Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
India to start COVID-19 vaccination drive from Jan. 16: government
India will start its COVID-19 vaccination drive from Jan. 16 with priority given to about 30 million healthcare and frontline workers, a government statement said on Saturday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination programme on Saturday, it said. India hopes to inoculate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people free of charge in the first six to eight months of this year.
Two die in Spanish storm, troops deployed to help motorists stranded by snow
Two people died in Spain and troops rescued drivers trapped by snow as Storm Filomena caused travel chaos across the country, with Madrid seeing the heaviest snowfall in decades. The airport in Madrid was closed and skiers glided down Gran Via, normally one of the busiest streets in the capital. Iran will expel U.N. nuclear inspectors unless sanctions are lifted: lawmaker
Iran will expel United Nations nuclear watchdog inspectors unless sanctions are lifted by a Feb. 21 deadline set by the hardline-dominated parliament, a lawmaker said on Saturday. Parliament passed a law in November that obliges the government to halt inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency and to step up uranium enrichment beyond the limit set under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal if sanctions are not eased.
Moderna vaccine set to arrive in France as country steps up anti-COVID drive
Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in France on Monday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said, as the country steps up its vaccination drive following a sluggish start. Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran visited a health centre in Tarbes, southwestern France, on Saturday as part of the government’s campaign to accelerate France’s vaccine rollout.
Large fire at Ireland’s Port of Cork brought under control
Firefighters have brought a large fire at the southern Irish port of Cork under control and no casualties were reported, the port authority, which recently started offering more “Brexit-proof” direct sailings to mainland Europe, said on Saturday. The blaze began in a grain store at a deepwater berth used for freight services, the port authority said shortly after 0930 GMT, urging local residents to keep all doors and windows shut and remain indoors.
Indonesian plane loses contact after take-off, more than 60 thought to be aboard
A Sriwijaya Air plane thought to have 62 people on board lost contact after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Saturday and rescuers said suspected debris had been found in the sea off the city. The Boeing 737-500, en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan, lost contact shortly after taking off just after 2.30 p.m. (0730 GMT), a search and rescue official told local television. Iran bans foreign companies from testing COVID-19 vaccines on Iranians: president
Foreign companies will not be allowed to test COVID-19 vaccines on the Iranian people, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday, a day after Iran’s Supreme Leader banned vaccine imports from the United States and Britain. “Foreign companies wanted to give us vaccines so they would be tested on the Iranian people. But the health ministry prevented it,” Rouhani said in televised remarks, without naming the companies or giving further details. Greece submits bill on western territorial waters extension
Greece’s conservative government has submitted a bill to parliament to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 nautical miles, following negotiations with its regional neighbours Italy and Albania. The bill, submitted late on Friday, would extend its western territorial waters from six nautical miles currently. It would not affect waters in the Aegean, off Greece’s southern and eastern coasts where Athens has been in dispute with its NATO ally Turkey over maritime boundaries. Three killed after avalanche hits ski resort in Russian Arctic
Three people were killed after an avalanche struck a ski resort near the Arctic city of Norilsk late on Friday, the local branch of Russia’s emergency services ministry said. The bodies of two adults and a young child were found as part of a search and rescue mission involving 242 people and 29 vehicles, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. A 14-year-old boy was also hospitalized with frostbite. Buildings shake as deep quake hits Taiwan, but no damage reported
Buildings shook briefly in Taipei on Saturday as a deep, 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Taiwan, but there were no reports of damage. The quake’s epicentre was just off the coast of Yilan county, at a depth of 72.2 km (44.9 miles), according to the island’s Central Weather Bureau.
(With inputs from agencies.)