Twenty-one people were killed when extremely cold weather struck during an ultramarathon on Saturday in rugged Gansu province in northwestern China, state media reported on Sunday, sparking public outrage over the lack of contingency planning.
The 100-km race began from a lush tourist site at a bend in the Yellow River, China’s second-longest. The route would take runners through deep canyons and undulating hills on an arid plateau at an elevation of more than 1,000 metres, Reuters reported.
The race kicked off on Saturday morning with runners clad in t-shirts and shorts under overcast skies, according to photographs posted on the social media account of the Yellow River Stone Forest scenic area in Jingtai, a county under the jurisdiction of Baiyin city.
Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales that caused temperatures to plummet, officials from Baiyin told a news briefing on Sunday.
A massive rescue effort was initiated, with over 1,200 rescuers dispatched, assisted by thermal-imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to Xinhua.
A landslide following the severe weather also hampered the rescue work, said officials from Baiyin, about 1,000 km west of the Chinese capital Beijing, Reuters reported.
A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe, while a last missing runner was found dead at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, state media reported.
Turkey says terrorists set off bomb at Ankara government building
Turkey’s government said on Sunday two terrorists carried out a bomb attack in front of the Interior Ministry buildings in Ankara, adding one of them died in the explosion and the other was “neutralised” by authorities there.
An explosion was heard near the parliament and ministerial buildings, Turkish media had earlier reported, and broadcasters showed footage of debris scattered on a street nearby, Reuters reported.
The blast was the first in Ankara since 2016, and comes on the day that parliament was set to open a new session.
Reuters footage showed soldiers, ambulances, fire trucks and armoured vehicles gathered at the ministry near the centre of Turkey’s capital.
Ali Yerlikaya, the interior minister, said on social media platform X that two police officers were slightly injured in the incident at 9:30 a.m. (0630 GMT).
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“Two terrorists came with a light commercial vehicle in front of the entrance gate of the General Directorate of Security of our Ministry of Internal Affairs and carried out a bomb attack,” he said.
He added that one blew himself up and the other was “neutralised”, which usually means was killed. “Our struggle will continue until the last terrorist is neutralised,” Yerlikaya wrote.
Police also announced they would carry out controlled explosions for “suspicious package incidents” in other parts of Ankara.
Authorities did not identify any specific militant group.
The blast comes almost a year after six people were killed and 81 wounded in an explosion in a busy pedestrian street in central Istanbul. Turkey blamed Kurdish militants for that.
During a spate of violence in 2015 and 2016, Kurdish militants, Islamic State and other groups either claimed or were blamed for several attacks in major Turkish cities. In March 2016, 37 people were killed in Ankara when a bomb-laden car exploded at a crowded central transport hub.
Ankara’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation on Sunday into what it also called a terrorist attack.
President Tayyip Erdogan was set at 7:30 p.m. to attend the opening of parliament, which in the coming weeks is expected to consider ratifying Sweden’s bid to join NATO after Turkey had raised initial objections.
Turkish media reported that authorities were carrying out checks of the parliament after the blast at the ministry. A source told Reuters that the entrance was open but no cars were allowed through as part of the precautions.
US Congress averts government shutdown, passing stopgap bill
The U.S. Congress passed a stopgap funding bill late on Saturday with overwhelming Democratic support after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed down from an earlier demand by his party’s hardliners for a partisan bill.
The Democratic-majority Senate voted 88-9 to pass the measure to avoid the federal government’s fourth partial shutdown in a decade, sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who signed it into law before the 12:01 a.m. deadline.
McCarthy abandoned party hardliners’ insistence that any bill pass the House with only Republican votes, a change that could cause one of his far-right members to try to oust him from his leadership role.
The House voted 335-91 to fund the government through Nov. 17, with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it.
That move marked a profound shift from earlier in the week, when a shutdown looked all but inevitable. A shutdown would mean that most of the government’s 4 million employees would not get paid – whether they were working or not – and also would shutter a range of federal services, from National Parks to financial regulators.
Federal agencies had already drawn up detailed plans that spell out what services would continue, such as airport screening and border patrols, and what must shut down, including scientific research and nutrition aid to 7 million poor mothers.
“The American people can breathe a sigh of relief: there will be no government shutdown tonight,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “Democrats have said from the start that the only solution for avoiding a shutdown is bipartisanship, and we are glad Speaker McCarthy has finally heeded our message.”
Republicans reject own funding bill, US government shutdown imminent
Hardline Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday rejected a bill proposed by their leader to temporarily fund the government, making it all but certain that federal agencies will partially shut down beginning on Sunday.
In a 232-198 vote, the House defeated a measure that would extend government funding by 30 days and avert a shutdown. That bill would have slashed spending and restricted immigration, Republican priorities that had little chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate, Reuters reported.
The defeat left Republicans – who control the chamber by 221-212 – without a clear strategy to avert a shutdown that would close national parks, disrupt pay for up to 4 million federal workers and hobble everything from financial oversight to scientific research if funding is not extended past 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday.
After the vote, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the chamber might still pass a funding extension without the conservative policies that had alienated Democrats. But he declined to say what would happen next. The chamber is expected to hold more votes on Saturday.
“It’s only a failure if you quit,” he told reporters.
It was not clear whether the Senate would act in time, either. The chamber was due on Saturday afternoon to take up a bipartisan bill that would fund the government through Nov. 17, but procedural hurdles could delay a final vote until Tuesday.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday that a government shutdown would “undermine” U.S. economic progress by idling programs for small businesses and children and could delay major infrastructure improvements.
The shutdown would be the fourth in a decade and just four months after a similar standoff brought the federal government within days of defaulting on its $31 trillion debt. The repeated brinkmanship has raised worries on Wall Street, where the Moody’s ratings agency has warned it could damage U.S. creditworthiness.
Biden warned that a shutdown could take a heavy toll on the armed forces.
“We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach. It’s an absolute dereliction of duty,” Biden, a Democrat, said at a retirement ceremony for Mark Milley, a senior general.
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