Nepal plane crash: data recorders found as day of mourning begins

So-called ‘black boxes’ are in good condition, says official investigating deaths of at least 68 people when Yeti Airlines flight plummeted into a gorge

The black box and cockpit voice recorder from the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed in Nepal have been located, as the country observed a day of mourning on Monday for the victims of its deadliest aviation disaster in three decades.

Teknath Sitaula, a Kathmandu Airport official, said the so-called black boxes were “in a good condition now. They look good from outside.”

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Nepal plane crash with 72 onboard leaves at least 68 dead

Foreign nationals from Australia, France, Ireland and India among the passengers onboard

At least 68 people were confirmed dead and hope faded for any survivors after a plane with 72 onboard crashed in Nepal, the Himalayan country’s deadliest aviation disaster in three decades.

“Thirty-one [bodies] have been taken to hospitals,” said police official, AK Chhetri, adding that another 36 were still in the 300-metre gorge the aircraft plunged into at the site in Pokhara in central Nepal.

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China road accident kills 19 people as holiday travel rush begins

Local media report the accident took place when a truck hit a funeral procession in China’s eastern Jiangxi province

Nineteen people were killed and 20 injured in a road traffic accident in eastern China’s Jiangxi province on Sunday, state media reported.

The injured had been sent to the hospital, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing local authorities.

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China reopens borders as lunar new year travel kicks off amid Covid surge

Virus outbreaks tipped to worsen as mainland China opens to Hong Kong, ends quarantine for visitors and millions begin holiday-period travel

China has lifted quarantine requirements for inbound travellers, ending almost three years of self-imposed isolation even as the country battles a surge in Covid cases.

On Sunday, mainland China also opened its border to Hong Kong, dismantling the last pillars of a zero-Covid policy that had shielded people from the virus but also cut them off from the rest of the world.

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China data ‘under-represents’ true impact of Covid outbreak – WHO

Analysis of Chinese data finds no new variants of concern emerging, but world health body says it still does not have ‘complete data’

The World Health Organisation has criticised China’s “very narrow” definition of Covid-19 deaths, warning that official statistics are not showing the true impact of the outbreak.

There is growing concern over the steep rise in Covid infections since Beijing last month abruptly lifted years of hardline restrictions, with hospitals and crematoriums quickly overwhelmed.

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WHO urges Covid data ‘transparency’ as China prepares to open borders

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says WHO officials stressed to Beijing the importance of sharing data ahead of easing of travel restrictions on 8 January

The World Health Organisation again urged China’s health officials to regularly share specific, real-time information on the country’s Covid surge, as the UK joined other countries in bringing in travel restrictions, citing a lack of data as the reason.

WHO Covid experts met Chinese officials on Friday and “again stressed the importance of transparency and regular sharing of data to formulate accurate risk assessments and to inform effective response”, said the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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China Covid: experts estimate 9,000 deaths a day as US says it may sample wastewater from planes

Infectious disease experts believe strategy more effective in slowing virus spread than new travel restrictions, as health data firm says thousands are likely dying daily in China

The United States is considering sampling wastewater taken from international aircraft to track any emerging new Covid-19 variants as infections surge in China, as UK-based health experts estimate about 9,000 people a days are now dying of the disease in China.

The proposed of testing wastewater by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide a better solution to tracking the virus and slowing its entry into the US than new travel restrictions announced this week, three infectious disease experts said.

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China stops publishing daily Covid figures amid reports of explosion in cases

The National Health Commission’s decision comes as the country’s health system faces enormous strain after the sudden end to the zero-Covid policy

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has stopped publishing daily Covid-19 data, amid concerns about the reliability of the figures after infections exploded in the wake of an abrupt easing of tough restrictions.

“Relevant Covid information will be published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for reference and research,” the commission said in a statement, without specifying the reasons for the change or how frequently China CDC will update the public with new Covid information.

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Fiji parliament confirms Sitiveni Rabuka as prime minister after days of uncertainty

Rabuka accused the outgoing government of Frank Bainimarama of stoking ‘fear and chaos’ in the aftermath of the close election

Sitiveni Rabuka has become Fiji’s prime minister after a coalition of parties voted to install him, signalling an end to Frank Bainimarama’s 16 years in power.

The appointment of Rabuka on Saturday ended 10 days of uncertainty after an election delivered a hung parliament. Fiji’s Social Democratic Liberal party (Sodelpa) held the balance of power and on Friday voted to form a coalition with Rabuka’s People’s Alliance and the National Federation party.

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Taliban minister defends closing universities to women as global backlash grows

Neda Mohammad Nadeem says ban was necessary to prevent mixing of genders as rare protests break out

The minister of higher education in Afghanistan’s Taliban government has defended his decision to ban women from universities – a decree that triggered a global backlash and protests inside the country.

Afghanistan’s Taliban-run administration announced earlier this week it had closed universities to women partly due to female students not adhering to its interpretation of the Islamic dress code and interaction between students of different genders.

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Fiji deploys military for ‘law and order’ as power hangs in balance after election

Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister, is yet to concede defeat, while opposition parties claim enough seats to form government

Fiji’s military will assist police in maintaining “security and stability” after last week’s election delivered a hung parliament, the country’s police commissioner has said – an alarming development in a country where there have been four military coups in the past 35 years.

The Pacific country is waiting for its president to recall parliament so lawmakers can vote for a new prime minister after a national election showed no party received a clear majority.

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China ‘behind the curve’ in reporting Covid surge, WHO says

Officially there are relatively low numbers of intensive care cases but ‘anecdotally ICUs are filling up’

China may be struggling to keep a tally of Covid-19 infections as it experiences a big spike in cases, a senior World Health Organization official has said, amid concerns about a lack of data from the country.

Official figures from China have become an unreliable guide after the country of 1.4 billion people this month began dismantling its unpopular zero-Covid lockdown and testing regime.

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North Korea fires two ballistic missiles, says Seoul’s military

Launches come days after Pyongyang said it tested a new ‘high-thrust’ motor as it seeks to advance its nuclear and missile programmes

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles, Seoul’s military said, days after Pyongyang announced a successful test of a solid-fuel motor for a new weapons system.

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply this year as Pyongyang has carried out an unprecedented blitz of weapons tests, including the launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever last month.

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Malaysia landslide: at least 12 killed and 22 missing at campsite near Kuala Lumpur

Fifty-nine people people have been rescued after a landslide hit about 3am north of the capital

A landslide killed at least 12 people while they slept at a Malaysian campsite near Kuala Lumpur early on Friday, officials said, as search teams scoured thick mud and downed trees for more than 20 people still missing.

A child and a woman were found among the dead, authorities said, while one of the eight people taken to hospital was pregnant. Others had injuries ranging from minor cuts to a suspected spinal injury.

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New Zealand set to cancel Jacinda Ardern’s Waitangi Day BBQ amid security concerns

The annual event likely won’t be going ahead in 2023 amid growing concerns that radical fringe groups are transforming the country’s security environment

Jacinda Ardern’s much-loved Waitangi Day ritual of hosting a barbecue breakfast for the public will likely be off the menu in 2023 due to security concerns, as New Zealand deals with increased threats and harassment of politicians.

Since 2018, Ardern, her family and government ministers have donned aprons and wielded tongs to cook a free barbecue for all who brave the early wake-up for a dawn service on the country’s national founding holiday, at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Paihia.

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