Fire kills 8, including 6 children, in Chicago

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Poeple watch as firefighters continue to work at the scene of a residential fire where eight people perished, including six children, on August 26, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (AFP)
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Family, friends and neighbors mourn the loss of eight people, including six children, who perished in an early-morning fire on August 26, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (AFP)
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American Red Cross workers remain at the scene after a fire killed several people including multiple children Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Chicago. (AP)
Updated 27 August 2018

Fire kills 8, including 6 children, in Chicago

  • Officials had not released the names or ages of the victims, all of whom were in the same residence
  • At least two buildings caught fire, one of them described by fire department officials as a coach house

CHICAGO: Eight people, including six children, were killed when a fire broke out before dawn Sunday at a Chicago apartment in one of the deadliest fires in the nation’s third-largest city in years, officials say.
Two other people were hospitalized in very critical condition, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said. One of the children who died was an infant, according to Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.
“We have not had this in many, many, many years — this amount of fatalities and injuries in one location,” he said.
A makeshift memorial along a nearby sidewalk included crosses for each child who died — a small Mickey Mouse doll set next to one. The Rev. Clifford Spears of Saint Michael Missionary Baptist Church led a crowd that gathered in prayer, the Chicago Tribune reported. A candlelight vigil was planned for Sunday night.
Officials had not released the names or ages of the victims, all of whom were in the same residence, Merritt said. The cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined.
A woman who saw the blaze as she was returning home from work alerted people and gave them a chance to escape, Santiago said. She called 911 around 4 a.m., then began knocking on doors in the largely Hispanic Little Village neighborhood on the city’s southwest side.
“So the female who did that saved a lot of lives,” Santiago said.
At least two buildings caught fire, one of them described by fire department officials as a coach house.
Video showed smoke coming from windows of a three-story building’s stone facade, with flames engulfing the back. Police officers helped push a stretcher toward an ambulance, while a paramedic simultaneously performed CPR. One woman lay on a street crying while someone tried to comfort her.
The fire was put out by just after 5 a.m., fire department officials said. At least one firefighter was injured and was hospitalized in good condition.
Merritt said investigators have not found working smoke detectors.
The American Red Cross planned to work with the Chicago Fire Department to canvass the neighborhood to ensure homes have functional smoke alarms installed, the CEO of the Chicago & Northern Illinois Red Cross, Celena Roldan, told the Chicago Sun-Times.


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 15 October 2019

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.