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Firefighters buried under tonnes of volcanic ash in Guatemala



It looks like smoke is rising from the hot ash which was spewed out by Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire – but it’s actually clouds of dust, hanging in the air every time a firefighter plants a spade in the ground.

More than a dozen are digging around a piece of twisted metal. It’s all that is left of one of their fire trucks.

Somewhere under the tonnes of volcanic ash are the bodies of two volunteer firefighters. They arrived as the volcano, also known as Fuego, was erupting.

They were with a group of local people watching the eruption from a bridge, without realising how much danger they were in. Hot gases and rock swept down the slope at such speed they were engulfed, and the bridge was demolished.

For these emergency workers, there is no hope of finding survivors
For these emergency workers, there is no hope of finding survivors

The once verdant slopes have been replaced by a massive brown scar which stretches from the top of the volcano as far as the eye can see.

I’m wearing a face mask and goggles for protection, as are all of those working so hard to find their colleagues. But when I remove the mask, there is no smell of sulphur as I had expected, just dusty smoke.

We’ve been allowed up close to see the work, but with a strict warning that we can only be there for five minutes, and to take heed of the ever-present danger of another eruption.

If we hear three blasts in a whistle, it means we should run back to our vehicle.

Sky's Ian Woods, who is on the ground in Guatemala
Sky’s Ian Woods, who is on the ground in Guatemala

It’s desperately hard, unpleasant work without the prospect of finding any survivors.

Eventually, to a round of applause from firefighters who’ve been taking a much-needed break, an excavator arrives to help with the digging.

Scenes like this are repeated throughout the region, where up to 200 people are still missing. Several thousand are in temporary shelters in towns or villages which escaped the worst of the eruption.

In Alotenango, we see a human chain formed to pass supplies of food and water from trucks to a store room ready for distribution to the needy.

An excavator arrives to help with the digging
An excavator arrives to help with the digging

One of the co-ordinators from the Guatemalan disaster service Conred updates me on casualties from one village, San Miguel Los Lotes. David Ovalle tells me that nine people are dead, 18 are missing and 620 are now in shelters.

“All the people in the area are scared about the volcano,” he said. “The eruption is not normal; usually the eruptions and rivers of lava are from the opposite side.”

Next to a shrine to the dead, where candles have been lit and messages written, two dozen young children are sitting watching two performers act out a story from a book. There are occasional smiles and giggles. But mostly the children have a haunted look, having seen a real-life horror unfold before their eyes.

Relative of missing people in Guatemala asks president for help after volcano erupts


My family ‘are burning’

But nobody seems to want to leave the area, despite the danger. This is home, and the Guatemalans are hospitable people.

As we trudge away from the search for bodies, brushing away the dust from our clothes and cursing the dryness in our throats, a woman hands each of us a bag of chopped melon and pineapple.

She doesn’t want payment. Like everyone in the area, she just wants to help.

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Coronavirus: ‘We’re facing a war’ – Italy’s frontline doctors fear losing control as hospital cases increase | World News



Watching Dr Silvana Di Florio ready herself to enter an intensive care ward where every bed currently set aside for COVID-19 patients is already full reminds you of the seriousness of the virus.

With the help of another staff member she layers herself in protective clothing: A mask, overalls, and then a vast hood with a clear visor, looking other-worldly to the untrained eye.

She is the head of ICU nursing at the Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome and is feeling the intense pressure of a second wave of COVID.

We get a chance to speak to her before she enters the area where day by day the demands on staff increase dramatically. And these are medical professionals still trying to recover from the physical and mental stresses of the spring outbreak.

Silvana Di Florio
Dr Di Florio is head of intensive care nursing at one of Rome’s biggest hospitals

She seems calm as she starts to speak: “At the beginning we were those who were facing a global health emergency.”

She then pauses and starts to sob, telling us: “Now we are facing a war. We are tired. We are few. Some are sick, and with few resources.

“But we are always present, always prepared, always really careful.”

As she composes herself, she says: “I believe that sometimes we are able to go on even just for the ‘thank you’ that the patient tells us.”

It is clear that Dr Di Florio and others dealing with the second wave of COVID are struggling physically and emotionally.

Tor Vergata Hospital
Ambulances recently had to queue for hours to admit virus patients

She tells us that her staff get tested regularly in order not to miss a shift. Demand is growing and scared as they might be, they feel like “missionaries” doing a job.

Tor Vergata Hospital is one of the largest in the Italian capital and doctors and nurses are blunt about the reality facing them – that it will not be able to cope if COVID numbers continue to rise.

From the safety of a corridor in the infectious diseases department we are shown rooms all now occupied by COVID patients.

Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome
Staff fear they won’t be able to cope if patient numbers keep increasing

Just days ago, ambulances queued for up to nine hours to admit patients.

Looking through the glass into the rooms one can only imagine what it is like for the sick here; cut off from family, unable to have visitors, wondering if they will even be aware when and if the day comes when they will deteriorate far enough that they will need to be moved to ICU.

Professor Massimo Andreoni, who heads the department, warns things are going to get worse and there is, he says, only one solution – a national lockdown.

“So I think that it is very important to start quickly in lockdown and to stop the pandemic,” he says.

Prof Massimo Andreoni
Prof Andreoni said another national lockdown is the only way things will get better

“This is the only possibility because there is not the capacity to have sufficient beds in the hospital for these patients.”

It is a stark warning from a man who fears impossible pressures on the health service.

For now though, it is a move the Italian government resists. What happens in the nation’s hospitals in the coming days may force a change in political strategy.

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Two British teenagers killed and one seriously injured in Greece parasailing accident | UK News



Two British teenagers have been killed and another is in a serious condition after a parasailing accident in Greece.

The trio are said to have been found on rocks near Lindos on the island of Rhodes.

The Greek coastguard said the rope holding their parachute had snapped.

One of the group, a 15-year-old boy, is in hospital with multiple injuries, but his 13-year-old brother and 15-year old female cousin died.

The bodies were found after the driver of the boat called emergency services, said the coastguard.

“They were following a speedboat. The rope was cut,” it added in a statement.

“The boy and the girl were killed and another was heavily injured and brought to hospital. It is under investigation about how the rope was cut.”

The teenagers bodies were found on rocks near Lindon (pictured)
The teenagers were found on rocks near Lindos (pictured)

Greek media reported that Wednesday’s incident happened in high winds.

The boat’s driver and another person have been arrested.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said: “We are supporting the family of two British people following their death in Rhodes, and are in contact with the Greek authorities.”

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Son of Walter Wallace Jr says ‘white racist cops’ killed his father | US News



The eight-year-old son of a black man shot dead by Philadelphia police has said he believes the officers involved were racist.

Zamir, the eldest son of Walter Wallace Jr, said on Wednesday that “white racist cops” had killed his father as he told reporters what he would remember about him.

“We used to always hang out and we’d always go places, and we used to always play around,” Zamir said, adding: “He used to always teach me how to be a man.

“These white racist cops got my own dad. Black lives still matter.”

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Moments before black man’s shooting by police

Mr Wallace was shot dead in the street on Monday in an incident caught on camera and later widely shared on the web.

The footage, filmed by a bystander, shows police officers firing several times at the 27-year-old after yelling at him to drop a knife.

According to the family lawyer, Shaka Johnson, Mr Wallace’s relatives had called an ambulance to help the father of nine rather than police as they believed he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

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Mr Johnson said it was also believed the officers knew about the crisis because they had visited the family home three times on the day of the shooting.

The incident has since sparked two consecutive nights of protesting in Philadelphia that began with peaceful marching and the chanting of Mr Wallace’s name, before being taken over by violence.

Walter Wallace
Mr Wallace’s death has sparked two consecutive nights of protesting

On Tuesday evening, several protesters threw rocks, light bulbs and bricks at officers near a police station in the city, while looters were also spotted ransacking shops.

It followed a night of unrest on Monday, where more than 90 people were arrested and 30 police officers were injured.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mr Wallace’s father criticised the violence and looting, which has resulted in the National Guard being deployed.

He said he was haunted by the way his son was “butchered” but said he wanted protesters in Philadelphia to show his family and the city “some kind of respect”.

“It’s uncalled for,” Mr Wallace said of the violence. “It really is.”

The parents of the man shot dead by police in Philadelphia called for calm as protests erupted over a video of the incident
Walter Wallace Sr says he is haunted by the way his son was ‘butchered’

State and local officials are now calling for a transparent investigation into Mr Wallace’s death, while Philadelphia police commissioner Danielle Outlaw said she was reviewing what information could be made public.

This includes whether the officers were aware of the possible mental health crisis mentioned by the family.

Mr Wallace Jr’s death is the latest killing of a black person by US police officers, and comes after months of Black Lives Matter protests, sparked initially by the death of George Floyd.

Mr Wallace Jr’s wife Dominique is pregnant and is due to have her labour induced later today.

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