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Russia test fires supersonic missiles at target in Sea of Japan

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The guided missile cruiser Varyag, the flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet, is docked at Manila's South Harbor in 2017 (File pic)

The Russian defence ministry has said that the Russian Navy has test fired supersonic antiship missiles at a mock target in the Sea of Japan,

The ministry said on Tuesday that two ships launched a missile attack on a simulated enemy warship located about 100km (62 miles) away. Two Moskit supersonic cruise missiles that have conventional and nuclear warhead capacity, successfully hit their target, the ministry said.

The P-270 Moskit missile, which has the NATO reporting name SS-N-22 Sunburn, is a medium-range supersonic cruise missile of Soviet origin and is capable of destroying a ship within a range of up to 120km (75 miles).

(Aljazeera)



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Up to 15 reported killed in Indian train collision

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As many as 15 people have been killed and dozens injured after a freight train collided with a passenger train in India’s West Bengal state.

The cargo train hit the Kanchanjunga Express in the Darjeeling district of the eastern state on Monday morning. Initial reports suggest that the cause of the accident was human error. India’s busy railways record hundreds of accidents every year.

At least 15 bodies have been pulled from the mangled carriages, Abhishek Roy, a senior police official in the eastern state’s district of Darjeeling, the site of the accident, told the Reuters news agency.

INTERACTIVE-INDIA-TRAIN-COLLISION

Nearly 30 people were injured and rescue teams from the police and national disaster response force were working with doctors and residents of the area to clear debris from the derailed carriages, Roy added.

Sabyasachi De, the spokesperson of the Northeast Frontier Railway, said three of the dead were railway personnel.

Doctors, ambulances and disaster teams were dispatched to the site of the crash, which occurred close to the New Jalpaiguri station, West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on X.

“Action on war-footing initiated,” she said. Labelling the incident as “tragic”, she did not offer immediate confirmation of casualties.

TV pictures showed one train rammed into the end of the other, with one compartment rising vertically in the air. Swarms of people had gathered at the spot, where rescuers were searching for victims.

Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the injured were being taken to hospital.

The accident happened after the driver of the freight train disregarded a signal and hit the rear end of the express train, Jaya Varma Sinha, the head of the railway board that runs the countrywide network, told reporters.

Four compartments at the rear of the passenger train went off the rails due to the impact, most of which were carrying cargo while one was a passenger coach, according to the railway spokesperson.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India daily, travelling on a network of 64,000km (40,000 miles).

In recent years India has invested huge sums to upgrade the network with modern stations and electronic signalling systems. However, despite the push to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents happen annually, most blamed on human error or outdated signalling equipment.

Last year, a train crash in eastern India killed at least 280 people in one of the country’s deadliest rail crashes in decades.

The Kanchanjunga Express is a daily train that connects West Bengal with other cities in the northeast of India. It is often used by tourists who travel to the hill station of Darjeeling, popular at this time of year when several Indian cities are sweltering in the heat.

[Aljazeera]

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Cyril Ramaphosa re-elected South African president

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Cyril Ramaphosa reacts in parliament after being re-elected president [BBC]

South Africa’s parliament has re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s president following a landmark coalition deal between the governing African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties.

The new government of national unity combines Mr Ramaphosa’s ANC, the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) and smaller parties.

In his victory speech, Mr Ramaphosa hailed the new coalition, and said voters expected the leaders to “to act and to work together for the good of everyone in our country”.

The agreement was hashed out on a day of high political drama, which saw the National Assembly sitting late into the evening for votes to confirm who would hold power in the new administration.

Earlier, a deal was struck following weeks of speculation about whom the ANC would partner with after losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years in last month’s elections.

It got 40% of the vote, while the DA came second with 22%.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula called the coalition deal a “remarkable step”.  It meant Mr Ramaphosa – who replaced Jacob Zuma as both president and ANC leader following a bitter power struggle in 2018 – was able to retain power.

The next step is for Mr Ramaphosa to allocate cabinet positions, which will include members of the DA.

The multi-party deal does not involve two ANC breakaway parties, and they will probably benefit if it fails to deliver economic improvements demanding by voters.

But opinion polls suggest many South Africans want this unprecedented grand coalition to succeed.

[BBC]

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Malawi VP confirmed dead in plane crash in forest

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Saulos Chilima had been vice-president for 10 years[BBC]

The wreck of a plane carrying Malawi’s vice-president has been found with no survivors, President Lazarus Chakwera has said.

Saulos Chilima and nine others were flying within the country on Monday morning when their aircraft disappeared from airport radars.  The plane, a military aircraft, was flying in bad weather.

Soldiers had been searching Chikangawa Forest overnight and into the morning in an effort to find the plane.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, President Chakwera said the Malawi Defence Force commander informed him that the search and rescue operation had been completed and the plane was found. Mr Chakwera said he was “deeply saddened and sorry” to inform Malawians of the terrible tragedy.

He said the rescue team found the aircraft completely destroyed.

The vice-president and president come from different parties but the two teamed up to form an alliance during the 2020 elections.

Mr Chakwera paid tribute to Dr Chilima, describing him as “a good man”, “devoted father” and “formidable VP”.  “I consider it one of the great honours of my life to have had him as a deputy and as a counsellor,” he added.

Dr Chilima, 51, was on his way to represent the government at the burial of former government minister Ralph Kasambara, who died four days ago.

Former First Lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on the flight, which took off from the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday morning.

It was meant to land at the airport in the northern city of Mzuzu, but was turned back because of poor visibility.

BBC News A map showing the plane's route and the site of the crash

The military is transporting the remains of Dr Chiima and the other victims to Lilongwe, the president said, adding that funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

Dr Chilima had been vice-president of Malawi since 2014.  He was widely loved in Malawi, particularly among the youth, AFP news agency reports.

However, Dr Chilima was arrested and charged in 2022 on allegations that he accepted money in exchange for awarding government contracts.  He denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, the court dropped the charges, giving no reasons for the decision.

Dr Chilima is survived by his wife, Mary, and two children, Sean and Elizabeth.

[BBC]

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