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New Zealand Minister punched in face

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New Zealand Climate Minister, James Shaw
New Zealand Climate Minister, James Shaw, Image : AP

Wellington, March 14: Climate Change Minister of New Zealand, James Shaw was punched in the face on Thursday while he was on his way to Parliament House.

A 47-year-old man was arrested for assaulting Green Party co-leader Shaw in Wellington, though the Minister was not seriously injured, the BBC reported. The attacker will appear in court on Friday, the police said.

A Green Party spokesperson termed the attack as unprovoked and said Shaw, suffered a black eye and grazes on his wrist, rushed to a nearby hospital for a precautionary check-up.

It was uncertain if the attack on Shaw was politically motivated, but Trade Minister David Parker told the media that the assailant “was shouting things out about the UN”.

Speaking about the incident, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated: “In New Zealand, you just don’t expect these things to happen.

“We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible and that’s something we should feel proud of. We are after all, here to serve people. But today’s events really show we cannot take that for granted,” he added.

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Several injured in ‘terror shooting’ in Dutch tram

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Utrecht Shooting , Netherlands

Utrecht (Netherlands), March 18: A gunman on Monday opened fire inside a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht injuring several people that police said can be a possible terror attack.

The gunman reportedly fled the scene by car, the police added. They said they were investigating a “possible terrorist motive”, the BBC reported.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was “deeply concerned” and cancelled his weekly coalition talks.

The shooting took place around the 24 Oktoberplein junction at about 10.45 a.m. Three helicopters have been despatched.

“A man started shooting wildly,” one eyewitness told Dutch news site NU.nl.

Another witness told Dutch public broadcaster NOS he saw an injured woman with blood on her hands and clothes. “I brought her into my car and helped her,” he said. “When the police arrived, she was unconscious.”

It is unknown how many were injured or how seriously they were hurt.

The area in the west of the city has been cordoned off by authorities. Police have asked people to stay away from the area and schools were closed.

Utrecht’s transport authority said some tram services later resumed running in the city although warned travellers to “take into account additional travel time”.

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FAA’s approval of Boeing 737 Max under probe

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Boeing 737 MAX

Washington, March 18: The US Transportation Department’s Inspector General has opened an investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of Boeing’s 737 Max planes which were involved in two deadly crash just five months apart, The Wall Street Journal said in a report.

The Journal’s report on Sunday comes a week after the 737 Max planes were grounded for an indefinite period globally following the two deadly accidents involving the aircraft model, CNN reported.

The first accident was the March 10 crash of the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that took place just six minutes after it took-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The second crash occurred last October when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 – the same type of plane – plunged into the Java Sea minutes into the flight from Jakarta and killed all its 189 people.

The investigation will be focused on an automatic safety system implicated in the October crash, CNN quoted the Journal as saying citing a US government official.

It is unknown if the Ethiopian Airlines crash will play any role in this investigation or not.

The Transportation Department is yet to comment on the development.

Following the probe announcement, the FAA said in a statement, that its “aircraft certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs”.

Meanwhile, both the crashes, which occurred five months apart, remain under investigation by the Indonesia and Ethiopia governments, with the assistance from the US and Boeing.

The Ethiopian Minister of Transport said on Sunday that preliminary data recovered from the black boxes showed “similarities” between the two accidents.

A preliminary report of the Lion Air crash revealed that the pilots fought with the automatic safety system, known as the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), for control of the jet.

Meanwhile, Boeing announced on Monday that it was working with the FAA to finalise a software update related to the MCAS system to make the planes safer. The company plans to have the update mandated no later than April, CNN reported.

“We also continue to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, the US Accredited Representative working with Ethiopian investigators,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.

According to Muilenburg, the company “continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available”.

“Safety is our highest priority as we design, build and support our airplanes. As part of our standard practice following any accident, we examine our aircraft design and operation, and when appropriate, institute product updates to further improve safety,” he added.

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Earthquake hits Indonesia

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Earthquake

Indonesia, March 17 ; An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 on the Richter scale hit Indonesia’s Lombok region on Sunday.

The quake jolted 4 km SW of Sembalunbumbung, Indonesia at 07:07:27 GMT on Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 23.61 km, was initially determined to be at 8.4179 degrees south latitude and 116.5195 degrees east longitude.

At least 50 people have been killed by flash floods in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province as rescuers raced to find more victims of the disaster.

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