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Coronavirus: British backpackers trapped in Peruvian hostel with infected guests | World News

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Four young British women fear being forced to stay locked down in a hostel in Peru for up to three months after two fellow residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group from London and Kent say they are not allowed to leave their dormitory except for meals and to go to the bathroom under strict quarantine rules.

They were imposed by the Peruvian authorities on Wednesday just as the first UK rescue flight was due to travel to Peru to transport some 200 other stranded British travellers home.

The women say they are confined to their dormitories except for mealtimes
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The women say they are confined to their dormitories except for mealtimes

“Pretty much everyone in this hostel will get coronavirus,” Sabina Gordon, 22, told Sky News. “We are just in a COVID-19 petri dish.”

Her friends, Nadeen Griffiths, 22, Hilary-Nye Aremu, 22 and Michaela James, 21, agree.

Sabina Gordon, from London, and two of her friends are staying in one 12-bed room
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Sabina Gordon, from London, and two of her friends are staying in one 12-bed room
Nadeen Griffiths, from London, visiting Machu Picchu
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Nadeen Griffiths, from London, visiting Machu Picchu

“We are speaking out because we feel as though our rights are being infringed,” said Ms Griffiths. “Things are becoming more and more severe.”

The women at the hostel in the southeastern city of Cusco are among hundreds of thousands of British nationals trying to return home from overseas as the coronavirus pandemic triggers an unprecedented closure of borders and a mass cancellation of flights.

Michaela James, from London, in Arequipa, Peru
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Michaela James, from London, in Arequipa, Peru
Hilary-Nye Aremu, from Kent, has been travelling with the group
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Hilary-Nye Aremu, from Kent, has been travelling with the group

MPs have piled pressure on Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to do more to help stranded British nationals return home.

The prime minister said there was a “massive, massive” repatriation effort under way.

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Staff at the Foreign Office and in missions around the world are working “around the clock” trying to offer advice to those in need, according to a diplomatic source.

A second source said that people are working “phenomenal hours”, describing the situation as an “unprecedented challenge”.

The women have not been told when they can leave the hostel
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The women have not been told when they can leave the hostel

The problem is that host governments are shutting exits without notice and airlines are suspending routes, meaning that British diplomats are having to try to negotiate special access for their citizens as well as, in some cases, charter flights to bring them home.

They are also acting as scores of other governments simultaneously scramble to rescue their nationals as well.

Britain is speaking to allies to try to arrange for seats on flights that they might be facilitating.



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There is also uncertainty about the exact number of Britons in need of help.

The Foreign Office does not keep track of the movements of everyone travelling overseas so officials must rely on broad estimates and the volume of phone calls to their helplines and missions.

In one piece of good news, a charter flight was due to pick up around 200 British travellers from the Peruvian capital of Lima on Wednesday and bring them home. There are thought to be up to another 500 Britons still stranded in the country with other rescue flights pending.



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Ms Gordon and her three friends have been stuck in Peru since the government announced it was shutting its borders for 15 days from 16 March in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

The women said they have tried to contact the Foreign Office, their MPs, the foreign secretary and even the prime minister but have only received automated responses.

At first, the hostel where they are staying allowed them to leave once a day to purchase food and other supplies.

There are tight restrictions at the hostel
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There are tight restrictions at the hostel

But on 22 March, restrictions became tighter after it emerged that someone who had been staying at the residence had tested positive as he tried to return home to Mexico.

Soon after, two other travellers – one from the Netherlands and another from Finland – staying at the hostel started to show symptoms of the disease.

They were put into private rooms and tested for coronavirus. The positive result came back on Wednesday, prompting the even tougher lockdown, with all residents confined to their dormitories except for mealtimes.

More than 140 people, including staff and about nine British nationals, are at the hostel.



Lockdowns have been imposed in a large number of countries in order to slow the rate of infection of the novel coronavirus







Cities and beaches deserted across the world

Ms Gordon and two of her friends are together in one 12-bed room, while Ms James is in a separate dormitory.

The four, who are required to wear face masks, said they did not know how they would pass the time. “There are 12 of us in a bedroom – everyone is going to go crazy,” Ms Gordon said.

The women also do not know how long they may have to stay confined to the hostel, noting that it could be between a month to three months.

“They have not told us when we will find out how long it will be,” Ms Gordon said.

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Beirut explosion: Family of missing man losing hope he may be found | World News

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There is agony and much anger amongst the families whose relatives are still missing after the Beirut blast.

Three days after the biggest explosion to hit the Lebanese capital, there are still about 80 people unaccounted for.

The son of one missing man said it took more than 40 hours before authorities started the rescue operation.

Lebanon
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The family believes Ghassan is trapped in an underground shelter

Eli Hasrouty’s father, Ghassan, was a well-known figure in his community and had worked at the port for 38 years as the head of the operations room for the company running the giant silos of corn. He’s spent his entire career there.

His family believe he may still be alive. But his son-in-law, Steve Marimos, said hope lessens with every hour.

“We don’t give up but it is hard to keep faith right now,” he said.



Sky's Alex Crawford reports from Beirut.







‘This is ground zero’

The family home is crowded with relatives, friends and neighbours who’re constantly monitoring the social media outlets and Lebanese news programmes for the latest developments. They are a very religious family and it’s their faith which is keeping their hopes alive.

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They are praying Ghassan has somehow managed to survive by taking refuge in an underground emergency shelter which was built decades ago as a secure “panic” room in the event of bomb attacks or disasters.

Ghassan had telephoned his wife, the mother of his four children, less than an hour before the first, smaller explosion.

Ghassan - Lebanon
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Ghassan had worked at the port for 38 years

He told his partner, Ibtissam, that he was in the company’s operations room near the silos.

His 19-year-old daughter, Tatiana, said her father had told them about the underground shelter below the operations room.

“And we believe he may have run there – after the first explosion happened and before the second, much bigger one,” she said.

The search and rescue scene where Ghassan Hasrouty is missing in Beirut after the explosion on Tuesday
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It’s feared several people are trapped in the spot

“He used to tell us we shouldn’t worry about him working at the port, because of this secure shelter. They used the shelters many times during the civil war and when they thought the port was being attacked. We are just hoping that’s where he’s hiding.”

The search and rescue teams are now focusing their operations on the area just next to the collapsed silos of grain.

A member of the Turkish search team, Erkan Dogonay, said they had rescued many people “days after being trapped in earthquakes”.

He said: “We never give up hope. They are human beings and we will do everything we can to find them.”

The search and rescue scene where Ghassan Hasrouty is missing in Beirut after the explosion on Tuesday
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The search and rescue team are working to dig through the rubble

Large diggers are now being used to clear the huge amount of rubble and masonry piled on top of what was once the operations room.

We were with the first international rescue teams allowed access to the wrecked port on Thursday, 48 hours after the explosion.

We saw the Russian group using sniffer dogs to roam the new hillocks of corn and rubble next to the broken silos. Overnight, the international teams pulled out four dead bodies but still hadn’t located any underground shelters they could properly access.



Videos capture moment of explosion in Beirut, Lebanon







Moment of explosion in Beirut

When we arrived earlier today with a Turkish team of rescuers, they thought they’d located one entrance to the underground network of offices.

We could see what looked like a cement ceiling to an underground chamber but the entrance seemed to be flooded with sludge.

The international teams agreed that one group would clear the rubble from one side of the silos and another would try to clear the opposite side near the exposed entrance.

The family of Ghassan Hasrouty, who is missing in Beirut after the explosion on Tuesday
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The family of Ghassan has been supporting each other in a crowded home

So far it has proved extremely challenging to get into the subterranean shelters with so much corn, masonry and heavy debris piled on to.

The investigation into just how the explosions occurred seems to have swung into action now. We spotted teams of divers in the harbour kitted with scuba equipment and setting off to scour the waters around the blast site.

A small area near the crater has been cordoned off with yellow tape marked “Military Police – Crime Scene – Do not Cross – CID”.

We saw Lebanese soldiers and men in hazmat suits moving around inspecting the ground and collecting material. Much of the focus appeared to be near the water’s edge.

The harbour is now strewn with debris from the warehouses including about a dozen large rolls of plastic packaging. What appear to be personal belongings like jackets, trousers and hats are strewn across the spilled corn.

But the investigation and search is proving far too slowly for the families desperate for news.

Ms Hasrouty said she thinks, based on what her father and other port workers said, there may be seven people trapped in the underground shelter.

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“They need to move more quickly, much more quickly,” she said.

His sister, Tatiana, was angry.

“I’m going to translate this anger into something more effective,” the third-year medical student said.

“And work harder and harder each and every time to get justice not just for my dad, not just for the missing people, but for all of Lebanon.”

The family want their father back – and the whole of Lebanon wants answers to why this happened.

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Canadian brewery apologises for unwittingly naming beer after Maori word for pubic hair | World News

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A Canadian brewery has apologised after unwittingly naming one of its beers after the Maori word for pubic hair.

The Hell’s Basement brewery in Alberta, western Canada, used the Maori word “huruhuru” to name its “New Zealand hopped pale ale”.

Meanwhile, a leather store in New Zealand’s capital Wellington has also apologised for naming its store after the Maori word.

TV personality Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community in New Zealand, had criticised the companies for using the word.

He said on Facebook: “Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation.”

Mr Nikora went on to explain that most Maori use the word “huruhuru” as a reference to pubic hair.

He added that he contacted both the store and the brewery to inform them of their mistake.

Mr Nikora said: “If you are selling leather, call it leather, don’t call it pubic hair unless you are selling pubic hair.

“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair.”

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He asked for non-Maori businesses to use their own language to promote their own products.

The Canadian brewery’s co-founder Mike Patriquin said in statement to the New Zealand news site RNZ that he thought huruhuru meant “feather” and he didn’t realise it was a reference to pubic hair.

Mr Patriquin said: “We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future.”

He added that it was not the brewery’s intent to offend the Maori people in any way.

Mr Patriquin added: “To those who feel disrespected we apologise. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer.”

A spokesperson from the Wellington leather store also told RNZ they hadn’t meant to offend.

Aynur Karakoc said the company used the word with the intention of it meaning wool, feather or fur, and that the business cannot afford to undergo a rebrand.

The spokesperson added that the company gained approval for the name from the Intellectual Property Office’s Maori advisory committee.

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Two feared dead and several injured as flight crash lands at airport in Kerala | World News

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At least two people are feared dead after an Air India Express flight carrying 191 passengers crash landed at Calicut Airport in Kerala.

The plane was coming in from Dubai and it overshot the runway as it landed in heavy rain, with its fuselage splitting into two as it skidded off the runway, local television news channels reported.

Police said at least two people are feared dead and at least 35 people are injured.

The incident took place amid very heavy rainfall in the area around 7:38 pm local time on Friday.

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