Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 22: rescue agency

Update Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 22: rescue agency
Rescuers are attempting manual evacuations, walking to the top of Mount Marapi and evacuating the victims on stretchers because of ongoing eruptions and poor visibility. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 December 2023
Follow

Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 22: rescue agency

Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 22: rescue agency
  • Volcano still erupting on Tuesday morning, hampering the rescue efforts of more than 200 personnel

AGAM, Indonesia: The number of hikers found dead after a volcano eruption in Indonesia has risen to 22 after nine more bodies were found, a local search and rescue agency official said Tuesday.

“9 of 10 missing victims were found dead this afternoon and at the moment, they are being evacuated. There is one remaining victim currently in search,” Abdul Malik, head of Padang Search and Rescue Agency said.

Thirteen dead hikers were found Monday near the crater of Mount Marapi on the island of Sumatra, with rescue officials announcing 11 deaths the same day and two more on Tuesday.

Others were found alive and carried down the mountain in arduous rescue efforts hampered by further eruptions and bad weather.

The volcano spewed an ash tower 3,000 meters — taller than the volcano itself — into the sky on Sunday.

“The total number of people who have died is currently 13 people. The 10 missing hikers are still being searched,” Abdul Malik, head of Padang Search and Rescue Agency said, adding the bodies of the two additional dead hikers were found late Monday.

Five of the dead had been brought down the mountain for identification while eight bodies had been found and were being brought down in bodybags, he said.

Images shared by national search and rescue agency Basarnas showed a rescue team of six in orange jackets and hard hats carrying a body down the side of the volcano.

The volcano was still erupting on Tuesday morning, according to officials, hampering the rescue efforts of more than 200 personnel.

Rescuers were attempting manual evacuations, walking to the top of the volcano and evacuating the victims on stretchers because of ongoing eruptions and poor visibility, said Hendri, a local rescue official who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

Ahmad Rifandi, head of Marapi’s monitoring post, said Tuesday it had observed five eruptions from midnight to 8 a.m. local time (0100 GMT).

“Marapi is still very much active. We can’t see the height of the column because it’s covered by the cloud,” he said.

Volcanic ash was still falling around an information post at the base of the mountain where Marapi was not visible, according to an AFP journalist.

The head of Indonesia’s volcanology agency, Hendra Gunawan, said Marapi has been at the second level of a four-tier alert system since 2011, and a three-kilometer exclusion zone had been imposed around its crater.

He appeared to blame hikers on Monday for going too close to the crater, saying the agency recommended no human activities in that zone, and emphasized that “severe impacts” were reported for victims within one to 1.5 kilometers from the crater.

Officials said the hikers had registered through an online booking system, but others may have been on illegal mountain routes.

Relatives were still waiting for updates at the information center at the base of the mountain.

“I will stay here until I hear some news,” said Dasman, father of missing hiker Zakir Habibi, who made a two-hour drive from Padang city to the base of the mountain in hope of good news.

“I still hope my son survives,” he said on Monday.

A total of 75 hikers were listed by officials as hiking on the mountain since Saturday, with some of the 49 initially accounted for suffering burns and fractures.

The search will carry on for seven days, rescue officials said.

Those killed were severely burned and forensic workers were preparing to identify the dead by dental and fingerprint records, or based on marks on their bodies, said Eka Purnamasari, an official from the West Sumatra police medical unit.

Locals described the carnage when the volcano burst to life on Sunday.

“The villagers were shocked because of the thundering noise, then there was a jolt and also a boom. The villagers were very traumatized by the eruption,” said Adrizal, head of local village Nagari Lasi.

Mount Marapi, which means “Mountain of Fire,” is the most active volcano on Sumatra island.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide.

The archipelago nation has nearly 130 active volcanoes.


Canada says to provide $2.2bn in Ukraine aid in 2024, Italy pens security deal with Kyiv

Canada says to provide $2.2bn in Ukraine aid in 2024, Italy pens security deal with Kyiv
Updated 5 sec ago
Follow

Canada says to provide $2.2bn in Ukraine aid in 2024, Italy pens security deal with Kyiv

Canada says to provide $2.2bn in Ukraine aid in 2024, Italy pens security deal with Kyiv
  • Kyiv has cast the deals as an important show of the West’s long-term commitment as its resources are stretched

KYIV: Canada said on Saturday it would provide 3.02 billion Canadian dollars ($2.2 billion) in financial and military support for Ukraine this year as the two countries signed a security agreement.

“We will stand with Ukraine with whatever it takes, for as long as it takes,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was visiting Kyiv on the second anniversary of the war, said in a statement announcing the funding.

Kyiv also signed a bilateral security deal with Italy on Saturday, President Volodomyr Zelensky said, following similar deals struck with Britain, France, Germany and Denmark in recent weeks.

In a post on social media, Zelensky said the document, signed with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, “lays a strong foundation for a long-term security partnership between Ukraine and Italy.”

The 10-year agreement between Ottawa and Kyiv “outlines key, long-term security commitments for Canada to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity, protects its people, and rebuilds its economy for the future,” Trudeau’s office said.

The document includes funding pledges and enhanced cooperation across political, military, security, economic and humanitarian areas, but is not a defense pact or guarantee of military protection.

Kyiv has cast the deals as an important show of the West’s long-term commitment as its resources are stretched and Russia is making its first gains on the battlefield in almost a year.

Ukraine relies on tens of billions of dollars in military support to provide its army with ammunition, artillery, tanks, rockets and other equipment.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, also in Kyiv, also said Saturday the first payment under a new 50-billion-euro ($54.2 billion) EU aid program for Ukraine, worth some 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion), would be disbursed in March.

But as the war enters its third year, there is still no sign of progress on Ukraine’s most important funding stream — a $60-billion package of support from the United States.


Protests across Germany on Ukraine war anniversary

Protests across Germany on Ukraine war anniversary
Updated 35 min 37 sec ago
Follow

Protests across Germany on Ukraine war anniversary

Protests across Germany on Ukraine war anniversary
  • Rallies took place in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and other cities
  • In the capital, thousands gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate waving banners that read “stand up for Ukraine” and “arm Ukraine now”

BERLIN: Thousands of protesters rallied across Germany Saturday in support of Ukraine on the second anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, even as doubts grow about Kyiv’s chances of victory.
Rallies took place in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and other cities.
In the capital, thousands gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate waving banners that read “stand up for Ukraine” and “arm Ukraine now.”
Addressing the crowd, Berlin mayor Kai Wegner decried Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal war of aggression.”
“He wants to wipe out Ukraine, he wants to wipe out the identities of Ukrainians,” he said.
“But we won’t let happen. We will stand by Ukraine’s side.”
He called on Berlin to deliver long-range Taurus missiles long sought by Kyiv, a demand that the German government has so far refused for fears they could also strike inside Russia.
Organizers said about 10,000 people took part in the rally. Police put the figure at around 5,000.
In a square in the historic heart of Frankfurt, about 1,000 people took part in a rally, according to police, where they heard calls from speakers to accelerate the delivery of weapons to Kyiv.
Ukraine’s armed forces have in recent times acknowledged facing frontline problems, pointing to a lack of Western aid, while Russian forces have been making gains.
“The West must do more to support Ukraine,” Achem Lobreuer, a 58-year-old engineer, told AFP at the rally.
This included delivering more armaments, but also “supporting negotiations,” he said.
“My message to Putin is that he must end this war.”
Maksym Godovnikov, a 38-year-old Ukrainian at the Frankfurt rally, also urged Ukraine’s allies to step up military support.
“If we have more weapons, we can protect ourselves and also win back land that was previously conquered,” he said.
Rallies were also taking place in other European capitals to mark the day Russia sent its troops into Ukraine, bringing war back to Europe for the first time in decades.
The anniversary comes as concerns grow in Europe about Ukraine’s faltering efforts to fend off Moscow.
According to a survey released last week, only 10 percent of Europeans believe Ukraine can defeat Russia on the battlefield.
The survey conducted last month across 12 EU countries showed that on average 20 percent of those asked believed Russia could win, and 37 percent thought the conflict would end in a compromise settlement.


Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends

Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends
Updated 42 min 3 sec ago
Follow

Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends

Eiffel Tower to reopen Sunday as strike ends
  • The stoppage since Monday at one of the world’s best-known tourist sites was the second within two months
  • The tower’s operator SETE said it had reached agreement with the unions on Saturday

PARIS: France’s Eiffel Tower that had been closed for five days by a strike will reopen Sunday after the monument’s management announced a deal had been struck with unions.
The stoppage since Monday at one of the world’s best-known tourist sites was the second within two months in protest at what unions say was insufficient investment.
The tower’s operator SETE said it had reached agreement with the unions on Saturday “under which the parties will regularly monitor the company’s business model, investment in works and revenue through a body that will meet every six months.”
With an aim to balance its books by 2025, both sides also agreed to see an investment of some 380 million euros up to 2031 toward works and maintenance of the tower, the statement said.
SETE extended apologies to visitors caught in the strike action, which resulted in the loss of some 100,000 admissions.
The Eiffel Tower booked a shortfall of around 120 million euros ($130 million) during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
SETE has since received a recapitalization of 60 million euros, which unions say is insufficient given that major maintenance work is needed, including a fresh paint job.
Visitor numbers dropped sharply during Covid due to closures and travel restrictions, but recovered to 5.9 million in 2022 and 6.3 million last year.
The masterpiece by architect Gustave Eiffel has been repainted 19 times since it was built for the 1889 World Fair.


Yulia Navalnaya says Putin blocking body handover

Yulia Navalnaya says Putin blocking body handover
Updated 24 February 2024
Follow

Yulia Navalnaya says Putin blocking body handover

Yulia Navalnaya says Putin blocking body handover
  • “You tortured him alive, now you torture him while he is dead,” Yulia Navalnaya said in a new video
  • “Putin is directing it all. It’s Putin saying, ‘Put pressure on the mother, break her, tell her the body of her son is rotting’”

WARSAW: Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, accused President Vladimir Putin of “satanism” on Saturday for not allowing the body to be returned to his family.
Navalny’s mother Lyudmila has said authorities are threatening to bury him on the grounds of the Arctic prison colony where he died earlier this month if she did not agree to a “secret” funeral.
“You tortured him alive, now you torture him while he is dead,” Yulia Navalnaya, who has vowed to continue her husband’s work, said in a new video, published Saturday.
Russian authorities have said only that an investigation is ongoing and have previously criticized accusations from Navalnaya as “unfounded and vulgar.”
Navalnaya said on Saturday she believed the pressure being put on Navalny’s mother was coming directly from Putin.
“Putin is directing it all. It’s Putin saying, ‘Put pressure on the mother, break her, tell her the body of her son is rotting’,” she said.
“This is the same Putin that likes to show that he is a practicing Christian,” she said.
Putin has for decades portrayed himself as a devoted Orthodox Christian and has in recent years focused on promoting what he calls “traditional values.”
“What Putin is doing now is hatred. No, not even hatred, it’s some kind of satanism,” Navalnaya said.
“We always knew that Putin’s faith is fake, but now we can see it like never before,” she added.
On the anniversary of Russia launching its military offensive, the late Kremlin critic’s wife also denounced Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine.
“You will answer for all of this... And for this (Navalny’s death) and for the war that you unleashed two years ago, also hiding behind Christian values,” Navalnaya said.
“You are just killing. You are just killing sleeping people at night with missiles blessed by the church.”


Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone

Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone
Updated 24 February 2024
Follow

Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone

Biden hails US lunar landing as space milestone
  • Biden called the landing “a thrilling step forward in a new era of space exploration”
  • “America does hard things. We rise to the great scientific challenges of our time”

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Saturday hailed the landing of a US spacecraft on the Moon as a historic achievement in space research led by the United States.
The uncrewed Odysseus lander, built by a private company and funded by NASA, landed near the lunar south pole Thursday, more than 50 years since the agency’s last Apollo 17 mission to Earth’s cosmic neighbor.
Biden called the landing “a thrilling step forward in a new era of space exploration” enabled by cooperation between the private and public sectors.
“It was made possible by American ingenuity, innovation, and curiosity,” he said in a statement. “America is leading the world back to the Moon.”
Odysseus, which is the size of a large golf cart, is likely lying sideways on the Moon’s surface as ground controllers work to download data and surface photos from the robot, its makers said.
Intuitive Machines initially said that its hexagonal spaceship was upright, but its CEO later said that announcement was based on misinterpreted data.
It appears that Odysseus caught a foot on the surface and tipped over, coming to rest horizontally with its top perched on a small rock — taking some shine off the accomplishment.
“America does hard things. We rise to the great scientific challenges of our time,” Biden’s statement said.
NASA paid Intuitive Machines $118 million to ship six experiments under an initiative that delegates cargo services to the private sector in a bid to achieve savings and stimulate a wider lunar economy.
The United States, along with international partners, wants to develop long-term habitats on the south pole, harvesting ice there for drinking water — and for rocket fuel for eventual onward voyages to Mars.