SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on the capital and a strategic Red Sea city, officials said. At least eight people were killed.
The overnight airstrikes on Sanaa and Hodeida — both held by the Houthis — came a day after the rebels attacked an oil depot in the Saudi city of Jiddah, their higest-profile assault yet on the kingdom.
Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the strikes targeted “sources of threat” to Saudi Arabia, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency or SPA.
He said the coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosives-laden drones earlier in the week. He said the drones were launched from Houthi-held civilian oil facilities in Hodeida, urging civilians to stay away from oil facilities in the city.
Footage circulated online showed flames and plumes of smoke over Sanaa and Hodeida. Associated Press journalists in the Yemeni capital heard loud explosions that rattled residential buildings there.
The Houthis said the coalition airstrikes hit a power plant, a fuel supply station and the state-run social insurance office in the capital.
A Houthi media office claimed an airstrike hit houses for guards of the social insurance office in Sanaa’s Haddah neighborhood, killing at least eight people and wounding four others, including women and children.
The office shared images it said for the aftermath of the airstrike. It showed wreckage in the courtyard of a social insurance office with the shattered windows of a nearby multiple-story building.
Hamoud Abbad, a local official with the Houthis in Sanaa, said the facility is located close to a building used by the U.N. agencies in the capital. He claimed that U.N. vehicles were seen leaving the area prior the the airstrikes.
BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities officially confirmed that there were no survivors in the crash of a China Eastern 737-800 earlier this week with 132 people on board.
The announcement by an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China at a late-night news conference was followed by a brief moment of silence. Investigators have identified 120 of the victims through DNA analysis, state media reported.
The flight from the city of Kunming in southwestern China was flying at 29,000 feet (8,800 meters) when it suddenly nosedived into a mountainous area, shortly before it would have started its descent to the airport in Guangzhou, a provincial capital and export manufacturing hub near Hong Kong on China’s southeastern coast.
Construction excavators dug into the crash site in the search for wreckage, remains and the second black box. Searchers found the cockpit voice recorder but have yet to find the flight data recorder.
Workers wearing knee-high rubber boots used shovels and other hand tools to sift through the earthen slopes in a 20-meter- (65-foot-) deep pit left by the plane. Debris and other items were collected in dozens of rectangular, mud-stained plastic containers.
Pumps were used to drain water as muddy conditions in the rainy Guangxi region hampered the search. One excavator stopped working after getting partially stuck, state broadcaster CCTV said.
The cause of the crash remained a mystery. An air traffic controller tried to contact the pilots several times after seeing the plane’s altitude drop sharply but got no reply, officials have said.
Authorities said that forensic and criminal investigation experts had confirmed the identities of 114 passengers and six crew members.
China Eastern, one of China’s four major airlines, and its subsidiaries have grounded all of their 737-800 aircraft, a total of 223 planes. The carrier said the grounding was a precaution, not a sign there was anything wrong.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Taylor Hawkins, for 25 years the drummer for Foo Fighters and best friend of frontman Dave Grohl, died during a South American tour with the rock band. He was 50.
There were few immediate details on how Hawkins died, although the band said in a statement that his death was a “tragic and untimely loss.”
Colombia’s Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying toxicological tests on urine from Hawkins’ body preliminarily found 10 psychoactive substances and medicines, including marijuana, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines. It did not provide a cause of death and investigations are continuing.
Foo Fighters had been scheduled to play at a festival in Bogota, Colombia, on Friday night. Hawkins’ final concert was Sunday at another festival in San Isidro, Argentina.
“His musical spirit and infectious laughter will live on with all of us forever,” said a message on the band’s official Twitter account that was also emailed to reporters. “Our hearts go out to his wife, children and family.”
The Bogota municipal government issued a statement Saturday that the city’s emergency center had received a report of a patient with “chest pain” and sent an ambulance, though a private ambulance had already arrived at the hotel in northern Bogota.
Health workers tried to revive him, but were unable to do so.
“It was a band I grew up with. This leaves me empty,” Juan Sebastian Anchique, 23, told The Associated Press as he mourned Hawkins outside the hotel.
The U.S. Embassy in Bogota also expressed its condolences in a tweet.
After Grohl, Hawkins was the most recognizable member of the group, appearing alongside the lead singer in interviews and playing prominent, usually comic, roles in the band’s memorable videos and their recent horror-comedy film, “Studio 666.”
Hawkins was Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer when he joined Foo Fighters in 1997. He played on the band’s biggest albums including “One by One” and “In Your Honor,” and on hit singles like “Best of You.”