Teenager arrested in stabbing near Japan entrance exam venue

Teenager arrested in stabbing near Japan entrance exam venue
Police officers investigate by the entrance gate at the University of Tokyo after two students and a 72-year old were stabbed, in Tokyo on January 15, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 15 January 2022

Teenager arrested in stabbing near Japan entrance exam venue

Teenager arrested in stabbing near Japan entrance exam venue
  • The victims were all conscious and their injuries were not life-threatening when they were rushed to a hospital for treatment
  • About 3,700 students attended Saturday’s exams at the University of Tokyo and they began as scheduled despite the attack

TOKYO: Three people, including two students on their way to take university entrance exams, were stabbed Saturday just outside of a test venue, and authorities arrested a 17-year-old student at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder, Tokyo police said.
The victims — two 18-year-old high school students and a 72-year-old man — were all conscious and their injuries were not life-threatening when they were rushed to a hospital for treatment, police said. But the elderly victim was later in serious condition, local media reported.
Police said the attacker, who was identified only as a high school student from the central Japanese city of Nagoya because he is a minor, slashed the three people in their back on a street just outside of the University of Tokyo’s main campus, one of the venues for Japan’s two-day nationwide entrance exams this weekend.
Police said they are investigating the attacker’s motives. He was not taking the exam. Police are also looking into a small fire at a nearby subway station that occurred just before the attack. The suspect claimed to be responsible for the subway station fire, according to local media.
The teenage attacker told police he was struggling with his academic performance and that he wanted to kill himself after committing the crimes, NHK public television reported.
About 3,700 students attended Saturday’s exams at the University of Tokyo and they began as scheduled despite the attack.
Violent crimes are rare in Japan but there have been a series of random knifing and arson attacks in recent months.
In December, 25 people were killed in an arson attack at a mental health clinic in Osaka, in which a suspect also was badly injured and later died. In October, a 24-year-old man dressed in a Joker costume from the Batman movies stabbed an elderly man and started a fire on a crowded train car in Tokyo, injuring more than a dozen people. In August, a 36-year-old man wounded about 10 people in a knife attack on another Tokyo commuter train.


UK says not ruling out sanctions on Russia’s Vladimir Putin

UK says not ruling out sanctions on Russia’s Vladimir Putin
Updated 59 min 22 sec ago

UK says not ruling out sanctions on Russia’s Vladimir Putin

UK says not ruling out sanctions on Russia’s Vladimir Putin
  • Western leaders step up military preparations and made plans to shield Europe from a potential energy supply shock

LONDON: Britain is not ruling out sanctions targetted at Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in person if Russia invades Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he would consider personal sanctions on Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, as Western leaders stepped up military preparations and made plans to shield Europe from a potential energy supply shock.
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine and the West fears it may invade in an attempt to annex its former Soviet republic.
Asked about possible sanctions on Putin, Truss told Sky: “We’re not ruling anything out.”
“We’ll be bringing forward new legislation to make our sanctions regime tougher so we are able to target more companies and individuals in Russia. We will be bringing that forward in the next few days. I’m not ruling that out.”
Truss said the United Kingdom was supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading Ukraine, that it can deploy troops wherever it wants on its own territory and that the West is gripped by Russophobia.


Blast in Greek capital damages buildings, one injured

Blast in Greek capital damages buildings, one injured
Updated 26 January 2022

Blast in Greek capital damages buildings, one injured

Blast in Greek capital damages buildings, one injured
  • Debris littered the street a day after a severe snowstorm swept the capital disrupting traffic and stranding thousands of people

ATHENS: One person was injured and several buildings were extensively damaged by an explosion in central Athens that led to a fire early on Wednesday, officials and witnesses said.
One person who suffered burns was taken to hospital, Giorgos Mathiopoulos, the head of workers at the National Center for Emergency Care, told Skai TV.
The blast smashed windows and wrecked the facades of buildings along the major traffic artery of Syngrou Avenue, which links the city center to the southern suburbs, while damaging buildings up to 200 meters (656 ft) away.
Debris littered the street a day after a severe snowstorm swept the capital disrupting traffic and stranding thousands of people.
At least 18 firefighters used seven engines to battle a blaze at one buildings and have nearly brought it under control, the fire brigade said.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the blast or the fire, officials said.
“We have a fire, there was a blast before that,” said a fire brigade commander at the scene.


Coronavirus-hit Australian warship delivers disaster aid to Tonga

Coronavirus-hit Australian warship delivers disaster aid to Tonga
Updated 26 January 2022

Coronavirus-hit Australian warship delivers disaster aid to Tonga

Coronavirus-hit Australian warship delivers disaster aid to Tonga
  • Crew of the HMAS Adelaide would follow drastic health protocols to ensure Tonga remains free from COVID-19

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga: A coronavirus-hit Australian warship docked in Tonga on Wednesday, delivering desperately needed aid to the volcano-and-tsunami-struck nation under strict “no-contact” protocols.
Tongan Health Minister Saia Piukala said the crew of the HMAS Adelaide would follow drastic health protocols to ensure the remote Pacific kingdom remains one of the few places in the world still free of COVID-19.
“The ship will berth and no contacts will be made. Australians from the ship will unload their cargoes and sail from port,” he told reporters.
The Adelaide was deployed as part of an international aid effort after the January 15 eruption that generated massive tsunami waves and blanketed the island nation in toxic ash.
The warship is carrying about 80 tons of relief supplies, including water, medical kits and engineering equipment.
Despite all crew members testing negative before departing Brisbane, officials in Canberra on Tuesday said 23 coronavirus cases had been detected on the vessel.
Piukala said that number had increased to 29 by Wednesday.
The ship’s 600-plus crew are fully vaccinated, and the Australian Defense Force said Tuesday that the initial 23 patients were asymptomatic or only mildly affected.
It said the ship has a 40-bed hospital, including operating theaters and a critical care ward.
Piukala said contactless protocols were being applied to all relief supplies, including those aboard the HMAS Adelaide, meaning all goods offloaded from foreign planes or ships would be left in isolation for three days before being handled by Tongans.
The ship is said to be loaded with about 250,000 liters (66,000 US gallons) of water, buckets, jerry cans and portable field-testing kits that can now be offloaded.
“We can do that in a contactless way, spray the equipment so that the chance of passing on the virus is obviously negligible,” Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Tuesday.
“Under no circumstance will we compromise the health and well-being of those Tongans who have already had a concerted effort against the virus by protecting themselves, and the virus is not present on the island.”
But coronavirus restrictions are already hampering the aid effort in other ways.
Japan has announced its aid aircraft will pause trips between Australia and Tonga due to four COVID-19 cases among the mission’s staff.
“We are making sure that the impact on the mission is minimal, and once our review of anti-infection measures is completed, we’ll continue the mission,” a defense ministry official said.
Tonga closed its borders in early 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.
Since then, the nation of 100,000 has recorded just one COVID-19 case, a man who returned from New Zealand in October last year and has since fully recovered.
However, the devastating blast from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which lies about 65 kilometers north of the capital Nuku’alofa, has created what the Tongan government describes as an “unprecedented disaster.”
Entire villages were washed away by tsunamis, while ash has poisoned water supplies and destroyed crops.
Remarkably, there have been only three reported fatalities, which the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said was thanks to effective early warnings issued by the Tongan government.
OCHA said communications severed by the eruption were slowly being restored and assessment teams were visiting hard-to-reach areas to gauge the full scale of the disaster.
It said 85 percent of Tonga’s population had been affected, with access to safe water, ash clearance and food supplies the main priorities.


South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins
Updated 26 January 2022

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases surge as new testing scheme begins
  • Highly contagious but less-lethal omicron became the dominant variant in South Korea last week
  • Omicron surge has fueled worries about a new wave of infections ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday

SEOUL: South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by the spread of the omicron variant, as the government launched a new pilot testing scheme to meet skyrocketing demand.
The record 13,012 cases for the previous 24-hour period came just a day after the tally first topped 8,000 despite the extension of tough social distancing rules.
The highly contagious but less-lethal omicron became the dominant variant in South Korea last week, and the daily numbers could more than double or surge to even higher levels in the coming weeks, health officials warned.
“Going forward, our top priority is to reduce critically ill patients and deaths,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told an inter-ministry meeting on Wednesday.
The government introduced a new testing policy in four designated cities on a pilot basis, under which only priority groups take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test while others can get a rapid antigen test at a local clinic for faster initial diagnosis.
The program will be scaled up starting Saturday to enable 256 state-run testing stations nationwide to distribute the rapid antigen self-test kits, Kim said. Another 430 local clinics will be added next week.
As part of efforts to free up resources for serious patients, the government has also cut mandatory isolation for people who have been vaccinated but tested positive to seven days from 10, and expanded self-treatment at home for asymptomatic and mild cases.
Son Young-rae, a health ministry official, said more than 80 percent of intensive care unit beds are available nationwide, compared with some 20 percent in early December when record-breaking infections threatened to saturate the country’s medical system.
South Korea is currently carrying out 400,000-500,000 PCR tests a day, but has capacity for 800,000, Son added.
The omicron surge has fueled worries about a new wave of infections ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday which begins on Saturday, when tens of millions travel nationwide to meet families.
President Moon Jae-in also met with aides on Wednesday to oversee the government’s efforts, calling for moves to prevent any potential shortages of test kits and ensure sufficient consultations with doctors at local clinics.
On Tuesday, some 46 South Korean athletes and coaches who will compete in the Beijing Olympics had to receive a COVID-19 test after attending a ceremony for the delegation where an official at the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee later tested positive.
South Korea, with a population of 52 million, has largely been successful in mitigating COVID-19, with 762,983 total infections and 6,620 deaths.
More than 95 percent of adults are fully vaccinated with some 58 percent having received a booster dose, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.


US Coast Guard reports 39 missing from capsized boat off Florida

This handout image, provided by the US Coast Guard on January 25, 2022, shows a capsized vessel approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce inlet, Florida. (AFP)
This handout image, provided by the US Coast Guard on January 25, 2022, shows a capsized vessel approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce inlet, Florida. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2022

US Coast Guard reports 39 missing from capsized boat off Florida

This handout image, provided by the US Coast Guard on January 25, 2022, shows a capsized vessel approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce inlet, Florida. (AFP)
  • Incidents of overturned or interdicted vessels crowded with people, many of them Haitians or Cubans seeking to reach the United States, are not uncommon in the waters off Florida

WASHINGTON: Rescue crews searched waters off Florida’s Atlantic shore on Tuesday for 39 people reported missing by a survivor found clinging to a boat that capsized in what the US Coast Guard called a suspected human smuggling attempt gone awry.
The survivor told authorities after his rescue that he had left the Bahamas’ Bimini islands, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Miami, in a boat with 39 other people on Saturday night, the Coast Guard said in a statement posted on Twitter.
According to the survivor, the group’s vessel capsized when it hit rough weather about 45 miles (72.4 km) east of Fort Pierce Inlet, off Florida’s Atlantic coast about midway between Miami and Cape Canaveral, but no one was wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.
A good Samaritan found the man perched on the mostly submerged hull of the overturned boat on Tuesday morning and rescued him before reporting the incident to the Coast Guard, which dispatched multiple cutter vessels and aircraft to search the area.
“This is a suspected human smuggling venture,” the Coast Guard said in its statement. The nationality of those who were aboard has yet to be determined, a Coast Guard spokesperson, Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, said.
In another migrant crossing attempt, 32 people were rescued from a capsized vessel last Friday west of Bimini, which has become frequent transit point for sea-going smugglers, Hernandez said.
Incidents of overturned or interdicted vessels crowded with people, many of them Haitians or Cubans seeking to reach the United States, are not uncommon in the waters off Florida.
In May of 2021, 12 Cuban migrants perished and eight others were rescued after their boat flipped over off Key West, Florida.
At least 557 Cuban migrants in all have been picked up at sea by the Coast Guard since the start of the current fiscal year in October, in addition to nearly 7,400 Cubans interdicted during the previous five years, according to the agency.
Vessel crossings of Haitian migrants have likewise grown more frequent as Caribbean island nation deals with economic and political crises, as well as gang-related kidnappings. The Coast Guard said it has intercepted at least 159 Haitian nationals so far this fiscal year.
Last week, 90 people were repatriated to the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, following rescue and interdiction of three illegal voyages across the Mona Passage near Puerto Rico.