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Putin’s Spokesman Admits ‘significant’ Russian Losses Since Ukraine Invasion Began

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Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has admitted a “significant” loss of Russian troops since the invasion of Ukraine began, telling Sky News their deaths are a “tragedy”.

Dmitry Peskov, in his first broadcast interview with Western media, also said Russia hope “this operation” will reach its goals “in the coming days”.

He told Sky News’ Mark Austin that “we’re living in days of fakes and lies” and that verified photos and satellite images of dead civilians in the streets of Ukrainian cities were a “bold fake”.

“We deny the Russian military can have something in common with these atrocities and that dead bodies were shown on the streets of Bucha,” he told Sky News.

He maintained the whole situation in Bucha, where photos show many murdered Ukrainian civilians, was a “well-staged insinuation, nothing else”.

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Dmitry Peskov spoke to Sky News in his first broadcast interview since the war started

‘We’re living during days of fakes and lies’

Asked to reveal how many civilians have died since the war began on 24 February, Mr Peskov said he did not want to answer as the numbers were not “double confirmed”.

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Mr Peskov continued to insist it was not a war but a “special military operation” that was necessary because, he said, Ukraine has been an “anti-Russian centre” since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.

He did admit: “We have significant losses of troops and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”

But he claimed Russia withdrew from the Ukrainian regions of Kyiv and Chernihiv as an act of “goodwill”.

“It was a goodwill act to lift tension from those regions and show Russia is really ready to create comfortable conditions to continue negotiations,” he said.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday Russian forces fully withdrew from the capital and Chernihiv, a city to its north in the 24 hours before.

But US intelligence authorities warned the Russians may have left mines behind and were still assessing the damage to both people and infrastructure.

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Putin spokesman: Hospital bombing was ‘fake’

Mariupol hospital bombing was a ‘fake’

On Mariupol, which is in the Donetsk region Russia has claimed as its own, Mr Peskov said it was going to be “liberated from nationalistic battalions – we hope it will happen sooner rather than later”.

The southeastern city has been besieged by Russian troops since the start of the war, with thousands left sheltering in basements without food, water or power.

Mr Peskov said Mariupol is part of the “Luhansk people’s republic” which Russia recognises as a separate state and claimed troops were there “to assist those people who were suffering for eight years from heavy shelling form Ukraine”.

On 9 March, the Russian Air Force bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, killing at least four people and injuring at least 16, while leading to at least one stillbirth.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described it as a war crime but Mr Peskov said it was a “fake”.

“We have very serious reasons to believe it was a fake, and we insist on that,” he said.

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Original Article: news.sky.com

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WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll

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The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.

WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.

Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.

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The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.

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There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.

Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.

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Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.

Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.

There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.

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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.

“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

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Original Source: news.sky.com

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Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons

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The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.

Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.

He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.

The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.

He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.

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Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.

He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.

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His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.

During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.

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Original Article: news.sky.com

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Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed

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A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.

At least five people are confirmed to have died and possibly dozens are still missing following the disaster in the city of Changsha, in central China‘s Hunan Province, on 29 April.

The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.

The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.

Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.

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All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.

At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.

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This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.

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An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province

There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.

China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.

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Source: news.sky.com

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