Your Monday Briefing: A Fatal Plane Crash in Nepal

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At least 68 people died yesterday in Nepal when a passenger plane crashed and broke into three large pieces while trying to land in the city of Pokhara, officials said. Seventy-two people were on board.

The twin-engine propeller model manufactured more than 15 years ago went down on a roughly 30-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu. Fifty-three passengers were from Nepal. Five from India, four from Russia and two from South Korean died, as well as one person each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland, authorities said. The four crew members were from Nepal.

Many people in Nepal rely on such small planes to reach far-flung parts of the country. In recent years, a number of them have crashed, according to the Aviation Safety Network. Poor visibility, rapidly changing weather conditions above mountainous terrain and aging fleets make flying in Nepal hazardous.

Details: Videos on social media showed flames and black plumes of smoke at the crash site. Emergency responders struggled to reach the plane because it had gone down into a gorge.

Background: In May last year, a plane carrying 22 people went down during a 20-minute flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, a tourist destination popular with trekkers. There were no survivors from the flight, which normally takes about 30 minutes. And in 2016, all 23 people on board another Pokhara-Jomsom flight were killed in a crash.

Ukraine suffered one of its largest losses of civilian life far from the front line: At least 30 people have died after a Russian missile cut a nine-story apartment building in half on Saturday.

The attack on the central city of Dnipro was part of a widespread assault across Ukraine: Russia launched dozens of missiles this weekend in strikes that coincided with the Orthodox New Year. Officials believe that more than 30 people are still missing in Dnipro. Rescuers were still searching for survivors yesterday.

Russian strikes on train stations, theaters, shopping malls and residential neighborhoods have killed many civilians. The shelling of cities and towns near the front line has, too. Under international law, it is a war crime to deliberately or recklessly attack civilian populations and places where they would be likely to congregate.

Heritage: Russian forces are systematically looting Ukraine’s museums. It may be the single biggest collective art heist since the Nazis pillaged Europe in World War II.

Indonesia: Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have fled to Bali. But even in a tropical paradise, war is ever-present.

Such moves would have once been unthinkable: Japan renounced waging war after World War II. But conservatives have been working for decades to overhaul the pacifist clause in the Constitution, and the Japanese public has been largely supportive of moves to bolster the military.

Background: Japan was infuriated by China’s lobbing of missiles around Taiwan in August, five of which landed near Japan. It is also wary of China’s activity around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The U.S., which hopes Japan will become the linchpin for its Asian security interests, committed to its defense there.

What’s next: After getting vocal support from Western officials, Kishida will try to get the Diet, Japan’s parliament, to help deliver on the military pledges.

Several public universities in the U.S. have banned TikTok from campus Wi-Fi networks, and 19 governors have banned the app from state-owned devices and networks.

The moves come amid tense negotiations between the Chinese company that owns TikTok and the Biden administration, which fears that the app could possibly give China the ability to surveil users.

The Australian Open began yesterday at Melbourne Park. Covid-19, wildfires and extreme heat have all disrupted the tournament in the past. This year, organizers are hoping for a return to the once-relaxed atmosphere.

Nick Kyrgios, the eccentric and temperamental Australian showman, could make news on and off the court. Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated against Covid-19, has been cleared to play again. And Iga Swiatek, the No. 1-seeded favorite in the women’s bracket, faces a tough draw.

But all eyes are on Rafael Nadal, the defending men’s champion. He’s struggling, having lost six of his last seven tour singles matches. But don’t underestimate Nadal’s grit and experience.

Notable absences: Naomi Osaka, who is pregnant, withdrew earlier this month. Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old who won the U.S. Open, is injured and also won’t play. And Ashleigh Barty, the Australian who retired at 25 after winning the Open, is enjoying her normal life.


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