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‘Sea of flames’: 46 killed, dozens injured in Taiwan apartment fire

At least 46 people were killed and dozens more sustained serious injuries after a huge blaze erupted at a 13-storey residential and commercial building in southern Taiwan, officials say. 

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‘Sea of flames’: 46 killed, dozens injured in Taiwan apartment fire
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Taipei: At least 46 people were killed and dozens more sustained serious injuries after a huge blaze erupted at a 13-storey residential and commercial building in southern Taiwan, officials say. 

As per reports, fire erupted in the building in early hours of Thursday morning. It took firefighters more than four hours to extinguish the blaze. 

As per fire department, 79 people had been taken to hospital, including 14 in a critical condition. 

The cause of the fire, however, is unclear and investigators are at the scene. 

Officials earlier warned that people may have been trapped in the residential part of the building, between the seventh and 11th floors.

A number of residents in the block of about 120 apartments are thought to be old or to have disabilities.

Built in the 1980s, Taiwan’s third-biggest city, had once housed restaurants, karaoke bars and a movie theater, but these were reportedly no longer in use. 

But conditions in the building began to deteriorate after a fire broke out there in 1999, according to local reports. While no one died in that fire, the building was partly abandoned.

Several developers tried to take over and renovate the building in recent years.

Mehak Javed

Mehak Javed is immensely creative and an enthusiastic journalist, contributing in the publication of timely and accurate news. She is a skilled writer along proven history of achievement in the field with several years of professional experience. Mehak is working with GNN since 2020.

Business

Oil plummets $10 a barrel as new Covid variant spooks investors

News of the variant has caused ructions in a market previously caught between producer and consumer nations.

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Oil plummets $10 a barrel as new Covid variant spooks investors

Oil prices dropped about $10 a barrel on Friday, their largest one-day drop since April 2020, as a new variant of the coronavirus spooked investors and added to concerns that a supply surplus could swell in the first quarter.

Oil fell with global equities markets on fears the variant could dampen economic growth and fuel demand.

The World Health Organization has designated the new variant as "of concern," according to the South African health minister, while Britain, Guatemala and European countries are among those to restrict travel from southern Africa, where the variant was detected. read more

Top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that a ban on flights from southern Africa was a possibility.

Brent crude fell $8.62, or 10.5%, to $73.60 a barrel by 12:45 p.m. EST (1745 GMT).

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down $9.36, or 11.9%, at $69.03 a barrel, in high volume trading after Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.

Both contracts were heading for their fifth week of losses and their steepest falls in absolute terms since April 2020, when WTI turned negative for the first time.

News of the variant has caused ructions in a market previously caught between producer and consumer nations.

"The biggest fear is that it will be resistant to vaccines and be a massive setback for countries that have reaped the benefits from their rollouts," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

OPEC+ is also monitoring developments around the variant, sources said on Friday, with some expressing concern that it may worsen the oil market outlook less than a week before a meeting to set policy. 

Scientists have so far only detected the B.1.1.529 variant in relatively small numbers, mainly in South Africa but also in Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel, but they are concerned by its high number of mutations which could make it vaccine-resistant and more transmissible. read more

Drug makers Pfizer and BioNTech said if necessary they would be able to redesign their shot within 6 weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days. 

The foreign ministry said South Africa would speak to Britain to try to get it to reconsider its travel ban.

"Our immediate concern is the damage that this decision will cause to both the tourism industries and businesses of both countries," Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement.

Oil prices rose early in the week as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) suggested it could taper production in response to a strategic release from large consuming countries that are members of the International Energy Agency. read more

Such a release was likely to swell supplies in coming months, an OPEC source said, based on findings of a panel of experts that advises OPEC ministers. 

The forecasts cloud the outlook for a Dec. 2 meeting when the group will discuss whether to adjust its plan to increase output by 400,000 barrels per day in January and beyond.

"OPEC's initial assessment of the co-ordinated (stockpile) release and the sudden appearance of a new variant of the coronavirus raises serious concerns about economic growth and the oil balance in coming months," PVM analyst Tamas Varga said.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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Health

'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

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'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron

Preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection and there had been a "detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology," it said in a statement after a closed meeting of independent experts who reviewed the data.

Infections in South Africa had risen steeply in recent weeks, coinciding with detection of the variant now designated as omicron, WHO said.

"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern), it said.

Omicron is the fifth variant to carry such a designation.
"This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage," the WHO said.

Current PCR tests continue to successfully detect the variant, it said.

Earlier, the WHO cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the variant of COVID-19, saying they should take a "risk-based and scientific approach".

Global authorities reacted with alarm to the new variant detected in South Africa, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant. L1N2SH089

"At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. "The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures."

It would take several weeks to determine the variant's transmissibility and the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics against it, he said, noting that 100 sequences of the variant have been reported so far.

People should continue to wear masks whenever possible, avoid large gatherings, ventilate rooms and maintain hand hygiene, Lindmeier added.

Mike Ryan, WHO's emergency director, praised South African public health institutions for picking up the signal of the new variant.

But he warned that while some countries had systems in place to do this, the situation elsewhere was often unclear.

"So it's really important that there are no knee-jerk responses here. Especially with relation to South Africa," he said. "Because we've seen in the past, the minute that there is any mention of any kind of variation, then everyone is closing borders and restricting travel."

SOURCE: REUTERS

 

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Technology

Spotify tests TikTok-style video feed 

The success of TikTok has led many different platforms to borrow its central options. 

Published by Mehak Javed

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Spotify tests TikTok-style video feed 

Spotify, reportedly, is engaged on a brand new approach of listening to music within the fashion of TikTok.

Spotify users, now, can work together with songs on there, corresponding to liking them to hearken to later, or visiting the album they got here from. 

The new addition was first spotted by Chris Messina, who tweeted out a video of the Discover feature in action. 

He described it as a “pared-down version” of a TikTok-style feed of music videos. 

Spotify’s new test comes almost a year to the day after the service was experimenting with using a Snapchat-style stories feature alongside several of its playlists.   

Spotify has lengthy provided a “Canvas” function that permits artists to add quick clips — corresponding to these from music movies — which will be proven alongside songs, and the brand new feed seems to be utilizing those self-same movies.

Spotify confirmed it was testing the function however it’s not clear if it is going to be rolling out extra broadly.

The success of TikTok has led many different platforms to borrow its central options. 

Instagram has launched ‘Reels’, which mimic a lot of the performance of TikTok; YouTube has a brand new Shorts function that focuses round quick movies; and Netflix has examined an analogous feed-based interface to assist individuals discover new issues to look at.

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