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News24.com | Philippines Typhoon: Death Toll Passes 30 Amid Alarming Reports of Destruction

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Super typhoon Rai is lashing southern Philippines, forcing thousands of people to take shelter amid warnings of widespread flooding and destruction.
Scores of flights were cancelled across the country and dozens of ports temporarily closed as the weather bureau warned several-metre-high storm surges could cause “life-threatening flooding” in low-lying coastal areas.
Rai hit the Philippines late in the typhoon season – most cyclones typically develop between July and October.

At least 33 people were killed in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, official tallies showed on Saturday, with a charity reporting “alarming” destruction on islands that bore the brunt of the storm.

The latest figures come after a disaster official in the central province of Negros Occidental confirmed 13 people had died, most by drowning, and that another 50 were missing in a flood-hit area.

“We started urging people to evacuate as early as Wednesday but many were reluctant to leave,” Salvador Mesa told AFP.

More than 18 000 military, police, coast guard and fire personnel will join search and rescue efforts in the worst-affected regions, Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, told AFP.

“There has been severe damage” on Siargao island and the northern tip of the southern island of Mindanao, Timbal said, referring to areas that took the full force of the typhoon as it slammed into the country.

“This is indeed one of the most powerful storms that has hit the Philippines in the month of December in the last decade,” Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines, told AFP.

“The information we are receiving and the pictures we are receiving are very alarming.”

There are around 100 000 residents on Siargao, but the population swells with visiting surfers and holidaymakers.

‘Everything was destroyed’

Philippine Coast Guard has shared photos on social media showing widespread destruction around Surigao City on Mindanao.

Aerial footage showed swathes of rice fields under water.

At least three people were killed and dozens injured in the storm, Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Matugas told broadcaster ABS-CBN, taking the overall death toll to 21.

The vice governor of Dinagat, an island near Siargao, said at least six people had been killed there.

“Odette was so strong,” Nilo Demerey told ABS-CBN, using the local name for the typhoon.

Residents on the island of around 128 000 people were “trying to repair their houses because even our evacuation centres were torn down,” he said.

He added:

They can’t seek refuge anywhere else… everything was destroyed.

“Siargao, Surigao and Dinagat island all suffered the same fate – we are appealing for help.”

Bocanegra warned the disruption to electricity would affect the water supply, raising concerns about hygiene and disease.

After lashing Palawan island, Rai emerged over the South China Sea on Saturday and was headed towards Vietnam, the state weather forecaster said.

Rai hit the Philippines late in the typhoon season – most cyclones typically develop between July and October.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.

The Philippines – ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change  is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.

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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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