SEOUL: The United States formally ended seven decades of military presence in South Korea’s capital with a ceremony to mark the opening of a new headquarters farther from North Korean artillery range.
The command’s move to Camp Humphreys, about 70 kilometres south of Seoul, comes amid a fledgling detente on the Korean Peninsula, though the relocation was planned long before that. Most troops have already transferred to the new location, and the US says the remaining ones will move by the end of this year.
The US military had been headquartered in Seoul’s central Yongsan neighbourhood since American troops first arrived at the end of World War II. The Yongsan Garrison was a symbol of the US-South Korea alliance but its occupation of prime real estate was also a long-running source of friction.
Located in the western port city of Pyeongtaek and close to a US air field, the new 3,510-acre (1,420-hectare) command cost $11 billion to build and is the largest overseas US base. South Korea has paid about 90 per cent of the cost.
“This headquarters’ building, within the headquarters’ complex that surrounds it, represents the significant investment in the long-term presence of US forces in Korea,” Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of US Forces Korea, said during the opening ceremony. “US Forces Korea will remain the living proof of the American commitment to the alliance.”
In a message read out at the ceremony by an aide, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the headquarters is the cornerstone of the US-South Korea alliance.
“In opening a new era of the US forces headquarters in Pyeongtaek, I hope that the US-South Korea alliance will develop beyond a ‘military alliance’ and a ‘comprehensive alliance’ and become a ‘great alliance,’” Moon said in the statement.
26 killed as tour bus catches fire in China
Beijing: A tour bus caught fire in central China’s Hunan Province killing 26 people, local authorities said. The 28 injured in the incident were rushed to three local hospitals for treatment. Among them the condition of five were state to be critical, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local officials as saying.
The accident occurred around when the 59-seater bus from neighbouring Henan province suddenly caught fire on a highway in Hanshou County in the city of Changde.
The bus had 53 passengers, two drivers and a tour guide at the time of the incident.
The two drivers were detained and an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.
The incident came a day after 64 people lost their lives while 640 were injured in a powerful explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China. The blast occurred on Thursday following a fire in a fertilizer factory in a chemical industrial park in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, according to the government of Xiangshui county.
New Zealand bans Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto
Wellington: New Zealand has banned the possession and distribution of a manifesto believed to be written by the lone terrorist who carried out the March 15 Christchurch mosques carnage where 50 people were killed, officials said on Saturday.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification announced that the document is objectionable under the law, reports CNN.
The so-called “manifesto” of Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian charged with the massacre, spans more than 80 pages and is filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rants.
“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech,’ which may be rejected by many right-thinking people, but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” said New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks. “It crosses the line.”
The document was posted on social media and was sent to the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just before the shooting began.
On Thursday, Shanks called on the public to delete any copies, as well as online posts or links to the document.
People can also report any social media posts, links or websites.
“New Zealanders can all play a part in denying those who exhort hatred, killing and terror,” Shanks said.
“Do not support the murderous objectives of its author by republishing or distributing it.”
Earlier this week, authorities banned footage of the fatal shootings, including edited clips and still images.
Death toll climbs to 64 in one of China’s worst industrial blasts in years
Beijing: The death toll climbed to 64 in one of the worst industrial accidents of China in recent times which knocked down buildings, tossed children into air and caused a tremor equivalent to a magnitude-3.0 earthquake, officials said Saturday. The officials said that 24 others were missing.
The explosion occurred after a fire in the fertilizer factory in Jiangsu province on Thursday, according to the government of Xiangshui county. Thirty-four people were in a critical condition and 73 seriously injured, state-run China Daily reported. The death toll is expected to rise as several people have been critically injured.
Over 640 people were injured in the incident. More than 3,000 workers and around 1,000 residents have been relocated to safe places. The Ministry of Emergency Management said that 88 people were rescued from the scene.
Such is the scale of the devastation that the entire industrial park in the Yancheng resembled an area struck by a massive earthquake with almost all buildings demolished in one go.
It is the worst industrial accident since the massive explosion rocked the port area of Tianjin in 2015 in which 173 people were killed. The China earthquake centre reported an earthquake of 3.0 magnitude during the time of the blast. An aerial video posted by China Daily which provided the first detailed view of the area showed shocking images of the blast which has destroyed the entire neighbourhood, causing an extensive damage showcasing the destructive side of China’s unbridled industrial development.
Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical plant, where the blast took place, was flattened and 16 neighbouring factories were left with varying degrees of damage. The impact smashed windows and uprooted roofs of some buildings and reduced others to rubble. Officials claimed that the rivers outside the chemical industrial park were not polluted.