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Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 breaks up over South Pacific

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China’s Tiangong-1 space module has re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broken up over the South Pacific.

The “vast majority” of the defunct space lab burnt up on re-entry, which occurred at 1.15am UK time, China’s Manned Space Engineering Office said.

It had originally said that the space station was expected to re-enter off the coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic, near the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The US Joint Force Space Component Command (JFSCC) also confirmed the spacecraft had re-entered the atmosphere over the southern Pacific after coordinating with counterparts in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Tiangong-1, which translates to “Heavenly Palace 1”, was sent into orbit in 2011 for experiments as part of China’s space programme.

The original plan was to decommission it in 2013, but the mission was repeatedly extended.

The space station was set to have a controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, but the lab stopped working in March 2016.

China had said its re-entry would occur at the end of 2017 but the process was delayed, causing some experts to suggest the space lab was out of control.

The roughly eight-tonne Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere. The main body and the solar panels of the space station are clearly visible. Pic: Fraunhofer FHR
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The main body and the solar panels of the space station. Pic: Fraunhofer FHR

Tiangong-1 had not been occupied for three years, so there was no way of knowing for certain where it would land. And without being able to communicate with the space lab, controllers had no way of managing its descent.

Earlier forecasts said only around 10% of the bus-sized spacecraft would likely survive re-entry, mainly heavier components such as its engines.

The country’s Global Times newspaper said worldwide media coverage of the re-entry reflected international “envy” of China’s space industry.

“It’s normal for spacecraft to re-enter the atmosphere, yet Tiangong-1 received so much attention partly because some Western countries are trying to hype and sling mud at China’s fast-growing aerospace industry,” it said.

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COVID-19: India’s doctors warn against using cow dung to ward off coronavirus – amid rise in deadly ‘black fungus’ | World News

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Hospitals in India have reported a rise in “black fungus” found in COVID-19 patients – as doctors warned people against using cow dung in the belief it will ward off the virus.

The Indian government has told medics to look out for signs of mucormycosis in coronavirus patients following an increase in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection.

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A woman whose husband died from COVID mourns outside a mortuary in Ahmedabad, India
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A woman whose husband died from COVID mourns outside a mortuary in Ahmedabad, India

The disease can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood.

It is strongly linked to diabetes, which can in turn be exacerbated by steroids, such as dexamethasone, used to treat severe COVID-19.

Manchester University professor David Denning, an expert in fungal infections, told Reuters there have been cases reported in several other countries including the UK, US, France, Austria, Brazil and Mexico.

“The volume is much bigger in India,” he added.

“And one of the reasons is lots and lots of diabetes, and lots of poorly controlled diabetes.”

Doctors in India treating COVID patients and those with diabetes and compromised immune systems have been told to watch for early symptoms, including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headaches, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.

Doctors in India have warned against the practice of using cow dung in the belief it will ward off COVID-19
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Some Indians believe cow dung will boost their immunity to defend against COVID

Meanwhile, Indians have been warned against the practice of using cow dung in the belief it will ward off COVID-19.

In the state of Gujarat in western India, some people have been going to cow shelters once a week to cover their bodies in cow dung and urine in the hope it will boost their immunity, or help them recover from the disease.

Dr J. A. Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association, said: “There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief.”

Gujarat is one of the places said to have recorded cases of mucormycosis, according to media reports, along with Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai.

Indian authorities have not published national data on mucormycosis but insist there is no major outbreak.

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COVID crisis pushes India’s hospitals to the brink

P Suresh, a doctor working at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, said it had treated at least 10 such patients in the past two weeks – roughly twice as many as in the entire year before the pandemic.

He said all had been infected with COVID-19 and most were diabetic or had received immunosuppressant drugs. Some had died, and some had lost their eyesight.

Other doctors spoke of a similar surge in cases.

Mass cremations are held in New Delhi.
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Mass cremations have been held in New Delhi

Nishant Kumar, a consultant ophthalmologist at Hinduja hospital in Mumbai, said: “Previously if I saw one patient a year, I now see about one a week.”

It is an added complication for India’s overwhelmed hospitals, which are desperately short of beds as well as the oxygen needed for severely ill COVID-19 patients.

India has the world’s highest daily average number of new COVID deaths – accounting for one in every three fatalities reported worldwide each day.

Nearly 23 million coronavirus infections have been recorded in the country, with almost 250,000 deaths.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the COVID variant first identified in India last year is being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.

Maria Van Kerkhove, from the WHO, told a briefing: “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility.”

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Russia school shooting: Students among 11 killed in attack in Kazan – reports | World News

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At least 11 people including students have been killed and several injured in a shooting at a school in southwest Russia, according to reports.

The RIA news agency said an explosion was heard at the school in the city of Kazan and a gunman has been detained by police.

Interfax news agency cited a source as saying that there were two attackers and the second could still be in the building.

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Israel launches airstrikes on ‘Hamas military targets’ in Gaza Strip as it responds to rocket attacks | World News

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The Israeli military has insisted it does all it can to avoid civilian deaths after 22 people, including nine children, were killed overnight in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones hit more than 130 “Hamas military targets”, including the home of a Hamas commander, according to the Israeli military.

The airstrikes were a retaliation for a barrage of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since 6pm on Monday including six rockets which landed near Jerusalem.

An Israeli police water cannon is deployed near the Damascus Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem as a fire burns during clashes between police and Palestinian protesters. Pic: AP
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An Israeli police water cannon is used on a fire in the Old City of Jerusalem during clashes between police and Palestinian protesters. Pic: AP

In total, more than 200 rockets were launched by Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups inside Gaza. Video was released by both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) showing the rockets being fired.

In an early morning briefing, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said that more than 90% of the rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system.

He could not confirm whether the civilian casualties in Gaza were the result of Israeli airstrikes and suggested they could be the consequence of misfired Hamas rockets.

“Thirty-three percent of the rockets fell short and exploded inside Gaza, an abnormally high misfire rate, maybe indicating poor quality,” Lt Col Conricus said.

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“Hamas rockets are falling short and causing damage inside Gaza…. we know they are falling short because of our radar systems.”

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Israeli airstrikes on targets in Gaza City

“Hamas is nurturing a narrative that the ISF is killing non-combatants. We take every effort to avoid killing non-combatants – but can’t confirm or deny yet whether Israeli strikes have hit civilians,” he added.

He said that current estimates suggest that Israeli strikes over a 12-hour period had killed 15 Hamas and PIJ fighters including a Hamas battalion commander whose home in a high rise block was hit.

The residential property was among a number of groups of targets identified in advance according to the IDF. The others included rockets manufacturing facilities, storage facilities, training facilities and military bases.

Gaza’s health ministry said at least seven members of one family, including three children, were killed in an explosion in northern Gaza but the origins of the explosion are unknown.

This morning, rockets continued to be fired from Gaza into southern Israel with a residential building in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon hit, injuring one person.

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What issues lie behind troubles in Jerusalem?

Hamas said in a statement this morning that it will “not stop its resistance action as long as the Israeli occupation continues its aggression against the Palestinians”.

The latest violence comes amid soaring tensions in Jerusalem and days of clashes at an important mosque in the holy city.

Hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces in 24 hours in the courtyard outside the Al Aqsa mosque and in the narrow streets of the old city.

Hamas had given the Israeli government an ultimatum to withdraw its forces from the mosque area, release all Palestinians detained over the course of the day and remove Jewish settlers from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.

The militant group said it would retaliate at 6pm on Monday if the demands were not met.

A destroyed Hamas security site is seen in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes
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A destroyed Hamas security site is seen in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes

At just after 6pm explosions were heard in Jerusalem as the Hamas rockets landed eight miles to the west of the city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Hamas attacks had “crossed a red line”.

“Israel will respond very forcefully. We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Whoever strikes us will pay a heavy price,” he said.

A US State Department spokesman had expressed deep concern over the events at the Al Aqsa mosque earlier in the day and called the Hamas rocket attack an “unacceptable escalation”.

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, tweeted: “The UK condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and locations within Israel.

“The ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza must stop. We need an immediate de-escalation on all sides, and end to targeting of civilian populations.”

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