More than 30 drown during Hindu rituals

More than 30 Hindu worshipers drowned in swollen rivers and a lake in India as thousands participated in religious ceremonies in which figures of a Hindu god are immersed in water, officials and news reports said Friday.

At least 11 people drowned when their boat capsized early Friday in a lake in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, rescuers said. Six people were able to swim ashore, and a search was on for one missing person, said National Disaster Response Force spokesman Krishan Kumar.

The boat tilted and capsized as the worshipers were immersing a large idol of the Hindu god Ganesh in the lake, police said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said 18 others died in flooded rivers in western Maharashtra state Thursday and Friday. Four others drowned in the Yamuna river in New Delhi.

— Associated Press


Leading police officer charged in leaks

A top Canadian police intelligence officer has been charged with leaking secret information, authorities said Friday, in what could be a major security breach.

Cameron Ortis, a director general with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s intelligence unit, faces three charges under a little-used 2012 security-of-information law.

“It is alleged he obtained, stored and processed sensitive information with the intent to communicate that information with people he shouldn’t be communicating to,” federal prosecutor John MacFarlane told reporters at Ottawa’s courthouse after Ortis was charged.

“Operationally, this could be very, very bad,” said Stephanie Carvin, an assistant professor and security expert at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

Canada is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network with the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Neither Ortis, who is in custody, nor a lawyer for him could be reached for immediate comment. The next court hearing in the case has been set for Sept. 20.

— Reuters


Malaria vaccine is rolled out for children

Health authorities in Kenya started administering doses of the world’s only licensed malaria vaccine to young children Friday in rural areas facing high transmission rates.

Kenya became the third African country to introduce the vaccine, after Malawi and Ghana. The aim is to reach about 360,000 children per year across the three countries.

The Health Ministry described the milestone on Twitter as “a historic day” for the East African country as the health minister launched vaccinations in remote Homa Bay county.

According to the World Health Organization, the region accounted for 92 percent of malaria cases and 93 percent of malaria deaths in 2017.

— Associated Press

Fire at hospital in Brazil kills 11 people, many of them elderly: A fire raced through a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, killing at least 11 people, many of them elderly, and forcing staff to wheel patients into the streets on beds or in wheelchairs. Four firefighters were hospitalized after battling the blaze that began late Thursday at Badim Hospital, and about 90 patients were transferred to other facilities, the fire department said. Most victims died of asphyxiation as smoke filled the wards, and some died when life support equipment stopped working in the fire, said Gabriela Graça, director of the state Institute of Forensic Medicine.

Death toll rises to 4 in heavy rains in southeastern Spain: Rescue workers saved thousands of people from rising waters as record rainfall continued to pound southeastern Spain, a deluge that authorities said killed at least four people and closed airports, trains, roads and schools. The storm that slammed into the Mediterranean coastal regions of Valencia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia beginning Thursday left more than 3,500 people in need of emergency rescues, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said. Some towns and cities reported their heaviest rainfall on record over the past two days, he added.

— From news services