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More than two million Muslims begin hajj pilgrimage

More than two million Muslims begin hajj pilgrimageMore than two million Muslims from around the globe started the hajj pilgrimage on Sunday in Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest annual gatherings in a country undergoing unprecedented change. The ultra-conservative kingdom — where religion remains a guiding force amid dramatic social and economic reforms — has mobilised vast resources for the six-day journey, a pillar of Islam. “It’s the dream of every Muslim to come here to Mecca,” said Frenchman Soliman Ben Mohri.



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Flood rescue stepped up as more torrential rain batters Kerala

Flood rescue stepped up as more torrential rain batters KeralaRescuers in helicopters and boats fought through renewed torrential rain Saturday to reach stranded villages in India’s Kerala state as the toll from the worst monsoon floods in a century rose above 320 dead. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the crisis as “devastating” after visiting Kerala. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced late Friday that the monsoon death toll had dramatically risen to 324.



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Genoa collapse: Hundreds more bridges 'at risk' across Italy as ministers blast highways firm

Genoa collapse: Hundreds more bridges 'at risk' across Italy as ministers blast highways firmUp to 300 bridges, viaducts and tunnels in Italy are at risk of structural failure, experts warned, as the death toll from the collapse of a bridge in Genoa rose to 39, including three children. There were fears that the number of fatalities could rise further. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister, said it was hard to tell how many people were still unaccounted for simply because they were on holiday or “under the rubble”. He said the tragedy demonstrated the importance of increasing investments and hinted that EU spending limits could put lives at risk. "If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules," Mr Salvini, who leads the eurosceptic League party, said. "There can be no trade-off between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians." The European Union pushed back against suggestions EU budget rules might be to blame.  "We will not engage in any political finger pointing," the European Commission, the EU's executive in Brussels, said. The commission in Brussels said Italy was receiving billions of euros under the bloc's multi-annual budget for infrastructure investment and was "one of the main beneficiaries of the flexibility" under the 28-nation bloc's fiscal rules. British couple Genoa bridge collapse Around 70 per cent of Italy’s 15,000 motorway bridges and tunnels are more than 40 years old, many of them built during the post-war boom but now carrying far more traffic than they were designed for. Lack of investment, poor maintenance and, in some cases, the involvement of mafia-run building companies that use poor quality concrete to increase profits, could all contribute to disasters like the one in Genoa. “They have problems that, if not addressed in time, could potentially lead to structural failures,” a leading structural engineer told La Repubblica newspaper. “The problem is not so much knowing which structures are at risk, but having the money to finance repairs and maintenance,” said the expert, who asked for anonymity because he works for a company that assesses public infrastructure. Among the structures at risk was the Magliana Bridge in Rome, between the city centre and the capital’s busiest airport, Fiumicino, he said. Italy’s CNR civil engineering society said that many structures dating from the 1960s, when the Morandi Bridge was built, had surpassed their lifespan. It called for a “Marshall Plan" to repair or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the post-war period. As investigators began to study what may have caused a 260ft-long portion of the raised motorway in Genoa to collapse, sending around 35 cars and several trucks plummeting to the ground, Italy’s populist government blamed the private company that managed it. Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister and the leader of the Five Star Movement, accused Autostrade per l’Italia of chasing profits at the expense of public safety. “Instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits and that is why the bridge falls," he said. Autostrade, which operates nearly 2,000 miles of Italian motorways, is controlled by the Benetton group through its holding company, Atlantia. Mr Di Maio accused previous Italian governments of turning a blind eye to the upkeep of the country’s motorways because of political contributions. Fire crews told The Telegraph 'we are not going to stop searching' “For the first time there is a government that does not take money from Benetton. Autostrade was protected by previous governments,” he said. “If the bridge was dangerous, then they should have closed it.” The government said it wanted to revoke the contract awarded to Autostrade and hit the company with a massive fine of 150 million euros. "The first thing that should happen is that the heads of Autostrade per l'Italia should step down. And given that there have been breaches (of contract), I announce that we have begun the process for the eventual revocation of their contract and a fine of 150 million euros,” transport minister Danilo Toninelli said on Facebook. Autostrade insisted the bridge had been “constantly monitored” and refuted accusations that it had not invested enough in maintenance. "In the last five years the company's investment in the security, maintenance and strengthening of the network has been over one billion euros a year," it said. Cars and trucks are left on a section of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa Credit: Nicola Marfisi/AP As the coalition, which consists of Five Star and the hard-Right League party, called for heads to roll, it emerged that in 2013 the founder of Five Star had opposed plans to build a new motorway that would have alleviated pressure on the Morandi bridge. Beppe Grillo, the founder of Five Star, dismissed warnings that the bridge could collapse as “a fairy tale” on his widely-read blog. When the plans for the new motorway were blocked, one leading industrialist predicted that the Genoa bridge would fail. “When, in 10 years’ time, the Morandi bridge collapses, and everyone is stuck in traffic jams for hours, we’ll need to remember the names of those who said no (to the project),” said Giovanni Calvini, who was then regional president of Confindustria, an employers’ association. Rescue personnel use cranes to sort through debris from the Morandi motorway bridge Credit: VALERY HACHE/ AFP Arcangelo Merella, a former member of Genoa city council with responsibility for transport, said: “I was saying that the bridge was at risk, that it was no longer adequate and that there was the need to find an alternative because the traffic was becoming heavier all the time.” As Genoa’s mayor declared two days of mourning, there was anger among locals over the fact that repeated warnings about the safety of the bridge went unheeded. Several locals told The Telegraph that the structure shook noticeably when trucks rolled across it and many residents worried about crossing over and under it. The bridge had to withstand more than 25 million vehicle crossings a year, with traffic volumes quadrupling in the last 30 years. A truck is perched on the remaining section of the collapsed Morandi bridge Credit:  STEFANO RELLANDINI/ REUTERS The number of vehicles using the bridge was expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next 30 years. An engineering report released in 2009 studied the possibility of the bridge being demolished because of concerns over its structural integrity. “The city is sad and of course the mourning comes first, but the city is also angry, because for years we have talked about substituting this bridge and it was never done,” said Paolo Maggio, a 46-year-old taxi driver. “This will be a huge hit for the economy – it will impact cargo traffic to and from the airport, the ports, to France. For months, Genoa will be cut in half.” Andrea Rescin, one of the first local residents to call the emergency services after the bridge crashed to the ground, said: “It sounded like a bomb had gone off, the first thing I thought was that it was an explosion.” Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, declared a state of emergency for Genoa, one of the country’s busiest ports, whose main land corridor with France has now effectively been severed. He also announced five million euros of funds going into recovery work.



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Rising sea levels threatens coastal cities with more tsunamis, scientists warn

Rising sea levels threatens coastal cities with more tsunamis, scientists warnTsunamis will become more common and more ferocious with global warming, scientists have warned after a study found that global sea level rises will increase the risk of coastal cities being wiped out. Smaller earthquakes that currently pose no serious tsunami threat could unleash waves capable of inundating coastal cities, researchers found in a study focusing on the city of Macau in China. Currently it is considered safe from tsunamis, despite lying within a major earthquake zone. At today's sea level, it would take a very powerful earthquake tipping past magnitude 8.8 to cause widespread tsunami flooding in Macau. But a half-metre rise in sea level – predicted to occur in the region by 2060 – could more than double the chances of a huge tsunami swamping the territory, according to the research. A three-foot sea level rise, expected by 2100, would increase the risk up to 4.7 times. The source of the earthquake danger is the Manila Trench, a massive crack in the floor of the South China Sea formed by the collision of two tectonic plates. It has generated numerous earthquakes, though none larger than magnitude 7.8 since the 1560s. A modest rise in sea levels would greatly amplify the tsunami threat from smaller earthquakes, the computer simulation study showed. Cities most prone to natural disaster Lead researcher Dr Robert Weiss, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in the US, said: "Our research shows that sea-level rise can significantly increase the tsunami hazard, which means that smaller tsunamis in the future can have the same adverse impacts as big tsunamis would today. "The South China Sea is an excellent starting point for such a study because it is an ocean with rapid sea-level rise and also the location of many mega cities with significant worldwide consequences if impacted." The team's findings are reported in the journal Science Advances.



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More Than 70 Overdose In New Haven; Authorities Point Finger At Synthetic Marijuana

More Than 70 Overdose In New Haven; Authorities Point Finger At Synthetic MarijuanaAuthorities say more than 70 people in New Haven, Connecticut, have been taken



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Turkey ready to create more safe zones in Syria

Turkey ready to create more safe zones in SyriaTurkey said on Sunday it had finalised preparations to create more safe areas in Syria, which would allow the return of refugees who have fled the civil war. Speaking at his AK Party’s provincial headquarters in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, President Tayyip Erdogan said a quarter of a million people had already returned to liberated areas in Syria. “God willing soon we will have liberated more places and made more areas safe,” he said.



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Palestinian shock after child killed, Israelis fear more rockets

Palestinian shock after child killed, Israelis fear more rocketsA Palestinian family called for answers Thursday as to why an Israeli air strike hit their relatives’ home in the Gaza Strip, killing a pregnant mother and her 18-month-old daughter. Only kilometres away, Israelis who spent the night rushing to bomb shelters due to a barrage of rockets and mortars from the Palestinian enclave said they were fed up and feared for their children. In the Gaza Strip, Enas Khammash, 23, and her daughter Bayan were asleep when an Israeli strike hit their home, killing them both, relatives and neighbours said.



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Graham Worried Democrats Will Win '10 Or 12' More Seats Than They Need To Take The House

Graham Worried Democrats Will Win '10 Or 12' More Seats Than They Need To Take The HouseSen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Wednesday that Democrats, riding a blue



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Steph Curry Helps Raise More Than $21,000 For Nia Wilson's Family

Steph Curry Helps Raise More Than $  21,000 For Nia Wilson's FamilyNBA star Steph Curry helped raise more than $ 21,000 for the family of Nia



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California just had its hottest month on record, and that means more wildfires

California just had its hottest month on record, and that means more wildfiresIt should come as no surprise that California is burning.  On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that July was California's hottest month since record keeping began in 1895. Those scorching temperatures withered the land, creating profoundly parched forests primed to catch fire with just a spark.  SEE ALSO: Engineering Earth's climate might quell global warming, but it could come with a cost Major wildfires are propelled by weather, notably strong winds, but they're also enhanced by overall rising global temperatures due to human-caused climate change, say scientists. This is a particularly stark reality in California, where even in early July, fire scientists noted that the state's vegetation reached near-record dryness.  On Monday, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest blaze in state history, easily outpacing the Thomas Fire, which broke the record just this past winter.  Just in: #California had its warmest July on record, as hot, dry weather fueled multiple #wildfires across the state. t.co/ggKyL5hS1V — NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) August 8, 2018 Nearly the entire Golden State experienced either record heat or temperatures "much above average" in July, said NOAA.  However, California wasn't alone in experiencing scorching temperatures and multiple heat waves.  Most of the West was abnormally warm, and in the contiguous U.S., May through July temperatures were also the warmest on record, eclipsing the previous record set in 1934. Image: noaaAs climate and environmental scientists are quick to point out, individual temperature records are not too meaningful — it's the long-term trends that matter.  And California's summer heat is certainly a continuation of accelerating warming trends in both the U.S. and around the globe.   Heat waves and longer warming spells will certainly happen, regardless of what the climate is doing, as big blobs of warm air can settle over areas, like California or Europe, for extended periods of time.  But the climate is simply warmer that it was a half century ago, giving hot temperatures an extra boost — which can mean vast swathes of land are turned to fire-ready tinder.   #HolyFire appears to be picking up significantly, making a run to the north, along eastern side of the ridge leading up to Santiago Peak. Current view from HPWREN's camera #CAwx #OrangeCounty #Riverside #SanDiego pic.twitter.com/eqc3gnZ6nR — NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) August 8, 2018 Yet another heat wave continues this week in portions of California, like Los Angeles. As might be expected, this doesn't bode well for the already dry vegetation in the region. Southern California's Holly Fire is now actively growing near suburban neighborhoods. Relieving rains aren't expected in much of the state for months.  California, like recently scorched Greece, experiences the dry, warm summers defined by the Mediterranean climate. Historically, fires happen during this time of year.  But now — just like heat waves around the world — they're getting worse. And the consequences are plainly visible.  WATCH: This "horror" was spotted off the coast of the Carolinas



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