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The number of people killed in plane crashes rose sharply in 2018, according to new figures.

There were 556 fatalities as a result of 15 accidents over the course of the year, compared with 44 deaths in 10 accidents during 2017.

While 2017 was the safest year in aviation history, the Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network (ASN) says 2018 was worse than the five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 fatalities.

Twelve of 2018’s fatal accidents involved passenger planes, while three related to cargo flights.

The year’s deadliest crash came in October, when a Lion Air flight crashed in Indonesia – killing 189 people.

A preliminary report suggested that technical problems had caused the Boeing 737 Max plane to crash into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta.

Navy personnel remove recovered parts of the Lion Air jet
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The year’s deadliest crash happened in October

Overall, ASN says aviation safety has improved substantially over the past 20 years – despite increasing demand for global flights.

Harro Ranter, its chief executive, said: “If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year.

“At the accident rate of the year 2000, there would have been even 64 fatal accidents. This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”

ASN described loss of control accidents as a major safety concern for the aviation industry, as they accounted for at least 10 of the 25 worst crashes over the past five years.

Most of those crashes have been described as “not survivable”.

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Search for plane missing near Alderney in the Channel Islands

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The aircraft was travelling from Nantes in western France to Cardiff.

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A search is underway for a light aircraft after it disappeared from radar near the Channel Islands on Monday evening.

The Guernsey and Alderney lifeboats as well as two helicopters are combing an area north of Alderney for the Piper Malibu plane.

Air Traffic Control have confirmed the aircraft was travelling from Nantes in Western France to Cardiff when it went missing.

The single-engined Piper Malibu can carry up to six people
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The single-engined Piper Malibu can carry up to six people

In a statement Guernsey Police said: “A search and rescue operation is currently underway off the north of Alderney
after a light aircraft disappeared from radar several hours ago.

“Two helicopters alongside the Guernsey and Alderney lifeboats are searching for it.”

It is not known how many people were on board the single-engine Piper Malibu, but it normally carries one pilot and up to five passengers.

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‘Pessimism and uncertainty’ as the risk of a global downturn looms

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The world is at risk of an economic downturn if slowdowns in China, America or Europe ripple round the globe, according to the global chairman of consultancy giant PwC.

Bob Moritz told Sky News that the world was “too integrated” for there not be contagion from problems in “the US, China, Brexit, or the EU”.

He said: “I think you have signs of risk of a potential downturn. Look at the investment that the Chinese have made in their Belt and Road initiative. If they retrench, then it has an impact.

“There is a contagion and contingency. There is a lot of populism and nationalism in the world at the moment but we don’t operate in silos. Big changes will have ramifications for the whole world.”

Bob Moritz says there are signs of weakening confidence
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Bob Moritz says there are signs of weakening confidence

Mr Moritz was speaking in Davos, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. His company employs 250,000 people in more than 150 countries around the world, offering advice on accountancy, tax and corporate management.

The company conducts an annual review of attitudes among chief executives around the world. This time round, according to Mr Moritz, the results made for sober reading.

“We had the opportunity to interview 1300 CEO’s from around the world. This year it is very clear that the level of pessimism has increased.

“It has done a 180-degree turn from last year. Plus their confidence in the economy has come down. There is still confidence, but the degree of that confidence has waned.

“The results of our survey are closely correlated with what GDP growth looks like. When one goes down, so the other one tends to go down. So it’s a concern.

“The question is what impact that fall in confidence has on these chief executives’ businesses and what they will do.”

Mr Moritz said that he shared the concern about the slowdown in the Chinese economy, saying that he thought the main question could be whether future investment was focused domestically, or whether the country would continue to look for investment opportunities overseas.

Mr Moritz said that, in the eyes of many chief executives, the UK remained an attractive place to invest but said he thought Brexit “adds to the level of complexity and uncertainty” because “institutions, businesses and governments, including people here in Davos, cannot predict what will happen”.

Mr Moritz’s company, which employs more than 22,000 people in the UK, told me that “pessimism and uncertainty go hand in hand”, and that both were now rife.

“They push each other along – pessimism leads to uncertainty, and vice versa. Both of them go back to confidence in whether chief executives are willing to invest, what they do and how they do it.

“But it also talks to how government officials serve their stakeholders, who are the voters. It’s about whether they do what’s best for the countries they represent, whether they have the confidence to make hard decisions.”

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Democrat senator announces 2020 US presidential bid

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Kamala Harris, the second black female senator in US history, has entered the 2020 presidential race, joining an already crowded Democrat field.

Ms Harris, 54, told ABC’s Good Morning America: “I love my country. This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

The African-American politician officially launched her campaign on Monday, America’s Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday, declaring in a campaign video: “Let’s do this, together”.

She described Dr King, the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968, as an inspiration, and said she was “honoured to be able to make my announcement on the day we commemorate him.”

The senator, who grew up in Oakland, California, had an Indian mother and Jamaican father, who were active in the civil rights movement.

She came to prominence as San Francisco district attorney and in 2010, became California’s attorney general.

When she was elected to the Senate six years later she was just the second black woman ever to serve in the chamber.

In her two years in the Senate, she has brought a prosecutor’s sharpness to the questioning of Donald Trump’s nominees on the Senate Judiciary Committee, such as Brett Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh
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Kamala Harris gave supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a tough time

Former attorney general Jeff Sessions said her rushed questions were making him “nervous”.

Ms Harris has a record of standing up to Mr Trump on the issues that most inflamed the liberal base of her party, such as the Muslim travel ban and the Daca programme for young undocumented illegal immigrants.

Potential presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses a meeting in Roxbury, Massachusetts
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Senator Elizabeth Warren addresses a meeting in Roxbury, Massachusetts

Her background often draws comparisons with that of Barack Obama and, when she was asked earlier this month whether the country was ready for a woman of colour to be president, she replied: “Absolutely”.

It appears she has her work cut out, however, as a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 54% of Democratic primary voters were unsure of, or had never heard, of her.

The senator, who joins several other female Democrats, including fellow senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, and former housing secretary Julian Castro in the Democrat field.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced she will run for president in 2020
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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced she will run for president in 2020

Richard Odeja and representative John Delaney have also declared, but there is no clear front-runner as yet.

Others believed to be considering bids include senators Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders and former vice-president Joe Biden.

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