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US Navy Investigators Identify ‘unknown Object’ Behind South China Sea Nuclear Submarine Collision

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US Navy investigators have identified the “unknown object” that collided with a submarine in the South China Sea in October – an uncharted underwater mountain.

The USS Connecticut was in a “safe and stable condition” after the incident in the disputed waters, which provoked outrage from officials in China.

But the risk of fallout following damage to the nuclear-powered submarine allegedly led to the US deploying a so-called “nuke sniffer” plane to identify any leakage – leakage which the US denied took place.

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A US Navy spokesman said: “The investigation determined USS Connecticut grounded on an uncharted seamount while operating in international waters in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Chinese military experts cited by state-owned news outlet Global Times said that the US statement was disappointing and expressed concern about nuclear leakage.

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Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign affairs ministry, complained that the US statement was intentionally equivocating regarding the location of the incident – with potential leakage causing a risk to the countries in that area.

“The key is that the US military should stop sending warships and warplanes everywhere, showing its military muscles and violating other countries’ security. If not, this kind of accident will only take place more often,” he said, according to the Global Times.

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US Navy officials said two sailors had sustained moderate injuries and nine minor injuries, such as bruises and scrapes.

They said the sub headed towards port at Guam after the incident, and that it was not announced sooner in order to maintain operational security.

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On the day of the collision there was an unusual number of Chinese aircraft active in the region as tensions over the sovereignty of Taiwan continue to rise.

In an apparent shift in long-standing policy, Joe Biden recently said that the US would defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China.

The president said America had “a commitment” to go to the aid of the island, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure by Beijing, which stakes a territorial claim.

However, the White House later said there had been no change in stance.

Washington has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

But asked at a town hall meeting if the US would get involved, Mr Biden said: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

Back in August, an administration official was forced to insist that American policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the US would defend the island in the face of aggression.

Following Mr Biden’s latest comments, a spokesman said: “We will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defence, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.”

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Source: 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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