Fire destroys landmark hotel in Myanmar’s largest city

Above, firefighters work at the scene of a fire at Kandawgyi Palace hotel in Yangon early on October 19, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Fire destroys landmark hotel in Myanmar’s largest city

YANGON: One person was injured in a massive fire that destroyed one of Yangon’s best-known hotels on Thursday, sending clouds of dark smoke billowing over the center of Myanmar’s largest city and triggering an hours-long battle to put out the flames.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which broke out around 3:20am at the teak-and-stone Kandawgyi Palace Hotel overlooking a picturesque inner-city lake, authorities told Reuters.
There were no fatalities and only one Chinese citizen was injured, said Yangon police colonel Myint Htwe.
The fire had been mostly extinguished by 7am and guests have been shifted to nearby hotels.
The hotel is owned by Htoo Group, chaired by business tycoon Tay Za, who until last year was on the list of United States sanctions for his close links to Myanmar’s former military regime.
Myanmar’s civilian-led government, helmed by Nobel laureate and former dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, is grappling with the aftermath of a harsh military crackdown that has driven out more than 500,000 of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.


Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

Updated 21 June 2018
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Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

TOKYO: Japan has halted evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack in the wake of historic talks between Washington and Pyongyang, local media reported Thursday.
Government officials did not immediately confirm the reports, but authorities in one town said they were suspending a drill planned for next week on orders from Tokyo.
The decision comes after US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un met last week in Singapore, with the pair signing a joint document calling for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Yaita in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo had been planning an evacuation drill for next week involving some 800 residents including 350 school children, city official Yutaka Yanagida said.
But the city suddenly canceled all preparations late Wednesday after being instructed by the government that “drills should be postponed for the time being following a change in the environment after the US-North Korea summit,” he said.
Contacted by AFP, a Cabinet Office official said the government would announce its policy on evacuation drills on Friday, declining to comment further.
Last year, Pyongyang fired two missiles over Japan and it has splashed others into the sea near the country, sparking a mix of panic and outrage.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Tokyo residents scrambled for cover in the Japanese capital’s first evacuation drill for a military attack by Pyongyang.
North Korea has singled out Japan, a key US ally in the region, for verbal attacks, threatening to “sink” the country into the sea and to turn it into “ashes.”
But the regional mood has turned toward diplomacy since the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea, which set off a series of diplomatic moves culminating in the Trump-Kim meet.