A fire in Azerbaijan kills twenty-four.

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Firefighters enter the clinic to put out the fire. (Image courtesy of Dunya News)

On 2 March, at least twenty-four people died when a drug rehabilitation clinic in Baku, Azerbaijan caught fire. The old building was one story high, and burned for three hours after catching fire at around 6 am due to a short circuit. Two hundred patients and staff were evacuated, thirty-four were rescued, and three were hospitalized. President Ilham Aliyev has ordered an investigation into the blaze. The nation has historically had a shortage of rehabilitation clinics, with nearly 3000 people applying for places at this clinic in 2015.

Source information can be found here.


A supermarket in the Netherlands introduces plastic free aisle.

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The plastic free aisle in Ekoplaza offers 700 items in plastic free packaging (Image courtesy of A Plastic Planet)

On 28 February, Ekoplaza, a supermarket in Amsterdam, introduced the world’s first plastic-free aisle. The aisle has 700 items, including meats, sauces, chocolate, cereals, and yogurts, packaged in compostable materials, glass, metal, or cardboard instead of plastic. In January, Theresa May gave a speech regarding a twenty-five-year environmental plan, in which she called for plastic-free aisles. The European Union also planned to make all the plastic on the European market recyclable by 2030. Over forty nations around the world have banned, restricted, or taxed the use of plastic bags. Ekoplaza has promised to expand plastic free aisles to all of its seventy-four stores by the end of the year.

Source information can be found here.

South Africa has traced the source of “the world’s worst listeria outbreak.”

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria

An image of Listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6, the strain of listeria that is especially virulent. (Image courtesy of Science Photo Library)

A factory operated by Enterprise Foods in Polokwane, Limpopo has been discovered to be the source of the “world’s worst listeria outbreak,” which killed 180 people. It infected 1000, causing, in some people, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Over sixteen samples from the factory tested positive for the Listeriosis monocytogenes strain ST 6, which is especially virulent. The factory is expected to be closed down following the results of these tests. Consumers who have stored recalled products in their fridges have been recommended to disinfect them with diluted bleach. More facilities are being tested to see if they contributed to the outbreak.

Source information can be found here.

At least eleven people have been killed in an attack on a military base by Boko Haram militants.

The bodies of the aid workers arrived at an airport in Nigeria. (Image courtesy of Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

On 2 March, Boko Haram militants killed at least eleven people, including three Nigerian aid workers, four soldiers, and four police officers, near a camp for displaced people in Rann, Borno, Nigeria. The attack happened two weeks after the abduction of 110 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi. The attack on Friday was carried out using automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and gun tanks. Aid workers for Medecins Sans Frontiers were evacuated following the attack. Last year, a Nigerian fighter jet killed 170 people in an accidental bombing of the camp for displaced people in Rann. Although President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly said that Boko Haram has been defeated, following his promise to improve security when he was elected in May 2015. Borno also previously faced an attack on aid workers in December, when four people were killed in a World Food Program convoy ambush.

Source information can be found here.

Merkel set to form her fourth government after the Social Democrats vote in favour of a coalition.

Vote counting at SPD headquarters in Berlin, 4 March 2018

Votes were counted all night at SPD’s headquarters in Berlin. (Image courtesy of Getty Images)

Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, is set to form her fourth government after the Social Democrats(SPD) voted 66% in favour of another coalition. The vote ended a nearly six month-long political deadlock and brought much-needed political stability to Europe’s economic powerhouse. Four months earlier, Merkel failed to form a coalition with the Free Democrats and the Greens. The SPD’s youth wing, as well as many who blamed Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) for the SPD’s worst ever election result, opposed the coalition. The arrival of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has made forming a government much harder due to their strong opposition. Merkel now faces many challenges, including the opposition from the AfD party, which is the largest opposition group, and working with President Macron of France on overhauling the European Union in what is considered a crucial year.

Source information can be found here and here.