December 16, 2018

Japan explosion: 20 reported injured at Sapporo restaurant

Japan explosion: 20 reported injured at Sapporo restaurant A huge explosion and fire has hit a restaurant in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. Initial reports on Japanese media suggested at least 20 people were injured, with some rushed to hospital in ambulances. The cause of the explosion in the Toyohira district is not yet known. Images on social media initially showed flames rising from the area with debris all around, and later firefighters tackling several collapsed buildings. Police have sealed off the area amid fears of more explosions. Skip Twitter post by @shotacamera 平岸三条八丁目でガス爆発による火災。火の勢い物凄く、消防車や救急車多数。 — しょうた (@shotacamera) December 16, 2018 Report End of Twitter post by @shotacamera The emergency services were first alerted to the explosion at about 20:30 on Sunday (11:30 GMT). Japanese broadcaster NHK said the area affected had both residential and dining establishments and was about 3km south-east of the city centre. The Japan Times carr..
December 16, 2018

Cambodia makes record breaking ivory haul at port

Cambodia makes record breaking ivory haul at port Image copyright Getty Images Cambodia has seized more than 3.2 tonnes of African ivory hidden in a storage container from Mozambique, a customs official has said. The discovery of 1,026 tusks at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port on Thursday followed a tip off from the US embassy. The shipment arrived in the country last year and its unknown recipient did not arrive at the port to pick it up. Demand from China and Vietnam has meant Cambodia has become a key transit point for the illicit wildlife trade. "The elephant tusks were hidden among marble in a container that was abandoned," Sun Chhay, director of the Customs and Excise Office at the port, told the AFP news agency. Sun Chhay said he did not know whether the shipment was intended for other countries. 'Buy a trinket, condemn an elephant' Meet an ivory trafficker's 'worst nightmare' Why is banning ivory such a big deal Cambodia has made a number of high-pr..
December 16, 2018

Ranil Wickremesinghe: Sri Lanka reinstates ousted prime minister

Ranil Wickremesinghe: Sri Lanka reinstates ousted prime minister Image copyright Reuters Image caption Ranil Wickremesinghe always maintained he was the rightful prime minister Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn into office again, two months after being removed by the president. Mr Wickremesinghe's supporters set off fire crackers as the ceremony took place behind closed doors. His surprise sacking by President Maithripala Sirisena plunged Sri Lanka into a political crisis. Mr Wickremesinghe was replaced by a former president and ally of Mr Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapaksa. But Mr Rajapaksa was unable to command a parliamentary majority and resigned on Saturday. Journalists were not allowed to attend Sunday's swearing-in ceremony in President Sirisena's office but a picture was tweeted by MP Harsha de Silva. Skip Twitter post by @HarshadeSilvaMP @RW_UNP sworn is as PM of #SriLanka by President @MaithripalaS just now
December 15, 2018

How a country suddenly went ‘crazy rich’

How a country suddenly went ‘crazy rich’ Indonesia, the nation with the world's largest Muslim population, is home to a rapidly growing middle class. As Rebecca Henschke reports from Jakarta, this has given rise to a striking phenomenon - the so-called "Crazy Rich" Indonesians. The colourful invitation on our cluttered fridge had said it would be a dog-themed birthday party. "That's cute," I thought - and different. Traditionally in this country dogs are not well-liked or looked after. But that wasn't the only surprise. To celebrate their little girl turning six, her family had turned an empty piece of land in Menteng, the most expensive part of Jakarta, into a park for the day. Security guards escorted us off the street into another world. Real grass - an incredibly rare thing in this concrete jungle - had been rolled out. There were also fully grown trees and an obstacle course for dogs. In one corner, a groomer was giving appreciative canines - which had also been s..
December 15, 2018

Cyclone Owen downgraded, but could reform off Queensland

Cyclone Owen downgraded, but could reform off Queensland Image copyright EPA Image caption Locals have been warned to expect more heavy rainfall A cyclone that was predicted to wreak havoc across Queensland has been downgraded to a tropical low, after unleashing 17cm (6.6in) of rain in two hours across the north of the state. Authorities warn that Cyclone Owen could still reform offshore on Monday. Severe weather and flood warnings are in place. Owen hit land as a category 3 cyclone at around 03:00 on Saturday (17:00 Friday GMT), 70km (43 miles) from Kowanyama. "We were right in the bullseye but then it dipped and went south," the town's Mayor Michael Yam said. "There's no structural damage, a little debris, we're all good and in one piece." The cyclone's 120km/h (74mph) winds weakened as it moved south-east. Queensland braced for powerful cycloneQueensland's Emergency Service received 400 calls for help over Friday night, according to local outlet
December 15, 2018

US returns looted Balangiga church bells to Philippines

US returns looted Balangiga church bells to Philippines Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Jubilant crowds turned out to greet the return of the Balangiga bells Three bells looted by US troops more than a century ago have been returned to their church in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte praised his countrymen and the US at a ceremony in Balangiga, where the treasures were taken 117 years ago. The bronze bells were seized during the Philippine-American War as part of reprisals following a massacre. In August, the US Embassy announced the return of the so-called Balangiga bells after decades of pressure. "Nobody, but nobody, can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans," Mr Duterte told a jubilant crowd on Saturday. "The credit goes to the American people and to the Filipino people, period." Why the Philippines matters to the US The country stuck between the US and China Philippines country profile The president had called for their return in a 20..
December 15, 2018

Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka’s disputed PM resigns amid crisis

Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka's disputed PM resigns amid crisis Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mahinda Rajapaksa attended a religious ceremony after resigning on Saturday Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned as Sri Lanka's prime minister, seven weeks after he was appointed in a surprise move that sparked a political crisis. Mr Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's former president, signed his resignation letter in a ceremony at his house. His son, Namal, told the BBC his father had quit to ensure national stability. The resignation could bring to an end a nearly two-month-long power struggle that has dented confidence in Sri Lanka's stability. In October, President Maithripala Sirisena sacked then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, replacing him with Mr Rajapaksa. Mr Wickremesinghe is expected to return to office on Sunday. His party's spokesman Harin Fernando told the BBC: "The president has agreed to swear in Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister tomorrow at 10 am." He said th..
December 14, 2018

Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israeli capital Image copyright Reuters Image caption The status of Jerusalem has long been a highly contested issue Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that his government will recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, he said Australia's embassy would not move from Tel Aviv, until a peace settlement was achieved. He added Australia also recognised the aspirations of the Palestinians to a state with a capital in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contested issues between Israel and the Palestinians. US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel's capital. The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May. Why Trump and Jerusalem was not about peaceMr Morrison's announcement comes after a period of consultation with politicians in Australia and al..
December 14, 2018

North Korea’s high-tech pursuits: Propaganda or progress?

North Korea's high-tech pursuits: Propaganda or progress? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption North Korea has touted its latest technological advancements with much fanfare North Korea often flaunts its military hardware but of late, it appears to be making progress in developing civilian technologies - or at least is claiming to be. As with most things in the country, it is difficult to verify these claims, but it is significant to note the importance being given to technology. In recent months, state media have publicly celebrated various achievements in advanced technologies, including an "intelligent home system". Beyond the purpose of propaganda, emphasis on the sector reflects North Korea's desire to harness technology to improve its economy - a key goal for Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. Growing tech prowess?One of the latest tech ventures is a new wi-fi service called Mirae, which enables mobile devices to access a state-sanctioned intranet network in the capital,..
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