Global Review – 21th January

Ghana explosion kills several people, levels 500 buildings

At least 17 people were killed and another 59 were injured in a huge explosion near the mining town of Bogoso, in western Ghana. The blast left a huge crater and reduced some 500 buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal.

The tragedy was the result of “an accident involving a truck, carrying explosive material for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle, near an electrical transformer which led to the explosion”. Of the 59 injured people, 42 are currently hospitalised and some are in critical condition. The chief of the municipality where the explosion occurred, said “the whole community is gone” after the blast, adding, “It’s almost like a ghost town now.”

First foreign ship arrives in Tonga

The first foreign ship has arrived in Tonga, joining aircraft bearing much-needed supplies for the Pacific nation which was left devastated by a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami on Saturday. The New Zealand navy vessel, one of two en route, is carrying 250,000 litres of water and desalination equipment that will be able to produce 70,000 litres a day. The United Nations said that about 84,000 people, more than 80% of the population, has been badly affected by the disaster. Scientists say the blast from the eruption may have been the loudest event on earth in more than a century as it was heard in New Zealand, more than 2,000km away.

EU health ministers meet over COVID

EU Health ministers are meeting in a videoconference later today to assess the COVID situation. The meeting has on its agenda the Omicron variant, “which represents a strong risk of destabilisation for the economic and social life of member states”, explains the French presidency. The adaptation of vaccines, the implementation of the fourth dose and the theme of the “convergence of national strategies” are also on the agenda of the meeting.

Austria approves mandatory anti-COVID vaccination

The Austrian parliament has approved the introduction of compulsory vaccination against COVID-19 – the first European country to do so. The approval with the necessary majority of votes took place after hours of debate. The measure will come into force on February 4.

Russia announces global naval manoeuvers

The Russian Navy will conduct exercises in all the seas under the jurisdiction of its fleets, namely the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic. The Moscow Ministry of Defence said more than 140 ships, 60 aircrafts and 10,000 personnel will be engaged in the exercises taking place between now and the end of February.

‘EU sanctions against Russia are ready’

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said that if Russia attacks Ukraine, EU sanctions will be imposed. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she said the EU would impose massive “economic-financial” sanctions if Moscow dared. She said the EU was the first trading partner for Russia and the first investor and such links with Russia were important but “they are more important for them”.

Pedophilia: Ratzinger rejects accusations

Pope Emeritus Joseph Ratzinger has rejected accusations of “errors of behaviour” in four cases quoted in a report on clergy abuse in Munich between 1945 and 2019. According to the report, which involves 173 priests, 9 deacons, 5 pastoral workers and 48 school staff, Ratzinger did not act against religious members accused of abuses, two cases of which had been documented by state courts and the two priests remained in active service. However, Ratzinger’s denials were described as “not very credible” by the report’s lawyers. The Vatican said it would “give due attention to the document”, reiterating the sense of shame and remorse for the abuses of minors committed by clerics, and ensuring closeness to all the victims and guaranteeing them safe environments”.

Commission asks for Ivanka Trump hearing

The US House of Representatives commission investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol has invited Ivanka Trump, daughter and former adviser of the then president, to voluntarily give her deposition regarding the events. The committee believes she was in direct contact with her father during key moments when his supporters stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win. As one of his advisers, she was also “present in the Oval Office” for key conversations, the panel said.

Djokovic could ask for €3.8 million compensation

The world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic could sue the Australian government for compensation of €3.8 million for the bad treatment he suffered during the recent judicial dispute which ended with his expulsion from the country since he was not vaccinated against COVID. Serbian media reports the complaints particularly concern the conditions in which Djokovic was detained in the centre for irregular immigrants in Melbourne.

Holders Algeria crash out of Africa Cup of Nations

Defending champions Algeria crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations with a 3-1 defeat against Ivory Coast. Algeria, which exit bottom of Group E after a torrid campaign, are the third holders to exit at the first hurdle of the finals. Their departure from the competition is in marked contrast to their entry, travelling to Cameroon on a 34-match unbeaten run and looking to surpass Italy’s all-time record of 37 wins.

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