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Covid hospital fire: 82 killed by exploding oxygen tank

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Covid hospital fire iraq

An Iraqi covid hospital fire has killed at least 82 people and left 110 injured.

The fire was caused by an exploding oxygen tank at Ibn Khatib hospital in Iraq’s capital city, Baghdad.

About “30 patients were in the intensive care unit”, which was reserved for the most severe cases of Covid, a hospital source told the AFP news agency.

Emergency service officials said many patients died when they were taken off oxygen machines to be evacuated, while others were suffocated by smoke.

The Iraqi Prime Minister suspended the health minister over the fire.

The Iraqi PM referred the health minister to authorities for investigation.

The head of Iraq’s Civil Defence, Gen Kadhim Bohan, said the fire had broken out in the hospital’s intensive-care unit.

In a statement, the government’s human rights commission said the incident was “a crime against patients exhausted by Covid-19”.

“Once the fire started somebody needed to put the auto central pipes off, which means basically cutting the oxygen from those who need it most,” Halla Sarraf, the director of Iraqi Health Access, a non-governmental organisation, told the BBC.

The fire adds strain as Iraq passes the one-million mark of Covid infections this week.

Iraq’s hospitals have been pushed to the limit during the coronavirus pandemic, adding to the strains wrought by years of war, neglect and corruption.

Covid infections have been rising steeply since February in Iraq, and the total passed the one-million mark this week.

The health ministry has recorded 1,025,288 cases and 15,217 deaths since the pandemic began.

The country launched its vaccination campaign last month, and has received nearly 650,000 doses, most of which have come from Covax, a global programme for sharing jabs.

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Global Politics

Organisers reveal how many spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics

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Up to 10,000 domestic spectators will be allowed to attend events at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games

The decision comes just weeks before the opening ceremony and ends months of speculation about whether spectators will be allowed at the pandemic-postponed Games.

Medical officials have raised concerns that allowing spectators could worsen the spread of infections.

Despite that – a spectator limit will be set at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues.

Foreign spectators has been banned in March.


The decision was announced – following talks between event organisers and government officials.
The Governor of Tokyo says if there is a “dramatic change in the infection situation”, having no spectators in venues is on the cards.

“In light of the government’s restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues,”

organisers said in a statement.

A decision on spectators at the Paralympics will be delayed until July 16, a week before the Olympics open.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on July 23.

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Global Politics

Insider reveals death day of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper

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Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities froze the company’s assets under a national security law, an adviser to jailed owner Jimmy Lai says.

According to reports, Friday will be the last day for the 26-year-old newspaper.

Media advocacy groups say that the closure of Apple Daily would undermine the former British colony’s reputation as an open and free society and send a warning to other companies that could be accused of colluding with a foreign country.

The publisher’s head company Next Digital will hold a board meeting on Monday to
discuss how to move forward after its lines of credit were frozen.

“We must press on”: news raid sends “shockwaves” through Hong-Kong

Following raids on a Hong Kong newsroom last week, a journalist based in the city-state says it has sent “shockwaves” through the entire industry.

500 Hong Kong police offices raided Apple Daily to arrest a number of top executives and seize documents over allegations the publisher breached national security laws.

Elaine Yu from the Wall Street Journal says the incident “raises important new questions about how media outlets can report on topics that are now considered highly sensitive.”

Apple Daily says the company’s CEO, COO and three editors were all arrested during the raids.

The behaviour of the individuals is said to have breached legislation that prohibits sedition, secession and subversion against Beijing.

The assistant to Apple Daily’s chairman says operations at the newsroom are limited because Hong Kong authorities have seized many of the company’s accounts.

He also says “it’ll get harder for reporters to get people to talk to them because the police can now potentially seize reporter’s files and devices through a court warrant.”

Sold out news stands with “we must press on” printed on front page

“We must press on”… that was the message on the front page of Apple Daily, that people in hong kong queued up for.

Many Hong Kong locals have have queued up to buy copies of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily… a day after its newsroom was raided by police.

The paper typically prints about 80,000 copies but increased that to 500,000 to meet demand.. and some news stands sold out.

A total of five executives were arrested including the Editor-in-chief and chief executive officer.

Police made the arrests on suspicion of collusion with a “foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”.

200 Hong Kong police officers arrested five senior executives. Image: Apple Daily.

Meanwhile, this is the second time that police have searched the building.

The company’s founder Jimmy Lai, was recently arrested for national security violations.

Mr Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence.

The raid follows arrests made at the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre last month.

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Global Politics

Why Olympic spectators are likely despite widespread opposition

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Olympic Games organisers and government officials are meeting today and it’s expected that a final decision will be made – on how many – if any – domestic spectators will be able to attend events at the Summer Olympics, which commence in a month.


Concerns have been raised by medical experts that allowing spectators could worsen the spread of infections

Foreign spectators are banned from attending the games due to health concerns.

The Olympic Organising Comittee will update the general public today on exactly how many local fans will be allowed in the stands

Local media have reported that a 10,000 spectator cap will be set. 

On the weekend, in a move to reduce the risk of COVID spreading, Tokyo’s Governor announced six viewing sites have been scrapped

Members of the public would have been able to watch live broadcasts of events at these locations. 
That will no longer be happening with some instead set to serve as vaccination sites.

There is still considerable opposition in Japan for the Olympic Games going ahead. A new poll shows almost two-thirds of Japan’s public want the event postponed again or cancelled altogether. 

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