Jayapura, Mar 19 (AP/UNB) — The death toll from flash floods and mudslides triggered by torrential downpours in eastern Indonesia has risen to 89, with dozens of others missing.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho says the worst-hit area from the flooding was Sentani subdistrict, where tons of mud, rocks and trees from a landslide on a mountain rolled down to a river that burst its banks, sweeping away residents.
He said Tuesday that 89 bodies had been pulled from the mud and wreckage of crumpled homes and 159 people were injured. Rescuers were searching for 74 residents reportedly missing.
Papua military spokesman Col. Muhammad Aidi said more than 1,600 rescuers, including police and soldiers, were facing difficulties clearing huge piles of debris due to shortages of heavy equipment.
New Delhi, Mar 19 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Pramod Sawant was early Tuesday sworn in as the new chief minister of western Indian state of Goa, officials said.
Sawant succeeds Manohar Parrikar, who passed away on Sunday following a prolonged illness.
Goa Governor Mridula Sinha administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 46-year-old Sawant.
"The tough negotiations with BJP and its allies continued overnight, following which Pramod Sawant took oath at 2:00 a.m. local time today," a BJP lawmaker said.
"The governor also administered the oath to 11 other ministers, including those from BJP's allies Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP)," the BJP lawmaker said.
Before taking oath as the chief minister of Goa, Sawant resigned from the post of speaker of Legislative Assembly.
Christchurch, Mar 19 (AP/UNB) — The white supremacist accused of gunning down 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand has dismissed his lawyer and opted to represent himself at trial, prompting the prime minister to declare Tuesday that she would do everything in her power to deny him a platform for his racist views.
"I agree that it is absolutely something that we need to acknowledge, and do what we can to prevent the notoriety that this individual seeks," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters. "He obviously had a range of reasons for committing this atrocious terrorist attack. Lifting his profile was one of them. And that's something that we can absolutely deny him."
Asked if she would like the trial to occur behind closed doors, Ardern demurred, saying that was not her decision to make.
"One thing I can assure you — you won't hear me speak his name," she said.
The gunman's desire for infamy was made clear by the fact that he left behind a convoluted 74-page manifesto before Friday's massacre and livestreamed footage of his attack on the Al Noor mosque.
The video prompted widespread revulsion and condemnation. Facebook said it removed 1.5 million versions of the video during the first 24 hours after the massacre. But on Tuesday, Ardern expressed frustration that the video remained available online, four days after the attack.
"We have been in contact with Facebook; they have given us updates on their efforts to have it removed, but as I say, it's our view that it cannot — should not — be distributed, available, able to be viewed," she said. "It is horrendous and while they've given us those assurances, ultimately the responsibility does sit with them."
Arden said she had received "some communication" from Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on the issue. The prime minister has also spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May about the importance of a global effort to clamp down on the distribution of such material.
Lawyer Richard Peters, who was assigned to represent Brenton Harrison Tarrant at his initial court appearance on Saturday, told the New Zealand Herald that Tarrant dismissed him that day.
A judge ordered Tarrant to return to New Zealand's High Court on April 5 for his next hearing on one count of murder, though he is expected to face additional charges. The 28-year-old Australian is being held in isolation in a Christchurch jail.
"He seemed quite clear and lucid, whereas this may seem like very irrational behavior," Peters told the newspaper. "He didn't appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views."
Peters did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday.
He said a judge could order a lawyer to assist Tarrant at a trial, but that Tarrant would likely be unsuccessful in trying to use it as a platform to put forward any extremist views.
Under New Zealand law, a trial is "to determine innocence or guilt," Peters said. "The court is not going to be very sympathetic to him if he wants to use the trial to express his own views."
Peters said Tarrant didn't tell him why he wanted to represent himself.
Ardern previously has said her Cabinet had agreed in principle on tightening gun restrictions in New Zealand and those reforms would be announced next week. She also had announced an inquiry into the intelligence and security services' failures to detect the risk from the attacker or his plans. There have been concerns intelligence agencies were overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.
New Zealand's international spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, confirmed it had not received any relevant information or intelligence ahead of the shootings.
Meanwhile, Christchurch was beginning to return to a semblance of normalcy Tuesday. Streets near the hospital that had been closed for four days reopened to traffic as relatives and friends of the victims continued to stream in from around the world.
Thirty people were still being treated at the Christchurch hospital, nine of them in critical condition, said David Meates, CEO of the Canterbury District Health Board. A 4-year-old girl was transferred to a hospital in Auckland and is in critical condition. Her father is at the same hospital in stable condition.
Relatives of the dead are still anxiously awaiting word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible. Ardern has said authorities hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday and police said authorities are working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they can.
The close-knit community has been deeply wounded by the attacks. On Monday evening, more than 1,000 students from rival Christchurch schools and different religions gathered in a park across from the Al Noor mosque, joining voices in a passionate display of unity.
The students sat on the grass in the fading daylight, lifting flickering candles to the sky as they sang a traditional Maori song. Hundreds then stood to perform an emotional, defiant haka, the famed ceremonial dance of the indigenous Maori people.
For many, joining the vigil for the victims of the mass shooting was a much-needed opportunity to soothe their minds after a wrenching few days.
Most of the students spent hours locked down in their schools on Friday as police tried to determine if any other shooters were involved in the attacks.
Those at the vigil told harrowing tales of being forced to hide under classroom tables or on a school stage behind a curtain, of being instructed not to speak, and to urinate in a bucket rather than risk leaving the classroom for a bathroom.
Sarah Liddell, 17, said many of her peers felt intense anxiety since the attack. There was a sense of safety in coming together on Monday, she said.
"I feel like it's just really important to show everyone that one act of violence doesn't define a whole city," she said. "This is one of the best ways to show everyone coming together. Some schools have little funny rivalries, but in times like this we all just come together and that's all forgotten."
Washington, Mar 19 (AP/UNB) — Boeing's CEO says the aircraft manufacturer is taking actions to ensure the safety of its 737 Max jets in the wake of two crashes that killed 346 people.
In an open letter addressed to airlines, passengers and the aviation community, Dennis Muilenburg says Boeing will soon release a software update and offer related pilot training for the 737 Max to "address concerns" that arose in the aftermath of October's Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea, killing 189. The planes' new flight-control software is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.
Muilenburg says Boeing representatives are supporting the investigation into the cause of last week's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157.
The United States and many other countries have grounded the Max 8s and larger Max 9s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than five months.
U.S. prosecutors are looking into the development of Boeing's 737 Max jets, a person briefed on the matter revealed Monday, the same day French aviation investigators concluded there were "clear similarities" in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 last week and a Lion Air jet in October.
The Justice Department probe will examine the way Boeing was regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the inquiry is not public.
A federal grand jury in Washington sent a subpoena to someone involved in the plane's development seeking emails, messages and other communications, the person told The Associated Press.
Johannesburg, Mar 19 (AP/UNB) — More than 1,000 people were feared dead in Mozambique four days after a cyclone slammed into the country, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the floodwaters, the nation's president said.
"It is a real disaster of great proportions," President Filipe Nyusi said.
Cyclone Idai could prove to be the deadliest storm in generations to hit the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people.
It struck Beira, an Indian Ocean port city of a half-million people, late Thursday and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi with strong winds and heavy rain. But it took days for the scope of the disaster to come into focus in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.
Speaking on state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said that while the official death toll stood at 84, "It appears that we can register more than 1,000 deaths."
Emergency officials cautioned that while they expect the death toll to rise significantly, they have no way of knowing if it will reach the president's estimate.
More than 215 people were killed by the storm in the three countries, including more than 80 in Zimbabwe's eastern Chimanimani region and more than 50 in Malawi, according to official figures. Hundreds more were reported injured and missing, and nearly 1,000 homes were destroyed in eastern Zimbabwe alone.
Doctors Without Borders said rivers have broken their banks leaving many houses fully submerged and around 11,000 households displaced in Nsanje, in southern Malawi.
U.N. agencies and the Red Cross helped rush emergency food and medicine by helicopter to the stricken countries.
Mount Chiluvo in central Mozambique was badly hit by flooding. One resident said he heard a loud noise, like an explosion, and suddenly saw a river of mud rolling toward his home.
"I was indoors with my children, but when we looked we saw mud coming down the road towards the houses and we fled," Francisco Carlitos told Lusa, the Portuguese News Agency. The family lost their home and possessions but safely reached higher ground.
The country's president, who cut short a visit to neighboring Swaziland over the weekend because of the disaster, spoke after flying by helicopter over Beira and two rural provinces, where he reported widespread devastation.
"The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating," Nyusi said.
The United Nation's humanitarian office said the government issued flood warnings and said heavy rains were forecast for the next 24 hours, including in areas already hit hard by Idai.
The Red Cross said 90 percent of Beira was damaged or destroyed. The cyclone knocked out electricity, shut down the airport and cut off access to the city by road.
U.N. officials cited reports that Beira Central Hospital's emergency room was flooded and without power, and that much of the building's roof had collapsed. Doctors Without Borders said it had completely ceased operations in Beira hospital, local health centers and throughout the community.
The destruction in Beira is "massive and horrifying," said Jamie LeSueur, who led a Red Cross team that had to assess the damage by helicopter because of the flooded-out roads.
The U.N. also warned of devastation outside Beira, in particular of livestock and crops.
"As this damage is occurring just before the main harvest season, it could exacerbate food insecurity in the region," the U.N. humanitarian office known as OCHA said.
Mozambique is a long, narrow country with a 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) coastline along the Indian Ocean. It is prone to cyclones and tropical storms this time of year.
In 2000, Mozambique was hit by severe flooding caused by weeks of heavy rain, a disaster made much worse when a cyclone hit. Approximately 700 people were killed in what was regarded as the worst flooding in 50 years.
Mozambique won independence from Portugal in 1975 and then was plagued by a long-running civil war that ended in 1992. Its economy is dominated by agriculture, and its exports include prawns, cotton, cashews, sugar, coconuts and tropical hardwood timber.
More recently it has been exporting aluminum and electric power, and deposits of natural gas were discovered in the country's north.