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Rescue personnel carry the body of an earthquake victim to the compounds of a police hospital in Palu, Indonesia's Central Sulawesi, on Sept 30, 2018, following a strong earthquake in the area. PHOTO: AFP

Mass burials to begin as Indonesia toll tops 1,200

The death toll from Indonesia's quake and tsunami disaster nearly doubled to 1,200 on Sunday (Sept 30) and was expected to rise further, prompting authorities to announce mass burials in a desperate attempt to stave off disease.

As shattered survivors scoured make-shift morgues for loved ones, and authorities struggled to dig out the living or assess the scale of the devastation beyond the city of Palu, grim warnings came that the eventual toll could reach thousands.

"The casualties will keep increasing," said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, whose agency announced the jump in the toll from 420 earlier.


As Brexit divisions widen, PM Theresa May challenges Brexit critics

Prime Minister Theresa May called on her party on Sunday (Sept 30) to unite behind her plan to leave the European Union, making a direct appeal to critics by saying their desire for a free trade deal was at the heart of her Brexit proposals.

At the start of what is set to be one of the Conservative Party's stormiest annual conferences, May's plans were once again attacked by two former ministers, with her ex-foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, calling them "deranged".

But she also won strong backing from other Brexit supporting ministers, with trade minister Liam Fox and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt turning their anger against the EU, for "taunting Theresa May, one of the most unfailingly polite people".


Nafta talks run up against deadline; US tariffs remain tough issue

With little time left ahead of a deadline to agree to a renewed Nafta, Canadian and US trade officials on Sunday (Sept 30) tried to settle differences on tough issues such as protection against American tariffs.

The administration of US President Donald Trump said Canada must sign onto the text of the updated North American Free Trade Agreement by midnight EDT on Sunday (12pm Singapore time) or face exclusion from the trilateral pact, which includes Mexico.

Trump blames Nafta for the loss of US manufacturing jobs and wants major changes to the pact, which underpins US$1.2 trillion (S$1.6 trillion) in annual trade. Markets fear its demise would cause major economic disruption.


White House denies 'micromanaging' inquiry into high court pick

US President Donald Trump hit back Sunday (Sept 30) at suggestions his administration is trying to "micromanage" the FBI investigation of controversial Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, accusing opposition Democrats of being interested only in obstruction.

Trump on Friday (Sept 28) had ordered the new FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, as the Senate delayed a final vote on his confirmation as the key ninth member of the Supreme Court.

"Wow! Just starting to hear the Democrats, who are only thinking Obstruct and Delay, are starting to put out the word that the 'time' and 'scope' of FBI looking into Judge Kavanaugh and witnesses is not enough," the president tweeted.


Strangest day of my career, says victorious Hamilton

A downcast Lewis Hamilton said his victory in Sunday's (Sept 30) Russian Grand Prix aided by Mercedes team orders was "the strangest day" of his career.

While title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari said it had been a "no brainer" for Mercedes to order Valtteri Bottas to allow Hamilton to win and increase his championship lead to 50 points, Mercedes were left squirming with embarrassment.

"It's honestly the strangest day I can remember having in the sport in my career," said Hamilton, the reigning world champion.


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