This Week Around the World

March 2 Eastern Cape, South Africa: Approximately 25 people were killed after a bus carrying over 80 passengers rolled down a steep embankment while traveling to Butterworth from Chebe. Most of the passengers were elderly individuals or children. Al Jazeera reports it was the deadliest traffic accident in the country since a 2015 crash killed 35. While the main cause of the crash remains unknown, South Africa’s Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told press that overloading was at least partially responsible. “This is a sad day for the people of the Eastern Cape and out nation at large,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement, according to News24. “This tragedy leaves our country deeply saddened.”


March 4 Damoa, Nigeria: Groups of armed men in trucks fitted with machine guns attacked an army base, leaving over 50 civilians from the surrounding residential areas injured. Authorities reported 13 of the attackers had been killed by security forces, while six soldiers, four police officers, two local militiamen and two civilians were killed in the attack. An additional six soldiers were injured. One local resident told Al Jazeera the attackers used assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in the attack. Gunfire was exchanged for approximately two hours before the attackers retreated. While authorities have blamed rebel group Boko Haram for the attack, no group has claimed responsibility.


March 4–5 Recife, Brazil: A student at private Christian school, Colegio Santa Maria, who was running for a position in student government has been the center of controversy after they styled their election campaign after Adolf Hitler. The student gathered several supporters from within the school and told people he was running to be “Führer,” a term meaning “leader” or “guide” that is closely associated with the rule of Hitler in Germany. On March 4, the student running for election posted a photo of 11 students performing the Nazi salute in a school classroom with the student at the front of the room. The photo was accompanied by a caption claiming the student was “on a journey towards the construction of a new and innovative Reich.” On March 5, the school issued an apology statement and suspended all students in the photo. Instagram also shut down the account with the original post.


March 5 Puebla, Mexico: Over 150,000 young protesters gathered in the streets in response to the Feb. 24 murder of three students and their Uber driver. The protesters, most of whom wore black as a sign of mourning, demanded justice for the victims and called on the government to implement more effective policies to protect students in the areas around educational institutions. In recent years, Mexico has seen a small increase in the number of assaults and attacks on or near school campuses. In 2019, 1,249 individuals were murdered in the state of Puebla alone. “We’re not making it up… we can’t just sit around when the numbers are rising every day,” Cindy Tirado, a sister of one of the murder victims, told TeleSUR. “We’re fed up. How many more—it’s not just one, it’s 10 per day.”


March 5 Gaza Strip, Palestine: A bakery fire killed at least nine people and injured over 60 after a gas leak caused a gas storage container to explode within the building. Of the nine killed, six were children. Several of the injured are in critical condition, and authorities expect the death toll could increase in coming days. After the initial explosion reported by several witnesses, the fire spread to nearby stores, factories and cars. “People started to run towards the sound but then a huge fire broke out….It was horrifying,” local shop owner Ishaq Kushail told Al Jazeera. “I have never seen anything like it.” Reuters reports it took approximately three hours for firefighters and civilians to extinguish the blaze. Authorities announced they would be offering monetary assistance to those affected by the accident. 


March 7 Quanzhou, China: A five-story hotel currently hosting almost 60 individuals in quarantine collapsed, leaving at least 10 dead. As of March 8, 23 individuals who were in the building at the time of the collapse were still missing. According to BBC, approximately 70 people were in the hotel at the time of the collapse, including the 60 individuals who were in quarantine and 20 medical personnel. Authorities do not yet know what caused the building to collapse.