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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators for miles

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Scientists note that as long as people stay out of closed areas of a national park around the volcano, the possible explosion won’t be deadly.

But the added threat of an explosive eruption could ground planes at one of the Big Island’s two major airports and pose other dangers. The national park around the volcano announced that it would close indefinitely starting 10 p.m. Thursday because of the risks.

“We know the volcano is capable of doing this,” Mandeville said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1925, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years. “We know it is a distinct possibility.”

He would not estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but said the internal volcanic conditions are changing in a way that could lead to a blast in about a week. The volcano’s internal plumbing could still prevent an explosion.

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If an explosion does happen, a summit blast could also release steam and sulfur dioxide gas.

Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures — including 26 homes — since May 3, when it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles east of the summit crater. Fifteen of the vents are now spread through the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said crews at a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak accelerated the removal of stored flammable fuel as a precaution on Thursday. The Puna Geothermal Venture plant had about 50,000 gallons of pentane.

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit but communities up to two miles away could be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

The problem is the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea is draining fast, about 6.5 feet per hour, Mandeville said.

In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to almost 970 feet below the surface as of Thursday morning, Mandeville said. The lava levels in the lake are dropping because lava is spewing out of cracks elsewhere in the mountain, lowering the pressure that kept the lava lake filled.

“This is a huge change. This is three football fields going down,” Mandeville said.

The fear is that it will go below the underground water table — another 1,000 feet further down — and that would trigger a chain of events that could lead to a “very violent” steam explosion, Mandeville said.

At the current rate of change, that is about six or seven days away.

Once the lava drops, rocks that had been superheated could fall into the lava tube. And once the lava drops below the water table, water hits rocks that are as hot as almost 2,200 degrees and flashes into steam. When the water hits the lava, it also steams. And the dropped rocks hold that steam in until it blows.

A similar 1924 explosion threw pulverized rock, ash and steam as high as 5.4 miles into the sky, for a couple of weeks. If another blast happens, the danger zone could extend about 3 miles around the summit, land all inside the national park, Mandeville said.

The small, aptly named town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about three miles from the summit.

Avani Love, 29, moved to the Big Island about a month ago from Maui with her four children. They evacuated their home on May 3, and only found out it was destroyed when a relative went back to get her personal belongings.

While saying she’s sad to have lost her home, she also feels a sense of renewal brought on by Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, to correct overpopulation of the island.

“Everyone comes here,” she said. “When you have that, it’s Pele’s way of clearing house and restoring the place. There’s beauty and also darkness.”

Image: Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts Forcing Evacuations
Gas and smoke rise from the vicinity of the Leilani Estates neighborhood, with a statue of the Virgin Mary perched atop an old lava flow, in Pahoa, Hawaii, on Thursday.Mario Tama / Getty Images

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Daniel Pearl murder: British-born man acquitted over journalist’s killing to be released from Pakistan prison | World News

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The Supreme Court in Pakistan has ordered the release of British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was convicted, and later acquitted, over the beheading of a US journalist in 2002.

Mr Sheikh has been on death row since his initial conviction for Daniel Pearl’s murder 19 years ago, but his lawyer argued that his client “should not have spent one day in jail”.

Lawyer Mehmood A Sheikh added that the court also ordered the release of three other Pakistanis who had been sentenced to life behind bars for their part in Mr Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.

An appeal hearing in the Daniel Pearl murder case was held at the Supreme Court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. The court on Thursday has ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh who was convicted and later acquitted in the gruesome beheading of American journalist Pearl in 2002. The court also dismissed an appeal of Sheikh's acquittal by Pearl's family. (AP Photo/Waseem Khan)
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The Supreme Court voted two to one in favour of Mr Sheikh. Pic: Associated Press

Mr Sheikh was formally acquitted of his involvement in April 2020.

The court also dismissed an appeal by the family of Mr Pearl and the Pakistani government over the acquittal of Mr Sheikh.

In statement released by their lawyer, Mr Pearl’s family said: “Today’s decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan.”

The country’s three-judge Supreme Court ruled two to one in favour of upholding Mr Sheikh’s acquittal and ordered his release, Pearl family lawyer Faisal Siddiqi said.

The US government has previously said it would demand that Mr Sheikh be extradited to the US to be tried there.

“We urge the US government to take all necessary actions under the law to correct this injustice. We also hope that the Pakistani authorities will take all necessary steps to rectify this travesty of justice,” the Pearl family said.

Mr Siddiqi said that the only legal avenue left to pursue would be to ask for a review of the court’s decision, but added that would be carried out by the same court that upheld the appeal, meaning “in practical terms” there is no further legal route in Pakistan.

FILE - In this April 15, 2007, file photo, Dr. Judea Pearl, father of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in 2002, speaks in Miami Beach, Fla. Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh who was convicted and later acquitted in the gruesome beheading of American journalist Pearl in 2002. The court also dismissed an appeal of Sheikh's acquittal by Pearl's family. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
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Daniel Pearl (R) was beheaded after being lured to a meeting in Pakistan. Pic: Associated Press

Mr Sheikh was convicted of helping to lure Mr Pearl to a meeting in the Pakistani city of Karachi before the journalist was kidnapped.

Mr Pearl had been looking in to the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C Reid – the “shoe bomber”, who tried to blow up a flight between Paris and Miami with explosives in his shoes.

He went missing on 23 January, with his body being found in a shallow grave shortly after a video of his beheading was sent to the US consulate in Karachi.

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Kate Moss and daughter Lila star in Paris catwalk show together | Ents & Arts News

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She is one of the most famous supermodels in the world, and in recent years her daughter has been following in her catwalk footsteps.

So it was inevitable that British star Kate Moss and teenager Lila would one day walk the same runway.

Model Kate Moss, left, and her daughter Lila Grace Moss wear creations for Fendi's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture fashion collection. Pic: AP
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It is reported to be the first time the mother and daughter pair have walked the same fashion show catwalk. Pic: AP


British model Kate Moss leaves the Topshop Unique Spring/Summer 2014 collection with her daughter Lila Grace during London Fashion Week
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Kate and Lila Moss pictured in 2014

Modelling for the Fendi spring/summer show in Paris on Wednesday, the mother-daughter pair were the stars of the show.

In 2016, they appeared on the cover of Vogue together, but this is believed to be the first time they have appeared on the same catwalk.

Lila, 18, whose father is Kate’s ex-partner Jefferson Hack, was pictured wearing a beaded caped dress, while Kate, 47, wore a silver satin dress.

Model Naomi Campbell wears a creation for Fendi's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture fashion collection. Pic: AP
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Fellow British supermodel Naomi Campbell also walked the Fendi catwalk. Pic: AP
Demi Moore. Pic: Fendi/Shutterstock
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As did Hollywood star Demi Moore. Pic: Fendi/Shutterstock

Several other high profile stars and supermodels – including Naomi Campbell – also featured in the show, which featured clothing by designer Kim Jones.

Actress Demi Moore was dressed in a dramatic black top, trousers and long headpiece as she took to the Fendi runway.

Model Cara Delevingne wears a creation for Fendi's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture fashion collection. Pic: AP
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Cara Delevingne and Bella Hadid (below) were also among the show’s stars. Pics: AP
Model Bella Hadid wears a creation for Fendi's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture fashion collection. Pic: AP

Cara Delevingne walked the catwalk wearing a camouflage suit, while Bella Hadid wore a black gown underneath a cape.

Moss’s fellow 1990s supermodel Campbell, 50, wore a long metallic dress and headpiece for her appearance.

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COVID-19: South African coronavirus variant ‘between 20 and 200%’ more infectious than original | World News

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The KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform does not exactly trip off the tongue.

That’s probably why the people who work there, along with sister-organisation the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), call it KRISP.

And the researchers at KRISP, led by Professor Tulio de Oliveira, have done some really important work in the last few months.

The identification of the so-called South African variant of COVID-19, a hardy and more infectious strain of coronavirus, was done in a congested KRISP laboratory tucked away on the ground floor.

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At the peak of the second wave in January, more than 20,000 people were being infected every day

It was a difficult moment for members of the team to describe – a brilliant piece of detective work that revealed a dangerous new episode in the pandemic.

Professor de Oliveira told me how it happened. “We got very busy in the middle and end of November,” he explained.

Clinical staff at one of main hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay were seeing a very unusual increase of new cases.

“They were convinced that there was probably something different about the virus so we answered their call very quickly,” Prof de Oliveira added.

By extracting the genetic material from the variant, which they call 501YV2, and tracking the way it was spreading around the country, the team at KRISP was able to determine that it was anywhere between 20 to 200% more infectious that the original.

In an equally disturbing finding, their partners at AHRI discovered that antibodies developed by people in response to the original strain of COVID-19 are “much less able” to neutralise the South African variant.

It raises the prospect that people who have already had coronavirus could get it again.

Prof de Oliveira told me that his team had seen “multiple samples” of this viral re-infection.

The genomic surveillance performed at KRISP has been utilised in neighbouring states, with the South African variant identified in countries including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Malawi.

“In Zambia, the last 23 genomes that have been done, 22 of those were the 501YV2 variant,” the professor said.

“We have just finished analysing samples from Mozambique and informed the minister of health about the lineages that are circulating in the country. I believe today he will go to the public to announce (the results).”

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Prof de Oliveira, from KRISP, says his team has seen multiple samples of viral re-infection

Prof de Oliveira would not give me advance notice of their findings but it seems inevitable that 501YV2 has indeed been identified in Mozambique.

This research will concern people – and politicians – right across the continent.

South Africa, which boasts relatively modern infrastructure, has struggled to deal with this now dominant variant of COVID-19.

At the peak of the country’s second wave in early January, more than 20,000 people were being infected every day.

Hospitals and clinics faced chronic shortages of staff, beds and critical supplies like oxygen.

In other parts of Africa, people are largely on their own.

I asked KRISP’s Dr Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases specialist, whether the institute has pushed a proverbial alarm bell by identifying the variant and describing many of its characteristics.

“Yes, we are certainly trying to push the alarm bell and trying to make this point that we need help,” he said.

“We need help in South Africa (and) in the region and we need people to understand that this is a global pandemic and that if we leave Africa and African countries to try and deal with this themselves we are going to have a big problem.”

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