Home » Archives by category » World (Page 152)

After tragic crush, lost shoes await owners at Seoul gym

SEOUL, South Korea — Days after more than 150 Halloween revelers died in South Korea’s deadliest crowd surge, a quiet but wrenching reminder of the disaster remained Tuesday: Hundreds of abandoned shoes have been laid out in neat rows in a badminton court in the capital Seoul.Police have assembled the crumpled tennis shoes, loafers and Chuck Taylors — part of 1.5 tons of personal objects left by victims and survivors of the tragedy — in hopes that the owners, or their friends and family, will retrieve them. The deadly crush in the nearby nightlife district Itaewon happened after tens of thousands gathered for Halloween celebrations Saturday evening. Part of the crowd got jammed in a narrow, downhill alley between a dense row of storefronts and the district’s landmark Hamilton Hotel. Partygoers were seen carrying out the wounded and dead, while dozens of lifeless bodies covered in blankets were laid out in rows on the nearby pavement. Most of the victims were women and many of them were missing shoes, which experts say reflects the force of a crowd surge that stripped footwear from their feet in the crush. Some 250 pairs of shoes at the gym are part of a huge collection of abandoned items found in Itaewon following the tragedy. There are also hundreds of pieces of clothing, including coats and movie character costumes, as well as handbags, smartphones, Bluetooth earpieces and a few passports, including at least one belonging to a U.S. citizen.Yongsan police officials, who will keep the gym open for 24 hours until Sunday, didn’t immediately confirm how many of the items have been returned to their owners. As of Tuesday afternoon, 156 people were confirmed dead and 151 were being treated for injuries, with 29 of them in critical condition. Officials say 26 of the dead were foreign nationals, including five Iranians, four Chinese, four Russians, two Americans and two Japanese citizens. ———AP photojournalist Lee Jin-man contributed to the report.

Modi to visit India’s bridge collapse site as families mourn

MORBI, India — India’s prime minister was scheduled to visit the site in western India where a newly repaired 143-year-old suspension bridge collapsed into a river, sending hundreds plunging into the water and killing at least 134 in one of the country’s worst accidents in years.Narendra Modi was expected to reach Morbi town in Gujarat state later Tuesday. Gujarat is Modi’s home state and he was already visiting it at the time of the accident. He said he was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” and his office announced compensation for families of the dead. Angered and bereaved families mourned the dead as attention turned to why the pedestrian bridge, built during British colonialism in the late 1800s and touted by the state’s tourism website as an “artistic and technological marvel,” collapsed Sunday evening, and who might be responsible. The bridge had reopened just four days earlier.Inspector-General Ashok Yadav told The Associated Press that no one was missing “as of now” according to official tally, but emergency responders and divers were still deployed for search operations early Tuesday. “We want to be on the side of caution,” Yadav said. “Although, as of now, I can say there is no one missing but we don’t want to take any chance, and continue with searches for any missing today.”The officer said at least 196 were rescued and all 10 of the injured were stable.At the accident site, at least half a dozen divers searched through the dark water. They said at least two people were still believed to be missing.“Silt, weed and mud are hampering our efforts to find missing people,” said Ankit Yadav, a diver.In the meantime, Morbi is in mourning.Gaffar Shah, the caretaker of the main Muslim graveyard in the town, said he helped bury 25 bodies that were brought to the burial ground after the disaster. “I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Shah said as he sat on the graveyard’s pavement. “Entire families have been wiped out.” Some families stood near freshly dug graves covered with marigold flowers as they prayed. A little more than a mile away from the graveyard, at a Hindu crematorium where over a dozen were brought for their last rites, the atmosphere was equally somber. A caretaker there said they were “overwhelmed with dead bodies.” He said it was particularly painful to cremate children.On Monday, police arrested nine people, including managers of the bridge’s operator, Oreva Group, as they began probe into the incident.Gujarat authorities opened a case against Oreva for suspected culpable homicide, attempted culpable homicide and other violations.In March, the local Morbi town government awarded a 15-year contract to maintain and manage the bridge to Oreva, a group of companies known mainly for making clocks, mosquito zappers and electric bikes. The same month, Oreva closed the bridge, which spans a wide section of the Machchu river, for seven months for repairs. The bridge has been repaired several times in the past and many of its original parts have been replaced over the years. It was reopened Oct. 26, the first day of the Gujarati New Year, which coincides with the Hindu festival season. The attraction drew hundreds of sightseers.Sandeepsinh Zala, a Morbi official, told the Indian Express newspaper the company reopened the bridge without first obtaining a “fitness certificate.” That could not be independently verified, but officials said they were investigating.Authorities said the structure collapsed under the weight of hundreds of people. A security video of the disaster showed it shaking violently and people trying to hold on to its cables and metal fencing before the aluminum walkway gave out and crashed into the river.The bridge split in the middle with its walkway hanging down and its cables snapped.It was unclear how many people were on the bridge when it collapsed and how many remained missing, but survivors said it was so densely packed that people were unable to quickly escape when its cables began to snap.Modi was the top elected official of Gujarat for 12 years before becoming India’s prime minister in 2014. A Gujarat state government election is expected in coming months and opposition parties have demanded a thorough investigation of the accident.The bridge collapse was Asia’s third major disaster involving large crowds in a month.On Saturday, a Halloween crowd surge killed more than 150 people attending festivities in Itaewon, a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea. On Oct. 1, police in Indonesia fired tear gas at a soccer match, causing a crush that killed 132 people as spectators tried to flee.India’s infrastructure has long been marred by safety problems, and Morbi has suffered other major disasters. In 1979, an upstream dam on the Machchu river burst, sending walls of water into the city and killing hundreds of people in one of India’s biggest dam failures.In 2001, thousands of people died in an earthquake in Gujarat. Morbi, 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the quake’s epicenter in Bhuj, suffered widespread damage. According to a report in the Times of India newspaper, the bridge that collapsed Sunday had also been severely damaged.———Hussain reported from New Delhi. Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi contributed to this report.

Danish elections could pave way for a center government .

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Polling stations across Denmark opened Tuesday in a national election expected to change the Scandinavian nation’s political landscape, with new parties hoping to enter parliament and others seeing their support dwindle.Neither the center-left nor the center-right is expected to capture a majority, which is 90 seats in the 179-seat Folketing legislature. That could leave a former prime minister who left his party to create a new one this year, in a kingmaker position with his votes being needed to form a new government.More than 4 million Danish voters can choose among 14 parties. Domestic themes have dominated the campaign, ranging from tax cuts and a need to hire more nurses to financially supporting Danes amid inflation and soaring energy prices because of Russia’s war in Ukraine.At least three politicians are vying to become prime minister. They include Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who steered Denmark through the COVID-19 pandemic and teamed up with the opposition to hike Danish defense spending in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and two center-right opposition lawmakers — Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the Liberal leader, and Søren Pape Poulsen, who heads the Conservatives.“We are fighting to the end. It will be a close election,” Frederiksen said after voting north of Copenhagen. “I am optimistic but I am not sure of anything.”A former Liberal leader, Lars Løkke Rasmussen created his new centrist party in June. According to the polls, his Moderates could get as much as 10% of the vote. He has hinted he could see a ruling coalition with the Social Democrats and could also be considered a prime minister candidate.On the center-right two new parties that want to limit immigration, are bidding to enter parliament and may push out a third similar group that has had a key role in earlier governments by pushing for stricter migration rules without being inside a governing coalition.Among them are the Denmark Democrats, created in June by former hard-line immigration minister Inger Støjberg. In 2021, Støjberg was convicted by the rarely used Impeachment Court for ordering in 2016 to separate asylum-seeking couples if one of the partners was a minor. She has served her 60 days’ sentence and is now eligible to run again. Pollsters say her party could get around 7% of the vote. That could threaten the once-powerful populist, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which has been falling apart in recent months amid internal disputes and is hovering around the 2% threshold needed to enter parliament. In 2015, the party grabbed 21.1% of the vote.Støjberg’s party is similar to another one — the small nationalistic, anti-immigration New Right party — that is already in parliament. They have called for a broad center-right government.Frederiksen has been heading a minority, one-party Social Democratic government since 2019 when she ousted Løkke Rasmussen.Of the 179 seats in the Danish parliament, two come from each of Denmark’s two autonomous territories —the Faeroe Islands and Greenland. Voting was exceptionally held Monday on the Faeroes — Tuesday is a public holiday there – and one seat went to the center-left and one to the center-right in Denmark, Danish broadcaster DR said Tuesday. Voting in Greenland is held Tuesday.

Ukrainians grapple with power outages as winter approaches

KYIV, Ukraine — The decorative candles Yaroslav Vedmid bought more than a year ago were never meant to be lit, but the dried wax that now clings to them attests to how they’ve been used almost nightly — a consequence of power cuts across Ukraine.Seated at the dinner table with his wife in a village on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, the two can’t count the number of times they’ve eaten in the dark since Russian attacks triggered the blackouts beginning in early October. Moscow has openly declared its intention to target the country’s energy infrastructure and drive the nation into the cold.“When you’re relying on electricity, the worst thing is that you can’t plan … Psychologically it’s very uncomfortable,” said Vedmid, a 44-year-old business owner in Bilohorodka. The cuts are getting longer — nearly 12 hours of outages a day, he said.So far, Russia has destroyed about 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, affecting 16 regions, according to the Ukrainian government.The latest assault came Monday, when a massive barrage of Russian cruise missile and drone strikes hit Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities, knocking out water and power supplies in apparent retaliation for what Moscow alleged was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea fleet.The unpredictable rolling blackouts are increasing as the government scrambles to stabilize the energy grid and repair the system ahead of winter. The cuts add another layer of angst and uncertainty to a population already struggling with the stress of nearly nine months of war.To try to ease people’s burdens, energy companies are publishing daily schedules of when neighborhoods won’t have power. But it’s not consistent, especially as strikes intensify. Last week a power station in the central region was damaged, causing an emergency shutdown and prompting the government to warn citizens of tougher and longer outages.“Unfortunately, the destruction and damage are serious,” Kyiv region Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said in a Telegram post. “It is necessary to prepare for emergency power outages for an indefinite period,” he said.Across the capital, residents are stocking up on heaters, blankets, warm clothing and power banks to charge electronics. While most say they’re willing to bear the brunt of the blackouts for the sake of the war, the frequency and fluidity of the outages are taxing.Starting Tuesday, the government plans to change the schedule of the Kyiv subway to include longer wait times to save energy.On the day that The Associated Press visited Vedmid’s house in October, there was an unscheduled five-hour power outage and then a scheduled one during dinner.Every time the power shuts off, the family loses internet service. Because the village also has a weak phone network, the household is often unable to communicate with others.Staring at his mobile phone, Vedmid shrugs. Google Maps isn’t working, and he doesn’t know how long it will take to reach the train station for a planned trip with his wife to the country.But what concerns him most are the months ahead when temperatures could drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit). “My major fears are for (the) cold part of season, for winter, because right now it influences our comfort but doesn’t threaten our lives,” he said.The family has ordered a generator, which should be installed by December, but demand has spiked and not everyone can afford to buy one or the fuel to run it. Diesel has doubled in price since the start of the war, local residents said.Still, some have found a silver lining to the shutdowns. Vedmid’s wife, Olena, said she reads more books rather than constantly refreshing the internet to see the latest war developments. It helps her feel less anxious.If not for Russia’s incessant shelling and the lack of repair equipment, much of which must be imported, the damage could be restored within weeks, energy experts said.“The main danger is repeated missile attacks,” said professor Gennadii Riabtsev, chief researcher on energy security at the National Institute for Strategic Studies. Residents of cities near the front lines, such as Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv, will suffer the most from the outages, he said.DTEK, Ukraine’s main energy company, said it has run out of equipment for repairs. The cost of the equipment runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.Russia is likely to continue the war into the winter, hoping to weaken Western support for Ukraine and “freeze Europe into surrender,” according to a report issued this week by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank.Residents near the front lines say they are bracing for conditions to get worse.Mariia Chupinina was dealing with blackouts in Kharkiv even before the rolling outages began in the region this week. The woman who fosters orphaned children lives on the fifth floor of an apartment building and takes care of four babies who are less than 12 months old. When there’s no electricity, it’s impossible to heat the apartment, and every time they leave, they have to walk down five flights of stairs in the dark, she told the AP by phone.If Chupinina forgets to plan ahead, the babies won’t have anything to eat. “If you have not prepared, you don’t have time to fill the Thermos, and there’s no warm water or formula,” she said.

Greece: Dozens missing after boat carrying migrants sinks

ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities have launched a major search and rescue operation for dozens of migrants missing after a boat they were traveling on from Turkey overturned and sank in rough weather overnight between the islands of Evia and Andros.The coast guard said Tuesday that nine people, all men, had been found on an uninhabited rocky islet in the Kafirea Straits between the two islands, which lie east of the Greek capital. The survivors, who were picked up by a coast guard patrol boat, told authorities there had been a total of about 68 people on board the sailing boat when it sank, and that they had initially set sail from Izmir on the Turkish coast.Authorities were initially alerted by a distress call in the early hours of Tuesday from passengers saying the boat they were on was in trouble, but they did not provide a location. Weather in the area was particularly rough, with gale force winds. The coast guard said a helicopter, a coast guard patrol boat and two nearby ships were participating in the search and rescue operation. ———Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

How Biden administration can help Iranian protesters and put pressure on regime: nonprofit

A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit has unveiled a report outlining a “maximum pressure” strategy the Biden administration could take to support anti-government demonstrators protesting the Iranian regime. The steps announced by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) come as Iran, according to the Associated Press, said Monday it will hold public trials in Tehran for 1,000 people detained during the demonstrations, which began on Sept. 16 after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who was reportedly murdered by the country’s police. “The ongoing street protests in Iran, as well as the evolving pattern of anti-regime protests in Iran since 2017, illustrate the need for developing — in addition to a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy on the regime that incorporates all tools of American power — a transnational strategy of ‘maximum support’ for the Iranian people,” the FDD report says. One step the White House could take is to provide information to Iranian demonstrators about the movements of the regime’s security forces. IRANIAN ACTIVISTS LAUNCH BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN IN NYC’S TIMES SQUARE SEEKING BIG TECH’S HELP 
Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police last month, in Tehran, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. 
(AP/Middle East Images, File)”The Biden administration likely possesses intelligence through signals and imagery that it should share with Iranian protestors to warn them about the movement of all security services involved in repression and to inform them about Tehran’s weaknesses and strengths,” the report says. The administration could support labor strikes and use “its cyber capacities to disrupt the normal operation of these strategic sectors,” back efforts to “provide the Iranian people access to uncensored internet via satellite,” and expand human rights sanctions against the regime, the report says. 
The 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini who was reportedly murdered by Iran’s morality police.
(Obtained by Fox News)It could also “move to isolate the Islamic Republic politically by pushing for its removal from, or censure in, international organizations, while also pressuring allies to sever or downgrade their bilateral diplomatic relations,” it adds. 
Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked Iran’s biggest antigovernment movement in over a decade, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.
(AP)CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP “U.S. policy since the 2009 election-related uprising in Iran has gradually incorporated a variety of human rights related sanctions and designations to name, shame, penalize, and deter Iranian officials and institutions that commit human rights abuses,” the FDD report says. “Yet U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran has prioritized Tehran’s nuclear program and, to a considerably lesser extent, its ballistic missile program and material support for international terrorism, but not human rights.” 

Germany puts off transport emissions decision until 2023

BERLIN — Germany is postponing politically sensitive decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector until 2023 amid strong opposition from one governing party to the idea of a universal speed limit, officials said Monday.The libertarian Free Democratic Party, which controls the Transport Ministry, has long blocked the introduction mandatory speed limits seen in most of Germany’s neighbors.Experts say that limiting speeds on highways to 120 kilometers per hour (74.5 mph) would save 2.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. A limit of 100 kmh (62 mph) would more than double the savings, according to Germany’s Environment Agency.Those annual savings would make a significant contribution to closing the remaining emissions gap in Germany’s transport sector of 118-175 million tons by 2030.Proposals released Monday by the Economy Ministry would close the emissions gap in all other sectors for the country to meet its climate goals. Germany wants to cut emissions by 65% from 1990 levels by 2030, but have acknowledged that this will be a “gigantic” task and the country is lagging. Europe’s biggest economy aims to have ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045.To achieve this, Germany will have to double its current rate of emissions cuts by the middle of this decade, then triple them from 2030 onward, the ministry said.It noted that significant measures have already been put in place to increase renewable energy generation and to ramp up the production of hydrogen for industrial use. While Germany plans to introduce a monthly 49-euro ticket to encourage the use of public transit, the ministry said “climate policy failures of the past decades” meant further measures would need to be agreed in 2023.———Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment