23 Apr 2019

Today's world news: What you need to know

6:33 pm on 23 April 2019

The international stories making headlines around the world.

Political rifts in Sri Lanka mean terror warnings unheeded

Scrutiny is falling on rifts in Sri Lanka's leadership,after it emerged that authorities were warned about the group accused in Sunday's bombings.

A relative of a Sri Lankan victim of an explosion at a church weeps outside a hospital in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka.

A relative of a Sri Lankan victim of an explosion at a church weeps outside a hospital in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka. Photo: AFP

The attacks on churches and hotels killed 310 people and wounded nearly 500.

Security agencies had been watching the National Thowheed Jamath jihadist group, reports said, and had notified police about a possible attack.

But the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the cabinet were not informed, ministers said.

Sri Lankan authorities declared a state of emergency, giving police and the military sweeping powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders - powers that were last used during the nation's civil war.


US moves to end waivers on Iran sanctions

Donald Trump has decided to end exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran.

US President Donald Trump speaks alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L)

Photo: AFP

The White House said waivers for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves.

This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the government its main source of revenue.

Iran insisted the sanctions were illegal and that it had attached "no value or credibility" to the waivers.

Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions last year, after abandoning a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.


Quake kills eleven in Philippines

Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the rubble of a collapsed building after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook the country's biggest island, killing at least 11 people.

Rescue workers search for survivors in a collapsed Chuzon Super Market in Porac, Pampanga, after a powerful earthquake hit northern Philippines on April 22, 2019.

Photo: Noel CELIS / AFP

"The rescue is ongoing, they are still hearing a sound, no one can say how many were still trapped," Pampanga provincial governor Lilia Pineda said in a radio interview.

The Philippines is prone to natural disasters, located on the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire", a band of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs round the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

The earthquake destroyed several buildings, with residential and office buildings evacuated after being shaken for several minutes.

Train services were halted and roads and sidewalks were clogged by the sudden exodus of workers.

The government declared Tuesday a holiday for civil servants in Metro Manila to allow for safety inspections of buildings.

- Reuters

Tesla to operate "robo-taxi" vehicles

Tesla robotaxis with no human drivers will be available in some US markets next year, its chief executive says.

"Probably two years from now we'll make a car with no steering wheels or pedals," Elon Musk predicted, while acknowledging he is often late to meet aggressive targets.

Central to this promise is a new microchip for self-driving vehicles unveiled by Mr Musk during a webcast presentation.

Tesla's use of the term "full self-driving" garners criticism, as it sells such an option today that is not yet "Level 4," or fully autonomous by industry standards, in which the car can handle all aspects of driving in most circumstances with no human intervention.

Mr Musk has said that with the hardware complete, improvements in software will allow vehicles to fully drive themselves in future.

Tesla has been working on a self-driving chip since 2016 and Mr Musk had previously forecast that cars would be fully self-driving by 2018, a target Tesla has missed.

- Reuters

Trump gets state visit to UK

Donald Trump is expected to confirm shortly that he will be making a long-awaited return visit to the UK.

He was promised the state visit by UK prime minister Theresa May shortly after he was elected in 2016.

He is expected to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace, however its is not clear whether he will address MPs at Westminster.


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