Toll hits 6 after collapse of Russian highrise

A photo provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry made from television footage shows a collapsed section of a nine-story apartment building in Izhevsk. More than 200 rescuers are involved in the search for survivors. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations / AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Toll hits 6 after collapse of Russian highrise

MOSCOW: The death toll climbed to six people on Friday after the corner section of a nine-story residential building collapsed in the provincial city of Izhevsk, officials said.
“There are three injured and six dead,” said the health ministry in the Udmurtia region of which Izhevsk is the capital.
The sixth body was discovered earlier Friday, an emergencies ministry official said.
“A woman has been found in the building’s basement,” the official said, adding that a search and rescue operation continued.
At least one of the six victims was a child, officials said.
The incident happened on Thursday afternoon when a corner section of the Soviet-era residential block collapsed after what was believed to be a gas explosion.
Video footage showed flats on all nine floors reduced to debris. A total of eight apartments are believed to be completely destroyed.
More than 200 rescuers have been involved in the search for survivors.
Izhevsk, which is home to some 650,000 people, is located some 940 kilometers east of Moscow.
Explosions caused by gas leaks are frequent in Russia, especially in older Soviet-era buildings.


Labour set to vote against Brexit deal, open to second referendum

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry during the third day of the Labour party conference in Liverpool Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 25 min 27 sec ago
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Labour set to vote against Brexit deal, open to second referendum

  • If Theresa May brings back a deal that does not meet our tests — and that looks increasingly likely — Labour will vote against her deal
  • Starmer said May was on course to fail these tests

LIVERPOOL: Britain’s opposition Labour Party is set to vote against any deal Prime Minister Theresa May clinches with the European Union and is open to a second referendum with the option of staying in the bloc, Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said on Tuesday.

With just over six months until Britain leaves the EU, May has yet to reach a deal on the terms of the divorce, and her plan for future trade ties has been rebuffed by both the EU and many lawmakers in her own Conservative Party.

Labour has listed six tests it would apply to any Brexit deal, including whether it ensured a strong future relationship with the EU and delivered the same benefits Britain has as a member of its single market and customs union.

Starmer said May was on course to fail these tests.

He called for an election to allow a Labour government to steer Britain’s departure from the EU, the biggest shift in the country’s foreign and trade policy in decades.

“If Theresa May brings back a deal that does not meet our tests — and that looks increasingly likely — Labour will vote against her deal,” he told Labour members at the party’s conference in the northern city of Liverpool.

He repeated Labour’s argument that if Parliament rejected May’s Chequers deal, named after the prime minister’s country residence where she hashed out a plan with her ministers, the party would press for a general election.

“But if we need to break the impasse our options must include campaigning for a public vote and nobody is ruling out remain as an option,” he said to a standing ovation and prolonged applause in a packed conference hall.

The Conservative Party’s chairman, Brandon Lewis, accused Labour of breaking “their promises” and taking “us back to square one on Brexit.” 

The EU indicated officials in Brussels saw a new referendum as a complication rather than a solution.

“That does not sound like a solution to anything. The first referendum is still keeping us busy. And will they want to have a third one in another two years?” asked a senior EU diplomat in Brussels. “It’s more about power struggles in Britain than about managing Brexit seriously.”

But with May’s plan for maintaining close ties with the EU for trade in goods facing opposition from her own lawmakers, Labour could play a decisive role in whether any Brexit deal is approved by parliament.

May has a working majority of just 13 in the 650-seat parliament and a former junior minister said this month as many as 80 of her own lawmakers were prepared to vote against a Brexit deal based on the Chequers plan.

But like the governing Conservatives and much of the country, Labour is split over how to leave the bloc, with its veteran euroskeptic leader, Jeremy Corbyn, under pressure from many members to move to a more pro-EU position.

Brendan Chilton, general secretary of Brexit campaigning group Labour Leave, accused Starmer of launching a leadership bid and of trying to undermine Corbyn.

“This is a betrayal of the very highest order. It is a betrayal not only of the millions of Labour voters, but of our 2017 manifesto,” he said, referring to the party’s campaign at last year’s election that gained Labour more votes than many expected.

Labour’s conference will vote later on Tuesday on keeping a second Brexit referendum as an option if May fails to get her Brexit plan through parliament.

In the published motion which the Labour conference will debate later on Tuesday, the party again set out is position on Brexit — it wants full participation in the EU’s single market after Brexit and will reject a “no deal Brexit.” 

The wording on a possible second referendum was left vague, opening the way for some to describe it as a fudge when the party’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said any such vote should be on how to leave the EU, not whether to do so.

But Starmer was clear. He understood that the motion could allow Britain to vote to stay in the EU.

“This isn’t about frustrating the process,” he said. “It’s about stopping a destructive Tory Brexit. It’s about fighting for our values and about fighting for our country.”