HONG KONG (AP) — China’s president ordered a national safety campaign on Thursday after a massive cooking gas explosion at a barbecue restaurant in the northwest killed 31 people and injured seven others on the eve of a long holiday weekend. The blast tore through the restaurant at around 8:40 p.m. Wednesday on a busy street in Yinchuan, the capital of the traditionally Muslim Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as people gathered ahead of the Dragon Boat Festival, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The explosion left many people unconscious and they needed to be carried out of the shop, according to the online news site The Paper, which quoted a member of the search and rescue team.
BEIJING (AP) — At least 31 people were killed and seven injured when cooking gas exploded at a restaurant in Yinchuan in northwestern China. It was the latest in China’s long history of deadly industrial accidents, which occur regularly despite government pledges to clamp down on lax standards, poor oversight and corruption frequently blamed for the collapse of buildings, mine cave-ins, explosions and other disasters. Here is a look at some of the worst in recent years. 2023: — Open-pit mine collapses in February in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region, burying dozens under rubble and killing 53. The company running the mine was fined the previous year for multiple safety violations.
PARIS (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday that it’s “critical” the U.S. and China maintain a relationship so they can “work together” on global challenges, coming just after President Joe Biden’s remarks calling Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” drew condemnation from Beijing. Speaking at a news conference in Paris, Yellen said that “with respect to the comments, I think President Biden and I both believe it’s critical to maintain communication … to clear up misperceptions, miscalculations. We need to work together where possible.” “But we have disagreements, and we are also forthright in recognizing we do have disagreements,” she added.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken completed a trip to Beijing during which he met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in a move that Chinese authorities called “public hype.” The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stratton conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on June 20 through waters where “high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement Thursday. “The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” it added.
HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands gathered Thursday in southern Hong Kong to watch the iconic dragon boat races, a highlight of the annual Chinese Dragon Boat festival. The dragon boat races were back in full force after years of cancellations, postponements and social-distancing restrictions during the pandemic. Dragon boat teams in Hong Kong range from 8 to 50 people, depending on the size of the boat. A standard boat in Hong Kong typically has a crew of 20 people who race between about 250-500 meters (820-1640 feet). The Dragon Boat festival, also known as “Tuen Ng” in Cantonese, is associated with a story of a righteous official in ancient times who drowned himself after falling out of favor with his leader.
BANGKOK (AP) — Opponents of Myanmar’s military government applauded fresh financial sanctions imposed by the United States on the Southeast Asian nation but called Thursday for further measures to pressure its ruling generals to restore peace and democracy. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday it was imposing the sanctions on Myanmar’s Defense Ministry and two state-owned banks, the Myanma Foreign Trade Bank and the Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank. The move freezes any assets of the sanctioned entities that are in the United States or controlled by a U.S. person. It also prohibits all transactions by U.S. persons or carried out within or transiting the United States that the targeted entities would benefit from.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Last summer’s flooding in Pakistan killed at least 1,700 people, destroyed millions of homes, wiped out swaths of farmland, and caused billions of dollars in economic losses. All in a matter of months. At one point, a third of the country was underwater. Pakistani leaders and many scientists worldwide blame climate change for the unusually early and heavy monsoon rains. A year on, the country hasn’t fully recovered. The aftermath runs the length of the country; survivors living in makeshift huts where their homes used to be, millions of children out of school, damaged infrastructure waiting to be repaired.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian ex-priest convicted of child sex abuse pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing a 72nd victim. Gerald Ridsdale, 89, has been in prison since 1994. He is serving a 39-year sentence for a series of convictions for abusing children between 1961 and 1988 while he worked as a Roman Catholic priest in churches and schools across his home state of Victoria. Bedridden, he pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court by video link from a prison hospital to a new charge of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy in 1987 while Ridsdale worked as an assistant priest at a school in Horsham, a town about 300 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Melbourne.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealanders this week were debating a thorny health care issue — whether ethnicity should be a factor in determining when patients get surgery. It turns out that in some parts of Auckland, the country’s largest city at 1.4 million people, clinicians have been using an algorithm to adjust where patients sit on elective surgery waitlists. Clinical need remains the top factor, but the algorithm also takes into account how long patients have been on the waitlist, where they live, their financial circumstances, and their ethnicity. Indigenous Māori and Pacific Island patients are given a higher priority on the list, pushing down white New Zealanders and other ethnicities.
NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June was expected to reduce India’s dependence on Moscow for arms, economic ties and technology as New Delhi and Washington try to strengthen the Quad partnership, which also includes Japan and Australia, to contain growing aggression from China. India considers Russia a time-tested ally from the Cold War era with key cooperation in defense, oil, nuclear energy and space exploration. But the partnership has become complicated as Moscow builds closer ties with India’s main rival, China, in part because of the war against Ukraine. Here’s where things stand with India-Russia ties.