This Week Around the World

May 3 La Guaira, Venezuela: Venezuelan security forces stopped a group of “terrorist mercenaries” who were allegedly attempting to enter the country via speedboats from Colombia according to a televised press statement made by Interior Minister Néstor Reverol. “They tried to carry out an invasion by sea, a group of terrorist mercenaries from Colombia, in order to commit terrorist acts in the country, murdering leaders of the revolutionary government,” Reverol said, according to Al Jazeera. Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Diosdado Cabello reported eight of the attackers were killed and two more were detained. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as the official leader of Venezuela by over 50 countries, claimed the speedboat attack was staged by President Nicolás Maduro to distract from recent violence in the country according to Reuters.  


May 4 Bardale, Somalia: A private plane owned and operated by African Express Airways carrying COVID-19 aid and supplies to Somalia was shot down by Ethiopian military forces, killing all six people onboard. The Ethiopian troops responsible for the crash were stationed at a camp in Bardale, and reported they thought the plane was a “potential suicide mission.” They did not admit responsibility until May 9. “Because of lack of communication and awareness, the aircraft was shot down,” the Ethiopian military stated. “The incident…will require mutual collaborative investigation team from Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya to further understand the truth.” Kenyan and Ethiopian troops have been present in Somalia for multiple years in a joint effort to combat the al-Shabab militant group. 


May 5 Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia: An unofficial gold mine collapsed overnight, trapping an unknown number of people and killing at least two. County Administrative Center Mayor Edwin Koha reported dozens of people were missing and 60 people were killed in the mine collapse, but the National Disaster Management Agency initially reported much lower numbers. “14 persons ranging in age from 20–28 visted a mine site overnight to illegally dig gravel believed to contain gold,” Archievego Doe, a NDMA spokesperson, said in a statement according to Al Jazeera. “Four of them were entrapped, leaving two dead and two missing.” The conflicting information has yet to be corrected, and an unknown number of people remain missing as a result of the mine collapse. Authorities are still looking for survivors.


May 7 Visakhapatnam, India: A liquid styrene tank gas leak at a LG Polymers chemical plant left at least 11 people dead and hospitalized 800 more. Liquid styrene, a chemical used to manufacture plastic, should be closely monitored in order to prevent potentially lethal leaks, but the factory was shut down due to COVID-19 and workers were unable to regulate the chemicals. Witnesses reported waking up to a thin white gas filling their homes and seeing people collapsed and unconscious in the streets outside, according to The New York Times. Goutam Reddy, the state industries minister, said the state would be seeking legal action against the company. “We would like the company to proactively respond to the incident and ensure the same level of responsibility is taken if this incident were to happen in the E.U. or United States,” Reddy said in a statement according to BBC.


May 9 Moscow, Russia: The Spasokukotsky Hospital, a COVID-19 treatment center, caught fire on May 9, leaving one patient dead. The hospital was evacuated, and over 200 patients were transferred to other hospitals to continue their treatment. An unspecified number of these 200 patients are being treated for COVID-19. The fire reportedly began inside a patient’s room on the first floor of the hospital, but authorities have not yet determined an exact cause of the blaze. “The causes of this incident will be thoroughly investigated,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter.

May 9 Chakama, Kenya: Silvia Romano, an Italian citizen who was kidnapped by unknown individuals while volunteering at an orphanage in November 2018, was released and rescued by Italian intelligence services with the assistance of officers from Turkey and Somalia. Romano was kidnapped during a shooting that occured in 2018 that left five people with gunshot wounds, including three children. The identity and motivation of the suspects remains unknown. Italian officials reported at some point, Romano wound up in the custody of the al-Shabab militant group. “I feel so happy,” said Ronald Kazunga Ngala, a student who witnessed the 2018 kidnapping, to ABC News. “We didn’t know whether they had killed her or done something bad. Living with the uncertainty was painful.”