NNA – Twenty-one people were killed when extremely cold weather struck during an ultramarathon in rugged Gansu province in northwestern China, sparking public outrage on Sunday over the lack of contingency planning.

The 100-km (62-mile) race began on Saturday from a scenic area at a bend in the Yellow River known for its sheer cliffs and rock columns. The route would take runners through canyons and hills on an arid plateau at an elevation of over 1,000 metres (3,300 feet).

The race kicked off 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) with runners clad in t-shirts and shorts under overcast skies, according to photographs posted on the social media account of the Yellow River Stone Forest area in Jingtai, a county under the jurisdiction of Baiyin city.

Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales that caused temperatures to plummet, officials from Baiyin told a news briefing on Sunday.

“The rain was getting heavier and heavier,” said Mao Shuzhi, who was about 24 km into the race at the time.

Shivering in the cold, she turned back before the high-altitude section, due to previous bad experiences with hypothermia.

“At first I was a bit regretful, thinking it might have just been a passing shower, but when I saw the strong winds and rains later through my hotel room window, I felt so lucky that I made the decision,” Mao told Reuters.

A massive rescue effort was initiated, with over 1,200 rescuers dispatched, assisted by thermal-imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to state media.

A landslide following the severe weather also hampered the rescue work, said officials from Baiyin, about 1,000 km (620 miles) west of the Chinese capital Beijing.

A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe. A last missing runner was found dead at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 21, state media reported.

Jingtai county saw a low of 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday excluding wind chill.


Baiyin – including Jingtai – was expected to see moderate to strong winds from Friday night through Saturday, according to the China Meteorological Administration in Beijing late on Friday.

A separate report on the website of provincial weather services on Thursday predicted a “significant” drop in temperature in most parts of Gansu – including Baiyin – through Sunday.

“It was very hot one day before the race, and although the weather forecast said there would be wind and moderate rain in Baiyin on Saturday, everybody believed it would be mild,” Mao said. “It’s dry in northwestern China.”

The deaths sparked public outrage on Chinese social media, with anger mainly directed at the Baiyin government and unhappiness over the lack of contingency planning.

“Why didn’t the government read the weather forecast and do a risk assessment?” one commentator wrote. “This is totally a manmade calamity. Even if the weather is unexpected, where were the contingency plans?”

At the news briefing, Baiyin officials bowed and apologised, saying they were saddened by the tragic deaths of the runners and that they were to be blamed.

“The wind is too strong, our thermal blankets have been torn to bits,” a runner wrote in a WeChat chatroom to which Mao belonged.

Many of the runners had suffered from hypothermia and had lost their way in the strong winds and heavy rain, according to screenshots taken by Mao of the messages in the chatroom.

“A few are unconscious and are foaming at the mouth,” another runner wrote.

The Gansu provincial government has set up an investigation team to further look into the cause of the deaths, the People’s Daily reported.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – Rome – Eight people died and two were seriously injured Sunday after a cable car plunged to the ground on the side of a mountain in northern Italy, emergency services said.

The accident occurred by the resort town of Stresa, which lies on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region.

“The provisional toll is eight dead and two injured” who were rushed to a pediatric hospital in the city of Turin, emergency services spokesman Walter Milan told AFP.

Images from the fire service show debris from the cabin in a wooded area where a steep slope makes access difficult.

The 20-minute cable car ride, popular with tourists, links Stresa with the 1,500-metre (4,900-foot) summit of the Mottarone mountain, which offers spectacular views of the Alps.

The accident, which occurred around 300 metres from the summit, may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, the Ansa news agency said.

It said 11 people were in the cabin that fell.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – The United Arab Emirates has asked to host the COP 28 international conference on climate change in 2023, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Sunday.

The annual Conference of Parties (COP) is the decision-making body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The UAE exports oil and hosts the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) headquarters.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – The Israeli enemy was set on alert this morning in front of Basateen al-Sharqi in Mays al-Jabal, after the citizens plowed the lands located on the borders in preparation for cultivation in order to stabilize its Lebaneseness, NNA Correspondent said.

This coincides with a heritage day at the border organized by the agricultural cooperative in Mays al-Jabal.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – The vote count process in the Northern Doctors Syndicate Council elections ended this afternoon with the victory o the “Consensus List” supported by most leaders and parties in Tripoli and the North.

The electoral process began at nine o’clock in the morning at Rashid Karami International Fair to elect six new members into the Council of the Doctors Syndicate in the North, after elections were postponed for a year due to the Corona pandemic.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – Under the auspices of the LAF Commander, Joseph AOUN, and in cooperation with the Head of the State Shura Council, Judge Fadi ELIAS, Banque Du Liban and ENA, the Director of the Research and Strategic Studies Center (RSSC) at the Lebanese Armed Forces, P.S.C Brigadier General Pierre SAAB, organized a workshop entitled:”Administrative Justice and its integration with the institutions of the Ministry of National Defense”

Carried out over three days, this workshop involves participants who gave fruitful lectures regarding topics with which the Lebanese Armed Forces are concerned. Topics include: administrative justice, State Shura Council, State litigation, Administration under exceptional circumstances, administrative disputes with the Ministry of National Defense, confiscations in favor of the Lebanese Armed Forces, expropriation and its procedures, as well as legitimacy principle and its limits, the ENA role in developing the State’s administrative systems, the financial administration under the exceptional circumstances and finally the administrative decentralization.

In the presence of a number of LAF and RSSC Officers, State Shura Council’s Judges Karl IRANI, Nadia EL HAJJAR and Samih MADDAH, further to the Governor of Mount Lebanon, Judge Mohammed MAKAWI, as well as university professors from the aforementioned departments and lawyers, took part in this workshop. The RSSC Director and the Representative of the LAF Commander, P.S.C B.G. Pierre SAAB delivered a speech about the importance of applying the provisions of the administrative justice.

On the final day, participants came up with recommendations focusing on updating and developing laws and regulations in order to achieve transparency and Rule of Law as to safeguard the rights of the military institution.

At the end of the workshop, commemorative trophies and certificates were distributed to the participants.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Beshara Boutros al-Rahi, presided over Sunday Mass service in Bkirki this morning.

In his sermon, Rahi criticized the failure to form the government in the wake of economic, social and financial crises, saying: “The pretexts do not justify not forming the government, and what powers allow the disruption of state institutions?”

In this context, the Prelate called on the Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri, to form an updated government line-up that consists of competent specialists.

Turning to the issue of the Syrian refugees, Rahi called on them to return home because they are now ordinary citizens.

“The Syrian regime must understand the Lebanese situation and organize the return of its citizens.” he stressed.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – Caretaker Public Health Minister, Hamad Hassan, paid tribute and reverence to the “sacrifices and heroism of the Palestinian people,” stressing that “the international community must oblige the Zionist enemy to lift its unjust blockade off Gaza and stop its racist practices in occupied Jerusalem, and compensate for targeting the health system in occupied Palestine.”

Hassan’s words came during his participation in the 55th regular session of the Council of Arab Health Ministers which was held via “video conferencing” earlier today. Conferees tackled the Council’s unified speech to be delivered before the next session of the General Assembly of the World Health Organization, which will focus on the violations and inhuman practices committed by the Israeli enemy in the occupied Palestinian territories, and their devastating effects on the health conditions in the State of Palestine.

The Arab ministers also discussed setting-up an executive Arab strategy to obtain COVID-19 vaccines.

In this regard, Hassan pointed to “the negative effects of some propaganda and confusion against certain vaccines used by the WHO’s Kovacs platform.” Accordingly, he highlighted the importance of the organization’s developing a transparent advertising and scientific strategy that clarifies to the public the relevant facts, so as not to hinder the community immunization plans put into effect in the Arab countries.

He also hoped for “coordination between Arab health ministers in their efforts to unify health procedures and standards followed at borders and land, sea and air crossings, in order to confirm measures to prevent the Coronavirus without having a negative impact on the commercial and tourism wheel that has slowed down significantly under the weight of the pandemic.”


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – The Lebanese Forces Party’s media department issued a statement this evening, in which it responded to certain calls for the murder of Party Chief Samir Geagea by some members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party during a celebration march organized today along Beirut’s Hamra Street.

“We will file a lawsuit before the concerned authorities against those responsible for the ceremony and everyone who is proven to be involved in the explicit public call for murder before all the media and people,” the statement said.

It continued to question “how society would ever be able to rise while it encompasses individuals who act as agents, traitors, murderers, and criminals, with an ideology that has nothing to do with Lebanon, in addition to their boastful avowal of murder and terrorism?”

“Despite the Judicial Council’s ruling against members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party in the assassination of the late President-elect of the Republic of Lebanon, Sheikh Bashir Gemayel, in 1982, who was a source of hope for most Lebanese, and whose assassination deprived Lebanon of the establishment of an actual state, this Party continues to boast of its terrorism, which confirms its criminal nature, and which prompts us to ask the concerned authorities to withdraw the license from said Party and to stop recognizing its existence, based on many factors, most prominently its failure to recognize Lebanon as an independent entity, and its declared, explicit and proven crime in sound and image,” the LF statement underlined.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon


NNA – The Syrian Social Nationalist Party issued a response statement this evening, in which it criticized the content of the Lebanese Forces Party’s statement earlier today which was directed against SSNP members’ slogans during their participation in today’s ceremony on Hamra Street in Beirut.

The statement clarified that these slogans were uttered spontaneously by a group of Nationalists against the head of the Lebanese Forces, as they were leaving the SSNP’s celebration this afternoon in commemoration of “Resistance and Liberation Day” and the victory of our people in Palestine, noting that these slogans did not appear in the Party’s official footage of the event.

The SSNP affirmed in its statement that it has always been a supporter of unity in the country and the most keen on preserving civil peace and national cohesion and the choice of the state and law, while reminding citizens of the Lebanese Forces’ attacks a few days ago on peaceful voters as they were on their way to partake in the Syrian presidential elections. “This came after the Lebanese Forces Chief instigated these disgraceful acts publicly, as is his habit of spreading discord, after which the LF Party resorted to justifying this behaviour under the pretext that it was a natural reaction,” the statement added, noting that “as a result of these malicious attacks and incitement, one victim and more than 20 wounded fell on that day.”

“It seems that the Lebanese Forces were terrified to see the real power of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and its ability to gather thousands of people from all regions and social strata and to cheer for Palestine, from Beirut, the capital of resistance and liberation, after these Forces expressed their position on Palestine by burning its flag,” the statement went on.

“It also appears that the Chief of the Lebanese Forces found material to save him from his predicaments, after losing all his political and security bets on the victory of the terrorist forces and the breakage of the axis of resistance or any of its parties or allies in Lebanon and the region…portraying himself as a victim, as he tried in 2012, when he filmed and produced, ‘The Rose – Saved from Assassination,” the SSNP statement underscored.


Source: National News Agency-Lebanon

Thousands take part in pro-Palestinian rallies worldwide

RAMALLAH, Sunday, May 23, 2021 (WAFA) – Several pro-Palestinian rallies took place yesterday in many countries around the world in support of the Palestinian people in the aftermath of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

In Toronto, Canda, a large group of protesters marched through Yonge-Dundas Square, drumming and chanting in support of Palestinians in Gaza following 11 days of Israeli aggression.

The demonstration, organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement, began at 3 p.m. in Yonge-Dundas Square and moved northbound until it reached the Israeli consulate on Bloor Street.

Hundreds of demonstrators waved flags, carried signs and chanted slogans, including “Free, free Palestine” and “Palestine will never die.”

In Australia, thousands of protesters have turned out at passionate pro-Palestinian rallies in Sydney and Melbourne calling on the Morrison government to hold Israel to account for ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

As many as 15,000 demonstrators are believed to have attended the two rallies.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, several hundred protesters organized a support rally for the people of Palestine. The attendees carried Palestinian flags and messages of support in front of the City Hall.

The rally was attended by all generations, from children who came with their parents, holding photos of their dead and wounded peers from Palestine, to the elderly. They were also joined by Palestinian Ambassador to BiH Rezeqa Namooru.

In the United States, thousands of protesters rallied in multiple cities in support of Palestinian people in the aftermath of the Israeli aggression.

Protesters showed support for Palestinians and accused the Israeli government of using disproportionate force and indiscriminately bombing densely populated civilian areas in Gaza.

In Paris, France, a solidarity protest was held with thousands attending the march.

The capital marchers shouted slogans such as “Palestine will live, Palestine will win”, “Israel assassin, Macron accomplice”, “and We are all Palestinians.”


Source: Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA)

Palestine confirms 221 new coronavirus cases, seven deaths and 640 recoveries

RAMALLAH, Sunday, May 23, 2021 (WAFA) – Palestine recorded 221 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths in the last 24 hours, according to Health Minister Mai Alkaila in her daily report on coronavirus in Palestine.

She said the West Bank had 94 new cases, two deaths, and 108 recoveries in the last 24 hours, while the Gaza Strip had 127 new cases, five deaths, and 532 recoveries.

Alkaila said 44 patients are in intensive care units, among them nine who are on ventilators.

A total of 283,101 people have so far been vaccinated against the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza, noting that 197,327 people received the second doze of the vaccine.

Alkaila pointed out that the recovery rate in Palestine has so far reached 97.7 percent, while active cases declined to 1.2 percent. Deaths stood at 1.1 percent of total infections.

Source: Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA)