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Thirteen children die as school bus hit by train

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At least 13 children have been killed in India after a train crashed into their school bus, amid reports the bus driver was listening to music through headphones.

Another eight children were injured, five of them critically, and were taken to a hospital in the northern town of Kushinagar, police officer O.P. Singh said.

It is not clear how old the children were, with some reports claiming they were aged between five and 14; others saying seven to 11.

The bus driver, who also died in the collision, had ignored a rail guard’s stop signal and there are unconfirmed reports he had headphones on and was listening to music when the accident happened.

The mangled remains of a school bus after it was hit by a train in northern India, killing 13 children
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The mangled remains of a school bus after it was hit by a train in northern India

The van, which was carrying 22 children, drove onto the train tracks where it was hit by a passenger train at about 7.30am at an unmanned level crossing gate at Behpurva, in Uttar Pradesh.

“The gate mitra (rail volunteer) tried to stop the van driver but he didn’t stop and his van somehow stopped at the track.” Sanjay Yadav from NE Railway said.

Shocked parents and relatives of the children rushed to the accident site
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Shocked parents and relatives of the children rushed to the accident site

India’s Railway Minister Piyush Goyal ordered an inquiry into the accident and promised families of the deceased would be offered two lakh (£2,150) in compensation for their loss.

Accidents are common on India’s rail network, which is one of the world’s largest, carrying 23 million passengers every day on about 11,000 passenger trains.

People gather around the school bus
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People gather around the school bus

Crossings that have no gates to block traffic or are not permanently guarded are common, especially in rural India.

A little over two weeks ago, at least 24 children and three adults were killed when a school bus plunged off a mountain road in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

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End SARS: ‘At least 12 killed by government forces’ as anti-police brutality protests continue in Nigeria | World News

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At least 12 people were killed when government forces fired upon protesters during anti-police brutality demonstrations in Nigeria, Amnesty International has claimed.

Shots were fired at protesters by the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on Tuesday night, causing injuries and an unknown number of deaths.

Human rights group Amnesty has said an investigation has uncovered evidence of 12 deaths and hundreds of injuries, and accused the police and military of using excessive force.

People  are seen near burning tires on the street, in Lagos (UnEarthical/via Reuters)
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People are seen near burning tires on the street in Lago. Pic: UnEarthical, via Reuters

The protests began two weeks ago after a video circulated showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS.

Witnesses to the scenes in Lekki on Tuesday said more than 20 officers started firing at demonstrators.

Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu confirmed more than 20 injuries, but said no-one had been killed.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was “alarmed” by reports civilians had been killed during the protests, which have attracted attention and support worldwide.

Mr Raab said: “I am deeply concerned by the recent violence and continued clashes in Nigeria, and am alarmed by widespread reports of civilian deaths.

“We call for an end to violence. The Nigerian government must urgently investigate reports of brutality at the hands of the security forces and hold those responsible to account.”

•	Demonstrators gather on the street to protest against alleged police brutality, despite a round-the-clock curfew imposed by the authorities on the Nigerian state of Lagos, Nigeria October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja
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Demonstrators defy a round-the-clock curfew imposed by the authorities

Celebrities and politicians around the world have spoken up in support of the demonstrators.

Beyonce made a statement on the Twitter feed of her charitable foundation BeyGood, saying: “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS.

“To our Nigerian sisters and brothers, we stand with you.”

Among those who have previously expressed their support are Star Wars actor John Boyega, and musicians including Kanye West, Rihanna and Chance the Rapper.

Manchester United star Odion Ighalo called his country’s government “a shame to the world”, while British-Nigerian boxer Anthony Joshua tweeted: “I pray God opens the gates for the heroes of Nigeria.”

Protests in London today
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Protests at the Nigerian High Commission in London
Protests outside embassy

Protesters ignored a 24-hour government curfew and President Muhammadu Buhari’s appeal for calm to continue demonstrating on Wednesday.

There were reports of gunfire across Nigeria’s largest city of 14 million – including on the highway to the airport, at a major bus station, and outside the offices of a television station.

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka told Sky News the atmosphere in the city was “very, very dark, very ominous”.

He said he had seen lots of evidence and testimony from witnesses who said the government was responsible for the shootings.

Demonstrations and gunfire were also reported in several other Nigerian cities, including the capital Abuja.

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‘They have killed innocent protesters’

Supporters gathered at the Nigerian High Commission in London for a march in solidarity with those in Lagos.

One man told Sky News: “The army killed people, they have killed innocent protestors and it’s unacceptable.”

Before the shootings in Lekki, a Nigerian police statement warned that security forces would now “exercise the full powers of the law to prevent any further attempt on lives and property of citizens”.

Speaking in a televised address, Mr Sanwo-Olu said he has ordered an investigation into the actions of the military.

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Donald Trump ‘has come to the realisation that NATO is very valuable’ | World News

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Donald Trump “has come to the realisation that NATO is very valuable,” the outgoing US ambassador to the alliance has told Sky News.

Kay Bailey Hutchison also said that if the US president wins a second term, he will honour the commitment demanding that all NATO countries come to the defence of another if called to.

The Article 5 commitment has only been invoked once – by the US after the 9/11 attacks.

Donald Trump attends a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
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Donald Trump has previously criticised NATO

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Hutchison said that NATO was stronger because of the pressure Mr Trump put on the alliance early in his presidency.

“The president has been very clear that he asked our allies to step up, and they are,” she said.

“We all know that we have more to do to get the capabilities needed to become the security umbrella for our transatlantic alliance, but we are doing that.”

Mr Trump described NATO as “obsolete” shortly before taking office and threatened to withdraw the US from the transatlantic alliance if more countries didn’t meet the minimum spending requirements of 2% of GDP.

Asked how Mr Trump would react if NATO joint-spending fell as a result of financial pressures from the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Hutchinson urged members to keep to their commitments.

She said: “I don’t think we can afford to go in the other direction. We can’t afford to let a health crisis become a security crisis. If we are going to look at what our adversaries are doing, like Russia and a rising China – they’re not stopping their malign hybrid attacks; they’re not stopping the Belt and Road initiative; they’re not in any way lessening their defence capabilities.”

US NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison looks on as she attends a session at the Fortune Global Forum event in Paris on November 18, 2019. (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC PIERMONT/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ms Hutchison says NATO can’t afford to go backwards

She also urged leaders to be “clear-eyed” about China “taking over port after port, including in Europe”.

“The belt and road initiative is one more area where we see China use economic power for taking assets when predatory loans cannot be repaid and we consider that malign activity,” she said.

“We’ve got to stand together and understand the importance of security is what has kept our economies strong and it will rebuild the economies when this COVID has been defeated.”

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Trump calls Germany ‘delinquent’ over NATO

On Russia, Ms Hutchison said that NATO’s actions had limited Russian behaviour, which “would have been more aggressive had we not taken that stand after Crimea”.

“We know Russia is trying to divide us with many areas of aggression,” she said.

“I think we are making a difference and the deterrence we are producing is the signal to Russia that we would like for them to become a legitimate partner, we would like to trade with Russia, we would like to have partnerships. But they would need to change their behaviour to achieve that.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) greets US President Donald Trump upon arrival for the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Mr Trump at a NATO summit in the UK last December

Ms Hutchison conceded that Russia was ahead of the US in developing hypersonic missiles, but said the US would catch up.

“Certainly we are going to get the defences for all missiles that we know Russia are producing,” she said.

“We know they have built up more missiles. We have not violated the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty, they have. So they are ahead on those.

“But we are going to catch up and we are going to deter against all their missiles, whether intercontinental or shorter range.”

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Near-indestructible beetle is so tough it can survive being run over by a car | Science & Tech News

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The key to making stronger buildings and planes could lie in the anatomy of a crush-resistant insect that can survive being run over by a car, scientists have found.

To understand the secret behind the impressive strength of the inch-long diabolical ironclad beetle, researchers tested how much squishing it could take – and discovered it could handle about 39,000 times its own weight.

The study, led by engineers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Purdue University, found the insect has two armour-like elytron that meet at a line, called a suture, which runs through the abdomen.

Native to desert habitats in Southern California, the diabolical ironclad beetle has an exoskeleton that’s one of the toughest, most crush-resistant structures known to exist in the animal kingdom. UCI researchers led a project to study the components and architectures responsible for making the creature so indestructible. Jesus Rivera / UCI
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The species is native to Southern California. Pic: Jesus Rivera/UCI

This unusual structure is layered and pieced together like a jigsaw, said Purdue civil engineer Pablo Zavattieri, who was part of a group of researchers that used CT scans to inspect the insect and run it over with a car.

The exoskeleton is thought to be one of the toughest structures known to exist in the animal kingdom.

Professor Zavattieri said that when compressed, it fractured slowly instead of snapping simultaneously.

“When you pull them apart, it doesn’t break catastrophically. It just deforms a little bit,” he said.

“That’s crucial for the beetle.

“This work shows that we may be able to shift from using strong, brittle materials to ones that can be both strong and tough by dissipating energy as they break. This beetle is super tough.”

The findings could inspire stronger structures and vehicles made with materials such as steel, plastic and plaster.

That’s because engineers currently rely on pins, bolts, welding and adhesives to hold everything together – techniques that are prone to degrading.

A cross section of the medial suture, where two halves of the diabolical ironclad beetle’s elytra meet, shows the puzzle piece configuration that’s among the keys to the insect’s incredible durability. Jesus Rivera / UCI
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The curvy line in the middle of the body is key to its strength. Pic: Jesus Rivera/UCI

Diabolical ironclad beetles are commonly found in Southern California’s woodlands and can withstand pressure such as bird pecks and animal stomps.

Other local beetles were crushed by a third of the weight it could hold, previous research had found.

The study, published in Nature, is part of an $8m project funded by the US Air Force to explore how the biology of creatures such as mantis shrimp and bighorn sheep could help develop impact-resistant materials.

Brown University evolutionary biologist Colin Donihue, who was not involved in the study, said it was the latest effort to solve human problems with secrets from the natural world.

Velcro, for example, was inspired by the hook-like structure of plant burrs, while artificial adhesives took a page from super-clingy gecko feet.

Professor Donihue said endless other traits found in nature could offer insight, saying: “These are adaptations that have evolved over millennia.”

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