Singapore has declared seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.
Lee Kuan Yew, who was 91, led Singapore’s transformation from a small port city to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
World leaders have paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, who served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years.
President Barack Obama described Lee Kuan Yew as a “giant of history” whose advice had been sought by other world leaders.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Lee Kuan Yew was a widely respected strategist and statesman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as one of the “patriarchs” of world politics.
The period of national mourning will culminate in a state funeral next Sunday and Lee Kuan Yew ‘s body is to lie in state at parliament from March 25 to 28.
A private family wake is taking place on March 23 and 24.
News of Lee Kuan Yew’s death came in a government statement that said he had “passed away peacefully” in the early hours of Monday at Singapore General Hospital.
Lee Kuan Yew had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia and was on life support.
State television broke away from its normal schedules and broadcast rolling tributes.
As evening fell, many Singaporeans were continuing to arrive at the Istana, the compound housing the president’s official residence and the prime minister’s office, where a book of condolence has been placed.
Earlier, some chanted “Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee” as a hearse carrying the former leader’s body arrived at the compound.
An area has also been set aside outside the hospital for flowers and other tributes.
Books of condolence have also been opened at all Singapore’s overseas missions.
In an emotional televised address, Lee Kuan Yew’s son, PM Lee Hsien Loong, paid tribute to him.
“He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him,” he said.
Business in bustling Singapore carried on as normal. At the stock exchange, the normal stream of market prices displayed on a bank of screens instead read: Remembering Lee Kuan Yew, September 16, 1923 to March 23, 2015.
Lee Kuan Yew – widely known as LKY – oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia and co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959.
He set about creating a highly educated work force fluent in English, and reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub.
Lee Kuan Yew embarked on a program of slum clearance, industrialization and tackling corruption. He was a fierce advocate of a multi-racial Singapore.
However, Lee Kuan Yew also introduced tight controls, and one of his legacies was a clampdown on the press – tight restrictions that remain in place today.
Dissent and political opponents were ruthlessly quashed. Today, PAP remains firmly in control. There are currently six opposition lawmakers in parliament.
Other measures, such as corporal punishment, a ban on chewing gum and the government’s foray into matchmaking for Singapore’s brightest – to create smarter babies – led to perceptions of excessive state interference.
Lee Kuan Yew criticized what he saw as the overly liberal approach of the US and the West, saying it had “come at the expense of orderly society”.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power.
Hugo Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba.
Crowds of supporters gathered outside the Caracas hospital where he died, chanting “We are all Chavez!”
A self-proclaimed revolutionary, Hugo Chavez was a controversial figure in Venezuela and on the world stage. A staunch critic of the US, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America.
Following Hugo Chavez’s death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within 30 days, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.
“It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us,” Elias Jaua told state television, adding that Nicolas Maduro would also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).
Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday
It was not immediately clear when the election would take place.
Hugo Chavez’s illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a fourth term in October.
The exact nature of Hugo Chavez’s cancer was never officially disclosed, leading to continuing speculation about his health, and he had not been seen in public for several months.
Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Hugo Chavez defeated in October’s election, called on the government to “act in strict accordance with its constitutional duties”.
Henrique Capriles offered his condolences to Hugo Chavez’s family, saying “we were adversaries, but never enemies”.
Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria.
The fire reportedly started after a member of a band playing at the Kiss nightclub lit a flare on stage.
Authorities say most of the victims were students who died of smoke inhalation. The first funerals are expected on Monday morning.
It is the deadliest fire in Brazil in five decades.
Brazil postponed a ceremony due on Monday in the capital, Brasilia, to mark 500 days to the 2014 football World Cup. In Santa Maria, 30 days of mourning were declared.
President Dilma Rousseff, who cut short a visit to Chile, has been visiting survivors at the city’s Caridade hospital along with government ministers.
“It is a tragedy for all of us,” she said.
Authorities have released the names of the victims, after revising down the death toll from 245.
More than 100 people were being treated in hospital, mostly for smoke inhalation.
Officials will now investigate reports that a flare was lit on stage, igniting foam insulation material on the ceiling and releasing toxic smoke.
They will also look at claims that many of those who died were unable to escape as only one emergency exit was available.
Brazil has declared three days of national mourning for 231 people killed in Kiss nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria
The fire broke out as students from the city’s federal university (UFSM) were holding a freshers’ ball, the Diario de Santa Maria, a local newspaper, reported.
A local journalist, Marcelo Gonzatto, said the flare had “started a huge and fast fire that grew quickly and made a very dark and heavy smoke.”
“Lots of people couldn’t get out and died mainly because of the smoke not the fire,” he said.
Witnesses spoke of scenes of panic after the fire started, and a stampede as people tried to escape.
One, Mattheus Bortolotto, told local television: “It was sheer horror. The emergency exits did not work, and then I lost my friend in the confusion. Then a girl died in my arms. I felt her heart stop beating.”
A large number of victims were trapped in the club’s toilets, they said, possibly after mistaking them for an exit.
Survivors and police inspector Marcelo Arigony said security guards briefly tried to block people from leaving the club, the Associated Press news agency reported. Bars in Brazil commonly make customers pay their whole tab at the end of an evening before they are allowed to leave.
One of the owners of the club is reported to have confirmed that they were in the process of renewing its license to operate, and that its fire safety certificate had expired last year.
He is said to have received threats on the internet – in addition to surviving members of the band that was performing on stage when the blaze started.
Its guitarist, Rodrigo Martins, told local radio: “It might have happened because of the Sputnik, the machine we use to create a luminous effect with sparks.
“It’s harmless; we never had any trouble with it. When the fire started, a guard passed us a fire extinguisher. The singer tried to use it but it wasn’t working.”
He said the band’s accordion player had died in the fire.
Brazilian broadcaster Globo said most of the victims were aged between 16 and 20.
A temporary morgue was set up in a local gym as the city’s main morgue was unable to cope.
Family members came to identify the dead, led in one by one to see the bodies, Diario de Santa Maria reported.