Evacuated villagers tell how Spain’s forest fire forced them to leave animals

Evacuated villagers tell how Spain’s forest fire forced them to leave animals
A fire truck is pictured in a forest area near the village of Los Peiros, on Mar. 25, 2023, affected by a wildfire that began on Mar. 23 near Villanueva de Viver, some 90 kilometres north of Valencia. (AFP)
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Updated 25 March 2023

Evacuated villagers tell how Spain’s forest fire forced them to leave animals

Evacuated villagers tell how Spain’s forest fire forced them to leave animals
  • Residents recounted fleeing their houses and leaving animals behind
  • More than 500 firefighters supported by 20 planes and helicopters were working to bring the blaze under control near the village of Villanueva de Viver

BARRACAS, Spain: Spain’s first major wildfire of the year scorched more than 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of forest and forced 1,500 villagers to leave their homes in the Valencia region.
Residents recounted fleeing their houses and leaving animals behind.
“Bad, how am I supposed to feel? Your town is burning, your life is burning, Our animals were there and no one can tell us anything,” Antonio Zarzoso, 24, who had to leave the village of Puebla de Arenoso, told Reuters.
More than 500 firefighters supported by 20 planes and helicopters were working to bring the blaze under control near the village of Villanueva de Viver, emergency services said on Saturday.
However, they had managed to stop the fire spreading to other areas.
“The surrounding forest has been reached by fire and we don’t know how exactly the area looks,” Montse Boronat, from Los Calpes, told Reuters.
Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, told reporters the blaze was made more “voracious” by summer-like temperatures of about 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
Las Provincias, a regional newspaper, reported police believe that the blaze may have been started by a spark from a machine used to gather brushwood.
A Spanish Civil Guard spokeswoman said that an investigation was underway into the cause of the fire.
An unusually dry winter across parts of southern Europe has raised concern that there could be a repeat of last year’s devastating wildfires.
The weather will be drier and hotter than usual this spring along Spain’s northeastern Mediterranean coast, increasing the risk of fires, meteorological agency AEMET said last week.
Last year some 785,000 hectares were destroyed in Europe more than double the annual average for the past 16 years, according to European Commission (EC) statistics.
In Spain, 493 fires destroyed a record 307,000 hectares of land, according to the Commission’s European Forest Fire Information System.


Novartis drug cuts recurrence risk by 25 percent in early-stage breast cancer

Novartis drug cuts recurrence risk by 25 percent in early-stage breast cancer
Updated 56 min 9 sec ago

Novartis drug cuts recurrence risk by 25 percent in early-stage breast cancer

Novartis drug cuts recurrence risk by 25 percent in early-stage breast cancer
  • The company on Friday said the relative risk reduction of cancer recurrence was 25.2%
  • The results were broadly consistent regardless of patients' menopausal status or cancer progression status

FRANKFURT: Novartis breast cancer drug Kisqali cut the risk of recurrence by more than 25 percent in a pivotal trial on women diagnosed at an early stage, positioning the Swiss drugmaker to win new patients and but facing strong competition from Eli Lilly.
The company on Friday said the relative risk reduction of cancer recurrence was 25.2 percent and that the results were broadly consistent regardless of patients’ menopausal status or cancer progression status. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
The Swiss drugmaker’s shares rose, even as the efficacy read-out fell short of that of a drug by Lilly, but a more favorable side effect profile might swing the balance in favor of Kisqali.
The drug was used in the trial together with standard endocrine therapy to treat a type of cancer that grows in response to hormones and it was compared to endocrine therapy alone.
The Novartis treatment has been approved to treat hormone-driven breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, where Novartis has taken market share from Pfizer’s Ibrance.
But an earlier diagnosis, when tumors can still be surgically removed, is much more common, representing about 90 percent of patients.
Still, better drugs are needed after surgery because the cancer later returns in between a third and one half of cases.
Eli Lilly is ahead with the approval of rival drug Verzenio in the early setting. But that is in a subset of women who are at high risk of recurrence after surgery, typically diagnosed based on signs of cancer in the lymph nodes.
Here, Novartis will face tough competition because the US drugmaker has said Verzenio reduces the risk of recurrence by 35 percent in that group.
But Kisqali looks set to be a pioneer in a wider market because it was tested successfully in both high-risk and medium-risk patients, a population that is twice as large.
Analysts have said investors could be disappointed if the Kisqali read-out fell well short of Verzenio’s efficacy and Jefferies analysts said on Friday the efficacy read-out was “closer to our downside scenario.”
But Novartis stressed very low rates of symptomatic side effects in its trial, important to patients facing years-long treatment, with severe diarrhea affecting only 0.6 percent of participants on Kisqali.
That compares with 8 percent-20 percent of the women in trials with Eli Lilly’s Verzenio being affected by severe diarrhea.
“This may be very relevant commercially,” said Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat.
Novartis shares were up 1.5 percent at 1430 GMT, rebounding from initial losses after the news. Lilly shares gained 0.9 percent.
“We know diarrhea can be a very troublesome, burdensome adverse event for patients taking anti-cancer medicines,” said Jeff Legos, Head of Oncology & Hematology Development at Novartis.
The March trial update boosted market confidence in targets issued by CEO Vas Narasimhan for annual sales growth of 4 percent through 2027 and a core operating income margin of 40 percent from 2027, analysts have said.
Novartis will request approval for wider use in the US and Europe before the end of the year, it added.
Novartis gave a brief preview of the Kisqali data in March, boosting its shares and growth prospects.


Ukraine’s Zelensky: NATO membership ‘impossible’ until Russia war ends

Ukraine’s Zelensky: NATO membership ‘impossible’ until Russia war ends
Updated 02 June 2023

Ukraine’s Zelensky: NATO membership ‘impossible’ until Russia war ends

Ukraine’s Zelensky: NATO membership ‘impossible’ until Russia war ends
  • Western governments are wary of any move that might take the alliance closer to war with Russia

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday he knew it would be “impossible” for Ukraine to join NATO while Russia was waging war on his country.
Zelensky has pressed for Ukrainian membership of the military alliance but allies are divided over how fast that should happen. Western governments are wary of any move that might take the alliance closer to war with Russia.
In a joint briefing in the Ukrainian capital with Estonian President Alar Karis, he said joining the alliance was still the best security guarantee for Kyiv.
“But we are adequate people and understand that we will not pull any NATO country into a war,” Zelensky said. “And that’s why we understand that we won’t be a member of NATO while this war is ongoing. Not because we don’t want to, because it’s impossible.”


Russian shelling kills two in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region — governor

Russian shelling kills two in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region — governor
Updated 02 June 2023

Russian shelling kills two in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region — governor

Russian shelling kills two in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region — governor
  • Yuriy Malashko said on the Telegram messaging app that Russian forces had hit a multi-storey residential building in the small village

KYIV: Two people were killed and four others were wounded on Friday in Russian shelling of the village of Komyshevaha in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, the regional governor said.
Yuriy Malashko said on the Telegram messaging app that Russian forces had hit a multi-story residential building in the small village close to the front line in southeastern Ukraine.


Kremlin says Ukrainian NATO membership would cause problems for many years

Kremlin says Ukrainian NATO membership would cause problems for many years
Updated 02 June 2023

Kremlin says Ukrainian NATO membership would cause problems for many years

Kremlin says Ukrainian NATO membership would cause problems for many years
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "Ukraine's membership in NATO, of course, is one of the main irritants and would be a potential problem for many, many years"
  • "The Russian Federation... will ensure its interests and its security"

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Friday that if Ukraine joined NATO then it would cause problems for many years to come, an issue he said many European Union countries understood though the United States ultimately called the tunes at the military alliance.
President Volodymyr Zelensky pressed his case on Thursday for Ukraine to be part of
the NATO military alliance and urged the alliance to provide security guarantees if membership were not possible for now.
Asked about Ukraine’s aspirations to join the alliance, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We regret to state that this indicates the unpreparedness, the unwillingness and the incapacity of the Kyiv regime to resolve existing problems at the negotiating table.”
“Ukraine’s membership in NATO, of course, is one of the main irritants and would be a potential problem for many, many years,” Peskov said.
“Many EU countries, oddly enough, are well aware of this. But, unfortunately, Washington orders and pays for the tunes in NATO. The EU is simply an obedient instrument in this orchestra.”
NATO leaders agreed at a summit in Bucharest in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members of NATO. So far, however, no concrete steps or timetable has been published that would actually bring Ukraine closer to NATO.
“The Russian Federation... will ensure its interests and its security,” Peskov said. “This excludes the expansion of NATO and its direct approach to our borders.”
The Kremlin has long seen NATO’s expansion into eastern Europe as evidence of Western hostility to Russia and has cited it as a key reason for its decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, unleashing the biggest conflict Europe has seen since the end of World War Two.
NATO, which now numbers 31 member states following Finland’s accession this year, says it is a purely defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia.


South Africa avoids Vladimir Putin arrest dilemma at BRICS meeting

South Africa avoids Vladimir Putin arrest dilemma at BRICS meeting
Updated 02 June 2023

South Africa avoids Vladimir Putin arrest dilemma at BRICS meeting

South Africa avoids Vladimir Putin arrest dilemma at BRICS meeting
  • Top diplomats from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa meet for talks on the bloc’s ambition to provide an alternative to a western-led global order

CAPE TOWN: South Africa attempted to shift attention away from its stance on the Ukraine conflict on Friday, as it hosted a BRICS meeting overshadowed by questions about a possible visit to the country by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Top diplomats from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Cape Town for a second day of talks on the bloc’s ambition to provide an alternative to a western-led global order.
However the question of whether Putin would attend a subsequent gathering of the bloc in August, having been invited before an ICC arrest warrant was issued, has dominated this week’s meeting.
Putin is wanted by the International Criminal Court over accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children.
A member of the ICC with strong trade and economic relations with the United States and Europe, South Africa would be expected to arrest him if he sets foot in the country.
The issue has put Pretoria in a tight diplomatic spot, and ministers largely dodged a barrage of questions about Putin during the first day of discussions.
On Friday, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor sought to shift focus away from Putin and the war in Ukraine.
“As countries gathered in this room today... we all represent together a significant majority of the world’s territory, population and economy,” Pandor said.
Representatives of about a dozen other nations, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Kazakhstan, attended in person or virtually, for a “Friends of BRICS” session.
On Thursday, BRICS ministers welcomed what they said was the interest expressed by numerous countries to join the bloc.
“We in this room need to determine a plan of action for our countries and for the world,” Pandor said in opening remarks on Friday.
“We cannot allow a conflict in one part of the world to replace the ambition of eradicating global poverty as the world’s greatest global challenge,” she added, in an apparent reference to the war in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has sent food and energy prices soaring in much of the world, exacerbating food insecurity in poor countries.
Pandor took a swing at western nations, saying the world has “faltered in cooperation” since rich countries’ “attention and resources” have been “diverted” by the war.
“The plight of the poor is forgotten and the great powers are engaged in world conflict,” she said. “We need to turn this around.”