Cyprus says huge forest blaze fully ‘under control’

Cyprus says huge forest blaze fully ‘under control’
Volunteers help carry a firehose in an effort to contain a fire near the Kotsiatis area on the outskirts of Cyprus’ capital Nicosia on July 4, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 05 July 2021

Cyprus says huge forest blaze fully ‘under control’

Cyprus says huge forest blaze fully ‘under control’
  • Water-bombing planes from Greece and Israel and British aircraft helped douse the huge fire
  • More than 600 people from the emergency services and army were involved in tackling the blaze

NICOSIA: Firefighters in Cyprus said Monday they had brought under control the island’s worst blaze on record, which ripped through mountain forests and farmland, killing four people and destroying scores of homes.
Water-bombing planes from Greece and Israel and British aircraft from bases on the Mediterranean island helped douse the huge fire, which blackened 55 square kilometers (21 square miles) of the Troodos Mountains.
The Cyprus Forestry Department said Monday that “the fire that broke out on Saturday... came under full control today” at 8:00 a.m..
Four Egyptian farm laborers aged in their 20s and 30s were killed by the flames as they tried to escape on foot after their car plunged into a ravine.
The wildfire, described as the worst since the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, destroyed 50 homes, damaged power lines and forced the evacuation of 10 villages, authorities reported.
“Everything was a nightmare and pure hell here, the village was surrounded by fire,” said Akis Giorgiou, 45, from the hamlet of Arakapas.
The fire, fanned by strong winds and exacerbated by a heatwave that has baked the island in temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), sent up a vast cloud of smoke that was visible from sea and from the other side of the Troodos mountain range.
More than 600 people from the emergency services and army were involved in tackling the blaze, along with a dozen aircraft and 70 fire trucks as well as a reconnaissance drone, the forestry department said.
Firefighters were still deployed en masse on Monday around the badly-hit village of Arakapas, near Limassol, to tackle any potential new outbreaks, the department said.
A 67-year-old farmer was arrested and remanded in custody on suspicion of having unintentionally started the enormous blaze while burning stubble, a charge he denied.
Police said an eyewitness had seen him leaving Arakapas in his car at the time the fire started there. He could face charges of recklessly causing four deaths.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the four Egyptians’ charred bodies had been found outside the village of Odos in Larnaca district.
Their burnt-out vehicle was discovered at the bottom of a ravine and the four bodies were some 600 meters (yards) away.
The Egyptian government said they were farm workers from the North African country, while Nicosia vowed in a tweet to “stand by the victims’ families... offering every support.”
“It is a tragedy,” President Nicos Anastasiades said on Twitter on Sunday.
He described the fire as the worst event since 1974, when the island was divided after Turkey occupied its northern third.


Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
Updated 4 sec ago

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole

Footage shows violent arrest of Iranian woman with dog-catching pole
  • Rights campaigner: Police often ‘make up charges’ against women who breach morality laws

LONDON: Footage circulating online appears to show the violent arrest with a dog-catching pole of an Iranian woman accused of breaking morality laws.

The footage shows the unidentified woman being pulled violently by her hair through the streets of Tehran, ensnared by the catchpole, before being bundled into a “morality police” van.

Two men and a woman are seen forcing her into the van as she tries to resist. The victim’s head is smashed into the roof of the van as she is pushed inside.

 

 

Masih Alinejad, a prominent Iranian women’s rights campaigner who uploaded the footage, said the woman was arrested for failing to wear a head covering, which is mandatory for women in the country. “Unveiled women (are accused) of prostitution or creating moral corruption,” she tweeted.

Tehran’s police chief said the woman was arrested for being “insulting and aggressive,” but Alinejad said police often “make up other charges” against women who breach morality laws.

Police told Iranian media that further charges had been brought by a local shop owner, but they did not disclose what charges or by whom.

Tehran’s police also did not say whether the woman was injured during the arrest, but pledged to investigate the footage.

Alinejad said it is a “big lie” that officers will be held accountable for their actions. “Last time when morality police savagely beat women, police showed the same reaction,” she added. “But as soon as the atmosphere calmed down, they prosecuted the woman who filmed it.”

Rights groups have long criticized Iran’s treatment of women in Iran, who face discrimination across a host of areas.


Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
Updated 14 sec ago

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election

Libyan PM backs Dec. 24 election
  • Dbeibah said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi

TRIPOLI: Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah supported on Thursday the holding of a national election on Dec. 24 as envisaged in a UN-backed peace plan.
Speaking at the Libya Stabilization Conference in Tripoli, he said it was possible to end the lengthy crisis that has engulfed the country since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
“We support the efforts of the higher election committee to hold (the vote) on the planned date. I call for a wide and effective participation of Libyans in the elections,” Dbeibah said.
The election, agreed under a UN-supported peace process, has been viewed as a key step in efforts to end a decade of violence by creating a new political leadership whose legitimacy is widely accepted.
Wrangling over the constitutional basis for an election, the rules governing the vote and questions over its credibility have threatened to unravel the peace process.
The United Nations process has called for presidential and parliamentary elections for December 24.
However, although the parliament has issued a law for the presidential election on that date, it has issued a separate law saying the parliamentary election will happen at a later date. Other political institutions in Libya have rejected the parliament’s proposals.


Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
Updated 21 October 2021

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise

Iran holds nationwide air force drill, latest armed exercise
  • Iran’s annual air force drill comes a week after its held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert

TEHRAN: Iran on Thursday kicked off an annual air force drill across the country, a week after holding another massive exercise in air defense, state TV reported.
The report said bombers, jet fighters, and attack and surveillance drones will participate in the drill, using heavy weapons including laser-guided missiles.
It said all Iranian military air bases will participate in the maneuver. Reportedly, Iran has 12 air bases. The report did not say how long the drill will last.
It came a week after Iran held a two-day annual air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, with both the army and the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard taking part.
Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.
The region remains on edge over Iran’s escalating nuclear program. Talks in Vienna to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers have stalled since June, with no date set for their resumption.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord, raising tensions across the wider Middle East and sparking a series of attacks and incidents.


Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain
Updated 21 October 2021

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain

Israel reports subvariant of Delta coronavirus strain
  • An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier
  • The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism

JERUSALEM: Israel has confirmed a case of a sub-variant of the Delta strain of the coronavirus previously reported in some European countries, the health ministry said.
“The variant AY 4.2. that has been discovered in a number of countries in Europe has been identified in Israel,” a ministry statement said late Tuesday.
An 11-year-old boy arriving from Europe was the carrier, the ministry said, adding that the case was identified at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. The boy was quarantined and no further contacts have been discovered, the ministry said.
The AY 4.2. variant has turned up several times in the United Kingdom.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held an emergency meeting on Wednesday with health ministry officials and announced that Israel would take measures “to preserve the positive results of the fight against the virus,” a statement from his office said.
Bennett requested that an epidemiological investigation into the new variant be bolstered, and urged liaison with other countries where the sub-variant has been detected.
Changes to entry requirements for visitors would also be considered.
Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, has said that the subvariant is rare and does not appear to pose the same risk of significantly increased transmission as other strains.
The variant was discovered as Israel considers loosening restrictions on tourism following a drop in cases.
An earlier plan to reopen the borders foundered amid a rise in cases driven by the Delta strain.
In late August and early September, new cases topped 11,000 a day.
Authorities launched an aggressive campaign to inoculate citizens with a third, booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which drove down infections.


US outpost in Syria targeted in suspected drone attack

US outpost in Syria targeted in suspected drone attack
Updated 21 October 2021

US outpost in Syria targeted in suspected drone attack

US outpost in Syria targeted in suspected drone attack

WASHINGTON: A US outpost in southern Syria was attacked on Wednesday, but there were no reports of any American casualties from the blast, US officials told Reuters.
The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was too early to say who was responsible for the attack.
One of the officials said it was believed to have been a drone attack.
The garrison, known as Tanf, is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq and Jordan.
The garrison was first set up when Islamic State fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq but since the militants were driven out, it is seen as part of the larger US strategy to contain Iran’s military reach in the region.
Tanf is the only position with a significant US military presence in Syria outside the Kurdish-controlled north.
While it is not common for attacks on the US troops at the outpost, Iranian-backed forces have frequently attacked American troops with drones and rockets in eastern Syria and Iraq