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16 killed as lightning strikes church in Rwanda

AP Associated Press

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KIGALI — At least 16 people were killed and 140 others injured after lightning struck a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Rwanda, a local official said on Sunday.

The churchgoers were injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, where two were in serious condition, Rose Mureshyankwano said.

She said 17 of those injured were still in the hospital, while the rest had been discharged.

A similar incident occurred on Friday when lightning struck a group of 18 students, killing one.

Images shared by local authorities showed crowds of people, along with officials, observing caskets in Nyaruguru district.

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Last October, lightning killed 18 people in different parts of the country.

Lightning strikes are frequent across Rwanda, which has many hills and mountains, and the country’s police record a number of human and livestock deaths each year.

Lightning killed 30 people, injured 61 and killed 48 livestock in 2016, the most recent year with full figures, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs.

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China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline

Thompson Reuters

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BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.

Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.

Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.

State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.

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The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.

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