News ID: 90835
Publish Date : 31 May 2021 - 22:44

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Several hundred people in New Zealand were evacuated from their homes Monday with some recounting dramatic helicopter rescues as heavy rain caused widespread flooding in the Canterbury region. Authorities declared a state of emergency after some places received as much as 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain over the weekend and into Monday. Forecasters warned of possible heavy rain through Monday evening before conditions improved. The military helped evacuate more than 50 people including several overnight in an NH-90 military helicopter. One man was clinging to a tree near the town of Darfield when he jumped into floodwaters and tried to swim to safety but was swept away, the military said. Helicopter crews scoured the water for 30 minutes before finding the man and plucking him to safety. The military helicopter also rescued an elderly couple from the roof of their car. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was visiting New Zealand, told reporters that he was thinking of those caught up in the floods.

HOUSTON (AP) — Religious leaders, musical guests, spoken word artists and politicians gathered for a concert in Houston, the home town of George Floyd, to commemorate the anniversary of his death.“It’s been an incredible year and a very emotional year, so much grief and loss, so much angst and anxiety, worldwide protests, the insurrection at the Capitol, but I guarantee you one thing — that none of us will forget May 25, 2020, the day that George Floyd’s life was taken from us,” pastor Mia Wright said. Floyd, who was Black, died last year after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck, pinning him to the ground for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd pleaded for air. Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests and calls for change in policing in the U.S. Chauvin was fired after Floyd died and was later convicted of murder and manslaughter in his death. “The tragedy of his murder becomes even more profound as your strength in seeking justice sparked a reckoning too long overdue,” voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams said of the Floyd family. The concert being held by the George Floyd Foundation is among events being held across the nation to mark the anniversary. The foundation was launched by Floyd’s siblings in his honor to help combat racial inequities in Black and brown communities.

LAGOS (Reuters) -- West African regional bloc ECOWAS suspended Mali’s membership in response to last week’s coup and said authorities must stick to a timetable for a return to democracy, but stopped short of imposing new sanctions. Leaders of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States held an emergency summit in Ghana’s capital Accra to agree a response to the Malian military’s ouster of a president and prime minister for the second time in nine months. Mali’s neighbors fear the latest revolt will jeopardize a commitment to hold a presidential election next February, and undermine a regional fight against takfiri militants. In a communique after the summit, ECOWAS said Mali’s membership in the bloc was suspended with immediate effect. However it did not announce sanctions like those it imposed after the coup last August, which saw members temporarily close their borders with landlocked Mali and halt financial transactions. It also did not call for new interim President Assimi Goita to step down. The army colonel, who led the August coup and last week’s revolt, was declared president on Friday.

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China said on Monday that married couples may have up to three children, a major policy shift from the existing limit of two after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world’s most populous country. Beijing scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities - a challenge that remains. “To further optimize the birth policy, (China) will implement a one-married-couple-can-have-three-children policy,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a report following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.

BOGOTA (Reuters) -- Waving flags and dressed in white, thousands marched in Colombia’s capital Bogota to demand an end to protests and roadblocks, as well as to express support for security forces, following a month of demonstrations. The roadblocks have caused shortages of food and supplies in some parts of the country. Talks between the government and national protest leaders are to restart on Sunday, after stalling last week. Widespread protests began at the end of April in opposition to a now-withdrawn tax reform but have since expanded to call for a basic income, opportunities for young people and to end police violence. The month of protests have been beset with violence. The national government has so-far linked 17 civilian deaths and the deaths of two police officers to the protests, while rights groups say security forces have killed dozens of civilians. In Colombia’s third-largest city, Cali, 13 people were killed during a day of protests on Friday, Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said on Saturday, stressing it was not certain how many of these were linked to demonstrations.

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