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COVID-19: Convoys deployed to dispense coronavirus vaccine and food in Spain after record snowfall | World News

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Members of the military walk past the Cibeles fountain and the City Hall building after a heavy snowfall in Madrid, Spain January 10, 2021. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Convoys containing food and the coronavirus vaccine are being sent by the Spanish government to reach areas cut off by record snowfall.

Four people have died as a result of Storm Filomena, which has brought the heaviest snowfall in Spain for decades.

Around 30cm of snow fell in Madrid on Saturday, where a 54-year-old man was found dead under the flurries.

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Convoys are being used to distribute the coronavirus vaccine and food

Transport secretary Jose Luis Abalos said convoys would be used to transport food and vaccinations after 20,000km of road were revealed to have been affected by the snowfall.

A 36-year-old woman gave birth in an ambulance in Madrid on Saturday after the vehicle was unable to get to a hospital.

Police have had to break up snowball fights following warnings of the risk they pose from potential transmission of COVID-19.

An emergency vehicle drives past people walking in the snow on the M-30 motorway, in Madrid, Spain, January 9, 2021. REUTERS/Susana Vera
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20,000km of roads have been affected by the snow

More than 1,500 people were rescued from cars in the capital after they were stranded by blankets of snow.

It is forecast that temperatures could fall as low as -10C in the next week, raising fears of icy conditions and damage to trees.

The downpours have led to the closure of Madrid airport until at least Sunday evening.

Snow day in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid.
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Warnings have been issued by the police over fears that people enjoying the snow could accelerate the spread of coronavirus

A second man died in Calatayud, near Zaragoza, and a man and a woman drowned in a car after a river burst its banks near Malaga.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia said: “The royal family would like to express their sorrow for victims of the storm… and ask for extreme caution against the risks of accumulation of ice and snow.”

Santa Morena, 22, ended up trapped in her car on her way to a night shift on Friday evening – and was later rescued by the army.

People are seen from the rooftop of the Circulo de Bellas Artes cultural center, as they stand and walk near the Cibeles Fountain during a heavy snowfall in Madrid, Spain January 9, 2021. REUTERS/Susana Vera
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The snow has been caused by the mixing of cold air over Spain and the warmer Storm Filomena moving in from the south

She said: “It usually takes me 15 minutes, but this time it has been 12 hours freezing, without food or water, crying with other people because we didn’t know how we were going to get out of there.

“Snow can be very beautiful but spending the night trapped in a car because of it is no fun.”

Spanish weather agency AEMET said the blizzards are due to a rare meeting of a cold air mass over the Iberian Peninsula and the warmer Storm Filomena arriving from the south.

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COVID-19: Holidays to Spain could be delayed ‘until end of summer’ | World News

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated

Britons hoping to escape to Spain could have their holiday plans cancelled following reports the Spanish prime minister said the country would not welcome international tourists until the “end of summer”.

Speaking at a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation, Pedro Sanchez reportedly said he did not expect holidaymakers to visit Spain until nearly all of the population has been vaccinated.

He said the country would “progressively” prepare to welcome international tourists once 70% of Spain’s population had been vaccinated, which he expected to be by the end of this summer, local media sites including Euro Weekly News have reported.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated

It will be a blow for the tourism sector, which closed its worst year since the 1970s in 2020 with revenues falling by more than 75%.

Spain reported its highest daily number of coronavirus infections yet on Thursday, recording 44,357 cases.

A further 404 deaths were also reported, taking the country’s total to 55,041 deaths and 2.5 million cases.

Spain is not the only popular holiday destination closing its doors to British tourists, as Portugal has said it will be suspending all flights to and from Britain from Saturday onwards.

Only repatriation flights will be allowed between the two countries, Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference.

British tourists arrive at Gran Canaria airport
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Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists

Meanwhile, the UK itself has “considered” a full closure of its borders.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News ministers were keeping the idea “under review” and “can’t rule anything out for now” – although they believed the current restrictions were “sufficient”.

Asked whether people should be booking foreign holidays for this summer, Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to give an answer and said it was “far too early” to speculate on restrictions.

But some Britons have already begun booking their breaks, with holiday firms saying they had seen a spike in bookings from older people planning trips following the vaccine roll-out.

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‘We need to have a spring and summer season’

The UK’s largest tour operator TUI said half of bookings made so far have been made by over-50s.

Spain ranks among the most popular countries for people planning holidays this year.

A study by travel company Club Med showed it was the fifth most popular destination, behind the Maldives, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.

Earlier, European Union leaders held an online summit to discuss potential coronavirus measures, including further border restrictions.

While a number of EU leaders said they would not rule out border closures, Spain and Greece backed an idea for a common approach to “vaccine passports”.

The system would allow people to travel if they had received the vaccine, although EU diplomats said the measure was premature as it is not yet clear if vaccinated people could still pass on the virus to others.

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Donald Trump was fooled into talking to prankster pretending to be Piers Morgan, TV presenter says | UK News

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Donald and Melania Trump

A prankster pretending to be Piers Morgan managed to fool Donald Trump into thinking he was speaking to the real TV presenter.

It happened in October while the former president and Apprentice star was on Air Force One, Morgan said.

Mr Trump, who left the White House for the final time earlier this week, only realised he had been scammed when he rang the genuine Morgan the following day while on his way to Florida, the presenter revealed.

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Donald and Melania Trump boarding Air Force One for the last time on Wednesday

Morgan told the BBC it was a “hilarious story”, adding: “Somebody had called him pretending to be me the day before and got through to him on Air Force One and they had a conversation with Trump thinking he was talking to me.”

It is not known who the prankster was.

The pair, who have known each other for more than a decade, fell out last year after Morgan, 55, criticised Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2008, Morgan won a series of Celebrity Apprentice hosted by the billionaire businessman.

He also interviewed him during his time in office for ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.

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Donald Trump’s presidency in 6 minutes

Taking about Mr Trump’s time as US president, Morgan said the 74-year-old had been a “useless leader” because of his “character flaws – the chronic narcissism, the desire to make everything about himself”.

But Mr Trump is not the only prominent person to have been fooled by a prankster.

In March last year, Prince Harry was reportedly tricked into speaking about his decision to quit the royal family by Russian hoaxers posing as the environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

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China gold mine blast: Trapped workers must wait another two weeks for rescue | World News

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Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site

Rescuers trying to free a group of miners trapped hundreds of metres underground have said it may take another 15 days to drill and clear a route wide enough to reach them.

They are desperately trying to bring the workers back to the surface following an explosion at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, in eastern China on 10 January.

A total of 22 miners became trapped after the blast blocked the mine entrance.

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Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site as part of coronavirus measures

One is confirmed to have died from head injuries. Eleven are known to be alive and rescuers have made contact with 10 of them, while one is said to be in a nearby chamber. The remaining 10 are missing.

Holes have been drilled and used to pass food, medicine and other supplies to the group while they wait.

Rescuers are now drilling a new wider shaft to reach the 10 men in the middle section of the mine – more than 600m from the entrance – which they hope to use to bring the survivors to safety.

The mine shaft is blocked 350m below the surface by 70 tonnes of debris that extends down another 100m, the Yantai city government said in a statement on its social media account.

Other shafts are being drilled for communication and ventilation – to expel deadly fumes.

Rescuers work at the Hushan gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, China, where a group of miners remain trapped underground
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Rescuers say it may take another 15 days to reach the group of miners who remain trapped hundreds of metres underground

About 600 people are involved in the rescue, with as many as 25 ambulances waiting at the scene, as well as neurosurgeons, trauma specialists and psychologists.

Medical workers in white protective suits are also on site and have been taking people’s temperatures as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the incident, the cause of which is still not known.

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