JAKARTA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- A 5.4-magnitude earthquake jolted Indonesias eastern province of Papua on Thursday, the countrys meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency said.The earthquake hit at 1:28 p.m. local time (0628 GMT) with its epicenter located 1 km southwest of the provincial capital of Jayapura and a depth of 10 km, the agency said.The earthquake did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami, it said.
German inflation picked up slightly in January, preliminary data showed Thursday, as the impact of a one-off energy subsidy the month before wore off.
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. entertainment giant the Walt Disney Company has announced 7,000 job layoffs from its global workforce.The job cuts represent around 3.2 percent of Disneys 220,000 employees worldwide.In this Friday, April 30, 2021, file photo, visitors exit The Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo: AP)The company is targeting 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in cost savings, including 3 billion dollars in content savings, Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said Wednesday in his first earnings call since returning to the company.Iger noted that the reorganization would result in a more cost-effective, coordinated and streamlined approach to the companys operations.The Mouse House is the latest on the list of major U.S. companies that have announced mass job cuts in recent months.Disney on Wednesday reported revenue of 23.51 billion dollars for its first quarter of fiscal 2023, up 8 percent year over year.Diluted earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations for the quarter increased to 0.7 dollars from 0.63 dollars in the prior-year quarter. Excluding certain items, diluted EPS for the quarter decreased to 0.99 dollars from 1.06 dollars in the prior-year quarter.Disney reported 161.8 million Disney+ paid subscribers worldwide, a decrease of 2.4 million subscribers during the first quarter. Its Disney+s first subscriber loss since the launching of the companys flagship streaming service in 2019.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he has sent Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, to quake-hit Türkiye. Guterres also said he will issue a flash appeal early next week to support humanitarian needs, Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday."We have coordinated the deployment of over 4,948 search and rescue experts and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) emergency response teams soon after the earthquake shook Türkiye and Syria," Griffiths said Thursday on Twitter. Martin Griffiths, of the United Kingdom, speaks as the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, during a Security Council meeting on the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine , Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (Photo: AP)
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a military parade on Wednesday to celebrate the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean Peoples Army, the Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday. In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center left, with his daughter attends a military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)
The death toll from a huge earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria climbed above 15,800 on Thursday, as rescuers raced to reach survivors stuck under rubble in freezing weather.Officials and medics said 12,873 people had died in Turkey and 2,992 in Syria from Mondays 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the confirmed total to 15,865.A destroyed building in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)
Two children were killed and six others seriously injured after a city bus crashed into a daycare center in Laval, north of Montreal, Canada on Wednesday morning.The incident occurred at the Garderie Educative Sainte-Rose on Dufferin Terrace in Lavals Sainte-Rose district, and the bus was from the Société de transport de Laval (STL), according to local authorities. The driver of the bus, a 51-year-old man employed by the STL, was arrested and charged with homicide and dangerous driving, the police said. Stéphane Boyer, the mayor of Laval, said the driver had been employed by the STL for about 10 years but didnt have any prior incidents on his record.The incident happened at about 8:30 a.m. (1:30 GMT), when parents usually drop off by their kids at daycare centers."Everyone is terribly saddened by what has occurred," Quebecs Families Minister Suzanne Roy said. "When you leave your children at the daycare for the day, you know that theyre in good hands ... when an event like that can happen, it shakes us and shatters us."Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later also said he was "devastated" by the accident, adding that he "cant imagine what the families are going through.""No words can take away the pain and fear that parents, children and workers are feeling, but we are here for you," Trudeau said.(With input from agencies)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of enduring allied support, at talks hosted by Frances Emmanuel Macron. Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) poses with Frances President Emmanuel Macron (C) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) upon his arrival at the Elysee presidential palace for a working diner in Paris, France, February 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)Scholz said that Germany and its partners had backed Ukraine "financially, with humanitarian aid and with weapons" since February last year. "We will continue to do so as long as necessary," he told reporters. The assurance came after Zelenskyy urged France and Germany to deliver combat planes and heavy weaponry "as soon as possible" as he visited Paris after a trip to the UK where he met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and signed a Declaration of Unity regarding allied cooperation and mutual support between the two countries."The sooner Ukraine gets long-range heavy weaponry, the sooner our pilots get planes, the sooner this Russian aggression will end and we can return to peace in Europe," he said in Paris alongside the leaders of France and Germany. (With input from agencies)
BEIRUT (AP) — For years, the people of Aleppo bore the brunt of bombardment and fighting when their city, once Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan, was among the civil war’s fiercest battle zones. Even that didn’t prepare them for the new devastation and terror wreaked by this week’s earthquake.The natural disaster piled on many human-made ones, multiplying the suffering in Aleppo and Syria more broadly.Fighting largely halted in Aleppo in 2016, but only a small number of the numerous damaged and destroyed buildings had been rebuilt. The population has also more recently struggled with Syrias economic downslide, which has sent food prices soaring and residents thrown into poverty.Syrian Civil Defense workers and security forces search through the wreckage of collapsed buildings after a devastating earthquake rocked Syria and Turkey, in Aleppo, Syria, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo: AP)The shock of the quake is all too much.Hovig Shehrian said that during the worst of the war in Aleppo, in 2014, he and his parents fled their home in a front-line area because of the shelling and sniper fire. For years, they moved from neighborhood to neighborhood to avoid the fighting.“It was part of our daily routine. Whenever we heard a sound, we left, we knew who to call and what to do,” the 24-year-old said.“But … we didn’t know what to do with the earthquake. I was worried we were going to die.”Monday’s pre-dawn 7.8-magnitude quake, centered about 70 miles (112 kilometers) away in Turkey, jolted Aleppans awake and sent them fleeing into the street under a cold winter rain. Dozens of buildings across the city collapsed. More than 360 people were killed in the city and hundreds of others were injured. Workers were still digging three days later through the rubble, looking for the dead and the survivors. Across southern Turkey and northern Syria, more than 11,000 were killed.Even those whose buildings still stood remain afraid to return. Many are sheltering in schools. A Maroni...
BANGKOK (AP) — Shares fell Thursday in Asia after Wall Street gave back some of its recent gains on persisting uncertainty over interest rates and inflation.Benchmarks declined in Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney but rose in Hong Kong and Shanghai.A person walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japans Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Tokyo. (Photo: AP)Wall Street retreated Wednesday following a set of mixed earnings reports. The pullback also followed comments Tuesday by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who signaled that an exceptionally strong U.S. jobs report last Friday would not oblige the central bank to return to a more aggressive stance on raising interest rates to tame inflation.Another Fed official, John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said Wednesday that he still thinks the Fed’s main interest rate hitting a target of 5% to 5.5% by the end of the year is “a very reasonable view.” The federal funds rate is now at a range of 4.50% to 4.75%. Williams spoke at a CFO Network summit hosted by the Wall Street Journal.“Traders are keeping a close eye on policymakers’ remarks to position accordingly ahead of key upcoming inflation figures and job market data before next month’s rate decision," Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary.Tokyos Nikkei 225 fell 0.4% to 27,510.17 and the Kospi in Seoul lost 0.1% to 2,482.03. Australias S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.6% to 7,487.30. Shares also fell in Bangkok, Taiwan and Singapore.Hong Kongs Hang Seng index gained 0.3% to 21,352.10, while the Shanghai Composite index advanced 0.6% to 3,252.02.On Wednesday, the S&P 500 fell 1.1% to 4,117.86 and the Nasdaq fell 1.7% to 11,910.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back 0.6% to 33,949.01.The Fed has been saying that it plans to hike interest rates a couple more times and then hold them at a high level at least through the end of the year. Williams warned that inter...
SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- South Koreas bank lending to households logged the highest monthly fall in January due to higher policy rates, central bank data showed Thursday.Debts, owed by households to the deposit-taking banks, came to 1,053.4 trillion won (834.6 billion U.S. dollars) at the end of January, down 4.6 trillion won (3.6 billion dollars) from a month earlier, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).Busan, South Korea (Photo: VCG)It marked the fastest reduction since relevant data began to be compiled in 2004.The BOK began to tighten its monetary policy stance in August 2021, hiking its key rate from a record low of 0.50 percent to 3.50 percent.Home-backed loans to households stood unchanged at 798.8 trillion won (632.9 billion dollars) at the end of January, but credit and other secured loans tumbled 4.6 trillion won (3.6 billion dollars) last month.Bank corporate loans gained 7.9 trillion won (6.3 billion dollars) in January, after declining 9.4 trillion won (7.4 billion dollars) in the previous month.Bank lending to the self-employed dwindled 900 billion won (713.1 million dollars) in January amid higher borrowing costs.Outstanding deposits of banks came in at 2,198.0 trillion won (1.74 trillion dollars) at the end of January, down 45.4 trillion won (36 billion dollars) from a month earlier.
The United States has a longstanding practice of exerting frequent long-arm jurisdiction over other countries, including both its allies and countries with which it has hostile or strained relations.
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a military parade on Wednesday to celebrate the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean Peoples Army, the Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday.In this photo provided by the DPRK government, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, center, acknowledges military top officials during a military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)
When US President Joe Biden suggested that Republicans want to slash Medicare and Social Security, the GOP howls of protest during his State of the Union address showcased a striking apparent turnaround for the party that built a brand for years trying to do just that.
BRASILIA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Brazil expects its 2022-2023 harvest season to yield up to 310.6 million tons of grain, 38.2 million tons more than the last harvest, the state-run National Supply Company (CONAB) said Wednesday.A harvester unloads newly-collected soybeans in the fields on the outskirts of Brasilia, Brazil, Feb. 4, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)"The beginning of the corn and soybean harvest in the state of Rio Grande do Sul confirms the forecasts of a sharp drop in productivity due to the low rainfall," CONAB President Guilherme Ribeiro said in a report.On the other hand, crops in the countrys central western region, such as the Mato Grosso state, have benefited from the "favorable weather," he noted.Even so, CONAB estimates an increase in both cultivated area and productivity, which is expected to result in a harvest in the first crop of 26.5 million tons and the second crop of 95 million tons.The harvest season for soybean, the countrys main export product, has already begun in several regions of the South American country.Regarding rice, CONAB forecasts that the output will reach 10.2 million tons.
ANKARA/DAMASCUS, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Mondays devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria has risen to 15,383, according to data released by authorities and rescuers.A man walks through the rubble of destroyed buildings in Antakya, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)The number of people killed in Türkiye due to the devastating earthquake has reached 12,391, the countrys Anadolu agency reported on Thursday, citing the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.In Syria, at least 1,262 were killed and 2,285 injured in government-held areas, said the Syrian Health Ministry. Media reports also cited rescue workers as saying that at least 1,730 were killed and over 2,850 injured in the opposition-held region in Syria.A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Türkiyes southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT), followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the countrys southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time (1024 GMT) in Kahramanmaras Province.On Wednesday, an 82-member Chinese rescue team arrived at Adana Airport in Türkiye at 4:30 am local time (0130 GMT) after flying over 8,000 km on a chartered Air China plane.
This photo taken on Feb. 7, 2023 shows a damaged building in Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras Province, Türkiye. (Photo: Xinhua)HATAY, Türkiye, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese rescue team, working with local partners, rescued a pregnant woman from a collapsed 8-story building early Thursday here.
SYDNEY, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Australia Post has announced that in the first half 2023 financial year, its revenue was 4.69 billion Australian dollars (about 3.25 billion U.S. dollars), down 2.4 percent from the same period last year, which is largely driven by an ongoing decline in letter volumes.Photo taken on Oct. 1, 2021 shows a delivery vehicle of Australia Post in Sydney, Australia. The harsh reality of millions of Australians being in lockdown for months due to COVID-19 has proven a blessing for the nations online grocery business, which has never been busier. (Photo: Xinhua)Meanwhile, the group profit before tax plunged to 23.6 million Australian dollars (about 16.4 million U.S. dollars), seeing an 88.2 percent drop from 199.8 million Australian dollars (about 138.5 million U.S. dollars) for the six months up to Dec. 31, 2021 (1H22), according to its press release on Wednesday.The national postal service provider regarded the shrinking profit "considerably lower than the prior corresponding period, largely the result of a record first-half letters loss of 189.7 million Australian dollars, compared to 69.9 million Australian dollars in 1H22."According to Australia Post, letters revenue now makes up just 18.8 percent of the groups total revenue, down from 19.5 percent in 1H22.In early January this year, Australia Post lifted the basic postage rate from 1.1 Australian dollars (about 0.76 U.S. dollars) to 1.2 Australian dollars (about 0.83 U.S. dollars). But the group said that this increase will only partially offset the substantial letters losses."Every year its costing Australia Post more to deliver fewer letters. We know letters are in an unstoppable decline, thanks largely to digital communications, yet letter costs are rising due to the increasing number of delivery points we service every day," said Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Paul Graham.The chief executive anticipated that annual volumes will decline fur...
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Wednesday voted to impeach Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min holding him responsible for government failures in disaster planning and the response that likely contributed to the high death toll in a crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people in October.South Korean Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min arrives to attend a meeting on integrated defense at the former presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)The impeachment suspends Lee from his duties and the Constitutional Court has 180 days to rule on whether to unseat him for good or give him back the job.Vice Minister Han Chang-seob will be acting minister until the Constitutional Court decides on Lee’s fate.Lee is seen as a key ally of conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, whose office issued an irritated response to his impeachment, accusing opposition lawmakers of abandoning legislative principles and creating “shameful history.”Lee expressed regret after lawmakers voted 179-109 to impeach him, and he said he would defend his case in the Constitutional Court.“(I) hope that the vacuum in public safety (management) created by this unprecedented situation would be minimized,” Lee said in his statement.Lee is the first Cabinet minister impeached by the National Assembly, which previously impeached conservative President Park Geun-hye in 2016. The Constitutional Court removed her from office and she was imprisoned for corruption before her liberal successor pardoned her in December 2021.Lee’s impeachment highlights the growing impasse Yoon faces in a parliament controlled by his liberal opponents and could further intensify the country’s partisan political fighting that has fueled a national divide.Lee’s impeachment came weeks after police announced they are seeking criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter and negligence, against 23 officials, about half of them law enforcement...
Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) poses with Frances President Emmanuel Macron (C) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) upon his arrival at the Elysee presidential palace for a working diner in Paris, France, February 8, 2023. (Photo: CFP)German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of enduring allied support, at talks hosted by Frances Emmanuel Macron. Scholz said that Germany and its partners had backed Ukraine "financially, with humanitarian aid and with weapons" since February last year. "We will continue to do so as long as necessary," he told reporters. The assurance came after Zelenskyy urged France and Germany to deliver combat planes and heavy weaponry "as soon as possible" as he visited Paris after a trip to the UK where he met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and signed a Declaration of Unity regarding allied cooperation and mutual support between the two countries."The sooner Ukraine gets long-range heavy weaponry, the sooner our pilots get planes, the sooner this Russian aggression will end and we can return to peace in Europe," he said in Paris alongside the leaders of France and Germany.
US President Joe Biden speaks about his economic plan at LIUNA Training Center in DeForest, Wisconsin, on February 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he probably intends to seek reelection in 2024 but has yet to make the decision "firmly.""I havent made that decision. Thats my intention, I think, but I havent made that decision firmly yet," he said in an interview with PBS NewsHour.
PARIS, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- After his visit to the United Kingdom, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stopped off in Paris Wednesday evening and met with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.Frances President Emmanuel Macron (C), Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Germanys Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) hold a joint press conference at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on February 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)A tri-party dinner was held at the French presidential office to "continue the close coordination which makes it possible to respond quickly and effectively to the needs expressed by Kyiv," according to the Elysee.During the press conference held at the Elysee Wednesday night, Macron reaffirmed "unwavering" support of France and Europe to Ukraine. "What is being played out in Ukraine affects the future of Europe," he said.Zelensky asked again for weapons, adding that Ukraine needed heavy armament and planes "as soon as possible."Macron and Scholz both said that France, Germany and the European Union intended to continue their "efforts" to deliver weapons. Scholz stressed that Germany would continue to support Ukraine "for as long as necessary."On Thursday, Zelensky, Macron and Scholz will meet again in Brussels during the special European Council meeting.
A Spanish maritime rescue vessel (File photo: AFP)One person is confirmed to have died and seven were still missing on Wednesday after Spains Maritime Rescue Services rescued 43 migrants from sub-Saharan African countries from an inflatable dinghy off the coast of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.The dinghy, carrying 30 men, 10 women and two minors, was located by the rescue vessel Al Nair 37 km east of Lanzarote.A lifeless body was also recovered from the dinghy and the Red Cross reports that seven people who fell into the sea from the vessel are missing.This year alone, the Spanish Maritime Rescue has already saved 10 boats carrying almost 500 migrants who attempted to make the hazardous crossing from the north-west coast of Africa to Lanzarote.On Wednesday morning, another Maritime Rescue vessel rescued another dinghy carrying 64 people off the south coast of the island of Gran Canaria.The "Canary Islands route" is considered to be the most dangerous of all migratory routes to Europe. The United Nations International Organization for Migration has documented 1,532 deaths of would-be migrants on this route between 2019 and 2020, although the actual death toll is believed to be much higher.
BERLIN, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Despite providing military assistance to Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must not become a party to the countrys conflict with Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses delegates on February 8, 2023 at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin. (Photo: AFP)In a speech to the German lower house of parliament (Bundestag) ahead of a special meeting of the European Council to discuss the conflict, Scholz warned against a "public competition to outdo each other along the lines of battle tanks, submarines, aircraft..."This would harm the unity of the West, he said."We preserve and strengthen this cohesion by preparing decisions confidentially first before communicating them," he said, referring to the recent decision taken by Germany and the U.S. on the delivery of battle tanks.Due to increasing pressure on Germany by NATO partners to supply heavy artillery to Ukraine, the German government decided in late January to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks, and to permit partners to re-export from their Leopard stocks. In addition, the export of up to 178 of the older Leopard 1 tanks was later approved.The U.S. followed suit shortly afterward, with President Joe Biden announcing the delivery of Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine.However, experts say it will be months before the German and American tanks are delivered.Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of Russias lower house, warned last month that the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine would lead to retaliation with "more powerful weapons."Meanwhile, Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his request for more weapons, as well as fighter jets, during a visit to London on Wednesday.The United Kingdom is Ukraines second-largest supporter after the U.S. Last year alone, the UK provided military aid worth a total of almost 2.8 billion U.S. dollars, and the British government h...
An Air China passenger plane is given a water cannon salute during a welcoming ceremony at Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh on February 7, 2023. (Photo: AFP)GENEVA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Air passenger demand will rapidly recover to pre-pandemic levels on most routes by the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to exceed 2019 levels by around 3 percent by the end of the year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said on Wednesday."The air passenger forecasts ICAO is announcing today build on the strong momentum toward recovery in 2022, as previously assessed by ICAO statistical analysis," the organizations Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar said.According to the ICAO, the number of air passengers carried in 2022 increased by an estimated 47 percent compared to 2021. Total traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) increased by around 70 percent over the same period, due mainly to the rapid recovery of most international routes.In 2022, aircraft orders and deliveries by major manufacturers Airbus and Boeing grew by 53 percent and 20 percent, respectively, compared to the previous year. "The number of orders in 2022 exceeded that seen since 2019, indicating the recovery of aircraft demand."Looking further ahead, the ICAO said that airlines are expected to return to operating profitability in the last quarter of 2023 after three consecutive years of losses."Air passenger demand in 2024 is expected to be stronger, at around 4 percent higher than 2019," it said.The ICAO is a United Nations agency, which helps 193 countries to cooperate and share their skies to mutual benefit.
British firefighters postponed strike action to vote on an improved pay offer, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said on Thursday, giving some relief to the government after a wave of walkouts across multiple sectors caused widespread disruption.File photo: AgenciesThe FBU said the new pay offer for firefighters was for a 7-percent rise backdated to July last year and for another 5-percent increase from July 1 this year. The union will now ballot its members on the new offer.Pay disputes have been raging in Britain since last summer, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to strike after inflation hit more than 10 percent, its highest level for four decades.Britains healthcare system was hit by its worst ever strike earlier this week. The previous week teachers and railway workers had walked out.The government has resisted awarding pay rises in line with inflation, saying it would be unaffordable and in turn further fuel price rises.The FBU said while the new offer would boost wages, it still amounted to a real terms pay cut."Frontline firefighters and control room staff will make the decision on whether this pay offer is considered a real improvement," the FBU said.Should they reject the new offer, the strikes will be back on, it said.
Singapore will drop a requirement for travelers who are not fully vaccinated to show COVID-19 test results or purchase coronavirus travel insurance from February 13, the governments virus taskforce said on Thursday.Photo: AgenciesMasks will also not be required to be worn on public transport, the health ministry said in a statement, as authorities lowered the disease outbreak response level to "green" from "yellow," indicating COVID-19 is not threatening.However, masks will still be mandatory in healthcare settings, where there is interaction with patients and in indoor patient-facing areas."Within Singapore our COVID situation has remained stable over the recent months, despite increased travel over the year-end holidays and Chinas shift from zero COVID," Lawrence Wong, deputy prime minister and co-chair of the virus taskforce, told a media briefing."Our population has developed a high level of hybrid immunity," he said.Around 80 percent of the city-states 5.6 million population have achieved minimum COVID-19 vaccination protection, and around half are up to date with their additional booster shots, health ministry data showed."Weve had to deal with many unexpected curveballs and surprises along the way. But we managed to reach this point together because we all did our part," Wong said.The public can also remove COVID-19 contact-tracing apps, and the government has deleted identifiable data from its servers and database, health minister Ong Ye Kung said.Since April last year, Singapore had lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions with many international events returning to the city-state, attracting tourists and businesses.The Asian financial hub is expecting the tourism sector to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
JAKARTA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Four people were killed and several houses and buildings destroyed after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake jolted eastern Papua province on Thursday, a disaster agency official said."The jolts of the quake were felt strongly here. They damaged houses, a restaurant and buildings," Jonathan Koirewoa, manager of the operation control center for the provincial disaster management and mitigation agency, told Xinhua via phone."Four people were killed during the earthquake. Now we are carrying out risk assessments of the quake," he said.The countrys meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency reported the earthquake struck at 13:28 p.m. local time (0628 GMT) with its epicenter located 1 km southwest of the provincial capital of Jayapura and a depth of 10 km.The earthquake did not have the potential to trigger a tsunami, it said.Several aftershocks occurred after the main shock, according to the agency.
The release of gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea, September 28, 2022. /CFPU.S. officials have rejected the report by a veteran U.S. investigative journalist who claimed Washington was behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year.In a self-published report on his page on Substack web service, Seymour Hersh wrote that U.S. Navy divers helped by Norway had planted explosives on the pipelines running under the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany last June and detonated them three months later.White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson described the report as "complete fiction," while a Central Intelligence Agency spokesperson called the report "completely and utterly false."Asked about Hershs claim that Oslo supported the operation, the Norwegian foreign ministry said: "These claims are false."The pipelines are multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects designed to carry Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea.Sweden and Denmark, in whose exclusive economic zones the blasts occurred, have both concluded the pipelines were blown up deliberately, but have not said who might be responsible.The United States and NATO have called the incident "an act of sabotage." Moscow has blamed the West for the unexplained explosions that caused the ruptures. Neither side has provided evidence.On Wednesday, Russias foreign ministry said the United States had questions to answer over its role in explosions on the pipelines.Construction of Nord Stream 2, designed to double the volume of gas that Russia could send directly to Germany under the sea, was completed in September 2021, but was never put into operation after Berlin shelved certification just days before Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine last February.Hersh alleged the decision to bomb the pipelines, which were shut down but contained residual gas, was made in ...
Three Chinese citizens were rescued in good condition after Mondays devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a press briefing on Thursday.This aerial view shows collapsed buildings during ongoing rescue searches in Hatay, southeastern Turkey, on February 8, 2023. (File photo: AFP)The Chinese government is ready to continue to provide relief, resettlement and reconstruction assistance to Türkiye and Syria, added Mao.
LONDON/KIEV, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was in the United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday to discuss defense cooperation. This was his second visit outside his country since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Britains Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) arrive for a joint press conference at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset in southern England on February 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Zelensky addressed both houses of the UK Parliament after meeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street. He then met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.In his speech in Parliament, Zelensky thanked the UK for its support and appealed for fighter jets.The UK government said in a statement on Wednesday that it had already trained 10,000 Ukrainian troops to "battle readiness" over the past six months and would "upskill" a further 20,000 this year, without mentioning the provision of jets.A spokesperson said Sunak had tasked Defense Secretary Ben Wallace with investigating what jets Britain might be able to give Ukraine, noting that this will be a "long-term solution" rather than "a short-term capability."According to Ukraines presidential press service, Zelensky and Sunak exchanged views on the peace plan proposed by Kiev, as well as on Ukraines Euro-Atlantic integration and post-conflict reconstruction.Zelensky was also scheduled to visit Ukrainian troops undergoing military training in South England.Late on Wednesday, he will travel to France to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the French Presidency said.Zelensky visited the United States and met President Joe Biden in December 2022.
OTTAWA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Two children were dead and six others were seriously injured after a city bus crashed into a daycare center Wednesday morning in Laval, north of Montreal, Canada, local media reported.Parents and their children are loaded onto a warming bus as they wait for news after a bus crashed into a daycare centre in Laval, Quebec, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo: AP)According to Urgences-santé, 12 people needed medical care, eight others were transported to area hospitals.The incident took place at the Garderie éducative Sainte-Rose on Dufferin Terrace in Lavals Sainte-Rose district shortly after 8:30 a.m. local time, and the bus was from the Société de transport de Laval (STL), the reports said.According to the reports, the driver of the bus, a 51-year-old man who was employed by the STL, was arrested and charged with homicide and dangerous driving.Hamdi Ben Chaabane, who lives in the neighbourhood and witnessed the crash, was quoted as saying that the bus was travelling 30 or 40 kilometres per hour when it struck the daycare.Stéphane Boyer, the mayor of Laval, said the driver had been employed by the STL for 10 years or so but didnt have any prior incidents on his record.The daycare center usually accommodates between 80 and 85 children, the reports said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart at the ministry of foreign affairs in Baghdad on February 6, 2023. (File photo: AFP)MOSCOW, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday barred an additional 77 U.S. citizens from entering the country in a retaliatory move.The 77 U.S. citizens include heads of government agencies, federal departments and companies involved in the supply of weapons to Ukraine, the ministry said."We would like to emphasize that any hostile actions against Russia... will be rebuffed," it said, noting that the decision was made in response to Washingtons continued expansion of the list of Russian citizens subject to personal sanctions.Russia has to date imposed sanctions against a total of 1,344 U.S. citizens, according to the Foreign Ministry.
This aerial view shows collapsed buildings in Hatay, southeastern Türkiye, on February 8, 2023, two days after a strong earthquake struck the region. (Photo: AFP)MOSCOW, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Russia has sent a second rescue team with medical specialists and rescuers to earthquake-hit Türkiye, the countrys emergencies ministry said Wednesday.In a Telegram post, the ministry said that an Il-76 plane with 50 rescuers and 11 doctors on board took off on Wednesday in accordance with an order given by Russian President Vladimir Putin.Various medical specialists such as traumatologists, neurosurgeons, surgeons, as well as anesthesiologists and intensive care specialists are on the flight, TASS reported citing the ministry.More than 100 Russian rescuers have already arrived in Türkiye, and most are conducting search and rescue operations in the Kahramanmaras Province, which has been most affected by the earthquake.
DAMASCUS, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Mondays massive earthquakes have killed 3,480 people and injured 3,000 others in Syria, a war monitor reported Wednesday.A Syrian woman, displaced as a result of the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria two days ago, rests under a tree in a field on the outskirts of the the rebel-held town of Jindayris on February 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The fatalities include 1,570 in government-controlled cities and 1,910 in rebel-held areas, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.Meanwhile, the Syrian Health Ministry said the death toll has hit 1,260, with 2,285 injured.The Syrian education ministry said 248 schools have been partially or completely destroyed by the powerful earthquakes that rocked a vast region of Türkiye and northern Syria on Monday.Rescue missions are still underway in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Latakia and Tartous, according to the Syrian government.
ANKARA/DAMASCUS, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The number of fatalities from Mondays devastating earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria has surpassed 12,000, as chances have become smaller to find more survivors in cold weather before the golden 72 hours are over.People sit near a bonfire amidst the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, on February 8, 2023, two days after a 7,8-magnitude earthquake struck southeast Türkiye. (Photo: AFP)Rescuers and volunteers are working round the clock to locate the trapped under rubble as the survival rate without food or water drops drastically after the 72nd hour, which is rapidly approaching. Experts have warned that the 72-hour window for rescuing those trapped by the earthquakes may be much smaller than anticipated, given the low temperatures that have swept through the earthquake-hit regions will increase the risk of hypothermia.According to the latest statistics, Mondays devastating earthquakes in southern Türkiye and northern Syria have killed 9,057 people in Türkiye and 3,480 in Syria.SEARCH UNDERWAYThe search and rescue teams from more than 65 countries have arrived in the Turkish earthquake zones to offer assistance in quake-relief efforts, according to an official statement.A plane carrying a 83-member rescue team from China and 20 metric tons of disaster relief materials and equipment arrived in the city of Adana in southern Türkiye in the early hours of Wednesday. In addition to materials and equipment for search and rescue, communication and medical treatment, they also brought with them four rescue dogs.Volunteers flocked to southern Türkiye hit hard by the earthquakes. Photographs show terminals crowded with volunteers trying to help, while the roads leading to the affected areas were clogged with long queues of vehicles ready to transport supplies or offer assistance."It was good that we came. When we arrived, the area was rubble everywhere," said a volunteer who identified himself as Kerem ...
BRUSSELS, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- As of Wednesday morning, 20 European Union (EU) member states and three countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism had offered to send a total of 36 rescue and medical teams to earthquake-stricken Türkiye, Janez Lenarcic, European commissioner for crisis management, said here on Wednesday.Photo taken on Feb. 7, 2023 shows a destroyed building and a damaged vehicle after a powerful earthquake in Gaziantep province, Türkiye. (Photo: Xinhua)The teams are comprised of around 1,500 rescue and medical personnel as well as 100 search and rescue dogs, he said.EU protection teams have also been deployed to assist with coordination, he added.Türkiye activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which is designed for any country in Europe and beyond to request assistance from the EU member states in case of need, after a powerful earthquake struck the southern part of the country on Monday.A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Türkiyes southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) on Monday, followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the countrys southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time (1024 GMT) in Kahramanmaras.Türkiyes southern province of Hatay and Syrias northern city of Aleppo suffered the heaviest loss of lives. Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus also felt the tremor.The EU received a second request from Türkiye on Wednesday morning. Ankara asked for tents, blankets and heaters, according to Lenarcic.Syria also activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on Wednesday morning, requesting assistance for their own search and rescue services, as well as medical and food items, Lenarcic said. The EU member states have been encouraged to respond favorably to Syrias requests.
MOSCOW, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Moscow strongly rejects claims made by the United States on Russias alleged non-compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.Russian RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems are seen on the Red Square for the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2019. (File photo: Xinhua)"The Russian side categorically rejects the claims made by U.S. representatives regarding our countrys non-compliance with the provisions of the New START," it said in a statement, adding that detailed official explanations on the issue were passed on to the U.S. side through diplomatic channels."We do not intend to leave the hostile actions of the United States unanswered," said the ministry, noting the United States has restricted all opportunities for Russia to conduct unimpeded inspections on U.S. territory, thereby violating the treaty.While the treaty is guided by the principle of indivisible security and by the concept of building strategic relations based on mutual trust, openness and predictability, the policies of the United States are "diametrically opposed" to all those goals, the ministry said."The Russian side reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the START, as an instrument for maintaining international security and stability," it added.The New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty in force between the two nuclear superpowers, can be extended by a maximum of five years with the consent of the two countries. Russia and the United States officially extended the treaty by five years on Feb. 3, 2021.
ANKARA, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of a devastating earthquake in southern Türkiye climbed to 8,574 people, with 49,133 injuries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with residents who found refuge under tents set up by the government during his visit to the southeastern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, two days after a strong earthquake struck the region, on February 8, 2023. (Photo: AFP)There were some problems in the first-day response to the earthquakes, but operations are back to normal at the moment, Erdogan said in the southern Kahramanmaras province, the epicenter of Mondays massive earthquake, the state-run TRT broadcaster reported."On the second day and today, the situation is taken under control," he added.Quake victims can temporarily reside in hotels in the Mediterranean tourism hub of Antalya and southern Mersin province, he added.Erdogan announced that 10,000 Turkish liras (nearly 530 U.S. dollars) will be provided to each family affected by the earthquakes, and new housing units will be built within one year in 10 provinces hit by the disaster.Southern and southeastern parts of Türkiye have been rocked by a catastrophic earthquake disaster on Monday. A magnitude 7.7 quake was followed hours later by a second powerful 7.6 tremor in Kahramanmaras province.Thousands of rescuers have descended on the quake zone along with international search and rescue teams that poured into the region.An 82-member Chinese rescue team arrived in Türkiye on Wednesday to assist in rescue efforts in the quake-hit areas of the country.
International investigators said Wednesday they were halting their probe into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute more suspects.In this file photo taken on Aug 1, 2014, Australian and Dutch investigators examine a piece of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. (File photo: AP)"The investigation has now reached its limit, all leads have now been exhausted, the investigation is therefore being suspended. The evidence is insufficient for more prosecutions," Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer told a news conference in The Hague.
The Antarctic Ocean area covered by ice was the lowest on record for January, exposing Earth to even more planet-warming heat, scientists reported Wednesday.File photo: XinhuaLast month was also the third warmest January on record in Europe, with temperatures on New Years Day reaching all-time highs on some parts of the continent, according to European Unions Copernicus climate monitor (C3S).Melting sea ice has no discernible impact on sea levels because the ice is already in ocean water.But it is problematic because it helps accelerate global warming.When white sea ice -- which bounces up to 90 percent of the Suns energy back into space -- is replaced by dark, unfrozen sea, the water absorbs a similar percentage of the Suns heat instead.Globally, last year was the fifth or sixth warmest on record despite the cooling influence of a natural La Nina weather pattern.Europe clocked its hottest summer ever, which fuelled deadly droughts and wildfires on the continent.Copernicus said Wednesday that much of Europe saw above-average temperatures last month, including the Balkans and eastern Europe "where New Years Day experienced record warmth".Elsewhere, warmer temperatures were also recorded in the eastern United States, Canada and Mexico, the monitor said."These extreme temperatures remain a tangible indication of the effects of a changing climate for many regions and can be understood as an additional warning of future extreme events," C3S deputy Samantha Burgess said in a statement."It is imperative for global and regional stakeholders to take swift action to mitigate the rise in global temperatures."Siberia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Australia however saw below-average temperatures, the monitor added.Antarctic sea ice extent was 31 percent below average, and well below the previous record for January.Below-average sea ice concentration was also seen in the Arctic, where it was four percent below average, Copernicu...
Australias government said Wednesday it has blocked a planned coal mine because it would endanger the Great Barrier Reef, a decision hailed by environmental groups as historic.Aerial photo taken on June 2, 2021 shows the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. (File photo: Xinhua)Mining billionaire Clive Palmers scheme would have created an open-cut coal mine 10 kilometres (six miles) from the reef, it said, threatening a marine wonder and UNESCO world heritage site that has suffered in recent years from heat-related coral bleaching."I have decided that the adverse environmental impacts are simply too great," Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a video statement."The risk of pollution and irreversible damage to the reef is very real," she said, also citing risks to breeding grounds for fish and to fragile seagrass meadows that feed dugongs, a marine mammal.The federal government received 9,000 submissions from the public in 10 business days about the planned mine in Queensland, she said, as part of a consultation undertaken before she confirmed an initial proposal made last year to stop the mine.Responses from the public overwhelmingly opposed the planned Central Queensland Coal Mine."This is a great decision from Tanya Plibersek and the first time a federal environment minister has rejected a coal mine under Australias environment law," said Australian Conservation Foundation climate and energy campaigner Jaclyn McCosker."It would have extracted up to 18 million tonnes of coal per year for burning here and overseas, fuelling floods, droughts and the marine heatwaves that bleach coral reefs."The Australian Marine Conservation Society described it as a "historic decision"."This is the first time the Australian government has rejected a coal mine after federal assessment and should be the first step in rejecting new fossil fuel projects," said the societys Great Barrier Reef...
With hope fading to find survivors, stretched rescue teams toiled through the night in Turkey and Syria, searching for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake. The death toll rose Wednesday to more than 11,000 in the deadliest quake worldwide in more than a decade.Emergency team members search for people in a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo: AP)Amid calls for the Turkish government to send more help to the disaster zone, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan toured a “tent city” in Kahramanmaras where people forced from their homes are living. He conceded shortfalls early on in the response but vowed that no one would "be left in the streets.”Search teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel, and aid pledges have poured in from around the world. But the scale of destruction from the 7.8 magnitude quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense — and spread so wide, including in areas isolated by Syria’s ongoing civil war — that many are still waiting for help.In the Turkish city of Malatya, bodies were placed side by side on the ground, covered in blankets, while rescuers waited for funeral vehicles to pick them up, according to former journalist Ozel Pikal who saw eight bodies pulled from the ruins of building.Pikal, who took part in the rescue efforts, said he believes at least some of the victims may have frozen to death as temperatures dipped to minus 6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).“Today isn’t a pleasant day, because as of today there is no hope left in Malatya,” Pikal told the AP by telephone. “No one is coming out alive from the rubble.”Pikal said a hotel building collapsed in the city, and more than a hundred people may be trapped.There was a shortage of rescuers in the area he was in, and the cold hampered rescue efforts by volunteers and government teams, he said. Road closures and damage in the region have also ...
Thinly stretched rescue teams worked through the night in Turkey and Syria, pulling more bodies from the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake. The death toll rose Wednesday to more than 9,500, making the quake the deadliest in more than a decade.Rescue workers search for survivors on a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)That makes it the deadliest since a 2011 earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people.Amid calls for the government to send more help to the disaster zone, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to travel to town of Pazarcik, the epicenter of the quake, and to the worst-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday.Turkey now has some 60,000 aid personnel in the quake-hit zone, but with the devastation so widespread many are still waiting for help.Nearly two days after the magnitude 7.8 quake struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, rescuers pulled a 3-year-old boy, Arif Kaan, from beneath the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Kahramanmaras, a city not far from the epicenter.With the boys lower body trapped under slabs of concrete and twisted rebar, emergency crews lay a blanket over his torso to protect him from below-freezing temperatures as they carefully cut the debris away from him, mindful of the possibility of triggering another collapse.The boys father, Ertugrul Kisi, who himself had been rescued earlier, sobbed as his son was pulled free and loaded into an ambulance.“For now, the name of hope in Kahramanmaras is Arif Kaan,” a Turkish television reporter proclaimed as the dramatic rescue was broadcast to the country.A few hours later, rescuers pulled 10-year-old Betul Edis from the rubble of her home in the city of Adiyaman. Amid applause from onlookers, her grandfather kissed her and spoke softly to her as she was loaded on an ambulance.But such stories were few more than two days after Mondays pre-dawn earthquake, which hit a ...
MAIMANA, Afghanistan, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A motorbike bomb exploded close to a mosque in Maimana city, capital of northern Afghanistans Faryab province, on Wednesday, causing no loss of life, provincial director of information and culture Mawlawi Shamsudin Mohammad said."Terrorists placed explosive device in the cavities of a motorbike and the device exploded in front of Imam Abu Hanifa mosque in Maimana city at around 01:00 p.m. local time today, but fortunately left no casualties," Mohammadi told Xinhua.Without providing more details, the official noted that the concerned authorities had begun investigations to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.In the meantime, eyewitnesses who declined to be named said six people including three security personnel were injured in the blast.No group or individual has claimed responsibility.