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China passenger jet catches fire, dozens ‘lightly injured’ | Aviation News

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Tibet Airlines says all 113 passengers and 9 crew on board the plane that caught fire were safely evacuated.

A Chinese passenger jet has caught fire after veering off the runway in China’s Chongqing, leaving dozens of people with what were said to be minor injuries.

The incident happened on Thursday as the Tibet Airlines plane was preparing to take off at 8:09am local time (00:09 GMT).

The Airbus A319-115 jet, carrying 113 passengers and nine crew, was headed from the southwestern city of Chongqing to Tibet’s Nyingchi.

Everyone on board was safely evacuated, the airline said in a statement.

“In the process of taking off, the flight crew discovered an abnormality with the aircraft and stopped the takeoff, after which the aircraft left the runway,” the statement said.

“The injured passengers were all only lightly injured, and have been sent to hospital for treatment,” it added.

In a separate statement, the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport said about 40 passengers with minor injuries were sent to hospital.

It said Flight TV9833 deviated from the runway during takeoff and that “the left side of the aircraft’s nose caught fire”.

Operations at the airport have since returned to normal and “the cause of the accident is being investigated,” it added.

The incident follows the crash of a Chinese Eastern Boeing 737-800 in southeastern China on March 21, in which all 132 people on board were killed.

That accident, in which the plane went into a sudden nosedive and slammed into the ground in a mountainous area, remains under investigation.

Two flight recorders, or “black boxes”, were recovered from that crash and are being analysed in the United States.



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Wimbledon: How Russia’s war on Ukraine will affect world tennis | News

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The usual trophies and prize money will be on the line for Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek and other top tennis players at Wimbledon, but there is a significant change there this year: No one will earn ranking points, a valuable currency in tennis, when play begins on June 27.

The women’s and men’s professional tours announced on Friday that they will not award ranking points to players at Wimbledon’s grass-court Grand Slam tournament because of the All England Club’s decision to bar players from Russia and Belarus over the war on Ukraine.

Both the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) said they were reacting to what they called “discrimination” against tennis players.

Here is a look at how this unprecedented move came about and what it means for Wimbledon and the world’s top tennis players:

Why did Wimbledon bar Russians and Belarusians?

The All England Club, which runs the oldest Grand Slam tournament  – Wimbledon was first held in 1877 – announced in April it would not allow players from Russia or Belarus to enter the event in 2022 because of the war in Ukraine.

Chief Executive Sally Bolton defended the club’s move as following a directive from the British government, and she cited a “responsibility to play our part in limiting the possibility of Wimbledon being used to justify the harm being done to others by the Russian regime”.

Have other sports banned Russian athletes?

Yes, including in football, where the Russian men’s team was kicked out of qualifying matches for this year’s World Cup. Figure skating and track and field are among the other sports to have taken action against Russian and Belarusian athletes.

In tennis, players from those countries have been allowed to compete – including at the French Open, the year’s second Grand Slam tournament, which begins on Sunday in Paris – but as “neutral” athletes who are not being identified by their nationalities.

Who can’t play at Wimbledon?

The most prominent Russian tennis player at the moment is Daniil Medvedev, who won the US Open last September and briefly reached number one in the men’s rankings this year. Andrey Rublev, who is ranked number seven in the ATP, is another top male player.

The WTA’s number seven, Aryna Sabalenka, who was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon a year ago, and former number one Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, are from Belarus.

Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to play at Wimbledon this year because of the war in Ukraine, the All England Club announced Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
A spectator holding a Russian flag during the men’s singles match between Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Croatia’s Marin Cilic at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in 2021 [File photo Alberto Pezzali/AP]

Why cancel ranking points?

The WTA and ATP condemned the invasion of Ukraine, but said it was not fair for the All England Club to prevent certain players from playing because of the actions of their countries’ governments.

“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole,” the ATP said. “Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the tour.”

The International Tennis Federation also withdrew its ranking points from the junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon.

How do ranking points work? Why do they matter?

The WTA and ATP official rankings date to the early 1970s and currently are based on each player’s best results over the preceding 52 weeks; women count their top 16 tournaments, men their top 19.

Swiatek is the 28th woman to sit atop the WTA; Djokovic is one of 27 men to lead the ATP and has spent more weeks in that spot than anyone else.

Wimbledon and the three other Grand Slam tournaments award 2,000 points apiece to the women’s and men’s singles champions, more than any other events. In addition to other measures such as trophies or prize money, rankings are a way for fans, sponsors and others – including the players themselves – to understand where athletes stand in the sport’s hierarchy.

Technically, any tennis event that does not award ranking points is considered an exhibition.

Has this happened before?

Representatives of the ATP, WTA and ITF said they were unaware of any previous instances of rankings points being withheld from a tournament.

Will any players skip Wimbledon because there are no ranking points?

It is too soon to know, but even without ranking points, Wimbledon still offers plenty of prestige and millions of dollars in payouts.

“If you win it, I think you’d still be pretty happy,” said Jessica Pegula, an American seeded 11th at Roland Garros.

“But I think it’s just up to each individual person – how they’re feeling, their motivation.”

What will happen at the US open?

It is not yet known whether players from Russia or Belarus will be able to enter the US Open, the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, which begins in New York on August 29.

“We continue to monitor events”, US Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier wrote in an email, “and are in active dialogue with the Ukraine and Russian/Belarusian players, the tours, the other Grand Slams, and other relevant parties”.



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Israel, Switzerland report first monkeypox cases as virus spreads | News

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The outbreak of monkeypox in countries where the virus is not endemic is highly unusual, according to scientists.

Israel and Switzerland have confirmed their first cases of monkeypox, joining several European and North American countries in detecting a disease that is endemic to parts of Africa.

In recent weeks, more than 100 confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox have been detected in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden as well as in the US, Canada and Australia, raising fears the virus may be spreading.

The outbreak in countries where the virus is not endemic is highly unusual, according to scientists.

A spokesman for Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital told AFP on Saturday that a 30-year-old man, who recently returned from western Europe with monkeypox symptoms, had tested positive for the virus.

The Israeli health ministry said on Friday that the man had been exposed to a person with monkeypox abroad and that he remained in isolation at Ichilov Hospital in mild condition.

Switzerland also confirmed its first detected case of monkeypox on Saturday, a person in the canton of Bern who contracted the virus through “close physical contact abroad”, the canton said in a statement.

The person consulted a doctor because they had a fever and a rash and felt poorly, the canton said, adding that the person was in isolation at home and the illness was developing in a “benign” way. A person they had been in contact with has been informed, the canton added

The virus, which causes distinctive pustules but is rarely fatal, is endemic to parts of central and west Africa. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets from a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding or towels.

Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the World Health Organization, which is currently working on further guidance for countries on how to mitigate the spread of the disease.

David Heymann, chair of the WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards with Pandemic and Epidemic Potential, said experts were likely to give more guidance to countries in the coming days in how to deal with monkeypox.

“What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world,” Heymann told Reuters.

He said a WHO meeting on the issued was convened on Friday “because of the urgency of the situation”.

Health officials in several countries have warned that cases could rise further in Europe as major summer gatherings and festivals take place in the coming months.



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‘Perfect climate storm’: Pakistan reels from extreme heat | Climate Crisis News

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Lahore, Pakistan – In the capital of Pakistan’s largest province Punjab, residents such as Muhammad Junaid say the ongoing heatwave has felt “very sudden and unexpected”.

A tailor living in one of Lahore’s Katchi Abadis (shanty towns), Junaid told Al Jazeera the 40 degree Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit) and above temperatures, combined with hours-long power shortages, have created an “unbearable” situation at home.

“We are eight people living in three rooms… The children get easily frustrated in this heat together with the load shedding [power outages]… Sometimes they can’t help but cry,” he said.

Since April, South Asian nations have been experiencing an unpredictable heatwave that has seen some areas touch 50°C (104°F).

“This is a freak weather phenomenon that has completely shaved off the spring season in Pakistan,” former climate change minister Malik Amin Aslam told Al Jazeera.

Speaking by phone from the capital Islamabad, Aslam said temperatures were “6-7° higher than normal at this time. What we see happening most definitely is due to climate change,” he added.

Lahore weather
A Lahore resident using a water tap to cool down amid an ongoing heatwave in many parts of Pakistan [Usaid Siddiqui/Al Jazeera]

Scientists have long warned the climate crisis will lead to more intense weather – including floods, droughts and heatwaves.

A UN agency reported earlier this week that key indicators of climate change – including greenhouse concentrations and ocean heat – had been higher compared with 2021.

“The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe,” the World Meteorological Organization said.

8th most affected country

According to the Global Climate Risk Index published by non-profit group Germanwatch, Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable nations in the world when it comes to the effects of climate change over the past two decades.

Between 2000 and 2019, the Germany-based organisation ranked Pakistan as the 8th most affected country. During this period, the sub-continent nation lost on average 500 lives annually as a result, or 10,000 over the course of the whole period, the group said.

One of the most alarming effects of the “torrid” heatwave is the accelerated melting of Pakistan’s glaciers in the north, according to Aslam.

Earlier this month, the Hassanabad bridge in the northern Hunza Valley was destroyed because of a glacial lake outburst flood at the Shisper Glacier – leading to flashfloods – and leaving tourists and locals stranded.

“Last year we [the previous government] had made special drainage channels around the glacier to let the drainage happen – but the lake burst was so huge it broke through it as well,” said Aslam.

Pakistan has more than 7,000 glaciers – one of the highest numbers in the world – many of them in the Himalayan region.

A University of Leeds study published in December found the ice from glaciers in the Himalayas was melting “at least 10 times higher than the average rate over past centuries” a result of human-induced climate change.

Moreover, the researchers reported the Himalayas, which also covers other countries in South Asia such as Nepal and India, had lost 40 percent of their ice over several hundred years.

“What Pakistan is experiencing is a perfect climate storm,” Aslam said. “It is very alarming and there is nothing we can do about this. The country cannot simply go out and turn off the greenhouse gases.”

Effect on crops

Experts have warned the unexpected heatwave is also affecting the agriculture sector in the country.

Amanullah Khan, head of the environment and climate change unit at the UN Development Programme in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera while the country’s crops are used to high temperatures, the issue was the heatwave arriving earlier than expected.

“It’s not as if the agriculture of this country has not seen temperatures of 41°C or 43°C – the problem is that crops need certain temperatures at a certain time of their growth,” he said from Islamabad.

“If the heat arrives earlier the usual, this will manifest in the country not producing good crops such as wheat,” Khan noted, adding Pakistan imported wheat last year, despite being a net exporter for many years. He cited climate change as one of the main reasons.

A vegetable vendor waits for customers
A vegetable vendor waits for customers to sell his produce in Lahore [Usaid Siddiqui/Al Jazeera]

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s mango harvest has also been affected, with some local experts claiming a drop of nearly 60 percent in production.

The patron-in-chief of the All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association Waheed Ahmed told Al Jazeera his group had reduced its export target by 25,000 tonnes this season, a 20 percent drop.

Speaking from Lahore, Ahmed added similar shortfalls can be expected later this year in the “production of green vegetables, sugarcane and other crops”.

Furthermore, Ahmed said continuing water shortages were further deepening food security in the country.

Earlier this month, Pakistan was ranked among the top 23 countries in the world by the UN facing drought emergencies over the past two years.

The report published by the UN Conven­tion to Combat Desertifica­tion said droughts – a result of low precipitation and exacerbated by higher than normal temperatures – were a major driver of “crop yield volatility”, leading to low yields and resulting in “substantial financial losses”.

‘No choice’

Junaid the tailor said unlike more affluent households, he and his family had few financial resources to mitigate the effects of the heatwave, made worse by the ongoing power outages in the province and elsewhere.

“We have no money to buy an air-conditioner. We rely on fans and cheap coolers … but when there is no electricity for several hours, we have nothing to stay cool with. We just have to live with it,” he lamented.

“We can’t afford a UPS [uninterruptible power supply] or generator as a backup when the load shedding starts.”

Muahmmad Zubair chopping ice to stay cool
Muhammad Zubair breaks up a block of ice to use for cooling purposes outside his tea stall in Lahore, Pakistan [Usaid Siddiqui/Al Jazeera]

A climate study published in February found in the 2010s exposure to heatwaves for the “poorest quarter of the world … was more than 40 greater than in the wealthiest quarter”, citing a lack of access to heat adaptation facilities such as air conditioning and the resources to run them.

“Adaptation measures, such as cooling centres … can lower a population’s heat exposure impact. However, a country’s ability to implement adaptation measures generally depends on its financial resources, governance, culture and knowledge. Poverty affects each,” the authors wrote for the media and research outlet The Conversation.

Nevertheless, for low-income labourers in Pakistan who work outdoors, the heatwave is a secondary concern.

“We have no choice but to continue working the same long hours no matter how hot it gets … to support our families,” Muhammad Zubair, a tea seller told Al Jazeera, adding his regular 10-12-hour workdays remain unchanged.

Arshad, a day labourer who makes between 500-1,200 rupees a day (US$2-$6) told Al Jazeera the government should ensure continuous employment for temporary workers like him.

The father of three said he had not found a paid job for nine consecutive days between April and May, all the while sitting outside for eight or nine hours at a busy intersection in Lahore, hoping someone would hire him.

“The heat is bad but it will always be there… It can’t stop us from trying not to go hungry.”





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