News ID: 97658
Publish Date : 12 December 2021 - 21:24

TORONTO (Reuters) – Extreme winds hit the Canadian province of Ontario to plunge more than 280,000 homes and businesses into darkness, utility Hydro One said. The Toronto-listed company, which supplies electricity to about 1.4 million customers across the province, said it expected more outages until the winds subsided. “Hydro One expects customers in the hardest-hit areas to be without power overnight, including southern, central and eastern Ontario,” the company said in a statement. “Significant damage has been reported, including broken poles, fallen trees and hazardous road conditions,” it added, but did not elaborate. Although power has been restored to 78,000 customers, about 210,000 still remain without electricity. Environment and Climate Change Canada had also issued wind warnings for the southern regions of Ontario, cautioning against expected gusts of up to 120 kph (75 mph). Separately, another Canadian utility, Alectra, said it had sent workers to restore power to customers across the Greater Toronto area, but added that some might be without power all night.

ROME (AFP) – Three people were killed and six were missing after an explosion caused multiple residential buildings to collapse on the Italian island of Sicily, authorities said Sunday. Two women were recovered alive from the rubble in the southern town of Ravanusa after the collapse on Saturday night, and rescuers and sniffer dogs were searching to locate the missing. The death count from the disaster shifted throughout the morning, and Sicily’s regional civil protection unit confirmed at 10:07 GMT Sunday on its Facebook page that three people were confirmed dead and not four, as they had reported earlier. Television images showed a mass of rubble, wooden beams and mangled steel in a large empty space in Ravanusa’s centre, with neighboring buildings charred and damaged. It was not immediately clear how many buildings collapsed in the explosion. Initial reports cited one apartment building but Sicily’s regional civil protection unit said on its website that “four buildings were involved” in the incident. Local news reports said as many as 10 buildings were affected.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account was briefly hacked on Sunday before it was restored once the matter was escalated to the microblogging site, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. A social media post shared by the PM’s account while it was breached declared that “India has officially adopted Bitcoin as [its] legal tender”. “The government has bought 500 BTC (Bitcoins) and is distributing them to all residents of the country”, said the social media post, which has now been deleted. The screenshot of the now deleted Twitter post has since been shared widely on Indian social media, with many Indian users expressing concern about the cybersecurity of the prime minister’s account.

ADDIS ABABA (Al Jazeera) – Tigray rebels have recaptured the north Ethiopian town of Lalibela, Reuters and AFP news agency have reported, citing local residents, less than two weeks after government forces and their allies took control of the UNESCO World Heritage town. Tigrayan fighters “are in the town centre, there’s no fighting,” said a resident reached by telephone on Sunday afternoon. “They came back. They’re already here,” said another. Lalibela is home to 11 medieval rock-cut churches and a site of pilgrimage for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group’s military leadership said in a statement shared with pro-TPLF media they had launched “widespread counter-offensives” in numerous locations including along the road linking Gashena and Lalibela. “Our forces first defended and then carried out counter-offensives against the massive force that was attacking the front at Gashena and the surrounding areas to achieve a glorious victory,” it said.

TUNIS (MEMO) – A protest group has called for demonstrations on Friday to mark the 11th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, Anadolu Agency reported. In a statement on Sunday, the “Citizens Against Coup” initiative called for the restoration of the elected parliament and defending the country’s constitution. The protest group renewed calls for setting a date for holding early parliamentary and presidential elections as an exit from the country’s ongoing political crisis. On July 25, Tunisian President Kais Saied ousted the government, suspended parliament, and assumed executive authority. While he insists that his exceptional measures are meant to “save” the country, his critics accuse him of orchestrating a coup.

LONDON (The Guardian) – The UK government brought in new rules for the arms trade that experts fear will make it easier to ignore human rights concerns when deciding whether to allow international sales of UK-made weapons. The revised Strategic Export Licensing Criteria could also make it harder for critics to challenge any deal in court, warned Martin Butcher, policy adviser on conflict and arms for Oxfam, who said the changes “would reduce accountability and transparency and will lead to more UK arms being used to commit war crimes and other abuses”, The Guardian reported. The secretary of state for international trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, introduced the revised criteria for licensing arms sales in a written statement to parliament on Wednesday. Ministers now appear to have more discretion to allow sales. One new provision allows exports if a minister decides there is only a “theoretical” risk that a buyer would break rules about the use of weapons. Under the new rules “[the government] will not refuse a license on the grounds of a purely theoretical risk of a breach of one or more of those criteria”, Trevelyan’s statement said.

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