Johannesburg, Oct 22 (AP/UNB) — Congolese rebels killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack at the epicenter of the latest deadly Ebola outbreak, Congo's military said Sunday, as the violence again forced crucial virus-containment efforts to be suspended.
"It will be very hard to stop the outbreak if this violence continues," said the World Health Organization's emergencies chief, Peter Salama.
A regional WHO official told The Associated Press that it was difficult to say how long work would be affected.
Confirmed Ebola cases have reached 202 in this outbreak, including 118 deaths.
Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighborhoods of Beni on Saturday and into Sunday, Capt. Mak Hazukay Mongha told the AP. The U.N. peacekeeping mission said its troops exchanged fire with rebels in Beni's Mayangose area.
Angry over the killings, residents carried four of the bodies to the town hall, where police dispersed them with tear gas. While some health workers took refuge in a local hospital, the protesters destroyed a number of government buildings and blocked all traffic, Congo's health ministry said.
Vehicles of aid organizations and the U.N. mission were pelted with stones, the U.N.-backed Radio Okapi reported.
The ADF rebels have killed hundreds of civilians in recent years and are just one of several militias active in Congo's far northeast.
Another deadly attack last month in Beni forced the suspension of Ebola-containment efforts for days, complicating work to track suspected contacts of infected people. Since then, many of the new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Beni, and the rate of new cases overall has more than doubled, alarming aid groups.
Health efforts in recent weeks had started to show results, and this new attack "will bring us back," Dr. Michel Yao, WHO's incident manager for Ebola in North Kivu province, told the AP.
Work in Beni was suspended on Sunday and "tomorrow, we don't know yet," Yao said, noting that the burials of victims can be tense. "We understand. We are sympathetic. It's not easy to lose relatives. At the same time, it could affect the (outbreak) response."
The attack came after two medical agents with the Congolese army were shot dead by another rebel group — the first time health workers have been killed in this outbreak.
Congo's health minister called it a "dark day" for everyone fighting Ebola.
Mai Mai rebels surged from the forest and opened fire on the unarmed agents with the army's rapid intervention medical unit outside Butembo city, the health ministry said.
Health workers in this outbreak, declared on Aug. 1, have described hearing gunshots daily, operating under the armed escort of U.N. peacekeepers or Congolese security forces and ending work by sundown to lower the risk of attack.
Community resistance is also a problem, and Congo's health ministry has reported "numerous aggressions" against health workers. Early this month, two Red Cross volunteers were severely injured in a confrontation with wary residents in a region traumatized by decades of fighting and facing an Ebola outbreak for the first time.
"Our agents will continue to go into the field each day to fulfill the mission entrusted to them," Health Minister Oly Ilunga said. "They are true heroes, and we will continue to take all necessary measures so that they can do their job safely."
On Wednesday, WHO said it was "deeply concerned" by the outbreak but that it does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency. An outbreak must be "an extraordinary event" that might cross borders, requiring a coordinated response. Confirmed cases have been found near the heavily traveled border with Uganda.
In the latest example of the rumors that pose another serious challenge to containing the virus, the health ministry said 22 young people in Butembo dug up an Ebola victim and opened the body bag to verify that health workers had not taken organs from the body.
They ended up touching highly infectious bodily fluids, the ministry said. "The next day, they agreed to be vaccinated," joining the more than 20,000 people who have received vaccinations so far.
Seoul, 22 Oct (AP/UNB) — Military officers from the two Koreas and the U.S.-led U.N. Command met again at the Koreas' border village Monday to examine an ongoing effort to disarm the area.
Demilitarizing the Panmunjom village inside the Koreas' heavily fortified border was among many agreements the Koreas struck in September to lower military tensions between the rivals.
Under the deals, troops from the Koreas began clearing mines from Panmunjom earlier this month before withdrawing weapons and guard posts there. They eventually plan to have 35 unarmed personnel from each side guard the village.
Monday's trilateral talks are the second in kind in about a week. Officially, the village is jointly overseen by North Korea and the U.N. Command, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The talks are to review the demining work and discussing future steps in the area, South Korea's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
As part of the September agreements, the two Koreas are removing mines from another frontline area where they plan their first-ever joint searches for the remains of soldiers killed during the Korean War. The Koreas also plan to establish buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries, and a no-fly zone above the border.
General-level officers from the Koreas are to meet at Panmunjom on Friday to discuss more details about how to implement the tension-reduction deals, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.
Also Monday, officials from the Koreas separately met at their recently launched liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong for talks on how to cooperate in forestry sectors.
Seoul's liberal government is pushing for greater engagement with North Korea, but U.S. officials say such moves should be in tandem with global efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
Johannesburg Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — Congolese rebels killed 13 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack at the center of the latest deadly Ebola outbreak, Congo's military said Sunday, as the violence threatened to again force the suspension of crucial virus containment efforts.
The Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighborhoods of Beni on Saturday and into Sunday, Capt. Mak Hazukay Mongha told The Associated Press. The U.N. peacekeeping mission said its troops exchanged fire with rebels on Saturday in the Mayangose area of Beni during an attack on civilians.
Angry over the killings, Beni residents on Sunday morning carried four of the bodies to the town hall, where police dispersed them with tear gas. Vehicles of aid organizations and the peacekeeping mission were stoned, the U.N.-backed Radio Okapi reported.
The ADF rebels have killed hundreds of civilians in recent years and are just one of several rebel groups active in Congo's far northeast.
Late last month, Ebola outbreak containment efforts were suspended for days in Beni after a deadly attack, complicating work to find and track suspected contacts of infected people. Since then, many of the new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Beni as the rate of new cases overall has more than doubled, alarming aid groups.
The latest attack comes after two medical agents with the Congolese army were shot dead — the first time health workers have been killed by rebels in this Ebola outbreak.
It is a "dark day" for everyone fighting the deadly virus, Congo's health minister said late Saturday while announcing the deaths.
Mai Mai rebels surged from the forest and opened fire on the unarmed agents with the army's rapid intervention medical unit at an entrance to Butembo city, the health ministry said.
The daytime attack appeared premeditated, with civilians present left unharmed, the statement said. The medical agents had been placed in "dangerous zones" to assist national border health officials.
Confirmed Ebola cases have now reached 200, including 117 deaths.
Health workers in this outbreak, declared on Aug. 1, have described hearing gunshots daily, operating under the armed escort of U.N. peacekeepers or Congolese security forces and having to end work by sundown to lower the risk of attack.
Congo's health ministry has reported "numerous aggressions" against health workers, and early this month two Red Cross volunteers were severely injured in a confrontation with wary community members in a region traumatized by decades of fighting and facing an Ebola outbreak for the first time.
"Health agents are not a target for armed groups," Health Minister Oly Ilunga said. "Our agents will continue to go into the field each day to fulfill the mission entrusted to them. They are true heroes and we will continue to take all necessary measures so that they can do their job safely."
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was "deeply concerned" by the outbreak but that it does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency. An outbreak must be "an extraordinary event" that might cross borders, requiring a coordinated response. Confirmed cases have been found near the heavily traveled border with Uganda.
In the latest sign of the rumors that pose another serious challenge to containing the deadly virus, the health ministry said 22 youth in Butembo dug up the body of an Ebola victim and opened the body bag, "wanting to verify that no organs had been taken from the body by health workers."
They ended up touching the highly infectious bodily fluids, the ministry said. "The next day, they agreed to be vaccinated," joining the more than 20,000 people who have received vaccinations so far.
Taipei, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — Eighteen people were killed and at least 160 others injured on Sunday when one of Taiwan's newer, faster trains derailed on a curve along a popular weekend route, officials said.
The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 366 passengers from a suburb of Taipei toward Taitung, a city on Taiwan's southeast coast, when it went off the tracks at 4:50 p.m., the Taiwan central government said in a statement.
The National Fire Agency cited the Cabinet spokesman's office as saying 18 people were killed and 160 injured.
Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. "Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away," Chen said.
Soldiers have been removing bodies to identify them, he added, but nightfall was complicating rescue work.
Photos from the scene just south of the city of Luodong showed the train's eight cars in a zig-zag formation near the tracks. Five of the cars are turned over on their sides.
Most of the deaths were in the first car, which flipped over, a government spokesman said.
It was unclear how many people may still be trapped in the train, said the spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. Some 120 soldiers joined firefighters in their rescue work.
On a live feed provided by Taiwan's United Daily News, rescuers were seen carefully carrying what appeared to be a body wrapped in white plastic away from the site.
Local television reports said passengers were trying to escape through train windows and that bystanders had gathered to help them before rescuers arrived.
The Puyuma was launched in 2013 to handle the very difficult topography of Taiwan's east coast and is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast. The trains travel up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for high-speed rail.
The train that derailed is 6 years old and its most recent inspection and major maintenance took place in 2017, Taiwan Railways Administration Director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the derailment.
Yulongxueshan, Oct 21 (AP/UNB) — The loud crack rang out from the fog above the Baishui No. 1 Glacier as a stone shard careened down the ice, flying past Chen Yanjun as he operated a GPS device.
More projectiles were tumbling down the hulk of ice that scientists say is one of the world's fastest melting glaciers.
"We should go," said the 30-year-old geologist. "The first rule is safety."
Chen hiked away and onto a barren landscape once buried beneath the glacier. Now there is exposed rock littered with oxygen tanks discarded by tourists visiting the 15,000-foot (4,570-meter) -high blanket of ice in southern China.
Millions of people each year are drawn to Baishui's frosty beauty on the southeastern edge of the Third Pole __ a region in Central Asia with the world's third largest store of ice after Antarctica and Greenland that's roughly the size of Texas and New Mexico combined.
Third Pole glaciers are vital to billions of people from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Asia's 10 largest rivers __ including the Yangtze, Yellow, Mekong, and Ganges __ are fed by seasonal melting.
"You're talking about one of the world's largest freshwater sources," said Ashley Johnson, energy program manager at the National Bureau of Asian Research, an American think tank. "Depending on how it melts, a lot of the freshwater will be leaving the region for the ocean, which will have severe impacts on water and food security."
Earth is today 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) hotter than pre-industrial levels because of climate change __ enough to melt 28 to 44 percent of glaciers worldwide, according to a new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Temperatures are expected to keep rising.
Baishui is about as close to the Equator as Tampa, Florida. And the impacts of climate change already are dramatic.
The glacier has lost 60 percent of its mass and shrunk 250 meters (820 feet) since 1982, according to a 2018 report in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Scientists found in 2015 that 82 percent of glaciers surveyed in China had retreated. They warned that the effects of glacier melting on water resources are gradually becoming "increasingly serious" for China.
"China has always had a freshwater supply problem with 20 percent of the world's population but only 7 percent of its freshwater," said Jonna Nyman, an energy security lecturer at the University of Sheffield. "That's heightened by the impact of climate change."
For years, scientists have observed global warming change Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the Chinese province of Yunnan.
One research team has tracked Baishui's retreat of about 30 yards (27 meters) per year over the past decade. Flowers, such as snow lotus, have rooted in exposed earth, says Wang Shijin, a glaciologist and director of the Yulong Snow Mountain Glacial and Environmental Observation Research Station, part of a network run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Nestled into a suburb of Lijiang, population 1.2 million, the station is home to Wang and his team: geologist and drone operator Chen, postgraduate glaciology student Zhou Lanyue and electrical engineer Zhang Xing, a private contractor.
After breakfast, the team heads off by van for the day's mission. A cable car carries them up to a majestic view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
The team shuffles past a line of tourists __ many in red ponchos, most sucking oxygen canisters, a few vomiting from altitude sickness __ before descending to replace a broken meteorological station.
The team operates remote sensors that collect data on temperature, wind speed, rainfall, and humidity. Other sensors measure water flow in streams fed by melted ice. Cold, downpours, rock slides, gales and glacier movement break the equipment.
"It is not easy to encounter good weather here," Wang said.
This weather will ensure Yunnan has plenty of freshwater while other glacier loss poses serious risk of drought across the Third Pole, he said.
The next day, the team wore crampons while repairing more sensors scattered across the glacier's crags.
"Where we're at right now was back in 2008 all covered with ice," Wang said. "From here to there at the side, the glacier shrank about 20 to 30 meters. The shrinking is very remarkable."
The team forded streams and jumped crevasses in search of long iron bars they previously embedded in the ice. GPS tells them how much the bars, and thus the glacier, have moved. They also measure how much height the glacier has lost during the summer.
Back on the viewing platform, Che launched a buzzing camera drone over the white expanse. The photographs help tell a story of staggering loss. A quarter of its ice has vanished since 1957 along with four of its 19 glaciers, researchers have found.
Changes to the Baishui provide the opportunity to educate visitors about global warming, Wang said.
Last year, 2.6 million tourists visited the mountain, according to Yulong Snow Mountain park officials.
On blustery day recently, hundreds of tourists climbed wooden stairs through grey fog to snap selfies in front of the glacier.
Hou Yugang said he wasn't too bothered over climate change and Baishui's melting. "I don't think about it now because it still has a long way to go," he said.
To protect the glacier, authorities have limited the number of visitors to 10,000 a day and have banned hiking on the ice. They plan to manufacture snow and to dam streams to increase humidity that slows melting.
Security guard Yang Shaofeng has witnessed a warming world melting this mountain, which his local Naxi minority community considers sacred.
Yang remembers being able to see the glacier's lowest edge from his home village. No longer.
"Only when we climb up can we see it," he said sadly, as tourists lined up to have their names engraved on medallions bearing the glacier's image.
The etching is already outdated.