Flooded Homes, Streets as Another Storm Hits Battered Central Greece 

A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
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Flooded Homes, Streets as Another Storm Hits Battered Central Greece 

A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)

Torrential rain battered central Greece, flooding streets, homes and businesses in the city of Volos just three weeks after devastating Storm Daniel killed 16 people in the wider region.

More than 250 people have been evacuated from the area since Storm Elias struck on Wednesday afternoon, the fire brigade said on Thursday, adding that it had so far received 1,200 calls for help.

The storm hit Volos with rain so heavy that water levels in the city and its suburbs rose rapidly in a few hours. A nearby stream overflowed, adding to the flooding.

The mayor of Volos said that by Wednesday night, power outages caused by the storm and flooding had plunged 80% of the city into darkness. Authorities have stopped all vehicles from going onto the roads.

"People can't stand this anymore. I cannot understand nature's rage. Protect yourselves," said Mayor Achilleas Beos, urging people to stay home.

By Thursday morning, the storm had moved towards the island of Evia, a fire brigade official said. Some villages in northern Evia have been ordered to evacuate, state ERT TV said.

Storm Elias is the second major storm to hit the region since Daniel, the most intense storm to hit Greece since records began in 1930, battered the region for three days earlier in September.

Many Volos residents said the authorities were still dealing with the aftermath of Daniel and had not been adequately prepared for another storm.

"This was foretold," said Yannis Gavanoudis, a 70-year-old pensioner. "They (authorities) didn't do their job properly."

Daniel turned central Greece into an inland sea, flooding homes, damaging road infrastructure and farms near Volos, Karditsa and Larissa.

Tens of thousands of animals drowned and crops were washed away, and residents of the flooded areas are still struggling to recover from the impact.

Storm Daniel also wrought devastation across the Mediterranean, moving from Greece to Libya, where over 2,500 died in a huge flood in the city of Derna.



Saudi Team Successfully Separates Nigerian Conjoined Twins

Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
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Saudi Team Successfully Separates Nigerian Conjoined Twins

Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)

A medical team at King Abdullah Specialist Children's Hospital has successfully separated Nigerian conjoined twins, Hassana and Hasina, SPA said on Friday.
The separation comes under the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
Following their arrival in Riyadh on October 31, 2023, the twins underwent extensive examinations, which revealed they shared areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves.
The complex 16.5-hour surgery, which was carried out Thursday morning by 39 medical professionals, marks the 60th operation performed by the Saudi program for separating conjoined twins.
Over the past 34 years, the program has cared for 135 conjoined twins from 25 countries.
"Such successive medical breakthroughs are a testament to the Kingdom's shining examples of progress and development," said Advisor to the Royal Court, Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and head of the medical team Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah in a statement following the surgery.
He highlighted the Kingdom's commitment to humanitarian and medical excellence, aligning with Vision 2030's healthcare development goals.
The twins' parents expressed their gratitude to the Saudi leadership and medical team for the life-changing surgery and exceptional care.


Saudi Press Agency, Sky News Arabia Sign Cooperation Agreement

Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
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Saudi Press Agency, Sky News Arabia Sign Cooperation Agreement

Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)

The Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia signed a cooperation agreement in the field of news training, SPA said on Friday.
Assistant Minister of Media Dr. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Maghlouth attended Thursday's signing ceremony which took place during the Human Capability Initiative (HCI) in Riyadh.
The HCI is held under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister and Chairman of Human Capability Development Program Committee Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
The program seeks to realize Saudi Vision 2030.
The agreement focuses on the specialized courses offered by the academy in the field of news, exchange of expertise, and utilization of technology.


Jeddah Middle Corniche Closed 10 Days for Maintenance

People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Jeddah Middle Corniche Closed 10 Days for Maintenance

People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
People stand on the corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

The Jeddah Governorate Municipality announced that the waterfront on the middle Corniche will be closed starting next Sunday, March 3, for 10 days for maintenance and preparation work.

The municipality explained that the closure of the waterfront comes out of its concern for the safety and health of visitors during the maintenance work for the facilities at the waterfront, SPA reported.

The closure includes the seating and picnic areas, starting from Al-Anani Mosque to Palestine Street.
The maintenance work includes rehabilitating the entire plantings of the waterfront project on the Middle Corniche and the Palestine Street walkway, repairing sidewalks, and cleaning and equipping fountains and lighting poles.


Saudi Medical Team Begins Separating Nigerian Conjoined Twins

The twins share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves. SPA
The twins share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves. SPA
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Saudi Medical Team Begins Separating Nigerian Conjoined Twins

The twins share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves. SPA
The twins share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves. SPA

A Saudi medical and surgical team began on Thursday separating Nigerian conjoined twins Hassana and Hasina at King Abdullah Specialist Children's Hospital in King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh.

The separation is in implementation of the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.

Following their arrival in Riyadh on October 31, the twins underwent extensive examinations, which revealed they share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves.

The surgery will be performed in nine stages and is expected to take approximately 14 hours.

A team of 38 consultants, specialists, technicians, and nursing staff in the specialties of anesthesia, pediatric surgery, urology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, and pediatric neurosurgery will participate in the operation.

According to Advisor at the Royal Court, Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), and head of the medical team Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, the success rate of the operation is 70%.

This is the 60th operation performed by the Saudi program for separating Siamese twins.

Over the past 34 years, the program has cared for 135 conjoined twins from 25 countries.
Al Rabeeah expressed gratitude to the Saudi leadership for its support of the program.


Living Near Fast Food Restaurants Could Affect Heart Health, New Study

(FILES) A driver in a vehicle places his order from a drive-thru lane at a Wendy's fast food resturant in Alhambra, California on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
(FILES) A driver in a vehicle places his order from a drive-thru lane at a Wendy's fast food resturant in Alhambra, California on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
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Living Near Fast Food Restaurants Could Affect Heart Health, New Study

(FILES) A driver in a vehicle places his order from a drive-thru lane at a Wendy's fast food resturant in Alhambra, California on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)
(FILES) A driver in a vehicle places his order from a drive-thru lane at a Wendy's fast food resturant in Alhambra, California on May 5, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

A new British study, involving 500,000 adults, has found that living near fast food restaurants could harm the health of the heart.

These kinds of ready-to-eat food environments typically provide unhealthy foods and drinks, and have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, mostly heart failure. The findings were published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. In this case, fluids can accumulate in the lungs, causing shortness of breath. This condition can lead to narrowing the heart arteries and raising blood pressure.

This study is likely the first to assess the association between food environment and heart failure with long-term observation, according to the researchers.

The study involved more than 500,000 adults, ages 37-73 years old, in the UK.

During the research, the team measured the link between living within one-kilometer from three types of food environments — pubs or bars, restaurants or cafeterias and fast-food restaurants.

The study documented nearly 13,000 heart failure cases during a 12-year follow-up period.

The analysis found that a closer proximity and a greater density of ready-to-eat food outlets were associated with a 16% risk of heart failure compared to those with no ready-to-eat food environments near their homes.

It also found that those in the highest density areas of pubs and bars showed a 14% higher risk for heart failure; while those in the highest density areas for fast-food outlets had a 12% higher risk.

Heart failure risk was stronger among participants without a college degree and adults in urban areas without access to formal physical activity facilities such as gyms.

According to the researchers, these findings add to previous studies that have suggested that exposure to ready-to-eat food environments is associated with risks of other disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which may also increase the risk of heart failure.

Authors said the findings suggest that improving access to healthier food environments and physical fitness facilities in urban areas, along with helping more people attain higher levels of education, could reduce the increased risk of heart failure linked to quick-meal options.


Theater Supervisors from Australia Train Saudi School Teachers

Training on making marionettes and how to move them on stage (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Training on making marionettes and how to move them on stage (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Theater Supervisors from Australia Train Saudi School Teachers

Training on making marionettes and how to move them on stage (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Training on making marionettes and how to move them on stage (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Saudi Ministry of Culture gives great attention to enhancing arts and culture in the local community, and recognizes the vital role school theater plays in growing the talents and skill of students.

As part of its efforts to promote school theater, the ministry has carried on an initiative aimed at training school teachers on theater arts, with the help of 160 supervisors who provide the guidance and support that schools need to develop and implement theater-related activities.

The School Theater Initiative is one of the top national initiatives launched by the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, as part of a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education, to create a school theater movement aimed at enhancing the theater culture and growing a generation interested in theater.

The commission stated that the initiative will develop and grow the skills of supervisors and teachers through international programs curated by experts in theater and performative arts, in collaboration with Australia’s Monash University. The efforts seek to provide the trainees with the skills needed to fuel the sector with the essential theater elements, including acting, drama, design and direction.

The training program consists of several phases: the first ran from October 2002 until November 2022, during which several visits were paid to schools in Riyadh, to take a closer look at theater activities in the Kingdom and form the training team. The second saw the launch of the training program for the first promotion, including 20 teachers and 40 supervisors, as well as reviewing and assessing the content after the conclusion of the training.

The training started in the third phase, while the fourth, which ran between December 2023 and January 2024, graduated the first promotion of supervisors, who were responsible for training several groups of 20 teachers. The training program of the third and fourth promotions covered the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Abha and Tabuk.

The fifth phase, which has kicked off earlier this year and ends in December, is designed to supervise and support the teachers that will be trained by 160 supervisors, in addition to selecting the best 1,000 school plays from different cities and provinces.


Volcanic Ash Forces Some Airlines to Suspend Flights from Mexico City 

The Popocatepetl volcano emits smoke and ash, seen from Mexico City at sunrise on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP)
The Popocatepetl volcano emits smoke and ash, seen from Mexico City at sunrise on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP)
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Volcanic Ash Forces Some Airlines to Suspend Flights from Mexico City 

The Popocatepetl volcano emits smoke and ash, seen from Mexico City at sunrise on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP)
The Popocatepetl volcano emits smoke and ash, seen from Mexico City at sunrise on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (AP)

Mexico City International Airport on Tuesday said airlines have canceled 22 domestic and international flights to carry out safety checks after planes encountered ash from the Popocatepetl volcano while flying toward the capital.

In a post on X, the airport said it remains open and in operation.

"Specialized teams and management remain on alert and are evaluating the ash conditions," the airport said. "At this time, the volcanic ash cloud is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico."

The airport advised travelers to stay informed through their airlines and official airport channels.

The government has issued a "yellow alert" for activity from the nearby volcano, whose name in the Aztec Nahuatl language means "Smoking Mountain."

Authorities earlier on Tuesday said a column of smoke from the volcano was blowing to the north-northwest and could bring ash over the capital.


South Korea’s Fertility Rate Dropped to Fresh Record Low in 2023 

Nurses take care of babies at a postnatal care center in Seoul, South Korea, 28 February 2024. (EPA/Yonhap)
Nurses take care of babies at a postnatal care center in Seoul, South Korea, 28 February 2024. (EPA/Yonhap)
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South Korea’s Fertility Rate Dropped to Fresh Record Low in 2023 

Nurses take care of babies at a postnatal care center in Seoul, South Korea, 28 February 2024. (EPA/Yonhap)
Nurses take care of babies at a postnatal care center in Seoul, South Korea, 28 February 2024. (EPA/Yonhap)

South Korea's fertility rate, already the world's lowest, dropped to a fresh record low in 2023, defying the billions of dollars spent by the country to try to reverse the trend as the population shrank for a fourth straight year.

The average number of expected babies for a South Korean woman during her reproductive life fell to 0.72 from 0.78 in 2022, data from Statistics Korea showed on Wednesday.

Since 2018, South Korea has been the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to have a rate below 1.

The South Korean government has made it a national priority to reverse the falling birth rate and in December promised to come up with "extraordinary measures" to tackle the situation.

Meanwhile, ahead of elections in April South Korea's major political parties vowed more public housing and easier loans in an effort to stem population decline, aiming to allay fears of "national extinction" as fertility rates crumble.

The parties' focus on population in their election planks reflects growing alarm after spending of more than 360 trillion won ($270 billion) in areas such as childcare subsidies since 2006 has failed to reverse record low fertility rates.

Being married is seen as a prerequisite to having children in South Korea, but marriages are also falling in the country with high financial burden cited as the main reason.

South Korea is not alone in the region struggling with a rapidly ageing population. The fertility rate in neighboring Japan's hit a record low of 1.26 in 2022, while China recorded 1.09, also a record low.

In South Korea, the capital Seoul had the lowest fertility rate of 0.55 last year.

South Korea has previously projected its fertility rate is likely to fall further to 0.68 in 2024.


Britain's Prince William Pulls Out of Event Due to Personal Matter

20 February 2024, United Kingdom, London: Prince William of Wales visits the headquarters of the British Red Cross, to hear about the humanitarian efforts taking place to support those affected by the conflict in Gaza. Photo: Kin Cheung/PA Wire/dpa
20 February 2024, United Kingdom, London: Prince William of Wales visits the headquarters of the British Red Cross, to hear about the humanitarian efforts taking place to support those affected by the conflict in Gaza. Photo: Kin Cheung/PA Wire/dpa
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Britain's Prince William Pulls Out of Event Due to Personal Matter

20 February 2024, United Kingdom, London: Prince William of Wales visits the headquarters of the British Red Cross, to hear about the humanitarian efforts taking place to support those affected by the conflict in Gaza. Photo: Kin Cheung/PA Wire/dpa
20 February 2024, United Kingdom, London: Prince William of Wales visits the headquarters of the British Red Cross, to hear about the humanitarian efforts taking place to support those affected by the conflict in Gaza. Photo: Kin Cheung/PA Wire/dpa

Britain's Prince William has pulled out of attending a memorial service at Windsor Castle for the late King Constantine of Greece because of an unspecified personal matter, his office said Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, the Prince of Wales is no longer able to attend the King Constantine Memorial Service this morning due to a personal matter," Kensington Palace said, according to Reuters.
The palace declined to give any further details, but it comes after his wife Kate, 42, underwent abdominal surgery last month. However, a royal source said Kate was continuing to do well.
Following Kate's operation, William, the 41-year-old heir to the throne, postponed official duties to care for her and their three children, before resuming public engagements earlier this month.
His absence comes as his father King Charles is also absent from his public role as he undergoes treatment for an unspecified form of cancer.
In Charles' absence, his wife Camilla has become the most senior royal performing engagements.


India Announces Four-member Crew for Space Mission

FILE PHOTO: Intuitive Machines' Odysseus spacecraft passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, in this handout image released February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Intuitive Machines' Odysseus spacecraft passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, in this handout image released February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS
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India Announces Four-member Crew for Space Mission

FILE PHOTO: Intuitive Machines' Odysseus spacecraft passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, in this handout image released February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Intuitive Machines' Odysseus spacecraft passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, in this handout image released February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS

India on Tuesday introduced four crew members for its maiden 'Gaganyaan' space voyage, as it aims to become the world's fourth country to send a crewed mission into space just months after a historic landing on the south pole of the moon.
Gaganyaan, or "sky craft" in Hindi, is the first mission of its kind for India and will cost about 90.23 billion rupees ($1.1 billion). It involves the launch of a habitable space capsule over the next year to an orbit of 400 km (250 miles) and its return via a landing in the Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi awarded the four crew members, all of them air force officers, "astronaut wings" at a space center in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala state on Tuesday, in their first public appearance after months of rigorous training.
The four officers are Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Ajit Krishnan, Angad Pratap and Shubhanshu Shukla, a government statement said.
It was not clear if all four astronauts would be on board the mission, Reuters reported.
Gaganyaan is a "historic" achievement for India, Modi said on X and in a statement, coming four decades after air force officer, Rakesh Sharma, became the first Indian to travel to space - with a Soviet mission.
"Time is ours, countdown is ours and so is the rocket," Modi told space scientists.
Only the United States, Russia, and China have sent their own crewed missions into space.
Astronauts from more than three dozen other countries have made space trips aboard either US or Russian missions.