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The Cities This Week: Edition 37




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Rescue workers in north-west Colombia search for at least 11 people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed block of flats. Source: BBC

MOSCOW

The stabbing death of an ethnic Russian man has ignited anger in Moscow against people from the Caucasus, with demonstrators breaking into a shopping center and storming a vegetable warehouse Sunday evening. Police detained hundreds of people. The man was believed to have been killed by a native of the North Caucasus, a region in southern Russia where the people are predominantly Muslim. Caucasus natives work in the shopping center and at many vegetable markets around the Russian capital. The Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative agency, said in a statement that the 25-year-old man was killed in a dispute over his girlfriend as the couple returned home on Thursday. Investigators have questioned witnesses, the statement said.

RIO DE JANEIRO

Protesters demonstrating in support of teachers receiving better pay in the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have clashed with police. The centre of Rio was packed with more than 10,000 people marching peacefully. But as it got dark, some protesters threw firebombs at public buildings and riot police responded with tear gas. A similar protest in Sao Paulo also ended in violent confrontation with police after many banks were ransacked by hooded protesters. Brazil’s security situation is a challenge to cities that will play host to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. The latest demonstration took place over several hours and was peaceful at first.

NEW DELHI

Thousands of pilgrims in northern India panicked on Sunday when they thought the narrow bridge they were crossing was collapsing, Indian officials said. The resulting stampede left at least 89 people dead and about a hundred more injured. About a half-million worshipers, by Indian news media estimates, had flocked to the Ratangarh Temple in northern Madhya Pradesh State for a religious festival. A top state official, Anthony J.C. De Sa, told The Hindu, a daily newspaper, that about 25,000 people were on the bridge over the Sindh River, which is 23 feet wide, on Sunday when a section of the bridge’s railing broke, setting off a rumor that the whole bridge was about to give way. In the aftermath of the panic, relief efforts were delayed by traffic jams, and frustrated bystanders later turned on the police, pelting them with stones. A deadly stampede took place at the same site in 2006.

LAGOS

The Lagos State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with software giant, Microsoft International on e-Governance initiatives that will drive governance in the state. According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, in a statement, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, who led some members of his cabinet to the U.S. based company at the Redmond Washington, headquarters of Microsoft in the U.S.A, signed the agreement. The statement quoted the governor, saying that the agreement would focus on e- governance strategies to better serve the people of Lagos.

LONDON

The mayor of London is in China in a bid to promote the capital’s trade with the country. Boris Johnson will meet political leaders and business chiefs during his six-day visit. He will also share a platform with Chancellor George Osborne at Peking University. Mr Johnson said: “China’s recent economic growth is nothing short of staggering and the opportunities that this presents for London are huge.” Chinese firms have recently made big investments in the city.  Earlier this year, developer ABP announced a £1bn deal to redevelop the Royal Albert Dock in east London and this month the ZhongRong Group said it would be investing £500m to rebuild The Crystal Palace in south London. Last year 104,000 Chinese tourists visited London, according to the office of the Mayor of London.

MEDELLIN 

Rescue workers in north-west Colombia are using sniffer dogs to search for at least 11 people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed block of flats. Officials say at least two people were injured when the luxury 24-storey block collapsed on Saturday night. The 24-storey tower in Colombia’s second largest city, Medellin, had been evacuated on Friday after cracks were found in its structure. Neighbouring towers could be at risk and have been cleared, officials say. The collapse of tower six in the Space condominium happened shortly before 20:30 local time (02:30 BST) on Saturday, officials say.

KABUL

Afghanistan’s future stability remains unclear at best, but that didn’t stop four local investors from pooling together $5 million to build the new Kabul Water Park. The 24,760-square-foot facility comes with all the standard bells and whistles of your typical water park, including huge slides, a wave pool, and kids area. Admission costs 500 Afghanis ($9) and comes with a full body search from armed guards before entering. Men and women are separated, but girls can use the same areas as the opposite sex until the age of 10. For Mahmod Najafi, one of the water park’s managers, the investment is a statement. “My message to other Afghan businessmen is that if we don’t invest because of concerns about 2014, we will remain backward,” he tells Reuters. “Every Afghan has to work individually to promote this country.”

SYDNEY

Firefighters on Sunday battled a fire at Sydney’s Olympic Park that damaged or destroyed 80 cars. A discarded cigarette or car exhaust spark is suspected of starting a grass fire that caused about 500 people to be evacuated from the Aquatic Centre and engulfed cars in the carpark. Fire and Rescue NSW superintendent Ian Krimmer said on Monday the latest count indicated that 47 cars were destroyed and 33 damaged in the blaze. Fire commissioner Greg Mullins said either a cigarette butt or a spark from a car exhaust might have started the fire. Mullins said authorities were frustrated that some smokers were disregarding fire warnings. It was illegal to smoke outside during a total fire ban, he said.

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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