Here is CurrentHow’s Daily Briefing™ for the 25th of December, 2016 :-
1. 92 killed in Russia military plane crash :-
A Russian military plane carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members, crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, killing everyone on board, Russian authorities said.
The Russian Defence Ministry said one of its TU-154 Tupolev planes had disappeared from radar screens at 0525 MSK (0225 GMT), two minutes after taking off from Sochi in southern Russia, where it had stopped to refuel from Moscow, on its way to Syria. Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, told reporters that nobody had survived. Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said ten bodies have been recovered at the crash site.
In televised comments, President Vladimir Putin, speaking in St Petersburg, declared Dec. 26 a national day of mourning. The jet, a Soviet-era Tupolev plane built in 1983, had been carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members. At least 60 were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, better known internationally as the Red Army Choir, and were being flown out to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria to entertain troops in the run-up to the New Year. Nine Russian reporters were also on board as well as military servicemen. Konashenkov said fragments of the plane had been found at a depth of about 70 metres (yards) in the Black Sea about 1.5 km (1 mile) off the coast near the city of Sochi. “The search operation is continuing,” said Konashenkov. “Four ships, four helicopters, and a plane and a drone are working in the area,” he said, saying a military commission had flown to Sochi to look into what happened.
Six ships from Russia’s Black Sea fleet were on their way to the crash site, and more than 100 divers were being drafted in to search the area along with a mini-submarine. Russia’s RIA news agency, citing an unidentified security source, said preliminary information indicated that the plane had crashed because of a technical malfunction or a pilot error. Another source told Russian agencies that the possibility of a militant act had been ruled out. The weather had been good. Konashenkov said the plane had last been serviced in September and undergone more major repairs in December 2014. He said the pilot was experienced and that the plane had about 7,000 flying hours on its clock. According to the defence ministry’s passenger manifest, Elizaveta Glinka, a member of Putin’s advisory human rights council, was on the plane.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters it was too early to say what had caused the crash. Putin was being kept constantly informed of the latest developments, Peskov said. Putin has ordered the government to probe the crash of a Syria-bound military plane. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to form and head a state commission to investigative the crash of the Tu-154 plane in Sochi,” the Kremlin said in a statement. Agencies) Russian military investigators said in a statement they had opened a criminal investigation into the crash. The Kremlin said Putin expressed his deepest condolences to those who had lost loved ones in the crash and ordered Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to head a government investigatory commission.
Russia’s Defence Ministry regularly flies musicians into Syria to put on concerts for military personnel. The base they were heading for, Hmeymim, is in Latakia province. It is from there that Russia launches air strikes against Syrian rebels. The last big TU-154 crash was in 2010 when a Polish jet carrying then-president Lech Kaczynski and much of Poland’s political elite crashed in western Russia killing everyone on board.
2. 7.7 magnitude earthquake rocks southern Chile :-
A strong Christmas day earthquake rattled Chile on Sunday, registering 7.7 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, US seismologists said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck near the southern coast of the quake-prone South American nation at 1422 GMT.
Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) said there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. The tremors depth was 15 kilometres. Tsunami warning has been triggered, US geologists said.
Chile has a long history of deadly quakes, including a 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast, which also triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.
The post will be updated as new details emerge.
3. German city of Augsburg evacuated on Christmas after World War II bomb found :-
Residents of a southern Germany town woke up to bad piece of news on Sunday — local authorities had discovered a bomb dating back from World War II and had requested them to leave their homes till the explosive was defused.
Around 54,000 residents of the city of Augsburg were evacuated, which was the biggest mobilisation in Germany since the war.
The 1.8-tonne British bomb was found by construction workers at the heart of the Bavarian city.
“Today I ask everyone concerned to leave the area, if possible by themselves,” said Augsburg mayor Kurt Gribi on the city’s Twitter account.
This Christamas might be a dampener for the people of Augsburg because the defusing could take up to five hours, meaning the residents might not be able to return home beofre nighttime.
More than 70 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are still found buried on German territory, vestiges of the intense bombing campaigns by the Allied forces against Nazi Germany.
4. French aid worker kidnapped in Northern Mali :-
A Frenchwoman who runs an aid group has been kidnapped in Mali’s restive north, the French foreign ministry confirmed on Sunday.
Sophie Petronin was abducted in the city of Gao on Saturday, the ministry said, adding that French and Malian authorities were working together “to find and free our compatriot as quickly as possible”.
Petronin was the director of a non-governmental organisation that helps children suffering from malnutrition, the ministry said, adding that officials were in contact with her family.
Malian officials had on Saturday reported the kidnapping of a woman with French and Swiss nationality in Gao, but there was as yet no confirmation that Petronin held dual citizenship.
“We immediately launched a search,” a Malian security source said Saturday on condition of anonymity, without revealing the victim’s identity or how she was abducted.
Northern Mali fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda from March 2012. These forces were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year.
Barely a week goes by without attacks on security forces despite a peace pact signed last year following lengthy negotiations between the government, groups backing it and ethnic Tuareg rebels. Kidnappings, however, are rare.
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