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Japan falls back into trade deficit as yen gets stronger

Japan has reported a drastic drop in exports, with shipments down for all of the Asian nation's most important trading regions. The strong yen had remained a headache for Japanese exporters, the government said. Fresh economic data for May showed Monday that Japan fell into its first trade deficit since January. The Asian nation logged a gap of 40.72 billion yen ($389 billion, 342 billion euros), compared with a trade surplus of 823 billion yen in April. Japanese exports dropped for all major regions, the government said in a preliminary report. The country's shipments to its most important trade partner, China, dipped by 14.9 percent in May from a year earlier, contributing to an 11.3-percent drop in overall shipments. The rising yen kept denting Japanese exports by making the country's products more expensive in overseas markets and thus less competitive. Imports down, too The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had actively attempted to talk down the currency's strength, with ministers repeatedly suggesting that Tokyo could step into the market to weaken the yen in a bid to safeguard the fragile economy ahead of a July parliamentary election. The value of Japan's imports in May dropped by 13.8 percent mainly due to falling oil prices and weak domestic consumption. In general, Japan has imported more petroleum and liquefied natural gas for power generation since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. But falling global energy prices contributed to declines in May import numbers, the government pointed out.

Japan has reported a drastic drop in exports, with shipments down for all of the Asian nation’s most important trading regions. The strong yen had remained a headache for Japanese exporters, the government said. Fresh economic data for May showed Monday that Japan fell into its first trade deficit since January. The Asian nation logged a gap of 40.72 billion ... Read More »

Third Brazilian minister named in corruption scandal resigns

Third Brazilian minister named in corruption scandal resigns

Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, has lost the third cabinet member of his month-old administration to a graft scandal. Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves resigned after being accused of taking bribes. Brazilian Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves, considered a close ally of acting President Michel Temer, resigned on Thursday after a brief tenure. Alves, a member of Temer’s center-right PMDB ... Read More »

Ukraine takes offense at UN chief’s view of Russian role peace talks

یورپی کمیشن کے سربراہ ژاں کلود یُنکر نے کہا ہے کہ یوکرائن تنازعے میں روس کے کردار کے باعث پیدا ہونے والے تناؤ کے باوجود یورپی یونین اور ماسکو حکومت کو تعلقات کی بحالی کے لیے اقدامات اٹھانا چاہییں۔ معروف عام سینٹ پیٹرز برگ بزنس فورم میں خطاب کے دوران یُنکر کا یہ تازہ بیان ایک ایسے وقت میں سامنے آیا ہے، جب 28 رکنی یورپی یونین روس پر عائد سخت ترین پابندیوں کو توسیع دینے کی تیاری کر رہی ہے۔ یُنکر کا کہنا تھا، ’’آنے والے ہفتوں میں یورپی یونین روس کے ساتھ اپنے تعلقات کے حوالے سے مزید بات چیت کرے گی۔ میں اس نقطہ نظر کا حامی ہوں کہ ہمارا روس سے بات کرنا ضروری ہے۔‘‘ یُنکر نے مزید کہا، ’’مجھے مکالمے کی طاقت پر یقین ہے اور اس صورت میں جب تعلقات کشیدہ ہوں تو بات چیت جاری رکھنا ضروری ہو جاتا ہے۔ اس وقت بھی جب مذاکرات کے راستے میں اقتصادی پابندیاں حائل ہیں۔ ہمیں گفتگو کا دروازہ کھلا رکھنا چاہیے اور اسی لیے میں آج یہاں موجود ہوں کیونکہ میں دونوں فریقین کے درمیان رابطے کا پل تعمیر کرنا چاہتا ہوں۔‘‘ تاہم یُنکر کا موقف ہے کہ یوکرائن تنازعے میں روسی اقدامات کو نظر انداز نہیں کیا جا سکتا۔ انہوں نے زور دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ روس پر عائد اقتصادی پابندیاں اس وقت تک برقرار رکھنا چاہییں جب تک مشرقی یوکرائن کے لیے امن معاہدے کو مکمل طور پر لاگو نہیں کر دیا جاتا۔ یورپی کمیشن کے صدر کے مطابق روس کے کریمیا کے ساتھ غیر قانونی الحاق اور یوکرائن کے ارد گرد تنازعاتی صورت حال نے یورپی یونین اور روس کے تعلقات کو آزمائش میں ڈال رکھا ہے۔ توقع ہے کہ یورپین بلاک رواں ماہ کے آخر میں یہ فیصلہ کرے گا کہ آیا روس پر عائد اقتصای پابندیوں کی مدت میں مزید توسیع کی جائے یا نہیں۔ یہ پابندیاں فی الحال جولائی کے آخر تک عائد ہیں۔ ایسی اطلاعات بھی ہیں کہ دونوں فریقین یہ پابندیاں قائم رہنے کے امکانات کے باوجود باہمی تجارت کے لیے نئے راستے تلاش کر رہے ہیں۔ یُنکر نے بیلا روس کے دارالحکومت منسک میں سن 2015 میں طے پانے والے امن معاہدے کی طرف اشارہ کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ یورپی یونین اس معاہدے کا مکمل نفاذ چاہتی ہے اور یہ کہ اس پر مزید بات نہیں ہو سکتی۔ یُنکر نے اپنی بات کو آگے بڑھاتے ہوئے مزید کہا، ’’مذاکرات ہی ہمارے درمیان بات چیت کی فضا ہموار کرنے اور اقتصادی پابندیاں اٹھانے کا واحد راستہ ہے۔‘‘ ینکر کے مطابق وہ آج جمعرات کے روز روسی صدر ولادی میر پوٹن سے بھی اس مسئلے پر بات کریں گے، جو گزشتہ 19 ماہ میں ان کی پہلی روبرو ملاقات ہو گی۔ یاد رہے کہ فروری سن 2015 میں منسک معاہدہ کے تحت مشرقی یوکرائن میں روس نواز علیحدگی پسندوں اور کییف کی حکومتی فوج کے درمیان فرنٹ لائن پر جنگ بندی کی ڈیل طے پائی تھی۔

Ukraine has reacted strongly to remarks by the UN secretary-general that appeared to praise Russia in settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The Kyiv envoy said Ban Ki-moon could not be a “provider of good offices.” Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko has said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “cannot be a provider of good offices” in the Ukraine ... Read More »

Apprenticeships go begging in Germany

A third of German businesses are unable to fill all trainee positions available. One reason is that more young Germans are going to university rather than take up apprenticeships after finishing high school. On Tuesday in Berlin, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) released the results of a large survey of 11,269 businesses that asked whether they had managed to fill all the trainee positions they had open last year. The survey also asked about the quality of applicants, and about the willingness of companies to hire refugees. "The situation on Germany's labor market is getting more worrying," said DIHK President Eric Schweitzer during the presentation of the survey's results. 516,200 women and men started apprenticeships in 2015. Yet that left a lot of positions unfilled. For Germany as a whole, nearly a third of businesses surveyed - 31 percent - were unable to recruit enough qualified applicants to fill all their available trainee positions. In eastern Germany, the numbers were even worse, with nearly half - 45 percent - forced to leave apprenticeship positions unfilled. There are two main reasons for the development, according to DIHK. First, there's demography. Germany's birthrate has been significantly lower than the replacement rate for many years. As a result, school populations are relentlessly shrinking. In 2016, about 5,000 fewer young people will reach trainee age than in 2015. The 2016 cohort of school-finishers will be 120,000 smaller than the cohort of 2006, a decade earlier. Second, a much larger percentage of school-leavers is going on to study at university rather than take up apprenticeships in industry or business. According to Schweitzer, "today 7 percent fewer young people apply to an apprenticeship program compared to 10 years ago - while at the same time, the number entering university studies is 40 percent larger." A pillar of German economic power Germany's "dual education system" for apprentices is justifiably renowned. Its basic set-up is simple: Young school-leavers who aren't university-bound enter a three-year apprenticeship program within a particular trade - for example, plumbing, small business administration, or wind-turbine installation and maintenance. They spend half their time getting on-the-job training under the guidance of qualified mentors in their chosen trade, and half their time studying in specialized trade schools. The system is government-subsidized: Trainees get a modest monthly salary, health insurance, and other benefits, such as reduced-fare access to public transit. Companies apply to the relevant trade or professional association to become certified providers of trainee positions with the dual education system. The advantage to companies is that they get to know their apprentices, and their apprentices get to know the procedures and tasks within the company. At the end of the three-year training period, it's common for trainees to be offered regular jobs with the company at which they did their training. Germany's apprenticeship system is one of the pillars of the country's economic strength. Arguably it's the most important pillar, alongside the no-nonsense get-the-job-done attitude that has been characteristic of German culture for centuries - which itself is transmitted to each new generation through the apprenticeship system. It's therefore a serious problem when a third of the country's businesses are unable to find a sufficient number of willing and qualified trainees to take up apprenticeships. "The missing apprentices of today are the missing professionals of tomorrow," Schweitzer warned. Refugees welcome, but not enough Three of four businesses surveyed said they're willing to offer apprenticeships to recently arrived refugees, most of whom are Muslims from the Middle East, South Asia or Africa - provided the refugees had gained adequate German language skills and had been given appropriate residency permits by the government. DIHK said that a crucial first step toward enabling companies to offer trainee positions to refugees was the "3 plus 2 rule" established under the government's new Integration Law. The rule specifies that migrants with temporary residence permits who have found trainee positions cannot be deported during the three-year apprenticeship period, nor can they be deported for two years after they've finished their training, if they've found a job. "That's very, very important for the companies," Schweitzer said, because it sets up sufficient legal certainty that they'll be able to recoup their investment of time and staff effort in training migrants. But the refugees won't be able to solve the problem of a lack of willing and qualified trainees in the short- or medium-run, he said, because "integration takes time" - the DIHK's studies show it takes five to seven years before migrants are ready for full integration into the workforce. And their numbers aren't large enough to solve the long-term problem either. Apprenticeship quality problems In the short run, companies have reacted to the dwindling number of willing applicants by relaxing their hiring standards. School leavers with poor academic records - even dropouts, whose peers in decades past might have had a hard time being accepted into one of the more demanding trade apprenticeship programs - are often given help to catch up in their math or language skills. And they're being offered better deals than apprentices of previous generations, including better salaries and permanent jobs on finishing their training. The DIHK wants the government to make greater efforts to improve the quality of new apprentices. About half the businesses surveyed complained that many trainees were poor at basic math and language skills, and many had poor discipline, a weak ability to cope with work stress, and performed inadequately on the job. The school system must address these problems, Schweitzer argued. But in the medium term, even turning to less-talented applicants won't be enough to turn around the numbers, according to DIHK's analysis. It will be necessary to entice more of the young people now flooding toward university to take up apprenticeships instead. To help with that, DIHK suggested "orientation courses" exposing students to trades and professions should be offered at grammar schools (German: "Gymnasien") - the type of high school attended by academically stronger students - in order to help students get a better appreciation of desirable alternatives to going to university after finishing high school. "A mechatronics technician can easily earn more than many an architect," said Achim Dercks, a DIHK vice-president. That suggests another possible approach to gaining recruits: Offer trade or professional apprenticeships to people after they've completed their Bachelor's degrees at university. Perhaps traditional boundaries between "Akademiker" and "Arbeiter," or college grads and tradespeople, need to be softened up.

A third of German businesses are unable to fill all trainee positions available. One reason is that more young Germans are going to university rather than take up apprenticeships after finishing high school. On Tuesday in Berlin, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) released the results of a large survey of 11,269 businesses that asked whether ... Read More »

Trudeau: Canadian hostage likely killed in Philippines

Ottawa said it was working with authorities to confirm the death after another Canadian national's execution in April. The militant group Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Robert Hall from an island resort in 2015. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said authorities had "reason to believe" that a Canadian kidnapped by the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militant group has been killed. "It is with deep sadness that I have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall, held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015, has been killed by his captors," the premier said. Abu Sayyaf militants abducted four people aboard yachts at an upscale tourist resort in September 2015, including Canadian national John Ridsdel, who was beheaded in April after the group failed to receive a ransom of 300 million Philippine pesos ($6.5 million, 5.8 million euros). Following Ridsdel's execution, Philippine President Benigno Aquino vowed to "neutralize" the group. However, a military offensive proved ineffective. Abu Sayyaf uses the mountainous, jungle terrain, plus the support of local communities to its advantage. "The vicious and brutal actions of the hostage-takers have led to a needless death. Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder," Trudeau said. 'Terrorist organization' Although authorities believe the armed group has only a few hundred followers, it is considered one of the most dangerous militant groups in the country. Canada, the US and UN have designated the al-Qaeda affiliate as a "terrorist organization." Abu Sayyaf rose to notoriety in the 1990s amid a Muslim separatist insurgency in the predominantly Catholic nation that claimed more than 100,000 lives. The group has carried out several kidnappings since 1991, including a German couple released in 2014 after the militants reportedly received a ransom of $5 million.

Ottawa said it was working with authorities to confirm the death after another Canadian national’s execution in April. The militant group Abu Sayyaf kidnapped Robert Hall from an island resort in 2015. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said authorities had “reason to believe” that a Canadian kidnapped by the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf militant group has been killed. “It ... Read More »

‘Kyiv Pride’ rally goes on despite right-wing threats

A far-right paramilitary group threatened a "bloodbath" at the gay pride parade in Kyiv on Sunday. The activists won’t be intimidated, however, and will be protected by police. It’s not a raucous rally, but a demonstration like any other: That’s how organizers are framing Sunday’s Kyiv gay pride parade. Calling it a "march for equality," hundreds of LGBT activists plan to pass through the Ukrainian capital carrying slogans against discrimination. With Ukraine trying to get closer to the West, they’ve redoubled their efforts to assert their rights. "This is the main reason for carrying out such marches," Sorjan Kis, one of the organizers, told DW. "It’s not about sexuality. It’s about rights." Violence from right-wing extremists What’s long been a peaceably carried-out tradition in the West is a novelty and cause for conflict in Ukraine. In March, LGBT activists wanting to organize a festival in the western Ukrainian city, Lviv, faced serious threats from far-right groups. Citing security concerns, a court banned all public gatherings in the city center. LGBT activists gathered in a hotel and could only get out under police protection, but were still targeted by right-wing rock throwers. In the previous year and despite police protection, "Kyiv Pride" was overshadowed by violence that resulted in scores of injuries, including among police. The 2014 parade had to be cancelled outright. This time the police want to deter any form of violence with a particularly large presence. More than 6,000 security personnel will be on hand - four times more than last year. The right-wing threat lingers, however. A spokesperson for the far-right paramilitary organization, “The Right Sector,” warned of a “bloodbath” should the LGBT demonstration take place. Another opponent to "Kyiv Pride" published a petition on the Kyiv city hall website that would ban all LGBT events. About 14,000 people signed it. Little acceptance The Kyiv International Institute for Sociology (KMIS) found about 60 percent of Ukrainians hold a negative view of homosexuals, according to its survey in February. Only 5 percent support same-sex partnership; three-quarters strongly oppose it. Politicians are also split. In the past year, the Ukrainian parliament needed multiple attempts to abolish workplace discrimination, which included protections for homosexuals. The reform was a European Union prerequisite for easing travel conditions for Ukrainian passport holders. "God forbid this passes. We’ll never support it," said Wolodymyr Hrojsman, then parliament chairman and current prime minister, before the vote. 'I feel we’re in a new country' The "Kyiv Pride" organizers sense a positive shift ahead of the event. For the first time, the Kyiv underground is allowing ads to publicize the parade. "I feel we’re in a new country," Kis said, adding police cooperation has also improved along with government support. Vice Minister Ivanna Klimpusch-Zinzadse lent her support in a video message, hoping "we can present a nation that is tolerant, wise and fair." Foreign government officials are also getting involved. The U.S. State Department LGBT special envoy, Randy Berry, announced his participation. Rebecca Harms of Germany’s Green Party in EU Parliament is also scheduled to take part.

A far-right paramilitary group threatened a “bloodbath” at the gay pride parade in Kyiv on Sunday. The activists won’t be intimidated, however, and will be protected by police. It’s not a raucous rally, but a demonstration like any other: That’s how organizers are framing Sunday’s Kyiv gay pride parade. Calling it a “march for equality,” hundreds of LGBT activists plan ... Read More »

No recall referendum before 2017, vows Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said a potential recall referendum against him will not be held before 2017. The opposition has blamed Maduro for the country's dismal economy in recent years. The president's televised statement on Saturday came as the opposition races to hold the anti-Maduro referendum before the end of 2016. A vote this year would automatically prompt new elections, but a later vote would simply see Maduro succeeded by his vice president. "There will be no blackmailing here," Maduro said. "If the recall referendum's requirements are met, it will be next year and that's it." "If the requirements aren't met, there will be no referendum and that's it," he added. Economic downturn The opposition has accused Maduro of driving Venezuela to the brink of collapse. Since he took office in 2013, the South American nation has suffered an economic implosion resulting in severe shortages of food, electricity, medicine and other basic products. Despite having the world's largest crude oil reserves, Venezuela has also been hit hard by falling global prices. In response to the crisis, Maduro recently announced various measures aimed to alleviate the hardships faced by many. Among them were calls for people to stop using electric hair dryers and ironing their clothes, as well as a shorter working week for shops and government offices. Weeks of demonstrations In their bid to remove Maduro from office, the opposition has also staged several protests in recent weeks. On Tuesday, some 1,000 demonstrators were held back with tear gas as police prevented them from reaching the National Electorate Board (CNE). The opposition claims the board is stalling the recall process in a bid to protect Maduro. In a small step of success for the opposition, however, the election board said on Friday that it would begin validating the signatures of citizens seeking the referendum, one of the requirements necessary to proceed to a vote. International mediators, led by Spain's former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, are trying to bring the government and opposition together for talks, but both sides have so far shown reluctance.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said a potential recall referendum against him will not be held before 2017. The opposition has blamed Maduro for the country’s dismal economy in recent years. The president’s televised statement on Saturday came as the opposition races to hold the anti-Maduro referendum before the end of 2016. A vote this year would automatically prompt new ... Read More »

Former Guatemala cabinet ministers arrested on corruption charges

Three former government ministers have been arrested in Guatemala on corruption charges. All served under former President Perez Molina, who is in jail facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy. About 2,000 people gathered for a demonstration in the center of Guatemala City on Saturday to support the prosecutors and the crackdown on corruption. Former Defense Ministers Ulises Anzuelo and Manuel Lopez Ambrosio and former-Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla were arrested in Guatemala on Saturday and charged with corruption. The announcement of their arrests was made at a joint news conference by Guatemala's attorney general, Thelma Aldana, and the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). They worked together to build a case against former President Perez Molina last year. Chief prosecutor Thelma Aldana said the men arrested on Saturday were part of a group that used about $4.3 million (3.82 million euros) in state funds to buy gifts, including houses, boats and a helicopter, for Perez Molina. They face charges of money laundering and conspiracy. Interior Minister Francisco Rivas said international arrest orders were also being sought for former Energy Minister Erick Archila and former Communications Minister Alejandro Sinibaldi. Arriving at court offices, Lopez Bonilla said he did not know the reasons for his detention but expressed confidence in the country's judicial system. "I believe that at the end of the day, things will be cleared up," he said. "I can't say more than that I am proud of the work I did." The corruption investigations are being headed by the CICIG, which was set up in 2006 to help Guatemala reform its justice system and confront criminal gangs that had infiltrated the state. Perez Molina's government was brought down after a corruption scheme called "La Linea" or "The Line" was discovered involving the country's customs services. The line referred to the hotline businesses allegedly rang to clear their imports through customs at cut-price rates. Deeper corruption It now appears that The Line was just the tip of the iceberg. On June 2, CICIG and local officials arrested 25 people and issued warrants for a further 27 over the role of Perez Molina's Patriotic Party (PP) in acting as a front to exploit the Guatemalan state for personal enrichment. According to CICIG, by 2008 the PP was accepting illegal campaign contributions as down-payments for favors if it ever took power. After Perez Molina and the PP won the 2011 presidential election, the CICIG charges that the government signed at least 450 contracts from which officials skimmed off more than $65 million. The alleged conspirators come from all parts of Guatemalan society, according to the CICIG, and include the heads of large banks, the wife of a media magnate and a former football star. A new government headed by a former comedian Jimmy Morales was sworn in last January. He ran on an anti-corruption platform.

Three former government ministers have been arrested in Guatemala on corruption charges. All served under former President Perez Molina, who is in jail facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy. About 2,000 people gathered for a demonstration in the center of Guatemala City on Saturday to support the prosecutors and the crackdown on corruption. Former Defense Ministers Ulises Anzuelo and ... Read More »

NATO alliance starts biggest military exercise amid tensions with Russia

The Western military alliance has kicked off large-scale, two-week long exercises in Poland. 'Anakonda-16' comes in spite of Russian warnings against military expansionism in Eastern Europe. The exercises, codenamed Anakonda-16, began Tuesday amid rising tension in the region, with Moscow warning that a NATO expansion in the east would threaten its national security. The two-week-long drills involve some 31,000 troops, including 14,000 from the US, 12,000 from Poland and 1,000 from the UK, as well as dozens of fighter jets and ships, along with 3,000 vehicles. Manuevers will include a nighttime helicopter assault and a response to an attack from the east. The exercises are aimed at "checking the alliance's ability to defend its eastern flank," Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said at opening ceremonies in Warsaw the previous day. In addition to the 24 alliance states taking part in the exercise, non-NATO members including Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden and Finland are also taking part. Russia hits back The Anakonda-16 comes about a month before NATO leaders meet for a summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, where they're expected to discuss deploying batallions to Poland and the Baltic countries in response to perceived Russian aggressions. Moscow has repeatedly criticized NATO's recent actions, calling them needless provocations. "If you take a listen, you get this impression that NATO is a cornered sheep with predators all around embodied by Russia and other countries that are not under the US control," Russian Defense Minister Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Monday. In response to Russia's argument that NATO had agreed in 1997 not to create permanent bases in former eastern bloc countries, the military alliance says the new forces would be rotational rather than permanent. Ongoing standoff? NATO has said it will hold formal talks with Russia ahead of the July summit, although a recent flare-up between Washington and Moscow over a US missile system being constructed in Poland and Romania has called into question the possibility of future cooperation. Russia has said it wants to end threats posed by the system, and has also said it would deploy three divisions in its west and south to counter perceived aggression from NATO in Eastern Europe. During the opening ceremony for the military exercise on Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attempted to quell Russian fears. "In the long run, we just have to understand that Russia is our biggest neighbor," Stoltenberg said. "We have to relate to Russia and we have to work with Russia."

The Western military alliance has kicked off large-scale, two-week long exercises in Poland. ‘Anakonda-16’ comes in spite of Russian warnings against military expansionism in Eastern Europe. The exercises, codenamed Anakonda-16, began Tuesday amid rising tension in the region, with Moscow warning that a NATO expansion in the east would threaten its national security. The two-week-long drills involve some 31,000 troops, ... Read More »

Deadly train crash in Belgium leaves dozens injured

A Belgian mayor said the crash had been "very violent," adding that the number of casualties could rise. A survivor described a "chaotic scene" as firefighters pulled passengers out of the wreckage. A passenger train crashed into the back of a freight train late Sunday in the Belgian municipality of Saint-Georges-Sur-Meuse, leaving at least three people dead and 40 others injured. "A train … carrying around 40 passengers crashed into the back of freight train on the same track," said Belgium's national railway company SNCB in a statement. "The collision derailed two of the six carriages." Infrabel spokesman Frederic Sacre told AFP news agency that the passenger slammed into the freight train at high speed. Saint-Georges-Sur-Meuse Mayor Francis Dejon said the collision had been "very violent," adding that the death toll could rise. Emergency response personnel arrived at the site of the crash and began pulling people trapped in the wreckage. One passenger told the L'Avenir website that the train's front cars were completely destroyed, describing a "chaotic scene." "The priority is to care for the victims," SNCB said. The Belgium national railway added that information was already being analyzed to determine the circumstances of the deadly crash. Authorities transported survivors to a local sports center, where they were offered psychological counseling.

A Belgian mayor said the crash had been “very violent,” adding that the number of casualties could rise. A survivor described a “chaotic scene” as firefighters pulled passengers out of the wreckage. A passenger train crashed into the back of a freight train late Sunday in the Belgian municipality of Saint-Georges-Sur-Meuse, leaving at least three people dead and 40 others ... Read More »

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