Your Monday Briefing: A Fatal Plane Crash in Nepal

A Nepali official said hundreds of rescuers went to the crash site of a plane that was carrying 72 people.Credit…Naresh Giri, via Reuters

A fatal plane crash in Nepal

At least 68 people died yesterday in Nepal when a passenger plane crashed and broke into three large pieces while trying to land in the city of Pokhara, officials said. Seventy-two people were on board.

The twin-engine propeller model manufactured more than 15 years ago went down on a roughly 30-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu. Fifty-three passengers were from Nepal. Five from India, four from Russia and two from South Korean died, as well as one person each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland, authorities said. The four crew members were from Nepal.

Many people in Nepal rely on such small planes to reach far-flung parts of the country. In recent years, a number of them have crashed, according to the Aviation Safety Network. Poor visibility, rapidly changing weather conditions above mountainous terrain and aging fleets make flying in Nepal hazardous.

Details: Videos on social media showed flames and black plumes of smoke at the crash site. Emergency responders struggled to reach the plane because it had gone down into a gorge.

Background: In May last year, a plane carrying 22 people went down during a 20-minute flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, a tourist destination popular with trekkers. There were no survivors from the flight, which normally takes about 30 minutes. And in 2016. And in 2016, all 23 people on board another Pokhara-Jomsom flight were killed in a crash.

At least 75 people were also injured in Russia’s strike on Dnipro, Ukraine.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Russian strike kills at least 30

Ukraine suffered one of its largest losses of civilian life far from the front line: At least 30 people have died after a Russian missile cut a nine-story apartment building in half on Saturday.

The attack on the central city of Dnipro was part of a widespread assault across Ukraine: Russia launched dozens of missiles this weekend in strikes that coincided with the Orthodox New Year. Officials believe that more than 30 people are still missing in Dnipro. Rescuers were still searching for survivors yesterday.

Russian strikes on train stations, theaters, shopping malls and residential neighborhoods have killed many civilians. The shelling of cities and towns near the front line has, too. Under international law, it is a war crime to deliberately or recklessly attack civilian populations and places where they would be likely to congregate.

The State of the War

  • Soledar: The Russian military and the Wagner Group, a private mercenary group, contradicted each other publicly about who should get credit for capturing the eastern town. Ukraine’s military, meanwhile, has rejected Russia’s victory claim, saying its troops were still fighting there.
  • Russia’s Military Reshuffle: Moscow has shaken up its military command in Ukraine again, demoting its top commander after just three months and replacing him with a Kremlin insider who helped orchestrate the ill-fated invasion.
  • Western Escalation: A cease-fire proposal seemingly aimed at splintering Western unity has instead been met with an escalation of military involvement by Ukraine’s allies.
  • New Equipment: The Western allies’ provision to Ukraine of infantry fighting vehicles signaled their support for new offensives. Now it looks likely that tanks will be added to the list of weapons being sent.

Heritage: Russian forces are systematically looting Ukraine’s museums. It may be the single biggest collective art heist since the Nazis pillaged Europe in World War II.

Indonesia: Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have fled to Bali. But even in a tropical paradise, war is ever-present.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan and President Biden discussed plans for deterrence in Asia with U.S. troops and missiles.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Japan’s military ambitions grow

As China’s power grows and North Korea continues to test missiles, Japan is moving to revise its longstanding military pacifism.

In Washington on Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Biden vowed to work together to transform Japan into a military power. The meeting came a month after Japan announced plans to significantly increase its military spending. Before coming to the U.S., Kishida also met with European, British and Canadian leaders in their countries in an effort to try to lock in Japan’s new military pledges.

Such moves would have once been unthinkable: Japan renounced waging war after World War II. But conservatives have been working for decades to overhaul the pacifist clause in the Constitution, and the Japanese public has been largely supportive of moves to bolster the military.

Background: Japan was infuriated by China’s lobbing of missiles around Taiwan in August, five of which landed near Japan. It is also wary of China’s activity around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The U.S., which hopes Japan will become the linchpin for its Asian security interests, committed to its defense there.

What’s next: After getting vocal support from Western officials, Kishida will try to get the Diet, Japan’s parliament, to help deliver on the military pledges.


Asia Pacific

China’s new data follows widespread criticism of its unreliable numbers and its narrow system of classifying Covid deaths.Credit…Qilai Shen for The New York Times
  • In an unexpected disclosure, China said on Saturday that it had recorded nearly 60,000 deaths linked to Covid in the month since it lifted its restrictions, a huge spike in the official death toll.

  • South Korean investigators cleared senior authorities of fault in the fatal Halloween crowd crush. They asked prosecutors to indict 23 people, about half of them police officers, on criminal charges.

  • Many aid groups suspended their operations in Afghanistan after the Taliban banned local women from aid work, threatening the livelihoods of women they once employed.

Around the World

Iran’s execution of Alireza Akbari is likely to raise tensions with the West.Credit…Khabar Online, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Iran executed Alireza Akbari, a former official and dual British citizen, on spy charges.

  • The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, convenes today. Leaders will confront international fracture, ascendant nationalism and growing protectionism.

  • Tens of thousands of Israelis protested against the right-wing government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system.

  • Brazil’s top court plans to investigate Jair Bolsonaro, the former president, for inspiring the riot at its capital last week. Here are videos of the mob’s assault.

Other Big Stories

  • Donald Trump’s family company was ordered to pay a $1.6 million penalty for felony tax fraud and other charges.

  • The U.A.E. chose an oil executive to oversee the upcoming COP28 summit, drawing criticism from climate groups.

  • Ecuador’s failure to curb some Amazon drilling shows how global financial forces drive biodiversity loss.

A Morning Read

Students at Auburn University, in Alabama, are frustrated by the ban.Credit…Bob Miller for The New York Times

Several public universities in the U.S. have banned TikTok from campus Wi-Fi networks, and 19 governors have banned the app from state-owned devices and networks.

The moves come amid tense negotiations between the Chinese company that owns TikTok and the Biden administration, which fears that the app could possibly give China the ability to surveil users.


The Australian Open

Credit…James Ross/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Australian Open began yesterday at Melbourne Park. Covid-19, wildfires and extreme heat have all disrupted the tournament in the past. This year, organizers are hoping for a return to the once-relaxed atmosphere.

Nick Kyrgios, the eccentric and temperamental Australian showman, could make news on and off the court. Novak Djokovic, still unvaccinated against Covid-19, has been cleared to play again. And Iga Swiatek, the No. 1-seeded favorite in the women’s bracket, faces a tough draw.

But all eyes are on Rafael Nadal, the defending men’s champion. He’s struggling, having lost six of his last seven tour singles matches. But don’t underestimate Nadal’s grit and experience.

Notable absences: Naomi Osaka, who is pregnant, withdrew earlier this month. Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old who won the U.S. Open, is injured and also won’t play. And Ashleigh Barty, the Australian who retired at 25 after winning the Open, is enjoying her normal life.


What to Cook

Credit…Chris Simpson for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.

Add miso and pecans to your banana bread. Here’s a recipe.

What to Read

“Forbidden Notebook,” first published in 1952, is a subversive depiction of an Italian woman’s internal world.

What to Watch

A real case of infanticide in France inspired “Saint Omer,” a wrenching courtroom drama directed by Alice Diop.


Jerald Cooper is preserving and redefining modernism with an eye toward Black communities in the U.S. He calls his project “hood century.”

The News Quiz

How well did you follow last week’s headlines?

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Not sweet, as wine (three letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a great week. — Amelia

P.S. Weird Al Yankovic appreciated The Times’s assessment of a recent movie based on his life.

Start your week with this narrated long read about abortion in the U.S. And Friday’s edition of “The Daily” delves into how President Biden and Donald Trump both had classified documents after leaving office.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

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