Six In The Morning Thursday 31 August 2023


At least 73 killed as fire engulfs five-storey building in Johannesburg

Seven children among dozens dead after blaze tears through building in South Africa’s largest city

At least 73 people, including seven children, have died in a fire in a multi-storey building in the centre of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, emergency services have said.

In one of the country’s worst such tragedies in living memory, emergency management services said a further 43 people had been injured in the blaze, which broke out early on Thursday.

People had been evacuated from the building, and an emergency services spokesperson said a search and recovery operation was under way. It was likely the death toll would rise, Robert Mulaudzi said, and it was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. As of midday on Thursday, authorities had yet to count the casualties on the top two floors of the five-storey building.

Germany: Russian man guilty of Chechen dissident murder plot

A Russian man has been convicted of plotting to kill a dissident on the orders of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The murder was to have taken place in Germany, where the plotter is based.

A German court on Thursday sentenced a Russian man to 10 years in prison for plotting to murder a Chechen dissident in Germany.

The planned killing came as a commission from the regime of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a key Kremlin ally.

The 47-year-old defendant, named only as Valid D. under German privacy laws, was convicted for “willingness to commit murder and preparing a serious act of violence endangering the state,”a spokeswoman for the Higher Regional Court in Munich said.

Federal prosecutors had called for an 11-year sentence for the murder plot, which was never carried out.

Gabon will ‘respect all commitments’ after coup, says junta

Gabon will respect all its commitments at home and abroad, the junta announced on Thursday, aiming to “reassure all donors, development partners and the state’s creditors” a day after President Ali Bongo was ousted. The country’s main opposition alliance meanwhile urged coup leaders to acknowledge it won the August 26 presidential election.

The general who led the overthrow of the Bongo dynasty, Brice Oligui Nguema, will be sworn in on Monday as transitional president, the army announced on state TV.

General Nguema’s swearing-in would take place at the constitutional court.

The junta also sought to reassure donors they would “respect all commitments” at home and abroad and “phase in transitional institutions”, Colonel Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesman for Gabon‘s newly formed Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), said on state TV on Thursday, a day after rebel officers ousted President Ali Bongo.

The country’s coup chief Nguema “wishes to reassure all donors, development partners and the state’s creditors that all measures will be taken to guarantee that our country’s commitments, both external and internal, will be respected”, said Manfoumbi.

U.S. envoy: China’s reaction to Fukushima water release is economic coercion

By Chris Gallagher and Sakura Murakami

The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, visited the Fukushima region on Thursday and told reporters he expected the U.S. to support Japan should China’s ban on Japanese seafood develop into a dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean last Thursday, prompting China, Japan’s biggest trade partner, to impose a ban on Japanese aquatic products.

Japanese officials have signalled the possibility of diplomatic action to urge China to lift its ban, which Japan says is not based on scientific evidence, including filing a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint.

Ecuadorian police arrest six after car bombs explode in Quito

South American nation is grappling with surge in violence as voters prepare for October presidential run-off.

Police in Ecuador have arrested six suspects after a car bombing in a commercial area of the capital, Quito, as the South American nation grapples with a surge in violence that authorities say is linked to drug trafficking.

The explosion late on Wednesday did not cause any casualties, police said.

The vehicle exploded due to the ignition of “two gas cylinders with fuel, a slow fuse and apparently dynamite sticks”, police investigations director Pablo Ramirez told reporters.

Ramirez said agents arrested six people, among them a Colombian national, several kilometres from the site of the explosion hours after the incident. The suspects have a record of extortion, robbery and murder, he said.

Journalist for top Polish paper allegedly denied medication in Belarusian prison

A representative of the Polish community in Belarus says a former correspondent for a top Polish newspaper has been denied life-saving heart medication in a Belarusian prison

A former correspondent for a top Polish newspaper has been denied life-saving heart medication in Belarusian prison, a representative of Belarus’ largest Polish community organization told reporters Tuesday.

Andrzej Poczobut, 50, a former reporter with the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, has been put in solitary confinement with no access to lawyers or medical care, Marek Zaniewski from the Union of Poles in Belarus said at a press briefing.

The country’s largest and most prominent rights group, Viasna, also reported on its website that Poczobut has been transferred to a one-man “punishment cell” at a prison in Navapolatsk, a city in northern Belarus, where he is serving an eight-year sentence.