Manila in lockdown as Delta cases soar in Philippines

Covid death toll hits four-month high amid record case numbers in countries across south-east Asia

The more aggressive Delta variant of Covid-19, detected in the Philippines in mid-July, has spread across much of the country, reaching 13 of 17 regions, health officials have said.

On Sunday, the Philippines reported a sharp rise in daily Covid fatalities, with 287 deaths, the highest daily increase in four months. A further 9,671 new infections were also confirmed.

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China’s wandering elephant herd heads home – video

A famous elephant herd wandering in south-west China is finally heading towards home.

The herd of 14 wild Asian elephants crossed the Yuanjiang River in Yuxi City, Yunnan province, on Sunday night, a progress that the provincial government described as significant. As of Sunday night, the herd was still in Yuanjiang County, about 200km away from their original habitat in south-west Yunnan's Xishuangbanna.

The elephants attracted worldwide attention after they left the reserve in Yunnan province last year and walked more than 500km north. They reached the outskirts of Kunming, a major city, in early June, before turning south again.

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China’s herd of wandering elephants finally heads for home

Fourteen wild Asian elephants have been guided across the Yuanjiang river in Yunnan, and a path leading back to their nature reserve is being made

After an epic 17-month journey that made international headlines, China’s famous herd of wandering elephants appears to finally be heading home.

The 14 Asian elephants of various sizes and ages were guided across the Yuanjiang river in Yunnan on Sunday night and a path was being made for them to return to the nature reserve in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, the Associated Press reported.

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Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

Hindu boy faces possible death penalty after being accused of intentionally urinating in a madrassa library

An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.

The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.

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The house that can withstand a cyclone: how traditional dwellings are making a comeback in Vanuatu

Since Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu, locals are returning to the saeklon haos, made from vines, palm fronds and grasses

When Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu and concrete buildings collapsed, their iron roofing blown away, there was no loss of life in the traditionally built structures known as saeklon haos (cyclone house).

Though they normally sleep six, during the 2015 storm up to 30 villagers were able to squeeze in together, physically supporting the house posts from the inside if needed.

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Afghanistan could become terrorist base again, UK general warns

Sir Richard Barrons says withdrawal of western troops a 'strategic mistake’ as Taliban make territorial gains

Afghanistan could once again become a base for international terrorism, according to a former senior UK military commander who has described the withdrawal of western troops as a “strategic mistake”.

As the Taliban continued to make sweeping territorial gains, Gen Sir Richard Barrons warned that attacks in Europe could be the outcome of groups re-establishing themselves in the country.

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Rice, rice baby: Japanese parents send relatives rice to hug in lieu of newborns

Each bag matches birth weight and features baby’s face, so new arrival can be hugged in pandemic

Parents in Japan are sending bags of rice that weigh the same as their newborn babies to relatives who are unable to visit them due to the pandemic.

The bags come in a wide range of designs, with some shaped like a baby wrapped in a blanket so that relatives can feel as though they are hugging the new arrival while looking at a picture of their face, which is attached to the front.

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Britain must not desert its Afghan interpreters | Letters

Chris Philp, the immigration compliance minister, outlines the work of the Home Office in safeguarding interpreters, while Barry Young says joined-up thinking is needed and Peter Simm highlights the danger to asylum seekers being told to relocate to Kabul

Interpreters who assisted British forces in Afghanistan have played a fundamental role, standing side by side with those on the frontline of combat. For that we owe a debt of gratitude – one that we are paying, contrary to the claims of Clive Lewis MP (I saw Afghan interpreters translate so much more than words – now they live in terror, 6 August).

There are hundreds of officials working without pause across the country and in Afghanistan to safely and quickly relocate current and former locally employed staff who often risked their lives on our behalf. They are arriving here with their families on a near-daily basis to build a new life. So far, we have enabled over 2,800 people to relocate to Britain, with 1,400 arriving over the last few weeks alone. As we continue to significantly accelerate the pace of relocations due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, hundreds more will follow.

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