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Cuba has declared nine days of national mourning following the death of former President and leader of communist revolution Fidel Castro on November 25.

Cubans will be given a chance to bid farewell to Fidel Castro in a mass gathering to be held in Revolution Square in Havana on November 29, Cuba’s Council of State has announced.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will then be taken along the “Caravan of Freedom”, the path he and his guerrilla fighters took during the Cuban Revolution.

His ashes will be laid to rest on December 4. A period of official mourning has been declared until that day.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

During the official mourning period, radio and television will broadcast “informative, patriotic and historic” programs, Cuba’s Council of State announced.

Flags will fly at half mast and there will be no public events apart from those related to Fidel Castro’s death.

His ashes will be laid to rest in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

A grandiose cemetery, Santa Ifigenia was built in 1868 for the victims of the War of Independence.

It is the resting place of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

Fidel Castro died on November 25 at the age of 90.His death was announced last night by his brother, President Raul Castro.



Ecuador has declared 8 days of national mourning a week after the devastating earthquake that killed at least 646 people.

In a speech announcing the national mourning, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has said the number of fatalities has risen to 646 and another 130 people were still missing.

The 7.8 magnitude quake struck off the Ecuadorean coast on April 16, injuring thousands and destroying many towns.

It was the worst tragedy to hit the South American nation in decades.

“These have been sad days for the homeland. The country is in crisis,” Rafael Correa said on his weekly TV broadcast on April 23.Ecuador earthquake 2016

Rafael Correa praised the 27 countries who sent rescue teams over the past week and said that 113 people had been rescued alive from the rubble.

“This is an amazing figure, which made all this effort worthwhile,” he added.

The president also announced that “in the next few hours” he would sign a decree declaring eight days of national mourning.

“It has been a national tragedy, but we will recover,” he said.

More than 12,000 people were treated over the past week across the country for injuries caused by the earthquake, said Rafael Correa.

Foreign nationals from the Colombia, Cuba, the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the Dominican Republic have been confirmed among the dead.

Major international and aid organizations have sent help.

The cost of rebuilding could be up to $3 billion, President Rafael Correa said during a visit to the worst-affected region.

The World Bank has agreed to lend $150 million to help Ecuador cope with the financial costs of the quake.

The tragedy comes at a time when the oil-producing country is already reeling from the slump in global crude prices.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the Ecuador earthquake had struck at a fairly shallow depth of 12 miles, about 17 miles from Muisne in a sparsely populated area.


Safety regulations seem to have been ignored by the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, where a fire killed 27 people last night, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has said.

Survivors say the fire started after Goodbye to Gravity heavy metal band set off fireworks, causing the ceiling and a pillar to catch alight and producing heavy smoke.

A stampede for the exit followed. At least 184 people are being treated in Bucharest hospitals, some with severe burns.

Romanian government has declared three days of national mourning.

“I am saddened, but also revolted that a tragedy of this scale could have taken place in Bucharest,” President Klaus Iohannis said.

Photo Romania TV

Photo Romania TV

“We already have indications that the legal regulations had not been respected,” he said.

“I hope that the authorities manage their inquiry with speed and rigor.”

The fire broke out at about 22:30 at the Colectiv club, which was hosting a free rock concert by the band Goodbye to Gravity. Up to 400 people are thought to have been inside.

Some people initially thought the fire was part of the show, survivors said.

The Colectiv club was in a converted former factory with two small exit doors, only one of which was possible to open initially.

More than 180 people suffered injuries, including from burns and smoke inhalation. Officials have warned that the death toll may rise.

Hundreds of people who responded to appeals for blood donations queued outside hospitals and blood banks on October 31.

PM Victor Ponta cut short a visit to Mexico to return to Bucharest.


Singapore has declared seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee Kuan Yew, who was 91, led Singapore’s transformation from a small port city to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

World leaders have paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, who served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years.

President Barack Obama described Lee Kuan Yew as a “giant of history” whose advice had been sought by other world leaders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Lee Kuan Yew was a widely respected strategist and statesman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as one of the “patriarchs” of world politics.

The period of national mourning will culminate in a state funeral next Sunday and Lee Kuan Yew ‘s body is to lie in state at parliament from March 25 to 28.Singapore declares seven days of national mourning for Lee Kuan Yew death

A private family wake is taking place on March 23 and 24.

News of Lee Kuan Yew’s death came in a government statement that said he had “passed away peacefully” in the early hours of Monday at Singapore General Hospital.

Lee Kuan Yew had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia and was on life support.

State television broke away from its normal schedules and broadcast rolling tributes.

As evening fell, many Singaporeans were continuing to arrive at the Istana, the compound housing the president’s official residence and the prime minister’s office, where a book of condolence has been placed.

Earlier, some chanted “Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee” as a hearse carrying the former leader’s body arrived at the compound.

An area has also been set aside outside the hospital for flowers and other tributes.

Books of condolence have also been opened at all Singapore’s overseas missions.

In an emotional televised address, Lee Kuan Yew’s son, PM Lee Hsien Loong, paid tribute to him.

“He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him,” he said.

Business in bustling Singapore carried on as normal. At the stock exchange, the normal stream of market prices displayed on a bank of screens instead read: Remembering Lee Kuan Yew, September 16, 1923 to March 23, 2015.

Lee Kuan Yew – widely known as LKY – oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia and co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959.

He set about creating a highly educated work force fluent in English, and reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub.

Lee Kuan Yew embarked on a program of slum clearance, industrialization and tackling corruption. He was a fierce advocate of a multi-racial Singapore.

However, Lee Kuan Yew also introduced tight controls, and one of his legacies was a clampdown on the press – tight restrictions that remain in place today.

Dissent and political opponents were ruthlessly quashed. Today, PAP remains firmly in control. There are currently six opposition lawmakers in parliament.

Other measures, such as corporal punishment, a ban on chewing gum and the government’s foray into matchmaking for Singapore’s brightest – to create smarter babies – led to perceptions of excessive state interference.

Lee Kuan Yew criticized what he saw as the overly liberal approach of the US and the West, saying it had “come at the expense of orderly society”.

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Thousands of people have gathered at the Place de la Republique in central Paris for a vigil after a deadly attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Many held up placards saying “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), referring to a hashtag that is trending on Twitter in solidarity with the victims.

Piles of pens – symbolizing freedom of expression – and candles have been laid across the square.

Tens of thousands of people have also joined rallies in other cities across France.

A major manhunt has been launched in Paris for three gunmen who shot dead 12 people at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.Charlie Hebdo attack Je suis Charlie

Eight journalists, including the magazine’s editor, and two policemen were among the dead.

Protests over the killings are being held in cities across France. It is the country’s deadliest attack in decades.

President Francois Hollande called it a “cowardly murder” and declared a day of national mourning on Thursday, January 8.

Charlie Hebdo‘s website, which went offline during the attack, is displaying the single image of “Je suis Charlie” on a black banner. Other major newspapers are displaying similar banners.

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo‘s account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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Kenya has declared three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege by Islamist militants on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said 67 people died, including six security personnel.

Five militants were killed and 11 suspects arrested, he said.

Islamist group al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said 137 hostages had died. But the statement cannot be verified.

As the clearing of the mall continues, the death toll is expected to rise.

Several bodies, including those of some attackers, are thought to be trapped under rubble after three floors of the building collapsed following a blaze.

Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported that tens of bodies were removed from the building on Tuesday evening.

Correspondents say the shopping centre lay largely silent overnight and light smoke was still drifting from the building.

Journalists and onlookers were kept behind a security cordon but police let some people retrieve cars from the scene.

In his address, President Uhuru Kenyatta praised the response of ordinary Kenyans, calling it exemplary and overwhelming.

Kenya has declared three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre

Kenya has declared three days of national mourning following the end of the four-day siege on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre

“We have ashamed and defeated our attackers,” he said.

“Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed.”

He did not confirm earlier reports that several of the attackers were American and British.

“Intelligence reports had suggested that a British woman and two or three American citizens may have been involved in the attack,” said Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We cannot confirm the details at present. Forensic experts are working to ascertain the nationalities of the terrorists.”

He added: “These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are.”

According to the UK Foreign Office, one British national had been arrested in Nairobi, without giving further details.

One of the people arrested is understood to have been in the shopping centre, though it is not clear whether they were armed, or among the 10-15 attackers that Kenyan authorities have spoken of.

At least 18 foreigners are among the dead. About 175 people were wounded, including 62 who remain in hospital.

Somali Islamist group al-Shabab said it had carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan army operations in Somalia.

The militants stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and staff.

Twitter posts from al-Shabab on Wednesday said it had held 137 people hostage, and claiming they died at the hands of the security forces at the end of stand-off.

Al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, has repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of Somalia.

There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia as part of an African Union force supporting Somali government forces.

Al-Shabab is fighting to create an Islamic state in Somalia.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power.

Hugo Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba.

Crowds of supporters gathered outside the Caracas hospital where he died, chanting “We are all Chavez!”

A self-proclaimed revolutionary, Hugo Chavez was a controversial figure in Venezuela and on the world stage. A staunch critic of the US, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America.

Following Hugo Chavez’s death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within 30 days, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.

“It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us,” Elias Jaua told state television, adding that Nicolas Maduro would also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday

It was not immediately clear when the election would take place.

Hugo Chavez’s illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a fourth term in October.

The exact nature of Hugo Chavez’s cancer was never officially disclosed, leading to continuing speculation about his health, and he had not been seen in public for several months.

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Hugo Chavez defeated in October’s election, called on the government to “act in strict accordance with its constitutional duties”.

Henrique Capriles offered his condolences to Hugo Chavez’s family, saying “we were adversaries, but never enemies”.

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Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria.

The fire reportedly started after a member of a band playing at the Kiss nightclub lit a flare on stage.

Authorities say most of the victims were students who died of smoke inhalation. The first funerals are expected on Monday morning.

It is the deadliest fire in Brazil in five decades.

Brazil postponed a ceremony due on Monday in the capital, Brasilia, to mark 500 days to the 2014 football World Cup. In Santa Maria, 30 days of mourning were declared.

President Dilma Rousseff, who cut short a visit to Chile, has been visiting survivors at the city’s Caridade hospital along with government ministers.

“It is a tragedy for all of us,” she said.

Authorities have released the names of the victims, after revising down the death toll from 245.

More than 100 people were being treated in hospital, mostly for smoke inhalation.

Officials will now investigate reports that a flare was lit on stage, igniting foam insulation material on the ceiling and releasing toxic smoke.

They will also look at claims that many of those who died were unable to escape as only one emergency exit was available.

Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria

Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria

The fire broke out as students from the city’s federal university (UFSM) were holding a freshers’ ball, the Diario de Santa Maria, a local newspaper, reported.

A local journalist, Marcelo Gonzatto, said the flare had “started a huge and fast fire that grew quickly and made a very dark and heavy smoke.”

“Lots of people couldn’t get out and died mainly because of the smoke not the fire,” he said.

Witnesses spoke of scenes of panic after the fire started, and a stampede as people tried to escape.

One, Mattheus Bortolotto, told local television: “It was sheer horror. The emergency exits did not work, and then I lost my friend in the confusion. Then a girl died in my arms. I felt her heart stop beating.”

A large number of victims were trapped in the club’s toilets, they said, possibly after mistaking them for an exit.

Survivors and police inspector Marcelo Arigony said security guards briefly tried to block people from leaving the club, the Associated Press news agency reported. Bars in Brazil commonly make customers pay their whole tab at the end of an evening before they are allowed to leave.

One of the owners of the club is reported to have confirmed that they were in the process of renewing its license to operate, and that its fire safety certificate had expired last year.

He is said to have received threats on the internet – in addition to surviving members of the band that was performing on stage when the blaze started.

Its guitarist, Rodrigo Martins, told local radio: “It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks.

“It’s harmless; we never had any trouble with it. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher. The singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working.”

He said the band’s accordion player had died in the fire.

Brazilian broadcaster Globo said most of the victims were aged between 16 and 20.

A temporary morgue was set up in a local gym as the city’s main morgue was unable to cope.

Family members came to identify the dead, led in one by one to see the bodies, Diario de Santa Maria reported.

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