Bridge collapses north of Toulouse, a truck and a car fall in the Tarn river – French firefighters

Several vehicles have fallen into the Tarn river in France after a suspension bridge collapsed north of Toulouse early Monday morning.

Emergency services are on scene assessing the scale of the disaster but have yet to give an exact figure for injuries and casualties. The collapse is said to have taken place at roughly 8:30am local time.

A 15-year old boy reportedly died in the incident but this has yet to be confirmed by authorities. According to early indications, a large, overweight truck which was beyond the legal limit may have been responsible for the collapse but an investigation has yet to be completed.

There are about 70 firefighters at the scene and the local gendarmerie has set up a security cordon.Authorities have asked the public to avoid the area while emergency operations are under way.

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India paid advance for Russia’s S-400 missiles, delivery to be complete in full in 2025

India’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system for over $5billion which US tried to derail is moving ahead, with the advance payment already made, head of a Russian defense conglomerate has confirmed.

“The advance payment has been made. I will not say the exact figure, but the payment is done,” Sergey Chemezov told journalists on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow on Monday. His company, Rostec, is deeply involved in Russian arms export, including sale of S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

His remark confirmed the report by the newspaper Hindustan Times, which said India had paid Russia some $850 million, or 15 percent of the total sum, in September. The report said the payment used a mechanism designed to circumvent US monitoring of international financial transactions. Washington has a law that says any buyer of advanced Russian weapon systems, including the S-400, may be subjected to financial sanctions and vocally opposed the Russian-Indian deal.

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Chemezov assured the state-of-art military hardware that India ordered was already being produced and that the delivery will be fully complete in 2025, just as the contract says. He wouldn’t elaborate on the shipment schedule. The Hindustan Times said its sources expected the first batch to arrive “in 16 to 18 months”.

The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range air defense system meant to intercept enemy aircraft and missiles. The contract signed in October last year is for five S-400 batteries and is estimated to be worth $5.4 billion.

A similar deal between Russia and Turkey resulted in a major rift between Washington and Ankara. The US pressured its NATO ally not to buy the Russian weapon system, but failed to stop the purchase. It retaliated by kicking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program, claiming it was necessary to protect the aircraft’s secrets from Russia.

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Chemezov remarked that part of the appeal that Russian weapons have in the international market is that “we never impose political conditions”. Rostec, the state-owned company that he heads, is, among other things, a top mediator between Russian defense manufacturers and foreign clients through its subsidiary, Rosoboronexport.

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Hong Kong rioters bombard ambulance truck with bricks and stones to free arrested protester (VIDEOS)

Violent anti-government protesters ambushed an ambulance truck as they rushed to free a detained female demonstrator, prompting warning shots from a police officer that was sitting inside the vehicle.

Police said they have arrested a 20-year-old woman in Kowloon district for violating assembly laws in the early hours of Monday. Since the protester had a head injury, the officers called for an ambulance truck to pick her up and drive to a hospital (the police did not specify how she was injured).

The truck did not get far, however, as around 3am local time it was stopped and swarmed by hundreds of protesters, who hurled rocks and bricks at the two escorting officers hiding behind the seats inside the vehicle, while also splashing “unknown liquid” on them.

The protesters then began rocking the ambulance truck. That’s when one of the officers fired three warning shots, dispersing the rioters. “Initial enquiry shows that the shots did not hit anyone,” police said. The arrested woman managed to flee and is now on the police ‘wanted’ list.

Battles between the authorities and protesters intensified over the weekend, when the police attempted to remove the barricades erected at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). Large fires broke out outside the campus when rioters hurled petrol bombs at law enforcement.

On Monday, CNN published a photo, taken at the PolyU, of what appears to be a homemade explosive device – a large gas canister rigged with dozens of bolts. The channel could not independently verify whether it was actually a bomb, but police told them the protesters have used gas canisters against them in the past.

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‘Stop flexing muscles’: Beijing warns US against ‘intervening’ in South China Sea

China has slammed the US for military “provocations” in the contested waters of the South China Sea and deployed its aircraft carrier there after the Pentagon has beefed up drills in the area.

Beijing “urges the US side to stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and do not provoke and escalate tensions” in the region, Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian told reporters in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday.

Wu reiterated that China considers a US Navy presence in the South China Sea to be an intervention and a threat to its national interest. In September, the Pentagon carried out its first-ever joint military exercise with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional bloc, whose several members are in territorial disputes with Beijing.

Pentagon chief Mark Esper called Chinese activities in the region “a threat… to many Southeast Asian nations,” and slammed Beijing’s territorial claims as “unlawful and unreasonable.”

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On Monday, China confirmed that its first domestically-built aircraft carrier, Liaoning, had entered the South China Sea after sailing through the Taiwan Strait. The US and Japanese warships closely followed Liaoning, whose movements also prompted protests from Taipei.

The Chinese military, however, said that the voyage was a routine training mission, “not aimed at any specific target.” The carrier has already embarked on another mission in the area.

Despite exchanging diplomatic jabs, Esper held a short meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, over the weekend. Both sides agreed to seek dialogue in the future.

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