Building collapse in South Korea kills 9, injures 8

SEOUL, South Korea — A five-story building being demolished in southern South Korea collapsed on Wednesday, sending debris falling on a bus and killing nine people on board, officials said.

Concrete from the collapsed building in the southern city of Gwangju fell on the bus carrying 17 people which had stopped on a nearby street, the National Fire Agency said.

Emergency officers dispatched to the site rescued eight people from the bus, all seriously injured, before discovering the nine bodies, the agency said in a statement.

Fire officer Kim Seok-sun said in a televised briefing from the site that all workers at the building site had evacuated before its collapse. He said some of the workers told investigators that they had closed a pedestrian walkway near the building before the collapse.

Source: Building collapse in South Korea kills 9, injures 8

Understanding the origin of covid-19 is the only way to prevent future pandemics, scientist says – The Washington Post

Baylor University’s Peter Hotez adds his voice to a chorus that includes prominent Democrats and Republicans,

“There’s going to be COVID-26 and COVID-32 unless we fully understand the origins of COVID-19. This is absolutely critical,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hotez said that he believes the US needs to do more than launch an intelligence investigation into theories that the virus emerged naturally from animals or escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.

“I’m personally of the opinion that we’ve pushed intelligence as far as we can,” Hotez said, saying that the US needs to send experts to the original epicenter of the pandemic in Wuhan.

“We need a team of scientists, genealogists, biologists, bat ecologists in the Hubei province for six months to a year-long period and fully unravel the origins of COVID-19.”

Source: Understanding the origin of covid-19 is the only way to prevent future pandemics, scientist says – The Washington Post

CBP prevents Chinese fishing company from importing goods into U.S. due to widespread human rights abuses | One America News Network

On Friday, Customs and Border Protection issued a withhold release order for any goods that come from Dalian Ocean Fishing Company Limited, due to their use of forced labor.

Last year, the Straits Times ran a story detailing the tragic conditions crewmen faced aboard one of Dalian’s boats. It further detailed their experiences with wage withholding and abuse, which resulted in international scrutiny. While CBP has issued WRO’s for individual vessels before, officials said the scope of the allegations mandated larger action.

Source: CBP prevents Chinese fishing company from importing goods into U.S. due to widespread human rights abuses | One America News Network

Magnitude 7.3 earthquake strikes northern Qinghai, China

 

A magnitude 7.3 quake shook northern Qinghai, China on Friday morning.

See details about this earthquake on The Chronicle’s Quake Tracker.

The United States Geological Survey detected the quake at 11:04 a.m. with an epicenter near northern Qinghai, China. With a magnitude of 7.3 and depth of 6.2 miles, this quake could be felt far beyond the epicenter and is potentially disastrous.

American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Dallas diverted to Seattle after incident with unruly passenger

A flight from Tokyo to Dallas-Fort Worth was diverted to Seattle after an incident involving an unruly passenger.

American Airlines flight 60 from Tokyo-Narita to Dallas-Fort Worth diverted Wednesday to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) after an incident with “an unruly customer from the flight”, according to an AA statement sent to Q13 News.

An AA spokesperson said the plane diverted to Seattle where a mother and daughter were met by federal officials and vacated the aircraft. The plane departed and continued on to Dallas around 12 p.m. PCT. A spokesperson with SEA also confirmed the report with Q13 News. No arrests were made or injures reported, the SEA spokesperson said. Onboard the Boeing 787-9 were 63 passengers and 13 crew members were onboard the plane. The aircraft stopped in Seattle for about an hour before continuing on to Dallas where it safely landed Wednesday evening.

Source: American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Dallas diverted to Seattle after incident with unruly passenger

Nancy Pelosi calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics in 2022 | One America News Network

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics in protest of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority. During a House hearing on Tuesday, the Democrat said, “we cannot proceed as if nothing is wrong about the Olympics going to China.”

She went on to cite a number of countries that have called for action to move or boycott the Games because of human rights abuses. However, Pelosi’s strategy for combating China’s violations of human rights is preventing lawmakers from attending, but allowing athletes to continue to participate.

Source: Nancy Pelosi calls for diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics in 2022 | One America News Network

North Korea pushes back on Biden’s criticism of its missile test | TheHill

“We express our deep apprehension over the U.S. chief executive faulting the regular testfire, exercise of our state’s right to self-defence, as the violation of U.N. ‘resolutions’ and openly revealing his deep-seated hostility,” Ri Pyong Chol, secretary of the Worker’s Party’s Central Committee, an outlet in North Korea reported, according to Reuters.

North Korea recently fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea, the first missile test for the country in a year.

Biden condemned the testing in a move that Ri said was the wrong step towards North Korea.“

I think that the new U.S. administration obviously took its first step wrong,” Ri said.

The comments from Biden were an “undisguised encroachment on our state’s right to self-defence and provocation,” Ri said, Reuters reported.

Source: North Korea pushes back on Biden’s criticism of its missile test | TheHill

Burma forces kill dozens in deadliest day since coup | Fox News

The online news site Myanmar Now reported as evening fell that the death toll had reached 91, higher than all estimates for the previous high on March 14, which ranged from 74 to 90.

A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling near-real time death tolls put the total as darkness fell at 89, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns.

As Burma’s military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade Saturday in the country’s capital, soldiers and police elsewhere reportedly killed dozens of people as they suppressed protests against last month’s coup.

A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling near-real time death tolls put the total killed by late Saturday afternoon at 74, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns. That would make it equal to the deadliest day since the coup.

Source: Burma forces kill dozens in deadliest day since coup | Fox News

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, senior US official says – CNN

Pentagon, Washington (CNN)North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Thursday, a senior US official told CNN citing an intelligence assessment — the second such launch in less than a week.

It is not known yet whether the missiles were short, medium or long range, such as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The US military and intelligence community is still analyzing data from the test launch to determine what kind of missile was fired and how far it went.
The US tracks all North Korean weapons tests through radar and satellites, which are able to detect heat signatures of a missile launch almost immediately.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters North Korea had launched unidentified projectiles into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, adding it had stepped up surveillance and was “maintaining readiness in close cooperation with the US.”

Source: North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, senior US official says – CNN

‘It looks like the end of the world’: China’s worst sandstorm in a decade chokes Beijing

“This is the most intense sandstorm in China in the past 10 years,” China’s National Meteorological Center said Monday.

China’s capital city woke up to yellow skies Monday as the biggest sandstorm the country has seen in a decade swept through it, sparking new health fears.

The thick brown dust shrouded Beijing‘s iconic landmarks, including the Forbidden City, and downtown skyscrapers at times disappeared from view, enveloped by clouds of sand.

The visibility in the capital was reduced to less than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), China’s English-language news agency CGTN reported, forcing residents who dared venture outside to wear improvised headgear to protect their faces.

Traffic was snarled and more than 400 flights out of the capital’s two main airports were canceled, The Associated Press reported.

Source: ‘It looks like the end of the world’: China’s worst sandstorm in a decade chokes Beijing

North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong breaks silence to warn US against ‘causing a stink’ – CNNPolitics

Washington (CNN)Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea‘s leader, warned the Biden administration against “causing a stink at its first step” on Monday, hours after the White House said it had not received a response to its outreach to Pyongyang.

“We take this opportunity to warn the new US administration trying hard to give off powder smell in our land,” she said in a statement, according to the country’s state news agency.
“If it wants to sleep in peace for (the) coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she said. The warning comes as the US and South Korea conduct scaled-down, simulated military exercises and US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have touched down in the region for meetings with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

Source: North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong breaks silence to warn US against ‘causing a stink’ – CNNPolitics

Chinese foreign minister calls for ‘non-interference’ between China, U.S.

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday at a high-level press conference that the U.S. needs to remove “unreasonable restrictions” and stop interfering in what Beijing considers its domestic affairs.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained a tough position on China and raised concerns about Beijing’s stance around Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
  • Wang did not specify what the restrictions were, and pointed to a phone call between the two countries’ leaders in February as a positive basis for rebuilding the bilateral relationship.

Source: Chinese foreign minister calls for ‘non-interference’ between China, U.S.

Strong quake hits Japan’s northeast coast; no tsunami alert

TOKYO (AP) — A strong earthquake hit off the coast of northeastern Japan late Saturday, shaking Fukushima, Miyagi and other areas, but there was no threat of a tsunami, officials said.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which had meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami 10 years ago, was checking to see whether there were any problems following Saturday night’s magnitude 7.1 quake. There were no immediate reports of irregularities from other nuclear plants in the area, such as Onagawa or Fukushima Dai-ni, government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

There were no immediate reports of injuries. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that some 860,000 homes were without power as a result of the quake, according to Kato.

Source: Strong quake hits Japan’s northeast coast; no tsunami alert

Chinese TV’s Lunar New Year gala features blackface performers

BEIJING — Chinese state TV included dancers in blackface portraying Africans during a national broadcast as Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Ox Friday with subdued festivities amid travel curbs to contain renewed coronavirus outbreaks.

The “African Song and Dance” performance came at the start of the Spring Festival Gala, or “Chunwan,” one of the world’s most-watched TV programs. It included Chinese dancers in African-style costumes and dark face makeup beating drums.

The five-hour annual program, which state TV has said in the past is viewed by as many as 800 million people, also included tributes to nurses, doctors and others who fought the coronavirus pandemic that began in central China in late 2019.

China’s ruling Communist Party tries to promote an image of unity with African nations as fellow developing economies. But state broadcaster China Central Television has faced criticism over using blackface to depict African people in previous New Year broadcasts.

On Twitter, Black Livity China, a group for people of African descent who work in or with China, called the broadcast “extremely disappointing.” It noted CCTV’s 2018 Spring Festival Gala, which featured performers in blackface with a monkey.

“We cannot stress enough the impact scenes such as these have on African and Afro-diasporic communities living in China,” the group said.

Source: Chinese TV’s Lunar New Year gala features blackface performers

Myanmar protesters back on streets despite police violence

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Large crowds demonstrating against the military takeover in Myanmar again defied a ban on protests Wednesday, even after security forces ratcheted up the use of force against them and raided the headquarters of the political party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Witnesses estimated that tens of thousands of protesters, if not more, turned out in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s biggest cities. Rallies also took place in the capital Naypyitaw and elsewhere.

The protesters are demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi’s deposed civilian government. They are also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members since the military detained them after blocking the new session of Parliament on Feb. 1.

 

Source: Myanmar protesters back on streets despite police violence

Hundreds protest coup in Myanmar as resistance spreads

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Hundreds of students and teachers took to Myanmar’s streets on Friday to demand the military hand power back to elected politicians, as resistance to a coup swelled with demonstrations in several parts of the country, even in the tightly controlled capital.

In the largest rallies since the takeover, protesters at two universities in Yangon flashed a three-fingered salute, a sign of resistance borrowed from “The Hunger Games” movies, that they adopted from anti-government protesters in neighboring Thailand. They chanted “Long live Mother Suu” — a reference to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained — and “We don’t want military dictatorship.”

“We will never be together with them,” lecturer Dr. Nwe Thazin said of the military at a protest at the Yangon University of Education. “We want that kind of government to collapse as soon as possible.”

Resistance has been gathering steam since the military declared Monday that it would take power for one year — a shocking setback for the Southeast Asian country that had been making significant, if uneven progress, toward democracy after decades of military rule. The opposition began with people banging pots and pans outside their windows in Yangon, the country’s largest city — under the cover of darkness each evening to avoid being targeted. But now people are beginning to take to the streets, including students and medical workers, some of whom are refusing to work.

Students have been central to previous protest movements against military dictatorship.

Source: Hundreds protest coup in Myanmar as resistance spreads

11 Gold Miners Rescued In China After 2 Weeks Trapped Below Ground : NPR

Eleven miners have been rescued in China after a harrowing two weeks trapped some 2,000 feet below ground.

The rescue marked a moment of celebration and relief in what has been an arduous and complex effort to bring the men to safety. One miner has already died and another 10 remain missing.

The first miner was rescued shortly after 11 a.m. local time on Sunday. Television footage showed rescuers clapping and cheering as the miner was brought to the surface wearing a blindfold to protect his eyes from the light. He was brought to the hospital for treatment, with his condition described as “extremely weak.” Several other miners were seen walking on their own with the help of rescuers before being taken to the hospital.

Source: 11 Gold Miners Rescued In China After 2 Weeks Trapped Below Ground : NPR

China Barricades Part of Capital as Northern Outbreak Escalates – Bloomberg

Beijing has imposed a lockdown of 1.7 million people in part of the Chinese capital as officials race to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence in the country’s northern region from seeping into its most important city.

Daxing district in southern Beijing, where its new airport is located, has been sealed off from the rest of the country after six infections were found there. The total number of cases in Beijing stands at 15, while over a thousand infections have been found nationwide since early January, mostly in China’s vast rural northern provinces.

Source: China Barricades Part of Capital as Northern Outbreak Escalates – Bloomberg

Indonesia earthquake: strong quake in Sulawesi kills at least 42, injures hundreds – CNN

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN)At least 67 people have died after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Friday, according to the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in Indonesia.

Jan Gelfand told CNN on Friday that he expects the death toll and number of missing people to increase.
Hundreds have been injured, according to the country’s disaster mitigation agency.
The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 1:28 am Jakarta time, was six kilometers (3.7 miles) northeast of the city of Majene, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.
Thirty-four people died in the city of Mamuju, to the north of the epicenter, while another eight died in Majene.
In Majene, at least 637 were injured and 15,000 residents have been displaced, according to the country’s National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB).
Thousands of residents fled their homes to seek safety following the quake, which could be felt strongly for five to seven seconds and damaged at least 300 houses in Majene, BNPB said.
Other buildings have also been badly damaged, including a military command office in Majene, and hotels and government buildings in Mamuju.
Many people are still trapped under collapsed buildings, according to local search and rescue teams.

Source: Indonesia earthquake: strong quake in Sulawesi kills at least 42, injures hundreds – CNN

Kim Jong Un Admits Failures In Rare Display Of Contrition : NPR

At a party congress gathering in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un acknowledged that policies of the past five years had been an abject failure.

“Mistakes were made.”

That’s according to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who in an address to a ruling party meeting made a frank admission — that the country’s policies in the past five years had ended in abject failure.

“Almost all sectors fell a long way short of the set objectives,” Kim told thousands of delegates to the Workers’ Party’s 8th Congress who were seated in a huge auditorium in Pyongyang.

The country should digest the “bitter lessons” of failure, Kim added, and “be bold enough to recognize the mistakes, which, if left unaddressed, will grow into bigger obstacles.”

Source: Kim Jong Un Admits Failures In Rare Display Of Contrition : NPR

Iranian forces storm South Korean tanker – POLITICO

The military raid on Monday on the MT Hankuk Chemi was at odds with Iranian explanations.

SEOUL — Armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker and forced the ship to change course and travel to Iran, the vessel’s owner said Tuesday, the latest maritime seizure by Tehran amid heightened tensions with the West over its nuclear program.

The military raid on Monday on the MT Hankuk Chemi was at odds with Iranian explanations that they stopped the vessel for polluting the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Instead, it appeared the Islamic Republic sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks amid a U.S. pressure campaign targeting Iran.

Source: Iranian forces storm South Korean tanker – POLITICO

Asia Today: Sydney beach suburbs in lockdown as cases rise

SYDNEY (AP) — Sydney’s northern beaches will enter a lockdown similar to the one imposed during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March as a cluster of cases in the area increased to 41.

From late Saturday afternoon until midnight Wednesday, residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Long lines snaked around coronavirus testing sites in the South Korean capital of Seoul, as the country reported another 1,053 cases, the fourth straight day of over 1,000. The viral resurgence has raised questions about the government’s handling of the outbreak.

Source: Asia Today: Sydney beach suburbs in lockdown as cases rise

Massive Snowstorm Hits Japan, Trapping More Than 1,000 Cars On A Highway : NPR

It started with a large vehicle that got stuck in the deepening snow. That minor incident grew into a monster snow-covered traffic jam as more than 1,000 cars became stranded on a highway that runs between Tokyo and the city of Niigata along the Sea of Japan coast.

The snarl began Wednesday night, local news sources reported.

“The snow was extremely heavy,” one driver told the public broadcaster NHK. “As time went by, the cars got buried. I was really scared. I’ve eaten all of my food and drinks. Now, to drink water, I have to melt snow I collect in a plastic bottle.”

Heavy snowfall in recent days, especially in the Niigata and Gunma prefectures, blanketed some areas with more than 6 feet of snow. NHK reported that these prefectures have seen seven times more snow than they typically do at this point at this time of year.プレス.png

“I hardly slept, and I was worried because I had absolutely no information (about the situation),” a 48-year-old man, who had been driving to his home near Tokyo, told Kyodo News.

For a time, traffic was stopped in both directions. Lanes bound for Niigata were cleared by Friday morning, while about 260 vehicles on the Tokyo-bound lanes were still stuck as of 7 p.m. local time Friday, Kyodo reported.

The East Nippon Expressway Co. said it could be Saturday before all the cars are cleared.

Source: Massive Snowstorm Hits Japan, Trapping More Than 1,000 Cars On A Highway : NPR

Carbon Monoxide Leak Leaves 18 Dead At China Coal Mine : NPR

At least 18 people have been confirmed dead following a carbon monoxide leak inside a coal mine in southwest China, the nation’s Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Those killed in the leak were among 24 people who got trapped in the mine around 5 p.m. local time on Friday when “excessive levels of carbon monoxide” began to seep into the air, according to the state news agency. One person has been pulled from the mine and rescue efforts remain underway to save five others still inside.

The accident occurred at the Diaoshuidong coal mine in the city of Chongqing. The mine had been suspended and shut down two months ago, and at the time of the accident workers were inside to dismantle equipment. Investigators were working to determine the cause of the accident, according to Xinhua.

The Diaoshuidong mine was built in 1975 and since 1998 has been operated as a private enterprise with an annual capacity of roughly 120,000 tons of coal. In 2013, three people died at the mine following a hydrogen sulfide poisoning incident, according to Reuters.

Friday’s accident appeared an eerily similar replay to a September accident at the Songzao coal mine, which is also in Chongqing. At least 16 workers were killed after exposure to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.

China, which is both the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, has now reported more than 100 coal mining accidents in 2020. In November, the government launched a year-long review of all working coal mines and coal-mining projects, focusing on infrastructure, risk prevention management and capabilities for emergency response and rescue.

Source: Carbon Monoxide Leak Leaves 18 Dead At China Coal Mine : NPR

Live Updates: China says it found COVID-19 on packaging of frozen imports | Fox News

China has increased the testing of frozen foods after the country said it has repeatedly discovered the coronavirus on imported products and their packaging,

The most recent instance saw frozen shrimp imported from an Ecuadorian company banned for one week on Tuesday

Studies have shown the virus can survive for a time on cardboard and plastic containers, but it remains unclear how serious a risk that poses.

FAST FACTS

    • Packaging first became a major issue with outbreaks in China linked to wholesale food markets
    • China pushed back against the U.S. which has questioned whether the country’s crackdown is scientifically based

Studies have shown the virus can survive for a time on cardboard and plastic containers, but it remains unclear how serious a risk that poses.

Source: Live Updates: China says it found COVID-19 on packaging of frozen imports | Fox News