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The Eurovision Song Contest is already facing controversy over performers making political statements ahead of the big event in Sweden at the weekend.

Bambie Thug, who will represent Ireland, has criticised organisers for asking the performer to alter a pro-Palestinian message before their performance in the first semi-final last night.

Meanwhile, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has put out a statement expressing “regret” that former Swedish contestant Eric Saade, who is reportedly of Palestinian origin, was wearing a keffiyeh – a traditional scarf that has become a symbol of support – tied around his wrist as he sang.

He is not competing this year, but opened the first Eurovision semi-final show in his home country ahead of the finalists being chosen.

Israel's Eden Golan with Hurricane for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU
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Eden Golan will compete for Israel. Pic: Sarah Louise Bennett/EBU

Eurovision bills itself as a non-political event and organisers have resisted calls to boycott Israel, sparking protests.

Israel’s Eden Golan will perform her song Hurricane in the second semi-final on Thursday, with bookmakers placing her among the top 10 most likely to win the competition.

Security is being ramped up in the Swedish host city of Malmo, which expects to welcome some 100,000 Eurovision fans – along with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters, with demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war planned on Thursday and Saturday.

After making it through to the final with their song Doomsday Blue, Ireland’s Bambie Thug told reporters at a news conference that they had been forced to change writing painted on their body ahead of the semi-final performance.

The 31-year-old singer said the painted script in Ogham – an early Medieval alphabet – had translated to ‘ceasefire and freedom’.

Ireland's Bambie Thug performing at the semi-final. Pic: Reuters
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Bambie Thug says she was forced to change her body paint. Pic: Reuters

“It was very important for me because I’m pro justice and pro peace,” they said. “Unfortunately, I had to change those messages today to ‘crown the witch’ only (which was an) order from the EBU.”

A spokesperson for the EBU said: “The writing seen on Bambie Thug’s body during dress rehearsals contravened contest rules that are designed to protect the non-political nature of the event.

“After discussions with the Irish delegation, they agreed to change the text for the live show.”

In a separate statement about Saade’s opening performance, an EBU spokesperson said the organisation “regrets” that he chose to wear the keffiyeh pattern material and “chose to compromise the non-political nature of the event”.

The UK's Olly Alexander performs during the semi-final. Pic: Reuters
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The UK’s Olly Alexander will perform Dizzy in the final on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Elsewhere, UK entrant Olly Alexander also performed at the event to showcase his song, Dizzy, although he is already through to the final as the UK is one of the “big five” Eurovision donors.

The Years & Years singer has found himself facing criticism from some who called for him to withdraw over Israel’s inclusion amid the ongoing war.

He addressed the controversy in a documentary following him as he prepares for the show, describing some comments he and other contestants have received as “very extreme”.

In April, Eurovision organisers condemned the abuse and harassment of contestants over Israel’s inclusion in the competition as “unacceptable and totally unfair”.

Read more on Eurovision:
Who will win and the acts to look out for
Everything you need to know about this year’s show

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Speaking on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, EBU deputy director general Jean Philip De Tender defended Israel’s inclusion.

“We do understand the concerns and deeply held views around the war in the Middle East,” he said.

“The song contest is a music event organised and co-produced by 37 public broadcasters, it’s not a competition between nations or governments.

“Our governing bodies reviewed the participation of Kan [Israel’s public broadcasting corporation] and found that they met all of the competing rules.”

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Four girls stabbed at cinema in Massachusetts

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Four girls stabbed at cinema in Massachusetts

Four girls aged between nine and 17 were stabbed in an “unprovoked” attack at a cinema in Massachusetts, US police have said.

A 21-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man were also found stabbed in a McDonald’s restaurant in an incident that may be connected, according to officers.

A man, whose identity has not been released, was taken into custody following a vehicle chase that ended in a crash in Sandwich, Cape Cod.

Police said a man came into the AMC Braintree 10 complex, south of Boston, at about 6pm local time on Saturday and entered one of the movie theatres without paying.

“Without saying anything and without any warning, he suddenly attacked the four young females,” the Braintree police department said in a statement.

“The attack appeared to be unprovoked. After the attack, the man ran out and left in a vehicle.”

The girls sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to hospitals in Boston for treatment.

Read more US news:
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The suspect’s vehicle – what appeared to be a black SUV – and number plate was seen on camera, police said.

A vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle was later seen in Plymouth, about 27 miles south of Braintree.

Police said it had left a McDonald’s restaurant, where a 21-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man were found stabbed and both were taken to hospitals with injuries.

Police found the vehicle another 20 miles south, in Sandwich, and attempted to pull it over, but it didn’t stop and later crashed.

The driver was taken into custody shortly afterward and was being treated at a hospital.

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Passengers and crew injured after turbulence on Qatar Airways flight to Dublin

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Passengers and crew injured after turbulence on Qatar Airways flight to Dublin

Eight people have been taken to hospital due to turbulence on a flight to Dublin.

Dublin Airport said six passengers and six crew members on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Dublin were hurt after experiencing turbulence over Turkey.

In a later statement, the airport said all passengers were assessed for injury before getting off the plane and eight were taken to hospital.

Graeme McQueen, a spokesman for DAA, the operator of Dublin Airport, told Sky News the aircraft was met by emergency services upon landing shortly before 1pm on Sunday.

The scene at Dublin Airport

Qatar Airways described the injuries sustained by passengers and crew as “minor”.

It said: “[They] are now receiving medical attention… The safety and security of our passengers and crew are our top priority.”

An internal investigation into what happened has now been launched.

Read more:
Is flight turbulence getting worse – and what types are there?

Climate change causing more turbulence – scientists

Earlier this week, in a separate incident, a British man died on a Singapore Airlines flight after extreme turbulence on a Heathrow-Singapore journey.

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Singapore Airlines passenger Josh Silverstone describes ordeal

Turbulence is defined as a sudden change in airflow and wind speed.

It can often be associated with storm clouds, which are usually well forecast and monitored, allowing planes to fly around them, Sky News weather producer Jo Robinson said.

Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is much more dangerous as there are no visual signs, such as clouds.

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This invisible vertical air movement usually occurs at and above 15,000ft and is mostly linked to the jet stream.

It is unclear what type of turbulence the Qatar Airways flight went through.

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Papua New Guinea: More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide – as ‘major destruction’ hampers rescue efforts

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Papua New Guinea: More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide - as 'major destruction' hampers rescue efforts

More than 2,000 people have been buried by a massive landslide in northern Papua New Guinea, the country’s disaster agency has said.

The landslide levelled the mountainous Kaokalam village in Enga Province – about 370 miles (600km) northwest of the capital Port Moresby.

It hit the Pacific nation at around 3am local time on Friday (6pm on Thursday UK time), and the United Nations had earlier said it estimated 670 people had been killed. Local officials had initially put the number of dead at 100 or more.

People search through a landslide in Yambali village. Pic: Kafuri Yaro/UNDP Papua New Guinea via AP
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People search through a landslide in Yambali village. Pic: Kafuri Yaro/UNDP Papua New Guinea via AP

The Papua New Guinea national disaster centre said the landslide had buried more than 2,000 people.

“The landslide buried more than 2,000 people alive and caused major destruction to buildings, food gardens and caused major impact on the economic lifeline of the country,” an official from the national disaster centre said in a letter to the United Nations.

Earlier, Serhan Aktoprak, head of the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration mission on the island nation, said the figure of 670 deaths was based on calculations by local officials that more than 150 homes had been buried. The previous estimate was 60 homes.

“They are estimating that more than 670 people [are] under the soil at the moment,” he said.

More than 4,000 people were likely impacted by the disaster, humanitarian group CARE Australia said earlier.

It said the area was “a place of refuge for those displaced by [nearby] conflicts”.

Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters
Image:
Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters

Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters
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Pic: New Porgera Limited/Reuters

About six villages were affected by the landslide in the province’s Mulitaka region, according to Australia‘s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Three bodies were pulled from an area where 50 to 60 homes were destroyed. Six people, including a child, were pulled from the rubble alive, the UN’s Papua New Guinea office said.

But hopes of finding more survivors were diminishing.

Pic: AP
Villagers use heavy machinery to search through a landslide in Yambali in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024. The International Organization for Migration feared Sunday the death toll from a massive landslide is much worse than what authorities initially estimated. (Mohamud Omer/International Organization for Migration via AP)
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Villagers use heavy machinery to search through the landslide. Pic: AP

Yambali was among the villages affected. Pic: Mohamud Omer/International Organisation for Migration via AP
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Yambali was among the villages affected. Pic: Mohamud Omer/International Organisation for Migration via AP

The landslide left debris up to eight metres deep across 200 sq km (77 sq miles), cutting off road access, which was making relief efforts difficult. Helicopters were the only way to reach the area.

Survivors searched through tonnes of earth and rubble by hand looking for missing relatives while a first emergency convoy delivered food, water and other provisions on Saturday.

However, Mr Aktoprak added: “Hopes to take the people out alive from the rubble have diminished now.”

In February, at least 26 men were killed in Enga Province in an ambush amid tribal violence that prompted Prime Minister James Marape to give arrest powers to the country’s military.

Mr Marape has said disaster officials, the defence force and the department of works and highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

View of the damage after a landslide in Maip Mulitaka, Enga province, Papua New Guinea May 24, 2024 in this obtained image. Emmanuel Eralia via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.?
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A damaged house after the landslide. Pic: Reuters

People carry bags in the aftermath of a landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. Andrew Ruing/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT
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Locals carry their belongings away from the scene of the landslide. Pic: Reuters

Papua New Guinea, with a population of around 10 million, is a diverse, developing nation of mostly subsistence farmers with 800 languages. There are few roads outside the larger cities.

It is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.

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In March, the country was hit by a 6.9-magnitude earthquake.

The US and Australia are building closer defence ties with the strategically important nation, while China is also seeking closer security and economic ties.

US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said their governments stood ready to help respond to the landslide.

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