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This is Wikitravel's Travel news section, about issues affecting travelers, both positively and negatively. For more general news, see Wikinews.

Please feel free to edit or add to news items below. For instructions on how to use the Newsitem template or how to add news items to the Main Page, please see Wikitravel:How to add travel news.


July

Rain, hail and lightning hit SE England

Rain, hail and lightning hit SE England

26 Jul

Homes were evacuated and people left stranded in their cars as lightning, hail, heavy rain and flash flooding hit east and south-east England. The freak weather brought roads and railway services to a standstill in parts of Sussex, Essex and London. More than half the average total rain for England in July fell in an hour in some areas, the Met Office said. London Fire Brigade said it had to help people trapped in their cars across the capital. Network Rail said most train services were returning to normal following earlier delays and cancellations caused by flooding and an electricity substation being struck by lightning. However, services to Brighton are not stopping at Worthing because of flooding in the station subway. [1]


US evacuates embassy staff from Libya

US evacuates embassy staff from Libya

26 Jul

The US says it has temporarily evacuated its staff from the Libyan capital Tripoli over security concerns. Staff, including marine guards providing security to the embassy, have been transferred to Tunisia "due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias," it adds. It comes amid fierce clashes between rival militias in the capital, with intense fighting at Tripoli airport. Libya has been gripped by instability since the 2011 uprising, with swathes of the country controlled by militias. With no army, Libya's central government has increasingly lost control over the country to rogue and powerful militias in the last two years. [2]


S Sudan food crisis 'world's worst'

S Sudan food crisis 'world's worst'

26 Jul

South Sudan's food crisis is the worst in the world, the UN Security Council has warned, calling for urgent action. It said there was a "catastrophic food insecurity" in the country, urging donor nations who pledged $618m (£364m) in aid to make good on their promise. More than a million people have fled their homes since fighting erupted between different factions of South Sudan's ruling party last December. Thousands have now died in the conflict that started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar but has since escalated into ethnic violence. Months of fighting have prevented farmers from planting or harvesting crops, causing food shortages nationwide. The onset of the rainy season has added to the problem, dashing hopes that displaced farmers plant crops to feed themselves in the future. [3]


Attacks across Afghanistan

Attacks across Afghanistan

26 Jul

Attacks across Afghanistan, involving hundreds of Taliban fighters swarming police checkpoints across the south, killed at least 30 people Saturday, officials said, as a recount in the country's presidential election was halted before a major holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The attacks mainly targeted Kandahar province, where Taliban fighters killed six police officers in assaults on some 15 checkpoints, said a spokesman for the provincial governor. Reinforcements later arrived to combat the Taliban fighters, the spokesman added, as the combat continued into Saturday night. In Helmand province, a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle killed four civilians and wounded four others in Marjah district, according to a spokesman for the governor of Helmand. In Kabul, a bomb blast killed an army officer and wounded his driver, police officials said. In Herat province, a security official confirmed that gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed two army officers in the city of Herat. [4]


Washington fire destroys 300 homes

Washington fire destroys 300 homes

25 Jul

A sheriff in Washington State said Friday that a massive wildfire has burned 300 homes, double the number previously estimated. Frank Rogers, the sheriff of Okanogan County in north-central Washington, said the Carlton Complex of fires has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise because officials had note been able to reach some burned areas. Rogers said he and his deputies have driven 750 miles of roadway through the devastated area, and "every road lost something." He said that the blackened area looks like a moonscape, and that he has seen hundreds of dead livestock. The fire was started by lightning and has burned about 400 square miles in the area about 100 miles northeast of Seattle. [5]


First bodies from MH17 flown out of Ukraine

First bodies from MH17 flown out of Ukraine

23 Jul

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands would observe its first national day of mourning in more than 50 years on Wednesday. [6]


Delta Cancels All Flights to Israel Indefinitely

Delta Cancels All Flights to Israel Indefinitely

22 Jul

Delta Air Lines is canceling all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. [7]


Typhoon MATMO (HENRY) Update Number 007

Typhoon MATMO (HENRY) Update Number 007

21 Jul

Typhoon MATMO (HENRY) continues to move north-northwest across the warm waters of the Philippine Sea...threatens Northern Cagayan and the Calayan-Babuyan-Batanes Group of Islands. The potential landfall area of this typhoon shall be over Eastern Taiwan by Wednesday morning. [8]


Malaysian Plane 'Shot Down' With 295 On Board

Malaysian Plane 'Shot Down' With 295 On Board

17 Jul

A Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur comes down in Ukraine after reportedly being hit by a ground-to-air missile. [9]


Five-hour Gaza ceasefire agreed

Five-hour Gaza ceasefire agreed

16 Jul

Hamas and Israel have both agreed to respect a five-hour ceasefire in Gaza after nine days of fighting. The Israeli military said it would stop firing from 10:00 to 15:00 (07:00-12:00 GMT) on Thursday to allow residents in Gaza to stock up on supplies. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri later confirmed that his group would also stop rocket attacks in that time. Officials in Gaza say Israeli raids have left 220 Palestinians dead. Hamas rocket attacks have killed one Israeli. Israeli army officer Brig Gen Yoav Mordechai told BBC Arabic that the ceasefire had been requested by the UN and other international organisations. An Israeli military statement warned that Israel would respond "firmly and decisively" should Hamas launch attacks during the ceasefire window [10]


Typhoon batters central Philippines

Typhoon batters central Philippines

16 Jul

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been left without power many have fled their homes as Typhoon Rammasun hit Luzon island. The typhoon, also known as Glenda, barrelled across the island with gusts of up to 185km/h (115 mph). Authorities said at least 20 people had been killed by the storm. Officials said the eye of the storm passed south of the capital, Manila, but the severe weather brought it to a standstill. At least five people are still missing. Government offices and schools were shut on Wednesday and flights were cancelled. More than 370,000 people, mostly in the eastern province of Albay which was the first to be hit by the typhoon, had been evacuated, the Philippine National Red Cross said. The storm is in the South China Sea and is expected to reach China by the end of the week. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have been left without power many have fled their homes as Typhoon Rammasun hit Luzon island. [11]


Israel and Gaza trade fresh fire

Israel and Gaza trade fresh fire

12 Jul

Palestinian deaths are continuing to mount as Israel and militants in Gaza traded fresh rounds of rocket and missile-fire on Saturday. At least 133 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its operation five days ago, Palestinian sources say. Two nephews of Hamas ex-PM Ismail Haniyeh were among those killed on Saturday, as Gaza was hit by multiple strikes, Palestinian officials said. Israel says it has been hit by 43 rockets since Friday, suffering damage. It has vowed to press on with its campaign until rocket attacks stop. Israel says it is targeting militants and militant facilities, including the homes of senior operatives. It says "dozens of terrorists" are among those killed. [12]


Ukraine conflict

Ukraine conflict

12 Jul

A suburb of the rebel-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk has come under heavy bombardment, a day after the army suffered some of its heaviest losses. Apartment blocks were hit as shelling continued through the night and into Saturday in Marinka, west of the city. Pro-Russian rebels said 30 civilians had died in government shelling while the government reportedly accused the rebels of shelling Marinka themselves. On Friday, a rebel attack in Luhansk region killed at least 19 soldiers. President Petro Poroshenko vowed to retaliate, saying: "For every soldier's life, the militants will pay with tens and hundreds of their own." The rebels, who declared independence in Donetsk and Luhansk in April, retreated towards the city of Donetsk last week after a government siege of their symbolic stronghold, Sloviansk. More than 1,000 civilians and combatants are believed to have died in the fighting since April. The EU slapped travel bans and asset freezes on 11 rebel figures in eastern Ukraine on Saturday. [13]


Rio ramps up security for World Cup final

Rio ramps up security for World Cup final

12 Jul

Brazilian authorities say they are planning Rio de Janeiro's largest ever security operation for the World Cup final on Sunday. More than 25,000 security personnel will be deployed in the city for the tournament's final match between Germany and Argentina, officials say. Heads of state, including German leader Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, will attend the match. About 75,000 fans are expected to watch the final at Rio's Maracana stadium. Police, soldiers and firefighters will be involved in security operations, and 25 ships are expected to monitor the city's coast. "This will be the biggest security operation that the city or country has ever seen," senior local government official Jose Mariano Beltrane said. "We need to ensure that this event goes off like all the other games in the World Cup... I prefer to have a large number of men ready than to be taken by surprise." [14]


Ebola deaths mount in Sierra Leone

Ebola deaths mount in Sierra Leone

12 Jul

High numbers of new cases of the Ebola virus are being reported in Sierra Leone and Liberia, with 19 deaths over three days this week, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) says. Such figures showed that it was a race against time to control the epidemic in Sierra Leone, medical charity MSF said. In total there have been 539 deaths in West Africa since the outbreak began in neighbouring Guinea in Feb. Regional leaders have now agreed to set up a fund to combat its spread. Ebola spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids and there is no vaccine or cure. It kills up to 90% of those infected but if patients receive early treatment, they have a better chance of survival. [15]


New Kenya travel warning for Britons

New Kenya travel warning for Britons

12 Jul

The Foreign Office has warned Britons to avoid travelling to areas of the Kenyan coast, after attacks by militants left at least 87 people dead. The advice warns against all but "essential" travel to the coastal counties of Lamu and Tana River. Warnings also remain in place for areas around the Kenya-Somali border, as well as parts of the capital, Nairobi. Meanwhile, the Kenyan government has advised its citizens not to travel through London Heathrow airport. In a statement from the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it warned Kenyans not to travel through Heathrow due to the "substantial threat of a possible attack" by Al Qaeda operatives. [16]


Strong quake off east Japan coast

Strong quake off east Japan coast

12 Jul

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake has hit an ocean area east of Iwaki city on the Japanese island of Honshu, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has said. It hit 131km (81 miles) off Iwaki, at a depth of 10km, the USGS said. A tsunami warning has been issued. [17]


New wave of Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza

New wave of Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza

10 Jul

As fears of an Israeli ground assault grew among Gaza residents on Thursday, Israel revealed it has beefed up its forces by calling about 30,000 reservists to their units. The Israeli Cabinet has authorized the military to call up 40,000 troops if needed. That is 10,000 more than were called up during Israel's offensive into Gaza in November 2012. Government spokesman Mark Regev said many of the reservists have been deployed. "We're ready to go, if we need to go," he told Blitzer. Regev said Israel didn't want a situation where Hamas was given a "timeout" where it could regroup before restarting its attacks. The mood is grim in Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 90 Palestinians, including women and children, and injured more than 620 since they began Monday, Palestinian officials said. They said 23 people died in strikes Thursday and four more people succumbed to their injuries. [18]


Uganda Possible threat of attack

Uganda Possible threat of attack

03 Jul

The Entebbe International Airport could be attacked on Thursday between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time, the embassy said on its website, citing information obtained from Ugandan police. The statement urged U.S. citizens travelling through Entebbe around that time to “review their plans in light of this information. [19]


Africa Ebola outbreak in Africa

Africa Ebola outbreak in Africa

02 Jul

As the largest Ebola outbreak in history continues unabated, health authorities from 11 West African countries and international agencies began a two-day crisis meeting today in Accra, Ghana, on how to combat the crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) says "drastic action" is needed to stem the outbreak, which since March has grown to 759 confirmed cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, including 467 deaths. [20]



South Sudan bans foreign taxi drivers

South Sudan bans foreign taxi drivers

02 Jul

The interior ministry issued the rule last week without warning, angry taxi drivers told Radio Tamazuj, a Dutch station that covers the inter-Sudanese border area. They say officials are impounding their taxis in Juba and demanding a steep fee of 600 South Sudanese pounds (£61; $150) to have them released. As a result about 500 Sudanese drivers have had to quit work, not only affecting their livelihood but also, they say, causing a "transport crisis" in Juba. [21]


June

Airlines halt flights to Peshawar

Airlines halt flights to Peshawar

26 Jun

Qatar Airways has joined Emirates and Etihad in stopping its jets flying to the Pakistani city of Peshawar after a deadly attack on an airliner. The Pakistan International Airlines flight was fired on as it landed on Tuesday, killing a passenger on board. Police have arrested scores of people but say they do not have full control of areas around the airport where the shots are thought to have originated. Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific says it is suspending all flights to Pakistan. The move, which it said would come into effect by late June, follows a deadly attack on Karachi airport earlier this month. The all-night siege at Karachi's international airport, the largest in Pakistan, left at least 39 people dead, 10 of them heavily armed gunmen. The Pakistani Taliban and an allied Uzbek militant group said they jointly carried out the Karachi attack. There was no immediate claim for Tuesday night's machine-gun attack on the PIA jet in Peshawar. [22]



France Travel Warning

France Travel Warning

25 Jun

Ryanair was forced to cancel more than 160 flights from its schedule today. These included flights from Dublin, Cork, Knock and Shannon to destinations including Madrid, Barcelona, Nice and Faro. Departures from and arrivals to Paris Beauvais, Marseilles and London Stansted were also affected. Ryanair customers are advised to check the status of their flight on the airline's website. The carrier has said affected customers will be updated on their flight status via email or phone. Ryanair is also advising customers who want to rebook flights to avoid rebooking them today and tomorrow as there is a possibility of further disruption within that time. Aer Lingus has not cancelled any flights today but around 20 were delayed. The airline said passengers travelling to or from France, Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands may experience delays of up to three hours. Aer Lingus is advising customers to check their flight status online and to arrive early if checking in at the airport. Meanwhile, CityJet has said none of its flights from or into Ireland have been affected. The strike, by a leading French union, centres on planned changes to European air traffic according to traffic flows rather than national borders, which the union argues will undermine an efficient air navigation service in France. [23]


Central Africa Travel Warning

Central Africa Travel Warning

24 Jun

Seventeen of the deaths occurred when a mainly Christian militia attacked a village in the north-west, they added. One witness told Reuters news agency that he had counted 22 bodies, some of them chopped into pieces. Some 7,000 peacekeepers are battling to end the conflict which has displaced about 25% of the population. Violence broke out in March 2013 after the Seleka rebel group - led by a Muslim, Michel Djotodia - seized power in the majority Christian country. [24]


Honduras Travel Warning

Honduras Travel Warning

24 Jun

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated December 24, 2013, and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens visit Honduras each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work without incident. However, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country, and the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues. [25]


Large earthquake near Alaska triggers tsunami warning

Large earthquake near Alaska triggers tsunami warning

23 Jun

An earthquake off the southwestern coast of Alaska on Monday triggered a tsunami warning, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center. The magnitude 8.0 earthquake off the coast of Alaska, the U.S. state with the most quakes each year, occurred about 15 miles southeast of Little Sitkin Island, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Monday afternoon. As a result, a tsunami warning was issued for Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, while a tsunami advisory was issued for other coastal areas in Alaska. [26]


Iraq key refinery 'seized by rebels'

Iraq key refinery 'seized by rebels'

23 Jun

Sunni rebels in Iraq say they have fully captured the country's main oil refinery at Baiji, north of Baghdad. The refinery had been under siege for 10 days with the militant offensive being repulsed several times. The complex supplies a third of Iraq's refined fuel and the battle has already led to petrol rationing. Insurgents, led by the group Isis, are expanding their control of towns in the north and west and have captured all border crossings to Syria and Jordan. They are also bearing down on a vital dam near Haditha. [27]


Suicide car bomb rocks Beirut

Suicide car bomb rocks Beirut

23 Jun

A suicide bomber has detonated a car bomb near a Lebanese army checkpoint in the capital, Beirut, officials say. The blast, which caused a huge fire, occurred in a southern suburb mainly inhabited by Shia Muslims. It is unclear whether anyone else was killed. Lebanon has suffered a rise in sectarian tension linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Last week a policeman was killed and 30 people injured when a suicide bomber detonated his car in eastern Lebanon. The latest explosion occurred just after midnight local time (21:00 GMT) near a checkpoint and a cafe where people had gathered to watch World Cup matches. [28]


Deadly shoot-out in Rio de Janeiro

Deadly shoot-out in Rio de Janeiro

23 Jun

Three people have been killed in a shoot-out between police and alleged drug traffickers in a shanty town in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. Two youths and a police officer died in the incident in the Complexo do Alemao shanty town, local media reported. Another officer and a youth were injured in the shooting, which happened in the early hours of Monday. The shooting comes as tens of thousands of football fans are in Rio, one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup. [29]


Ukraine to implement unilateral ceasefire

Ukraine to implement unilateral ceasefire

18 Jun

Ukraine's President announced that he will implement a unilateral cease-fire to ease the crisis in the restive eastern part of the country. Ukrainian forces are putting their arms down only shortly, President Petro Poroshenko said, referring to a time in which he expects separatist groups to disarm. "We expect that hostages and seized premises will be liberated. We expect that a large number of civilians will use the security guarantees for the citizens of Donbas," Poroshenko said, referring to Ukraine's eastern region. The plan would also include the closure of the Ukraine-Russia border and changes to the constitution to decentralize power. Ukraine's government is carrying out what it calls an anti-terrorist operation, centered in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to try to regain control from pro-Russian separatists. [30]


American Airlines cuts flights to Venezuela

American Airlines cuts flights to Venezuela

18 Jun

American Airlines says it is cutting almost 80% of its flights to Venezuela from next month. From July 2, American will operate only 10 flights per week instead of the current 48. The move comes as part of a continuing dispute over the repatriation of revenue due to tight currency controls in the oil-rich country. A number of airlines have already suspended or reduced the number of flights to Venezuela. American said it would only fly to Venezuela from Miami, suspending its flights from New York, Dallas and Puerto Rico. Tight foreign currency controls make it difficult for foreign airlines to repatriate money from ticket sales in Venezuela. American Airlines is the largest foreign carrier serving Venezuela. Air Canada has suspended service citing security concerns, while others like Lufthansa and Copa Airlines have reduced the number of tickets made available in local currency. [31]


West Africa Ebola deaths pass 300

West Africa Ebola deaths pass 300

18 Jun

The number of people killed by the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa has risen to 337, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Fourteen deaths and 47 new cases were reported across the region over the last week, it added. Guinea is worst-affected with 264 Ebola-related deaths. In Sierra Leone, there have been 49 deaths and in Liberia 24, the WHO said. The three countries have been battling to contain the outbreak since February. The outbreak began in southern Guinea's Guekedou region, but then spread to its neighbours. More than 500 suspected or confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded, the WHO said. There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola - one of the world's deadliest viruses. [32]


Curfew lifted nationwide in Thailand

Curfew lifted nationwide in Thailand

13 Jun

The junta announced the end of a curfew in other parts of the country minutes after coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha pledged for a quick end of the nighttime ban. The ban on activities between midnight and 4am had already been lifted in 25 provinces including most tourist areas, but its enforcement in Bangkok was dismaying businesses looking to cash in on the World Cup. [33].


Ukraine forces win back port city

Ukraine forces win back port city

13 Jun

Government troops in eastern Ukraine have won back the port city of Mariupol from pro-Russian separatist rebels after heavy fighting. Five pro-Russian rebels were reported killed and four government soldiers injured in the city in Donetsk region. Hundreds of combatants and civilians have been killed since pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and neighbouring Luhansk regions declared independence after holding referendums last month, which were deemed illegal by the government in Kiev. The rebellion began after February's ousting of the elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, whose last-minute decision not to sign a landmark treaty with the EU in November sparked mass protests in Kiev. [34]


France rail strike halts many trains

France rail strike halts many trains

13 Jun

A nationwide strike by train staff in France has halted many rail services and is set to run into the weekend. The strike began on Tuesday and is one of the longest to hit the railways. It has halted about half of inter-city trains and even more local trains. Trade unions object to a government plan to unite the SNCF train operator with the RFF railway network. Workers fear the reform will mean job losses. [35]


DR Congo and Rwanda in border clashes

DR Congo and Rwanda in border clashes

11 Jun

Rwandan forces and troops from DR Congo are fighting each other on their shared border, the Congolese information minister says. The battle began when a unit of Rwandan soldiers crossed over the border and attacked early on Wednesday. After fighting for nearly two hours, the Rwandans kidnapped an army corporal and went home, he said. Clashes resumed when the Congolese learnt the officer had been killed. The Rwandan authorities have yet to comment on the violence. The neighbours have had a fractious relationship since the 1994 genocide when those accused of involvement in the killings of an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus set up a militia in eastern DR Congo. [36]


Iraqi insurgents seize new city

Iraqi insurgents seize new city

11 Jun

Islamist insurgents in Iraq have seized the city of Tikrit, their second major gain after capturing Mosul the day before, security officials say. Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, lies 150km (95 miles) north of the capital Baghdad. Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the jihadists and punish those in the security forces who fled offering little or no resistance. The insurgents are from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). ISIS, which is also known as ISIL, is an offshoot of al-Qaeda. It controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, in a campaign to set up a Sunni militant enclave straddling the border. There were also reports of fighting further south, in Samarra, 110km north of Baghdad. Separately, at least 21 people were killed and 45 hurt by a suicide bomber at a Shia meeting in Baghdad, police said. As many as 500,000 people fled Mosul after the militants attacked the city. The head of the Turkish mission in Mosul and almost 50 consulate staff are being held by the militants, Turkish officials say. Turkey's foreign minister warned there would be "harsh retaliation" if any of its citizens were harmed. [37]


European cities hit by strikes

European cities hit by strikes

11 Jun

Transport in major European cities has been disrupted by strikes affecting taxis and rail services. Taxi drivers blocked roads in Paris, Madrid, London, Milan, Berlin and other cities in protest against the rise of services booked using smartphone apps. They say there has been a lack of regulation concerning rival mobile service Uber. Travellers in France were also hit by a rail strike that stopped two-thirds of trains in some areas. The biggest taxi associations in the Spanish capital asked their drivers to observe a 24-hour stoppage until 06:00 on Thursday. More than 15,000 licensed vehicles operate in Madrid, Spanish media say. No taxis were visible at Barajas airport or Atocha station, reports said, despite Uber not yet being available in the capital. At one point, a car suspected of being a private taxi came under attack from demonstrators. The strike was also observed in Barcelona, where the mobile app is in operation. [38]


São Paulo metro strike suspended

São Paulo metro strike suspended

11 Jun

Metro workers in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, have suspended a strike over pay to allow for negotiations. The five-day stoppage had caused traffic chaos in one of the world's most congested cities just days ahead of the football World Cup. The union warned that the strike would resume on Thursday - when Sao Paulo hosts the opening match - if its demands are not matched. A strike would make it hard for fans to reach the stadium on Thursday. Arena de Sao Paulo, where the tournament kicks off with a match between Brazil and Croatia, is located on the city's outskirts and a metro strike could cause major disruption. [39]


Egypt's government levies $25 tax on tourists

Egypt's government levies $25 tax on tourists

5 Jun

Egyptian authorities have levied a new airport tax on tourists leaving the country, a move that has been criticized as being a further deterrent for vacationers considering the country as a holiday destination, an airport official said. The government started applying the roughly $25 fee on ticket purchases through airline companies last month, the official said. Since then, he said airline companies have been passing the charge directly on to customers buying tickets to and from the country, with it appearing as an additional tax on the ticket price. Most foreign visitors to Egypt already pay approximately $15 for an entrance visa, though the cost varies depending on the traveler's nationality. Egypt's tourism industry has been hit hard by the three years of turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. From a high of more than 14 million tourists in 2010, only around 9.6 million came to Egypt in 2011. According to the Tourism Ministry, 9.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2013. [40]


Strike halts traffic in Sao Paulo

Strike halts traffic in Sao Paulo

5 Jun

A public transport strike has caused traffic chaos in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, a week before it hosts the opening match of the World Cup. Half of the underground stations were closed by striking transport workers, who are demanding a 10% pay rise. Angry commuters stormed the Itaquera station, nearest the stadium where Brazil will play Croatia on 12 June. Police and other public sector workers say they will go on strike in the next few weeks if their demands are not met. The authorities said they would sack staff if they failed to meet legal requirements and keep at least 70% of services running. Sao Paulo's traffic problem is bad at the best of times, but when metro workers go on strike it gets a whole lot worse. People here are frustrated - inflation is high and many feel it is eating into their hard-earned wages. As the world looks to Brazil, they see it as a good opportunity to pressure the government. And the government is certainly feeling it - public transport is the only viable option to get to the opening match. A public transport strike would cause chaos for fans and be a huge embarrassment for Brazil. [41]


Mass jailbreak in eastern DR Congo

Mass jailbreak in eastern DR Congo

5 Jun

At least 250 prisoners in the Democratic Republic of Congo have escaped in a mass jailbreak at dawn in Bukavu. Three people died, including a guard who was overpowered as the prisoners made their escape, the official in the South Kivu governor's office said. Police are patrolling Bukavu, which is built on the shores of Lake Kivu in eastern DR Congo, looking for them. Civil society activists say the number of escapees could be higher as more than 1,500 inmates were inside at the time and officials estimate 80% of the prisoners escaped.[42]


Venezuela Travel Warning

Venezuela Travel Warning

5 Jun

The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Venezuela. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. However, violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. Moreover, since February 2014, frequent demonstrations have taken place throughout Venezuela, and may pose a security risk. This Travel Warning updates the Travel Warning issued on November 22, 2013, to include information on the ongoing demonstrations and additions to the movement policy for U.S. Embassy personnel and their families. [43]


Ukraine rebels attack border guard camp

Ukraine rebels attack border guard camp

2 Jun

Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents attacked a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building. At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a spokesman for the border guard service said. Rebels in uniform near the Luhansk base promised safety for the officers if they surrendered and laid down their arms. The pro-Russian insurgents, who have seized government and police buildings across eastern Ukraine, have waged increasingly aggressive attacks on government-held checkpoints and garrisons in an attempt to seize weapons and ammunition from Ukrainian forces. The initial attack by about 100 insurgents was met by gunfire from the border guards, and the number of attackers swelled to around 400 a few hours later. The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian insurgents escalated markedly in the past week, with rebels attempting to seize a major airport and the shooting-down of a Ukrainian military helicopter. [44]


Strong sandstorm kills four in Iran

Strong sandstorm kills four in Iran

2 Jun

A powerful sandstorm has hit Iran's capital, Tehran, killing at least four people and injuring about 30. At its peak, the storm brought winds of up to 110km/hour (70mph), knocking over trees and damaging windows. The storm caused power cuts and traffic accidents from poor visibility as dust and sand engulfed parts of the capital. Some domestic flights to central Iran have been diverted, AP news agency reports. [45]


Hurricane and Typhoon Season

Hurricane and Typhoon Season

2 Jun

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the upcoming Hurricane and Typhoon Seasons in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Season in the Atlantic begins June 1 and ends November 30. The Typhoon Season will last through the end of 2014, though most tropical cyclones typically develop between May and October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that those in hurricane- and typhoon-prone regions begin preparations for the upcoming seasons now. [46]


Clashes at India gang-rape protest

Clashes at India gang-rape protest

2 Jun

Indian police have fired water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Uttar Pradesh state where two teenage cousins were gang-raped and hanged. The protesters, many of them women, were demonstrating outside the office of state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Police have detained five people, including two policemen, in connection with the attacks. Meanwhile, reports say another woman has been found dead after being gang-raped elsewhere in the state. Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus. The government tightened laws on sexual violence last year after widespread protests following the attack. [47]


Libya clashes: 18 killed in Benghazi

Libya clashes: 18 killed in Benghazi

2 Jun

At least 18 people have been killed in intense fighting in eastern Libya, medics say. The fighting started when Ansar al-Sharia militants attacked forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, who hit back with airstrikes. Benghazi is at the centre of a two-week long campaign by Gen Haftar's forces against Islamist armed groups. The government in the capital Tripoli has condemned the campaign, calling it an "attempted coup". While Libya and in particular Benghazi has been plagued with violence since the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, the latest fighting has been particularly ferocious. Combat helicopters have reportedly been used to carry out strikes against rival armed groups in the west of Benghazi. Eyewitnesses said one of the rockets fired on Sunday missed its target and instead hit a university engineering faculty. [48]


Volcanic ash affects Bali flights

Volcanic ash affects Bali flights

2 Jun

Air passengers travelling to Bali face more disruption because of ash spewed from a nearby volcano. Australian carrier Jetstar said in a statement it had cancelled two flights on Monday "due to the ash cloud emanating from Sangeang Api". Indonesia's Mount Sangeang Api volcano first erupted on Friday, creating ash clouds that grounded flights over northern Australia and Indonesia. Most airlines had resumed a full service by Monday. But Jetstar's cancellations raises the prospect of more travel disruption. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss warned after the weekend's problems it could take days for services to return to normal. The fine particles of volcanic ash can potentially damage plane engines. [49]


May

Separatists shoot down Ukrainian helicopter

Separatists shoot down Ukrainian helicopter

29 May

Pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter in Sloviansk , killing at least 12 soldiers including a senior leader of Ukraine’s efforts to recapture control of its rebellious east. A rebel leader, meanwhile, said his fighters were holding four election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The town of Sloviansk has seen fierce fighting between separatists and government forces in recent weeks.[50]


Clashes in Barcelona

Clashes in Barcelona

29 May

Police in the Spanish city of Barcelona have clashed with gangs of hooded youths in the third night of violence triggered by moves to demolish a well-known squat. At least 25 people were arrested overnight when police were confronted by about 2,000 protesters. The demonstrators pelted them with bottles and stones. A police spokeswoman told the AFP news agency that helmeted police charged protesters after they breached a security line. The rioters responded by tipping over rubbish bins, breaking windows and pelting them with missiles. Spain has seen numerous demonstrations against home evictions and cuts to public services since its economic crisis erupted in 2008. [51]


Fresh Brazil anti-World Cup protests

Fresh Brazil anti-World Cup protests

27 May

Police in Brazil have fired tear gas at anti-World Cup and indigenous demonstrators in the capital, Brasilia. Stones were hurled at security forces as hundreds of protesters tried to reach the National Stadium – where the golden tournament cup is on display. A group of indigenous people who were demanding land rights at Congress eventually joined the protest. This is the latest in a series of demonstrations in Brazil against the cost of staging the tournament. Authorities say around 1,500 people were taking part in demonstration, which blocked one of the main roads of the city. As the crowd tried to walk towards the National Stadium, host to several tournament matches, mounted police blocked their way. [52]


Ukraine army recaptures airport

Ukraine army recaptures airport

27 May

Ukraine's interior ministry says the military is now in full control of the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk after a day of bloody clashes. More than 30 pro-Russia separatists were reported killed after an attempt to seize the airport early on Monday. New President Petro Poroshenko vowed to tackle the eastern uprising in hours, not months. Russia has called for an immediate end to military action.[53]


Libya travel warning

Libya travel warning

27 May

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately. Due to security concerns, the Department of State has limited staffing at Embassy Tripoli and is only able to offer very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Libya. The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. [54]


Rare North Dakota tornado

Rare North Dakota tornado

27 May

rare North Dakota tornado that critically injured a 15-year-old girl and hurt eight other people at a workers' camp in the heart of the state's booming oil patch packed winds that peaked at 120 mph, the National Weather Service said. The twister touched down on 26 May night at a camp just south of Watford City, about 50 miles southeast of Williston, and damaged or destroyed 15 trailers. Tornadoes are rarely reported in McKenzie County, with only 14 since 1950, with no fatalities, according to weather service data. Monday's tornado, which hit about 7:50 p.m., was an EF-2 in strength on the 0-to-5 enhanced Fujita or EF scale, the weather service said Tuesday afternoon. Preliminary information suggests the winds of the twister peaked at 120 mph, the weather service said. A second brief tornado possibly occurred in the area based on eyewitness accounts, it said. [55]


Thailand travel alert

Thailand travel alert

23 May

The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest and restrictions on internal movements, including an indefinite nighttime curfew throughout Thailand. The Department of State has advised official U.S. government travelers to defer all non-essential travel to Thailand until further notice. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on May 16, 2014, and will expire on August 21, 2014.[56]


Brazilian anti-World Cup protests

Brazilian anti-World Cup protests

16 May

Riot police in Brazil have fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro who marched against the cost of hosting the football World Cup. Some demonstrators hurled stones while other burned tyres and blocked roads. They say they are angry that billions of dollars are being spent on next month's football tournament, rather than social projects and housing. Protests also took place in many other cities, including the capital Brasilia. Teachers and civil servants, among others, were also on strike across Brazil. In Rio, aerial images showed hundreds of people marching in rush-hour traffic on a main thoroughfare. The city will host the final match of the World Cup on 13 Jul. Protesters there and in Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city, clashed with police before beginning to disperse. The number of people on the streets was much lower than during similar protests last year. Some of those taking part, however, promised the demonstrations would get bigger and more frequent as the World Cup gets closer. Last June, more than a million people took to the street over poor public services, corruption and the high cost of hosting the World Cup. The tournament is due to kick off on 12 June. [57]


Nairobi rocked by two deadly explosions

Nairobi rocked by two deadly explosions

16 May

At least 10 killed by blasts in Kenyan capital as hundreds of British tourists evacuated due to renewed terror threat. Two blasts have hit Nairobi, killing 10 people and injuring 70 as hundreds of British tourists were evacuated from the country due to the renewed terror threat. Nairobi police chief, Benson Kibue, said two improvised explosive devices were detonated in a market area near central Nairobi. One blast hit a mini-van used for public transportation. The two blasts in the Kenyan capital came shortly after 400 British holidaymakers were told they would be evacuated from Mombasa, on the east coast of Kenya, due to an "unacceptably high" threat level. The US embassy also issued a travel alert, warning American citizens of a continued terrorist threat in the country where the US embassy was hit by a devastating attack in 1998. [58]


Protesters, police clash in Turkey

Protesters, police clash in Turkey

16 May

Police in Soma, Turkey, used tear gas, plastic pellets and a water cannon on protesters angry over the government's response to a coal mine fire that killed at least 292 people. Protesters chanting "Don't sleep, Soma, remember your dead!" coursed through city streets a few miles from the disaster site, trying to reach a statue honoring miners. The clash comes two days after a photograph surfaced of an aide to Turkey's Prime Minister kicking a protester, an image that quickly became a symbol of the anger felt by many against the government, and amid mounting questions over safety practices at the mine. The complex exploded into fire for unknown reasons on 13 May trapping many miners deep underground. [59]


Libyan rebels clash in Benghazi

Libyan rebels clash in Benghazi

16 May

Fierce clashes in Libya have killed several people, after a paramilitary force led by a former general attacked Islamist militias in Benghazi.Local media reported that government troops had also joined the attack against the Islamists. But acting Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni condemned the operation as "a coup against the revolution". Libya's leaders have struggled to bring stability to the country since Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power in 2011. Benghazi, the heart of the anti-Gaddafi uprising, has been the scene of frequent clashes between the army and Islamist militias. The death toll remains unclear but sources in the city said at least 12 people had been killed and dozens more injured. [60]


UN warns on Ukraine human rights

UN warns on Ukraine human rights

16 May

The UN has warned of an "alarming deterioration" in human rights in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are fighting security forces. It also found "serious problems" of harassment and persecution of ethnic Tatars in Crimea, the mainly ethnic Russian region Moscow annexed in March. Russia condemned the report, saying it ignored abuses by Ukraine's government. Meanwhile, a third-party initiative to restore law and order in one troubled city, Mariupol, seems to be succeeding. Violence between separatists and pro-Ukrainian forces has left dozens dead in the east and south this month. Separatists control towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where they have been skirmishing with units of the Ukrainian security forces, sent in to reassert government control. The revolt in the east gained momentum after Russia annexed Ukraine's mainly ethnic Russian region of Crimea in March. [61]


Bosnia and Serbia hit by floods

Bosnia and Serbia hit by floods

16 May

States of emergency have been declared in parts of Bosnia and Serbia after the heaviest rain and worst floods since records began 120 years ago. Overflowing rivers have burst into towns and villages, cutting off whole communities, while landslides have buried houses. At least three people have drowned. Army helicopters have been sent to evacuate thousands of stranded residents but reports say bad weather is hampering the rescue efforts. [62]


Ukraine's Donetsk region asking to join Russia

Ukraine's Donetsk region asking to join Russia

12 May

A separatist leader declared that eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region was not only independent, but also would ask to join Russia - a day after referendum organizers claim voters in the region chose to break away from Kiev. Denis Pushilin, self-declared leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, told a crowd that no further referendum was needed to ask Russia to annex it. Pro-Russian separatists held a referendum Sunday asking residents of the Donetsk region whether it should declare independence from Ukraine. Nearly 90% of voters in the area favored secession, an election official said. A similar question was put to voters in Luhansk. [63]


Brazil launches border security plan

Brazil launches border security plan

12 May

Brazil has begun a massive military operation to secure its lengthy borders ahead of next month's World Cup. More than 30,000 troops from the army, navy and air force are taking part in what authorities said was Brazil's "single largest mobilization ever". There are still concerns over whether some venues for the tournament will be ready in time. Authorities are also concerned about the recurrence of street protests against the cost of holding the event. The border security operation – codename Agata – was first carried out in 2011 and usually takes place three times a year. It targets illegal immigration as well as drugs and arms smuggling. Troops also monitor rivers and lakes as part of their operations in Brazil's dense jungle. They have not indicated when the operation will finish, but previous operations lasted between one and two weeks. A border security operation mounted ahead of the Confederations Cup last year led to the seizure of almost 20 tonnes of drugs. More than 600,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Brazil for this year's tournament, between 12 June and 13 July. [64]


China tightens security in Beijing

China tightens security in Beijing

12 May

China has deployed armed police patrol vehicles in Beijing after three attacks at transport hubs around the country. The 150 vehicles are tasked with "countering street terrorism and fighting severe violence", state-run Xinhua news agency said. Petrol purchases would also be tightened, with buyers required to register with police, reports said. The move follows station attacks in Kunming, Urumqi and Guangzhou, and comes before the Tiananmen anniversary. Xinhua said the armed police patrols would be stationed at major road junctions and manned by at least nine police officers and other assistants. They would cover an area of 3km (1.8 miles) and would be required to respond within three minutes, Xinhua added. Meanwhile, those buying petrol would have to explain their intentions in a move that aimed to prevent the use of gasoline "to create disturbances", People's Daily newspaper said. [65]


Large anti-China protests in Vietnam

Large anti-China protests in Vietnam

12 May

Hundreds of people across Vietnam have protested against China's role in a sea dispute - the largest rallies of their kind recently in the communist country. In the capital, Hanoi, demonstrators sang patriotic songs and held up placards opposite the Chinese embassy. Tensions have been running high after Vietnamese ships clashed with Chinese vessels guarding an oil rig in a contested area of the South China Sea. The protests appear to have the Vietnamese government's approval. The country's communist authorities have broken up previous anti-China demonstrations because of fears that they may be hijacked by pro-democracy activists, says the BBC's Asia Pacific editor, Charles Scanlon. Nevertheless, he says, Hanoi has also used the demonstrations to communicate its anger over what it sees as Beijing's aggressive infringement of Vietnamese sovereignty. [66]


Syria troops move into Homs Old City

Syria troops move into Homs Old City

9 May

Syrian forces have moved into previously rebel-held areas of Homs after the evacuation of opposition fighters following a two-year siege. Troops have begun sweeping the Old City for explosives, state media quoted Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi as saying. The UN-supervised evacuation marks the end of three years of resistance in Homs, once dubbed the "capital of the revolution". Much of Homs fell to the opposition in 2011, but over the past two years government forces have gradually regained control by subjecting areas once home to tens of thousands of people to continuous siege and bombardment. Civilians began returning the devastated zone of the Old City to find what remained of their homes, reports say. [67]


Strong earthquake hits Mexico

Strong earthquake hits Mexico

9 May

An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude has shaken parts of Mexico, causing buildings to sway in the capital. The US Geological Survey said it was centred near the town of Tecpan de Galeana in southern Guerrero state, about 190 miles (300km) south-west of Mexico City. It was also felt in the resort city of Acapulco, the Associated Press says. There are no reports of any damage or injuries but frightened office workers ran into the streets in the capital. [68]


Protests in Thailand

Protests in Thailand

9 May

Thai police have fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters in Bangkok, two days after a court ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Hundreds of protesters have been holding a rally outside a government compound in the city. The protesters want the government out and the political system reformed. At least five people were injured outside the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order when they tried to topple concrete barriers that were topped with barbed wire, the Associated Press news agency said. Government supporters have planned a mass rally over the weekend [69]


Deadly clashes erupt in Ukraine

Deadly clashes erupt in Ukraine

5 May

Ukrainian security forces and antigovernment rebels clashed on the edges of Slovyansk as the acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said roadblocks were being set up around Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, because of fears of disturbances or violence during an emotionally charged holiday later in the week. As many as 10 rebels and four soldiers were killed in the fighting, according to the official accounts from both sides, along with a woman who was shot while standing on an apartment balcony during a bloody firefight along the highway to Slovyansk’s east. But at the end of the day the violence accomplished little for either side besides deepening resentments and anger and appearing to push the crisis further from a chance at peaceful resolution. The rebels yielded a single checkpoint to the government, at Rybkhoz, from which they withdrew during a morning advance by a Ukrainian armored unit. But the antigovernment forces still held Slovyansk, where residents continued to fell trees and stack tires to create obstacles to any military push. [70]


Plains Burning Up

Plains Burning Up

5 May

A blistering heat wave has set in across the drought-scorched Plains, with all-time record high temperatures set in Kansas and Oklahoma during the past few days. The hot, dry weather there has sparked deadly wildfires, and it contrasts sharply with the deluge that recently struck the Gulf Coast, as well as the cooler-than-average spring in the Midwest and Northeast, where 19% of the Great Lakes are still covered in ice. In Wichita, Kansas, the temperature hit 102 degrees Fahrenheit on May 4, which broke the record for the earliest 100 degree or higher temperature on record there, beating the old record of May 9. Drought conditions are contributing to the early heat wave, since more of the sun's energy can go toward heating the ground and air when soils are dry compared to when they are wet, which diverts some incoming solar energy to evaporation. [71]


Dozens killed in Odessa clashes

Dozens killed in Odessa clashes

2 May

Police in the Black Sea port of Odessa said that 31 people died when a union hall was set ablaze as pro-Russia demonstrators battled in the streets with Ukrainian loyalists. Most victims were killed by smoke, while eight others died when they jumped from the upper floors, Reuters reported. Police initially put the death toll at 38. Later, the Interfax-Ukraine news service said that in addition to those killed in the fire, 12 others lost their lives and 123 were hurt in the day's violence. The day's death toll is the highest since more than 70 people died Feb. 20 on Independence Square in Kiev during the so-called EuroMaidan Revolution, which toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich. The fire came hours after Ukraine's new president said that "many" pro-Russian rebels had been killed or wounded in a crackdown by Ukrainian troops in eastern city of Slovyansk, which had been held for days by separatists. [72]


Afghan landslide kills hundreds

Afghan landslide kills hundreds

2 May

At least 350 people have been killed and many more are missing, the UN says, after a landslide hit the north-east Afghan province of Badakhshan. Hundreds of homes were buried under mud and rocks when a section of a mountain collapsed following torrential rain. Rescuers have reached the area and are searching for survivors. Much of north and east Afghanistan has been hit by heavy rain in recent days, and some 150 people have died in flooding. "The number of deceased has increased to 350 and significant displacement is expected," the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement. "The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is helping local authorities to rescue those still trapped." Local officials say that more than 2,000 people are missing. About 1,000 houses were affected - 300 of them buried immediately after the side of a mountain gave way. [73]


Deadly Protests in Ethiopia

Deadly Protests in Ethiopia

2 May

At least nine students have died during days of protests in Ethiopia's Oromia state, the government has said. Witnesses say Ethiopian police have killed at least 17 protesters during demonstrations in Ethiopia's Oromia region against plans to annex territory to expand the capital, Addis Ababa. Authorities put the protest-related death toll at 11 and have not said how the demonstrators were killed. The main opposition party says 17 people were killed while witnesses and residents say the death toll is much higher. Residents say that an elite government security force opened fire on protesters at three university campuses. The demonstrations erupted last week against plans by the Ethiopian government to incorporate part of Oromia into the capital. Oromia is Ethiopia's largest region and Oromos are the country's largest ethnic group. Oromos say the government wants to weaken their political power. They say expanding the capital threatens the local language, which is not taught in Addis Ababa schools. Ethiopian officials say the master plan for expansion was publicized long ago and would bring city services to remote areas. They accuse those they call "anti-peace forces" of trying to destroy Ethiopia's ethnic harmony. [74]


South Korea subway crash

South Korea subway crash

2 May

Dozens of people have been injured after two subway cars collided in the South Korean capital Seoul. As many as 170 people were hurt - and a number were taken to hospital for treatment - but no-one suffered serious injuries, officials said. The accident happened after one train ran into the back of another that had stopped at a station in east Seoul. It comes as the nation continues to mourn the deaths of about 300 people in last month's ferry disaster. [75]



Explosive Fire Conditions, California

Explosive Fire Conditions, California

2 May

Soaring temperatures, low humidity and Santa Ana winds created the perfect conditions for fire this week in Southern California, where firefighters are facing what could be the most dangerous fire season yet. "In 2014, we've had over a thousand fires here in California," said Forester Glenn Barley of Cal Fire. "In a normal year we would have a little over 400 fires." Throughout the West, bigger and more expensive fires have become the norm. Now that the wildfire season is underway, states will spend billions to contain the flames. [76]


April

Ukraine rebels storm Luhansk offices

Ukraine rebels storm Luhansk offices

29 Apr

Pro-Russia activists have stormed several official buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. They seized the regional government's headquarters and prosecutor's office before opening fire with automatic weapons at the main police station. Interim President Olexander Turchynov criticised local police for their "inaction" and "criminal treachery". Until now, only the local office of the State Security Service (SBU) in Luhansk, a city of 465,000 people less than 30km (20 miles) from the Russian border, had been targeted. A group of men armed with sticks and metal bars broke into the building. They pulled down the Ukrainian flag flying from the roof and replaced it with a Russian tricolour and the flag of Donetsk People's Republic. Crowds of pro-Russia activists then overran the building housing the prosecutor's office before attacking the headquarters of the interior ministry's police force. Hours later, an AFP news agency journalist reported that officers had abandoned the police station and been taken away in buses, as an angry crowd shouted at them to "Go home". [77]


Syria blasts kill dozens in Homs

Syria blasts kill dozens in Homs

29 Apr

At least 37 people have been killed in explosions in the Syrian city of Homs, officials say. The attacks, which involved at least one car bomb, also injured dozens. Earlier, at least 14 people were killed and more than 80 wounded in a mortar attack on a technical institute in central Damascus. The attacks come a day after President Bashar al-Assad registered to stand for re-election, defying calls to step down as a way of ending Syria's civil war. There are conflicting details about the number of deaths in the government-held, predominantly Alawite district of Zahra, east of the Old City in Homs. A government official said at least 37 people were killed and 85 hurt. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave the same death toll figures, with 80 injured. [78]


Severe weather threatens eastern US

Severe weather threatens eastern US

29 Apr

Severe weather is threatening as many as 73 million Americans in the eastern states, after two days of powerful storms killed up to 34 people. Government forecasters have warned of severe thunderstorms from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Great Lakes. On Sunday and Monday, tornadoes cut a broad track of death and destruction through the southern US states. The storms flattened buildings, overturned cars, and left thousands of residents without power. "Widespread thunderstorms are forecast across the central Gulf Coast region, with several severe [or] supercell storms possible," the National Weather Service wrote in a morning forecast. More than two million people are said to be at risk of tornadoes and high winds in parts of Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday. As the storm moves further east, parts of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are expected to be under threat of severe weather, forecasters say. [79]


Tornado outbreak in Southern USA

Tornado outbreak in Southern USA

28 Apr

A ferocious storm system threatened tens of millions of people across the U.S. Southeast, a day after it spawned a series of tornadoes that killed 16 people, injured more than 100 and tossed cars around like toys in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Rescue workers, volunteers and victims have been sifting through the rubble in the hardest-hit state of Arkansas, looking for survivors in central Faulkner County where a tornado reduced homes to splinters, snapped power lines and mangled countless trees. The National Weather Service said there was a tornado risk for Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia as the storm system that produced the twisters headed east toward the Mid-Atlantic states. [80]


Iraq suicide bomb at rally kills 30

Iraq suicide bomb at rally kills 30

28 Apr

A suicide bombing at a rally in north-eastern Iraq has killed 30 people, security officials say. The attack took place at a political gathering in the town of Khanaqin, which has a large Kurdish population. It was the deadliest bombing among a wave of attacks to hit Iraq on Monday. Iraqis are voting in the country's first parliamentary election since the withdrawal of US troops almost three years ago, but it comes amid the worst unrest since 2008. People at the rally had gathered to watch television footage of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, casting his vote in Germany. Mr Talabani suffered a stroke in December 2012 and has been receiving treatment in Germany. The attack was one of several attacks across Iraq on Monday. A total of at least 50 people were killed.[81]


Saudi Mers death toll passes 100

Saudi Mers death toll passes 100

28 Apr

Saudi Arabia says more than 100 patients infected with the Mers coronavirus have now died since the outbreak began in 2012. The health ministry said another eight deaths occurred on Sunday, taking the toll to 102. The acting health minister says three hospitals in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam have been designated specialist centres for treating Mers. Mers causes symptoms including fever, pneumonia and kidney failure. The rate of infections is increasing and the World Health Organization (WHO) has offered to help Saudi Arabia investigate infection patterns. [82]


Dangerous tornado threat in Central USA

Dangerous tornado threat in Central USA

24 Apr

A dangerous multiple-day severe weather outbreak will begin this weekend over the South Central states and will include the potential for nighttime tornadoes in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. A storm will move slowly across the United States over the next seven to 10 days. The storm will affect Southern California with locally drenching rain and mountain snow on Friday. Its next stop will be the Central states this weekend. While the central and southern Plains are in need of rain, it will come with the price tag of violent storms. [83]


New clashes in Rio de Janeiro

New clashes in Rio de Janeiro

23 Apr

Deadly protests have broken out in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro following the death of a young man allegedly beaten by police. Demonstrators from the favela set barricades of tyres alight, leading to the closure of streets in the nearby tourist area of Copacabana. The violence comes weeks before Brazil hosts the football World Cup. Witnesses said cars were set ablaze, the local police station was attacked and gunfire could be heard from the favela. "There was smoke everywhere, shots in the street and people racing for their homes," one resident living nearby told AFP news agency. [84]


Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi

Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi

23 Apr

A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, killing four people. Police were taking the occupants of the car in for questioning in the Pangani neighbourhood when it exploded, the interior ministry said. Two of those killed were police. It is unclear who was behind the blast, but Nairobi has been targeted in the past in attacks attributed to Somali al-Shabab militants, who oppose Kenya's military involvement in Somalia. grenade also found at the scene was detonated by police, the ministry said. Kenya has been on alert for attacks since last September's assault by al-Shabab gunmen on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi left 67 people dead. [85]


Everest Sherpas discuss boycott

Everest Sherpas discuss boycott

23 Apr

Sherpa guides in Nepal are meeting climbers at Everest base camp to decide whether to cancel ascents after an avalanche on Friday 18 Apr killed 16 sherpas. The sherpas have threatened a boycott unless they get a bigger share of revenue from foreign climbers. Friday's was the single deadliest accident in modern mountaineering on the world's highest peak. The avalanche struck in an area just above Everest base camp at 5,800m (19,000ft). Everest has been scaled by more than 3,000 climbers since 1953. The rising number of tourists has raised concerns about safety and environmental damage, although Nepal still plans to cut fees from next year for those wishing to make the climb. Some 250 climbers have died on the mountain, which is on the border between Nepal and the Chinese region of Tibet, and can be climbed from both sides. [86]


Venezuelan capital hit by new protests

Venezuelan capital hit by new protests

22 Apr

Fresh clashes have occurred in Venezuela's capital, with hooded anti-government protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at riot police who returned fire with rubber bullets, tear-gas and water cannon. Four people were reported injured in the unrest that erupted in Caracas's upscale Chacao neighbourhood on Sunday 20 Apr, a stronghold of anti-government opposition. Venezuela has been rocked by two months of deadly protests, with at least 41 people killed since a wave of demonstrations against the leftist government of Nicolas Maduro broke out in early February. About 600 people have also been injured in the protests, and around 100 have been detained. [87]


Ukraine clash ends in deaths

Ukraine clash ends in deaths

17 Apr

A clash outside a military base ended with the first deaths so far in a Ukraine anti-militant operation as Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted in a radio interview that Russian soldiers did secretly invade Crimea to help pro-Russian Ukrainians take over the province by force. Three pro-Russian militants were killed in a skirmish outside a Ukrainian National Guard base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol in an attack Ukraine's interior ministry called the bloodiest to date by militants who want the entire East Ukraine to go the way of Crimea. [88]


Brazil troops guard strike-hit Bahia

Brazil troops guard strike-hit Bahia

17 Apr

Brazil has sent thousands of federal troops to maintain order in the north-eastern state of Bahia after police there went on strike over pay. Shops and supermarkets in the state capital, Salvador, have been looted and public transport was severely reduced following attacks on some buses. The Brazilian city is due to host six matches during this year's football World Cup, which begins in June. Another strike in 2012 led to a spike in murders and other violent crimes. Back then, more than 130 people were killed and 12 officers were arrested, including the leader of the current labour dispute, Marco Prisco. The 2012 strike lasted 12 days, and troops were also sent to the streets of Salvador, Brazil's third most populous city. [89]


Nicaragua on high alert after quakes

Nicaragua on high alert after quakes

17 Apr

The authorities in Nicaragua have put the entire country on an "extreme red alert", the highest possible, after the country was hit by a series of tremors. Nicaraguans were asked to sleep outdoors as seismologists warned of the possibility of a powerful earthquake rocking the Central American country. Officials said the recent tremors had reactivated a fault which caused a devastating earthquake in 1972. Between 5,000 and 10,000 people were killed in the disaster. Soldiers have been erecting field hospitals and the Red Cross urged people to donate blood to replenish the country's blood banks. Some people considered to be at high risk either because of their age or because they live in houses at risk of crumbling have been moved to shelters. In the past week, Nicaragua was hit by three quakes of magnitudes ranging between 5.1 and 6.7, as well as dozens of aftershocks. Two people have died and dozens been injured. [90]


Fresh Syria gas attack alleged

Fresh Syria gas attack alleged

17 Apr

Activists in Syria have published what they say is evidence of a chlorine gas attack by government forces. Footage posted online, which cannot be verified, shows medics trying to revive four young men suffering what appear to be symptoms of poisoning. A voice off-screen says the location is Harasta, just outside the capital Damascus. Use of chlorine as a weapon of war is banned and Syria committed to declaring and giving up its stocks last year. Four days ago, activists said the Syrian government carried out another alleged chlorine attack north of the city of Hama. The Syrian government blamed the opposition. [91]


Pakistan Taliban end ceasefire

Pakistan Taliban end ceasefire

17 Apr

The Pakistani Taliban have announced that they will not extend the ceasefire they began in March, effectively ending their truce with the government. A Pakistani Taliban (TTP) spokesman said the move was due to the government ignoring their demands, but that they remained committed to peace talks. Negotiations between the Pakistani government and the Taliban continued for some time but lately reports of a deadlock had emerged. Despite the recent ceasefire, Pakistan has continued to be hit by attacks in the past month, including a bomb attack in an Islamabad market that killed at least 20. [92]


Ferry sinks off South Korea's coast

Ferry sinks off South Korea's coast

16 Apr

Divers fighting strong currents have searched three compartments of a submerged South Korean ferry, but found no sign of 284 people — most of them high school students — still missing after the vessel sank off South Korea's southern coast. At least four of the 459 people aboard are confirmed dead and 55 are injured. More than 100 navy, coast guard and other vessels and aircraft are engaged in the search for survivors in a broad swath of water 12 miles off the island of Byeongpoong where the ferry went down. [93]


Powerful cyclone hits Australia

Powerful cyclone hits Australia

11 Apr

Tens of thousands of people hunkered down as warnings of severe gales, flash flooding and storm tides continued through the night."Destructive winds with gusts to 140 kilometres per hour are possible between Cape Melville and Cape Tribulation for a period this morning," the Bureau of Meteorology said. The storm was moving at nine kilometres per hour and was "expected to continue moving south-southwest" and weaken through the early morning. Nonetheless, winds gusting in excess of 110 kilometres per hour were expected to hit Port Douglas and Cairns later Saturday morning, and as far south as Cardwell, which is some 1,500 kilometres from Brisbane. [94]


Clashes as squatters evicted in Rio

Clashes as squatters evicted in Rio

11 Apr

A huge police operation to evict hundreds of families from abandoned buildings in Rio de Janeiro has ended with violent clashes and some injuries. More than 1,500 police officers had arrived at dawn to evict nearly 5,000 people from the site, belonging to a telecommunication company. Some families left peacefully, but clashes began when others resisted. Groups of squatters threw rocks at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Hundreds of children were among the crowds. Vehicles were set on fire and supermarkets were looted. [95]


General strike grips Argentina

General strike grips Argentina

11 Apr

Public transport in Argentina has been severely disrupted by a huge nationwide strike against the economic policies of the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Most buses, commuter trains and metro lines across Argentina did not operate. The 24-hour strike was called by unions amid public discontent over high inflation, taxes and wages. The government said the stoppage was "anti-democratic" because it affected those who wanted to go to work. Airlines were forced to cancel flights and ports came to a near standstill. Many shops also closed because commuters could not get to work. [96]


Donetsk 'people's republic' declared

Donetsk 'people's republic' declared

7 Apr

Pro-Russian protesters who seized the regional government building in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk are reported to have declared a "people's republic". The rebels have called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine by 11 May. Ukrainian security officials are being sent to the eastern cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv after pro-Russia groups occupied government buildings. Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov called the unrest an attempt by Russia to "dismember" Ukraine. In an address on national TV, he said it was "the second wave" of a Russian operation to destabilise Ukraine, overthrow the government and disrupt planned elections. Russia's foreign ministry accused Kiev of "blaming" Moscow for all its troubles. [97]


Ecuador volcano spews huge plume

Ecuador volcano spews huge plume

7 Apr

A volcano just south of Ecuador's capital Quito has erupted, creating a spectacular plume of ash, 10km (six miles) high. The volcano has been erupting since 1999, but has been particularly active in the last two months. Tungurahua is one of eight active volcanoes in Ecuador, which lies in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. [98]


Kenya Travel Warning

Kenya Travel Warning

7 Apr

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including in the Nairobi area and in the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings - kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region. [99]


Powerful earthquake strikes off Chile

Powerful earthquake strikes off Chile

1 Apr

n 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chile, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The quake was centered some 50 miles west-northwest of Iquique at a depth of 6.2 miles. A tsunami warning was in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador. A tsunami watch was issued for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.[100]


Ebola outbreak in Guinea 'limited'

Ebola outbreak in Guinea 'limited'

1 Apr

The deadly Ebola outbreak in Guinea, West Africa, remains in a "limited geographic area", the World Health Organization has said. Guinea says 80 people have so far been killed by Ebola, which is spread by close contact and kills between 25% and 90% of its victims. It has now spread to neighboring Liberia, as well as Guinea's capital, Conakry, which has a population of two million people. Liberia has recorded a total of seven suspected and confirmed cases, including four deaths. Outbreaks of Ebola occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, the WHO says. [101]


Fresh street battles in Venezuela

Fresh street battles in Venezuela

1 Apr

Clashes erupted once again in the Venezuelan capital, as hooded activists erected barricades on the streets of Caracas, causing massive disruption. Protesters smashed shop windows and set fire to cars before the riot police arrived and dispersed them using tear gas and water cannons. Elsewhere in the west of Venezuela violence was reported in the cities of Maracaibo and San Cristobal, killing two people and bringing the total death toll in Venezuela to 39. Protests have been held throughout Venezuela for the past month and a half, with the population frustrated over inflation, mass power cuts and a lack of basic goods. The Venezuelan government claims that the largely peaceful protest movement has been hijacked by extremist, right-wing, political elements backed by the US, whose aim is to ouster President Nicolas Maduro.[102]


Brazil secures Rio slum in mass raid

Brazil secures Rio slum in mass raid

1 Apr

Brazilian security forces have moved into a slum near Rio airport, as part of efforts to drive out drugs gangs before this year's football World Cup. The vast Mare favela is considered to be one of the most dangerous drug-trafficking areas in the city. Authorities have been carrying out a slum "pacification" programme aimed at making the city - which also hosts the 2016 Olympics - safer. [103]


Kenya in mass arrests after blasts

Kenya in mass arrests after blasts

1 Apr

At least 627 people have been arrested in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, following explosions that killed six people, the police chief has said. David Kimaiyo said about 200 of them were thought to be sympathisers of the militant Islamist group al-Shabab. The rest of those arrested were still being screened, he added. The arrests took place in the mainly Somali neighbourhood of Eastleigh.[104]


Koreas trade fire across sea border

Koreas trade fire across sea border

1 Apr

North and South Korea have exchanged fire into the sea across the disputed western sea border, South Korea says. North Korea announced early on Monday that it would hold live-fire drills in seven parts of the border area. South Korea says it returned fire after North Korean shells landed in its territorial waters. The area has been a flashpoint between the two Koreas. The UN drew the western border after the Korean War, but North Korea has never recognised it. In late 2010, four South Koreans were killed on a border island by North Korean artillery fire. Border fire was also briefly exchanged in August 2011. [105]


Lufthansa pilots' strike

Lufthansa pilots' strike

1 Apr

German airline Lufthansa says will cancel 3,800 flights this week because of a strike by pilots over pay and working conditions. The airline said 425,000 passengers would be affected by the stoppages, due to take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Lufthansa added it would inform passengers via text message or email about the flight changes. Its freight carrier, Lufthansa Cargo, will also be affected. Lufthansa said the impact on profits would be "in the range of tens of millions of euros". "The announcement alone has already caused significant damages since passengers have already rebooked flights and logistic customers have made arrangements with other cargo airlines to secure the transport of their goods," it said in a statement. [106]


March

Deadly ebola outbreak in Guinea

Deadly ebola outbreak in Guinea

26 Mar

Health officials in Guinea are working to contain an outbreak of Ebola that has killed at least 60 people and sickened dozens more, according to the World Health Organization.The outbreak is spreading through forests in the West African country’s southeast, and may have crossed borders into Liberia and Sierra Leone, WHO said. “Multidisciplinary teams have been deployed to the field to strengthen surveillance, sensitize and educate the public, manage case and implement appropriate infection prevention and control measures in health facilities and communities affected,” WHO said in a statement. ABC News


Nigeria conflict 'affects millions'

Nigeria conflict 'affects millions'

26 Mar

More than three million people are facing a humanitarian crisis in three northern Nigerian states hit by an Islamist-led insurgency, the government's relief agency has said. The conflict has displaced about 250,000 people since January, it added. President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the three states last year to crush the insurgency. However, the militant Islamist group Boko Haram has stepped up attacks in recent months. The group operates mostly in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, where the state of emergency is in force. In a statement, the Nigerian government's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the "needs of the affected population are increasing by the day and the support of all is urgently required". Borno was worst affected, with about 1.3 million people - most of them women, children and the elderly - in need of aid, NEMA said. In Adamawa, the number stood at around one million and in Yobe at more than 770,000, it said. About 250,000 people were living in camps or with relatives and friends after being forced out of their homes, NEMA added. Nigerian Red Cross Society representative Soji Adeniyi said what has happening in the north-east was unprecedented. BBC


US mudslide death toll rises to 16

US mudslide death toll rises to 16

26 Mar

Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of two more people killed in a massive mudslide in the US state of Washington, bringing the total to 16. The officials said they thought they had located eight more bodies under the mud but were unable to retrieve them. As many as 176 people remain unaccounted for. A 177ft (54m) wall of mud buried the town of Oso, north of Seattle, on 22 Mar. The sudden, catastrophic mudslide destroyed about 30 houses, temporarily damming a river and leaving a square-mile field of muck and debris in its wake. BBC


Pakistan holds Taliban peace talks

Pakistan holds Taliban peace talks

26 Mar

A first day of peace talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban has concluded in the tribal region of North Waziristan. Local media reported that a ceasefire has been extended, but there was no official confirmation from either side. It was the first direct contact between the two sides since peace moves began last month. Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency in Pakistan since 2007. Since that time thousands have been killed and many more injured in Pakistan's militant violence. BBC


Clashes in Lebanon

Clashes in Lebanon

26 Mar

At least three people were killed in fighting between rival religious sects in Lebanon's second city, Tripoli , medical and security sources said, as violence from Syria spills over into the small Mediterranean country. The long-running rivalry between Tripoli's Sunni Muslims and members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, has been worsened by Syria's three-year-old conflict. The civil war has become increasingly sectarian as mostly Sunni rebels - who represent the majority in Syria - battle President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite. That has in turn exacerbated tensions in Lebanon, which is home to Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians and a number of smaller sects, and is still recovering from its own 1975-90 civil war. At least 27 people have been killed in fighting in Tripoli over roughly the last two weeks, including one Lebanese soldier. Reuters


Ukraine proposes demilitarized zone in Crimea

Ukraine proposes demilitarized zone in Crimea

20 Mar

Ukraine has proposed that Crimea, scene of a Russian-backed armed takeover, be declared a demilitarised zone by the United Nations with a pull-out by both Russian and Ukrainian forces. "The Ukrainian government will immediately appeal to the United Nations to recognise Crimea as a demilitarised zone and take necessary measures for Russian forces to leave Crimea and prepare conditions for redeployment of Ukrainian forces," security chief Andriy Parubiy said on 18 Mar. Referring to his demilitarisation proposal, Parubiy, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, said he hoped the UN would support the idea. Al Jazeera


Somali militants attack army hotel

Somali militants attack army hotel

20 Mar

A car bomb exploded by the hotel in Bulo-burde where African Union (AU) and Somali officers were staying and gunfire continued for another five hours, witnesses said. Six soldiers were killed, including a top Somali army commander, the AU said. The al-Shabab Islamist group said it was behind the attack and that 30 AU and army officers had been killed. A spokesman for the 22,000-strong AU force in Somalia (Amisom), Col Ali Adan Humad, said all the al-Shabab fighters involved in the raid had been killed, without specifying numbers. Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has waged an eight-year insurgency to overthrow the weak UN-backed government and create an Islamic state in Somalia. BBC


Crimea votes to leave Ukraine for Russia

Crimea votes to leave Ukraine for Russia

17 Mar

Voters in the Crimea region of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly on 16 Mar to secede from their country and join Russia, in a major victory for Moscow that followed days of international condemnation that the referendum itself was illegitimate. The results of the vote in the predominantly ethnic Russian peninsula were not unexpected, coming several weeks after Kremlin-led forces took control of the region. But the crucial step toward official annexation by Russia will further raise tensions with Ukraine, as well as with the U.S. and Europe, which have promised an escalation of sanctions. An election official said 95% of voters supported joining Russia, with about half of ballots counted, the Associated Press reports. The military threat Russia poses was palpable during the vote in Crimea, with Russian warships circling Crimea and Moscow-directed troops blockading Ukrainian troops in their bases. Russia said at the time of its initial intervention that it was protecting the majority ethnic Russian population against the new Ukrainian government in Kiev after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.Time magazine


Earthquake hits LA area

Earthquake hits LA area

17 Mar

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Los Angeles area on Monday morning, jolting some people awake just before sunrise but bringing no immediate reports of serious damage. The quake, centered about 6 miles north-northwest of Westwood and about 15 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, happened at 6:25 a.m., the U.S. Geological Survey said. At least six aftershocks followed the quake, the strongest of which was a magnitude 2.7, said Egill Hauksson, a California Institute of Technology seismologist. CNN


Deadly bomb blast at Libyan barracks

Deadly bomb blast at Libyan barracks

17 Mar

A car bomb at a barracks has left at least five soldiers dead in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, medical sources say. The attack is said to have targeted people leaving a graduation ceremony for officers. Benghazi is often the scene of attacks blamed on hard-line Islamist groups.It is the largest city in eastern Libya, where some groups want more autonomy and a greater share of the region's oil wealth. BBC


Mauritania Travel Warning

Mauritania Travel Warning

17 Mar

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Mauritania, and urges those who travel to Mauritania to exercise extreme caution because of activities by terrorist groups in the region, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM continues to demonstrate its intent and ability to conduct attacks against foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. U.S. State Department


Protests rage in Venezuela

Protests rage in Venezuela

14 Mar

It's been a month since violent clashes between opposition demonstrators and government forces in Venezuela first grabbed global attention. Protests rage on, and demonstrators show no sign of backing down. A government tally released 11 Mar said at least 23 people had been killed nationwide and more than 200 others have been injured since protests started. The tally did not specify whether the casualties occurred among demonstrators or government forces, or both. Venezuela celebrates Chavez anniversary. Violence surged this week in Tachira state, which borders Colombia. CNN


Nigeria attack

Nigeria attack

14 Mar

Suspected Islamist militants from Boko Haram have attacked an army barracks in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri. The army said it had repelled the attack, inflicting heavy casualties. Eyewitnesses said there were deaths on both sides. The assault on the barracks was an attempt by the attackers to free colleagues held there, a military spokesman said. Militants suspected to be from Boko Haram have killed 500 people this year. Residents said there was a heavy exchange of fire and explosions near Giwa barracks, as the military battled the insurgents. BBC


NYC blast site rescue continues

NYC blast site rescue continues

14 Mar

Rescue operations are continuing two days after a gas leak blast demolished two buildings in East Harlem, New York City, killing eight people. With one person still unaccounted for, authorities are searching the rubble for survivors at the scene. Telescopic cameras and sound devices have been deployed to search small spaces in the wreckage. Less than 50% of debris has been removed from the site after the incident on 12 Mar, which injured more than 60. Bulldozers are removing debris from the scene in the Park Avenue and 116th Street area, with authorities aiming to reach the first floor by 15 Mar and then on to the basement to search for victims. City officials and utility company Con Edison continue to search for the source of a gas leak believed to have caused the explosion. BBC


Clashes in Turkey

Clashes in Turkey

11 Mar

Clashes have erupted at a hospital in Istanbul where a boy has died nine months after he was struck on the head by a tear gas canister fired by police. In Ankara, police fired tear gas to disperse some 2,000 protesters. Further protests were reported in the coastal cities of Antalya and Izmir. BBC


Another storm to hit Midwest

Another storm to hit Midwest

11 Mar

The relentless winter of 2013-14 has another trick up its sleeve: A potent snowstorm is forecast to blast portions of the Midwest and Northeast tonight, Wednesday and Thursday with as much as 2 feet of snow. If enough snow falls, the storm could break Detroit's seasonal snowfall record and give Chicago its second snowiest winter. It also could bring the heaviest snowfall of the year to Burlington, Vt., where 12-16 inches are forecast. "The corridor from northern Illinois to northern New England has the greatest potential of being targeted by the substantial snow," according to AccuWeather meteorologist. USA Today


Flooding in central Montana

Flooding in central Montana

11 Mar

Floods that washed out rural roads in central Montana left hundreds of people stranded and forced the evacuation of 30 homes in one small town, as forecasts predicted more rain and snow that could worsen conditions in the region. The flooding, which saw water begin streaming over rural roadways near the ranching community of Roundup during the weekend, came as warmer-than-usual temperatures rapidly melted deep snows amid recent storms that brought abundant rains, weather forecasters said. Floods also threatened to inundate three towns in north-central Wyoming where vast ice formations blocked the flow of the Bighorn River and caused it to spill from its banks. Reuters


Crimea military base stand-off over

Crimea military base stand-off over

7 Mar

A stand-off involving pro-Russian soldiers at a Ukrainian military base outside the Crimean city of Sevastopol has reportedly ended without incident. Troops wearing Russian uniform without insignia have blockaded bases since taking control of Crimea last week. The incident came hours after Russian parliamentarians promised to support Crimea if it wanted to become part of Russia. Crimea's parliament announced it would hold a referendum on 16 March on whether to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine. BBC


Rio rubbish collectors strike

Rio rubbish collectors strike

7 Mar

Rubbish is still piling up in Rio de Janeiro as the Brazilian city's street cleaners continue a strike, despite an announced agreement with the union. Hundreds of refuse workers protested at the mayor's office demanding better pay and working conditions. Tonnes of rubbish left after many street parties and by samba schools and beach goers were left piling up in the city for days.BBC


Flooding in Charlotte

Flooding in Charlotte

7 Mar

Meteorologists say utility crews and North Carolina residents will get several days of spring-like weather to help them clear away the mess left by the most damaging winter storm in more than a decade. While the powerful low pressure system was mostly an inconvenience in the immediate Charlotte area, it left flooded roads in Cabarrus and Union counties and much bigger problems to the north, where more than 460,000 customers were without electricity. Forecasters say much nicer conditions are ahead this weekend and into early next week. High temperatures are predicted to reach the mid and upper 60s Saturday and Sunday and then the lower 70s early in the week. Charlotte Observer


Protests in Kashmir

Protests in Kashmir

7 Mar

Hundreds of students in Kashmir protested today against the treatment of 67 Kashmiri students studying in India who were suspended and faced sedition charges after they cheered for the Pakistan cricket team in a televised match against India. Although the sedition charges were withdrawn last night, the issue has snowballed into a larger controversy, exposing what critics say is a shrinking space for freedom of expression within the Indian democracy and the deep fault lines that run between India and Kashmir. Christian Science Monitor.


Malaria 'spreading to new altitudes'

Malaria 'spreading to new altitudes'

7 Mar

Researchers have found that people living in the highlands of Africa and South America are at an increased risk of catching the mosquito-borne disease during hotter years. They believe that temperature rises in the future could result in millions of additional cases in some areas. The research is published in the journal Science. To investigate, scientists looked at densely populated areas in the highlands of Colombia and Ethiopia, where there are detailed records of both temperature and malaria cases from the 1990s to 2005. They found that in warmer years, malaria shifted higher into the mountains, while in cooler years it was limited to lower elevations. BBC


February

Big storm headed to California

Big storm headed to California

26 Feb

California is bracing for two storms which are expected to dump the most significant rainfall in almost three years, promising a brief respite to the state’s drought. Moderate to heavy showers on Feb 26 were due to be followed on Feb 28 by heavier torrents, a blessing for farmers and water management authorities but unwelcome news for motorists and organisers of the Oscars. The deluge is expected to dump between one and three inches of rain in coastal and valleys areas and five to seven inches in hills and mountains – a dramatic event by California’s desiccated standards. [107]


Barricades go up in Venezuela

Barricades go up in Venezuela

25 Feb

As Venezuelan opposition leaders push for demonstrators to stay in the streets, "he who tires, loses" is their mantra. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for demonstrators to keep demanding change from the South American country's government and described President Nicolas Maduro as "an error in the history of the country." Outrage at soaring crime and a tanking economy triggered protests earlier this month.Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that 13 people have died and at least 147 people have been injured in clashes since protests began. [108]


Pollution hides Beijing skyline

Pollution hides Beijing skyline

25 Feb

Beijing remained cloaked in hazardous white pollution hiding much of its skyline, despite the announced closures or production cuts at 147 of the city's industrial plants. PM2.5, a key measure of pollution, reached 444 micrograms per cubic meter in central Beijing, according to the National Meteorological Center. The World Health Organization considers 25 micrograms a safe level. The meteorological center said moderate or severe pollution had persisted in northern China, and that it was particularly serious in Beijing and its surrounding area. It forecast that the pollution would continue in parts of eastern, northern and central China, when precipitation and wind should help to disperse it. [109]


Kashmir villagers clash with Indian troops

Kashmir villagers clash with Indian troops

25 Feb

Hundreds of angry villagers have clashed with police in Indian-administered Kashmir following suspicions that security forces shot dead seven civilians they mistook for rebels, a police officer and a witness said. The villagers torched a police station in the forested Kupwara region close to the defacto border with Pakistn to demand security forces hand over the bodies for identification and for burial, an unnamed officer said. "Police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air to disperse the angry crowd who were hurling rocks at them," the officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media. [110]


Mass arrest of protesters in Russia

Mass arrest of protesters in Russia

25 Feb

Russian police have made nearly 500 arrests at opposition rallies in the country's two main cities, including several well-known protest figures. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those picked up in Moscow, as he attended an unapproved rally near the Kremlin. While the rallies in Moscow and St Petersburg were called to protest at the Bolotnaya sentences, some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, who brought down President Viktor Yanukovych last week.


Clash erupts on Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Clash erupts on Temple Mount in Jerusalem

25 Feb

Israeli police have clashed with Palestinian protesters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. A police spokesman said about 20 youths threw stones and fireworks at officers from the holy site, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary). Police then entered the compound and arrested three people, he added. The unrest came as the Israeli parliament prepared to debate a motion calling on Israel to "realise its sovereignty over the Temple Mount". [111]


Ukraine truce crumbles amid gunfire

Ukraine truce crumbles amid gunfire

20 Feb

A short-lived truce crumbled as gunfire erupted at Independence Square, the center of anti-government protests and an increasingly violent crisis that threatens catastrophe for this divided nation. As protesters fortified barricades and some tried to dodge apparent sniper bullets, Western leaders denounced the violence. Russia's United Nations ambassador accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup. The head of the protesters' medical service said 100 people died and 500 were injured in clashes on Feb 20, just hours after the government declared a truce in fighting that had shocked world leaders with the deaths of 28 people two days before. The violence inflames a crisis that started in November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia. Ukraine has long been divided between historic loyalties to Europe and its eastern neighbor. [112]


Violence escalates in divided Venezuela

Violence escalates in divided Venezuela

20 Feb

Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators faced off in streets blocked by burning barricades in several cities in an escalation of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, witnesses said. At least five people have died since the unrest turned violent last week, with scores of injuries and arrests. The demonstrators, mainly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, product shortages and alleged repression of opponents. In affluent east Caracas overnight, security forces fired teargas and bullets, chasing youths who threw Molotov cocktails and blocked streets with burning trash, witnesses said. Tensions have escalated since opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, a 42-year-old Harvard-educated economist, turned himself in to troops this week. He is being held in Caracas' Ramo Verde jail and faces charges of fomenting the violence. [113]


Snowstorm sweeps into New York

Snowstorm sweeps into New York

13 Feb

A powerful storm system that left thousands of commuters stranded in the South and caused power failures along the East Coast swept into New York, blanketing the city yet again in a cover of white. Local and state officials in more than a dozen states scrambled to handle the blast of winter weather, the latest in a series of storms that have left many communities short on critical supplies – especially salt — needed to mitigate the effects of snow and ice. “It is a storm that has brought wide-ranging effects, from heavy snow and ice to severe weather, including strong winds and hail, down south,” said Joey Picca, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Related Coverage. In New York City, the storm gathered in intensity just as people were heading to work, producing near white-out conditions in some areas. The visibility in Central Park was less than a quarter mile, according to the National Weather Service, and snow fell at a pace of nearly two inches per hour.[114]


Anti-government protests in Venezuela

Anti-government protests in Venezuela

13 Feb

Armed vigilantes on motorcycles attacked anti-government demonstrators, setting off a stampede by firing into crowds after the biggest protest to date against President Nicolas Maduro’s year-old administration. Two people were killed. Chaos erupted in downtown Caracas when the gang roared up and began shooting at more than 100 protesters who had been sparring with security forces at the tail end of heated but otherwise peaceful protests organized by hard-line members of the opposition. Most participants in the demonstrations had already gone home. [115]


Floods hit homes in England

Floods hit homes in England

13 Feb

Exceptionally strong winds in western England and Wales may add to people's woes. The Met Office, the UK's national weather service, issued a "red" warning, its most serious, saying winds were expected to gust at 80 mph across a wide area and might reach 100 mph in the most exposed parts of west and northwest Wales. After the wettest January in England since 1766, even if the heavy rain stops, ground water levels are so high that it could be weeks before life returns to normal. Streets have turned into rivers, cars are submerged up to their windshields, and homes have been abandoned. And Britain is not the only place facing wild weather. Huge waves are crashing onto the Portuguese coast, causing extensive damage, and there are high wind alerts in parts of Ireland, which faces the worst storm yet of the winter. [116]


Bomb explosions in Somalia

Bomb explosions in Somalia

13 Feb

At least six people have died after a car bomb exploded close to the gate of the international airport in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, police say. Most of those who died were passers-by and several UN body guards were wounded in the explosion, the witnesses said. The al-Shabab Islamist group has said it was behind the explosion in one of the most heavily fortified areas in the city - where many embassies are based. Residents also report an increase in sustained night-time attacks, with mortar and gunfire, on the northern outskirts of the city. [117]


Flood Emergency Declared, Bolivia

Flood Emergency Declared, Bolivia

4 Feb

Officials in Bolivia say the number of people who have died due to torrential rain since the beginning of the year has risen to 29. More than 35,000 families have been affected by the rains and the flooding, the ministry of defense said. The worst affected province is Beni, in north-eastern Bolivia, where 10 people have died, followed by La Paz in the north-west and central Cochabamba. The rainy season in Bolivia usually lasts until March. [118]


Ecuador Tungurahua volcano spews ash

Ecuador Tungurahua volcano spews ash

4 Feb

The Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador has been spewing lava and ash, covering villages hundreds of kilometres away with a white dusting. The ash travelled as far as Loja province, on the border with Peru. The volcano, which became active again in 1999 after a long period of dormancy, lies 135km (85 miles) south-east of the capital, Quito. The latest series of eruptions began on 1 Feb with two moderate explosions followed by a third of greater size. The blasts launched an 8km-high column of ash above the volcano. The lava reached the Acupashal mountain pass, blocking the route to the town of Banos, local authorities said, The authorities have declared an orange alert, the second highest, but the president of the Emergency Operations Committee, Hermuy Calle, said the activity was "simply a release of pressure", and that the volcanic activity was not expected to increase further in the coming hours. [119]


Heavy snow cuts power to Iran homes

Heavy snow cuts power to Iran homes

4 Feb

Heavy snow in northern Iran has left around 480,000 homes without power and some towns and villages cut off. An official in Mazandaran province, on the Caspian Sea, said the winter storms were the worst in 50 years, with two metres of snow falling in some areas since the weekend. The head of Iran's Red Crescent said around 11,000 people had been rescued after getting stuck in heavy snow. "Some 3,800 people have also been settled in emergency shelters," Pir Hossein Kolivand was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency. Irna reported that 79 people had been taken to hospital as a result of the bad weather. [120]


January 2014

Bangkok state of emergency

Bangkok state of emergency

21 Jan

The Thai government has declared a state of emergency in the capital Bangkok and surrounding areas to cope with protests aimed at forcing the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from power. Chalerm Yubumrung, Thailand's labour minister, announced that the restrictions would last 60 days. "We need it because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths. The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control," the minister said. The decree will allow security agencies to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings of more than five people and declare areas off-limits. Yingluck said police, not the military, would mainly be used and her government had no intention of confronting the protesters. [121]


East Coast Snowstorm, NYC

East Coast Snowstorm, NYC

21 Jan

The storm, which threatened to dump more than a foot of snow on New York City, already grounded thousands of flights in the region, and the evening commute promised to be treacherous for millions of workers. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority urged customers using Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road to leave work early, warning that snow drifts as tall as two feet could cause significant delays. In Washington, the government was shut down. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who canceled his inaugural ball on Ellis Island because of the storm, declared a state of emergency. [122]


Clashes in Ukraine

Clashes in Ukraine

21 Jan

Violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police continued in the center of Ukraine's capital, Kiev. Demonstrators have been rallying since the weekend in defiance of new laws that limit the right to protest. The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that more than 30 protesters had been detained and 119 police officers injured since Jan 19, when the clashes began. The city health care department reported 122 injured and 50 hospitalized. The number injured is probably higher, as many people reportedly turn to medical volunteers for help rather than official services for fear of consequences. Protest organizers said those treated in hospitals are questioned by police and registered as participants of mass protests, which may lead to arrest and criminal charges. The controversial new protest laws go into effect on Jan 22, raising concerns they could be used to put down demonstrations. [123]


Thousands displaced by Jakarta deadly floods

Thousands displaced by Jakarta deadly floods

21 Jan

Several Indonesians have been killed and thousands displaced by deadly floods in Indonesia's capital. More than 10,000 Indonesians have fled their homes in the capital due to flooding that has left five dead, an official said, with people using rubber dinghies and wading through waist-deep water to reach safer ground. "So far 10,530 people in Jakarta have been displaced by floods caused by heavy rains," disaster agency official Tri Budiarto said. Buildings in some parts of the capital, which has a population of 10 million and is regularly afflicted by floods during the six-month rainy season, were half submerged, with roads blocked in many areas. [124]


Shangrila destroyed by heater blaze

Shangrila destroyed by heater blaze

21 Jan

Chinese authorities have arrested a guesthouse owner whose heater allegedly sparked a fire that burned for nearly 10 hours and destroyed an ancient Tibetan town. More than 2,000 firefighters, soldiers, police, local officials and volunteers responded to the early morning blaze , which destroyed 343 houses and many historic artifacts in Dukezong, Shangri La county's old neighbourhood. Once called Gyaitang Zong, the county surrounding Dukezong renamed itself Shangri La in 2001, hoping to draw tourists by referencing the mythical Himalayan land described in James Hilton's 1933 novel. [125]


Military airstrikes in northwestern Pakistan kill dozens

Military airstrikes in northwestern Pakistan kill dozens

21 Jan

At least 40 people were killed and scores were wounded in overnight airstrikes by the Pakistani military on areas in the country's northwest where militants are based. The airstrikes in the northwest came after recent militant bombings that struck military targets. The strikes by fighter jets and helicopter gunships targeted areas in North Waziristan, a Taliban stronghold bordering Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It was unclear whether there were any civilian casualties in the attacks. The military official said the dead and wounded were militants. [126]


Australia heat wave sparks wildfires

Australia heat wave sparks wildfires

16 Jan

Temperatures soared to more than 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in southeastern Australia as a heat wave strained electricity supplies and sparked wildfires. Extreme heat across the states of Victoria and South Australia is causing high demand for electricity and as many as 100,000 homes and businesses may be affected by power outages and reduced supply. Bushfire warnings were in place across the two states and New South Wales, with high winds forecast to increase the danger, emergency authorities said. [127]


13 dead, 40,000 displaced in Indonesia floods

13 dead, 40,000 displaced in Indonesia floods

16 Jan

Landslides and rising waters have cut off several villages in one district of the province of North Sulawesi province, leaving about 1,000 residents stranded, the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency (NDMA) said. Heavy rains started drenching the region and have resulted in about 40,000 people leaving their homes to seek temporary shelter, according to the NDMA. Power is down in most parts of the region and communication lines are disrupted. There are four main rivers in Manado, the provincial capital, that are overflowing, the NDMA said.This year's floods are far worse than previous ones, NDMA spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. Heavy rains have also caused deadly landslides and flooding this week on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao -- roughly 500 kilometers (320 miles) north of North Sulawesi. [128]


Thailand crisis

Thailand crisis

13 Jan

Protesters are blocking roads in parts of the Thai capital, Bangkok, in a bid to oust the government before snap elections on 2 February. The protesters have built barricades and occupied key road junctions, and want to replace the government with an unelected "People's Council". The government has deployed 18,000 security personnel to maintain order. Thousands are reported to have turned out for demonstrations. Protesters say they intend to achieve what they are calling a shutdown of the capital. [129]


Tonga damaged by powerful cyclone

Tonga damaged by powerful cyclone

13 Jan

Homes have been flattened and trees uprooted in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga after it was hit by one of the most powerful storms on record. Cyclone Ian battered the central Ha'apai islands, home to 8,000 people, over the weekend, packing gusts of up to 287km/h (178mph). It was a "miracle" only one woman lost her life, said emergencies director Leveni Aho. Rebuilding could take years, said aid agency Oxfam. "It's not only the people's houses that need to be rebuilt, it's also the infrastructure like the ferry terminal, the port, the roads. It's really badly damaged," Oxfam New Zealand executive director told Radio New Zealand. [130]


Tibetan town fire system shut off

Tibetan town fire system shut off

13 Jan

The fire-fighting system in an ancient Tibetan town in Shangri-La county which was destroyed by a blaze was shut off at the time, Chinese officials say. The equipment was closed down to prevent pipes from bursting in below-freezing temperatures, the local fire brigade said. Nearly 300 mostly wooden houses were destroyed in the blaze in Dukezong in Yunnan province on 11 Jan. The town, which dates back 1,300 years, is popular with tourists. Officials said that more than 2,600 people have lost their homes in the blaze, which raged for nearly 10 hours before it was put out by 2,000 firefighters, police and volunteers. No fatalities were reported. A store owner surnamed Pan told AP on Monday that they would likely be rebuilding what they had lost. "Travel is really the only industry here," he said. [131]


Puerto Rico Earthquake

Puerto Rico Earthquake

13 Jan

Puerto Rico was hit with a large earthquake on 12 Jan. A 6.4 magnitude quake hit about 35 miles north of Hatillo. The tremors were felt by several villages along the northern coast. The National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a small possibility of a local tsunami following the earthquake off the coast. However experts don't think there is a widespread, destructive tsunami impending. It was later determined that no tsunami formed, the Associated Press reports. [132]


Eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra

Eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra

04 Jan

The emergency response to the eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra has been extended until January 4, 2014 as the volcano still shows signs of increased activity.[133]


Blizzard to reach from NYC to Boston Thursday night

Blizzard to reach from NYC to Boston Thursday night

02 Jan

During Thursday and Thursday night, the storm will affect 20 states with more than 120 million people in the Midwest (United States of America) and the Northeast combined and could have a major negative impact on travel for people returning from holiday destinations, heading back to school or resuming business activities.[134]


Heatwave hits inland Australia

Heatwave hits inland Australia

01 Jan

Heatwave: temperatures climb towards 50C in parts of Australia. Weatherzone says intense air mass is centred over northern NSW and western Queensland, but it's cooler in the capital cities.[135]


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