Miami rescuers persist despite danger. Chauvin to be sentenced in Floyd killing. US to evacuate Afghan interpreters. Israel re-masks despite vaccine success.
Miami collapse: Death toll at 4; 159 still missing
Since the collapse of the 40-year-old 12-story Champlain Towers in Surfside, FL, at 1:30 yesterday morning, four fatalities have been confirmed. The number of missing people has also risen since yesterday. Thursday morning, only 51 people were believed to remain unaccounted for. That number has risen to 159.
Rescue workers with sniffer dogs and microphones have been working around the clock despite hazardous conditions. So far, eleven rescuers have suffered injuries with four requiring hospitalization.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said of the rescuers, “Debris is falling on them as they do their work. We have structural engineers on site to ensure that they will not be injured, but they are proceeding because they are so motivated and they are taking extraordinary risk on the site every day”.
No one in a position to know has yet speculated as to the cause of the collapse. Structural engineers have said it might take months to identify an explanation.
Security footage from a nearby building captured the moment of the collapse. The video shows that the middle of the building came down first, with the outer wing toppling over after it. The whole thing took less than 30 seconds.
Chauvin to be sentenced in Floyd killing
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will learn his sentence today, following his conviction for the murder of George Floyd. Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, will pass sentence.
Typically, Chauvin’s 2nd degree murder conviction would receive 12-and-a-half year’s imprisonment under Minnesota sentencing guidelines. But prosecutors are demanding 30 years’ imprisonment in Chauvin’s case, citing aggravating factors. Meanwhile, Chauvin’s attorney is requesting only probation.
Colleagues of Cahill’s believe his judgement may come down somewhere in the middle, leaving neither side completely happy. Under Minnesota law, a prisoner becomes eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence, provided there are no disciplinary issues while in prison.
US to evacuate interpreters from Afghanistan
Since the announcement of the imminent US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, many in the country have been questioning what was to become of them. Among these were thousands of Afghan nationals who assisted US and allied troops, acting as interpreters and providing other services.
Recently, reports have surfaced of former interpreters receiving death threats, presumably from the Taliban. Their services to the US entitles them to Special Immigrant Visa status, but approval can take months. Many interpreters feared their approvals would not come through in time to save them before the final troop withdrawals in September.
In response, President Biden said yesterday that, “Those who helped us are not going to be left behind. They’re welcome here just like anyone else who risked their lives to help us”.
While this is encouraging news, most of the interpreters should not expect an immediate flight to the US. Instead, many will go to third countries, such as Qatar and Bahrain, where they can await their application process in safety.
Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX) says the operation will require “a lot of planes” to evacuate some 18,000 Afghan interpreters and their families. The final total of evacuees should be around 50,000.
Despite high vaccination, new COVID surge in Israel
After a fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases, Israel has reinstituted its indoor mask rule, just days after lifting it. The country has recorded more than 100 new cases each day for several days. The highly-contagious Delta variant is responsible for most of the new cases. Officials say the daily case total is doubling every few days.
This is a discouraging setback for Israel, which earlier this month was recording zero new daily cases. Statistics show that over half of Israel’s population is now fully vaccinated. Just a few weeks ago, Israeli officials proclaimed that the country was approaching herd immunity.Afghan interpreters, Afghanistan, building collapse, COVID-Delta variant, Derek Chauvin, Florida, George Floyd, herd immunity, housing, international news, Israel, Miami, national news, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news, world news