World

Mystery remains over deaths of 21 teenagers at South African nightclub

Peng Song/Getty Images

(LONDON and PRETORIA) -- The mysterious deaths of 21 teenagers at a popular nightclub in South Africa has swirled speculation and left many unanswered questions.

The incident remains under investigation by South African authorities. Here's what we know so far.

A grim scene

The South African Police Service said its officers were called to the Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, a suburb on the edge of East London in Eastern Cape province, on Sunday morning at around 4 a.m. local time. Upon arrival, they discovered 17 teens dead inside the club. Four more died when they were hospitalized or being transported to hospitals.

Initial reports stated the death toll was 22.

The youngest victim was 13, according to police.

The local government, the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, has offered burial assistance to the victims' families. A mass funeral will be held next Wednesday.

Unclear circumstances

The circumstances surrounding the incident were unclear but are being investigated.

"We do not want to make any speculation at this stage as our investigations are continuing," Brig. Tembinkosi Kinana, a spokesperson for the South African Police Service, told ABC News on Sunday.

The Daily Dispatch, a South African newspaper published in East London, reported that the teens were attending a party at the Enyobeni Tavern to celebrate the end of June school exams. Their bodies were reportedly found strewn across tables, chairs and the dance floor with no visible signs of injuries.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement on Sunday expressing concern "about the reported circumstances under which such young people were gathered at a venue which, on the face of it, should be off limits to persons under the age of 18."

Unknown causes

The causes of deaths have yet to be established.

Siyanda Manana, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Health, told ABC News on Tuesday that the autopsies were completed and toxicology reports were pending. Of the 21 bodies, 19 have been identified while the other two -- both boys -- were still unidentified in the local mortuary, according to Manana.

The Daily Dispatch reported that there were rumors the teens died in a stampede after security guards at the Enyobeni Tavern discharged tear gas or pepper spray in an attempt to disperse patrons. But that theory has reportedly been ruled out.

News24, a South African online news publication, reported that carbon monoxide poisoning has emerged as a possible cause of death, citing "sources close to the probe." Kinana, the police spokesperson, would not confirm the claim, telling ABC News on Wednesday: "The investigation into the incident is still ongoing. No report has been given out in this regard."

Meanwhile, the South African Police Service's commissioner for Eastern Cape province, Lt. Gen. Nomthetheleli Mene, released a statement on Wednesday expressing concern "about circulating rumours and media reports speculating on the cause of death."

"As indicated earlier, at an appropriate time and when an official report has been made available by the experts, the family and members of the public will be informed by the relevant authority," Mene said. "We urge people to refrain from making risky assumptions which do not assist our investigations."

No suspects or arrests

No suspects have been named in connection with the investigation.

Kinana told ABC News on Tuesday that no arrests have been made.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Europe adds visitor fee for US travel next year

Santiago Urquijo via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- As Americans head to crowded airports for a revival of European summer vacations, it looks like next year will be more expensive for those headed to the European Union.

A 7 euro fee, translating to $7.42, is expected to go into effect in May 2023 for foreign visitors aged 18 to 70 years old as part of a new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), according to the European Commission.

As part of the system, travelers will have to apply for authorization through the official website or app before their trip abroad.

ETIAS is intended to increase revenue for the EU and to create a central data repository on non-Europeans who visit the area.

“EU Member States’ border management authorities currently have little information about travellers exempt from visa requirements entering the EU,” Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency who will have a key role in the new system, said in a statement.

“ETIAS will therefore be an important means of addressing this information gap by supporting security screening and risk assessment of travellers, reinforcing the internal security of the Schengen Area,” the agency added.

The European Commission said that ETIAS will be a largely automated system used to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors traveling to the Schengen States, which refers to 26 European countries including France, Italy, Germany and Greece.

ETIAS will also facilitate the crossing of borders for the vast majority of travelers who do not pose the aforementioned risks.

The European Commission said that most travelers who apply for the ETIAS authorization will be approved within minutes. The estimated 5% of travelers who aren’t, the commission said, could receive the travel authorization in up to 30 days.

Once granted, the authorization will be valid for three years or until the expiration date of an individual’s travel document, such as a passport.

The authorization will be checked by border guards along with other travel documents.

ETIAS was first proposed by the European Commission in 2016, and has since faced negotiations within the commission’s legislation. Now, the system will become enacted by mid-2023, the commission said.

"Our police officers and border guards need to have the right tools to do their jobs – keeping our citizens safe and our borders secure. ETIAS will pre-screen visa-free visitors for potential security problems, while the reinforced eu-LISA will allow us to continue to modernise EU-wide information systems for law enforcement and border management," Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said following the 2018 agreement by the commission to establish ETIAS.

ETIAS adds to the preexisting Schengen visa system, which did not require such authorization from visitors from at least fifty countries around the world, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The European Commission began discussing the new system after it was found that an estimated 30 million visitors came to the EU without being required to have a Schengen visa.

ETIAS has similar characteristics to the United States’ Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is available to travelers from countries granted a Visa Waiver Program.

In May, the fee for ESTA increased from $14 to $21, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Russia-Ukraine live updates: Finland, Sweden invited to join NATO

Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered "stiff resistance," according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine's disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 29, 3:20 pm
Zelenskyy addresses NATO summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the NATO summit Wednesday, commending the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Zelenskyy told the NATO leaders, "The goals of Ukraine are exactly the same as yours: We are interested in security and stability on the European continent and in the world."

“This is not a war of Russia only against Ukraine, this is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe,” he said.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou

Jun 29, 1:37 pm
Biden, Erdogan meet after Turkey drops opposition to Finland, Sweden joining NATO

President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the NATO summit in Madrid Wednesday, where he thanked Erdoğan for dropping his objections to Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members.

“I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden and all the incredible work you're doing to try to get the grain out of Ukraine and Russia,” Biden said.

“We think your pioneering in this regard is going to be crucial in terms of strengthening NATO for the future,” Erdoğan said. “And it's going to have a very positive contribution to the process between Ukraine and Russia.”

Senior administration officials told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. made no formal offer in exchange for Erdoğan dropping Turkey’s resistance to Finland and Sweden becoming NATO members.

The U.S. Department of Defense earlier came out in support of Turkey’s plans to modernize its aircraft fleet with American-made F-16s.

-ABC News' Gabe Ferris

Jun 29, 10:43 am
Finland, Sweden invited to join NATO

The leaders of NATO countries have invited Sweden and Finland to join NATO, they announced at the Madrid summit.

NATO leaders in their declaration called Russia "the most significant and direct threat to Allies' security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area."

President Joe Biden offered a smile and fist pump when NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about the newest invitees to the alliance.

Jun 29, 9:15 am
Finland, Sweden invited to join NATO

The leaders of NATO countries have invited Sweden and Finland to join NATO, they announced at the Madrid summit.

NATO leaders in their declaration called Russia "the most significant and direct threat to Allies' security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area."

Jun 29, 8:28 am
NATO to identify Russia as its 'main threat,' Spanish PM says

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is hosting a NATO summit in Madrid, said Russia will be identified as the alliance's "main threat" in its new strategic concept unveiled during the summit.

“The strategic concept of Madrid will be naming Russia as the main threat of the allies,” Sánchez told Spanish media on Wednesday. NATO previously considered Russia a strategic partner.

Sánchez stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was the only person “responsible for this substantive change.”

During a speech at the NATO summit on Wednesday, the Spanish Prime Minister said the summit carried a clear signal for Putin.

“We are sending a strong message to Putin: 'You will not win,'” Sánchez said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Facebook on Tuesday that thousands of Ukrainian soldiers had mastered the use of weapons supplied by Western countries, while other troops are in ongoing training.

Reznikov said Ukrainian specialists were training on aviation and other types of high-tech weaponry, including artillery systems and means of reconnaissance.

“We are learning at a fast pace,” the defense minister added. “Any weapon in the hands of the [Ukrainian] Armed Forces becomes even more effective."

In his speech at the NATO summit on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated his plea for more weapons supplies, highlighting Ukraine's need for more modern artillery systems.

To break Russia's artillery advantage, Ukraine needs “much more modern systems, modern artillery," Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News' Edward Szekeres, Max Uzol and Yuriy Zaliznyak

Jun 29, 7:39 am
Missile strike on mall may have been mistake

Russia's recent missile strike on a shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, which killed at least 20 people, may have been "intended to hit a nearby infrastructure target," the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Wednesday in an intelligence update.

The ministry called it "a realistic possibility" and noted that "Russia's inaccuracy in conducting long range strikes has previously resulted in mass civilian casualty incidents, including at Kramatorsk railway station" on April 9.

"Russian planners highly likely remain willing to accept a high level of collateral damage when they perceive military necessity in striking a target," the ministry said. "It is almost certain that Russia will continue to conduct strikes in an effort to interdict the resupplying of Ukrainian frontline forces."

"Russia's shortage of more modern precision strike weapons and the professional shortcomings of their targeting planners will highly likely result in further civilian casualties," the ministry warned.

Jun 28, 4:51 pm
20 dead, 40 still missing from mall strike

Twenty people are dead and 59 are wounded from Russia's missile strike on Monday at a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, according to Kyrilo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Forty people remain missing, Tymoshenko said.

"Several fragments of bodies have been found ripped off limbs and feet of the people," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the United Nations Security Council.

He said if Russia denies the devastation was wrought by one of its missiles, he asked the U.N. send an independent representative to the site of the attack to verify for itself.

First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the U.N., Dmitry Polyanskiy, flatly denied carrying out strikes against any civilian target.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford, Oleksii Pshemysko and Fidel Pavlenko

Jun 28, 12:58 pm
Sean Penn meets with Zelenskyy

Sean Penn met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Tuesday after the actor arrived in Ukraine to shoot a documentary, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Penn, who first came to Ukraine on the day Russia invaded in February, wants to "visit settlements in Ukraine affected by Russian aggression," according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Jun 28, 4:13 pm
Biden: Ukraine 'standing up' to Putin 'in ways that I don't think anyone anticipated'

President Joe Biden and Spanish President Pedro Sanchez delivered remarks Tuesday on new areas of cooperation between the two countries and efforts to keep supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion.

Biden did not mention Monday’s strike on the Ukraine mall that killed 18, but said the invasion has "shattered peace in Europe and every norm since WWII."

Biden said he and Sanchez discussed the need to continue to provide weapons to Ukraine.

The Ukrainians "are standing up in ways that I don't think anyone anticipated, showing enormous bravery, enormous resolve," Biden said.

He said he believes Putin's objective is to "wipe out the culture of Ukraine."

Biden said NATO allies will be "standing as one" to support Ukraine and teased more military posture commitments in Europe. Biden said the U.S. and Spain are working on an agreement to increase the number of Navy destroyers stationed at Rota Naval Base in Spain.

-ABC News' Justin Ryan Gomez

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Defectors in Seoul send balloons carrying medicine to COVID-19-struck North Korea, defying law in South

Woohae Cho/Getty Images

(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A North Korean defector group in Seoul claimed on Tuesday to have launched air balloons carrying medical supplies near the inter-Korean border.

The Fighters for Free North Korea, an activist group of North Korean defectors who send anti-propaganda leaflets across the border, said they flew 20 air balloons carrying 50,000 pain relief pills, 30,000 vitamin C and 20,000 N-95 masks. Dispatching unauthorized materials at the border is against the law in South Korea.

“In order to help the miserable mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in North Korea who are dying without any medicine, the Fighters for Free North Korea is temporarily halting the anti-Pyongyang leaflet sending, and will send medical supplies to help with COVID situation in the North,” Park Sang Hak, a North Korean defector who leads the activist group, told ABC News.

The South Korean government since 2020 has banned sending leaflets across the border. Sending them carries a maximum prison term of three years or fines up to $27,400.

The non-government organization has been gathering help from human rights support groups based in Seoul and the U.S. to send medical supplies to the North since the Kim Jong Un regime acknowledged the outbreak on May 13.

North Korea remains one of the only two nations without COVID vaccines. Ever since admitting that it had its first COVID patient, the isolated regime has been announcing the number of ‘fever patients’ and COVID-related deaths through its state media daily. Lacking medical supplies to treat the pandemic, Pyongyang’s main newspaper, Roding Sinmun, advised people to use traditional remedies such as drinking willow or honeysuckle leaf tea.

“In South Korea, even animals are given medicine to treat diseases, the North Korean regime is uncivilized at the worst level,” Park told ABC News. “All we want for the families and friends in North Korea is for them to be treated with real medicine to fight COVID-19.”

An official from the Unification Ministry told ABC News that police and other authorities were working to confirm Tuesday's balloon launch.

"The ministry understands the intent of the distribution, but believe in the need [for the group] to restrain its activities considering the sensitive inter-Korean relationship and the government’s effort for cooperation in the inter-Korean disinfection, and whether [the activities] could actually help the North Korean people,” the official said.

The group claims that it’s the second time this month they have sent air balloons with medical supplies to the North, and will continue to do so.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


109 live animals found in women's luggage in massive airport wildlife trafficking bust

Danielle Kiemel/Getty Images - FILE

(LONDON) -- Two women have been arrested in Thailand for allegedly attempting to smuggle at least 109 live animals in their luggage -- including porcupines, armadillos, turtles, chameleons and snakes -- as they tried to board a flight to India.

The incident occurred on Monday at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as two Indian women tried to make their way through airport security when officials spotted a couple of suspicious items in their suitcases following a routine x-ray inspection, according to a statement released by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Upon further investigation, authorities discovered a total of at least 109 animals including “two white porcupines, two armadillos, 35 turtles, 50 chameleons and 20 snakes,” read the statement.

The two women were arrested, taken into custody and charged under Thailand’s Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, The Animal Epidemic Act of 2015, and the Customs Act.

In March 2022, TRAFFIC -- a wildlife and plant trafficking watchdog group -- released a report on wildlife trafficking through India’s airports and said the issue is the “fourth largest illegal trade worldwide after arms, drugs and human trafficking, and frequently links with other forms of serious crime such as fraud, money laundering, and corruption.”

In fact, from 2011 to 2020, the report says that there were 141 wildlife seizure incidents involving 146 different wildlife species at 18 of India’s major airports.

“Over 70,000 wild animals including their body parts or derivatives, were found during the study period,” the report says. “Wildlife derivatives weighing over 4000 kg (approximately four-and-a-half tons) were also seized at airports in India.”

India passed the Wildlife (Protection) Act 50 years ago in 1972 but, according to TRAFFIC, wildlife trafficking is still a big issue in India.

“Despite the restrictions, wildlife trafficking continues. TRAFFIC’s study highlights the increasing misuse of airports for smuggling wildlife and its contrabands within India and across the regions,” the report continued. “The study’s findings reflect the ongoing trafficking and not an actual representation as most of the illegal wildlife trade goes unchecked and unreported.”

An earlier statement from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that the surviving animals would be sent to wildlife rescue centers or breeding stations around the country.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Norwegian cruise hits iceberg near Alaska, no injuries reported

Planet One Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images, FILE

(NEW YORK) -- A Norwegian cruise ship has canceled its nine-night Alaskan trip after the ship crashed into an iceberg off of the Alaskan coast on Saturday.

While there were no injuries and patrons and staff made it to Alaskan docks safely, the cruise line has canceled the rest of the scheduled trip and will return to Seattle Thursday morning.

The Norwegian Sun was transitioning to Hubbard Glacier in Alaska when the ship made contact with a growler, the cruise line told ABC News.

A growler is a small iceberg that has less than 3.3 feet of ice showing above the water, and is under 6.6 feet in width, the National Snow & Ice Data Center reports.

After impact, the ship changed course to dock in Juneau, Alaska, for further assessment. There, the company decided the cruise would be shortened and future trips canceled.

"The ship was given clearance by the United States Coast Guard and other local maritime authorities to return to Seattle at reduced speed," a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said. "All guests currently onboard will disembark in Seattle as originally planned."

A Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson told Cruise Hive the ship was "engulfed by dense fog, limiting visibility and resulting in the ship making contact with a growler."

Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert known as The Cruise Guy, told ABC News that growlers are very common when passing through areas with glaciers.

Chiron said ships do not usually get within 1,000 feet of the glaciers themselves, and commonly have impact with small pieces of ice that have broken off and floated away from the glaciers.

While impact with these pieces is common in the area, it is uncommon for a cruise to change its scheduled trip due to such an impact, Chiron said.

Chiron believes that Norwegian acted with "an abundance of caution" when it decided to start its voyage back to Seattle after assessing damages.

He said the ship was "obviously safe enough" since passengers were allowed to stay on the ship to return to Seattle.

Chiron does not think the patrons should worry because ship captains are used to these waters and will continue to sail there without issue.

Norwegian Cruise Line said guests on the canceled cruise would receive a full refund, plus an additional future cruise credit valued at 100% of the original voyage fare paid. Travelers on the canceled cruise scheduled for June 30 will also receive a full refund, a future cruise credit valued at 50% of the original voyage fare, plus up to $300 per person for any airline cancelation/change fees.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Russia-Ukraine live updates: Ukraine joining NATO could lead to WWIII, Russia warns

Ukrainian State Emergency Service / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered "stiff resistance," according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine's disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 28, 4:26 pm
20 dead, 40 still missing from mall strike

Twenty people are dead and 59 are wounded from Russia's missile strike on Monday at a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, according to Kyrilo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Forty people remain missing, Tymoshenko said.

"Several fragments of bodies have been found ripped off limbs and feet of the people," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the United Nations Security Council.

He said if Russia denies the devastation was wrought by one of its missiles, he asked the U.N. send an independent representative to the site of the attack to verify for itself.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford, Oleksii Pshemysko and Fidel Pavlenko

Jun 28, 12:58 pm
Sean Penn meets with Zelenskyy

Sean Penn met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Tuesday after the actor arrived in Ukraine to shoot a documentary, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Penn, who first came to Ukraine on the day Russia invaded in February, wants to "visit settlements in Ukraine affected by Russian aggression," according to Zelenskyy’s office.

Jun 28, 12:02 pm
Biden: Ukraine 'standing up' to Putin 'in ways that I don't think anyone anticipated'

President Joe Biden and Spanish President Pedro Sanchez delivered remarks Tuesday on new areas of cooperation between the two countries and efforts to keep supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion.

Biden did not mention Monday’s strike on the Ukraine mall that killed 18, but said the invasion has "shattered peace in Europe and every norm since WWII."

Biden said he and Sanchez discussed the need to continue to provide weapons to Ukraine.

The Ukrainians "are standing up in ways that I don't think anyone anticipated, showing enormous bravery, enormous resolve," Biden said.

He said he believes Putin's objective is to "wipe out the culture of Ukraine."

Biden said NATO allies will be "standing as one" to support Ukraine and teased more military posture commitments in Europe. Biden said the U.S. and Spain are working on an agreement to increase the number of Navy destroyers stationed at Rota Naval Base in Spain.

-ABC News' Justin Ryan Gomez

Jun 28, 11:12 am
Russia bans Biden's wife, daughter from entry

Russia announced Tuesday that it was banning the wife and daughter of U.S. President Joe Biden from entering the country.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the names of 25 U.S. citizens were added to the country's "stop list," including Biden's wife Jill and daughter Ashley. The ministry also banned entry to U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Kirstin Gillibrand, D-N.Y., whom it identified as "responsible for the formation of the Russophobic course."

"This was done in response to the continuous expansion of U.S. sanctions against Russian politicians and public persons," the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

Jun 28, 10:41 am
US prohibits Russian gold imports, issues sanctions targeting Russia's defense sector

The U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it’s prohibiting the import of Russian gold to the U.S., two days after President Joe Biden said the U.S. and other G-7 nations would ban the import of Russian gold.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNN Sunday that the West’s bans on Russian gold imports would cost Russia about $19 billion in revenue annually.

“It can’t acquire what it needs to modernize its defense sector, to modernize its technology, to modernize its energy exploration,” Blinken said.

The Treasury Department also announced Tuesday that the U.S. is sanctioning 70 entities and 29 individuals “critical” to Russia’s “defense industrial base, including State Corporation Rostec, the cornerstone of Russia’s defense, industrial, technology, and manufacturing sectors.” The Treasury said the State Department is also sanctioning 45 more entities and 29 more individuals, including targeting Russian military units and the FSB.

-ABC News' Ben Gittleson

Jun 28, 8:17 am
Russian forces in Ukraine 'are increasingly hollowed out,' UK says

Ukrainian forces are still consolidating their positions on higher ground in the eastern city of Lyschansak after falling back from nearby Sieverodonetsk, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Tuesday in an intelligence update.

"Ukrainian forces continue to disrupt Russian command and control with successful strikes deep behind Russian lines," the ministry added.

According to the ministry, Russian forces over the weekend "launched unusually intense waves of strikes across Ukraine using long-range missiles."

"These weapons highly likely included the Soviet-era AS-4 KITCHEN and more modern AS-23a KODIAK missiles, fired from both Belarusian and Russian airspace," the ministry said. "These weapons were designed to take on targets of strategic importance, but Russia continues to expend them in large numbers for tactical advantage. Similarly, it fielded the core elements of six different armies yet achieved only tactical success at Sieverodonetsk."

"The Russian armed forces are increasingly hollowed out," the ministry added. "They currently accept a level of degraded combat effectiveness, which is probably unsustainable in the long term.

Jun 28, 6:22 am
Death toll from mall strike rises to 18

The death toll from a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian shopping mall continued to rise Tuesday as rescuers sifted through the charred rubble.

Monday's attack in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk killed at least 18 people and wounded 59 others, including 25 who remain hospitalized Tuesday, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. A day of mourning for the victims was declared Tuesday in the wider Poltava Oblast.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday in his nightly address that more than 1,000 shoppers and workers were inside the mall during the afternoon attack and that it will take time to "establish the number of victims." He condemned the incident as "one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history."

Jun 28, 5:49 am
Ukraine joining NATO could lead to WWIII, Russia warns

Russia warned Tuesday that Ukraine joining NATO could lead to World War III should Kyiv then attempt to encroach on the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

"Crimea is a part of Russia for us. And that means forever," Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview Tuesday with Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty. "Any attempt to encroach on Crimea is a declaration of war against our country. If a NATO member country does so, this would mean a conflict with the North Atlantic Alliance. The World War III. A complete catastrophe."

"Ukraine within NATO is far more dangerous for our country [than Sweden and Finland]," he added. "And this is linked to what [Russian] President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly spoken about: the presence of unresolved territorial disputes, as well as the difference in understanding of the regions' status."

Although Moscow is not opposed to Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance, Russia will still have to reinforce its borders in this case, according to Medvedev.

"Accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO will not pose any new threats to us," he told Argumenty i Fakty. "If they feel better and calmer by joining the alliance, then so be it. Even without them, without Sweden and Finland, NATO is close to our country."

"Should this enlargement of NATO happen, the length of its land borders with Russia will more than double. And we will have to strengthen these borders," he added. "The Baltic region's non-nuclear status will become a thing of the past, the group of land and naval forces in the northern sector will be seriously increased. No one is happy with it. Nor are the citizens of these two NATO candidate countries."

Jun 27, 6:42 pm
Zelenskyy calls mall attack one of 'the most defiant terrorist attack in European history'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out against Russian forces in a recorded speech Monday hours after a missile struck a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, calling the attack "one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history."

"Only totally insane terrorists, who should have no place on earth, can strike missiles at such an object. And this is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike -- exactly at this shopping mall," Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president said the rescue and salvage efforts were still ongoing.

Ukraine's Emergency Service reported that 15 people were killed and 59 were injured in the attack as of Monday evening.

"We must be aware that the losses may be significant," Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou

Jun 27, 5:36 pm
G-7 leaders 'condemn' Russian military strike on mall

G-7 leaders released a statement condemning Russia’s missile strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, saying it constitutes a war crime and that President Vladimir Putin “and those responsible will be held to account.”

“We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack," they said.

The summit began in Germany on Sunday with a heavy focus on the invasion of Ukraine, and the group announced more steps to try and stop Putin from funding his war.

“Today, we underlined our unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, an unjustified war of choice that has been raging for 124 days. We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian as well as military support for Ukraine, for as long as it takes. We will not rest until Russia ends its cruel and senseless war on Ukraine," G-7 leaders said.

-ABC News' Justin Gomez

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Eviction on the Nile: Historic Cairo houseboats facing demolition

John Wreford/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(CAIRO, Egypt) -- Ekhlas Helmy, 88, has spent decades waking up every morning to the scenery of the Nile flowing seamlessly beneath her houseboat, a stationary house moored to the banks of the famous river in Cairo.

But the aging woman, who inherited her house ages ago, now faces eviction after the Egyptian government gave her what she and other houseboat owners described as a short-notice order to evacuate, citing failure to pay license fees and several other reasons.

The Nile houseboats are entrenched in Cairo's history. Some date back to the early 20th century and hold significant historic value.

"How can we simply wipe out our history?" Helmy told ABC News, her voice cracking. "I was born in the Nile and I lived my entire life here."

Government officials say the houseboats are dilapidated and cause pollution, reasons which the owners believe are a mere pretext to take them down and make room for other commercial buildings, such as restaurants and cafes, which already straddle big chunks of the river.

More than two dozen houseboats stationed on the banks of the Nile in the working-class neighborhood of Imbaba, a Greater Cairo district, face the imminent threat of being demolished. Five of the 29 houseboats, which are situated opposite the upscale island of Zamalek, were towed away on Monday.

The rest are expected to face the same fate on July 5, as the government presses ahead with a "restructuring plan," the details of which it has not specified.

Ayman Nour, the head of the General Administration for Nile Protection in Greater Cairo -- a government body responsible for removing any encroachments on the river -- told MBC, a Saudi-owned television channel, that a government decision was made in 2020 to ban the registration of any residential houseboats.

If owners would like to stay put, they will have to turn their licenses into commercial ones, according to Nour, and thus pay far higher fees.

Owners said obstacles had been thrown their way in recent years, including a decision to increase the fees they pay 20-fold and the "inexplicable" refusal of authorities to accept money from them. While the houseboats are private properties, owners have to pay rental fees for the land and the docks to which they are tied up.

"When I married, I moved with my husband to an apartment in Zamalek. But when he died, I sold it and returned to my houseboat 30 years ago," Helmy said. "I couldn't live on my own in Zamalek. In the houseboat, there are people around you. There is warmth."

Historic value

The wooden structures are featured in many classic black-and-white movies. In one famous novel, "Adrift on the Nile," written by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz in 1966, a group of people gather every night in a houseboat to smoke hash -- symbolizing the deterioration of society during the era of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. It was adapted into a 1971 film Chitchat on the Nile.

A houseboat owned by late Egyptian actress and dancer Hekmat Fahmy housed two German Nazi spies in the early 1940s and another hosted government meetings during the reign of King Farouk I, from 1936 to 1952.

The houseboats used to number in the hundreds, but had sharply dwindled to a few dozens when they were moved from the Zamalek island to Imbaba in the mid-1960s. It was not until then that the residential houseboats were legalized.

"They never let us know that a decision had already been made [to evacuate us] two years ago," award-winning novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who is one of the owners, told ABC News. "They didn't give us a proper chance to argue and get any result. Even if we hadn't got one, we would have at least been given a decent amount of notice to change our lives."

"The presence of those houseboats is something beautiful for people passing by. We can have an open day where people can be let into the decks to experience life on a houseboat for one day," she added, vowing to fight on.

Activists accuse the government of disregarding any historic and architectural heritage when it embarks on urban development. The government says it's keen on preserving the material fabric of Egypt's past and that such projects are necessary to accommodate the ever-growing population.

"Where would I go at this age?" Helmy, the 88-year-old woman, said. "This houseboat is my entire life. I'm an old woman who walks on crutches, where would I go?"

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


China cuts inbound COVID-19 quarantine by half in first move to ease borders restrictions

Gong Mingyang/VCG via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- China said it will cut its mandatory inbound quarantine by half on Tuesday in the nation’s first move to ease COVID-19 borders restrictions since March 2020. Overseas arrivals into China will now only need to quarantine for seven days at a government facility and then an additional three days in home isolation.

The new measures are down from what was previously 14 days in quarantine and then an additional seven days of home isolation.

The concession from China’s National Health Commission comes days after Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang declared victory over COVID-19 over the weekend saying that they “won the war to defend Shanghai” after emerging from months of a bruising lockdown.

The omicron wave that hit China, especially Shanghai and Beijing, during the spring has ebbed and the entire country recorded just one local symptomatic transmission on Monday while zero cases were detected in Shanghai and Beijing for the first time in months.

Chinese health authorities warned, however, the announcement did not mean China was changing course on their zero-COVID goal, but that it was merely responding to the shorter incubation time of the omicron variants in circulation.

“It’s absolutely not loosening up, but a more scientific and targeted approach,” said Lei Zhenglong, an NHC official told the pressing in a briefing Tuesday afternoon.

China remains the largest outlier in the world in terms of COVID restrictions as neighboring countries have either dropped testing requirements or completely reopened.

The country still maintains one of the strictest border measures against COVID-19 in the world as China is still adamant in striving for zero-COVID.

Nevertheless, the easing of measures was greeted with enthusiasm by the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock markets, both of which rallied nearly a percentage point after the news.

Tuesday’s announcement also relaxed isolation measures for close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases to seven days of home quarantine instead of having to isolate at a government facility.

China’s other domestic zero-COVID measures have not changed which requires people who test positive need to be sent to government quarantine and to test negative every 48 to 72 hours to access most public places and public transportation.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


US forces kill senior terrorist leader in Syria

Glowimages/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. forces killed a senior terrorist leader in an airstrike in Syria on Monday, according to military officials.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said the target of the strike, Abu Hamzah al Yemeni, was a senior leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group known as Hurras al-Din.

The leader was riding alone on a motorcycle in Idlib province at the time of the attack, CENTCOM said.

Violent groups like Hurras al-Din pose an ongoing threat to the U.S. and its allies, according to the statement.

"The removal of this senior leader will disrupt Al Qaeda's ability to carry out attacks against U.S. citizens our partners, and innocent civilians around the world," the statement said.

An early review showed no sign of civilian casualties, according to the U.S. military.

The strike came 10 days after a rare ground raid by U.S. forces in northwestern Syria captured a top ISIS leader.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rare Netherlands tornado kills 1, wounds 9

JEFFREY GROENEWEG/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

(ZEELAND, Netherlands) -- A tornado tore through the Netherlands' western province of Zeeland, killing one and wounding nine on Monday, according to regional emergency services.

A 73-year-old woman died, one person was taken to the hospital and eight others treated for injuries on site by ambulance personnel following the storm, which started in the center of the city of Zierikzee, authorities reported.

"This afternoon Zierikzee was unexpectedly hit by a very strong gust of wind. Unfortunately, someone died and several people were slightly injured. There is also extensive damage to homes and trees. Also, on behalf of the municipal council, my condolences go out in the first place to everyone affected by this," Mayor Jack van der Hoek said in a statement.

Officials are in the process of inspecting the affected homes in the area, including a safety assessment for returning residents, regional authorities reported.

As of 4:46 p.m. on Monday, there were still a number of streets that had not been secured by officials, and authorities said the affected area is only available to residents due to safety concerns.

According to Telegraaf Netherlands, 10 to 20 rental homes in the area have been severely damaged and are temporarily uninhabitable.

Officials are working to provide housing accommodations for those who cannot yet return to their homes due to damage, officials said.

Douwe Ouwerkerk was at home for lunch when the storm ramped up.

"It felt like the room was being vacuumed, which was quite a strong sensation," he told Telegraaf Netherlands.

Ouwerkerk added that he could see roof tiles, a garden pool and "something that looked like a tent" flying around outside of his home.

Zierikzee is home to about 10,000 people and is located about 87 miles southwest of Amsterdam.

According to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), tornadoes are a rare occurrence for the country.

The last time someone died from a tornado in the Netherlands was in 1992.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Russia-Ukraine live updates: 13 dead in missile strike on shopping mall

ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered "stiff resistance," according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine's disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 27, 6:42 pm
Zelenskyy calls mall attack one of 'the most defiant terrorist attack in European history'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lashed out against Russian forces in a recorded speech Monday hours after a missile struck a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, calling the attack "one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history."

"Only totally insane terrorists, who should have no place on earth, can strike missiles at such an object. And this is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike -- exactly at this shopping mall," Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president said the rescue and salvage efforts were still ongoing.

Ukraine's Emergency Service reported that 15 people were killed and 59 were injured in the attack as of Monday evening.

"We must be aware that the losses may be significant," Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou

Jun 27, 5:36 pm
G-7 leaders 'condemn' Russian military strike on mall

G-7 leaders released a statement condemning Russia’s missile strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, saying it constitutes a war crime and that President Vladimir Putin “and those responsible will be held to account.”

“We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack," they said.

The summit began in Germany on Sunday with a heavy focus on the invasion of Ukraine, and the group announced more steps to try and stop Putin from funding his war.

“Today, we underlined our unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, an unjustified war of choice that has been raging for 124 days. We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian as well as military support for Ukraine, for as long as it takes. We will not rest until Russia ends its cruel and senseless war on Ukraine," G-7 leaders said.

-ABC News' Justin Gomez

Jun 27, 4:58 pm
13 dead in mall strike

At least 13 people were killed and more than 40 were hurt when a shopping mall was hit by missile strikes in the city of Kremenchuk in Ukraine's central Poltava region, according to the governor of the Poltava Oblast, Dmytro Lunin.

Over 1,000 civilians were there at the time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Authorities have deployed forensic experts from Kyiv and war crimes investigators, National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko said.

Jun 27, 3:46 pm
Lysychansk hit by rocket artillery, 8 dead

Russians fired multiple rocket launchers on the city of Lysychansk in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, striking civilians who were collecting drinking water, according to Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai.

Eight have been killed and more than 20 are injured, Haidai said.

Jun 27, 2:41 pm
11 dead in mall strike

At least 11 people were killed and over 40 were hurt when a shopping mall was hit by missile strikes in the city of Kremenchuk in Ukraine's central Poltava region, according to Ukraine Emergency Services.

Jun 27, 11:55 am
3 killed in Kharkiv shelling

Three people were killed and at least 15 were wounded in shelling in Kharkiv, according to Natalia Popova, adviser to the head of the Kharkiv Regional Council.

Children were among the victims, Popova said.

Jun 26, 3:32 pm
Ukrainian forces attack Russian controlled oil-drilling platform

A Russian controlled oil drilling platform in the Black Sea was targeted by Ukrainian shelling on Sunday, the second attack in a week, Russia's state-run media outlet TASS reported.

A spokesperson for Crimea's emergency services reported that no one was injured in the attack on the platform operated by the Chernomorneftegaz oil and gas company.

Russia-backed officials seized Chernomorneftegaz's oil-drilling platforms from Ukraine's national gas operator Naftogaz as part of Moscow's annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014, according to Reuters.

This is the second attack in a week on the same Chernomorneftegaz oil-drilling platform.

On June 20, Ukrainian forces shelled the platform in the Black Sea, injuring three of the 109 people on the drilling rig at the time, according to Crimea officials. Seven people remain missing, the officials said.

More than 90 people were evacuated from the platform after the previous attack and 15 people had stayed behind to guard operations, Sergey Aksyonov, the governor of Russian-controlled Crimea.

Jun 26, 2:43 pm
250 civilians evacuated from Severodonetsk chemical plant

About 250 Ukrainian civilians have been evacuated from a chemical plant where they sought shelter in the besieged city of Severodonetsk in Eastern Ukraine, an official said.

Rodion Miroshnik, the Luhansk People's Republic ambassador to Russia, said the civilians were evacuated safely from the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk.

"Servicemen of the LPR People's Militia evacuated another about 250 people, including little children, from the premises of the Severodonetsk Azot plant," Miroshnik said on social media Sunday.

He added that the evacuation came a day after about 200 civilians were evacuated from the chemical plant.

Following months of heavy fighting, Russian troops took complete control of the Severodonetski over the weekend, according to Oleksandr Striuk, chief of the city's military administration.

Jun 26, 2:35 pm
1 killed, 6 injured in missile strike on Kyiv

One person was killed and six were injured, including a child, following a Russian missile strike Sunday in Ukraine's capital city, officials said.

The Russian shelling of Kyiv struck a residential building in the city, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Klitschko said at least six people were injured in the attack, including a 7-year-old girl. He said the girl was undergoing surgery Sunday for non-life-threatening injuries.

Klitschko said the girl's mother was also injured in the attack.

A missile strike occurred in the Shevchenkivskyi neighborhood, near central Kyiv, officials said.

Jun 26, 7:11 am
More of Russia's 'barbarism,' Biden says of Kyiv strike

President Joe Biden on Sunday said Russia's early morning missile strikes on Kyiv were an act of "barbarism."

As Biden stood alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the official G7 welcome ceremony, ABC News' Karen Travers asked if he had any reaction to the strikes on a residential neighborhood.

"Yes, it's more of their barbarism," Biden said.

A missile struck an apartment block in Shevchenkivskyi, near central Kyiv, on Sunday morning, killing at least one and trapping others in the rubble, local officials said.

-ABC News' Sarah Kolinovsky

Jun 26, 5:03 am
US to ban Russian gold imports

The Biden administration and other G7 leaders will announce on Sunday an import ban on Russian gold.

"This is a key export, a key source of revenue alternative for Russia, in terms of their ability to transact in the global financial system,” a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call about the G7 summit in Germany. “Taking this step cuts off that capacity and again, is an ongoing illustration of the types of steps that the G7 can take collectively to continue to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global economy.”

The Treasury Department is expected to issue an official notice on Tuesday.

Gold is Russia's second largest export after oil and a source of significant revenue, but much of Russia's gold exportation has already been cut off in practice by banks, refiners and shippers. The move on Sunday marks an official severance of Russia from the world's gold market.

The U.S. and U.K. are participating in Sunday's announcement, but it is unclear whether all G7 countries will participate in the initiative. A Biden administration official tried to downplay concerns about potential disunity among G7 member states, pivoting instead to a talking point about efforts to cut off all financial pathways for Russia.

Pressed on whether Russia could continue to export gold by going through a country that does not participate in the ban, officials insisted the ban will be effective.

"We will continue to identify places where evasion as a risk continue to take steps to block off those pads,” an official said. “And the measuring gold in some ways is in fact, another step forward to block off ways that that Russia might seek to engage with the financial system, by virtue of all the other ways that have now been cut off to them.”

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Jun 26, 3:30 am
Russian strike traps Kyiv woman in rubble

Emergency responders in Kyiv are working to free a woman from the top floor of a residential building that was hit by a Russian strike on Sunday morning.

An advisor to the minister of the interior told ABC News that the woman, who is in her 30s, is alive and trapped in the rubble.

At least one civilian was killed in Sunday’s strike, local officials said. At least one other, a young girl, was rescued from the building in Shevchenkivskyi, a central district a few moments from the historic center of the city.

-ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge

Jun 26, 2:55 am
Missiles strike central Kyiv residential neighborhood

A series of Russian missiles struck a residential area of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sunday morning, local officials said.

"Friends! Search and rescue operations are underway in a residential building in the Shevchenkivskyi district where a missile hit," Mayo Vitaliy Klychko said on Telegram. "There are people under the rubble. Some residents were evacuated, two victims were hospitalized. Rescuers continue to work, medics are on site."

At least one residential building appeared to have had sections of its facade sheared off, photos from the scene showed. Emergency responders could be seen working on the upper floors of the building as smoke rose into the morning sky.

"Several explosions in the Shevchenkivskyi district," Klychko said. "Ambulance crews and rescuers on the spot. Residents are being rescued and evacuated in two houses."

At least one missile was shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv regional administration, said on Telegram.

"The remains of the missile fell on the outskirts of one of the villages in the area," Kuleba said.

-ABC News' Natalia Kushnir

Jun 24, 9:01 am
Ukrainian forces to retreat from Severodonetsk

Ukrainian forces plan to retreat from the city of Severodonetsk, following weeks of fighting.

The local governor said Friday morning “it doesn’t make sense” to hold onto the city and “the number of people killed will increase every day," in a statement on Telegram.

The city has faced a heavy bombardment of rockets and street-to-street fighting between Ukrainian and Russia troops for weeks.

Ukrainian officials said nearly 90% of buildings in Severodonetsk have been destroyed.

It’s believed 8,000 civilians remain. At one point, hundreds of civilians sheltered in a chemical plant.

-ABC News' Joe Simonetti

Jun 23, 2:58 pm
Ukraine granted candidate status for EU membership

The European Council has granted Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the announcement on Twitter, calling it a "unique and historical moment," adding, "Ukraine's future is within the EU."

It could take years for Ukraine to become an EU member. Five other countries that have been granted candidate status are currently negotiating their EU membership: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


At least 4 dead, dozens injured after stand collapses during bull fight in Colombia

Andres Virviescas/EyeEm/Getty Images

(EL ESPINAL, Colombia) -- At least four people have died and dozens were injured after an accident occurred at the venue of a bullfight in Colombia.

The spectators were watching the bullfight in El Espinal, Colombia -- about 100 miles southwest of Bogota -- on Sunday when several stands collapsed, the Tolima Civil Defense told ABC News.

In addition to the four people who died, about 60 people were treated on-site for minor injuries, while another 10 were transferred to local hospitals.

It is unclear what caused the stands to collapse.

Additional information was not immediately available.

The ethics surrounding bullfighting, which involves killing the bull at the end of the contest, has come into question in recent years. While the practice is customary in many Spanish-speaking countries, a judge in Mexico City extended a ban on bullfighting indefinitely earlier this month over complaints that bullfights violated resident’s rights to a healthy environment free from violence, The Associated Press reported.

While four states in Mexico have already banned bullfighting, a ban in Mexico City could mark the end of nearly 500 years of bullfighting in Mexico and could threaten the practice internationally, The AP reported.

ABC New's Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


22 found dead in South African tavern, officials say

Yevhen Borysov/Getty Images

(EAST LONDON, South Africa) -- At least 22 people were found dead in a South African tavern early on Sunday morning, officials said.

The South African Police Service said they were found dead inside a local tavern in Scenery Park in the area of East London, according to Police Spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said.

“We received this report in the early hours of this morning. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation," Kinana said. "We do not want to make any speculation at this stage as our investigations are continuing.”

Police responded to the Enyobeni Tavern at about 4 a.m. local time, Kinana said, and were combing the scene for evidence midday. Scenery Park is in East London, a city in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province.

Kinana said the dead were between up to 20 years old.

The youngest victim was 13, South African Police Service Spokesperson Col. Athlenda Mathe told reporters.

ABC News' Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


G-7 rolls out global infrastructure plan: U.S. aims to contribute $200B, Biden says

Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images

(KRUN, Germany) -- The Group of Seven nations on Sunday began rolling out a global infrastructure initiative in a bid, as they described it, to promote "stability" and improve conditions in developing and middle-income countries around the globe.

The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment plans on disbursing $600 billion by 2027 in infrastructure investments, with President Joe Biden announcing the U.S. alone would aim to spend $200 billion in public and private partnerships.

Biden and other world leaders, speaking in Germany's Bavarian Alps, cast the investments as "critical" amid crises on multiple fronts, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, an energy crunch fueled in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and more.

"These strategic investments are in areas critical to sustainable development and to our shared global stability: health and health security, digital connectivity, gender equality and equity, climate and energy security," Biden said.

"We need a worldwide effort to invest in transformative clean energy projects to ensure that critical infrastructures resilient to changing climate. Critical materials that are necessary for clean energy transition, including production of batteries, need to be developed with high standards for labor and environment," he added.

The G-7 announcement comes as the alliance looks to lay down markers of tangible investments and accomplishments at a time when China and Russia are looking to make inroads elsewhere.

China has become increasingly involved in Africa and Latin America, investing hefty sums in building roads, bridges and more in an aggressive diplomatic effort on both continents.

In his remarks on Sunday, Biden directly contrasted the new announcement with what China has done, emphasizing that the G-7's investments will be based on "shared values," a signal to nations that it's in their benefit to align with the U.S. and others compared with China.

"What we're doing is fundamentally different because it's grounded on our shared values of all those representing the countries and organizations behind me. It's built using the global best practices: transparency, partnership, protections for labor and the environment," he said.

He said the infrastructure program was not "aid or charity," but instead "an investment that will deliver returns for everyone, including the American people and people of all" nations.

"It'll boost all of our economies, and it's a chance for us to share our positive vision for the future .... Because when democracies demonstrate what we can do, all that we have to offer, I have no doubt that will win the competition, every time," he said.

The investments in energy and climate infrastructure have taken on heightened on importance both as nations race to combat climate change's effects and make themselves less reliant on countries like Russia for oil and natural gas -- a dependency that has hindered the response to Moscow's war in Ukraine.

There was no question-and-answer session at the end of the G-7 announcement, but when one reporter shouted a question, it was about whether the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade had come up in meetings.

"What decision?" European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen could be heard asking as she walked off stage.

ABC News' Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.