CHINA is cremating bodies in secret, suggesting the official coronavirus death toll is “way too low”, a disturbing new report claims.

The official death toll from coronavirus in China has skyrocketed to 170, with 7,711 cases now reported — an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 cases in just 24 hours.

A new report claims China is cremating bodies in secret to hide the true extent of the coronavirus death toll.

 Chinese-language news outlet Initium believes patients who died from the virus were not added to the official record
Chinese-language news outlet Initium believes patients who died from the virus were not added to the official recordCredit: Instagram

But now doubts have been raised about the official death toll.

In a bold claim, Chinese-language news outlet Initium believe that Chinese authorities have been cremating bodies in secret.

CREMATION INVESTIGATION

This week, they interviewed people working at local cremation centres in Wuhan — where the virus originated from — who said bodies were being sent directly from hospitals without being properly identified and added to the official record.

“There are reasons to remain sceptical about what China has been sharing with the world,” said DW News East Asia correspondent William Yang.

“Because while they have been more transparent about certain things related to the virus, they continue to be sketchy and unreliable in other aspects.”

Their investigation comes after coronavirus cases jumped to 5,974 on Wednesday — a 30 per cent increase in infections in a day — surpassing the 5,327 people diagnosed with SARS.

Mr Yang added how the current death toll of 170 is “way too low” for what it should be, adding how the cremation claim “makes sense”.

He continued: “Credible Chinese media outlet Initium interviewed people working at local cremation centres, confirming that many dead bodies were sent directly from the hospitals to the cremation centres without properly identifying these patients.

“This means there are patients who died from the virus, but were not added to the official record.”

There are reasons to remain sceptical about what China has been sharing with the worldWilliam Yang

Just last week, The Guardian reported how Chinese hospitals were not testing patients for the virus, and at least one family was pressured into a cremation.

Two doctors reportedly told the family that the patient had likely contracted coronavirus, but provided no documentation.

There are also damning stories from Wuhan of medics failing to test patients who were clearly showing signs of the illness.

Kyle Hui told the New York Times that despite his stepmother having the correct symptoms ⁠— including a cough and a fever ⁠— doctors wearing hazmat suits refused to test her for the virus.

Subsequently, she died on January 15 with Mr Hui arguing how her death certificate says “severe pneumonia” rather than coronavirus.

And while she has not been recorded as one of the official victims of the bug, he claims how doctors told him to cremate his stepmother’s body because they suspected she had the disease.

Scientists say there are still many questions to be answered about the new virus, including just how easily it spreads and how severe it is.

World health officials expressed “great concern” on Wednesday that the virus is starting to spread between people outside of China.
They added how they were taking “extraordinary measures in the face of an extraordinary challenge” posed by the outbreak.

The global pandemic has caused serious confusion, panic and heartache around the world.

Just today, a Brit dad trapped in coronavirus-hit Wuhan revealed he will have to choose if he leaves China without his newborn baby and wife.

 Health workers have been working around the clock to help contain the killer virus
Health workers have been working around the clock to help contain the killer virusCredit: Wuhan Central Hospital/Weibo
 The official death toll has skyrocketed to 170, with 7,711 cases now reported in China
The official death toll has skyrocketed to 170, with 7,711 cases now reported in ChinaCredit: Twitter/RFA_Chinese
 The deadly bug started in Wuhan and has spread worldwide
The deadly bug started in Wuhan and has spread worldwideCredit: Instagram

#Source: THE SUN NEWS, UK

TORCHING EVIDENCE China is cremating bodies in secret to hide true extent of death toll, says new report

CHINA is cremating bodies in secret, suggesting the official coronavirus death toll is “way too low”, a disturbing new report … Read more

Hong Kong (CNN)The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has topped 100, with more than 4,500 cases confirmed across China, as US authorities warned against all “non-essential” travel to China.Authorities in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak, said an additional 1,300 cases had been confirmed, bringing the total in the region to over 2,700. The majority of those are still in hospital, with more than 125 in critical condition.Elsewhere in China, cases have been confirmed in every province and territory except for Tibet, which this week announced the indefinite closure of all tourist attractions and a mandatory two-week quarantine for all travelers entering the region.On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a level 3 alert warning against “all nonessential travel to China.” — its highest alert on a scale of 1 to 3.”There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person,” the CDC said in a statement, warning “there is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.”

Worldwide concern

More than a dozen countries around the world have confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus, as authorities struggle to stop its spread.Across Asia, numerous countries have put in extra screening at airports and warned citizens to avoid travel to China. To China’s north, neighboring Mongolia has imposed stringent border checks on travelers coming into the country, while the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong in the south has banned all visitors from Wuhan, amid calls for tighter controls on travel from the mainland.Indonesia and the Philippines have both introduced extra restrictions on Chinese tourists, while Japan has upgraded its response, allowing authorities to “force the suspicious cases for hospitalization and testing.”Speaking at a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres Monday, China’s ambassador to the UN said the country has “full capability and confidence in winning the battle against the epidemic.””Putting the interests of the people first, China has taken rapid and strong measures, putting in place a nationwide prevention and control mechanism,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said.”China has been working with the international community in the spirit of openness, transparency and scientific coordination. With a great sense of responsibility, China is sparing no effort in curbing the spread of disease and saving lives. Now is a crucial moment, and China has full capability and confidence in winning the battle against the epidemic.”Some 60 million people have been placed under travel restrictions in Hubei, with almost all movement in and out of Wuhan itself stopped and much of the city on lockdown.Officials have also cracked down on the trade of wild animals, after the Wuhan coronavirus was linked to a seafood market selling exotic live mammals, including bats and civet cats, which have previously been linked to the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Rapid spread

The first cases of the coronavirus were detected in Wuhan in mid-December. Since then the number of confirmed cases has increased a thousandfold, and infections have been reported worldwide.Hospitals in Wuhan are already massively overstretched, and hundreds of emergency medical personnel have been dispatched to the city to help out. Two new hospitals are also being built on the city’s outskirts, due to be operational by next week.Wuhan and Hubei officials have faced criticism for apparently downplaying the danger of the virus in the early weeks of the outbreak. There was a marked shift in the handling of the crisis once the national government got involved on January 22. woDespite the colossal effort — and potential social and economic cost — of effectively quarantining Hubei, it appears that this has come too late to stop the virus’ spread. By the time Wuhan introduced even basic screening of travelers leaving the city, the virus had been reported in Japan, Thailand and South Korea, and spread to most of the rest of China.Part of the problem is that the virus can apparently be spread before symptoms appear, according to China’s health minister, Ma Xiaowei.”It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought,” William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN. “This is worse than we anticipated.”While the current outbreak does not appear to be as deadly as SARS, which killed over 700 people worldwide, it may be spreading more rapidly. That could be due to being more contagious, or the increased interconnectedness of both China and the world than in 2003.As of mid-March 2003, roughly a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted to SARS by Chinese authorities, and three months after the first cases were detected in China, the number of confirmed cases worldwide stood at around 3,200, with 159 confirmed deaths.

Growing fears

Fears of the virus’ spread have led to calls for increased action in multiple countries and territories, not least in Hong Kong, where memories of SARS still run deep.On Tuesday, the city’s government announced that government workers would be encouraged to work from home when the Lunar New Year holiday ends on Wednesday. The directive, which excluded emergency service workers and people who work for essential public services, urged the private sector to enforce similar arrangements.The move follows calls from one of the city’s leading health experts for “substantial draconian measures” to limit population mobility in order to rein in the virus. Speaking at a news conference Monday, Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine at the University of Hong Kong, warned that the number of cases could potentially double every six days in the absence of decisive government action.”This epidemic is growing at quite a fast rate and it’s accelerating,” said Leung, who is also the founding director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Infection Disease Epidemiology and Control in Hong Kong. He predicted the actual number of cases — including those who are incubating the virus but not yet showing symptoms — could be 10 times what has been reported.Leung’s team modeled two scenarios — one with a population quarantine as has been seen in Wuhan and one without — but found more or less identical results, because the virus has already spread to other major population centers in China, which could soon see their own self-sustaining epidemics.Leung said the findings had concerned the team enough that it felt the need to alert the authorities and the public, predicting a peak of cases between April and May.He added people need to prepare for a potential global pandemic — though “not a certainty by any stretch of the imagination … we must prepare better for it,” he said.There have been numerous calls within Hong Kong for the city to close its border with mainland China, and attempts to convert unoccupied apartment buildings in the northern town of Fanling to a quarantine center were met by fierce protests, eventually forcing them to be abandoned.

Contributors: CNN’s David Culver, Yong Xiong, Natalie Thomas and Steven Jiang in Beijing; and Helen Regan, Pauline Lockwood, Carly Walsh, Eric Cheung, Yuli Yang, Chermaine Lee, Alexandra Lin, Isaac Yee, Angus Watson and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong contributed reporting.

#Source: CNN

Death toll from Wuhan coronavirus tops 100 as infection rate accelerates

Hong Kong (CNN)The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has topped 100, with more than 4,500 cases confirmed across China, … Read more

The Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s international airport Wednesday was shot down by mistake by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, Pentagon officials told Fox News.

Officials said U.S. intelligence increasingly points at the airliner being accidentally struck by a Russian-made missile, killing all 176 people on board the flight, just hours after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting two military bases housing American and coalition troops.

“An absolute tragedy,” one U.S. official told Fox News. “They just screwed up and it is tragic.”

The revelations come as Ukrainian investigators reportedly are awaiting permission from Iranian authorities to examine the crash site and look for missile fragments. Iran’s head of civil aviation was quoted by the ISNA News Agency as saying Thursday that “scientifically, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane, and such rumors are illogical,” according to Reuters. Iranian officials have blamed a technical malfunction for the aircraft’s doom.

The U.S. official told Fox News that a Russian-made SA15 missile, which is part of the Tor surface-to-air missile system, was the kind that brought down the aircraft. Russia delivered 29 Tor-M1 systems to Iran in 2007 as part of a $700 million contract signed in December 2005. Iran has displayed the missiles in military parades as well.

“A strike by a missile, possibly a Tor missile system, is among the main (theories), as information has surfaced on the internet about elements of a missile being found near the site of the crash,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, told Ukrainian media earlier. He did not elaborate on where he saw the information.

When asked Thursday about what could have happened to the Ukrainian International Airlines flight, President Trump said he didn’t believe that a mechanical failure caused the plane crash.

“It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood,” he said. “Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side.”

Danilov also said other possible causes under consideration for Wednesday’s downing included a drone or another flying object crashing into the plane, a terrorist attack or an engine malfunction causing an explosion. However, no terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the plane was less than four years old.

The crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops amid a confrontation with Washington over it killing an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general in a drone strike last week.

Newsweek was the first to report that the plane was mistakenly shot down by missiles.

RUSSIAN MISSILE STRIKE EYED AS ONE OF MANY POSSIBLE CAUSES THAT LED TO PLANE CRASH IN IRAN: UKRAINE

Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, the spokesman of the Iranian armed forces, earlier denied a missile hit the airplane in comments reported Wednesday by the Fars news agency. He dismissed the allegation as “psychological warfare” by foreign-based Iranian opposition groups.

The incident has similarities to the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

All 298 passengers and crew on board flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were killed on July 17, 2014, when a missile shattered the Boeing 777 midair, sending debris and bodies raining down onto farms and fields of sunflowers. The jet in 2014 was shot down by a Soviet-made missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, about 25 miles from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

US-IRAN TENSIONS: A TIMELINE OF INCIDENTS BETWEEN TWO LONGTIME RIVALS

An initial report prepared by Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said Thursday that the plane’s crew never made a radio call for help and was trying to turn back for the airport when it went down.

The Ukrainian International Airlines flight took off at 6:12 a.m. Wednesday, after nearly an hour’s delay, from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport, the main airport for travelers in Iran. It gained altitude heading west, reaching nearly 8,000 feet, according to both the report and flight-tracking data.

Then something went wrong, though “no radio messages were received from the pilot regarding unusual situations,” the report said. In emergencies, pilots reach out to air-traffic controllers to warn them and to clear the runway for their arrival, though their first priority is to keep the aircraft flying.

US DEFENDS SOLEIMANI KILLING AS ‘SELF-DEFENSE’

Eyewitnesses, including the crew of another flight passing above it, described seeing the plane engulfed in flames before crashing at 6:18 a.m., the report said. Flight-tracking data for the plane stopped before the crash, which occurred in the town of Shahedshahr to the northeast of the plane’s last reported position.

The crash caused a massive explosion when the plane hit the ground, likely because the aircraft had been fully loaded with fuel for the flight to Kyiv, Ukraine.

But the report also confirmed that both of the “black boxes” that contain data and cockpit communications from the plane had been recovered, though they sustained damage and some parts of their memory were lost. It also said that investigators have initially ruled out laser or electromagnetic interference as causing the crash.

“We insist Iran give us full access to the investigation and to the materials of the investigation and I call on everyone to avoid any speculations,” Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, said Thursday.

Oleksandr Zaporozhchenko, a mechanic with the Ukraine International Airlines in 2016-2018, said he knew one of the crew members of the plane and had never heard any complaints about the aircraft.

Source: CNN

Ukrainian airplane shot down by mistake by Iranian anti-aircraft missile, Pentagon officials believe

The Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s international airport Wednesday was shot down by mistake by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile, Pentagon … Read more

Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops in what appears to be retaliation for the American airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week, the Pentagon said Tuesday, confronting President Donald Trump has rump with the biggest test of his presidency to date.

A US official told CNN that there were no initial reports of any US casualties, but an assessment of the impact of the strikes is underway. A preliminary report from an Iraqi security source indicated there were Iraqi casualties, but Iraqi security officials later told CNN there were no casualties among Iraqi security forces.

There are casualties among the Iraqis at al-Asad airbase following the attack, an Iraqi security source tells CNN. The number of casualties and whether the individuals were killed or wounded were not immediately clear.

White House aides had initially made plans for a possible address to the nation by Trump, according to two officials, but a White House official said that Trump would not speak on Tuesday. The President later tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”

The attack comes days after the US killed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The administration has sought to cast that strike as an attempt to de-escalate tensions with Iran, but Tehran has vowed revenge for the killing,which it says was an “act of war” and “state terrorism.”

In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite wing of the Iranian military that is also known as the IRGC, said the attacks were “hard revenge” for the death of Soleimani. The IRGC said in the statement that any country housing US troops could be subject to “hostile and aggressive acts” and called on American citizens to demand the government remove US troops from the region.

“To the Great Satan … we warn that if you repeat your wickedness or take any additional movements or make additional aggression, we will respond with more painful and crushing responses,” the statement to the US read.

Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Tuesday evening that Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at the al-Asad airbase, which houses US troops, and American and coalition forces in the town of Erbil. Hoffman said the Pentagon is assessing the damage done by the attacks.

“In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners,” Hoffman said in a statement. “These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.”

View this interactive content on CNN.com

“As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.”

The initial assessment is that the Iranian missiles struck areas of the al-Asad base not populated by Americans, according to a US military official and a senior administration official. Officials have said the US is awaiting daylight to get a full assessment of the results of the strike. Another US military official told CNN the military had enough warning of the launches that they had time to sound alarms. People in harm’s way were able to get to safety, according to the official.

At least two ballistic missiles hit separate areas in Erbil, two Kurdish security officials tell CNN. One missile landed inside the perimeter of Erbil International Airport without exploding, the second missile hit an area roughly 20 miles west of Erbil without causing casualties.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley arrived at the White House following the attack and they left later Tuesday night.

Qatri al-Obeidi, a commander in the nearby town of al-Baghdadi, said that the shelling has stopped for now. Trump visited the base in December 2018 to visit troops after Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence also visited the base in November 2019. The attack follows last week’s deadly US drone strike that Trump ordered to kill Soleimani.

Iran Claims Responsibility

Iranian state TV reported that the IRGC, “has hit U.S. Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq with tens of missiles.” The IRGC warned the US of more “crushing responses in case of new aggression,” according to state TV. The IRGC said it will target any regional state that becomes a platform for US aggression, a second banner on state TV read.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the response was meant to be proportionate to the American attack that killed Soleimani.

“Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched,” Zarif tweeted. “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

Esper’s office called the office of the Prime Minister of Iraq at around 7 pm ET on Tuesday, according to a diplomatic source. There were difficulties getting through as it was the middle of the night in Baghdad. Eventually the two offices were able to connect and the source says there has been “communication between the US and Iraqi governments at the highest level.”

CNN reported earlier on Tuesday that US forces and air-defense missile batteries across the Middle East were placed on high alert overnight Monday to possibly shoot down Iranian drones as intelligence mounted about a threat of an imminent attack against US targets, according to two US officials.

CNN reported on Friday that part of the intelligence that led to the decision to kill Soleimani included threats to al-Asad air base.

A source familiar with the intelligence showed the vehicle mounted rockets, known as Grad trucks, and other military weaponry were moving closer to US interests, particularly the al-Asad air base, CNN reported.

Other targets of concern included the US air base in Qatar and US interests in Kuwait. The source noted on Friday that these threats have existed for several months but that the intelligence indicated growing urgency because of how close the missile trucks were getting to US interests.

The attack came hours after Esper told CNN that the US is not seeking a war with Iran but it is “prepared to finish one.”

“We are not looking to start a war with Iran, but we are prepared to finish one,” Esper said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Trump was briefed on the reports of rocket attacks, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

“We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team,” Grisham said.

Attack are a Direct Challenge to Trump

The rockets pose a direct challenge to Trump, who issued a threat to Iran on Tuesday, just hours before the attacks began. “If Iran does anything that it shouldn’t be doing, they will be suffering the consequences and very strongly,” the President said.

In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, Trump repeatedly stressed that the deadly drone strike was meant to reduce violence. “We took action last night to stop a war,” he told reporters a day after the attack. “We did not take action to start a war.”

Trump’s message later shifted to warning of a “disproportionate” attack that could include targeting Iran’s cultural sites, a war crime.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CNN early Tuesday that Tehran was not intimidated.

“His threats will not frighten us,” Zarif said.

“Disproportionate response is a war crime. But he doesn’t care it seems about international law,” Zarif said of Trump. “But has he made the US more secure? The American people are more secure? Are the Americans today welcome in this region?”

Iran’s decision to attack is a “huge gamble,” said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Iran expert at the University of Ottawa who said that leaders in Tehran have included Trump’s domestic political concerns in their calculations. The President ran on a platform of ending US involvement in the messy Middle East entanglements.

“Iran assesses Trump does not want to get bogged down in a large scale war in the Middle East, and that this gives it more margin to maneuver,” Juneau wrote on Twitter. “Needless to say, this is a HUGE gamble given how unpredictable Trump is.”

Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said Iran’s attack was a foregone conclusion after the Ayatollah announced there would be retaliation. Further escalation will depend on Trump’s ability to absorb the attack and a few casualties, she said.

She noted the pattern often seen in attacks on Israel and Hezbollah, in which one side attacks, the other responds, the attacks are absorbed and mediation begins through a third party.

“From Trump’s rhetoric, he doesn’t seem as if he’s willing to absorb any Iranian retaliation — no matter how proportional it is to the US attack that killed Soleimani — and that means we’re locked into an escalatory spiral that will push us into war that will unfold on Iranian territory, but also in the rest of region, including Iraq,” Slim said.

Lawmakers urged calm. Rep. Eliot Engel, the New York Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN’s Erin Burnett there’s a need to “tone down the rhetoric on all sides and see how we can extricate ourselves from this nightmare because I don’t think the American people want to go to war.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was discussing the situation in Iran when she was handed a note with news of the attack, lawmakers who attended the meeting said.

Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat, said she paused the discussion to tell the members of the Steering Committee of the news.

“Pray,” Pelosi told members, according to Rep. Debbie Dingell.

Source: CNN

IRAN ATTACKS TWO IRAQI BASES HOUSING US FORCES IN ‘REVENGE’ FOR SOLEIMANI’S DEATH

Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases that hold US troops in what appears to be retaliation … Read more