Police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in London

Police officers on horse-back stand next to protesters during a "Resist and Act for Freedom" protest against a mandatory coronavirus vaccine, wearing masks, social distancing and a second lockdown, in Trafalgar Square, London, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP/Matt Dunham)
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Updated 19 September 2020

Police clash with anti-lockdown protesters in London

  • Scuffles broke out Saturday as police moved in to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who gathered in London’s central Trafalgar Square
  • Britain’s Conservative government imposed a ban on all social gatherings of more than six people this week in a bid to tackle a steep rise in COVID-19 cases in the country

LONDON: Police in London have clashed with protesters at a rally organized by opponents of restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Scuffles broke out Saturday as police moved in to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who gathered in London’s central Trafalgar Square. Some protesters formed blockades to stop officers from making arrests, and traffic was brought to a halt in the busy area.
The “Resist and Act for Freedom” rally saw dozens of people holding banners and placards such as one reading “This is now Tyranny” and chanting “Freedom!” Police said there were “pockets of hostility and outbreaks of violence towards officers.”
Britain’s Conservative government imposed a ban on all social gatherings of more than six people this week in a bid to tackle a steep rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, but officials are considering even stricter restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Britain is “now seeing a second wave” of the coronavirus, after seeing the same in France, Spain and across Europe.
Britain has Europe’s worst death toll in the pandemic with 41,821 confirmed virus-related deaths, but experts say all numbers undercount the true impact of the pandemic.
In a statement, British police said protesters were “putting themselves and others at risk” and urged all those at the London rally to disperse immediately or risk arrest.


Philippines evacuates nearly 1 million as Typhoon Goni nears

Updated 31 October 2020

Philippines evacuates nearly 1 million as Typhoon Goni nears

  • Typhoon Goni is expected to slam into Catanduanes Island Sunday morning with wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour
  • Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said “almost a million” people had left their homes in the Bicol region

LEGAZPI, Philippines: Nearly a million people in the Philippines were evacuated from their homes Saturday as the most powerful typhoon of the year so far barrelled toward the country, with authorities warning of “destructive” winds and flooding.
Typhoon Goni is expected to slam into Catanduanes Island Sunday morning with wind speeds of up to 205 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour) before crossing the main island of Luzon, the state weather forecaster said.
It comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago, killing 22 people and flooding low-lying villages and farmland, before crossing the South China Sea to Vietnam.
“It looks like we will have really strong winds, increasing the chances of widespread flooding and landslides,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told local broadcaster ABS-CBN.
“Storm surges are imminent on our east coast. We are monitoring Mayon and Taal volcanoes for possible volcanic mud flows.”
Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said “almost a million” people had left their homes in the Bicol region, which includes the southern part of Luzon and Catanduanes.
Authorities spent Saturday marshalling rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief goods ahead of the typhoon.
“Violent winds and intense rainfall” are expected that could trigger floods and landslides in an area of more than 20 million people, the weather service said.
There was a “high risk” of storm surges of more than three meters (10 feet) high along parts of the coast, it added.


Schools which have been empty since the start of the coronavirus pandemic are being used as emergency shelters as well as government-run evacuation centers and gymnasiums.
“Evacuating people is more difficult at this time because of Covid-19,” Bicol regional civil defense spokesman Alexis Naz told AFP.
Mary Ann Echague, 23, and her family fled their home in the coastal city of Legazpi in Bicol to an inland primary school where they were sheltering in a classroom with several other families.
“We fear the wrath of the typhoon,” said Echague, who was with her two children, parents and siblings. They had carried with them a portable stove, tinned meat, instant noodles, coffee, bread, blankets and pillows.
“Each time we’re hit by a typhoon our house gets damaged, since it’s made of wood and galvanized iron roofing,” she said.
“We have always managed. We find a way to get by.”
Hundreds of people have been left stranded after the coast guard ordered ferries and fishing boats into port in expectation of rough seas throwing up 15-meter waves.
Goni is expected to “weaken considerably” as it crosses Luzon and enters the South China Sea Monday morning, the state forecaster said.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.
Its deadliest on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which unleashed giant waves on the central city of Tacloban and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.