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A huge avalanche has smashed into a hotel in southern Germany after snow across Europe caused more deaths.

The building in the village of Balderschwang was badly damaged but nobody was injured in the incident.

Brigitte Kloepf, a spokeswoman for Oberallgaeu regional authorities, said the hotel was evacuated and 100 guests were taken to nearby buildings.

About 1,100 people are unable to leave Balderschwang, near the Austrian border, because of an avalanche-risk on roads following days of intense snowfall, Ms Kloepf said.

Authorities in Austria dropped explosives from helicopters to spark controlled avalanches.


Explosives used to control avalanches

Authorities in parts of Austria, Germany and Switzerland have warned that further snow and rainfall is raising the risk of avalanches, and increasing the weight on snow-laden roofs.

It comes after three people were hurt in eastern Switzerland when an avalanche hit a hotel at the Schwaegalp mountain pass on Thursday.

The death toll from weather-related incidents across Europe this year rose to at least 26 over the weekend.

Clearance begins inside a Swiss hotel struck by an avalanche


Aftermath of avalanche at Swiss hotel

Heavy snow has blanketed the Balkans and countries to the north of the region.

Three German skiers were killed after they were hit by an avalanche in the Austrian Alps on Sunday, while a fourth skier remains missing.

The bodies of the men, aged 57, 36 and 32, were found a few hours after the wife one of one of the skiers reported them missing.

Two ski patrollers died on Sunday after devices they use to trigger controlled avalanches accidentally exploded in the French Alps.

The accident took place in the Haute-Savoie region on Sunday. File pic
French ski patrollers died in the Haute-Savoie region on Sunday. File pic

The accident in the Haute-Savoie region happened before the slopes were opened to the public.

An avalanche killed two Bulgarian snowboarders who were found in the country’s Pirin Mountains on Friday.

The Bulgarian Red Cross said the pair triggered the cascade of snow after ignoring warnings and weather alerts.

A snow plough driver in Germany died on Friday after his vehicle plunged into an icy river.

Albania’s energy ministry said a power company employee was killed after suffering a heart attack while repairing damaged supply lines earlier this week.

About 2,000 soldiers and other emergency workers in Albania were assigned to help people trapped by snow and to clear roads to restore access to rural areas.

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Democrat senator announces 2020 US presidential bid



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
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
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
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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World Economic Forum in Davos is a less starry affair this year



The Promenade is the road that runs through the heart of Davos in Switzerland.

Its most prominent building is the Belvedere Hotel, and right across the front of the Belvedere is a banner saying: “Free Trade is Great”.

It could almost be the slogan for the whole World Economic Forum, a gathering that unashamedly backs globalisation and a more integrated world.

But, in fact, the banner was put there by the British Government.

For some here, it looks like a curious paradox – the nation that wants to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc putting up a giant banner proclaiming its love of free trade.

For others, it is, presumably, a sign of how Britain wants to trade with the whole world, not just Europe.

In Davos, as everywhere, the future shape of Brexit seems unclear.

The International Monetary Fund’s latest forecast is based on the assumption that Britain leaves Europe with a well-rounded agreement, but is full of warnings about uncertainty.

“A no-deal Brexit is one of the major risks to our forecast,” said the IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath.

But Brexit is not the only cloud.

China’s economy is slowing at its fastest rate for decades, the United States is in unpredictable mood as a trade war looms, and some of Europe’s giant economies – notably Germany and Italy – face predictions of economic slowdown.

Away from the hubbub, I chatted with one of Europe’s brightest young executives.

Sky News business correspondent Adam Parsons interviews Michal Krupinski, Chief Executive, Bank Pekao in Davos Jan 29, 2019.
Sky News’ Adam Parsons interviews Bank Pekao chief executive Michal Krupinski

Michal Krupinski is the chief executive of Bank Pekao, the biggest commercial bank in Poland.

He has previously worked for the World Bank in Brussels, the Polish government and Bank of America.

He is an amenable, friendly man, but one who worries about the year to come.

“We are worried about Brexit, we are worried about slowdown in China and the effect of that. We are worried about Italy.

“What you now have with Brexit is a blame game. If I had been in charge of an event like Brexit, I would have had to resign.

“And obviously I haven’t seen any resignations in Brussels, which means there’s a lack of accountability.

“I think the time is to act now. What everyone needs is some sort of eye-opening event.

“When people realise that it’s having an effect on the economy, then they’ll act.

“Uncertainty is very bad for taking decisions.”

In 2019, Davos does seem to be beset with unanswered questions, and by some trepidation.

The policemen keep watch as the forum begins.
Police keep watch as the World Economic Forum begins this week in Davos

Last year’s cast list included Donald Trump, Theresa May, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and Narendra Modi.

This year, it is a less starry affair.

Trump, May and Macron all withdrew in order to concentrate on domestic crises, each of them embroiled in a tide of global politics becoming ever more shaped by populism.

Whether that is Brexit, the row over Trump’s wall or the wave of industrial disruption across France, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Davos view of a global, internationalised world has taken something of a beating.

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Ten crew members dead as two ships catch fire near Crimea



Ten crew members have died after two ships caught fire near Crimea, Russia’s transport ministry has said.

People were seen jumping in the sea to escape the burning vessels in the Kerch Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoz.

More follows…

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