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Two removal men fall to death after balcony collapses

London: Two men believed to be carrying a sofa died when part of a balcony collapsed in London yesterday.

At least six others were injured following the incident in Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge shortly before 10am. All eight are believed to be removal men.

Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, tweeted: "Balcony collapse in Cadogan Sq. Just spoke with Cadogan Ests (Cadogan Estates, property company), not their property, but believe balcony broke when the removal men were moving a sofa out and the combined weight might have broken it.

"Casualties were removal staff. My thoughts are with their families."

London Ambulance Servic initially said one man had died and another was taken to hospital.

The Metropolitan Police later said a second man had died in hospital.

The area is full of residential property, with many of the buildings divided into flats. The first-floor balcony is believed to have been connected to property number 37, a five-storey terraced building, before crashing 10 metres (33ft) to the ground.

The iron railing appears to have fallen away, though the brick base does not appear to be damaged.

A number of long ropes are hanging from the balcony to the ground where plastic sheets are gathered.

Raj Ramanoop, who lives in the square, said he had been alerted by a friend in a nearby embassy who initially told him scaffolding had come down.

Mr Ramanoop said: "By the time I got back here the police had cordoned off the whole street. I heard it was a sofa or furniture, we don't know whether it was coming in or going out because you don't look at these things."

Dyson inventor pledges £1bn for R&D... only if Britain quits EU

London: Inventor Sir James Dyson has reiterated he wants Britain to leave the EU as he pledged to spend £1bn on research and development.

The entrepreneur’s Wiltshire-based firm Dyson is committing the cash on 100 new products over the next four years, as well as a further £200m towards production lines in Asia so that it can increase manufacturing capacity to 11 million motors a year.

The spending is on top of a plan for a £250m campus expansion at its Malmesbury site, creating 3,000 jobs.

But Sir James, who is chairman of the company, again expressed concerns about how the EU operates — adding Britain did not need to be “dominated and bullied by the Germans”.

Immigrant joy at Obama law change

Washington: Barack Obama is ordering far-reaching changes to the US immigration system that will protect nearly five million people from deportation, testing the limits of his presidential powers and inviting a showdown with Republicans.

He sought to break a stalemate in America’s long-simmering debate over immigration by cutting out Congress and confronting Republicans.

In a televised address, President Obama described the most sweeping changes to fractured immigration laws in nearly 30 years as “common sense”.

Immigrants living illegally in the US would be saved from deportation by receiving work permits, but millions more would remain in limbo.

Republicans, who take full control of Congress in January, warned that Mr Obama would face serious consequences for what they described as an unconstitutional power grab.

“To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: pass a bill,” the president said.

Republicans were united in opposing Mr Obama’s move but divided on how to respond.

Gays face life in prison as president signs new bill

Gambia: The president has signed a bill into law that calls for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, the latest African country to codify harsh penalties for the gay community.

A copy of the legislation indicates that President Yahya Jammeh signed it on October 9, though no government officials have yet publicly notified the country of the new law.

Mr Jammeh, one of Africa’s most vocal anti-gay leaders, instructed gays and lesbians in 2008 to leave or risk decapitation.Lawmakers approved the legislation in August.

Religious service stampede kills 11

Zimbabwe: Eleven people have died in a stampede during a religious service held at a sports stadium.

Four people died at the stadium and seven more at the hospital, police commander Shadreck Mubaiwa said.

Those killed were attending a church service for Pentecostal pastor, Walter Magaya.

The cause of the stampede, which occurred in the early hours of yesterday, was not immediately known.

A pregnant woman and three children were among the dead, Mr Magaya told the state-run newspaper The Herald. Thousands of people attended the service at the stadium in Kwekwe, a city in the centre of the country.

The televangelist’s religious services, known as the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries, draw huge crowds on tours across the southern African nation.

Some witnesses accused the police of blocking most of the stadium exits and then firing tear gas as people battled to get through the only one left open.

The police have denied firing tear gas.

Hitler painting expected to fetch £40k at auction

Nuremberg: A 100-year-old watercolour of Munich’s old city hall is expected to fetch at least €50,000 (£40,000) at auction this weekend, not so much for its artistic value as for the signature in the bottom left corner: ‘A. Hitler’.

Nuremberg’s Weidler auction house said the painting is one of some 2,000 painted by Adolf Hitler and is thought to be from about 1914, when he was a struggling artist, almost two decades before rising to power as the Nazi dictator.

It is being sold by two elderly sisters, whose grandfather purchased the painting in 1916.

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