Fire, torrential rain batter Greece, leave 7 dead

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   812

Aircraft putting out fire, ruined stuff, damaged cars & scattered belongings | Courtesy : Reuters

At least five fires have southern Greece alight on Wednesday afternoon due to high temperatures and gale force winds, while at the same time a strong storm hit northern Greece leaving seven people dead, dozens injured and a fisherman missing, as well as losses or damages to properties.

On Wednesday afternoon, at least five fires triggered either by high temperatures or gale force winds swept across the Peloponnese Peninsula, Attica Peninsula, Lamia Bay, and Evia Peninsula.

The disasters were finally controlled before night fell due to the joint efforts of firefighters on the ground and planes in the air.

However, in northern Greece, another extreme weather phenomenon took the baton and threatened people in the north.

The extreme weather caused seven people, six of whom confirmed as tourists from Russia, Czech and Romania on vacation in the country, dead and the unidentified victim is said likely to be a local fisherman. The storm darkened the doorstep of the Chalkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece, and the country’s second largest city Thessaloniki.

“The grill and the iron plate for the barbecue were blown off there. The pavilion there also fell down. The cars were crushed,” said Despoina, a resident in Chalkidiki.

The damages brought by the first freak storm in 30 years was huge, though it only lasted half an hour.

“We have been living here for 25 years, but we have never seen this,” said Despoina.

The power supply in the northern coastal areas and trains running between Thesalloniki and Alexandroupoli, another coastal city in the north, were cut off.

The 22 injured people have been sent to a local hospital, with nine of them suffering fractures to varying degrees. (REUTERS)

Forest fire burns Cristo Rey monument area in Colombia

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 11, 2019

Emergency officials stepped in after massive fire burns near tourist spots in Colombia on Tuesday (September 10)

Video shared with Reuters showed the fire burning mass areas of the hill holding Cristo Rey, or Christ the King monument in Cali, about 450 kilometres southeast of Bogota.

Local media said that the fire department deployed crews to control the blaze first reported at 1:40pm local time (1740GMT).

No injuries were reported after the fires died down at 10pm (0200GMT), however the inferno threatened several areas in Cali including the Cali zoo. (REUTERS)

Fire in Tondo, Manila leaves 3 dead, 2 injured

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 11, 2019

Fire hit a residential area in Tondo, Manila on Wednesday morning (September 11). Three are confirmed dead while two were injured.

Authorities have identified the casualties as Mara Beneza, 23, her 4-year-old son Leo Tequillo, and nephew Andrei Tequillo, 5.

Chief of the Intelligence and Investigation of Manila Fire District, Fire Inspector John Joseph said the fire reached second alarm at around 6:00 a.m. and was declared fire out before 8:00 a.m.

Authorities continue to investigate on the cause of the fire.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Hong Kong leader says she would ‘quit’ if she could; fears her ability to resolve crisis now ‘very limited’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 3, 2019

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she has caused “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice, according to an audio recording of remarks she made last week to a group of business people.

At the closed-door meeting, Lam told the group that she now has “very limited” room to resolve the crisis because the unrest has become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the United States.

“If I have a choice,” she said, speaking in English, “the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”

Lam’s dramatic and at times anguished remarks offer the clearest view yet into the thinking of the Chinese leadership as it navigates the unrest in Hong Kong, the biggest political crisis to grip the country since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Hong Kong has been convulsed by sometimes violent protests and mass demonstrations since June, in response to a proposed law by Lam’s administration that would allow people suspected of crimes on the mainland to be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts.

The law has been shelved, but Lam has been unable to end the upheaval. Protesters have expanded their demands to include complete withdrawal of the proposal, a concession her administration has so far refused. Large demonstrations wracked the city again over the weekend.

Lam suggested that Beijing had not yet reached a turning point. She said Beijing had not imposed any deadline for ending the crisis ahead of National Day celebrations scheduled for October 1.

And she said China had “absolutely no plan” to deploy People’s Liberation Army troops on Hong Kong streets.

World leaders have been closely watching whether China will send in the military to quell the protests, as it did a generation ago in the bloody Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing.

Lam noted, however, that she had few options once an issue had been elevated “to a national level,” a reference to the leadership in Beijing, “to a sort of sovereignty and security level, let alone in the midst of this sort of unprecedented tension between the two big economies in the world.”

In such a situation, she added, “the room, the political room for the chief executive who, unfortunately, has to serve two masters by constitution, that is the central people’s government and the people of Hong Kong, that political room for maneuvering is very, very, very limited.”

Three people who attended the meeting confirmed that Lam had made the comments in a talk that lasted about half an hour. A 24-minute recording of her remarks was reviewed by Reuters.

The meeting was one of a number of “closed-door sessions” that Lam said she has been doing “with people from all walks of life” in Hong Kong.

China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, a high-level agency under China’s cabinet, the State Council, did not respond to questions submitted by Reuters. China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters. (Reuters)

(Production: Hyunyoung Yi)

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