News Watch

In China, an outbreak of a newly identified viral respiratory disease had infected more than 17,000 people as of press time, 361 of whom had died. The virus is a coronavirus, in the same family as the agent that causes the disease called SARS, which killed more than 700 people, mostly in China, during 2002-2003. While there is some evidence that the virus can be transmitted by people who are asymptomatic, this has not yet been confirmed. **

Outside of China, 150 cases of the...


A Ukraine International Airlines flight from Tehran, Iran, to Kiev, Ukraine, was shot down shortly after takeoff on Jan. 8 when the Iranian military mistook it for a US military plane. Shortly before the incident, Iran had fired ballistic missiles at two US military bases in Iraq in retaliation for a US airstrike on Jan. 3 that killed one of its top generals and caused at least 50 injuries.

All 176 people on the plane were killed, the majority of whom were Iranian and Canadian. The...


Thousands of people in Baghdad, Iraq, protested the presence of US troops in Iraq on Jan. 24, demanding that the US military leave the country. The protest occurred near the US Embassy in Baghdad’s central Green Zone. At press time, around 5,000 members of the US armed forces were stationed in Iraq.

The US military’s presence in Iraq has been controversial since Iranian general Qasem Soleimani along with ranking members of an Iraqi militia were killed in a US drone strike...


Protesters calling for economic and government reforms clashed with police in Beirut, Lebanon, on Jan 18, leading to more than 300 injuries. The protests began in mid-October after the government proposed a tax on text messages. Protesters demanded that Prime Minister Saad Hariri resign, which he did on Oct. 29. As of press time, the Lebanese Parliament had failed to appoint a new prime minister.

Lebanon has one of the worst economies in the world, a currency with very low value and...


A series of avalanches and landslides in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killed at least 74 people, Jan. 12-14, and powerful snowstorms blocked rescue teams from reaching the hardest-hit areas, located in isolated mountain valleys.

A number of deaths caused by extreme weather were reported throughout the region during this time, including in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province, where 20 people were killed, in India’s Jammu and Kashmir province, where eight were killed, and in...


Heavy rains caused high flooding and landslides in late January in Minas Gerais state, southeastern Brazil, killing at least 30 people, with 17 still missing at press time. More than 2,500 people were evacuated throughout the region.

The Brazilian weather service measured the rainfall on Jan. 25 in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, at 7 inches, the heaviest rainfall in the region since record keeping began 110 years ago.

Storm Gloria struck the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands of Spain with winds of up to 71 miles per hour on Jan. 20 and remained over northeastern Spain for five days, causing flooding and wind damage. The storm was blamed for the deaths of at least 13 people, with four people still missing at press time. After hitting Spain, Gloria moved on to southern France, which was put on a state of alert.

Meteorologists described Gloria as the worst storm to hit the region since 1982...


At least 14 people were killed in eastern Turkey when an earthquake measuring 6.8 in magnitude occurred on Jan. 24. Most of the deaths occurred in the city of Elâzığ, near the epicenter of the quake. The quake also caused a number of buildings to collapse throughout the region, and authorities warned residents not to return to damaged homes because they might collapse during aftershocks. The quake was felt as far away as Beirut, Lebanon.