World Briefs: Brexit or not? British ministers have choice

Brexit or not? British ministers have choice

LONDON • British Prime Minister David Cameron will allow his government ministers to campaign for or against Britain remaining in the European Union ahead of an in-out referendum, the BBC reported yesterday.

Mr Cameron has vowed to campaign in favour of staying in the bloc, dependent on him securing the return of some powers from Brussels to London before the vote. But some on the right of his Conservative Party are set to defy him and

back a "Brexit".

Natural disasters cost insurers $38.5b

FRANKFURT • Insurers paid out around US$27 billion (S$38.5 billion) for natural disaster claims last year with weather causing 94 per cent of incidents, underscoring the challenge posed by climate change, data from reinsurer Munich Re showed on Monday.

While El Nino reduced the development of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, storms and floods still inflicted billions of dollars of damage in Europe and North America, the world's largest reinsurer said. But the amount in insured damage last year was lower than the US$31 billion registered in 2014.


Hoverboard catches fire during charging

SYDNEY • An Australian family home was gutted when a hoverboard caught fire as it was charging, officials said yesterday.

The hoverboard - a Christmas gift - was plugged into the wall in a young girl's bedroom in Melbourne when it ignited. The family escaped after a smoke alarm alerted them to the danger.


German govt slams mass sexual assaults

BERLIN • The German government yesterday condemned dozens of apparently coordinated sexual assaults against women on New Year's Eve in the western city of Cologne blamed on Arab men but warned against anti-migrant scapegoating.

Police in Cologne said they had received 90 criminal complaints by yesterday and quoted witnesses as saying that groups of 20 to 30 young men "who appeared to be of Arab origin" had surrounded victims, assaulted them and in several cases robbed them.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'World Briefs: Brexit or not? British ministers have choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe