1st Ebola case in city of Goma confirmed
The Congolese health ministry confirmed an Ebola case in Goma late Sunday, marking the first time the virus has reached the city of more than 2 million people along the border with Rwanda since the epidemic began nearly a year ago.
The health ministry said the man who had arrived earlier Sunday in the regional capital had been quickly transported to an Ebola treatment center. Authorities said they had tracked down all the passengers on the bus the man took to Goma from Butembo, one of the towns hardest hit by the disease.
“Because of the speed with which the patient was identified and isolated, and the identification of all the other bus passengers coming from Butembo, the risk of it spreading in the rest of the city of Goma is small,” the health ministry said in a statement.
The virus killed more than 1,600 people in Congo and two others who returned home across the border to neighboring Uganda. Health experts have long feared that it could make its way to Goma, which is located on the Rwandan border.
The health ministries in Congo’s neighbors have been preparing for months for the possibility of cases, and frontline health workers already have been vaccinated.
The confirmed case announced late Sunday in eastern Congo involves a pastor who became ill last Tuesday. He then left Butembo on a bus, and arrived at a health center Sunday showing symptoms of Ebola, the health ministry said.
Violent attacks against health workers and treatment facilities have greatly compromised efforts to combat the epidemic in Butembo.
Eastern Congo is home to a myriad of armed groups, and Mai Mai militia fighters are active near the hardest hit towns. Health teams have been unable to access violent areas to vaccinate people at risk of infection and to bring infected patients into isolation.
Other times the violence against health teams has come from residents who do not want their loved ones taken to treatment centers or buried in accordance with guidelines aimed at reducing Ebola transmission.
While the experimental vaccine is believed to have saved countless lives, not all Congolese people have accepted it. Some falsely believe that the vaccine is what is making people sick, in part because people can still develop the disease after getting the shot if they already had been infected.
Magnitude 7.3 quake damages homes
A strong, shallow earthquake struck eastern Indonesia on Sunday, damaging some homes and causing panicked residents to flee to temporary shelters. There were no immediate reports of casualties, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 103 miles southeast of Ternate, the capital of North Maluku province, at a depth of just 6 miles. Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.
Indonesia’s national disaster agency said the land-based earthquake didn’t have any potential to cause a tsunami.
Still, many people ran to higher ground, and TV footage showed people screaming while running out of a shopping mall in Ternate.
Rahmat Triyono, the head of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami center, said the quake was followed by several smaller aftershocks. The initial quake and aftershocks were also felt in some parts of North Sulawesi province, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage there.
Ikhsan Subur, a local disaster agency official in Labuha, the town closest to the quake’s epicenter, said several hundred people who were afraid of aftershocks fled to take shelter in government offices and mosques.
He said a police dormitory and several houses of villagers in South Halmahera district, near the epicenter, were damaged.
The disaster agency released photos of some moderately cracked ground and a damaged house of a village police chief in South Halmahera.
No injuries were immediately reported, and Authorities were assessing the overall damage.
With a population of around 1 million, North Maluku is one of Indonesia’s least populous provinces.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed a total of 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most of them in Indonesia.
Police, protesters fight amid rising tensions
Police in Hong Kong fought with protesters on Sunday as they broke up a demonstration by thousands of people demanding the resignation of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s chief executive and an investigation into complaints of police violence.
The protest in the northern district of Sha Tin was peaceful for most of the day, but scuffles broke out when police started clearing streets after nightfall. Some protesters retreated into a shopping complex where they and police hit each other with clubs and umbrellas.
Police appeared to arrest some people, but reporters couldn’t see how many. The violence wound down toward midnight as the remaining protesters left the area.
The demonstration added to an outpouring of grievances this year against the former British colony’s leaders. Critics complain they are eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy and are more responsive to the Beijing government than to the territory’s people. The mainland promised Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years after its 1997 return to China.
Police on Saturday broke up a protest in a separate area of Hong Kong complaining about an influx of mainland traders.
On Sunday, some protesters called for genuinely democratic voting in Hong Kong elections. A few demanded independence.
Organizers said 110,000 protesters took part, while police put the number at 28,000, according to broadcaster RTHK.
A government statement said the afternoon march was “peaceful and orderly” but that afterward some protesters “violently assaulted police officers.”
“Society will absolutely not tolerate such violent acts,” the statement said.
The protests began last month in opposition to a proposed extradition law but have swelled to include complaints about an influx of mainland Chinese into Hong Kong and that Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government fails to address the needs of its people.
Communist authorities have tried to discredit the protesters by saying unidentified “Western forces” are inciting them to destabilize Hong Kong. Protesters deny foreigners have had any role in the demonstrations.
On Sunday, protesters demanded an investigation into complaints that police assaulted participants in earlier demonstrations against the extradition law.
Starting at about 3 p.m., they filled three streets radiating out from an intersection in Sha Tin, a crowded neighborhood of office and apartment buildings, shopping malls and hotels. Some carried signs reading “Police Are Liars.” Other signs read “Defend Hong Kong.”
At about 8:30 p.m., police in green fatigues with helmets and shields cleared the streets by walking shoulder-to-shoulder toward the intersection. Some protesters threw bricks but most withdrew peacefully and watched the police.
Many protesters appeared to leave the area, while others entered the shopping-and-apartment complex at the intersection. Reporters couldn’t see how many protesters still were in the area.
Inside the complex, protesters threw umbrellas — a symbol of the protests — and water bottles.
The violence wound down as most of the remaining protesters fled to an adjacent subway station and left aboard crowded trains.
Some protesters on Sunday carried American, British or colonial-era Hong Kong flags.
“I think there is now a huge problem on how the police enforce the law,” said Nelson Yip, a protester in his 40s.
Lam’s government suspended action last month on the extradition bill. It would have allowed Hong Kong crime suspects to be transferred to the mainland, where the ruling Communist Party controls the court system.
Lam apologized for her handling of the legislation, but critics are demanding she resign.
“Carrie Lam has been hiding,” said Yip. “She has made many promises but she has not been able to fulfill them. There is no sign she is going to fulfill them.”
On Saturday, police used clubs and tear gas to break up a crowd of mostly young protesters who called for tighter control on mainland traders who visit Hong Kong. Critics say they are improperly undercutting Hong Kong businesses.
“The police seem to have become even more violent,” said Peggie Cheung, 59, who joined Sunday’s protest. “Coming out on the streets feels like a responsibility to me.”
In a separate demonstration earlier Sunday, a group representing Hong Kong journalists marched to Lam’s office on Hong Kong Island to highlight complaints that police beat and obstructed reporters at earlier demonstrations.
“It seems that they have deliberately targeted the journalists,” said Chris Yeung, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
Police issued a statement promising better training for officers and communication with reporters.
“There is room for improvement,” the statement said. It promised “appropriate follow up actions” for complaints of mistreatment.
Opposition rallies for election candidates
Russian opposition leaders led a rally in Moscow of about 1,000 people Sunday to protest the city election commission’s decision that will keep several opposition candidates off the ballot in a local election.
The unsanctioned rally was billed as a meeting between opposition leaders and voters after the Moscow election commission rejected signatures needed to qualify the candidates for the September city parliament election.
Demonstrators chanted “We are the authority here!” and “Putin is a thief.”
Police made no effort to intervene until later in the evening, after the protest crowd had largely dispersed and opposition leaders called for the remaining participants to stage an overnight sit-in at the election commission.
Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, was not seen at the protest. The demonstration was led, in various stages, by opposition figures Dmitry Gudkov, Ilya Yashin and Lyubov Sobol.
“We were collecting the signatures under rain and in the heat,” Gudkov said. “And you know what (the election commission) told us yesterday? They told us that our signatures are fake. Many of the people who gave me their signatures are here today. Friends, do you agree?”
The crowd responded: “No!”
Yashin, one of the disqualified candidates, called on the crowd to march with him to the mayor’s office to state their election demands. They knocked on the doors of city hall, but no one answered.
“I think this is outrageous,” Sergei Bukharov, a former Moscow parliament press officer told The Associated Press outside city hall. “And what they say at the election commission, how they explain why they don’t admit independent candidates, it’s all lies. Those signatures are real.”
Opposition activist Sobol, who also is fighting to be on the September ballot, urged protesters to continue down the street to the election commission.
“They are stealing our elections. They are stealing our future,” Sobol alleged, going on to accuse Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of ordering the rejection of the signatures.
The march began fading out after three hours, though a few hundred protesters remained outside the election commission as of 7 p.m. Moscow time (GMT 16:00.)
An election commission spokesman told Yashin that chief Valentin Gorbunov would not meet with the demonstrators Sunday since he was spending the weekend at his cottage outside the city, the Ekho Moskvy radio station reported.
About 30 said they would stage a sit-in overnight in the courtyard of the commission’s offices. Moscow police intervened a little over an hour later, dispersing the holdouts and arresting Yashin, Sobol, and several other opposition candidates.
As of 9 p.m. Moscow time (GMT 18:00), at least 38 protesters had been detained, according to arrest monitoring group OVD-Info.
Yashin tweeted from the back of a police van that the demonstration had been brutally dispersed and that he was currently detained with at least 20 other people.
Festival ends with 3 gorings in final bull run
A bull broke from the pack and gored two Australians and a Spaniard during Sunday’s final bull run of this year’s San Fermin festival, health officials from the northern Spanish city of Pamplona said.
That took the number of gorings to eight for the eight bull runs that provide a high-adrenaline morning rush to the non-stop party that draws around 1 million people each year.
Regional hospital spokesman Tomás Belzunegui said a man who had been tossed by the chocolate-colored bull named Rabanero was gored in the leg, while another man was gored in the right arm and a third in the armpit. The hospital said the wounds were not life-threatening.
The Red Cross reported several other injuries from knocks received from the bulls and steers, or from runners tumbling out of the way.
The previous seven bull runs had produced five gorings: three Spaniards and two Americans.
The six bulls from the Miura breeder, who celebrated the farm’s record-extending 53rd showing at the festival, completed the 930-yard (850-meter) run to the bull ring in 2 minutes, 42 seconds. They will be killed at the ring later Sunday.
The San Fermin fiesta was made famous internationally by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.” Most revelers stay up all night or rise early enough to gape from balconies or barricades as hundreds of runners dressed in the traditional white outfit with a red sash make their mad dash.