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Fire guts WHO vaccination storage facility in Osogbo



World Health Organisation (WHO) vaccination storage facility at the Ayegbaju Market in Osogbo, was on Saturday razed by fire, the Nigeria News Agency reports.

According to a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) official, Ajinase Alade, attached to the facility, the fire started from a working power generator close to the WHO storage facility.

“The fire started at about 12:13p.m from one of the power generator that was on to power the building where vaccines were stored.

” We quickly move to remove the cars packed close to the fire and mobilised to put out the fire.

“But unfortunately, my motorcycle packed closed to the storage facility was, however, burnt by the fire while helping to remove the cars,” he said.

Mrs Adeosun Adebola, the Osun WHO Immunisation Officer and State Cold Vaccine Coordinator told that the cold vaccine storage office was not affected by the fire but the dry vaccine outlet was razed by fire.

She said a 60KVA generator, one 12KVA generator and two 18 KVA generators were also affected.

Adebola also said two photocopier machines and two motorcycles were also destroyed by the fire.

“I61,795 pieces of 0.05ml needles and syringe , 633,871 pieces of 0.5ml needles and syringe, 10,575 pieces of 5ml needles and syringe, 3,976 pieces of 2ml needles and syringe were destroyed by the fire.

” 8,654 pieces of immunisation safety boxes were also destroyed by the fire,” she said.

Adebola told the officials of the state government and WHO officials had been to the incident site to assess the level of damage done by the fire.

A maintenance official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they applied self effort to put out the fire from affecting and spreading to other buildings and stores within the market.

He said the state fire service were contacted when the fire started but they had to quickly fetched water from the storex water tank around, some other people also helped to put out the fire before the fire service came.

“But unfortunately  the storage facility was completely razed, ” he said.

Men of the state fire service could, however, be seen going through the remains of the fire to ensure the fire was completely put out.

Edited by Edith Bolokor/Felix Ajide


Iran deploys military helicopters to fight fire in forests




Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Army on Sunday deployed helicopters to the forests of Zagros mountain in the west and southwest of Iran to fight fire outbreak, according to local media.

The move came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the day issued an order to the relevant institutions to emergently respond to the fire spread in forests of Bushehr, in south of Iran, and Khuzestan, in southwestern Iran.

The IRGC and Army had already sent seven helicopters to Gachsaran and Dehdasht forests in southwestern Iranian province of Kohkilouyeh and Boyerahmad and Behbahan in Khuzestan Province.

According to the latest reports, the fire eruption in the west, southwest and south of the country over the past weeks has completely burnt 300 hectares of forests and grasslands in Gachsaran as well as 200 hectares of forests in Kohkilouyeh.


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Fireman Labbadia reviving Hertha’s fortunes



Bruno Labbadia might have been seen as a rather desperate appointment by Hertha Berlin but his reputation as a coaching “fireman” has been consolidated by a flying start to his job.

Labbadia became Hertha’s fourth coach of the season when they hired him in April, amid the COVID-19 lockdown, turning to a man whose trips on the Bundesliga carousel have taken him to a record 10 different clubs as player and coach.

Hertha were six points above the relegation zone when the 54-year-old Labbadia took over and his task was to stop them from slipping into further danger.

With Bruno,  we get someone who has known the Bundesliga in detail for many years as a player and coach and has shown that he can stabilise teams,” Hertha technical director Michael Preetz said.

Labbadia’s impact has been a lot more than that, however, turning Hertha into one of the few form sides since the resumption of action in mid-May.

They jumped up the standings with 10 points from four games under his command and could  now ponder the possibility of qualifying for European competition next season.

They were only four points off sixth place in the table which offered  a berth in the Europa League, although had five tough remaining fixtures, starting with Borussia Dortmund away on Saturday.

After 35 years in the Bundesliga as a player and coach, I am still hungry – especially if we continue the way we are playing now.

“But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We must remain humble and try to improve further together! We defend together, we attack together,”said Labbadia after Saturday’s 2-0 home win over FC Augsburg.

Left back Maximilian Mittelstadt said the turnaround was due to improved team spirit.

“We are all fighting for one another. Our best attribute at the moment is that we are covering up for each other’s mistakes.

“We have taken on Bruno Labbadia’s ideas and are working well as a team, something that had been missing previously. We want to continue this good run in the final few weeks,” he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Silas Nwoha (NAN)


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Feature: Chinese drones help reseed Australian wilderness in wake of bushfire




Drones from Chinese company, XAG have been used to reseed an area of Australian wilderness devastated by bushfires similar to those which swept the country last summer.

In a combination of classic environmentalism and cutting-edge technology, the drones dropped thousands of seeds across 40 hectares of Lake Cobrico peat swamp in the south eastern State of Victoria.

The initial brains behind the idea, Paul Hartrick, from the Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN) told Xinhua on Friday that the area is vital to the region’s broader ecology, but has been slow to recover since being badly charred by bushfires on St Patrick‘s Day in 2018.

In some areas, the fire had burnt up to a meter below ground into the flammable peat, creating slumps and bare patches over two years later.

“Because of the way peat swamps and mass areas form, it takes a long time to rebuild the hydrology and the plants to hold the water in and for that environment to re-establish itself,” Hartrick explained.

With this in mind, and inspired by the growing use of drones in agriculture, Hartrick began the search for a company which could pick up the project, landing on XAG.

In April this year, XAG sent three sets of its P Series drones, equipped with a custom designed seed spreading attachment, and in conjunction with the HDLN and Victoria‘s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), set about distributing native seeds directly onto Lake Cobrico peat swamp in an Australian-first.

Co-founder of XAG, Justin Gong told Xinhua that drone seeding has several benefits over traditional methods.

“(We) use a remote sensing drone to find out which places are seriously damaged and need reseed and where not, in this way we generate a prescription map.”

“Then the drone carrying the seed will take off and reach the predetermined area to sow the seed. The whole process is very efficient and cost-effective.”

During the operation, drones followed the pre-set flight routes projecting seeds from two-three meters above the ground, while the rate of distribution could be easily controlled and adjusted in real time to ensure that the proper amount of seed was distributed evenly into the targeted bare land.

“Drones aren’t new, as we all know, but in Australia and particularly Victoria they’re a relatively new tool in terms of land use, primary production, agriculture, as well as environmental work,” Hartrick said.

As well as being both cost and time effective, the drones also avoid the necessity of putting people on the ground in affected areas, potentially causing more damage to the ecosystem, or being hurt themselves.

With bushfires expected to be an increasing influence not just in Australia but globally, the technique pioneered in partnership by Australian and Chinese innovators may play a role in future regeneration efforts worldwide.

“The trial project in Lake Cobrico demonstrates the best practice of drones to regenerate fire-impacted peat swamps in a safe, cost-effective manner, without human or mechanical trampling on vegetation cover,” XAG said in a statement.


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Portuguese president, PM pay tribute to firefighters amid COVID-19 pandemic




Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (C) pays tribute to Portuguese firefighters amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the Prazeres cemetery in Lisbon, Portugal, May 30, 2020. (Photo by Pedro Fiuza/Xinhua)

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Fire rips through crowded Cameroon prison



A fire tore through an overcrowded maximum-security prison in Cameroon’s port city of Douala on Thursday leading to the hospitalisation of three prisoners with serious burns, a local fire chief said.

Firefighters, backed up by the Police, were able to contain the blaze and stop it spreading beyond New Bell jail, which sits in a densely populated neighbourhood of the commercial capital, close to the central market.

“The operation was made more difficult by the layout and a large number of inmates,’’ fire brigade chief, Kadrey Abdiel, said.

Human rights groups say Cameroon’s prisons suffer from chronic overcrowding, poor sanitation conditions and disease while cases of violence and torture are frequent.

New Bell was built in the 1930s for 800 inmates, but held around 2,500 as of 2011, according to Amnesty International.

Three severely burned prisoners were evacuated, while two firefighters were injured, Abdiel said.

Crowds of onlookers had gathered outside the prison, where a large plume of dark smoke billowed from the roof.

A few inmates had tried to climb over the prison’s walls, but the Police around the perimeter stopped them escaping, regional Governor, Samuel Ivaha Diboua, told journalists.

It was not immediately clear what started the fire.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Indonesian minister under fire for comparing virus to wives



Indonesia’s security minister has been criticised for comparing the novel coronavirus to a wife – in an attempt to allay public concerns about easing COVID-19 restrictions.

The Indonesian government is preparing to lift partial lockdowns in parts of the country in early June and adopt what it calls “the new normal.”

“Are we going to be holed up forever? We can adjust to the situation while still paying attention to our health,” security minister Mohammad Mahfud said in a video posted on YouTube on Wednesday.

“The other day I got a meme from my colleague Luhut Pandjaitan that says: Corona is like your wife. Initially you tried to control it, then you realise that you can’t. Then you learn to live with it,” he said in English.

Pandjaitan is the minister for maritime affairs and investment.

The off-the-cuff remarks drew ire from women’s rights groups.

“Not only does the statement reflect the incompetence of the government in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, it also demonstrates the sexist and misogynistic attitudes of public officials,” the Women’s Solidarity Society said in a statement.

“Jokes that objectify women will only normalise the culture of violence against women,” it said.

Indonesians on social media joined the criticism.

“A man who marries a woman with the intention to control her is horrifying. Comparing a woman to a virus is an insult to the dignity of women,” a Twitter user named Deslina wrote.

Indonesia is deploying 340,000 security personnel in four provinces – Jakarta, West Java, West Sumatra and Gorontalo – to enforce “the new normal,” Armed Forces chief Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said.

They have been tasked with ensuring the public observe health guidelines set out by the government, including wearing masks and respecting social distancing.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Indonesia rose to 24,538 on Thursday, an increase of 687 from the previous day.

An additional 23 deaths brought the number of fatalities to 1,496.

Some Indonesians have expressed concerns about the plan to reopen the economy at a time when the curve appears to have not flattened.

The government has been accused by some experts of under-reporting cases of infections due to low rates of testing.


Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)


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Kenyan government under fire over quarantine centres



Kenya’s government is facing growing criticism over quarantine centres it set up to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with witnesses saying some are squalid and expose residents to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Since mid-March, the government has enforced a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone who flies into the country,or has direct contact with someone infected and lives in an area where self-isolation is not allowed.

Those who can pay spend the quarantine in an upmarket hotel.

Others are placed in government-run facilities established in buildings such as schools or universities.

Demonstrations have broken out in some centres, break-outs have been reported, and the government faces two lawsuits over alleged mistreatment which it has yet to respond to.

Reuters interviewed 12 people who have spent time in quarantine in the government-run centres; meanwhile two said conditions were satisfactory.

The other 10, who asked not to be identified to avoid stigma, described filthy conditions with bedbugs, overflowing toilets and bad food.

Reuters sought comment from the facilities where these people were housed but telephone and text messages sent over several weeks received no responses.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Judy Sirima declined comment.

One woman told Reuters she was quarantined at Nairobi’s Kenya Medical Training Centre for two weeks and tested negative for the coronavirus.

Then others at the facility, where people were crowded together at mealtimes, tested positive, although she was kept another week, and then tested positive too.

“I got it from the quarantine; we were sharing washrooms; we were sharing everything,” she said.

However, Reuters could not verify where she contracted the virus.

A woman in quarantine at the Karen Cooperative Retreat and Conference Centre said she and others received no protective gear.

“We are not given masks; no gloves, no sanitiser,” she said.

However, neither facility responded to requests for comment.


Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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4 police officers fired in U.S. Minnesota over death of black man




Four police officers in the U.S. state of Minnesota were fired Tuesday after a black man died while in police custody and an online video showed the man being pinned down by his neck.

In the video, recorded by a bystander, a police officer pressed his knee into a black man’s neck during an arrest in Minneapolis on Monday evening, as the man repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” and “please, I can’t breathe.”

After a few minutes, the man, lying face down in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back, became silent and motionless. The officer continued to pin the man to the pavement with his knee as bystanders begged the officer to stop, the video showed.

The video did not show what happened before the officer pinned the man to the ground. A Minneapolis Police Department statement said the man “appeared to be suffering medical distress” and the officers called for an ambulance. The man died shortly after being taken to hospital.

The victim was identified as George Floyd in his 40s. Police initially found him sitting on top of a blue car and “appeared to be under influence” when officers responded to a call about a man suspected of forgery, according to a New York Times report.

The FBI was joining the investigation over Floyd’s death, Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement.

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The four responding officers involved in the case have been terminated, the mayor tweeted.

The video almost immediately evoked the country’s memory about the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in New York police custody in 2014, after an officer held him in a chokehold.

Garner’s repeated plea of “I can’t breathe” at the time, recorded by a cellphone, has since then become a rallying cry at demonstrations against police misconduct around the country, said the New York Times report.


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More African countries should heed UN call for global ceasefire: Guterres




More African countries should heed the UN call for a global ceasefire to push back deadly COVID-19, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

Marking Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963, the UN chief said in his message that the COVID-19 pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.

He noted that the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African member states have undertaken “robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.”

Guterres welcomed the AU’s support for his global ceasefire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU’s 2020 theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”

“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls,” he added.

Some 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which are likely to be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace, noted the secretary-general.

“I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices.”

Last week, the UN issued a policy brief outlining the impacts of the pandemic on the continent. “We are calling for debt relief and action to maintain food supplies, protect jobs and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings. African countries, like everyone, everywhere, should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.”

An opportunity now exists, for African governments to “use this moment” to shape new policies that bolster health systems, improve social protection and pursue climate-friendly pathways, he said.

Targeting measures to those employed in the informal sector, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important step to recovery, said Guterres, as will empowering women to ensure their full participation and leadership.

“The inclusion and leadership of young people will also be crucial every step of the way,” said Guterres.


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