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Pope Francis hospitalised with respiratory infection

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Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend a few days in hospital in Rome, the Vatican says.

The 86-year-old had breathing difficulties in recent days but does not have Covid, a statement said.

It said he would need “a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy”.

“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” the statement added.

His closest staff, including security, are expected to stay the night at the Gemelli Hospital, a person with direct knowledge told the BBC.

This is the busiest time of the year for Pope Francis, with many events and services scheduled ahead of Easter weekend.

A Palm Sunday Mass is scheduled this weekend, and Holy Week and Easter celebrations next week.

He is also scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of April.

On Wednesday morning, he presided over his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. He appeared in good spirits but was seen grimacing as he was helped into his vehicle.

The Vatican initially said the Pope had gone to hospital for a previously scheduled check-up, but Italian media have questioned this account after a television interview was cancelled at short notice.

Reacting to the news, President Joe Biden asked people to make an “extra prayer” for the Pope’s recovery.

Mr Biden, who is only the second Roman Catholic to be elected leader of the US, also described the pontiff as one of the “most Christ-like figures I’ve ever met”.

People in the Pope’s home city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, shared their feelings with Reuters news agency. One man, Daniel Saco, said the pontiff “must ask himself whether he can continue”.

“It is very sad because, as a Latin American, I feel represented by this Pope, who is very open-minded and human,” said Victoria Veira, who is originally from Brazil.

Anibal Pizelle, who met the Pope when he was bishop of Buenos Aires, said she was optimistic for a recovery as Francis was “physically and mentally strong” and a “person with enormous faith”.

The Pope has used a wheelchair in recent months because of mobility problems related to his knee.

He also underwent surgery to treat a colon problem in 2021. In January, he said the condition had returned.

Despite his ailments, the Pope has remained active and has undertaken trips abroad. He visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in February.

In January, the Pope led the funeral of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI – who was the first pope to step down voluntarily for centuries. He said this was due to ill health.

Pope Francis has previously indicated that he may also wish to follow in Benedict’s footsteps in the event that his health deteriorates.

(BBC News)

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Hundreds feared dead after landslide flattens remote Papua New Guinea village

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Hundreds are feared dead after a massive landslide levelled dozens of homes and buried families alive in a remote village in northern Papua New Guinea early on Friday, a resident said.

More than 50 homes, many with people still asleep inside, were buried when the landslide hit Kaokalam village around 3 a.m., villager Ninga Role told Reuters by phone. The death toll was nearly 300, among them his brother and cousin, he said.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp and other local media reported that more than 100 people had been killed.

One man who turned back to try and save his two children was buried along with his extended family, Role said.

Social media footage posted by Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background.

“It’s very impossible, the area covered by the landslide is large and there are rocks and trees everywhere,” Role said.

“It’s very difficult to get them out.”

The village is in Enga province, about 600 km (370 miles) north of the capital, Port Moresby.

Prime Minister James Marape said in a statement he was yet to be fully briefed, but that authorities were responding to the disaster.

“We are sending in disaster officials, PNG Defence Force, and the Department of Works and Highways to meet provincial and district officials in Enga and also start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure,” Marape said.

“I will release further information as I am fully briefed on the scale of destruction and loss of lives.”

PNG police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The landslide hit a section of highway near the Porgera gold mine, operated by Barrick Gold through Barrick Niugini Ltd, its joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining.

“The extent of the damage is still being assessed, so it is too early to know the impact, if any, on the operations of the Porgera Gold Mine, which is 100 km away,” a spokesperson for Barrick Gold said.

Porgera currently has sufficient fuel on-site to operate normally for 40 days and other critical supplies for longer, the spokesperson added.

(Reuters)

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New planet that may support life, found

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Scientists have discovered a new planet that may be able to support human life, according to a new study.
The study, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on Thursday, named the new planet Gliese 12 b. Scientists said in the study that the planet is “the nearest, transiting temperate, Earth-sized planet found to date.”

The international team of scientists discovered the planet by using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Scientists say that it’s one of the few rocky planets discovered that has the potential for humans to survive on, but that the planet is 40 light years away.

Gliese 12 b is only a little smaller than Earth. It’s an “exoplanet,” which means that it’s a planet outside of our solar system. The planet orbits a small and cool red dwarf star. The planet also bears some similarities to Venus, which is often dubbed Earth’s “twin” because of the similarities they share.

A year on Gliese 12 b is just 12.8 days on Earth because the planet orbits its star so closely. The planet receives about 1.6 times more energy from its star than Earth does from the sun, scientists said.

The planet has an average estimated surface temperature only 50°F warmer than Earth’s.

“Thrillingly, this planet is the closest Earth-sized and temperature planet we know,” Thomas Wilson, one of the study’s authors, told BBC. “Planets like Gliese 12 b are very few and far between, so for us to be able to examine one this closely and learn about its atmosphere and temperature is very rare.”

In order to find out if Gliese 12 b could support human life, scientists will need to determine if it has an atmosphere similar to Earth—one that could have water on its surface, since that is essential for a planet to be habitable. But scientists said they were still unsure what kind of atmosphere it  has—if any at all. Scientists said the planet was a good candidate for further atmospheric study.

(Time Magazine)

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Netanyahu denounces bid to arrest him over Gaza war

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has angrily condemned the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor for seeking arrest warrants for him alongside Hamas’s leaders over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict.

Mr Netanyahu said he rejected with disgust that “democratic Israel” had been compared with what he called “mass murderers”.

Mr Netanyahu’s comments have been echoed by US President Joe Biden, who said there was no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

The chief ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Netanyahu and his Defence Minister Yoav Gallant bore criminal responsibility for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

The ICC is also seeking a warrant for Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, for war crimes.

Israel and the US, its key ally, are not members of the ICC, which was set up in 2002.

(BBC News)

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