Sunday 22 October 2017

In brief: South Sudan's UN official calls for warring parties to open access to aid

South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks after he signed a peace agreement with South's Sudan's President Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa
South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar speaks after he signed a peace agreement with South's Sudan's President Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa

THE top UN aid official in South Sudan has called on the two warring parties to open access for aid after they signed a new peace deal, the conflict's second.

Toby Lanzer called on the government and rebel fighters to open roads for truck convoys and rivers for barges to allow emergency aid through.

The peace deal calls for unhindered humanitarian access and a cessation of hostilities within 24 hours.

A January peace deal signed by the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels backing former vice-president Riek Machar fell apart immediately. Fighting began in December.

SYRIANS RETURN TO WAR-BATTERED HOMS

Thousands of Syrians streamed into war-battered parts of the central city of Homs for the first time in nearly two years yesterday, many making plans to move back just days after rebels surrendered their strongholds to pro-government forces.

Men, women and children fanned through the city's smashed ancient quarters, some in pick-up trucks and bicycles, while most walked on a breezy, sunny day.

BODY FOUND AFTER HOT-AIR BALLOON FIRE

THE body of one occupant of a hot-air balloon that caught fire after striking a power line and crashed has been recovered – and police searched yesterday for two others feared dead, Virginia State Police said.

Police received eyewitness reports that two occupants either fell or jumped from the burning balloon after it struck the power line.

17 DIE AS BUS FALLS FROM MOUNTAIN ROAD

A private bus has plunged off a mountain road in northern India, killing 17 people and injuring five others.

Police say the bus was travelling overnight in the Himalayan foothill state of Uttarakhand when it fell 300 metres (1,000 feet) and smashed into pieces at the bottom of a gorge in Chamoli district. Fifteen passengers were killed instantly and two others died later from their injuries.

MERKEL DEFENDS PENSION AGE CHANGES

Chancellor Angela Merkel is defending plans to allow some Germans to retire on full pensions at 63 and insisting they won't stop her advocating reforms in other countries.

Germany is raising the retirement age gradually to 67 from 65 but the government plans, at the insistence of Merkel's new centre-left coalition partners, to allow people who have paid into the pension system for 45 years to retire at 63 without taking a financial hit.

POOR WEATHER SLOWS FERRY BODIES HUNT

Bad weather and the deterioration of internal partitions in a sunken ferry are hampering the search for those still missing in the disaster, South Korean officials have said.

More than three weeks after the ferry sank, 29 passengers remain missing, with 275 bodies recovered so far, most of them high-school students.

TEENAGER HELD AFTER COUPLE FOUND DEAD

A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man, 32, and a woman, 29, were found dead at a house early yesterday.

West Midlands Police said three young girls, aged 11, eight and seven, were also found unharmed in the house in Walsall in the West Midlands where they had been sleeping.

SUICIDE ATTACKS AT CHECKPOINTS KILL 11

Authorities in Iraq say two bombings, including a suicide attack at a security checkpoint, have killed 11 people, north of the capital, Baghdad. Police officials say the deadliest attack happened yesterday when a suicide bomber drove his car into the security checkpoint in Dujail, killing six security force members and a civilian. They say the attack wounded 15 people.

LATE START FOR SLEEPY A-LEVEL STUDENTS

A private school is to start lessons for sixth formers at 1.30pm because teenagers "have a biological disposition to going to bed late and struggling to get up early".

Hampton Court House in East Molesey, Surrey, believes that the change from the conventional time of 9am, with classes ending at 7pm, will be more productive and less stressful for its students. The staggered start will also mean that the pupils can avoid rush-hour traffic.

LATEST NUCLEAR THREAT BY NORTH KOREA

North Korea has issued its latest nuclear threat, two days after South Korea's defence minister said Pyongyang was making final preparations to conduct its fourth nuclear test.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted the ruling party's Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying that North Korea had "clarified its resolute stand that it would take counter measures including a nuclear test to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the country".

NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR GUATEMALA

Guatemala's president has appointed attorney Thelma Esperanza Aldana Hernandez as the new attorney general.

Aldana Hernandez has 25 years of courtroom experience and was president of the Supreme Court. She will begin her four-year term on May 17.

CHRIS BROWN'S SENTENCE EXTENDED

Chris Brown has admitted a probation violation over an altercation last October outside a Washington DC hotel and was sentenced to remain on probation and serve an additional 131 days in jail.

Superior Court Judge James R Brandlin sentenced Brown to serve a year in county jail, but gave him credit for nearly eight months of time served. The credits include time the Grammy winner has spent in rehab and jail, as well as credits for good behaviour while in jail.

JUDGE FILES CHARGES AGAINST FBI AGENT

A judge in southern Pakistan asked police yesterday to file formal charges against an FBI agent arrested there after allegedly carrying ammunition and three knives onto an airplane, an investigator said.

FBI agent Joel Cox, freed on one million rupees (€7,120) bail, appeared along with his lawyer before Judge Mohammed Ali Memon in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, Khalid Mahmood said.

Sunday Independent

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