Global Review – 30th October

151 killed, 82 injured in Halloween crowd crush in S. Korea

At least 151 people were killed and 82 others were injured during a horrifying crowd crush in South Korea’s capital where over 100,000 had gathered to celebrate Halloween on Saturday night. It’s feared that the death toll could rise further as of the injured people, 19 remain in critical condition.  

The dead – 97 women and 54 men, all under 30 years old – also include 19 foreigners from Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Norway. There are 355 reports of missing persons.

The public event was the country’s first Halloween celebration without face masks since the pandemic and it’s reported the event was so popular that hotels were booked out. Media reports suggest that the surge happened when people began rushing to a bar in a narrow alley near Hamilton Hotel, a major party spot, after hearing a celebrity visited there.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the deaths “shouldn’t have happened”. In a national speech, Yoon vowed to “investigate thoroughly” the incident and take every measure to avoid a repeat of the incident. He also declared a period of national mourning. Leaders of major countries – including President Biden, President Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – have expressed condolences.

Russia suspends wheat agreement

Russia on Saturday suspended its participation in a landmark agreement that allowed vital grain exports from Ukraine, blaming drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea. Moscow made the announcement after its army accused Kiev of a “massive” drone attack on its Black Sea fleet, which Ukraine labelled a “false pretext” and the UN urged the deal’s preservation. The Turkey and UN-brokered deal to unlock grain exports signed between Russia and Ukraine in July is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict. The agreement already allowed more than nine million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19. President Zelenskyy said that the suspension of the deal requires a strong international response from the United Nations and the Group of 20 major economies. In a video address, he accused Russia of trying to create an artificial famine in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The White House said Russia was “weaponising food”. A UN spokesman said the organisation, which brokered the deal with Turkey, was in touch with Moscow.

‘Ukraine drone attack on Crimea fleet repelled’

Russia said Ukrainian forces attacked ships from the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, the biggest city in Russian-annexed Crimea, in the early hours of Saturday. “Nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous marine drones were involved in the attack,” the defence ministry said. “The preparation of this terrorist act and the training of servicemen of the Ukrainian 73rd Special Center for Naval Operations were carried out under the guidance of British specialists located in the town of Ochakiv.” All the air drones were destroyed though minor damage was done to the minesweeper Ivan Golubets, the ministry said. Sevastopol is the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russia said it intended to bring the issue of the attacks on Sevastopol and the Nord Stream gas pipeline to the UN Security Council. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was previously targeted in April this year by Ukrainian forces when its flagship warship, the Moskva, was sunk. The 510-crew missile cruiser had led Russia’s naval assault on Ukraine, and its sinking was a major symbolic and military blow.

Britain denies it helped Ukraine prepare the attack

Without providing any evidence, the Russian defence ministry also accused British navy specialists of helping Ukrainian forces prepare the attack on Saturday morning. It also said the same unit was “involved in plotting, organising, and implementation of the terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea on September 26 to blow up the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines”. In its reply, the British Ministry of Defence said: “To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale. This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian government than it does about the west.” France also said it did not believe the Russian allegations.

Death toll of Somalia attacks rises to 100

The toll of the double attack with two car bombs that took place yesterday at the Ministry of Education in Mogadishu, Somalia, rises to 100 dead. According to Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, one hundred people died and 300 were injured. The president released the new figures after visiting the site of the attack, stating that “the number of dead and injured continues to increase”.

Sunak attacked for COP27 snub

Political developments lead most of the London newspapers. The Sunday Times reports that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak risks undermining Britain’s position as a world leader on green issues if he stands by his decision not to attend COP27. The Observer reports that former prime minister Boris Johnson is planning to attend the climate summit, which could be seen as a criticism of Sunak and an attempt to improve profile. Sources close to Johnson did not deny that he was preparing to go to the event, the paper says. More than £530,000 donated to Sunak this year came from supporters with fossil fuel links, the Sunday Mirror reports. It puts the new prime minister’s decision not to attend the global climate summit under the spotlight, the paper says.

Brazil rivals stage final rallies ahead of voter

Brazil’s presidential candidates were gearing up for their final rallies Saturday in a scramble for votes on the eve of a white-knuckle election that has deeply polarized Latin America’s largest economy. The 77-year-old charismatic leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, tarnished by graft allegations, remains a hair’s breadth ahead in the polls after a narrow first-round victory. But many see the race against controversial far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, 67, as too close to call. The two men came face to face for the last time Friday night in their final debate, which featured mutual accusations of lying, corruption and disastrous management.

DNA clears innocent 69-year-old after 38 years in prison

A 69-year-old African American, Maurice Hastings, has been released after spending 38 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. His sentence, dating back to 1988, was overturned on October 20 after a DNA test cleared him, proving that the culprit was not him, but another man already convicted of the kidnapping of another woman and who had died in prison in 2020. After being released Hastings said, “I have prayed for many years for this day to come. At the moment there is no bitterness in me, now I just want to enjoy what is left of my life.” Roberta Wydermyer  was sexually assaulted and then killed with a single gunshot to the head. Her body was found in 1983 in the trunk of her vehicle in a Los Angeles suburb. Hastings was accused of the murder, but he always professed innocence. The prosecution asked for the death penalty, but then he was sentenced to life in prison. At the time of the autopsy, traces of semen had been found on her body. Hastings had asked for a DNA test in 2000. This request, however, was rejected by the district attorney.  In June of this year, however, he managed to obtain the test, which showed that the DNA profile corresponded to another man.

Royal Navy investigates women’s sex abuse claims

The head of the Royal Navy has ordered an investigation into allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against women in the Submarine Service. Several whistleblowers who served in the fleet told the’ Daily Mail’ they faced mistreatment from all ranks. Adm Sir Ben Key, the First Sea Lord, called the claims “abhorrent”, adding “sexual harassment has no place in the Royal Navy and will not be tolerated; Anyone who is found culpable will be held accountable,” he said. It is claimed the abuse has been happening for more than a decade, after a ban on female recruits was lifted in 2011.

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