Coronavirus Death Toll Surges Past 2,000 – Govt

Workers manufacture hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP
Workers manufacture hand sanitizer at a factory in Hanoi on February 14, 2020 amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

 

The death toll from China’s new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 2,000 on Wednesday after 136 more people died, with the number of new cases falling for a second straight day, according to the National Health Commission.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 74,185.

The death toll rose to 2,004, with most of the deaths in central Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December before spiralling into a nationwide epidemic.

In its daily update, the National Health Commission reported 1,749 new cases of people infected with the virus nationwide, the lowest number of new cases this month.

READ ALSO: WHO Urges Calm As Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 2,000

The new infections were overwhelmingly in Hubei.

Outside the epicentre, there were only 56 new cases reported, falling for the 15th day in a row.

A study released by Chinese officials said most patients have mild cases of the illness, and health officials have described the slowing numbers as an indication that the outbreak is under control.

President Xi Jinping, in a phone call with the British prime minister, said China’s measures were achieving “visible progress”, according to state media Tuesday.

However, the World Health Organization has cautioned that it is too early to tell if the decline will continue.

Virus Death Toll In Hubei Surges By 242 In One Day

 

The number of fatalities and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

At least 1,355 people have now died nationwide and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei’s health commission reported the new numbers.

In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases.

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In a statement, the Hubei health commission said it would now include cases that were “clinically diagnosed” in its official toll.

This means lung imaging on suspected cases can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.

Of the dramatic jump in figures Thursday, it said the new classification accounted for 13,332 of the cases and just over half the new death toll.

Hubei health commission said the change would mean patients could get treatment “as early as possible” and be “consistent” with the classification used in other provinces.

It said it had made the change “as our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus deepens, and as we accumulate experience in diagnosis and treatment”.

Police Among Four Dead In Vietnam Land Clash

Vietnam Flag

 

 

Three policemen and a villager died Thursday in rare violent clashes with Vietnam’s communist authorities over disputed land around a military-owned Hanoi airport.

Construction of the Mieu Mon facility has been a long-running sore for villagers who say it is being built on land illegally seized by the military.

Clashes erupted on Thursday before dawn when authorities attempting to erect a perimeter fence were met by residents armed with “grenades, petrol bombs and knives”, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.

The “social disorder” led to the “deaths of three policemen and one resident”, the statement said, adding other villagers were “arrested for serious violations of the law”.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the toll or verify the authorities’ version of events, disseminated with unusual speed in a country where secrecy and control normally trump transparency.

But a video widely circulated on Facebook by an activist at the scene appeared to show gunfire lighting up the dawn gloom around the village as several truckloads of security guards arrived.

Human Rights Watch urged Vietnam to launch an investigation that “gets to the bottom of what happened” and to provide unfettered access to the site for impartial observers including journalists, diplomats and UN officials.

Land disputes are common in Vietnam, where powerful individuals and companies often make claims on property.

The government strictly controls freedom of expression and the right to protest but flashpoints occur.

In 2017 villagers held more than a dozen police officers and officials, hostage, for several days at the airport site in a standoff that gripped the tightly-controlled country.

176 Killed As Boeing 737 Plane Crashes In Iran

 

All 176 people on board a Ukrainian passenger plane were killed when it crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on Wednesday, Iranian state media reported.

State news agency IRNA said 167 passengers and nine crew members were onboard the aircraft operated by Ukraine International Airlines.

READ ALSO: Iran Fires Over A Dozen Missiles On Iraq Base Housing US Troops

“Obviously it is impossible that passengers” on flight PS-752 are alive, the head of Red Crescent told semi-official news agency ISNA, putting the number of people on board at 170.

The Boeing 737 had left Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, the agency said, adding that 10 ambulances were sent to the crash site.

Regime Air Strikes Kill Nine In Northwest Syria

 

 

Syrian regime air strikes killed nine civilians in the embattled opposition stronghold of Idlib on Sunday, a war monitor said.

Jihadist-dominated Idlib has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks, displacing tens of thousands of people in the northwestern region home to some three million.

The regime air raids in the town of Ariha also wounded more than 19 people, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country.

An AFP correspondent saw a large patch of blood on the road at the site, near a gutted building and the torched remains of two cars.

The remains of the victims lay by the side of the road in plastic body bags.

The Damascus government has repeatedly vowed to retake Idlib, which is run by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

A ceasefire announced in late August was supposed to stop Russia-backed regime bombardment of the region after strikes killed some 1,000 civilians in four months.

But the Observatory says sporadic bombardment and clashes continued, before intensifying in the past month.

On January 1, missiles fired by regime forces killed nine civilians including five children in a school turned shelter in the town of Sarmeen.

Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people including over 115,000 civilians since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

In total 11,215 people including more than 1,000 children were reported killed last year, although it was the least deadly year on record since the beginning of the conflict.

US military Says Three Killed In Kenya Jihadist Attack

 

A jihadist attack on a military base in Kenya killed three people Sunday, including a US service member and two civilian defense contractors, the American military said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said after jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group stormed a base in the Lamu region.

Two other Department of Defense personnel were wounded in the attack on Camp Simba, Africom added in a statement which gave no details on the identity of those killed.

Death Toll In Somalia Bombing Rises To 81

Somali men help to unload a victim, that was injured during a car bombing attack, at the Madina Hospital in Mogadishu, on December 28, 2019.  Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

The death toll from a massive car bomb in the Somali capital has risen to 81, a government spokesman said Monday, as rescue workers pursued their search for the missing.

The bombing Saturday at a busy intersection in Mogadishu was the country’s deadliest attack in two years.

No one has claimed responsibility, though President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed blamed Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which has regularly carried out car bombings and other attacks as part of its decade-long bid to topple the internationally-backed government.

“The overall number of the dead stands at 81 currently. Two more people died from their injuries,” Ismail Muktar, a spokesman for Somalia’s information ministry, told AFP Monday.

One of the new fatalities was among the injured who had been evacuated to Turkey via a Turkish military plane on Sunday, Muktar said.

Muktar said the death toll could climb further as rescue operations entered a third day.

Around two dozen people were listed as missing after the attack, but 12 have been located — five of them dead — and the rest remain unaccounted for, he said.

Some 125 people were injured in Saturday’s blast, a caseload that has overwhelmed health facilities in Mogadishu.

At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been travelling on a bus when the car bomb detonated.

The attack was the biggest to hit Somalia since a truck exploded in 2017 near a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, creating a fireball that killed over 500 people.

Al-Shabaab was blamed for that strike too, though it never formally claimed responsibility — as it often does not do when there is a large amount of civilian casualties.

The United States military said Sunday it had killed four “terrorists” in three airstrikes targeting Al-Shabaab.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said two militants were killed and two vehicles destroyed in Qunyo Barrow, while two more militants were killed in Caliyoow Barrow.

The US regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia, though the frequency of such operations has risen sharply this year.

In an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFP

30 Killed As Dorian Storms Bahamas

This satellite image obtained from NOAA/RAMMB, shows Tropical Storm Dorian as it approaching the Bahamas and Florida at 13:430UTC on August 31, 2019. HO / NOAA/RAMMB / AFP

 

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday.

Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher.

Minnis has said that the storm caused “generational devastation.”

READ ALSO: 33 Bodies Recovered After California Dive Boat Disaster

The United Nations said 70,000 people in the Bahamas were in “immediate need” of aid.

Dorian, currently a Category 2 storm, was pounding the US states of North and South Carolina Thursday night with strong winds and driving rain, bringing dangerous storm surge.

 

33 Bodies Recovered After California Dive Boat Disaster

FBI personnel stand on a jetty in front of the ships Vision (L) and Truth, sister vessels of the diving ship Conception, in Santa Barbara Harbor on September 4, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Rescue workers have recovered a total of 33 bodies from a scuba-diving boat disaster off the coast of California, authorities said Wednesday, adding that one person remains missing.

Search operations for survivors were suspended Tuesday morning, and rescuers have begun an operation to free remains still trapped in the wreckage, which sank 66 feet (20 meters), and to determine the cause of the catastrophe.

The remains of 11 women and nine men were found after the 75-foot Conception caught fire and sank early Monday, trapping passengers below deck beneath the roaring blaze.

Divers have since recovered 13 other bodies, according to the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s department, which is in charge of the investigation.

All the remains have been transported to coroner offices for DNA identification. Authorities have not released details on any victims’ identities.

The boat had been on a diving excursion around Santa Cruz Island, just west of Santa Barbara in southern California.

A total of 39 people — six crew members and 33 passengers — were on board, officials said.

Five crew members were awake and jumped into the water when flames burst out around 3:15 am Monday. They were rescued by a nearby pleasure craft.

The remaining 34 people on board, who were sleeping below deck, appear to have been trapped by the flames.

The fire was so intense that firefighters were unable to board the boat, which sank as they tried to extinguish the blaze. The cause of the disaster is currently unknown.

The website for Truth Aquatics, which owned the Conception, said the ship was scheduled to return Monday from a three-day trip after visiting several diving spots around Santa Cruz Island.

Built in 1981 and with bunks for up to 46 people, the Conception was just 20 yards (meters) off the island’s northern shore when disaster struck.

The area is popular for a variety of water and outdoor sports.

Deadliest Attacks On Kabul

Bomb Blast In Kabul
Bomb Blast In Kabul

 

Saturday’s suicide attack targeting wedding celebrations in Kabul is one of the deadliest in Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year-old war against the Taliban.

Here is a look at some of the worst incidents in the capital since 2008:

– 2019 –
– August 17: An Islamic State suicide bombing at a packed wedding hall kills at least 80 and wounds more than 100.

– 2018 –
– December 24: An hours-long bomb and gun attack on a Kabul government compound kills at least 43 people. The Taliban denies responsibility.

– November 20: A suicide bomber blows himself up among religious scholars inside a wedding hall in the capital, killing at least 55 people. The attack is unclaimed.

– April 22: An Islamic State bomber kills 57 people, all civilians, outside a voter registration centre amid preparations for legislative elections.

– January 27: An ambulance packed with explosives detonates in a crowded street in the heart of the city, killing 103 people, according to an official toll. The attack, which kills many police officers, is claimed by the Taliban.

– 2017 –
– October 20: A suicide attack during Friday evening prayers at a Kabul Shiite mosque sees 56 people killed and 55 wounded. The IS claims responsibility.

– May 31: More than 150 are killed and 400 wounded when a massive truck bomb rips through the city’s diplomatic quarter during rush hour. The attack, which is not claimed, is the deadliest in the capital since 2001.

– March 8: Gunmen disguised as doctors storm Afghanistan’s largest military hospital in a six-hour attack. The official death toll is 50 but security sources and survivors say it exceeded 100. The attack is claimed by the IS.

– 2016 –
– July 23: Twin explosions rip through crowds of Shiite Hazaras, killing at least 84 people. It marks the first major IS assault on the capital.

– April 19: A truck bomb followed by a shootout leaves 64 people dead and nearly 350 injured in central Kabul in a Taliban-claimed attack.

– 2011 –
– December 6: An attack targeting the Shiite minority on the holy day of Ashura kills 80 people. The Taliban denies responsibility.

– 2008 –
– July 7: 60 people, including two diplomats and two Indian guards are killed in a suicide car bombing on the Indian embassy in the capital. The Taliban say they were not involved.

Numerous attacks have been carried out in the rest of Afghanistan. In the most deadly, 140 people, including more than 50 auxiliary police officers, are killed in the southern city of Kandahar in February 2008.

Two US Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

 

Two US soldiers were killed in action in Afghanistan on Monday, NATO announced — the latest international military casualties as Washington seeks a way out of America’s longest war.

“The name of the service members killed in action is being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin is complete,” Resolute Support, the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The death brings to 12 the number of members of the US military to be killed in action in Afghanistan this year.

READ ALSO: Libya Buries Bodies Of 46 Migrants After Deadly Shipwreck

For the past year, the United States has been negotiating with the Taliban to reach a peace agreement ending the 18-year war.

Washington seems eager to speed up the talks as Afghanistan prepares for a presidential election in September and America gears up for the 2020 presidential election.

US President Donald Trump says he wants to begin withdrawing troops before the 2020 vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

“He’s been unambiguous: end the endless wars, draw down,” said Pompeo.

Since the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban was launched in late 2001, some 2,300 American soldiers have died and more than 20,400 have been wounded.

The number of deaths fell sharply after 2014, when the NATO mission was no longer a combat operation.

The US now has some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan — down from a peak of around 100,000 — most of them deployed to train and advise Afghan counterparts.

AFP

Colombia Mudslide Death Toll Rises To 28

Rescue workers carry a corpse after a landslide in Rosas, Cauca department, in southwestern Colombia, on April 21, 2019.  Luis ROBAYO / AFP

 

The number of dead from a mudslide that buried houses in southwestern Colombia has risen to at least 28, rescue authorities said on Monday.

Eleven more bodies were found during a rescue operation in Rosas, in the department of Cauca, where 17 people were pronounced dead on Sunday when the mudslide occurred, Colombia’s risk and disaster agency (UNGRD) said on its Twitter account.

At least two other people are still unaccounted for and hopes of finding them alive are waning, a UNGRD source told AFP.

READ ALSO: Myanmar’s Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Reuters Journalists

Local fire brigade chief Juan Carlos Ganan said the force of the mudslide meant finding survivors was highly unlikely.

He added that heavy rains meant there was the risk of another mudslide. The country has been battered by downpours for weeks.

AFP