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October 5, 2015

Civilian deaths as U.S. bombs hospital in Afghanistan

Civilian deaths as U.S. bombs hospital in Afghanistan

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Kunduz province in Afghanistan.
Image: User:TUBS.

The location of the hospital in Kunduz.
Image: © OpenStreetMap contributors.

Twenty two civilians, including three children, died, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported, on Saturday after a United States airstrike hit a hospital in the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Amongst the fatalities were twelve charity staff working for MSF. MSF said there were about two hundred people in the building.

Cquote1.svg Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body. Cquote2.svg

—Médecins Sans Frontières

Cquote1.svg The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. Cquote2.svg

—United States military

A statement was issued on the MSF website criticising the attack and stating “Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body.” The US military released a statement saying they had struck “against individuals threatening the force” and “The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” The US Government announced there would be three separate investigations, carried out by the Afghan forces, the US military, and NATO. The Afghan interior ministry claimed there had been a Taliban presence in the hospital although this was denied by the insurgent organization.

The attack was also condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, whilst the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, described the strike as “inexcusable” and called for a full investigation.

On September 28, the Taliban launched an assault on Kunduz. The US has been carrying out air strikes to support Afghan government forces attempting to recover the city. MSF said it had often provided the Afghan and US governments with details of the location of the hospital, particularly on September 29. The Taliban had unsuccessfully tried to capture Kunduz in April this year, but they were pushed back by government forces.



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September 17, 2015

South Sudan fuel tanker explosion kills dozens

South Sudan fuel tanker explosion kills dozens

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

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An overturned tanker exploded in Western Equatoria, South Sudan yesterday, killing dozens.

Motorcycles and a truck on a dirt road in South Sudan. The country has few paved roads.
Image: JennaCB123.

The death toll is unclear. At least 85 died according to presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny, citing “local authorities”. Charles Kisagna of the local government said at least 100 died. County commissioner Wilson Thomas Yanga in remarks to the BBC put the toll at a minimum of 176.

The Red Cross said it had sent two burn kits to local rescuers in Maridi with provisions for 100 patients. Kisanga warns the toll may increase “because we do not have the facilities to treat the highly burnt people.” Radio Tamazuj spoke to a doctor who reported reserves of painkillers, oxygen, and other consumables were being exhausted.

Some casualties may have fled the scene. Reportedly, after the driver walked away from the crash to seek assistance, local residents began stealing petrol. South Sudan has few paved roads. Mass casualty fuel explosions are common in poor regions of East Africa.



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August 26, 2013

Migrant train derails in Tabasco, Mexico

Migrant train derails in Tabasco, Mexico

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Monday, August 26, 2013

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At least five people have died and sixteen were injured in a train derailment in Tabasco, Mexico yesterday, according to the director of Tabasco civil protection. The cargo train is often used by migrants.

The derailment occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m local time (8:00 a.m UTC), with eight of the twelve cars overturning. The state government reported that at least 250 Honduras citizens were traveling on the train, which had a scrap metal cargo. The train company and rescue workers continue to search the wreckage and treat survivors, but the remote and marshy site hinders efforts. Two cranes have been dispatched to assist.

Mario Bustillos Borge, the Red Cross chief in Tabasco, noted that current information on the numbers deceased and injured was hard to confirm due to the complex nature of the rescue. “There are some very high estimates, and others that are more conservative,” he said. The first car and the engine, which did not overturn, were used to transport the injured to a local hospital in Veracruz.

The train, dubbed ‘The Beast‘ by locals, was headed north from the Guatemalan border at the time of the accident. Migrants regularly try to hitch a ride to the US by climbing onto its roof or in between cars. Preliminary reports suggest that the tracks had shifted following heavy rains.



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July 24, 2012

Dozens die in Nigeria flooding

Dozens die in Nigeria flooding – Wikinews, the free news source

Dozens die in Nigeria flooding

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nigeria
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Dozens of people have been killed as a result of flooding in Plateau State, located in the central part of Nigeria. The flooding occurred as the result of a large amount of rainfall close to Jos, a city in the north of the state, causing overflow of a dam.

The Red Cross has reported the recovery of 35 corpses, while BBC News Online has placed the death toll at a minimum of 39. A spokesperson for the Red Cross said approximately two hundred houses had been sunk or wrecked. A significant number of the affected houses had been built of mud.

Manasie Phampe, leader of the Red Cross of the state, explained: “Rainwater and water from the Lamingo dam which overflowed swept across several neighbourhoods in the city”. The death toll is anticipated to increase by authorities, with 35 reported missing. “We are still searching for more bodies as many people have been declared missing,” Phampe added.

The National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria (NEMA) has initiated a relief effort. Edward Maigida, Director of Relief and Rehabilitation at NEMA, said “[t]wo camps have been opened to provide temporary shelter for the affected persons in Gangare Primary School and Islamiyya Secondary school”.



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April 4, 2012

Brazzaville picks up the pieces after ammo depot explosion

Brazzaville picks up the pieces after ammo depot explosion

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Many women and children have been living in the grounds of the Sacred Heart Cathedral since munitions in a Brazzaville army barracks exploded on March 4, 2012.
Image: Laudes Martial Mbon/IRIN.

The Brazzaville Arms Depot was located in Mpila.
Image: NASA.

The average number of deaths per incident of an explosion is 3, according to a six-month study conducted by Landmine Action and Medact in 2009.
Image: Crtew.

Brazzaville munitions depot explosion as of March 14, 2012. The map shows the extent of the exclusion zone, the redzone checkpoint and 1km radius from ground zero.
Image: MapAction.

Christian Sedar Ndinga, president of the Congolese Red Cross, talks about the role played by local and trained volunteers in responding to the March 4 blast in Brazzaville.
Video: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Extensive damage was caused to residential areas of Brazzaville when munitions at an army barracks blew up on March 4, 2012.
Image: Laudes Martial Mbon/IRIN.

World relief organizations are assisting the Republic of the Congo after last month’s deadly explosions at the Brazzaville Arms Depot that claimed around 300 lives, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and left parts of the city looking like a war zone.

One month after the March 4 explosions and the relief efforts continue.

Bernard Metraux, who is in charge of the ICRC mission in Brazzaville, said 292 people have died and around 12 bodies were still unidentified as of Monday. On Saturday, Pierre Moussa, Minister of Defense for the Republic of Congo, released a slightly lower death toll of 282. There was no explanation for discrepancies between the government’s and the relief organization’s figures as the ICRC’s previous statement was already higher than Moussa’s figure. Moussa said the death count, however, is expected to rise higher as the relief operations continue.

Metraux also reported 75 children were still missing. The international organization has had success reuniting 42 children with their families in the aftermath and locating 23 missing children since.

Also, the World Health Organization has confirmed around 10 cases of cholera, which was supported by Alexis Elira Dokekias, the nation’s director general of health.

Already in the first month of the operation, the munitions clearing teams have disposed of 16 tons of ordinance.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies expects the relief operation to last three more months.

The Brazzaville blast

To put the Brazzaville blast into perspective, the number of people killed by the depot explosion this month is almost 100 times the average number of people killed in explosive incidents, based on figures presented by Landmine Action and Medact of explosions and deaths from around the world. The average death per explosive incident was reported by Landmine Action to be 3.3 people (see infographic).

The blast on March 4, 2012, was actually three separate explosions that were caused by an electrical short circuit at the depot. The blast injured 2,500, made 14,000 homeless, and disrupted education for 20,000 students. The explosion collapsed whole buildings nearby, including a church; contaminated the area within 1 km; and destroyed windows as far away as 4 km. The force of the explosion could be felt in neighboring Kinshasa. And, most dangerous for people now, the blast spread live munitions over a perimeter that spans 6 km. The Talangaï Hospital, one of Brazzaville’s medical centers, was the most critical site affected. A portion of the hospital was destroyed and unexploded ordinances were spread over the premises.

Brazzaville is the capital of the Republic of the Congo. According to the US State Department, 70 percent of the country’s population lives in Brazzaville. It is the largest city there with a population of over 1.2 million, according to the CIA World Factbook. Nearly one third of the population there lives near the affected sections of the city, including Talangaï, Ouenzé, Moungali and Mfilou which were close to the depot located in the Mpila district.

The storage of arms in city centers is more common in Africa. In an interview with Wikinews, Dr. Kelechi Kalu, who is the director of the Center for African Studies at Ohio State University, said the orgins of the practice go back to the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union would arm opposite sides and would locate the arms so that the forces they supported could have access to them. After the Cold War, however, the practice was continued by governing institutions. “The institutional structure that is supposed to handle explosives such as this and dispose of them in order to keep people safe are not as developed as people would expect.” Kalu referred to another armory explosion in January 27, 2002, in Lagos, Nigeria that killed over 1000 people.

The 2009 report from Landmine Action said casualities as a result of explosives happens regularly around the world and the number of incidents spreads globally within a fairly short period of time — six months of data were studied. The report said the worst cases with high death rates occurred when explosive violence took place in urban settings, like the blast from the arms depot located in the highly populated area of Brazzaville.

Moreover, the Landmine Action study reported that civilians, especially women and children, fared worse from these blasts. Congolese citizen Irène Ithos, 44, and a mother of three, told IRIN News that the blast was unprecedented in her lifetime. It is one of the Republic of the Congo’s worst catastrophes since its civil war was fought between 1997 and 1999. The depot itself was a holdover from the civil war era.

The relief operation

Cquote1.svg The main thing now is to clear those areas as quickly as possible … Cquote2.svg

—Bernard Metraux

Dealing with the unexploded munitions is urgent. “The main thing now is to clear those areas as quickly as possible so that the people who live or work there and want to go back can do so without danger,” said Metraux.

The Congolese army has fenced off the 1km area around the depot so that the site can be decontaminated. The United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre is trying to dispose of the live munitions so that the Brazzaville residents can leave the camps and return to their homes. The organizations involved in ordinance disposal also include the British Mines Advisory Group, a contingent from Handicap International, and the ICRC. With so much ordinance underneath the ruins, the Congolese Red Cross is playing an important role in warning residents to call for assistance if they see ammunition.

Early on the Congolese Red Cross, as the area’s first responders, provided first aid, transported crush victims from the fallen buildings and burn victims to the military and university hospitals, and provided blankets and water, said Christian Sedar Ndinga, president the country’s organization. The Congolese Red Cross mobilized 200 volunteers in response to the crisis.

While the relief agencies working with the Congolese have alleviated some needs, the effort still has holes to fill. Six sites have been established to relieve the homeless, but the camps do not have enough tents. One of those sites is the Sacred Heart Cathedral and it has 20 tents that were set up by the French army, but those are not enough, and during rains, even when the church is opened, not all people can be sheltered. The Nkombo Market is the other large relief site; it is a covered market converted into a shelter. The sites, however, have allowed Doctors Without Borders to vaccinate 2,500 children from measles and the medical staff there has reported some malnutrition cases.



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March 9, 2012

Students wounded at King Khaled University protest in Saudi Arabia

Students wounded at King Khaled University protest in Saudi Arabia

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Friday, March 9, 2012

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Dozens of female students were injured on Wednesday after police and security forces stormed a demonstration at Abha‘s King Khaled University. Up to 1,000 students were protesting alleged corruption, discrimination, and failure to remove rubbish at two female campuses.

The protests were in the city of Abha.
Image: Fayez Salman.

University officials said law enforcement moved in after students attacked staff, and said intimidation by a guardian was behind the failure to clean rubbish. Awad Al-Qarni, the uni’s head of PR, said students “saying their demands were not fulfilled” attacked staff on Tuesday. The next morning, he said, the administration offered dialogue to protestors but began using fire hoses and extinguishers on them when they “started destroying university property”.

Students have said cleaning was never done properly. Reports suggest a crush of people injured some, with one report claiming a woman died in hospital after having a seizure, and another miscarried.

As well as police and security forces, the Department of Health, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia), and the Red Crescent were on the scene. An Asir Department of Health spokesperson said twenty-two casualties were distributed between, at least, Asir Central, Ahad Rafidah General, Abha General, and Khamis Mushayt General hospitals, and military hospital, with 31 more treated on-site. Haia sent 50 commissioners and area spokesman Awad Al-Asmari denied they had injured anyone, saying they provided assistance to the protestors. “On the other hand,” he said, “the Haia presence created a sense of peace and security in the girls”.

Cquote1.svg Faculty members and administrative officials treat us badly Cquote2.svg

—Student

One student said there were not enough chairs in lecture theaters, and that the administration ignored students; another said she “[doesn’t] go to classes often because of the poor conditions in the university. Faculty members and administrative officials treat us badly.” She described having “to walk on mounds of garbage that have accumulated close to the cafeteria”. A parent said water taps did not work. All wished to remain anonymous or went only by their initials.

It is reported thirty professors have stepped down, with a protest demanding the president’s resignation scheduled for tomorrow.



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February 19, 2012

France school bus crash kills one, leaves five seriously injured

France school bus crash kills one, leaves five seriously injured

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Disasters and accidents

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Map of the Autoroute involved. The bus crashed roughly halfway along.

A bus crashed into a ditch in northern France, killing one man and leaving at least four people seriously injured, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed.

The crash occurred on the A26 autoroute, between Calais and Troyes, near Reims, at approximately 0300 CET (0200 UTC) this morning. The vehicle was carrying 29 school children and twenty or 21 adults, with the man killed being 59 years old. The 22 minorly injured and the four or five seriously injured are currently receiving hospital treatment.

The pupils, who attend Alvechurch Church of England Middle School in Worcestershire, England, were returning to the UK from a trip to Aosta Valley, a well-known skiing area in Italy. Those not injured have been transported to a local sports complex where the French Red Cross is providing psychological assistance.

Police tests have established that the driver was not drunk and has been tested negative for drugs. It is possible that he might have fallen asleep while driving. Details of how exactly the crash occurred are unclear presently. According to BBC News reporter Hugh Schofield, the vehicle “veered into the ditch at the side of the road and it was a very serious accident.” Video from the scene showed the coach, which was owned by an English company, had rolled onto its side.

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To find out more about those involved in this crash, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: 0207 008 1500



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August 25, 2011

Trapped journalists in Libya freed

Trapped journalists in Libya freed – Wikinews, the free news source

Trapped journalists in Libya freed

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

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As many as three dozen correspondent journalists who were trapped inside the Rixos hotel in Tripoli for three days have finally been released unharmed.

Reporters from organisations such as the BBC, Reuters, Sky News, and CNN were freed around 4pm on Wednesday. The group were being held at the complex by armed men loyal to Gaddafi since Sunday night when the rebels stormed Tripoli and violence erupted in the surrounding streets.

CNN correspondent Matthew Chance said the journalists’ captivity ended when the guards were told about the changing situation in Tripoli and realized the regime might be over. A guard told the journalists, “Look, we’re not going to stop you from leaving anymore,” Chance reported. Shortly after being freed Chance posted on twitter, “#Rixos crisis ends. All journalists are out! #rixos.”

All the reporters who were held in the Rixos hotel were not even aware that the rebels had taken over Tripoli. Armed men loyal to Gaddafi, including snipers surrounded the hotel complex making it impossible for any of the journalists to go downtown and report on the severe conflict which is making a traumatic shift in the six month civil war. The hotel was one of the only places in the city still controlled by Gaddafi’s men.

Reportedly, the power was out on Sunday and Monday night and all the journalists could do was light candles and wait. Gunfire and explosions were heard from the direction of Gaddafi’s compound by journalists at the hotel. Trucks with machine guns were outside the Rixos and snipers were seen posted behind trees in the area. The journalists moved to the inside of the hotel to avoid being struck by stray bullets flying through glass windows.

Information on the situation was posted on twitter by the journalists who were being held captive. “Very dark, very quiet at the #Rixos some gunshots cracking outside,” tweeted CNN correspondent Matthew Chance during one of the power surges. Later on he then tweeted, ““#Rixos getting hit by stray bullets.”

The dozens of journalists were finally transported in Red Crescent cars to another Tripoli hotel, where they hugged friends and colleagues.



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June 7, 2011

NATO deploys helicopters in Libya

NATO deploys helicopters in Libya – Wikinews, the free news source

NATO deploys helicopters in Libya

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

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The United Kingdom and France have begun helicopter attacks against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s military forces in Libya, as part of the NATO campaign to protect civilians. The Apache helicopters were launched from the British ship HMS Ocean and the French assault ship Tonnerre, and attacked a radar installation and a military checkpoint near Brega. Whilst in a separate mission, helicopters destroyed two ammunition bunkers in central Libya.

“The use of attack helicopters provides the NATO operation with additional flexibility to track and engage pro-Gadhafi forces who deliberately target civilians and attempt to hide in populated areas,” NATO said in a statement. “NATO’s operation is being conducted under the United Nations Security Resolution 1973, which calls for an immediate end to all attacks against civilians and authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya.”

The Libyan government has been under international pressure to step down after it had been accused of killing civilians indiscriminately with mortars, snipers, and bombings of suspected rebels in areas like Tripoli and Misrata. The government was also accused last month of using Red Cross Helicopters to evade the no-fly zone enforcement to bomb targets in Misrata.



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May 8, 2011

Gaddafi loyalists allegedly using Red Cross helicopters to bomb rebel held city

Gaddafi loyalists allegedly using Red Cross helicopters to bomb rebel held city

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

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Image: Jon Harald Soby.

Forces loyal to besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have entered into the rebel stronghold of Misrata, Libya, in helicopters bearing Red Cross markings to drop naval bombs on the port city, continuing a two-month long attack. Gaddafi forces are attempting to cut off humanitarian aid that the rebels are receiving, which primarily comes from ships which dock in Misrata’s port from humanitarian organisations.

The helicopters reportedly flew over Misrata, the third largest city in the country and located on the northwest coast of Libya, on Thursday and Friday, disguised as aid workers from the Red Cross to circumvent the no-fly zone, which was approved unanimously by the U.N. Security Council in March. The no-fly zone aims at making it impossible for Gaddafi loyalists to perform airstrikes on the rebels.

NATO, who is aiding the rebels in striking Gaddafi strongholds, stated that helicopters had been spotted flying over Misrata on Thursday, but could not confirm that the helicopters bore the Red Cross logo. A spokesperson did, however, confirm that no humanitarian missions had been scheduled to fly that day. A rebel spokesman told CNN that helicopters flying over the city on Saturday had Red Cross markings. The same day, Gaddafi’s troops were able to destroy six major fuel tanks in the city.

The latest incidents come after Italy confirmed it has not and will not supply the rebels with weapons to use against Gaddafi and his forces, but will consider sending non-lethal weapons such as radars and satellites. However, the rebel National Transitional Council said opposition representatives were flying to Italy to sign a deal that would see Italy send arms to rebel forces.



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