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News Roundup: Taiwan Fire, Tunisia’s President, & a Two-Headed Turtle

Deadly Fire in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

A huge fire at a 13-story apartment building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has killed 46 people and left at least 41 people injured.

The blaze broke out about 3 a.m. on Thursday morning. Neighbors said they heard an explosion. Nearby video cameras showed a bright flash on the first floor. The fire quickly climbed to the higher floors. It took fire fighters four hours to put the blaze out.

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A huge fire at a 13-story apartment building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has killed 46 people and left at least 41 people injured. It took fire fighters four hours to put the blaze out. Above, smoke coming from the building after the fire is put out.

There were shops on the building’s lower floors, but about 120 families, including many poor and older people, lived on the upper floors. Many had trouble getting out of the building safely.

The building was built in the 1980s, and suffered a smaller fire in 1999. After that fire, some of the building’s owners simply moved on, leaving the damaged building behind. A number of people moved into the empty rooms, living there without paying.

Recent pictures show that the building was in bad shape. Large piles of trash had collected in many areas. The fire was especially strong in these areas.

2021 Kaohsiung tower fire
About 120 families, including many poor and older people, lived on the upper floors. Many had trouble getting out of the building safely. Above, fire fighters use cranes to look for survivors.
(Source: 高雄市政府 [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Taiwan’s president has asked the local government to find new homes for those who were affected. Fire fighters are still working to discover the cause of the fire.

Tunisia’s President Takes Control, Chooses New Government

On July 25, Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, fired the prime minister and other government leaders, suspended Parliament, and put himself in charge of the country. Opposition politicians called Mr. Saied’s move a “coup”.

But many people supported the president. They thought the power struggle between the president and Parliament was hurting the country. Lots of people were unhappy about the government’s handling of the coronavirus  crisis.

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On July 25, Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, fired the prime minister and other government leaders, suspended Parliament, and put himself in charge of the country. Opposition politicians called the move a “coup”. Above, Mr. Saied announcing his actions on July 25.

Many people hoped Mr. Saied might solve Tunisia’s problems. Businesses aren’t doing well and many people don’t have jobs.

Two months later, Mr. Saied said he was changing Tunisia’s constitution, and that he would make the country’s laws. In late September, he chose Najla Bouden to serve as the country’s first female prime minister.

On Monday, Ms. Bouden’s cabinet was sworn in. Ten out of the 25 positions were filled by women. News of Tunisia’s new government was welcomed by many. But because Mr. Saied has changed the country’s rules, the cabinet members will answer to him, not the prime minister.

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In September, Mr. Saied chose Najla Bouden as the country’s first female prime minister. On Monday, Ms. Bouden’s cabinet was sworn in. Ten of the 25 positions were filled by women. Above, Mr. Saied (front center), Ms. Bouden (front, left of center), and the cabinet on Monday.

Now, more people are protesting against Mr. Saied than before. Most of the country’s problems are still the same, and Mr. Saied hasn’t said anything about when he will give up his special powers.

Two-Headed Turtle Hatches at Wildlife Center

A turtle egg being cared for at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts gave workers a big surprise when it hatched. The turtle that came out had two heads and six legs. It also has two spines, and each head has its own system for eating and breathing.

A two-headed diamondback terrapin hatched at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in 2021.
A turtle that hatched from an egg at the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts had two heads and six legs. It also has two spines, and each head has its own system for eating and breathing. The twins are healthy and growing.
(Source: Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center.)

The twins are healthy and growing, and can swim together underwater, coming up when one of them needs air. The center won’t release the turtle, since it’s unlikely to survive in the wild. Instead, they’ll raise the turtle, and keep studying it to learn more.


Did You Know…?

The turtle is a diamondback terrapin, which is threatened in Massachusetts. The egg was rescued from a nest that was in a dangerous spot. The twins are being called Mary-Kate and Ashley.

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