Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

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Fire fighters stand near a covered body after a van struck multiple people at a major intersection northern Toronto, Canada, on April 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Saul Porto)
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A covered body lies on a sidewalk after a van struck multiple people at a major intersection in northern Toronto, Canada, on April 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Saul Porto)
Updated 24 April 2018

Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

  • At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns
  • Toronto police have the suspect after a confrontation

TORONTO: The crime scene seems to go on forever, a taped off stretch of street scattered with bodies under orange sheets, urban debris and a pair of abandoned shoes.

Toronto police have arrived, and a suspect is under lock and key, but no one yet knows why the driver of a white rental van spread death and destruction under the warm spring sunshine.

“I heard screaming, yelling. I turned back and saw this truck going that way. He was going in and out, back and forth, zigzagging. He just kept on going,” said 42-year-old Rocco Cignielli.

There was nothing the customer service worker could do. Emergency services were on the scene quickly, but in some cases their efforts were in vain.

At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns.

“I saw there were people lying on the ground. I saw they were doing heart compression, and I saw two people dying right here in front of me,” Cignielli told AFP, pointing at the bodies.

It was shortly after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) on a working Monday when the speeding van hit this commercial thoroughfare in a district of high-rise residences in the north of Canada’s biggest city.

A pale but cheery sun shone after a long and grim final winter stretch even by the region’s standards. Many local people were out and about.

Nana Agyeman Badu, a 56-year-old taxi driver, saw the van heading south toward central Toronto, where ministers from the G7 world powers were holding a security conference. Then the van swerved onto the sidewalk.

“I thought maybe he was making a delivery. But I was thinking, ‘Why would he drive in the pedestrian walkway like that?’ Very fast. Then I saw he had already run over some people,” the witness said.

“A lady was walking toward the car close to a bus shelter. The truck pinged the lady through the bus shelter and she fell back and all the broken glass fell onto her,” he added.

“I stopped and ran out to help her. The truck continued going and going and going.”

The truck smashed a yellow fire hydrant, a few newspaper dispensers and there, a bit further, lie a pair of sneakers.

“They belong to a victim,” a police officer said.

Some in a crowd that gathered by the police tape as dozens of rescue vehicles were deployed were dumbfounded. “It is a dangerous crossroads,” one woman suggested.

“Oh, it was no accident,” declared another passerby.

Pyongyang allows South Korean journalists to cover nuclear test site closure

Updated 8 min 45 sec ago

Pyongyang allows South Korean journalists to cover nuclear test site closure

SEOUL: Eight journalists from South Korea departed for rival North Korea on Wednesday after the North allowed them to join the small group of foreign media in the country to witness the dismantling of its nuclear test site this week, Seoul officials said.
North Korea had earlier refused to grant entry visas to the South Korean journalists, raising worries about the prospect for recently improving ties. Their exclusion followed Pyongyang cutting off high-level contact with Seoul to protest joint US-South Korean military exercises that it calls an invasion rehearsal.
The dismantling of the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where all of its six nuclear bomb test explosions occurred, is expected to happen Thursday or Friday depending on weather.
On Wednesday morning, North Korea accepted the list of the South Korean journalists to attend via a cross-border communication channel. The journalists from the MBC television network and News1 wire service took a special government flight later Wednesday to go to the North’s northeastern coastal city of Wonsan, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.
The other journalists from the US, the UK, China and Russia, including an Associated Press Television crew, had arrived in Wonsan on Tuesday. The group is to travel by train to the Punggye-ri site at Mount Mantap, also in the northeast, to observe the closing.
When North Korea announced it would dismantle the Punggy-ri site, it said it would invite media from five countries including South Korea to watch, but it didn’t respond to South Korea’s notifications of which journalists would attend until Wednesday morning. The South Korean journalists went to Beijing to travel with the full group but were left behind and eventually returned to Seoul as the North refused to grant them visas.
It was unclear why the North changed course and decided to let South Korean journalists in the country. The development came hours after President Donald Trump met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington seeking to keep the highly anticipated summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on track.
The summit could offer a historic chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula. But there has been increasing pessimism about the meeting after North Korea scrapped the inter-Korean talks and threatened to do the same for the Kim-Trump summit in protest of the South Korea-US military drills and what it calls Washington’s push for “one-sided” disarmament. Trump said during his meetings with Moon the summit may not happen as scheduled.
The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim to set a positive tone ahead of his summit with Trump.
But it is mainly just a gesture.
If North Korea decides to conduct more nuclear tests, it could build a new site or dismantle the existing tunnels at Mount Mantap in a reversible manner. Details of what will actually happen during the closure are sparse, but observers have expressed concern that Pyongyang is showing the closure of the site to journalists but not to international nuclear inspectors.