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News24.com | Five Dead As Storms Pummel Europe

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Five people have been killed as storms pummel Europe.

PHOTO: Duncan Alfreds, News24

More than 500 homes have been damaged in Poland while over 324 000 households were left without power.Two of the people who died were injured after storms toppled a large crane at a construction site in Krakow.The storm was accompanied by winds of up to 181 kilometres per hour.

At least five people were killed as severe storms lashed Europe on Thursday, with winds of up to 181 kilometres per hour causing widespread travel disruption.

In Poland, gusts of up to 125 kilometres per hour seriously damaged more than 500 homes, felled hundreds of trees and left 324 000 households across the country without power overnight.

Police said two people died and two were injured after storms toppled a large crane at a construction site in Krakow.

Another person was killed by a tree that fell on his car in the west of the country.

In neighbouring Germany, falling trees killed two drivers, a 37-year-old near the northern town of Bad Bevensen and a 55-year-old in the central village of Schwenda.

The Czech Republic was also hit, with more than 300 000 households left without power and extensive traffic disruptions as fallen trees blocked roads and railways.

The strongest winds with gusts of 181 kph were recorded on Snezka, the highest Czech mountain, in the north.

Three children were taken to hospital with injuries after a car accident in the southwest of the country. Wind lifted the bonnet of a car, causing the driver to swerve and crash into another car head-on.

ALSO READ | Torrential rain kills 55 in Brazil tourist town

Gales also damaged or destroyed roofs across the country.

In the Netherlands, the high winds injured three people including a police officer.

The officer was injured by roofing that had blown off a commercial building in Duiven, near Arnhem, public broadcaster NOS said.

– Flights grounded –

Firefighters also had to cut two people from a car after a tree fell on it in the southern town of Maasluis. They were later taken to hospital.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport reported flight delays of up to 45 minutes, while some rail services were cancelled.

Britain’s army was placed on standby after the meteorological service issued a rare “red weather” alert for Thursday and Friday, warning of “danger to life” from severe gusts in southwestern England and south Wales.

Ireland also warned of “severe and damaging winds” and the possibility of coastal flooding.

In Germany, dramatic images of a wave smashing through the windows of a ferry on the Elbe River circulated widely on social media.

The operator said no-one was injured.

Schools were closed in several states and police warned residents to stay at home and avoid parks or forests.

The strongest winds were felt on Brocken, the highest point in the Harz highlands in central Germany, with speeds of up to 152 kph.

Long-distance trains were halted throughout northern Germany, including in Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said.

Airline Lufthansa cancelled 20 flights destined for Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, departing from Frankfurt, the country’s largest airport.

The storms are expected to persist through Friday and into Saturday, with hurricane-force gales expected in many areas.

Belgium said it was placing its coastal regions on orange-level alert, the second highest level after red.

The north and northwest of France were also placed on orange alert.

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News24.com | Thousands Protest in Madrid Against NATO Summit

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A crowd demonstrates against NATO.

Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags of the former Soviet Union, thousands protested in Madrid on Sunday against a NATO summit which will take place in the Spanish capital next week.

Amid tight security, leaders of the member countries will meet in Madrid between 29-30 June as the organisation faces the unprecedented challenge of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO is expected to consider the bid, opposed by alliance-member Turkey, for Finland and Sweden to join.

The Nordic nations applied in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the war a special military operation he says in part responds to the accession to NATO of other countries near post-Soviet Russia’s borders since the 1990s.

READ | Biden said Putin’s goal of weakening NATO by invading Ukraine backfired spectacularly

“Tanks yes, but of beer with tapas,” sang demonstrators, who claimed an increase in defence spending in Europe urged by NATO was a threat to peace.

“I am fed up (with) this business of arms and killing people. The solution they propose is more arms and wars and we always pay for it. So, no NATO, no (army) bases, let the Americans go and leave us alone without wars and weapons,” said Concha Hoyos, a retired Madrid resident, told Reuters.

Another protester, Jaled, 29, said NATO was not the solution to the war in Ukraine.

Organisers claimed 5,000 people joined the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 2 200.

READ | Pandor says Finland’s bid to join NATO indicates a decline in international security

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that the summit would also focus on the threat from Europe’s southern flank in Africa, in which he said Russia posed a threat to Europe.

“The foreign ministers’ dinner on the 29th will be centred on the southern flank,” he told El Pais newspaper.

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News24.com | Turkey Police Break up Istanbul Pride March, Detain Dozens: AFP

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Hakan Akgun/dia images

Turkish police on Sunday forcibly intervened in a Pride march in Istanbul, detaining dozens of demonstrators and an AFP photographer, AFP journalists on the ground said.

The governor’s office had banned the march around Taksim square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled.

Police detained protesters, loading them into buses. AFP journalists saw two buses of people who had been held, including AFP’s chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who had been handcuffed from the back.

Kilic, who was also detained last year during the Pride march, is currently in police custody.

Hundreds of protesters carrying rainbow flags pressed ahead with the rally in defiance of police.

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout the period of the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ individuals point to regular harassment and abuse.

Istanbul Pride has taken place every year since 2003.

The last march which took place without a ban – in 2014 – drew tens of thousands of participants in one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the majority Muslim region.

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News24.com | NASA Blasts Off From Australian Outback in ‘historic’ Launch

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NASA’s first-ever launch from a commercial site outside of the United States blasted off from Australia’s Outback late Sunday, in a “historic” moment for the country’s space industry.

In the first of three planned launches from the Arnhem Space Centre, the rocket, carrying technology likened to a “mini Hubble” telescope, lifted off — blasted about 350 kilometres (218 miles) into the night sky.

“It is a momentous occasion for us as a company in particular, but it’s historic for Australia,” Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Michael Jones told AFP ahead of the lift-off.

Jones, whose company owns and operates the launch site in the far north of Australia, described it as a “coming out” party for the country’s space industry and said the chance to work with NASA was a milestone for commercial space firms in the country.

After a series of rain and wind delays, the suborbital sounding rocket soared into the sky to study x-rays emanating from the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.

After reaching its apogee, the rocket’s payload was to capture data on the star systems before parachuting back to earth.

READ | NASA is slowly powering down the Voyager probes. Here are 18 photos from its 45-year mission.

According to NASA, the launch offers a unique glimpse of the distant systems and unlocked fresh possibilities for scientists.

“We’re excited to be able to launch important science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see targets that we can’t from the United States,” Nicky Fox, NASA’s Heliophysics Division director in Washington, said on announcing the mission.

Jones said the unique location had made preparations hard, with years of work to get regulatory approval and the need to haul rockets on barges to the launch site – about 28 hours drive from Darwin in northern Australia.

“I think for the team, it’s gonna be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.

READ | ‘Giant leap forward’ – South Korea space rocket launch puts satellites in orbit

But with the next launch already looming on July 4, the break would be short-lived.

“We need to, you know, dust ourselves off, take a day off and then get back into it in readiness for the next launch because it’s just as important.”

It is the first NASA rocket to launch from Australia since 1995, and the project was hailed as the start of a “new era” for the country’s space industry by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

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