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Yemen’s warring sides have agreed to free thousands of prisoners at the start of peace talks to end the country’s devastating conflict.

The meeting is set to last a week in the picturesque town of Rimbo – 35 miles north of Stockholm – with UN sources saying they are hoping for “confidence-building measures” rather than a breakthrough.

The prison exchange, to be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, was seen as an encouraging start to the talks. The Red Cross said about 5,000 people would be freed.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the war – though observers believe the number could be much higher – and Save the Children estimates 85,000 children under five may have starved to death.

Martin Griffiths (L) shook hands with Yemeni delegates as the talks prepared to start
Image:
Martin Griffiths (L) shook hands with Yemeni delegates as the meeting began
The talks are at being held at Johannesberg Castle in Rimbo,  north of Stockholm
Image:
The talks are at being held at Johannesberg Castle in Rimbo, north of Stockholm

The UN has called it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and that 14 million people are in danger of famine because of an aid blockade.

The UN’s special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said that even just getting the warring sides to the table was an important milestone.

“During the coming days we will have a critical opportunity to give momentum to the peace process,” he said as the rival delegations arrived in Sweden.

However, he cautioned that the talks were “consultations” and “not yet beginning the process of negotiations”.

Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, welcomed the two sides as they sat in the same room at Rimbo’s Johannesberg Castle and urged them to find “compromise and courage”.

“Now it is up to you, the Yemini parties,” she said. “You have the command of your future.”



Martin Griffiths








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Video:
November: Failure in Yemen would be ‘quite appalling’ – Griffiths

Ahead of the talks, a top Houthi official threatened to stop UN planes using the capital’s airport unless the negotiations allowed for its full reopening.

Yemeni government officials hit back by demanding rebels disarm and pull out of the Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

The foreign ministry tweeted a demand that the “coupist militias withdraw fully from the western coast and hand the area over to the legitimate government”.

The Saudi-led coalition – which backs the government – has been laying siege to Hodeida for months, with civilians caught in the crossfire.

The coalition intervened in 2015 to restore a government ousted by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Pro-government forces gather on the eastern outskirts of Hodeida
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Pro-government forces have been trying to take control of Hodeida

Pressure to end the war has intensified amid dire humanitarian warnings and the Jamal Khashoggi murder, which has focussed attention on Saudi government actions.

A Yemeni government source told Reuters they wanted maps of where rebels have planted landmines.

Sources on both sides said they would demand a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors.

Mr Griffiths said he believes the talks can “bring good news for Hodeida and for the people of Yemen”.



Countless children are dying from lack of food and healthcare in Yemen








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Video:
Special report: Yemen’s children are starving

“We have been working to reach a negotiated agreement to spare both the city and port the threat of destruction, and guarantee the full operation of the port,” he wrote in The New York Times.

The coalition also allowed the Houthis to evacuate 50 wounded rebels for treatment in Oman.

Saudi Arabia and the coalition it leads first intervened in Yemen in 2015, with the aim of restoring its internationally-recognised government that had been ousted from the capital of Sana’a the year before.

They are widely seen as having got involved because of the rebels’ ties to regional rival Iran.

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Manhole explosions force theatre evacuation of Jersey Boys show in Manhattan | US News

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People in a theatre performance of Jersey Boys was forced to evacuate after a series of manhole explosions in midtown Manhattan.

The manhole fires began at around 8pm on Saturday at West 50th Street near Eighth Avenue, causing public confusion and disruption to train operations.

Emergency services attended the scene and the Fire Department said the fires were under control by 9.15pm.

Everyone who was at the theatre complex is unharmed, a representative for New World Stages said.

Manhole explosions forced a theatre complex evacuation in midtown Manhattan
Image:
Manhole explosions forced a theatre complex evacuation in midtown Manhattan

“All patrons, casts, crews and staff were evacuated as a precaution and performances were then cancelled. Thankfully, no one was hurt,” said Michael Coco, senior director of theatre operations for the Shubert Organization.

A number of explosions were reported in the area, with some witnesses sharing clips on social media.

Photos posted on social media showed flames shooting into the air, while video footage shows a blaze from a manhole just outside the theatre complex.

One theatre-goer posted on Facebook: “As we were entering the building, there was a big boom. No idea what it was, but they kept letting people in.

“Right when the show was supposed to start, they announced they had to evacuate the theater. So now we’re outside with the other four shows that are performed in the same theater.”

They later updated the post with: “All shows in the building cancelled.”

Tim Teeman, a senior editor at the Daily Beast, wrote on Twitter that he was inside the theatre complex when he heard “4 or 5 bangs/explosions” and could smell smoke.

Other cancelled plays of the night included The Play That Goes Wrong, Puffs and A Spirited History of Drinking.

The Citizen safety network app shared clips of the blaze on Twitter, reporting: “police are blocking off traffic on W 50th St from 8th Ave to 9th Ave.”

Subway trains skipped the 50th Street station nearest the explosions while firefighters investigated.

The cause of the fires was not known.



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Two dozen bodies recovered from flooded illegal Zimbabwe gold mine | World News

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The bodies of 24 illegal gold miners have been recovered from flooded tunnels in Zimbabwe after a dam wall collapsed following heavy rain.

Up to 70 may have been trapped in the mine and the search near Kadoma continues, the government said. It has declared a national disaster.

A relative of a deceased miner
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A relative of a deceased miner wears a mask near the mine

Eight people were rescued, all but one of whom have been discharged from hospital.

Henrietta Rushwaya, who leads the country’s small-scale miners’ association, said 23 of the bodies had been identified.

According to the government’s deputy chief mining engineer, “it doesn’t seem likely” that there are any other survivors.

Only eight of the estimated 70 trapped miners are thought to have survived
Image:
Only eight of the estimated 70 trapped miners are thought to have survived

The disaster happened in Battlefields – a small settlement 110 miles west of Harare that is rich in gold deposits and popular with illegal miners.

Friends and relatives have broken police lines in an attempt to identify their loved ones.

Surviving miners were exhausted and muddied after being pulled out
Image:
Surviving miners were exhausted and muddied after being pulled out

The makeshift shafts and tunnels, some running as deep as 50m (164ft), can easily collapse in the rainy season when the ground is soft.

According to the Zimbabwean government, $200,000 (£155,000) is needed to complete the rescue effort – with a spokesman urging “well-wishers” to donate body bags, masks and gloves.

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Amelia Earhart: Footage of “aluminium patch” could explain fate of famous aviator | US News

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A newly-acquired 16mm movie film of female aviator Amelia Earhart could shed light on what happened more than 80 years after she disappeared.

The American pilot – the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic – went missing over the central Pacific Ocean, near Howland Island, in 1937 during a round-the-world flight attempt.

It is generally believed that her aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea, but some people dispute that.

The footage shows her plane taking off on a test flight on the morning of 1 July, 1937.

Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared the following day.

Amelia Earhart
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Amelia Earhart disappeared on 2 July, 1937

The pair were in a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, which had an aluminium patch attached to its fuselage in Miami to repair damage prior to their departure.

Those attempting to explain Earhart’s disappearance have wondered whether a piece of metal, found washed up on Nikumaroro island in the western Pacific in 1991, is that same aluminium patch.

It features five parallel lines of rivet holes and measures 19 by 23 inches and is thought to be an exact match.

An image showing the patch on the Electra. Pic: TIGHAR
Image:
An image showing the patch on the Electra. Pic: TIGHAR

The film, showing Earhart, Mr Noonan and the aircraft in Lae, New Guinea, could hold the clue.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) said one image contained in the film shows the patch “from a closer distance than any photo we had yet seen”, adding: “The patch was clearly visible.”

It has taken TIGHAR 10 years to reach a deal with the owner of the footage. Once it was in receipt of the footage, it “realised that the still photos are actually taken from frames in the 16mm movie film”.

The group said: “That’s good news. The film was probably shot at 24 frames per second.

“If the camera lingered on the right rear of the aircraft for only one second we have not one but 24 photos of the patch.”

Is this aluminium panel, found in 1991, from Amelia Earhart's plane? Pic: TIGHAR
Image:
Is this aluminium panel, found in 1991, from Amelia Earhart’s plane? Pic: TIGHAR

Jeff Glickman, the group’s forensic imaging expert, said: “From from a forensic imaging perspective, it’s like hitting the lottery.”

TIGHAR now needs to get the “brittle, acetate film scanned at high resolution” after which the “painstaking process of forensic analysis” can begin.

It said: “The end product should be a seeing-is-believing comparison between the patch and the artefact that will prove – or disprove – that they are on and the same.”

Some think Ms Earhart died as a castaway after landing her plane on Nikumaroro, while others suggest she died on the Marshall Islands.

Last year, an expert claimed bones found on Nikumaroro in 1940 may well have belonged to the famed aviator and celebrity.

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