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9-year-old girl tests positive for Ebola in Uganda

The child, who is of Congolese origin, was diagnosed after exhibiting symptoms at a border crossing

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9-year-old girl tests positive for Ebola in Uganda
(Photo by ISAAC KASAMANI / AFP)

A nine-year-old girl who had travelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo has been found to have Ebola, authorities in Uganda said on Thursday.

The child, who is of Congolese origin, was diagnosed after exhibiting symptoms at a border crossing in the southwestern Kasese district on Wednesday. She was subsequently isolated and transferred to an Ebola treatment unit.

A rapid response team had been dispatched to Kasese to support local teams, the Ugandan Health Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Uganda said it had started a trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine that may be used in neighbouring DR Congo where an outbreak of the disease has killed more than 1,900 people.

The trial of the MVA-BN vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is expected to last two years.

At present, there is no licenced drug to prevent or treat Ebola although a range of experimental drugs is in development.

Uganda has suffered Ebola outbreaks in the past but nothing on the scale of the DR Congo epidemic, which began in August 2018. 

It is the second-worst outbreak on record, eclipsed only by the 2013-2016 epidemic in West Africa, which killed more than 11,300 out of 29,000 documented cases.

Uganda has been declared Ebola-free but in June three people from one family died there from the haemorrhagic fever after crossing back from DR Congo.

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Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia

Officials say the landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains

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Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia
(File photo)

Rescue workers on Tuesday used excavators to dig out bodies after a landslide in southern Ethiopia washed away homes and killed more than 20 people, a local official said. 

The landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains, said the official, Takele Tesfu.

“There are 22 people dead and we have only been able to dig up 17 using manpower and machine power,” Takele told reporters.

“So far, we cannot get the others, so tomorrow we will continue to dig.”  

He said the victims included nine women and six children.

While the district — located in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region — sees landslides with some regularity, Takele said this was the deadliest he could remember. 

“The area where this occurred is very mountainous, and this means the landslide was very dangerous,” he said. 

Ethiopia is nearing the end of its rainy season, but security forces are nonetheless relocating some families for fear that more rain in the coming days could lead to similar disasters, Takele said.

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Mozambique votes in tense election after violent campaign

Mozambique began voting in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the country’s fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

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Mozambique began voting in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the country’s fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

The Frelimo party, which has ruled the impoverished southern African nation since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to again beat its arch-rival Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.

President Filipe Nyusi, who cast his ballot as polls opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT), called on voters to show “the world we stand for democracy and tolerance”.

“Mozambique has chosen to move forward peacefully,” he said, adding that more than more than 4,000 observers had been deployed in the most-watched election in the country’s history.

“Let’s continue this process in a serene way. Peace means that everything must be done according to the rules.”

Nyusi, 60, is forecast to win a second five-year term despite his popularity taking a hit from chronic unrest and a financial crisis linked to alleged state corruption.

While the election is expected to see regional wins for Renamo, few think Frelimo will be unseated from government after 44 years at the helm.

“Frelimo is a machine,” said Castro Davis, a 42-year-old public servant in the capital Maputo, predicting a “straight-forward victory.” 

Elena Jorge, 50, told AFP she wants Renamo to win “but people know that these elections will not be free, fair or transparent — but we have hope.”

Around 13 million of Mozambique’s 30 million citizens are registered to vote at more than 20,000 polling booths, which closes at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT).

Renamo is predicted to take control of three to five of Mozambique’s 10 provinces for the first time following a change of law allowing voters to elect provincial governors.

“This election will be a test for democracy,” said Ericino de Salema of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.

“For the first time, the political geography of the country may change substantially, it may even lead to confrontation.”

Renamo’s candidate Ossufo Momade, 58, heads a party of former anti-communist rebels who fought a brutal civil war with Frelimo from 1975-1992, devastating the economy and leaving almost one million people dead. 

Renamo picked up arms again in 2013 to 2016, but tension continued until Nyusi and Momade signed a peace deal in August. 

But an armed breakaway faction of Renamo has rejected Momade’s candidacy and threatened to attack campaign events, raising fears the presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls could be marred by bloodshed.

The six-week campaign was one of the most violent in the country’s turbulent history, with candidates threatened, election material destroyed, and deadly clashes breaking out between supporters.

The opposition has already accused Frelimo of tampering with the vote.

Enrolment has more than doubled in the southeastern Gaza province, a Frelimo bastion, and civil society groups have expressed concern about the size of the increase.

They also estimate that there are around 300,000 “ghost voters” on electoral rolls — names on the electoral roll not aligned with real, potential voters.

“We definitely have some irregularities that put stains on the whole process,” said Hermenegildo Mulhovo of election monitoring group Sala da Paz.

The situation escalated last week, when the head of a local election observation mission was shot dead by members of a special police unit in Gaza’s capital Xai-Xai.

Lutero Simango, an MP of the country’s third biggest party MDM, accused Frelimo of “using all state means, including police and secret services, to intimidate people”.

Frelimo suffered its worst result at the ballot box — 51.8 percent — in local elections last year and has been severely weakened in recent years.

In 2016 it was revealed the government secretly borrowed $2 billion, sparking the worst financial crisis in the country’s history and uncovering a vast corruption network with links to the regime.

The government is also battling to recover from two devastating cyclones in March which displaced nearly two million people. 

And a shadowy jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds in the far north has delayed development of one of the government’s biggest selling points — the discovery of vast gas reserves that is hoped to put billions in state coffers and lift millions out of poverty.

The instability has already forced the National Election Commission to close 10 polling booths, however first Preliminary results are expected to be announced on Thursday. 

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2 passengers injured after Lamu-bound plane veers off runway in Kenya

The plane, operated by domestic airline Silverstone Air, was to make a stop at port city Mombasa before heading to Lamu

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2 passengers injured after Lamu-bound plane veers off runway in Kenya
Kenyan Airports Authority fire fighters are seen next to a Silverstone Air airline aircraft, with 50 passengers and 5 crew members on board, that overran the runway on takeoff at Wilson Airport, in Nairobi, on October 11, 2019. - Silverstone Air and the Kenyan Airport Authority announced that of the 55 people on board, only two were injured. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

An aircraft flying 55 people from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi to tourist attraction Lamu island veered off the runway during takeoff, skidding into some trees and leaving two injured, authorities said Friday.

The plane, operated by domestic airline Silverstone Air, was to make a stop at port city Mombasa before heading to Lamu, home to a UNESCO world heritage site off Kenya’s northern coast.

“This morning at around 9:00 am, a Fokker 50 aircraft… veered off the runway while departing from Wilson Airport, Nairobi. The aircraft had 55 souls on board, 50 passengers, 5 crew. Two passengers were slightly injured and are receiving appropriate medical attention,” the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) said in a statement.

2 passengers injured after Lamu-bound plane veers off runway in Kenya
Silverstone Air airline aircraft, heading to Lamu via Mombasa with 50 passengers and 5 crew members on board, is seen after it overran the runway on takeoff at Wilson Airport, in Nairobi, on 11 October 2019. -(Photo by Kelly AYODI / AFP)

A photographer on the scene at Wilson Airport saw emergency services surrounding the plane, which went through the fence and ploughed on several dozen metres (yards) into the brush.

Silverstone Air, a company specialised in domestic fights, confirmed in a statement that its Fokker 50 plane had had an accident at Wilson Airport. Silverstone staff were working with the authorities to assess the situation.

KAA announced an enquiry.

Wilson Airport is a small facility south of Nairobi, mostly handling domestic flights to the coast and national parks. It is located about 15 kilometres from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the largest in Kenya.

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