OSLO, Norway – Norway on Sunday paused to commemorate the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago, a tragedy that the prime minister said brought Norwegians together in defense of democracy and tolerance.
In a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Anders Behring Breivik failed in his declared goal of destroying Norway’s commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society.
Breivik has admitted to bombing the government district in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya island on July 22, 2011.
“The bomb and the gunshots were meant to change Norway,” Stoltenberg told a somber crowd. “The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won.”
Survivors and families of victims gathered for a private ceremony on the island. Eskil Pedersen, a survivor of the massacre and the head of the Labor Party’s youth chapter, urged those gathered to renew their commitment to a diverse and egalitarian society.
At least 37 dead in Beijing rainstorm
BEIJING – Officials have raised the death toll to at least 37 in the heaviest rainstorm to hit Beijing in six decades, and dozens of other storm deaths have been reported elsewhere in China.
The rain Saturday night knocked down trees in Beijing and trapped cars and buses in waist-deep water in some areas. A statement from the city government late Sunday said 25 people drowned, six were killed when houses collapsed, one was hit by lightning and five were electrocuted by fallen power lines.
The official China Daily newspaper reported today that rain and flooding caused damages of at least $1.6 billion, with 60,000 people evacuated from their homes.
The official Globe Times said that it was the heaviest rainstorm in the capital in 61 years.
China suffers flooding and storm-related deaths every summer, but such a heavy downpour in relatively dry Beijing is unusual.
Wildfires spread in Spain, kill three
MADRID – Two wildfires fanned by strong winds killed three people, injured 24 others and severely disrupted transportation in Spain’s northeast region of Catalonia on Sunday, officials said.
Train services in Alto Ampurdan were suspended and several cross-border roads linking Barcelona with France were closed because of the advancing flames, regional government spokesman Felip Puig said.
The fire service said in a statement that more than 80 teams had been deployed to combat the wildfires, which appear to have started close to the border with France.
The statement said about 32,000 acres had been consumed by the fires. Residents were told to stay indoors until conditions improve.