Record low temperatures have wreaked havoc in several Asia countries, with 85 people reported dead in Taiwan and tens of thousands stranded at airports because of the unprecedented cold snap.
In South Korea, at least 90,300 saw their flights canceled over the weekend due to bad weather and more than 10,000 travelers faced severe delays at Kunming airport in southwestern China. Taiwan authorities advised people to stay indoors after the deaths.
China renewed an orange alert, its second most serious weather warning, with major highways blocked by snow and sleet just as peak travel season for the Lunar New Year vacation kicks off. South Korea capital Seoul was hit Sunday by the coldest winter in 15 years, with the lowest temperature recorded at minus 18 degrees Celsius, that was the lowest since January 2001.
The typically subtropical Hong Kong experienced its coldest weather in nearly three decades, leading to the shut down of all kindergartens and primary schools on Monday. On Sunday, the average minimum temperature dropped to 3.3 degrees Celsius (38 degrees Fahrenheit) over the city, where there is no central heating in most buildings.
In Taiwan the cold weather had claimed dozens of lives. Thirty-five of the deaths were reported in Taoyuan — northern Taiwan, and Sixteen people – all aged between 65 and 93 – from the southern city of Kaohsiung were declared dead on arrival at a local hospital.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency confirmed that Nago city on the tropical island of Okinawa saw snow for the first time in recorded history since 1966, while the island of Amami Ohshima had its first snowfall in 115 years. Many other cities throughout western and northern Japan experiencing historic snow falls, including in Nagasaki city which was blanketed in 7 inches despite snow being a rarity there. CNN
Curved metallic debris found on a Thai beach is almost certainly from a Japanese rocket, not from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which has become one of aviation history’s biggest mysteries.
“It is very likely that the debris which has been discovered in Thailand is part of a rocket which MHI launched from Japan in the past,” said Kengo Tatsukawa, public relations manager for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) after VOA notified the Japanese company of the find.
The 2-by-3-meter barnacle-encrusted chunk, weighing about 100 kilograms, was discovered Saturday by fishermen after it washed up at Pak Phanang in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 800 kilometers south of Bangkok. The site faces the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. VOA News
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo say Africa wants to see reforms enacted at the U.N. Security Council and they want the continent to be given at least one spot as a permanent member. The call came at the end of a visit to Zimbabwe by Nguema and ahead of an African Union General Assembly later this month.
Mugabe — who is handing over the rotating AU chairmanship — said his Equatorial Guinea counterpart ,Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was in Zimbabwe because of the upcoming African summit in Ethiopia.
“On the event of the meeting of the African Union, he [Nguema] saw it meet to discuss what our position is regarding various matters. The issue of the reform of the U.N. Security Council and our position as Africa. Then the issue of peace and security in Africa and terrorism.”
Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Now Africa — as a continent — wants to be represented in that powerful U.N. group. VOA News
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Laos, where he will lay the groundwork for a February summit with leaders of 10 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries that will be hosted by President Barack Obama.
Kerry arrived in the capital, Vietiane, late Sunday. It is the first leg of a three-nation tour of Asia that also includes stops in Cambodia and China. During his stay, Kerry and Asian leaders will discuss pressing regional issues, including the South China Sea dispute and growing concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program.
In February, President Obama will host a special ASEAN summit in California. The gathering will be an opportunity for U.S. and Asia Pacific leaders to explore opportunities to broaden economic and cultural ties. Later this year, Obama travels to Laos, for an ASEAN summit, becoming the first U.S. president to do so. VOA News
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who dropped out of the GOP presidential race in September, is throwing his support behind a fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz. The endorsement isn’t without qualifications, though, the first being that Perry views the only alternative to be Donald Trump. “Of those individuals who have a chance to win the Republican primary, at this juncture, from my perspective, Ted Cruz is by far the most consistent conservative in that crowd,” Perry told Politico.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly toying with launching an independent presidential campaign. On Sunday, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders told ABC’s This Week that he likes his odds against Bloomberg and Donald Trump in a general election. “This country is moving away from democracy to oligarchy that billionaires are the people who are controlling our political life,” Sanders said. “That is not what, to my view, American democracy is supposed to be about, a contest between billionaires. If that takes place, I am confident that we will win it.” The Week
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