Athens, Oct. 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- A 3-year-old toddler from Syria died on Wednesday after a Greek Coast Guard vessel crashed into a boat carrying refugees and migrants off the island of Kos, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
A total of 34 people were on board the rubber dinghy which was with no lights, according to the report. The boat capsized after the crash. A 26-year-old Syrian man went missing and six people were injured.
A European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) vessel, Greek Coast Guard boats and private boats assisted by a helicopter participated in the rescue operation.
Hundreds have perished in the Aegean Sea since 2015 when the mass influx of migrants and refugees started.
Over one million refugees and migrants entered Greece from Turkey and most continued their journey to other European countries until the closure of borders along the Balkan route in the winter of 2016.
Washington, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump is claiming "big success" along the Turkey-Syria border as the United States winds down its military commitment in Syria, where a civil war has raged for eight years.
Trump said in a tweet that he planned a late Wednesday morning statement from the White House where he would discuss the cease-fire between Turkey and American-allied Syrian Kurdish forces. According to Trump, the Kurds are "safe," and captured Islamic State fighters are "secured" in detention centers.
Trump this month ordered the bulk of the approximately 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria to withdraw after Turkey's president, Recep Tayipp Erdogan, told Trump in a phone call that Turkish forces were readying to invade northeastern Syria. Turkey's goal was to push back the Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered by Turkey to be terrorists.
Trump said he would "bring our soldiers home" from Syria, but then recalibrated and his administration plans to shift more than 700 to western Iraq. Those troops, however, do not have permission to stay in Iraq permanently.
Iraq's defense minister, Najah al-Shammari, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the U.S. troops will leave the country within four weeks.
Trump's tweet comes one day after Russia and Turkey agreed to deploy their forces across nearly the entire Syrian northeastern border.
The deal cements their rising prominence in Syria as Trump seeks to shrink the American footprint in the region and untangle the U.S. involvement in "endless wars."
U.S. troops in Syria fought for five years alongside Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria and succeeded in bringing down the Islamic State group there, at the cost of thousands of Kurdish fighters' lives.
Now that territory is set to be handed over to U.S. rivals.
Trump has said he has no problems with Russia and Turkey taking over as power brokers.
The agreement by Russia President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Erdogan will transform the region.
"I believe that this agreement will start a new era toward Syria lasting stability and it being cleared of terrorism," Erdorgan said. "I hope that this agreement is beneficial to our countries and to our brothers in Syria."
Moscow, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed dozens of leaders of African nations Wednesday for the first-ever Russia-Africa summit, reflecting Moscow's new push to expand its clout on the continent and saying there is "enormous potential for growth."
As Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi hosted the two-day summit attended by leaders of 43 of the continent's 54 countries, two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers landed in South Africa in the first-ever visit to the continent to underline Moscow's bid for influence.
Russia's annual trade with African nations doubled in the last five years to exceed $20 billion, Putin said, and expressed his wish that trade will double again "as a minimum" in the next four or five years.
Russia has worked in recent years to expand its influence in Africa, taking advantage of the seemingly waning U.S. interest in the continent under President Donald Trump's administration. Moscow has sought to revive relationships forged during the Cold War, when it poured funds and weapons into Africa in rivalry with the U.S., and has worked to cultivate new ties such as relations with South Africa.
Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with at least 28 African countries, the majority in the past five years, and expanded arms sales to the region. It is already the continent's largest arms supplier.
Putin noted that Moscow has written off $20 billion in debt — he did not say over what period — and provided aid to African nations. He said Russia is willing to help tap natural resources and offer its technologies to the continent, and he welcomed the recent creation of an African free trade zone.
Russia's geological survey agency signed agreements with South Sudan, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea to search for carbon resources on their territories. And Russia's largest oil company, Rosneft, said it was preparing to explore Mozambique's offshore oil resources.
Angolan Mineral Resources and Oil Minister Diamantino Azevedo said his country was working to expand cooperation with Russia's diamond company Alrosa.
Putin also met with several African leaders to discuss potential projects.
He told South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that Moscow is looking to further expand trade with the country, one of the continent's most developed economies. Trade reached $1 billion last year.
Putin congratulated Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on winning the Nobel Peace Prize this month, hailing his efforts to make peace with longtime rival Eritrea.
Abiy's office said he and Putin discussed cooperation in defense, education, "nuclear technology for peaceful purposes" and increased trade relations.
While speaking with Namibian President Hage Geingob, Putin touted prospects for Russia to help tap the country's vast uranium resources, diamonds and other mineral riches. Geingob, in turn, welcomed Russia to send military advisers.
Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera thanked Putin for Russian weapons and asked for more military assistance, saying his government needs it to fight armed groups competing for the country's gold, diamonds and uranium riches. Russian private contractors and security experts reportedly have helped train the nation's military.
Last year three Russian journalists were killed in Central African Republic while investigating a Russian military contractor, Wagner. The perpetrators haven't been found, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Touadera discussed the probe into the killing.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pledged that Moscow will help African countries raise their profile in the international arena, including potential permanent representation on the United Nations Security Council, something African nations have sought for years.
"We are continuously upholding the role of Africa as one of the leading centers of the evolving multi-polar world," Lavrov said.
Cairo, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — At least seven people, including three children, were killed in Egypt's Nile Delta and Sinai regions, authorities said Wednesday after heavy rains pummeled Cairo and other parts of the country the previous day, causing massive traffic jams and flooding many key roads.
People captured images of Tuesday's downpours and flooding on their mobile phones, posting footage on social media, including scenes of cars submerged by flood waters.
In one dramatic video, a man on a bulldozer pulls the lifeless body of a little girl out of the water in a flooded area in the northern province of Sharqia as shouts and screams are heard in the background. Another video shows a policeman, steps away from the presidential palace in Cairo's district of Heliopolis, wading into a flooded street to unclog a sewage drain.
Authorities closed schools and universities in the greater Cairo area Wednesday and companies saw only skeletal staff show up at work after Tuesday's heavy rains.
The mayhem raised questions about Cairo's ability to deal with heavy rainfall as the city's infrastructure and sewage and drainage systems have suffered from years of poor maintenance.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said Wednesday's school closures were limited to the greater Cairo area, including Giza and Qalioubia, as more rainfall was expected in the next couple of days, according to the country's weather service.
Five deaths occurred in the Nile Delta provinces of Sharqia, Gharbia and Kafr el-Sheikh, according to the Interior Ministry. Three of the victims, including two children, were fatally electrocuted. The other two victims died falling from the rooftops of their flooded homes.
Local authorities in northern Sinai also reported two deaths. Moataz Taher, head of the el-Hassana municipality, said in a statement that a 47-year-old farmer and his 13-year-old daughter died early Wednesday in the flooding.
Cairo's eastern suburb of Nasr City was hit the hardest, as well as Heliopolis, located near Cairo's international airport. The government said the two suburbs had received at least 650,000 cubic meters of precipitation in just 90 minutes on Tuesday, overwhelming the city's sewage and drain systems.
Trucks fanned out across Cairo to drain water from flooded areas. A key highway connecting Cairo to other provinces was closed, the state-run al-Ahram daily reported.
EgyptAir said it had delayed some fights on Tuesday because passengers were stuck on the roads and unable to get to the airport. A part of the old Cairo airport terminal which has been under renovation was also flooded, with footage on social media showing rainwater pouring into the hallway.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said that terminal was only being used by a private carrier for one or two flights a day and shared photos of it after it was cleaned up.
London, Oct 23 (AP/UNB) — Police in southeastern England launched a murder investigation after 39 people were found dead early Wednesday inside a large cargo truck that authorities believe was registered in Bulgaria and came into the country via Ireland.
The truck, which British police said entered the U.K. on Saturday via the Welsh port of Holyhead, was found across the country at the Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, a town 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of London on the River Thames.
Police did not formally tie the deaths to human trafficking but a link was assumed because of the way the victims were crammed into the truck's container. The truck's apparently circuitous route into and around Britain also raised suspicions among shipping experts.
A 25-year-old-man from Northern Ireland who was driving the truck was arrested on suspicion of murder, police said. He has not been charged or identified.
"To put 39 people into a locked metal container shows a contempt for human life that is evil," lawmaker Jackie Doyle-Price, who represents the region in parliament, told Parliament.
Police were called to the truck at 1:40 a.m., alerted by ambulance workers, but it was unclear how the workers heard of the tragedy.
"This is a tragic incident where a large number of people have lost their lives. Our enquiries are ongoing to establish what has happened," Essex Police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner told reporters at a press conference. "We are in the process of identifying the victims, however I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process."
Police said one victim appeared to be a teenager but gave no further details on the victims.
A cordon has been put around the white tractor-trailer and access to and from the industrial park has been restricted. Mariner said police were working with local authorities in Thurrock to mitigate "any impact our investigation scene will have" on the region.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged in a tweet to work closely with Essex Police to establish exactly what happened and later told Parliament that people smugglers would be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"All such traders in human beings should be hunted down and brought to justice," he said.
The tragedy recalls the death of 58 migrants in 2000 in a truck in Dover, England, and the deaths in 2015 of 71 migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who were found suffocated in the back of a refrigerated truck that was abandoned on an Austrian highway close to the Hungarian border.
Smaller numbers of migrants have occasionally been found dead in trucks in Britain in recent years.
Bulgarian authorities said they could not yet confirm that the truck had started its journey in Bulgaria but were working closely with British authorities.
"We are in contact with our embassy in London and with British authorities," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tsvetana Krasteva said.
Essex police say the force has not yet identified the 39 victims or where they came from.
Deputy police chief Pippa Mills said a key line of inquiry will be how the truck entered Ireland, then got on a ferry to Holyhead in Wales, on the western side of the British mainland. She refused to describe the gender of the victims.
Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland policy manager for the Freight Transport Association, called the route used by the truck "unorthodox" since it apparently involved traveling to Ireland from somewhere in Europe and then entering Britain via a ferry over the Irish Sea to a major passenger port in Wales.
He said that choice may have been influenced by increased security and checks in the major English port of Dover and the French port of Calais, which are both on the English Channel.
Dover and Calais, which have been under pressure from human traffickers for years, have sniffer dogs, monitors and more advanced technological surveillance due to the fact that they are the endpoints for the Channel Tunnel between France and Britain.
"People have been saying that security and checks have been increased at places like Dover and Calais, so it might be seen as an easier way to get," Leheny said. "It's a long way around and it'll add an extra day to the journey."
The truck then traveled by road across Britain to Grays.
Richard Burnett, chief of the Road Haulage Association, said the truck may have traveled from the French port of Cherbourg to the Irish port of Rosslare before continuing by road to Dublin and taking a ferry to Holyhead in Wales.
Burnett said it is "highly unlikely" the truck would have been subjected to a physical check on that route because those ports have far fewer checks then Dover and Calais.