When Nepal’s worst earthquake in 80 years hit around noon on April 25, the country’s prime minister Sushil Koirala was reportedly flying to Bangkok for a personal medical treatment, after attending the Asian-African summit in Indonesia.
It gets more absurd—he apparently only found out about the catastrophic earthquake, which has so far killed over 5,000 people, after he read a tweet by Indian prime minister i.
At least this is the version of events that Nepal’s foreign minister, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, gave to Indian news agency IANSon April 28.
“Then we started seeking details,” Pandey added.
“We called Nepal and got updates regularly. I was also informed about the quake after going through Modi’s Twitter account.”
Inquiries about the chain of events sent to the Nepal foreign minister’s office by e-mail and through social media were not immediately answered.
The unusual incident—where a country’s prime minister is informed of a massive natural disaster at home through the Twitter account of a neighbouring counterpart, instead of his own staff—was seemingly corroborated by Modi himself on April 27.
At an event in New Delhi, the Indian prime minister said that Koirala told him in a telephone call that Modi’s tweet had been his first source of information.
At 12.23pm (local time), Modi’s personal Twitter handle sent this out:
So, to recap: The prime minister of a country of 28 million people only learned of a devastating earthquake at home more than 40 minutes after it hit—via Twitter.
Former SS Sgt. Oskar Groening is being tried in Germany as an accessory to the murder of at least 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz. Groening, now 93, admits he kept watch as thousands were led to the gas chambers at the concentration camp.
Kor, who was subjected to horrific medical experiments at Auschwitz, testified last week at Groening’s trial. On Friday, she approached the former SS guard in court.
Groening’s reaction, however, took Kor — and everyone in the courtroom — by surprise.
He kissed Kor on the cheek and embraced her.
“I was a little bit astonished,” said Kor, who according to the Times of Israel traveled from Indiana to Germany for the trial. “It was not planned. This is what you see when you see two human beings interact. He likes me, how about that? I am going back to the U.S. with a kiss on my cheek from a former Nazi.”’
“I know many people will criticize me for this photo, but so be it,” she wrote. “It was two human beings 70 years after it happened. For the life of me I will never understand why anger is preferable to a goodwill gesture.”
Kor said that she still holds Groening accountable for his actions during the Holocaust.
“He was a small screw in a big killing machine, and the machine cannot function without the small screws,” Kor wrote. However, Kor added that she forgives the man, and believes that there may be value in bringing “the victims” and “the perpetrators” together to “face the truth, try to heal and work together to prevent it from ever happening again.”
A suicide note has ended the political career of South Korea’s prime minister, Lee Wan Koo, in a widening scandal that is making a mockery of the government’s supposed crackdown on corruption
Lee resigned about a week after his name was one of several on a handwritten note tucked into the pocket of business tycoon Sung Wan-Jong, who killed himself while under investigation for corruption.
Sung, a former construction company executive, claimed that he had paid Lee 30 million won (about $27,000) when Lee was campaigning for a parliamentary seat in 2013. Just last month, Lee declared “all out war” on corruption in the government.
It’s only the latest corruption scandal to hit South Korea, a country that has emerged as the fourth largest Asian economy but where bribes and personal favors are common currency in business and political circles.
Others may still get caught up in the dragnet that threatens to derail Park’s already embattled presidency. Seven other names, next to numbers indicating bribery sums, were also included on the list.
Several of them are current and former advisors to the president and people close to Park’s New Frontier party, including her chief of staff, Lee Byung Kee. Sung was getting ready to face questions by prosecutors over claims that he used company money to bribe government officials when he killed himself.
In March, South Korea’s legislature passed a bill that makes it easier to prosecute graft. Corrupt public officials now face up to three years in jail and fines of 30 million won, which is incidentally the same amount that Sung alleges he paid the ex-prime minister.
“I feel very sorry for causing a public anxiety.”Lee said in a statement. “But I believe the truth will be revealed certainly.”
Finland’s navy has detected a so-far unidentified object in the sea near Helsinki. The object was detected in Finnish waters near the territorial limit around mid-day Monday – and again on Monday night.
The Finnish Navy said that its surveillance systems detected the possible underwater object on Monday inside but near to the limit of Finnish territorial waters.
The navy’s operations manager Commodore Olavi Jantunen said he was unable to say whether or not the item was a submarine. He also said he preferred not to speculate on what the object might be.
“A possible underwater object. That is the only thing we can say at the moment,” Jantunen told Yle Tuesday.
Another reading for a possible object was recorded Monday night. Surface vessels are currently scouring the area for the possible object.
“When the first sighting was made a search was ordered and a new reading was observed in the search area last night,” Jantunen added.
Following the findings naval officials detonated low-impact depth charges around 3.00 am this morning.
“Low-impact depth charges are meant to issue a mild warning. They aren’t intended to cause any damage, but to act as a warning,” Jantunen explained.
Naval officials are continuing their investigation into the case. Jantunen said that the next step would be to analyse data gathered from the navy’s surveillance systems.
“Different sensors in our systems have generated a certain amount of certain material and it is currently being put through our research system,” the naval officer commented.
He noted that analysis of the data gathered could take days or even weeks.
Incredible video captures train being blown off elevated bridge during storm in New Orleans strong winds knocked over some train cars in Jefferson Parish. It happened around 10:30 a.m. Monday in Elmwood behind the Raising Cane’s restaurant on South Clearview Parkway.
National Guard troops fanned out through the city, shield-bearing police officers blocked the streets, and firefighters doused still-simmering blazes early Tuesday as a growing area of Baltimore shuddered from riots following the funeral of a black man who died in police custody.
The violence that started in West Baltimore on Monday afternoon — within a mile of where Freddie Gray was arrested and placed into a police van earlier this month — had by midnight spread to East Baltimore and neighborhoods close to downtown and near the baseball stadium.
It was one of the most volatile outbreaks of violence prompted by a police-involved death since the days of protests that followed the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed during a confrontation with a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer.
At least 15 officers were hurt, including six who remained hospitalized late Monday, police said. Two dozen people were arrested.
State and local authorities pledged to restore order and calm to Baltimore, but they quickly found themselves responding to questions about whether their initial responses had been adequate.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was asked why she waited hours to ask the governor to declare a state of emergency, while the governor himself hinted she should have come to him earlier.
“We were all in the command center in the second floor of the State House in constant communication, and we were trying to get in touch with the mayor for quite some time,” Gov. Larry Hogan told a Monday evening news conference. “She finally made that call, and we immediately took action.”
Asked whether the mayor should have called for help sooner, however, Hogan replied that he didn’t want to question what Baltimore officials were doing:
“They’re all under tremendous stress. We’re all on one team.”
Rawlings-Blake said officials believed they had gotten the unrest that had erupted over the weekend under control
“and I think it would have been inappropriate to bring in the National Guard when we had it under control.”
But later on, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts made it clear events had become unmanageable.
“They just outnumbered us and outflanked us,” Batts said.
“We needed to have more resources out there.”
Batts said authorities had had a “very trying and disappointing day.”
Police certainly had their work cut out for them: The rioters set police cars and buildings on fire in several neighborhoods, looted a mall and liquor stores, and threw rocks at police with riot gear, who responded occasionally with pepper spray.
“I understand anger, but what we’re seeing isn’t anger,” Rawlings-Blake said. “It’s disruption of a community. The same community they say they care about, they’re destroying. You can’t have it both ways.”
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in her first day on the job, said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days.
A weeklong, daily curfew was imposed beginning Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., the mayor said, and Baltimore public schools announced they would be closed Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, said up to 5,000 troops would be available for Baltimore’s streets.
“We are going to be out in massive force, and that just means basically that we are going to be patrolling the streets and out to ensure that we are protecting property,” Singh said at a news conference Monday night.
Singh said they would be acting at the direction of Baltimore police.
Col. William Pallozzi, the superintendent of the state police, said a request for up to 500 additional law enforcement personnel in Maryland had been sent. Pallozzi added that the state was putting out a request for up to 5,000 more law enforcement personnel from around the mid-Atlantic region.
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and about 200 others, including ministers, tried unsuccessfully to quell the violence at one point Monday night, marching arm-in-arm through a neighborhood littered with broken glass, flattened aluminum cans, and other debris.
As they got close to a line of police officers, the marchers went down on their knees. They then rose to their feet and walked until they were face-to-face with the police officers in a tight formation and wearing riot gear.
But the violence continued, with looters later setting a liquor store on fire and throwing cinder blocks at fire trucks as firefighters labored to put out the blazes.
Monday’s riot was the latest flare-up over the death of Gray and came amid a national debate over police use of force following the high-profile deaths of several black men in encounters with police — from the Brown death in Ferguson to the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Gray was black. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.
While they are angry about what happened to Gray, his family said riots were not the answer.
“I think the violence is wrong,” Gray’s twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said late Monday. “I don’t like it at all.”
The attorney for Gray’s family, Billy Murphy, said the family had hoped to organize a peace march later in the week.
Hours before the riots began Monday, mourners filled the 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church to attend Freddie Gray’s funeral.
Gray was arrested April 12 after making eye contact with officers and then running away, police said. He was held down, handcuffed, and loaded into a van without a seat belt. Leg cuffs were put on him when he became irate inside.
He asked for medical help several times even before being put in the van, but paramedics were not called until after a 30-minute ride. Police have acknowledged he should have received medical attention on the spot where he was arrested, but they have not said how he suffered a serious spine injury. He died April 19.
The earthquake triggered avalanches that killed at least 18 people and injured 61 more at climbing camps in Mount Everest, the AP reported.
Most of the fatalities occurred in Nepal, but there are also reports of victims in India, Bangladesh, and Tibet and along the Nepal-China border.
Dharahara Tower, a popular historical landmark in Kathmandu, built in 1832 and recognized by UNESCO, collapsed in the quake. The AP reported that hundreds of people buy tickets to ascend to the top of the watchtower on weekends.
Officials say the death toll will rise
The true devastation from the quake, which struck around noon, won’t be known for some time, as rescue workers continue to wade through the rubble, particularly in the heavily populated Kathmandu Valley — where, according to the AP, building quality is often low. Home Ministry official Laxmi Dhakal has said the death toll will rise.
To make matters worse, further earthquakes and aftershocks have made rescue operations difficult.
“There have been nearly 100 earthquakes and aftershocks, which is making rescue work difficult,” Kathmandu district chief administrator Ek Narayan Aryal told the AP. “Even the rescuers are scared and running because of them.”
The AP reported that at 7.8, the initial earthquake was considerably more powerful than the one that devastated Haiti in 2010, and the same magnitude as the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
But it falls bellow Nepal’s worst recorded earthquake in 1934, which measured at 8.0 and ravaged the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan.
Avalanches killed and injured mountain climbers
German climber Jost Kobusch posted horrifying footage of an avalanche that reportedly hit a Mount Everest base camp in the wake of the initial earthquake. In the video, someone says,
“The ground is shaking,” before a wall of snow overwhelms a camp with dozens of tents. Two people are shown taking cover from the avalanche as they’re pelted by ice and snow.
They then walk around, showing the remains of the leveled camp.
Avalanches killed at least 18 people and injured at least 61 more in Nepal over the weekend, the AP’s Gurubacharya and Daigle reported. But Kobusch survived, according to CNN.
Beyond the toll on human life, disasters like this earthquake greatly strain impoverished countries like Nepal.
The South Asian country’s economy relies heavily on tourism from trekkers and mountain climbers, many of whom are attracted to Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
Experts warned of a tragic earthquake in Nepal a week before it happened
One week ago, experts warned Nepalese officials of the type of earthquake and aftershocks that hit the Asian country over the weekend. The AP’s Seth Borenstein reported:
Just a week ago, about 50 earthquake and social scientists from around the world came to Kathmandu, Nepal, to figure out how to get this poor, congested, overdeveloped, shoddily built area to prepare better for the big one, a repeat of the 1934 temblor that leveled this city. They knew they were racing the clock, but they didn’t know when what they feared would strike.
Seismologist James Jackson, head of the earth sciences department at the University of Cambridge in England, told the AP that he didn’t expect such a huge earthquake to hit so soon, but experts were warning that something like it was possible.
Not only is Nepal on top of a natural seismic fault, but local infrastructure is so poorly built to resist earthquakes that the tremors can lead to far more casualties than they would in other places across the world.
US Geological Survey seismologist David Wald estimated to the AP that the same level of severe shaking would lead to 10 to 30 deaths per million residents in California but kill 1,000 or more in Nepal and up to 10,000 in parts of Pakistan, India, Iran, and China.
“They knew they had a problem,” Hari Kumar, southeast Asia regional coordinator for GeoHazards International, which works on global earthquake risks, told the AP, “but it was so large they didn’t where to start, how to start.”