VOA NEWS

June 19, 2017

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Michael Brown reporting.



U.S. officials are contacting relatives of the crew members of the USS Fitzgerald who died after their warship collided with a massive merchant vessel off the coast of Japan. Most sailors were asleep in compartments below the water surface when the collision caused the water to rush into their ship.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin: "The damage was significant. This was not a small collision. It was right by the pilot's house and there was a big puncture, a big gash underneath the waterline also."

None of the 20-member crew of the Philippines flagged container ship was reported to be inured.

The Navy has launched an investigation into the deadly collision.



A massive forest fire in central Portugal has killed at least 57 people and dozens more are said to be injured in the fire that erupted amid an intense heat wave and rainless thunderstorm.

This witness said, "It was a very fast fire." She said the wind blowing very hard and some say there was a kind of tornado that burned villages.

Officials say hundreds of firefighters have been dispatched to battle the blaze in the mountainous area about 150 kilometers northeast of Lisbon.



Taliban insurgents stormed a police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan, killing more than five people and wounding at least 20 others.

The attack set off fierce clashes and Afghan officials say the siege is continuing.

A Taliban spokesman claimed the attack killed and wounded more than 100 security personnel.



U.S.-backed Iraqi troops pushed into the last Islamic State stronghold in Mosul on Sunday, launching the final major battle of an 8-month campaign.

Iraq has driven the militants from all but a handful of neighborhoods.

The extremists are expected to make their last stand in the Old City.



French voters are casting their ballots today in the final round of parliamentary elections.

Political analysts say voters are likely to hand France's new centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, and his Republic on the Move party a resounding victory, likely winning more than 400 seats and the 577-seat National Assembly.

This would enable Macron to push through his promised reforms of France's strict labor laws and its ailing social security system.



British Prime Minister Theresa May met with survivors of the deadly high-rise fire at her Downing Street office after being chastised by protesters and as the death toll continued to rise.

These are residents of the high-rise building among those who have issues with the prime minister. "She needs to be upfront, very open and very, you know, very transparent." "I said human because I was disappointed when I saw. OK. You're talking to the fire service. You know the official, what about the people. You need to go out there. Go on, Theresa. Come on. Look over there. She didn't."

London police are saying at least 58 people were probably killed in the fire, a figure that includes the 30 who have already been confirmed dead.

Survivors of the building claim that the fatal fire was due to a lack of maintenance to the tower.



Several thousand protesters marched in Madrid to urge Span's conservative government to fulfill its pledge to give shelter to refugees from war-torn countries like Syria.

Estrella Moran, the secretary-general (of the) Spain Commission for Refugee Assistance, now speaking through an interpreter: "We are in the streets to demand that our government needs to bring in the 17,337 persons that they promised over two years ago, in July, the period for the first arrivals ins and on 26 of September, the second period ins. At the moment, only 7.5 percent of these persons have been accommodated. There are people in Greece that are living in inhumane conditions and unhealthy situations. There are people in Turkey and Lebanon and Palestine that deserve that we give them a start in a new life."

Spain has taken a fewer than 10 percent of the refugees that pledged to accept by September. Other countries are falling short of their pledges as well.



A quick recap of our top story at this hour. The U.S. launching an investigation into the deadly collision between one of its warships and a massive merchant vessel off the coast of Japan.



I'm Michael Brown reporting here in Washington.

That's the latest world news from VOA.