Five international stories of the week

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2ndL) and Rhineland-Palatinate State Premier Malu Dreyer (R) talk as they stand on a bridge during their visit in the flood-ravaged areas on July 18, 2021 in Schuld, near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Rhineland-Palatinate state, western Germany. Extreme downpours caused devastating floods this week in Germany and other parts of western Europe devastating the region. The death toll across Germany and Belgium has risen to at least 180 as rescue workers continue their efforts and communities begin to clear the debris left by the receding waters. (Christof Stache-Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2ndL) and Rhineland-Palatinate State Premier Malu Dreyer (R) talk as they stand on a bridge during their visit in the flood-ravaged areas on July 18, 2021 in Schuld, near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Rhineland-Palatinate state, western Germany. Extreme downpours caused devastating floods this week in Germany and other parts of western Europe devastating the region. The death toll across Germany and Belgium has risen to at least 180 as rescue workers continue their efforts and communities begin to clear the debris left by the receding waters. (Christof Stache-Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.

Germany defends preparation for floods, Senegal sees a dramatic COVID-19 surge as a major holiday looms, South Korea removes banners at Olympic village after IOC ruling, US peace envoy visits Islamabad as Pakistan-Afghan ties sour and Cyprus showcases an ancient undersea harbor to draw tourists makes up this week's five international stories.

Germany defends preparation for floods, considers lessons

German officials are defending their preparations for flooding in the face of the raging torrents that caught many people by surprise and left over 190 people dead in Western Europe, but concede that they will need to learn lessons from the disaster. Efforts to find any more victims and clean up the mess across a swath of western Germany, eastern Belgium and the Netherlands continued Monday as floodwaters receded. So far, 117 people have been confirmed dead in the worst-affected German region, Rhineland-Palatinate; 46 in the neighboring state of North Rhine-Westphalia; and at least one in Bavaria, parts of which saw heavy rain and flooding over the weekend. At least 31 people died in Belgium.

Senegal sees dramatic COVID-19 surge as major holiday looms

As millions in Senegal prepare for Tabaski, health officials warn that COVID-19 cases are dramatically surging in the West African nation. In just weeks, new confirmed cases have risen from dozens a day to a record of 738 on Friday and then nearly doubled overnight to 1,366 on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health. Nearly 36% of 3,815 tests carried out in the past 24 hours came back positive, the health ministry said Saturday. Senegal has reported 50,374 cases and 1,214 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Faced with the dramatic increase, President Macky Sall and his Cabinet are limiting public gatherings and travel and urging the public to continue wearing masks and frequently sanitize their hands.

South Korea removes banners at Olympic village after IOC ruling

South Korea’s Olympic committee said Saturday it removed banners at the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo that referred to a 16th-century war between Korea and Japan after the International Olympic Committee ruled they were provocative. In agreeing to take down the banners, the South Koreans said they received a promise from the IOC that the displaying of the Japanese “rising sun” flag will be banned at stadiums and other Olympic venues. The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.

US peace envoy visits Islamabad as Pakistan-Afghan ties sour

Washington’s point man in talks aimed at ending decades of war in Afghanistan made a brief visit Monday to Pakistan as relations between Islamabad and Kabul reached a new low. Zalmay Khalilzad’s visit came just hours after Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador from Pakistan late Sunday after the diplomat’s daughter was brutally attacked last week. The U.S. envoy met with Pakistan’s powerful army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa but nothing was immediately known of their discussions. Pakistan and Afghanistan have a long and troubled history, their relationship fraught with mistrust and suspicion. Each accuses the other of fomenting violence on its territory while also harboring its enemies. 

Cyprus showcases ancient undersea harbor to draw tourists

The COVID-19 pandemic has slashed tourism arrivals for an island that relies much on that revenue, so Cyprus authorities are taking a fresh look at what the island has to offer visitors, to re-ignite interest among those who do opt to travel. Cyprus Antiquities department official Yiannis Violaris says what makes the harbor unique to the entire eastern Mediterranean is its state of preservation, combined with its proximity to the coastline. He says those attributes could bring more people amid a global surge of interest in diving tourism. The fact that Cyprus has earned top marks for the cleanest waters among all other European Union nations for the second year running is also a big bonus.

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