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UNHCR declares 21 Venezuelans still missing after boat sinks in Caribbean

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Source: Reuters

At least 21 Venezuelans were missing after their boat sank on the way to the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday, citing information from that country’s coast guard.

The boat, the “Jhonnaly Jose”, was carrying at least 25 people from the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria when it capsized in the early hours of Wednesday, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva.

“This tragic incident highlights the extreme risks of sea journeys and other irregular cross-border movements undertaken by refugees and migrants. It also underscores the desperation of those forced to flee their homes and the extraordinary difficulties faced on their journey,” he said.

The UNHCR says more than three million Venezuelans have fled the South American country since 2014 due to widespread shortages of food and medicine and deteriorating law and order.

Four of the 25 aboard the boat were rescued by the Trinidad and Tobago coast guard after a search and rescue effort carried out jointly with Venezuelan counterparts, and then taken back to Venezuela, Baloch said.

Trinidad and Tobago is situated about 70 km (45 miles) off Venezuela’s northern coast.

Venezuela plunged into deeper political crisis in January when Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled congress, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was not legitimate.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong kong train accident leaves eight injured.

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A rare train derailment disrupted services in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the rail operator said, threatening commuter chaos during rush hour.

The disruption to a usually seamless network used by nearly 6 million people every weekday happened after a train derailed while leaving a station in the Kowloon area, rail operator MTR Corp said.

The government’s information department said eight people were injured and five had been taken to hospital.

Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, chairman of MTR Corp, told reporters that a derailment had not happened in many years and the cause was not immediately clear.

“We will work together with the government to find out the truth as soon as possible so as to continue to provide safe services,” he said. “We apologize that our passengers were injured in the accident.”

Hong Kong’s rail system has been a target of vandalism during recent pro-democracy protests, with activists angry that MTR has closed stations to stop protesters gathering.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers trying to get off the derailed train. Public broadcaster RTHK said the train had suddenly swayed and a door had flown off before the train stopped.

Nearby stations were overcrowded, and intervals between trains were extended to 12 minutes from two.

MTR’s shares fell 1.1% in line with the broader Hang Seng Index, which was down 1%.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Brazil to host Nigeria and Senegal

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Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista have confirmed frendlies with Nigeria and Senegal.

It will be first ever meeting between Brazil and Senegal, who lost the Africa Cup of Nations final to Algeria and are the continent’s top-ranked African side.

Nigeria, who won Bronze in Egypt, will be meeting Brazil for the second time at senior level following a 3-0 defeat in a friendly in June 2003 in Abuja.

“We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level opponents,” Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista said on the website.

“It was a wish of the technical commission. So we went after these opponents.”

The friendlies are in line with Brazil’s wishes to play top 50 ranked teams whenever possible.

Brazil’s only other Africa opponent under coach Tite was a 1-0 win over Cameroon in November last year, in a match played in England.

It will be Brazil’s second game in Singapore following a Neymar-inspired victory over Japan in October 2014.

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