Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on Wednesday, hours before he was due to step down after widespread protests over his handling of a devastating economic crisis.
Rajapaksa, his wife and two bodyguards left the main international airport near Colombo aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force plane, the air force said in a statement.
A government source and a person close to Rajapaksa said he was in Male, the capital of the Maldives. The president would most likely proceed to another Asian country from there, the government source said, Reuters reported.
The president’s flight brings an end to the rule of the powerful Rajapaksa clan that has dominated politics in the South Asian nation for the last two decades.
Protests against the economic crisis have simmered for months and came to a head last weekend when hundreds of thousands of people took over key government buildings in Colombo, blaming the Rajapaksas and their allies for runaway inflation, corruption and a severe lack of fuel and medicines.
Rajapaksa was due to step down as president on Wednesday to make way for a unity government after protesters stormed his and the prime minister’s official residences.
The president has not been seen in public since Friday.
Sri Lanka has been run by the powerful Rajapaksa family for the better part of the last two decades. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as the country’s president in November 2019.
That would make Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the acting president, although he has also offered to resign. If he does, the speaker will be the acting president until a new president is elected, as per the constitution.
Bus crash in Croatia leaves 12 Polish pilgrims dead, 32 injured
Twelve people were killed in Croatia on Saturday when a Polish bus filled with religious pilgrims slipped off a road and crashed near Varazdin, authorities said, Reuters reported.
Thirty-two people were injured in the crash which happened at 5:40 a.m. (0340 GMT) on the highway between Varazdin, in northwest Croatia, and capital Zagreb.
Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros said 19 people were in a serious condition.
According to Reuters Marcin Przydacz, deputy head of the Polish Foreign Ministry, who was travelling to the site on Saturday, said the injured were being treated at five hospitals in Croatia.
He said there were 44 Polish pilgrims on the bus driving from Poland to Medjugorje, a Roman Catholic shrine in southern Bosnia, including two drivers. Among them were three priests and six nuns, a ministry spokesman said.
Police cleared the area where the accident took place after firefighters and medical teams recovered all the occupants of the vehicle which had Warsaw registration plates, read the report.
Polish police officers, in Croatia as part of project “Safe Tourist Destination” project, were helping Croatian authorities in communicating with the survivors.
An investigation has been started into the cause of the accident.
Taiwan official leading missile production dies of heart attack
The deputy head of Taiwan defence ministry’s research and development unit was found dead on Saturday morning in a hotel room, succumbing to a heart attack, according to the official Central News Agency.
Ou Yang Li-hsing, deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, had died in a hotel room in southern Taiwan, CNA reported.
Authorities said 57-year-old Ou Yang died of a heart attack and the hotel room showed no sign of any ‘intrusion’, CNA said.
His family said he had a history of heart disease and had a cardiac stent, according to the report, Reuters reported.
Ou Yang was on a business trip to the southern county of Pingtung, CNA said, adding that he had assumed the post early this year to supervise various missile production projects.
The military-owned body is working to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year, as the island boosts its combat power amid what it sees as China’s growing military threat.
Four people critically injured in lightning strike near White House
Four people were in critical condition on Thursday after a lightning strike at Washington’s Lafayette Square in front of the White House, Reuters quoted a D.C. fire official said.
The injured – two adult males and two adult females – were transported to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries, Vito Maggiolo, a D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson, said.
According to Reuters Lafayette Square, a seven-acre public park that lies directly north of the White House, is often crowded with visitors, especially in the summer months. The lightning struck the four people near a tree that stands yards away from the fence that surrounds the presidential residence and offices.
Temperatures in Washington exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, although, with the high humidity, the heat felt like more than 100F, forecasters said. A violent thunderstorm swept through the capital late in the day, read the report.
Officers of the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police, which have a regular presence in the square, went to the assistance of the victims immediately, Maggiolo said.
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