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Honduras’ Castro officially declared president-elect

AFP

Honduras’ national electoral body on Monday officially declared Xiomara Castro president-elect ahead of her inauguration next month as the country’s first woman leader.

Leftist Castro, 62, received more than 51 percent of the November 28 vote, comfortably beating right-wing candidate Nasry Asfura who polled at just under 37 percent.

Despite both the leading candidates’ parties claiming victory within an hour of polls closing, two days later Asfura visited Castro to officially concede and congratulate her.

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Castro, from the LIBRE party, will serve as president from January 27, 2022 for four years.

Her victory broke 12 years of National Party rule and four decades of its shared rule alongside the Liberal Party.

The wife of deposed former president Manuel Zelaya, Castro will take over from Juan Orlando Hernandez, a controversial figure who was reelected in 2017 amid opposition claims of fraud.

Although the CNE has finished counting presidential votes, it said it was postponing an announcement on the winners of the legislative and mayoral elections as it has not finished counting those.

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Sports

Qatar’s ground control on alert for World Cup disasters

AFP

Facing a bank of screens that look like NASA mission command, technicians counting down to the World Cup in Qatar control the temperature,  gates, 15,000 cameras and much more in the eight stadiums.

The Aspire control and command centre will monitor all stadiums at once, as Qatar pulls out all the technical stops to keep an eye on the anticipated one million plus visitors from the moment they get off the plane to moment they leave.

Qatar has spent billions of dollars on building seven new stadiums and refurbishing an eighth for the first World Cup in an Arab country. It has seized on the uniquely short distance between them — barely 70 kilometres (43 miles) separate the two most distant venues — to set up the elaborate virtual network.

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Organisers say the control centre, bristling with alarms and sensors, will set a benchmark for global sports events which must guard against terrorism, natural disasters and hooligans, as well as leaking water pipes.

The numbers expected to be milling the streets worry the authorities. More than 3,000 Turkish police will reinforce local security forces, while small groups of police from each of the 32 competing nations will shadow their fans.

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Sports

Trial on Kobe Bryant death crash photos begins in US

AFP

A court case brought by Kobe Bryant’s widow over graphic photographs taken by first responders at the site of the helicopter crash that killed him got under way in the United States on Wednesday.

The basketball superstar and his teenage daughter were among nine people who died when their chopper smashed into a hillside near Los Angeles in January 2020.

Vanessa Bryant alleges she suffered emotional distress because personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and firefighters snapped pictures of the scene, which they later shared with friends and first responders.

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“At least 11 (sheriff’s) personnel and a dozen firefighters shared the photos within 24 hours of the crash,” Bryant’s attorneys wrote in court papers.

“In the following weeks, one (sheriff’s) deputy flaunted photos of remains at a bar, another texted photos to a group of video game buddies, and (county fire) personnel displayed photos at an awards gala.”

Lawyers for Los Angeles County do not dispute that the photos were taken, but insist they have never been made public and have now been deleted.

Mira Hashmall, representing the county in the civil litigation, said the case hinged on this issue of public dissemination.

“From the time of the crash to now, the county has worked tirelessly to prevent its crash site photos from getting into the public domain,” she said.

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“Over two and a half years later, no county photos have appeared in the media, none can be found online, and the plaintiffs admit they’ve never seen them.”

Vanessa Bryant’s case has been combined with a similar case brought by Chris Chester, whose wife and 13-year-old daughter also died in the crash.

A jury of six women and four men were selected Wednesday, CNN reported.

Relatives of several other victims were last year granted $2.5 million in compensation over the photo-taking.

An investigation into the crash found the pilot had probably become disorientated after flying the Sikorsky S-76 into fog.

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Bryant is widely recognized as one of the greatest basketball players ever, a figure who became the face of his sport during a glittering two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016, after which he began building a lucrative business portfolio.

He was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.

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Central America

Chopper crash victims rescued in Panama jungle after social media SOS

AFP

Six people have been rescued alive from a helicopter crash site in the Panama jungle after a dramatic SOS appeal on social media from one of the occupants, a presidential hopeful.

Rescuers sprang into action after Dimitri Flores posted a video online appealing for help, groaning in pain with the helicopter wreckage behind him.

“We had an accident here,” Flores told the camera, making an appeal for an urgent rescue mission.

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“There are broken legs, arms. We are six… we are alive,” he said.

In a later video, Flores complained that they had been waiting at the crash site in a jungle area of Panama’s southwest for four hours and 20 minutes.

“It was a titanic task to get the wounded out,” Daniel Rodriguez, deputy commissioner of Panama’s National Aeronaval Service (Senan) said on Thursday.

He said the crash happened on Wednesday morning in a mountainous, wooded area more than 1,700 meters (more than 5,500 feet) above sea level.

Rodriguez said the authorities received a callout around 11.00 am on Wednesday (1600 GMT) and rescued the first group around 8.00 pm.

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Two of them had broken bones.

Given the difficult terrain, the last crash victim was evacuated shortly before midnight, said Rodriguez.

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