South America

Total solar eclipse plunges Antarctica into darkness

A total solar eclipse plunged Antarctica from summer into darkness early Saturday in a rare astronomical spectacle witnessed by a handful of scientists and thrill-seekers — and countless penguins. “The visibility was excellent,” said Raul Cordero of the University of Santiago de Chile (USACH), who was on site to witness “totality” at 0746 GMT, with the “ring of fire” phase lasting just over 40 seconds. Solar eclipses occur when the Moon passes between the Sun […]

US police officer shoots dead wheelchair-bound shoplifter

A US policeman shot and killed a wheelchair-bound shoplifter, hitting him nine times in the back and side as he rolled away from the officer, media reported Wednesday. The shooting is the latest in a country where law enforcement readily resorts to deadly force when confronting criminal suspects. Police in Tucson, Arizona said off-duty officer Ryan Remington was working as a security guard in a retail area when 61-year-old Richard Lee Richards was believed to […]

Brazil reports two ‘preliminary’ Omicron cases

BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil’s health regulator on Tuesday reported the discovery of two “preliminary” cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in a traveler from South Africa, where it was first detected, and his wife. Positive samples from the two Brazilians will now be sent for further laboratory analysis for confirmation, the Anvisa regulator said in a statement. If confirmed, they would be the first Omicron cases in Latin America. The passenger arrived at the […]

UPDATED: 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes north Peru hours after 5.2 magnitude quake hit capital Lima

  LIMA, Peru (AFP) — A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck northern Peru on Sunday, destroying buildings including a church tower, injuring at least 10 people and sending shock waves across the region. The strong quake hit at 5:52 am (1052 GMT) at a depth of 131 kilometers (81 miles), according to the Geophysical Institute of Peru. Civil Defense authorities said at least 10 people were injured, while 75 houses were destroyed. The quake also caused damage […]

Maduro makes surprise visit to Cuba for anniversary of Castro death: TV

MADURO, Venezuela (AFP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made a surprise appearance in Havana Thursday at the inauguration of the Fidel Castro Ruz center, which preserves the late president’s writings, five years after his death. Maduro, who had not traveled to Cuba since December 2019, accompanied his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel at the ceremony, which was broadcast by state television. With them was Castro’s brother and former president Raul Castro. © Agence France-Presse

Chile approves Covid shots for childen aged 3 and up

SANTIAGO, Chile (AFP) — Chile on Thursday announced it would start vaccinating children aged three and up against the coronavirus, after successfully innoculating around 90 percent of its initial target population. Children under the new rollout will receive the Chinese CoronaVac shot already used for kids aged six to 15, the Public Health Institute said. For 16 to 18-year-olds, Chile uses the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The decision to use different shots was based on studies with […]

Quake rattles Quito, but no major damage

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — A tremor measuring 4.6 hit the Ecuador capital Quito on Tuesday, rattling the city of 2.7 million people but without causing any major damage, authorities said. The epicenter of the quake was a few kilometers from the city center, at a depth of some 12 kilometers, according to the Geophysical Institute of Ecuador. Hospitals and other public buildings were evacuated, and workers rushed out of office buildings as alarms sounded, to […]

Ecuador military, prison heads resign after jail riot

by Santiago PIEDRA SILVA GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (AFP) — Ecuador is “seriously threatened” by drug trafficking mafias who want to “take control of all the country’s prisons,” President Guillermo Lasso said Monday, after the heads of the armed forces and the prison service quit following jail riots that left 68 people dead. Lasso said a “massive operation” was underway by the police and the army in the overcrowded prison in Guayaquil, where two days of fighting […]

Volcano that wiped out town in Colombia is active again

BOGOTA, Colombia (AFP) — A volcano that destroyed an entire town in Colombia with the death of some 25,000 people spewed ash and gas this weekend on the 36th anniversary of that devastating eruption. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano showed “noticeable” activity starting Saturday, the Colombian Geological Service said. The Nevado del Ruiz in western Colombia is one of the many volcanoes on the Ring of Fire, a path around the Pacific basin characterized by […]

Ecuador anti-drug trafficking radar hit by explosion

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — A plane-spotting radar Ecuador started operating two weeks ago to curtail drug trafficking was hit by a non-deadly explosion Sunday, according to authorities who said a “terrorist” attack could not be ruled out. The country’s defense ministry said there were no casualties from the blast that knocked out the military radar, which had been installed in the west coast town of Montecristi. “For the moment, a possible terrorist attack cannot be […]

ICC to probe possible Venezuela rights violations

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — The International Criminal Court will investigate whether crimes against humanity were committed during Venezuela’s clampdown on anti-government protests in 2017, President Nicolas Maduro and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said Wednesday. After a preliminary evaluation, Khan “has decided to move on to the next phase to seek the truth,” the president said. “As a state, we respect his decision, although we do not share it.” “I ask everyone, as we enter this […]

10 dead in Colombian mudslide caused by heavy rains

MALLAMA, Colombia (AFP) — Ten people died after a mudslide caused by heavy rains in southwest Colombia engulfed a hotel Tuesday, rescuers said. Nine people were pulled out alive, two of them in serious condition. The mudslide happened in the early hours of the day in Mallama, a town of 7,000 close to the border with Ecuador. Eight of the dead were women, including some Venezuelans, Jader Gaviria, director of the national disaster management body […]