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Russian actress, director and cosmonaut return to Earth after 12 days on International Space Station making a movie | World News



An actress and film director have returned to Earth after spending nearly two weeks in space making a movie on the International Space Station.

Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko emerged from the Russian capsule smiling after it landed on the Kazakhstan steppe along with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky inside.

Two of the group had rocketed into orbit on 5 October for a 12-day stint to film segments of a movie called The Challenge, which the Russian space agency Roscosmos said would help attract the “cream of the crop” to the sector.

Russian film director Klim Shipenko is assisted by ground personnel shortly after landing. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters
Russian film director Klim Shipenko is assisted by ground personnel shortly after landing. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters

The movie focuses on the story of a doctor, played by Peresild, who is asked to go to the space station to save the life of a cosmonaut

Roscosmos cosmonauts Mr Novitsky and Peter Dubrov, who were already on board the ISS when the crew docked, and Anton Shkaplerov, who travelled to the ISS with Peresild, also took part in filming the scenes, which were directed on location by Shipenko.

In all, about 35-40 minutes of screen time should have been filmed in orbit.

Analysts have said the Russian movie aimed to be the first to be filmed in space before a Hollywood project announced earlier this year, which involves actor Tom Cruise, NASA and SpaceX.

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Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Russian actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko rest after returning to Russia. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters
Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Russian actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko rest after returning to land. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters

The capsule landed on schedule at 5.35am UK time on Sunday morning after a three-and-a-half hour journey from the ISS.

Ground crews extracted the three from the capsule and placed them in seats set up nearby as they adjusted to the pull of gravity before taking them to a medical tent for examination.

All looked healthy and cheerful with a beaming Peresild holding a large bouquet of white flowers as reporters clustered around her.

The capsule lands on the Kazakh steppe. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters
The capsule lands on the Kazakh steppe. Pic: Roscosmos via Reuters

Roscosmos said the recovery of the actress and director will take about a week and their first news conference will be on Tuesday.

Seven astronauts – Russia’s Mr Shkaplerov and Mr Dubrov; Americans Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency; and Japan’s Aki Hoshide – remain on board the space station.

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Ethiopia: Four young sisters among those caught up in country’s bloody civil war | World News



There is a little park in Addis Ababa with a bench and some flowers and a big red wall.

It was built on scrap land by the manager of a local hostel, and there is a five-year-old who comes to draw every afternoon.

Her name is Kidist, and she sketches on the wall with small rocks that work a bit like chalk.

Kidist, 5, draws outside her family home in Ethiopia.
Kidist also lost her heel in one foot during the explosion

“That is the face, that is the hand, the eyes, legs. Oh, the hair.”

As an image takes shape, her right sleeve slips down, revealing a nasty scar – one of many, say doctors, that cover her body.

Kidist also lost her heel in one foot after an artillery shell exploded in front of her family’s home.

Yigzaw family - speak about the impact of the Ethiopian civil conflict.
The Yigzaw family speak about the impact the Ethiopian civil conflict has had on their family

Her sisters were also injured in the blast, which took place late last year.

Bethlehem, who is nine, lost her Achilles tendon and the wound has never healed.

The 14-year-old, Yordanos, has lost most of her left leg.

The eldest sister is Abeba, 17, who has had part of her right leg amputated.

She wears a weary, distant look.

“When I walk on it, when I touch it, it hurts,” she said as she poked at a large scar above the amputated limb.

Yigzaw family  - two sisters in their family home in Ethiopia.
The Yigzaw family are unsure of who fired the shell that destroyed the family home

Ethiopia‘s bloody civil conflict is waged with little knowledge of the cost. The number of dead, injured or missing are seemingly unknown as the forces of the government of Abiy Ahmed battle fighters from the rebellious region of Tigray.

But the impact on the Yigzaw family has been calamitous.

“Do you think about the war?” I asked Abeba.

“Of course, we are worried. Lots of people are dying, lots of people are injured. We are the example of that. We have been worrying and crying, but there is nothing we can do. What happened, happened.”

Nobody knows who fired the shell that destroyed the family home, located in a village called Hawelti. Both government soldiers and Tigrayan rebels were fighting nearby.

But the girls have found some safety and security in a cramped bedsit in the capital, Addis Ababa. They live here with their uncle, Kalayu, who found them last December, covered in blood, in the back of an Ethiopian army truck.

The Uncle of the Yigzaw family sisters, Kalayu.
The four sisters found security in the capital Addis Ababa, where they live with their uncle, Kalayu

They had been brought to a place called Dessie for emergency treatment from the team at International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).

“It is very difficult when you see they are bleeding, they are injured, they cry. It is very difficult. I saw them in the (vehicle) so I pulled up there. I saw them…” Gripped with emotion, Kalayu was unable to continue.

He has taken up a role that he could not anticipate – a substitute parent to four vulnerable girls. He says he has little choice as their mother was killed in the attack and their father has been missing for months.

“I didn’t tell them about what happened to their mother because they were in a horrible situation. After seven months, we told the older two, but Kidist and Bethlehem (still) don’t know. They say, ‘I miss my mother, I miss my mother’…”

Kalayu is unable to continue the thought.

Yigzaw family - speak about the impact of the Ethiopian civil conflict.
The family will soon have to find a new place to live

The ICRC has provided medication and rehabilitation in Addis Ababa but was clear that Yordanos was in pain.

We watched the girls get themselves ready for school, but the 14-year-old was unable to get out of bed.

“All of this is swollen,” she said, looking tearfully at the bulbous end of her amputated leg.

“Will you go to school today?” I asked.

“I can’t, the prosthetic won’t fit because it is swollen.”

Bethlehem, who is 9, lost her Achilles tendon and the wound has never healed.
Bethlehem, nine, lost her Achilles tendon and the wound has never healed

Her siblings know this pain, but they still had to get themselves ready for school. Their uncle, is a teacher and this is what he expects.

Yet, the 32-year-old is shouldering much on his own. Financial support from the ICRC that keeps them in this cramped hostel finishes at the end of the month, and he will have to find the family a new place to live.

But his faith in the future is undiminished.

“God makes these things, and we are going to (get by). They will succeed their dreams and I will be beside them forever.”

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South Africa sees rise in child COVID hospital admissions in Omicron epicentre but cases ‘mild’ | World News



A marked rise has been seen in the number of children admitted to hospital in South Africa – the epicentre of the new coronavirus Omicron variant – but cases are “mild”, a public health expert has said.

The increase has sparked concerns the latest COVID-19 strain, which has spread rapidly around the world, could pose greater risks for youngsters.

However, the authorities in South Africa said the surge should trigger vigilance, not panic, with no link established and the potential impact of other factors.

A health worker administers a vaccine
South Africa has a much younger population than the UK and is less likely to be vaccinated

It is also difficult to draw conclusions about the implications for other countries, such as the UK, given South Africa has a much younger population that is less likely to be vaccinated.

Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in Gauteng province which includes the capital Pretoria and the biggest city Johannesburg, said that out of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients in hospitals in the area, 113 (7%) were under nine-years-old, a greater proportion than during previous waves of infection.

But she said: “We are comforted by clinicians’ reports that the children have mild disease.”

Health officials and scientists were currently investigating what was driving the increased admissions in younger ages and hoped to be able to provide more details shortly, she said.

Since only a small proportion of South Africa’s positive coronavirus tests are sent for genomic sequencing, officials do not yet know which variants the children admitted to hospital have been infected with.

Pointing out healthcare workers could be acting out of caution, she said: “They would rather have a child under care for a day or two than having a child at home and complicating… but we really need to wait for the evidence.”

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She also said many COVID-19 patients in Gauteng were reporting “non-specific” flu-like symptoms like a scratchy throat, as opposed to more easily identifiable signs like a loss of taste or smell.

But she urged parents and pregnant women, another group that has seen more hospital admissions recently, not to take flu-like symptoms lightly and to get tested in case.

“The public needs to be less fearful but vigilant,” she added.

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Despite a recent influx of admissions, Gauteng’s dedicated COVID-19 bed occupancy was still only around 13%, Ms Maluleke said, adding that contingency plans were in place should capacity become stretched.

Scientists are still working to find out what severity of illness is caused by the Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month and since seen in more than 30 countries, and whether it may be more resistant to existing vaccines.

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Rio cancels New Year’s Eve celebrations amid spread of Omicron variant | World News



Rio has cancelled its traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations as the Omicron COVID variant spreads around the world.

Announcing the move on Twitter, the mayor of the Brazilian city Eduardo Paes said the decision was taken “with sadness”, but that organisers “respect the science”.

It comes as countries around the world wrestle with the transmission of the worrying new COVID-19 strain, first identified in South Africa.

Latest official figures show Brazil registered 221 coronavirus deaths on Friday and 10,627 additional cases.

The South American country has now registered a total of 615,400 coronavirus deaths and 22,129,409 confirmed cases.

Mr Paes said: “We respect science.

“As there are divergent opinions among scientific committees, we will always stick with the most restrictive.

“The city council says it can. The state’s says no. So it can’t.

“We’re going to cancel the official New Year’s Eve celebration in Rio in this way.”

He added: “I make the decision with sadness, but we cannot organise the celebration without the guarantee of all the health authorities.

“Unfortunately, we cannot organise a party of this size, in which we have a lot of expenses and logistics involved, without the minimum time for preparation.

“If this is the command of the State (this was not what the governor had been telling me), let’s accept it.

“I hope I can be in Copacabana hugging everyone from 22 to 23. It will be missed but the important thing is that we continue vaccinating and saving lives.”

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