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16 hurt as hot air balloon crashes into tree in Australia

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Sixteen people have been injured after a hot air balloon crashed into a tree, leaving some with broken bones and spinal injuries.

The balloon, carrying a pilot and 24 passengers, landed in a field in the Hunter Valley after hitting a eucalyptus tree.

The Health Department said 16 people were treated in hospital, and 12 of those were discharged.

There were 24 passengers on board with the pilot
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There were 24 passengers on board with the pilot

Police said the patients ranged in age from seven to 38.

Injuries included suspected spinal damage and broken bones, but none were life-threatening, according to an ambulance official.

Professional Ballooning Association of Australia spokesman Damian Crock said the circumstances of the crash would be investigated.

Police were not called on the nation's emergency number
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Police were not called on the nation’s emergency number

The balloon was operated by Balloon Safaris. The company has not yet commented.

According to ABC, police said the balloon had been removed by the time they arrived at the scene, and that emergency services had not been called after the crash.

Instead those hurt were reportedly taken to hospital on the company’s bus.

The patients were taken to hospital by the company's bus
Image:
The patients were taken to hospital by the company’s bus

Inspector Rob Post said he was not aware of any 000 call made.

Michael MacGregor, who was on board with his wife Alex, said it was “down-playing” the incident to call it a “heavy landing”.

He said the pilot had told passengers “brace yourself” as they hit the top of a eucalyptus tree.

The patients were taken to hospital by the company's bus
Image:
The patients were taken to hospital by the company’s bus

He said: “It was all over pretty quick to really worry about it. It was definitely a crash.

“When we hit the ground everyone was quiet and calm and people started to say they were hurt.

“They had to tilt the basket over for one little girl to get out. There were three little girls on board.

“We are happy to be OK.”

People on board started screaming, one passenger said
Image:
People on board started screaming, one passenger said

A early statement from the Hunter Valley Police read: “The balloon crashed about 8.30am today (Friday 30 March 2018) on McDonalds Road, near Broke Road, at Pokolbin.

“Nine people were taken to Cessnock Hospital. Two have since been taken to John Hunter Hospital for further treatment.

“Police from Hunter Valley Police District have commenced inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been notified.”

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Alexei Navalny supporters clash with police and ‘hundreds arrested’ as mass protests expected across Russia | World News

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Hundreds of people have reportedly been detained as a series of demonstrations in support of jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny begins across Russia.

The gatherings, which police have declared illegal, are the first by Mr Navalny’s supporters since he was arrested last weekend on his return to Moscow, after spending five months in Germany recovering from novichok poisoning.

Police detain a man in Moscow. Pic: AP
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Police detain a man in Moscow. Pic: AP

More than 200 people have been detained in central and eastern Russia because of the protests, according to monitoring group OVD-INFO, with more than 100 held in Moscow, according to a Reuters witness, the location for one of up to 70 marches this weekend.

There have been scuffles in the southeastern city of Khabarovsk, and videos also show people being taken away from a protest in Yakutsk, where people have been gathering in -50C temperatures, and one person lying on the ground, apparently injured, in Novosibirsk.

Other footage shows people being hit with batons in Orenburg and riot shields and tears gas being used in some cities.

Police detain a man  in Khabarovsk, Russia, during a protest against the jailing of Alexei Navalny. Pic: AP
Image:
Police detain a man in Khabarovsk during a protest against the jailing of Alexei Navalny. Pic: AP

Hundreds, possibly thousands, appear to have been taking part in rallies and marches in Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk.

There have also been reports that mobile phone and internet services in Russia have suffered outages as police
crack down on anti-Kremlin protesters.

Authorities sometimes interfere with communication networks to make it harder for protesters to get in touch with each other and the wider world online.

Protesters run away from police officers in Vladivostok,
Image:
Protesters run away from police officers in Vladivostok,

Six journalists have been held in St Petersburg, according to Avtozaklive.

Mr Navalny, 44, who is one of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, blames Moscow for the attack that nearly killed him, although the Kremlin denies any involvement.

He is charged with breaking his bail conditions – and is facing a potential three-and-a half-year jail term if found guilty.

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Navalny supporters clash with Russian police

Protesters gathered in support of Mr Navalny in temperatures on -50C in Yakutsk. Pic: Ksenia Korshun/via REUTERS
Image:
Protesters gathered in support of Mr Navalny in temperatures on -50C in Yakutsk. Pic: Ksenia Korshun/via REUTERS

Anyone who takes part faces charges of rioting, fines, problems at work, prison and even threats over child custody as the Russian state tries to crack down on the demonstrations, which could be the largest against Mr Putin since 2018.

Officials also enforced a crackdown in the run-up to the demonstrations, arresting members of Mr Navalny’s team, including his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.

They launched an investigation after young Navalny supporters flooded TikTok with anti-Putin videos, pushing for people to support the action this weekend and using the using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan.

The content has been viewed more than 300 million times.

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TikTok videos in support of Navalny

Anger mounted against Mr Putin this week after Mr Navalny’s team released a documentary exposing a vast and opulent palace built by Russia’s leader on the Black Sea coast.

The programme claims the complex – 39 times larger than Monaco – cost £1bn to build and was funded through illicit money.

It is said to have a casino, an underground ice hockey complex and a vineyard.

More than 60 million people have now viewed the Russian-language video on YouTube within three days of it being published.

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Navalny calls for protests over his arrest

On Friday, ahead of the weekend of planned protests, Mr Navalny issued a statement saying he wanted it known that he had no plans to take his own life in prison.

The arrest of Mr Navalny has attracted widespread criticism from Western leaders, sparking new tensions in the already strained relationship with the US.

Despite the plans for the protests, Mr Putin’s grip on power appears solid, with the 68-year-old regularly recording approval ratings of more than 60%, many times higher than those of Mr Navalny.

Protesters attending a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow
Image:
Protesters attending a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow

‘Our kids are being brainwashed’
Eyewitness by Diana Magnay, Moscow correspondent

The rally is not due to start until 2pm, but already here in Moscow, the police are making arrests and there are several hundred people around waiting.

It reminds me very much of the protests in the summer of 2019. There are huge numbers of press following each arrest. I haven’t seen any beatings yet, but the arrests are not pleasant.

Among those attending are Olga and Vladislav Sheglov, father and daughter.

Mr Sheglov told me: “I came here because I cannot live like this anymore, what they’re doing is not acceptable.

“I always tell myself we have the best country, but the worst government.”

His daughter Olga said: “Our kids are being brainwashed. You have families with low income and they have another view of politics.

Olga and Vladislav Sheglov
Image:
Olga and Vladislav Sheglov

“When we saw the Putin’s palace investigation, we were so shocked. We used to vote for him, but this was the last straw. We believe 150%, a million percent that Navalny was poisoned.”

Another person at the protest, 16-year-old Yaroslavl, who we are not naming fully because he’s 16, said: “There’ll probably be more detentions than normal because it’s such a big day.

“I’m a bit concerned, but so many people have come together to defend their own opinion and to defend Russia.

“I was told at school not to come, that they might have extra lessons today, but I ignored them. And my parents were even more serious about me not coming, but I ignored them too.”

He said that today everyone went out not for Navalny, but for themselves, to fight for their rights.



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Alexei Navalny supporters clash with police as mass protests expected across Russia | World News

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Police have clashed with protesters as series of demonstrations in support of jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny begins across Russia.

The gatherings, which police have declared illegal, are the first by Mr Navalny’s supporters since he was arrested last weekend on his return to Moscow, after spending five months in Germany recovering from novichok poisoning.

Dozens of people have been detained ahead of the protests, according to a monitoring group, and there have already been scuffles in the southeastern city of Khabarovsk, the location for one of up to 70 marches this weekend.

Videos also show people being taken away from a protest in Yakutsk, where people have been gathering in -50C temperatures.

Pic: Yulia Navalnaya
Image:
Alexei Navalny, pictured with his wife Yulia, was poisoned with novichok

Mr Navalny, 44, who is one of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, blames Moscow for the attack that nearly killed him, although the Kremlin denies any involvement.

He is charged with breaking his bail conditions – and is facing a potential three-and-a half-year jail term if found guilty.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Navalny supporters clash with Russian police

They face charges of rioting, fines, problems at work, prison and even threats over child custody as the Russian state tries to crack down on the demonstrations, which could be the largest against Mr Putin since 2018.

Officials also enforced a crackdown in the run-up to the demonstrations, arresting members of Mr Navalny’s team, including his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.

They have launched an investigation after young Navalny supporters flooded TikTok with anti-Putin videos, pushing for people to support the action this weekend and using the using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan.

The content has been viewed more than 300 million times.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

TikTok videos in support of Navalny

Anger mounted against Mr Putin this week after Mr Navalny’s team released a documentary exposing a vast and opulent palace built by Russia’s leader on the Black Sea coast.

The programme claims the complex – 39 times larger than Monaco – cost £1bn to build and was funded through illicit money.

It is said to have a casino, an underground ice hockey complex and a vineyard.

More than 60 million people have now viewed the Russian-language video on YouTube within three days of it being published.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Navalny calls for protests over his arrest

On Friday, ahead of the weekend of planned protests, Mr Navalny issued a statement saying he wanted it known that he had no plans to take his own life in prison.

The arrest of Mr Navalny has attracted widespread criticism from Western leaders, sparking new tensions in the already strained relationship with the US.

Despite the plans for the protests, Mr Putin’s grip on power appears solid, with the 68-year-old regularly recording approval ratings of more than 60%, many times higher than those of Mr Navalny.



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Viral TikTok videos call on young Russians to stage illegal pro-Navalny protests | World News

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Momentum is building in Russia for widespread protests this weekend in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Videos have been posted on TikTok, Russia’s most popular iPhone app, encouraging people to defy authorities and turn out.

Young Russians in particular have flooded the social media site using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan.

One video tells demonstrators to pretend they are American tourists if questioned by the police on the march.

Navalny released a video on YouTube
Image:
Alexei Navalny was detained on arrival in Moscow

Other videos show Navalny supporters packing their bags ready for demonstrations, recommending they bring milk to help counter the effects of tear gas, and some depict students removing pictures of President Vladimir Putin from classrooms and replacing them with photos of Mr Navalny.

The videos have been watched more than 50 million times, prompting the state censor to demand TikTok remove them.

Mr Navalny returned to Moscow from Berlin last weekend, where he’d spent months being treated for Novichok poisoning.

Pic: No_Miting
Image:
They use the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan. Pic: No_Miting

He was arrested on arrival in Moscow and charged with breaking his bail conditions – and is facing a potential three-and-a half-year jail term if found guilty.

His detention has been widely condemned by the international community, which believes the Russian state was behind attempts to kill him.

Demonstrations are set to take place on Saturday in more than 70 towns across Russia including Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok.

Pic: Yulia Navalnaya
Image:
Fellow opposition leader Yulia Navalnaya posted on Instagram to say she would attent. Pic: Yulia Navalnaya

They could be the biggest demonstrations against Mr Putin since 2018.

Anger has hardened against the president this week after the Navalny team released a documentary exposing a vast and opulent palace built by Russia’s leader on the Black Sea coast.

The programme claims the complex – 39 times larger than Monaco – cost £1bn to build and was funded through illicit money.

Moscow mayor
Image:
Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin makes a statement about the illegal protests

It is said to have a casino, an underground ice hockey complex and a vineyard.

“It has impregnable fences, its own port, its own security, a church, its own permit system, a no-fly zone, and even its own border checkpoint,” Mr Navalny says in the video.

Forty million people had viewed the video on YouTube within 40 hours of it being published.

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