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Three Britons injured and two people dead after tourist bus smashes into a tree in Malta

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Three Britons including two children are among 50 people injured after a fatal bus crash in Malta, local police have said. 

A 37-year-old Spanish woman and a Belgian man, 62, were killed after the open-top double decker smashed into a low hanging tree branch.

The crash in the southern town of Zurrieq left a dozen children injured.

The three British people taken to hospital were a 44-year-old man and two boys aged six and eight.

Malta’s health minister Chris Fearne said most of the passengers were from the UK or Belgium.

A German woman, 31, an Italian woman, 72, and a 35-year-old man whose nationality is unknown were also taken to the Mater Dei hospital for treatment.

The open top tourist bus smashed into a low hanging tree branch in Zurrieq
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The open top tourist bus smashed into a low hanging tree branch in Zurrieq

Emergency service workers used cranes to lift the injured onto stretchers from the top deck.

The Malta Police Force said: “These persons were also certified as suffering from grievous injuries.”

Officers were called out at around 4.15pm local time on Monday.

Police said a preliminary investigation showed the 24-year-old man driving the bus had lost control before crashing into the branch.

The driver is reported to have not suffered any injuries.

Rescue workers were seen lifting injured people off the bus with cranes
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Rescue workers were seen lifting injured people off the bus with cranes

Local media reports suggested tree branches may have been lower than usual because of damage from gale-force winds on Sunday night.

Police said their investigation is ongoing.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are urgently seeking more information from the Maltese authorities following an incident involving a bus.

“We stand ready to provide assistance to any British people involved.”

Zurrieq is a popular tourist destination outside the capital Valletta that is famous for its ruins.

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Lithuanian defence ministry urges people to ‘throw away’ Chinese phones after discovering censorship tools | Science & Tech News

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The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence has urged people to stop buying Chinese phones and throw away the ones they already possess after discovering censorship software.

It followed a report from the country’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which found that Xiaomi devices were censoring terms deemed to be offensive to Beijing.

According to an analysis by the Lithuanian NCSC, the Chinese company’s flagship devices sold in Europe have a built-in ability to detect and censor particular terms.

The phrases included “demonstration”, “free Tibet”, “long live Taiwan independence”, and “church” according to the Lithuanian authorities.

Although the censorship capability had been turned off for devices in the European Union, the ministry of defence warned that it could be turned on remotely.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” said Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius, according to Reuters.

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Chinese Ambassador banned from parliament: ‘Standing up for free speech is critical’

A spokesperson for Xiaomi declined to comment when contacted by Sky News.

The call to throw away Chinese phones comes amid growing tensions between Lithuania and China over the former’s support for Taiwan – which China claims as part of its own territory.

China demanded Lithuania recall its ambassador in Beijing last month and recalled its own envoy from Vilnius in a protest over Taiwan announcing its mission in the country would use the name of Taiwan, instead of the city of Taipei, which is typically used in other European nations and in the US.

Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey, told Sky News: “We all know there are different builds of phones for different countries. If you want to sell a device in a country then you have to obey the laws there.

“But to have censorship software left in that can be remotely activated… that’s a whole different level of one country effectively exporting its domestic regulations via technology,” he said.

Professor Woodward said he could understand the thought process behind the Lithuanian warning: that if one Chinese vendor has included a censorship capability to please Beijing then that made it harder to trust others haven’t done so too.

“Lithuania is a small market so I can imagine this might blow over, but the censorship software seemed to specifically be addressing items that were part of the tension between the two countries,” added Professor Woodward.

“That starts to look like a deliberate attempt to interfere,” he said.

“I’m sure other countries are also looking at these devices, so it behoves the Chinese government to make sure that they aren’t trying to export their censorship regulations elsewhere or else they could destroy trust in all Chinese vendors, and that won’t end well for anyone.”

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Boris Johnson says France needs to ‘get a grip’ amid anger over AUKUS pact | Politics News

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Boris Johnson has said France should get over its anger at a partnership between the UK, US and Australia that saw the latter pull out of a major contract with Paris for submarines.

“What I want to say about that is I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip [get a grip] about all this and donnez-moi un break [give me a break],” the prime minister said when asked about the continuing row over the AUKUS initiative.

“This is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder and creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.

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‘AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever’

“It’s not exclusive, it’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It is not adversarial towards China, for instance.

“It is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries in a way that I think will be beneficial for things that we believe in.”

The AUKUS deal saw the UK, Australia and the US form a trilateral security pact to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines, adding to the Western military presence in the Pacific region.

Nuclear-powered submarines are superior to their diesel counterparts, as they can operate more quietly and stay underwater for longer.

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia in a backlash over the new security partnership, with foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian describing it as a “stab in the back”.

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La Palma eruption: Residents warned of earthquakes, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain | World News

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Authorities have warned people on the island of La Palma of fresh dangers after a new volcanic vent blew open and rivers of unstoppable lava flowed towards more densely populated areas and the sea.

Residents were cautioned on Tuesday about earthquakes, toxic gases, volcanic ash and acid rain after several small earthquakes shook the Spanish island, which sits in the Canary Islands archipelago off northwest Africa.

How bad has the damage been?

A cross is seen as lava and smoke rise following the eruption of a volcano on the Island of La Palma, in Los Llanos de Aridane, Spain September 21, 2021. Picture taken September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
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Lava and smoke billow into the air following the eruption of a volcano on La Palma
Lava from a volcano eruption flows destroying houses on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. A dormant volcano on a small Spanish island in the Atlantic Ocean erupted on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Huge plumes of black-and-white smoke shot out from a volcanic ridge where scientists had been monitoring the accumulation of molten lava below the surface
PIC:AP
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Lava from the volcanic eruption destroys houses on La Palma

The volcanic eruption on Sunday afternoon forced the evacuation of 6,000 people and unstoppable rivers of molten lava have destroyed around 190 houses and caused significant damage to farmland and infrastructure.

The island of 85,000 people is a popular tourist destination for Europeans.

Thousands of small earthquakes have happened in the days following the eruption.

How long will the eruption last?

The aftermath of the volcanic eruption could last for up to 84 days, the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute has said.

It based its calculation on the length of previous eruptions in the archipelago.

A house remains intact as lava flows after a volcano erupted near Las Manchas on the island of La Palma 
PIC:AP
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A house remains intact as lava flows near Las Manchas on La Palma. Pic: AP

On Tuesday a new volcano vent opened up 3,000ft north of the Cumbre Vieja ridge, where the first eruption happened on Sunday.

Why is lava meeting the ocean so dangerous?

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Drone footage shows lava swallowing swimming pools and homes

The flow of lava has slowed to around 120m (400ft) an hour and was not expected to reach the Atlantic Ocean until Wednesday, according to the head of the Canary Island Volcanic Emergency Plan, Miguel Angel Morcuende.

Angel Voctor Torres, the head of the Canary Islands government, said there would be a “critical moment” when the lava reaches the sea.

Lava advances through Cabeza de Vaca in El Paso, La Palma
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Lava advances through Cabeza de Vaca in El Paso, La Palma. Pic: AP

The rivers of molten rock, which are up to six metres (nearly 20ft) high, have a temperature exceeding 1,000C and could cause explosions and produce clouds of gas when they meet the sea.

Mr Torres reminded locals of the island’s last eruption in 1971, when one person died after inhaling the gas emitted as lava met the water.

A house burns due to lava from the eruption of a volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park at Los Llanos de Aridane, on the Canary Island of La Palma, September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Borja Suarez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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A house burns due to lava from the volcano

Late on Tuesday, emergency services attempted to divert some of the lava by using front-loaders to clear a path for it to follow in the hopes of steering it away from properties. Officials said they did not know if it would work.

What dangers lie ahead?

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Firefighters filmed lava oozing down streets

A change in wind direction on Tuesday blew volcanic ashes, which irritate the eyes and lungs, over a vast area on the western side of the island.

The volcano has also been spewing out 8,000 to 10,500 tons of sulfur dioxide, which also affects the lungs, every day, according to the Volcanology Institute.

How is the government helping?

Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows the eruption of a volcano in the Cumbre Vieja national park, on the Canary Island of La Palma
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An image from the satellite Copernicus Sentinel-2 shows the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano

Mr Torres described the region as a “catastrophe zone” and said he would request funding to rebuild roads, water pipes and create temporary accommodation for families who have lost homes and their farmland.

Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will visit the island on Thursday.

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