Already 22 babies have been born to Afghan mothers at Ramstein, and that number will rise very soon with roughly two thirds of the 3,000 women being housed there pregnant, requiring the time and effort of medical personnel from Ramstein and other bases, two US sources familiar with the situation at the base told CNN.Even though it’s one of the largest US bases in Europe, Ramstein was never designed to handle such a large transient population especially when there are better equipped and larger facilities in the US. One of the sources called the Afghans at Ramstein “the forgotten 10,” as the focus has shifted away from the almost 10,000 who remain stuck in limbo in Germany towards some 53,000 Afghan evacuees already housed at eight military bases across the US.Ramstein called it a “temporary humanitarian city” on social media, built to handle the surge of Afghan evacuees fleeing Kabul. The Afghan families, some with as many as 20 men, women, and children, were only supposed to be at the base for 10 days for screening and processing under an agreement with Germany, the commander of European Command, Gen. Tod Wolters, said on September 1. Now the remaining Afghans have been in Germany for several weeks and are set to stay longer after a confirmed case of measles among the Afghan evacuee population in the US led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pause the flights for 21 days. The interruption is scheduled to last until October 9, but the challenges of housing such a large population on an overseas military base have grown exponentially, the sources said. Two-thirds of tents are currently heatedNighttime temperatures have dipped to near freezing and are set to keep dropping, forcing the base to find generators and heaters for hundreds of tents set up on aircraft taxiways and parking spots. So far, approximately two-thirds of the tents are heated, one source said, and the rest should be within days, but it underscores the magnitude of the problem that was never supposed to be handled at Ramstein.The base has dealt with some illnesses but is in “a good state” now, one source said. Since Afghans began arriving in late-August, there have been nine Covid cases, as well as a very small number of mumps, chicken pox, and norovirus cases, the sources said. There has also been a case of malaria.But it was the confirmed case of measles in the US that prompted the CDC to issue guidance that flights of Afghan evacuees from Europe should be paused until the entire Afghan population could be vaccinated. The CDC then added another three-week delay after inoculation to ensure the population is fully vaccinated.The CDC representative at Ramstein recommended moving Afghans to the United States once they had been vaccinated, but the sources said CDC headquarters overruled the representative, effectively halting the flights. CNN has reached out to the CDC for comment.One flight did go from Ramstein to Chicago, but it was an exception.An Omni Air flight landed in Chicago on Wednesday morning, bringing 58 unaccompanied Afghan children for a new start in the United States, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN. A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot welcomed their arrival, saying on social media the minors had given up “their homes, their families, their lives as they know them for a chance to survive.”The flight, chartered by the State Department, made stops at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany before touching down in the United States. The children received some vaccinations before flying to the US and will receive Covid and chicken pox vaccinations in America.”This flight took place to ensure children are unified with vetted sponsors and family members as quickly as possible and was done in accordance with public health guidelines,” the DHS spokesman said.One half-empty flight has left recentlyBut the flight was more than half empty when it left Ramstein, far short of the capacity of the 767-300, which can hold more than 200 people. According to the two sources, the State Department denied a request to put more Afghan evacuees, including women, children, and late-term pregnancies on the flight, frustrating efforts to resettle the population.The State Department has not responded to a request for comment.Ramstein has been vaccinating Afghans against measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and chicken pox, and a “preponderance” are vaccinated now. In addition, a sample test of disease immunity found that 95% of Afghans at Ramstein had long-term immunity to MMR, one source said, indicating that they had likely either received the vaccine already or had the disease as children.Few, if any, Afghans have much more than a set of clothing, let alone a copy of their vaccination records. The extended stay at Ramstein has compelled officials to offer education on hygiene, including the use of bathroom facilities and washing hands.The massive tent city has begun to take on a less temporary feel, including the opening of a barbershop, since some Afghans “were very concerned that they were starting to look like the Taliban,” one of the sources said. The base set up wi-fi as well, so the Afghans could communicate with family members already in the US or elsewhere.Ramstein has relied on the surrounding community for the supply of water and food. The German embassy in the US downplayed any concern over the longer-than-expected stay.”It remains our mutual understanding that Ramstein airbase can be used as a transit point for evacuees from Afghanistan on their way to the US for a limited amount of time. We are confident that the air operations will restart soon,” a spokesman for the embassy told CNN.
Russia and China hold first joint patrol in the western Pacific, Russian defense ministry says
The patrols involved a total of 10 warships, five from each nation, and lasted a week, from Sunday, October 17 to Saturday, October 23, covering 1,700 nautical miles, according to the Ministry.The objective of the joint patrol was to “demonstrate the state flags of Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region…
The patrols involved a total of 10 warships, five from each nation, and lasted a week, from Sunday, October 17 to Saturday, October 23, covering 1,700 nautical miles, according to the Ministry.The objective of the joint patrol was to “demonstrate the state flags of Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and also protect facilities of both countries’ maritime economic activity,” the statement read. “During the patrol, the group of warships passed through the Tsugaru Strait for the first time,” the statement added. The Tsugaru strait is body of water between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in the northern part of the country, connecting the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean. In addition to the patrol, the two navies practiced joint tactical maneuvers and did a series of military drills, the statement added.The two countries have an ongoing military partnership and have conducted a series of joint military drills, the most high profile of which was “Vostok 2018,” which involved a simulated battle in which a Russian-Chinese coalition fought a fictional enemy.In August, Russia and China joined forces once again to use a joint command and control system, with Russian troops integrated into Chinese formations, according to a statement by China’s defense ministry at the time.Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin has an ally in Chinese President Xi Jinping, with Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian telling a news briefing in June that the two countries were “united like a mountain” with an “unbreakable” friendship.CNN’s Brad Lendon, Nectar Gan, Ben Westcott, Mary Ilyushina and Nathan Hodge contributed to this report.
Royal Caribbean announces nine-month world cruise
(CNN) — It would’ve been unthinkable 12 months ago as the cruise industry reeled from the effects of Covid, but one operator is now offering an epic new voyage that will last nine months and take travelers to more than 150 destinations. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Serenade of the Seas is set to commence sailing…
(CNN) — It would’ve been unthinkable 12 months ago as the cruise industry reeled from the effects of Covid, but one operator is now offering an epic new voyage that will last nine months and take travelers to more than 150 destinations. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Serenade of the Seas is set to commence sailing in December 2023 from Miami, sailing for 274 nights before returning to Florida in September 2024.In a statement, Royal Caribbean International president Michael Bayley said the trip — dubbed “The Ultimate World Cruise” — is designed to help travel-starved cruisers “make up for lost time.”Voyaging the globeSerenade of the Seas has been a stalwart of the RCCL fleet since 2003. The 965 feet long ship has 13 decks and can accommodate up to 2,476 guests, according to Royal Caribbean’s website.Upon leaving Miami on the world cruise in late 2023, the vessel is set to travel around the Caribbean, before scheduled stop offs in Central and South America, including trips to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls.Also on the globe-spanning itinerary are landmarks including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza.Travelers can book the full nine-month experience, or schedule a specific chunk of the trip and just join for the Americas and Antarctica, for example. Royal Caribbean told CNN Travel the price range for the full excursion is between $66,000 to $112,000 per person, plus taxes and fees.World cruises were a staple of the cruise scene pre-pandemic, but usually topped out at 150 days or so. Viking Cruises scheduled a 245-day trip from August 2019 to May 2020 on board Viking Sun, but this voyage was cut short when Covid-19 shut down the cruise industry in Spring 2020.Cruising has since recommenced in many markets, with cruise companies keen to prove a vacation at sea is a safe and viable holiday option.It’s still over two years until the Serenade of the Seas is set to embark on its globe-spanning trip, but travelers can reserve their cabins now.Top photo courtesy Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images
Explosion at Russian gunpowder workshop kills 17, report says
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation said a criminal investigation had been launched into the blast.According to Reuters, an entire shift of workers was at the site when the brick building was ripped apart.Emergency services were alerted at 8:22 a.m. Moscow time to a fire at the Shilovsky district, Lesnoy village, Ryazan region, Russia’s…
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation said a criminal investigation had been launched into the blast.According to Reuters, an entire shift of workers was at the site when the brick building was ripped apart.Emergency services were alerted at 8:22 a.m. Moscow time to a fire at the Shilovsky district, Lesnoy village, Ryazan region, Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations said.Officials believe the fire started at one of the plant’s gunpowder workshops, the ministry said.A video circulating on social media on Friday purportedly shows the moment the blast happened, with a yellow fireball rising in the air from the brick building. Images from the disaster showed scattered, charred debris as smoke billows over a demolished building.”The body of the 17th victim was taken out from under the rubble of the workshop. Search and rescue operations at the explosion site have been completed, there are no more people under the rubble,” TASS cited the emergency services as saying.Regional Governor Nikolay Lubimov declared October 25 a day of mourning in the Ryazan region, which lies to the southeast of Moscow, for those killed in the blast and insisted more needed to be done to ensure the safety of those working in “hazardous industries.””This is an egregious case, and everything possible must be done so that nothing like this will happen again. Both in hazardous industries and in those that are lower in hazard class, but can pose a threat to the life and health of people,” he said. Lubimov said he would recommend that authorities carry out unscheduled inspections at such facilities.A statement from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation said officials would check the plant’s compliance with safety standards for hazardous production facilities. The investigation will also consider what may have caused the fire, it said.CNN’s Katharina Krebs reported from Moscow and Toyin Owoseje wrote from London.