellow passengers screaming as they jumped through windows and off the train, flames billowing from the carriages.
“We could hear people crying and screaming for help,” said Chaudhry Shujaat, who had boarded the train just a few hours earlier with his wife and two children. “I thought we would die. The next car was on fire. We felt so helpless.”
WATCH: See the devastating train fire that killed dozens
A small stove fire sparked a deadly fire that saw flames shooting out the windows. 0:36
Kaleem Ullah, an official with the district emergency services, said of the 43 people injured, 11 were still in critical condition. Several of them had jumped off the train — many to their deaths — after the fire broke out and before it eventually screeched to a halt, said Ahmed, the railways official.
In Pakistan, poor passengers often bring their own small gas stoves on the trains to cook their meals, despite rules to the contrary, according to Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. Safety regulations are often ignored in the overcrowded trains.
Railway official Shabir Ahmed said bodies of passengers were scattered over a two-kilometre-wide area around the site.
People from nearby villages rushed to the train, carrying buckets of water and shovels to help douse the flames. “But it was impossible,” said Ahmed.
Through the morning hours, rescue workers and inspectors sifted through the charred wreckage, looking for survivors and aiding the injured. Local Pakistani TV footage from the scene showed a huge blaze raging as firefighters struggled to get it under control.
Officials said they were still trying to identify the victims and that the lists of fatalities and those injured were not ready yet. Another train was dispatched to bring the survivors to the city of Rawalpindi, they said.
Yasmin Rashid, a provincial minister in Punjab, told reporters that medical staff were providing the best possible treatment for the injured at a hospital in Liaquatpur. Those critically injured were taken by ambulance to the city of Multan, the largest city nearest to the site of the accident.
Pakistan’s military said troops were also participating in the rescue operation. President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan issued statements expressing their sorrow over the tragedy.
Khan took to Twitter to offer his condolences to the families of those killed and say he was praying for the speedy recovery of the injured. He also ordered an urgent investigation into the incident.
Train accidents in Pakistan are often the result of poor railway infrastructure and official negligence. Media reports on Thursday suggest that railways officials did not notice when passengers boarded the train, carrying individual gas stoves.
In July, a passenger train rammed into a freight train at the Walhar Railway Station in the district of Rahim Yar Khan, killing at least 20 people and injuring 74.
A month earlier, a passenger train traveling to the eastern city of Lahore from the port city of Karachi collided with a freight train in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing three people.
For Danny Green and the Raptors, the party rages on.
Mixing a bit of work with pleasure, the shooting guard was back in Toronto to celebrate, among other things, the teams’ historic NBA championship victory with fans, during a live taping of his podcast Inside the Green Room with Danny Green at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Hosted by Hoop Talks the event got off to a fast start with fans serenading Green – who turned 32 – with a theatre-thumping rendition of Happy Birthday.
Everybody make sure to wish <a href=”https://twitter.com/DGreen_14?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DGreen_14</a> a happy birthday 🎈🎉 <a href=”https://t.co/A466nco3of”>pic.twitter.com/A466nco3of</a>
The bumps kept coming throughout the night, cumulating in a special video for Green from family and teammates.
While most of his teammates have returned home since the big win, they were sure to wish <a href=”https://twitter.com/DGreen_14?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DGreen_14</a> a very happy birthday! <a href=”https://t.co/oTE5A4zDyQ”>pic.twitter.com/oTE5A4zDyQ</a>
But Green and co-host Harrison Sanford weren’t the only ones in the spotlight. Superfan Nav Bhatia took the stage, waving a wrestling championship belt. Chanting ‘Let’s Go Raptors‘, Nav stirred up the crowd with a rather intimate confession.
“Guys you all know for 24 years I have never missed a game. I have never been late. I have never left late. I can brag about all those things. But guys, when it comes to my married life it’s hanging by a very, very thin string.”
Steady Freddy rocks show
As Nav left the stage, Fred VanVleet kept the crowd going. The night’s second special guest ran onto the stage, with even more wrestling flair.
When asked about the Warriors’ injuries and whether they detracted from the Raptors win, VanVleet didn’t blink.
“Let’s not kid ourselves, two guys got hurt [Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson]. But from our standpoint so what? It’s not our fault. No one was playing malicious. Nobody was trying to hurt anybody… you never want to see anybody get hurt―it’s the worst part of our game. But we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and let them beat us because somebody got hurt? We’ll take our championship and 20 years from now we’ll have our rings and we’ll be able to tell stories because nobody ever remembers who gets hurt along the way. “
“Nobody ever remembers who gets hurt along the way.”<a href=”https://twitter.com/FredVanVleet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@FredVanVleet</a> responds to criticism that the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Raptors?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Raptors</a>’ championship win comes with an asterisk. <a href=”https://t.co/euwdO8xQm0″>pic.twitter.com/euwdO8xQm0</a>
But what about Kawhi Leonard? Ever since the blockbuster-deal that brought the two-time NBA Finals MVP to Toronto last year there has been only one question on people’s mind―will he stay or will he go?
While Green remained diplomatic about both his and Kawhi’s future, VanVleet was more to the point.
“If they leave – God forbid that neither of those guys is back – then they’re on the other side and that’s the way it is.”
WATCH | Full replay of Hoop Talks with Danny Green:
Watch Hoop Talks with Danny Green and special guest Fred VanVleet from Toronto. 1:32:56
Every year around this time, Moscow is transformed into a giant military boot camp, with thunderous T-72 battle tanks and menacing-looking Iksander ballistic missile carriers rumbling past city landmarks, all in rehearsal for the annual Victory Day parade.
While tens of thousands of Russians will line the streets of the capital Thursday to watch the demonstration of the country’s might, Russia’s military leaders have been paying close attention since February to the public’s response to a much smaller military showcase.
The Syria Breakthrough Train, a travelling exhibit of captured equipment and other war souvenirs from Russia’s five-year involvement in the Middle Eastern country, has just wrapped up an epic 20,000-kilometre, 61-city journey through Russia, from the Baltic to the Pacific.
The train, made up of 20 cars carrying captured tanks, rocket launchers, improvised explosive devices and other military hardware, has returned to Moscow just in time for Thursday’s celebrations.
“Thanks to the hard work and feats of [our] military servicemen, today, a majority of the Syrian Arab Republic is liberated from the terrorists,” said Maj.-Gen. Yuri Yevdushenko, one of the Russian military officers who has been accompanying the train.
“Russia extended its hand … and offered to help stop the black plague of the 21st century — international terrorism,” he continued, praising the Syria mission using language similar to how Russians glorify the victory over Nazi Germany 74 years ago.
This American-made Humvee was used by opposition forces, then captured by the Islamic State and later taken by the Syrian army. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)
Syria is important to President Vladimir Putin’s objectives to project Russian influence and military power into key regions around the world.
The mobile exhibition is meant to demonstrate that the nation’s blood and treasure is being well spent in the war-ravaged country — even as independent polling suggests Russians are, at best, lukewarm to the mission.
Our Moscow bureau crew caught up with the train on one of its last stops, in the Golden Ring city of Yaroslavl, about three hours north of Moscow. There, the train was met by what appeared to be a carefully choreographed reception of military singers, cadets, war veterans and several hundred curious local residents.
While most Western nations consider Syria’s ruler, Bashar al-Assad, to be a war criminal, Russia sees Assad as a valuable ally in an important part of the world. Russia’s intervention in 2015 on Assad’s side very likely saved his regime from collapse.
A massive Russian air bombardment helped end a stalemate with opposition forces and pushed ISIS fighters into the eastern desert, where the final ISIS positions were captured earlier this year.
This former UN peacekeeping vehicle is part of the travelling exhibit. (Alexei Sergeev/CBC)
Pro-Western human rights groups, such as the Syrian Observatory, claim indiscriminate Russian bombing led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, especially in cities such as Aleppo.
But the messaging from Russian officers onboard the so called “trophy train” omits any mention of that. Instead, Russia claims its actions liberated thousands of Syrian towns and reclaimed tens of thousands of kilometres of territory.
“Russia sends humanitarian aid to Syria and helps win back the territory from terrorists,” a 12-year-old military cadet named Pavel told our crew in Yaroslavl, as he looked approvingly at the train display.
One of the train cars featured an American-made Humvee armoured vehicle that had been captured and modified by ISIS for suicide missions with heavy armour added to the front. Another train car carried a Toyota Land Cruiser with a French-made rocket launcher on the rear.
One of the more curious “trophies” was a RG-31 Nyala armoured personnel carrier emblazoned with the lettering of the United Nations. Online sleuths who claim to have tracked down the origins of the vehicle say it was once part of a UN peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights. The Nyala apparently had to be abandoned when UN forces withdrew and was later captured by opposition fighters.
Russian Maj.-Gen. Yuri Yevdushenko said the equipment aboard the train proves Western nations have helped terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)
Many critics have noted that in discussing the exhibits aboard the train, the Russian soldiers make no distinction between Islamic State fighters and other, Western-backed opposition groups that were battling Assad’s regime.
Indeed, they group claims some of it — such as a Russian-made T-62 tank — was likely purchased by Syria’s government, captured by rebel fighters and then recaptured by Assad’s troops.
Nonetheless, having an abundance of Western-manufactured weaponry used by both the Islamic State and opposition forces helps fuel the Russian narrative that the U.S. and Europe are abetting terrorism, while only Russia is fighting it.
“We will present samples of things taken from terrorists — military equipment — that shows the international level of help for terrorists by different countries in the world,” said Maj.-Gen. Yevushenko.
Perhaps one of the most brazen examples of distortion is a so-called chemical weapons lab featured inside one of the train cars. The equipment includes canisters ad stainless steel vats, along with a mannequin dressed in a hazmat suit.
A Russian soldier told the crowd in Yaroslavl that the lab was found in April 2018 by residents of Douma “after [opposition] fighters were driven out of the city.”
A purported “chemical weapons lab” on the trophy train. (Pascal Dumont/CBC)
Seventy civilians died in Douma that month, from what most Western nations believe was a gas attack perpetrated by Assad’s forces. The UN’s chemical weapons watchdog investigated and concluded that chorine gas had been used and disputed Russian claims that opposition forces were responsible. Yet on this tour, the Russian soldier providing commentary claimed the lab belonged to “terrorists,” and that they were to blame for the gas attack.
Vladimir Gusev, who came to see the train with his five-year-old son, Kostya, said he saw no reason to doubt anything he was being told.
“I understand the terrorists used this,” he told our crew. “They made their own tools and chemical substances and used them against the regular Syrian army and common citizens.”
Asked whether the exhibit will help generate more support for Russia’s continued involvement in Syria, Gusev said, “I think it helps raise patriotism.”
Exactly how much patriotism the trophy train has the ability to deliver is up for debate.
The Victory Day parade in May is an annual showing of Russian military might. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)
A survey published earlier this week by the Levada Center, an independent Moscow-based polling group, suggested for the first time that a majority of Russians — 55 per cent — favour ending the Syria mission.
“They think that the government [needs] to spend more money inside Russia than outside Russia,” Levada pollster Stepan Goncharov told CBC.
“Mostly, people understand that we are testing our military weapons, we’re improving our international image, but they don’t understand what economic benefit they get from there — or even if there is any economical benefit from being there.”
Regardless of whether or not the Syria train, and its Kremlin-inspired talking points, will help win over skeptics, it did draw good crowds in Yaroslavl and along dozens of other stops. In that sense, it may have accomplished at least part of its mission.