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France strike: Protests turn violent as industrial action causes travel chaos | World News

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Police have been seen dragging and beating protesters as demonstrations in Paris turned violent.

Officers deployed tear gas and used pepper spray as demonstrators threw projectiles and firecrackers.

More than 180,000 union members took to the streets as part of a general strike across the country which led to widespread chaos.

Protesters are tear gassed during clashes with police
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Protesters are tear gassed during clashes with police

Thousands of protesters marched towards Place de la Nation into the evening.

French public sector workers began the walkouts on Thursday over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the nation’s pension system.

The president says the system is unfair and too costly. He wants a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.

The current system allows rail workers, mariners and Paris Opera House ballet dancers to retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.

Railway and airport workers, firefighters, teachers, truck drivers and medics are among those who joined the action.

Yellow vest protest groups, or “Gilets Jaunes”, who brought much of Paris to a halt last year, were also there.

A demonstrator lights a flare
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A demonstrator lights a flare
France strikes
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The industrial action across France is in protest against pension reform

The demonstrations began peacefully as protesters marched along the Boulevard de Magenta.

But the atmosphere shifted when protesters wearing black clothing and protective gear began smashing bus stops and store fronts near the Place de la Republique.

Police struggled to control a number of fires set by demonstrators in the area and had cordoned off the square by the early evening.

The action is expected to paralyse the nation for days, as flights, trains and buses face the biggest wave of industrial action the country has seen for decades.

There are no tickets available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it has cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.

A masked protester holds an umbrella
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A masked protester holds an umbrella

Airlines including Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France, while Air France has said up to a third of its domestic flights would be cancelled.

Signs at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport showed “cancelled” notices.

A number of P&O Ferries services from Dover to Calais were delayed due to the industrial action.

The firm advised people to check its Twitter page for updates.

The SNCF railway company earlier said it expected nine out of 10 high-speed trains to be cancelled and said its services were “severely disrupted”.

Most of the subway system in Paris is also affected.

Commuters in Paris got out their bicycles, turned to carpooling apps or worked from home to avoid the crush on the limited train and metro services.

A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
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A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
Police secure the area during a demonstration
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Police secure the area during a demonstration

All businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route in Paris were ordered to close for the day by police.

Hotels across Paris have reported receiving cancellations from tourists who have decided against travelling to France during the industrial action.

“For 30 years successive governments have tried to bring reform and fail because the unions cripple the country,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.

“People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed.”



Ghislain Coutard first encouraged protesters to wear yellow vests







‘Yellow vests’ founder speaks to Sky News

Elsewhere around France, thousands of red-vested union activists marched through cities from Marseille on the Mediterranean to Lille in the north.

Riot police in Nantes, western France, fired tear gas at masked protesters who hurled projectiles at them.

In Lyon and Marseille, thousands more protesters carried banners that read: “Don’t touch our pensions”.

A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike
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A smashed Paris information board and a burning bike

Ghislain Coutard, who started the yellow vest movement, told Sky News on Wednesday the protests could lead to a “new beginning” for his country.

“For me, it’s make or break. This is either a new beginning or it’s the end,” he said.

The national strike across France comes as thousands of rail passengers in southern England face misery as a 27-day walkout until New Year’s Day by South Western Railway staff entered its fourth day.

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Turkey: Powerful earthquake kills 18 and injures more than 500 | World News

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At least 18 people have been killed after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck eastern Turkey.

Turkish officials said more than 553 people are injured, including 11 who are in a serious condition, and around 30 were left trapped in the wreckage of toppled buildings.

Hundreds of residents were left homeless or with damaged homes and buildings collapsed in affected towns near the centre of the tremor, which was felt in several neighbouring countries.

The quake jolted Elazig province, which is around 340 miles (550km) east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

Residents walk on a street as following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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Residents walk on a street in Elazig following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 14 people were killed in Elazig and five more in the neighbouring province of Malatya.

He said two people suffered heart attacks and five others died in Malatya.

Meanwhile Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said emergency workers were looking for 30 people under the rubble, adding that more than 500 people were hurt.

He described the earthquake as a “level 3” incident according to Turkey’s emergency response plan – meaning that it called for a national help response but did not require international help.

Around 30 buildings had collapsed from the quake in the two provinces, according to Environment Minister Murat Kurum.

State broadcaster TRT showed footage of police and emergency workers searching a partly collapsed building in Elazig, as well as smashed windows and balconies that had crashed to the ground.

Rescue teams could also be seen working by hand to remove bricks and plaster from the ruins.

Emergency workers used drills and mechanical diggers to clear the debris, while injured people were taken to stretchers on ambulances.

Elazig residents whose homes were damaged were being moved to student dormitories or sports centres amid freezing conditions.

Mr Soylu added that the country, which is prone to earthquakes, had learnt lessons from past disasters which helped it address Friday’s quake.

Drones were deployed in search operations and communication between provinces.

Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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More than 500 people were injured in the disaster

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that all measures were being taken to “ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many areas is overcome with the least amount of loss”.

The quake struck at 8.55pm local time (5.55pm GMT) at a depth of 4 miles (6.7km) near the town of Sivrice in Elazig, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

Several aftershocks followed, the strongest with 5.4 and 5.1.

Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building following a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Elazig
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Turkish officials and police work at the scene of a collapsed building in Elazig

The AFAD warned residents not to return to damaged buildings because of the risk of further aftershocks.

It said beds, blankets and tents were being sent to the area, where the overnight temperature was below 0C (32F).

Syria in Iran both reported feeling the earthquake, according to the countries’ state media.

Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building
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Turkish officials and police try to keep warm at the scene of a collapsed building

Turkey straddles seismic faultiness and has a history of powerful earthquakes.

In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck the western city of Izmit, around 55 miles (90km) southeast of Istanbul. Around 500,000 people were made homeless after the disaster.

And in 2011 an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Ecris, killing at least 523 people.

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Three children found dead at house in Ireland | World News

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Police in Ireland are investigating the deaths of three children in a house in Newcastle, Co Dublin.

Two boys and girl were found dead and a woman in her 40s has been taken to Tallaght hospital.

Police have described the deaths as “unexplained” but it is understood they are not looking for anyone else in relation to the incident.

An incident room has been set up in Clondalkin police station and officers have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

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Mosquito-killing fungus wins prestigious award | Science & Tech News

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Researchers based in the US and Burkino Faso have won a prestigious prize for their creation of a fungus which kills mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are a major spreader of disease, especially malaria, as well as dengue and Zika.

In a paper published in the journal Science last May the authors described how they had engineered a fungus which could infect mosquitoes that had grown immune to insecticides, causing a rapid population collapse in a simulated village setting.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which awards the Newcomb Cleveland Prize, a child dies of malaria every two minutes.

“In 2018, the World Health Organisation reported 228 million cases of malaria and more than 400,000 deaths from the disease worldwide, with 93% of cases and 94% of deaths occurring in Africa.

“Burkina Faso, a country of just under 20 million people, recorded nearly 8 million cases that year,” the AAAS added.

Although these figures seem stark, they are a remarkable improvement. Cases of malaria have dropped by 18% and deaths by 28% since 2010 thanks to new insecticides being applied to bed nets and living spaces.

But mosquito populations are increasingly developing a resistance to these insecticides, leaving vulnerable communities in need of new and novel methods of tackling the insects.

Dr Brian Lovett, then just a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, and Etienne Bilgo, a postdoc fellow at the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé in Burkina Faso, developed one such novel method.

A blood-engorged female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host, 2001. Under experimental conditions the Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, has been found to be a vector of West Nile Virus. Aedes is a genus of the Culicine family of mosquitoes. Image courtesy CDC/James Gathany. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
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A new fungus can kill mosquitoes

They genetically engineered a naturally occurring fungal pathogen to produce a toxin derived from spider venom, and using this they were able to sidestep the mosquitoes’ resistance to insecticide.

The toxin is harmless to humans and managed to kill 75% of an insecticide-resistance population of mosquitoes within just 45 days.

“The study is one of extraordinary scope and creativity,” said Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the journal Science and chair of the Newcomb Cleveland prize selection committee.

“Not only is it a highly clever idea to use a fungus to transmit insect-selective toxins, but the breadth of the study, from engineering the fungus all the way through demonstrating the viability of the approach, is superb and meets all of our highest standards.”

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