Officials in China now say at least 56 people were killed in powerful explosions in the port city of Tianjin Wednesday. More than 700 injured are being treated at hospitals. It is not known how many other people may be missing.
Chinese investigators are trying to learn what caused the explosions. They took place at a building that holds chemicals. Safety officials in Tianjin said they do not know what kinds of chemicals were stored in the building. China’s officials Xinhua news agency says a team of 217 experts has been sent to the area.
US investigating reports of IS chemical weapons use
The United States is investigating reports an Islamic State attack earlier this week on Kurdish fighters in Iraq. German officials had reported that some Kurdish forces suffered injuries that can result from chemical weapons.
A White House National Security Council spokesman said Thursday that the United States is seeking more information on the attack. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power also said the U.S. is studying the reports.
Japanese prime minister offers apology on WW2 Anniversary
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. He offered, in his words, Japan’s "profound grief" and "sincere condolences" to all who suffered and died as a result of Japanese military aggression. Mr. Abe said Japan caused innocent people "immeasurable damage and suffering."
It is not likely that the Japanese leader’s statement will satisfy the country’s neighbors, especially South Korea and China. Each has repeatedly called on Mr. Abe to directly discuss atrocities committed by the Japanese military during its colonization of parts of Asia.
Eurozone ministers expected to support Greek bailout
The Greek parliament approved a bailout deal for the country Friday. Now, European finance ministers meeting in Brussels are to consider the $93 billion financial rescue. They are expected to approve it.
Greece needs the money from international creditors by August 20. That is when it must pay $3.5 billion in debt to the European Central Bank.
Greece has been in a financial crisis for more than five years. The country has already received two major financial rescues, which have require strong austerity, or cost-cutting measures. Some critics say the measures will further damage Greece’s economy.
North Korea: No involvement in landmine explosions
North Korea said Friday it was not involved in landmine explosions that wounded South Korean soldiers. North Korea's National Defense Commission said it is "absurd" to suggest it sent soldiers across the border to bury the mines.
A joint U.S.-South Korean investigation accused the North Korean military of planting mines on South Korean territory. South Korea said the incident was a "total violation" of the countries' truce agreement.
Words in the News
atrocity – n. a very cruel or terrible act or action
bailout – n. the act of saving or rescuing something (such as a business) from money problems
austerity – n. things done to save money during difficult economic times
absurd – adj. extremely silly, foolish, or unreasonable: completely ridiculous