Sheriff’s office: At least 3 killed in Amtrak derailment

JOPLIN, Mont. – At least three people were killed Saturday afternoon when an Amtrak train that runs between Seattle and Chicago derailed in north-central Montana, an official with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dispatcher Starr Tyler told The Associated Press that three people died in the derailment. She did not have more details. Amtrak said in a statement that there were multiple injuries.

The Empire Builder train derailed at 4 p.m. near Joplin, a town of about 200, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement. The accident scene is about 150 miles north of Helena and about 30 miles from the border with Canada.

The train had about 147 passengers and 13 crew members onboard, Abrams said. Megan Vandervest, a passenger on the train who was going to visit a friend in Seattle, told The New York Times that she was awakened by the derailment.

Russia says it’s in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban

UNITED NATIONS – Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday.

Sergey Lavrov said the four countries are in ongoing contact. He said representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently traveled to Qatar and then to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to engage with both the Taliban and representatives of “secular authorities” – former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government’s negotiating council with the Taliban.

Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect “the whole gamut of Afghan society – ethno-religious and political forces – so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing.”

The Taliban have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 including respecting women’s rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting terrorism and extremism and stopping militants from using their territory to launch attacks. But recent moves suggest they may be returning to more repressive policies, particularly toward women and girls.

“What’s most important ... is to ensure that the promises that they have proclaimed publicly to be kept,” Lavrov said. “And for us, that is the top priority.”

Canadians, Chinese executive return home in prisoner swap

TORONTO – China, the U.S. and Canada completed a high-stakes prisoner swap with joyous homecomings for two Canadians held by China and for an executive of Chinese global communications giant Huawei Technologies charged with fraud, potentially bringing closure to a 3-year feud that embroiled the three countries.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugged diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on the tarmac after they landed in Calgary, Alberta early Saturday. The men were detained in China in Dec. 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request.

Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics,” while China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to holdback China’s economic and technological development.

“It’s fantastic to be back home in Canada and I am immensely grateful to everybody who worked hard to bring both of us back home,” a noticeably thinner Kovrig said after a Canadian government plane landed in Toronto and he was greeted by his wife and sister. Meng’s return to China later Saturday was carried live on state TV, underscoring the degree to which Beijing has linked her case with Chinese nationalism and its rise as a global economic and political power.

Taliban hang body in public; signal return to past tactics

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hard-line movement’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past.

Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square.

Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier Saturday and were killed by police, Seddiqi said. Ziaulhaq Jalali, a Taliban-appointed district police chief in Herat, said later that Taliban members rescued a father and son who had been abducted by four kidnappers after an exchange of gunfire. He said a Taliban fighter and a civilian were wounded by the kidnappers, and that the kidnappers were killed in crossfire.

An Associated Press video showed crowds gathering around the crane and peering up at the body as some men chanted.

“The aim of this action is to alert all criminals that they are not safe,” a Taliban commander who did not identify himself told the AP in an on-camera interview conducted in the square.

Volcanic ash cloud closes La Palma airport; new vent emerges

MADRID — The airport on the Spanish island of La Palma shut down Saturday because of an ash cloud spewing out of a volcano that has been erupting for a week, and scientists said another volcanic vent opened up, exposing islanders to possible new dangers.

The intensity of the eruption that began Sept. 19 has increased in recent days, prompting the evacuation of three additional villages on the island, part of Spain’s Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off northwest Africa. Almost 7,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes.

The recent volcanic eruption is the first since 1971 on La Palma, which has a population of 85,000.

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