Zimbabwe bus fire kills 42

Onlookers at the scene of the burnt out bus in Gwanda about 550 kilometers south of the Zimbabwean capital Harare. (AP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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Zimbabwe bus fire kills 42

HARARE: At least 42 passengers have been confirmed dead, Zimbabwe police said Friday, after a suspected gas tank exploded on a bus, with pictures showing the burnt-out wreckage of the vehicle.
“At the moment we know that more than 42 people died,” police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said after the accident late on Thursday, with state media reporting a gas tank belonging to a passenger was believed to have exploded.
“Our police officers are at the scene,” Charamba added.
The state-owned Herald newspaper said on its Twitter feed that “it is suspected a gas tank belonging to one of the passengers caused the inferno in the bus.
“Dozens have been confirmed dead and several others injured through burns.”
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation published photographs showing the destroyed vehicle on a highway from the South African border crossing to the second city Bulawayo.
Last week, 47 people were killed when two buses collided on a road between the capital Harare and the eastern town of Rusape.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said road safety had to be improved after that crash.
Traffic accidents are common in Zimbabwe, where roads are riddled with potholes due to years of underfunding and neglect, and driving standards can be poor.
In June last year, 43 people were killed in a bus crash in the north, along the highway leading to neighboring Zambia.


Reinstated Sri Lanka PM promises ‘new era’

Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated on Sunday, two months after his sacking. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2018
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Reinstated Sri Lanka PM promises ‘new era’

  • Lawmakers clashed after shock decision from president
  • Peace not yet restored, says NGO

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s new prime minister, who was reinstated on Sunday after being sacked almost two months ago, pledged to learn from past failures and to improve people’s living conditions.
Ranil Wickremesinghe was dismissed by the president on Oct. 26, 2018, and replaced by his predecessor in a controversial power grab that triggered international condemnation and even fisticuffs in parliament.
Wickremesinghe made his first public appearance since being reinstalled at a rally in Colombo’s Galle Face Green, addressing thousands of people.
He told them: “We will take renewed efforts without any religious, racial prejudices. We will ameliorate the living conditions of the people.” 
He also said he planned to register a new political party on Friday, under the name of the National Democratic Front.
President Maithripala Sirisena said he respected parliamentary democracy and denied that his actions - including an attempt to dissolve parliament - were unconstitutional.
“I made a statement that I will not give Ranil Wickremesinghe the post of prime minister, even if a request is made by all the 225 Parliamentarians and it is my own personal political opinion, and my view is still the same, but I have decided to invite 
Ranil Wickremesinghe as I am a leader who respects parliamentary tradition and democracy.
“My recent moves including the dissolution of parliament, prorogue parliament, remove the prime minister and the appointment of a new prime minister, not according to his sole discretion, but after receiving the advice of legal experts, and those steps were taken for the betterment of the country and there was no intention to violate the constitution of the country.” 
Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director from the International Crisis Group, tweeted that the crisis would continue. 
"Peace is clearly not yet restored,” he said. “The next few months will almost certainly see the fights continue in new forms.”
But others were more optimistic. 
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina Teplitz welcomed the weekend’s political developments, as did the Australian High Commission in Colombo and the European Union. 
“As steady friends of Sri Lanka, we welcome the peaceful and democratic resolution of the political crisis in accordance with the constitution,” the EU said Monday. “We commend the resilience of Sri Lanka's democratic institutions and will continue to support its efforts towards national reconciliation and prosperity for all.”
Wickremesinghe is expected to name his cabinet ministers on Tuesday.