Auckland flooding: death toll rises as New Zealand hit with more heavy rain and landslides

Four people have been killed as authorities warn severe weather conditions will continue in New Zealand’s north island

Heavy rainfall continued to batter New Zealand’s north island, causing landslides, flash floods and knocking out roads, with the death toll rising to four after a person who had been missing was confirmed dead.

Battered by rain since Friday, Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city of 1.6 million people, remained under a state of emergency on Sunday. The nation’s weather forecaster, MetService, warned of more severe weather on Sunday and Monday for the north island. Intense rainfall could also cause surface and flash flooding, it said.

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North Korea locks down capital Pyongyang over respiratory illness

Residents told that rising cases mean they must stay home for five days and do frequent temperature checks

Authorities in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, have ordered a five-day lockdown due to rising cases of an unspecified respiratory illness, Seoul-based NK News reported on Wednesday, citing a government notice.

The notice did not mention Covid-19, but said that residents in the city were required to stay in their homes until the end of Sunday and submit to temperature checks multiple times each day, according to NK News, which monitors North Korea.

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WHO urges action after cough syrups linked to more than 300 child deaths

Deaths in the Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan due to kidney injury associated with contaminated medicines, the WHO said

The World Health Organization has called for “immediate and concerted action” to protect children from contaminated medicines after a spate of child deaths linked to cough syrups last year.

In 2022, more than 300 children - mainly aged under 5 - in the Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan died of acute kidney injury, in deaths that were associated with contaminated medicines, the WHO said in a statement on Monday.

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New Zealand’s next PM: How will they be chosen and when will we know who it is?

The New Zealand Labour party is racing to find Jacinda Ardern’s replacement, with votes among MPs set to begin on Sunday

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, will step down no later than 7 February after her shock resignation on Thursday in which she said she “no longer had enough in the tank” to do the job.

Leadership hopefuls will gather on Sunday when the centre-left Labour party caucus meets to elect a new leader – who will go on to become prime minister. Here’s what will happen:

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Nepal plane crash co-pilot was married to pilot who died in Yeti Airlines accident in 2006

Anju Khatiwada joined Yeti Airlines in 2010, four years after her husband died while piloting a plane for the same airline

The co-pilot of the Yeti Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday in Nepal was the widow of a pilot who flew for the same airline, and also died in a plane crash 16 years ago.

In 2010, Anju Khatiwada joined Yeti Airlines, following in the footsteps of her husband. Dipak Pokhrel also flew for the Nepali airline, but died when a small passenger plane he was flying went down minutes before landing.

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China braces for Covid surge as lunar new year travel rush begins

Travellers leave cities for countryside amid warnings for most vulnerable and huge increase in official coronavirus death toll

Luggage-laden passengers flocked to railway stations and airports in China’s megacities on Monday, heading home for holidays that health experts fear could intensify a Covid-19 outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives.

After three years of strict and suffocating anti-virus controls, China in early December abruptly abandoned its zero-Covid policy, letting the virus run freely through its population of 1.4 billion.

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Ex-Russian president suggests Japanese PM should ritually disembowel himself

Dmitry Medvedev accuses Fumio Kishida of shameful subservience to US after Joe Biden meeting

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has accused Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida of shameful subservience to the US and suggested he should ritually disembowel himself.

His remarks on Saturday were the latest in a long line of shocking and provocative statements from Medvedev, who was once seen as a western-leaning reformer but has reinvented himself as an arch-hawk since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

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90% of people in China province infected with Covid, says local health official

Data from the health commission for central Henan suggests 88 million people in the province may have had the virus

Almost 90% of people in China’s third most populous province have now been infected with Covid-19, a top local official has said, as the country battles an unprecedented surge in cases.

Kan Quancheng, director of the health commission for central Henan province, told a press conference that “as of January 6, 2023, the province’s Covid infection rate is 89%”.

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Vietnamese boy trapped in 35-metre concrete pillar dies

Ten-year-old who fell into a narrow open shaft on New Year’s Eve at construction site confirmed dead

A 10-year-old Vietnamese boy who fell into the narrow open shaft of a concrete pillar at a construction site on New Year’s Eve has been confirmed dead, state media said on Wednesday.

Rescuers spent nearly 100 hours trying to free Ly Hao Nam from the 35-metre-long support pillar driven into the ground, but without success, online newspaper VnExpress cited a local government official as saying.

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Rescuers in Vietnam battle to save boy trapped in construction site

Ly Hao Nam, 10, fell down a narrow shaft on New Year’s Eve but there was no response from him on Monday


Rescuers in Vietnam were desperately trying to free a 10-year-old boy on Monday, two days after he fell into the narrow open shaft of a concrete pile at a construction site on New Year’s Eve.

Ly Hao Nam was heard crying for help shortly after he fell into the pile on Saturday morning, but rescuers received no response from him on Monday as they lowered a camera down to try to locate his position in the 35-metre long support pillar.

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North Korea fires three ballistic missiles in latest tests

Launches come five days after country reportedly flew drones into South Korea’s airspace

North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea east of the Korean Peninsula on Saturday, the South Korean military said.

The launches were the latest in an unprecedented number of missile tests conducted by North Korea this year, as Pyongyang presses on with weapons development amid speculation it could test a nuclear weapon for a seventh time.

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Rural China races to boost medical facilities ahead of expected Covid surge

Poorly resourced regional hospitals brace for flood of cases during upcoming lunar new year holiday as infections soar

China’s sprawling and thinly resourced countryside was racing to beef up its medical facilities amid a surging Covid-19 wave as hundreds of millions of migrant factory workers prepare to return to their families for the lunar new year.

Each year, hundreds of millions of people, mostly working in factories near the southern and eastern coasts, return to the countryside for the lunar new year festivities, due to start on 22 January next year.

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China hospitals ‘extremely busy’ amid surging wave of Covid infections

Health workers report huge jump in mostly elderly Covid patients as China adjusts to living largely without virus restrictions

Chinese hospitals were under intense pressure as a surging wave of Covid-19 infections strained resources in the last major country to move towards treating the virus as endemic.

In an abrupt change of policy, China earlier this month began dismantling the world’s strictest Covid regime of lockdowns and extensive testing, putting its battered economy on course for a complete re-opening next year.

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Philippines searches for survivors after dozens killed in floods and landslides

Rain-induced floods and landslides unlike previous disasters in the country, which are typically triggered by severe typhoons

Rescue teams across nine provinces in the Philippines raced to try to locate 26 people missing after weekend rains, floods and landslides that have killed at least 25 people, in one of its deadliest weather events this year.

The national disaster agency on Wednesday said casualties reported so far had increased to 25 from 17 the previous day, with most deaths caused by drowning from flash floods.

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Rush to book flights as China scraps Covid travel restrictions

China to lift quarantine requirement for inbound travellers and resume issuing visas for overseas travel from 8 January

Chinese people have rushed to book overseas travel as authorities scrapped the last big plank of the country’s zero-Covid policy despite reports of hospitals being overwhelmed nationwide.

Late on Monday health authorities announced they would no longer require inbound travellers to go into quarantine, then on Tuesday the immigration authority said it would resume issuing visas for mainland residents to travel overseas from 8 January.

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