Sagan wins world title, Matthews third

Peter Sagan stayed quiet all day before timing his effort to perfection in the final sprint to become the first rider to claim three road race world championship titles in a row.

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The Slovakian surged ahead with less than 50 metres left when he pipped local favourite Alexander Kristoff to the line.

Australian Michael Matthews took third place after being boxed in during the lead-up to the sprint.

“It was not easy. It came down to a sprint, that was unbelievable,” Sagan said.

“I’m sorry (for the Norwegian fans) but I’m happy to be world champion again.”

It seemed that France’s Julian Alaphilippe and Italian Gianni Moscon would fight it out for gold when both jumped away from the leading group 11km from the line on the ascent to Salmon Hill, a 1.4-km effort at an average gradient of 6.4 per cent.

But they were eventually reined in and most of the top sprinters contested the win.

Sagan, who was kicked out of the Tour de France this year for sending Mark Cavendish crashing in a sprint, was clearly the strongest as he added to his titles in Doha and Richmond, Virginia.

Tim Wellens broke away with 70km left and was followed by seven riders — Spain’s David De La Cruz, Dutch Lars Boom, Italian Alessandro De Marchi, Colombian Jarlinson Pantano, Austrian Maro Haller, Australian Jack Haig and Norway’s Odd Christian Eiking.

They built up a maximum gap of 45 seconds as France tried to take control at the front of the peloton.

The break was ended 25 km from the finish after the peloton was split in the penultimate passage up to Salmon Hill.

In the final ascent, Alaphilippe burst away from the leading pack and only Moscon could follow as they opened up a 10-second gap.

They came up just short, though. The Frenchman contested the sprint but ended up 10th.

India clinch series with hat-trick of wins against Australia

Three of India’s top four batsmen scored 70 or more as the hosts chased down a 294-run victory target with 13 balls to spare for their third successive victory in the five-match series.

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Earlier, Aaron Finch smashed 124 on his return but Australia, cruising at 224-1 at one stage, suffered a mini-collapse to settle for 293-6 in the Holkar Stadium.

India’s ninth consecutive ODI win also ensured they are now the top ranked team both in tests and the one-day format.

Bangalore hosts the fourth match on Thursday.

Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss for the first time in the series and opted to bat first.

Openers Finch and David Warner give Australia a solid, if not spectacular, start with a 70-run stand as the tourists looked determined to preserve wickets.

Pandya bowled Warner for 42 but Finch and Smith added 154 runs for the second wicket with a 325-plus total looking well within Australia’s reach.

If Finch, who smacked five sixes and 12 boundaries in his nearly run-a-ball knock, plundered his runs, Smith accumulated them quietly, hitting five boundaries in his 63.

Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav dismissed both to trigger a collapse as Australia lost five wickets for 51 runs to fall short of the 300-mark.

India reached the 100 mark in 15 overs without losing a wicket with Rohit Sharma leading their robust reply with a blistering 71.

The opener smacked four sixes, one of them sailed over the stadium, as he and Ajinkya Rahane (70) scored 139 runs to take the hosts nearly halfway down the target.

India soon suffered a mini-collapse of their own, losing four wickets, including their openers and skipper Virat Kohli, for 67 runs.

Batting at number four, Pandya hit four sixes and five boundaries in his aggressive knock to take India close to victory.

Manish Pandey completed the formality with a quickfire 36 not out to see his side home.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Underdog Tigers embrace AFL GF hype

Richmond might be AFL grand final underdogs but they plan to embrace a huge week of hype and won’t be afraid to dream big.

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The Tigers are riding high after a stunning preliminary final win in front of nearly 95,000 – mostly Richmond – fans at the MCG, as they begin their preparations to face minor premiers Adelaide.

Star forward Jack Riewoldt knows how crazy the atmosphere can be around Punt Road Oval during the season and expects nothing less than fever pitch from the Tiger Army ahead of their first grand final since 1982.

“Just embracing it and not being afraid to talk about what could be,” Riewoldt replied when asked how they plan to handle the storm that’s about to hit Tigerland.

“The week is always going to be different, but we’re really excited and enthusiastic about it.

“Certainly we’re going into the game under no allusions … they’ve been the form side of the competition and we’re going to have to play right up to our best if we want to challenge them.

“They’re a great side, they played in two great finals in this series already and have done a number on the sides they’ve played against.

“We know that we’re going to have to play our best to take it up to them.”

Riewoldt admits he didn’t play well in Saturday’s preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney.

But it’s not all about him any more.

There was a time when the Tigers would have lost more games than they won if the club’s eight-time leading goal kicker had a quiet day like he did against the Giants.

The 28-year-old kicked his only goal of the preliminary final 18 minutes into the final term and finished with eight possessions and two marks.

“Let’s not beat around the bush – I didn’t play very well,” he said.

“But my role is completely different to what it has been in the past.

“Although I probably didn’t have the kicks, marks and handballs I like to think that I led from the front.

“I just tried to keep those younger guys in the game and provide them with (opportunities for) their strengths, which is getting the ball to ground.

“I didn’t have the greatest game but whatever the role the side wants me to play, I just try and play to my best ability.”

Brownlow destiny awaits superstar Tiger

In all likelihood Richmond superstar Dustin Martin will win the Brownlow Medal on Monday night.

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And teammate Jack Riewoldt will be on hand to help him celebrate what could be a taste of greater success to come.

The Tigers are gearing up for the premiership decider against Adelaide on Saturday and, as huge an honour as the Brownlow is, Riewoldt suspects Martin will have other things on his mind.

“We’ll go along, drink waters, and hopefully celebrate what is an individual achievement, but no doubt Dusty will speak about what it means to him and his teammates,” Riewoldt said.

“We’re really proud of the year he’s put together but there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge with that.

“There’s been some interesting things pop up in Brownlow nights past, but he’s had a fantastic year.”

Riewoldt is right – there have been some huge Brownlow boilovers throughout the storied award’s history.

But with nearest rival, reigning Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield, ineligible through suspension surely no one can touch Richmond’s raging bull.

Asked if there is any chance of an upset result, 1978 Brownlow Medallist Malcolm Blight flatly replied “no”.

Blight, now a Gold Coast board member, told AAP he still watches most games.

“I suppose I’ve watched him play 15 or 16 times – I reckon he (Martin) would get votes in 12,” Blight said.

“I get a feeling he might break the (votes) record, which would be quite outstanding.”

Fellow AFL legend Leigh Matthews suspects no player has had a good a season as Martin, who is expected to break the record for votes won.

Setting aside months of speculation about his future, Martin has run rampant with his famous ‘don’t argues’ and ball-gathering brilliance for a career-best year.

He convincingly won the AFL players association most valuable player award – the Leigh Matthews trophy – and the AFL coaches association award.

The players vote on the Matthews trophy and they demonstrated why Martin is the short-priced favourite.

He won with 1333 votes and Geelong star Dangerfield was well off the pace on 776.

TAB Sportsbet has Martin at $1.01, while Hawthorn onballer Tom Mitchell is next in the betting at a distant $9.

Adelaide vice-captain Rory Sloane and fellow midfielder Matt Crouch are seen as outside chances.

They will stay at home and attend a club Brownlow dinner ahead of the grand final.

Mass grave of 28 Hindus found in Myanmar: army

Thousands of Hindus have fled villages where they once lived alongside Muslims, alleging that they were targeted by militants whose August 25 raids plunged Rakhine into communal violence.

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The announcement could not be independently verified in an region where access has been tightly controlled by Myanmar’s army.

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“Security members found and dug up 28 dead bodies of Hindus who were cruelly and violently killed by ARSA extremist Bengali terrorists in Rakhine State,” a statement posted on the army chief’s website said.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is the group whose attacks on police posts triggered an army backlash so brutal that the UN believes it amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.

More than 430,000 Rohingya have fled the region to Bangladesh in under a month, telling stories of Myanmar soldiers teaming up with vigilante mobs to slaughter civilians and burn entire villages to the ground. 

Around 30,000 Hindus and Buddhists based in the area have also been displaced by the violence. 

Both communities have told AFP they were terrorised by Rohingya militants.

Corpses in rows

The army said that security officers found a total of 20 dead women and eight men in two graves, including six boys under the age of ten.

A strong smell led security officers to the burial site outside of Ye Baw Kya village, the army said. 

Unverifiable photos published by the government’s Information Committee showed corpses laid out in rows on grass near two mud pits where they were found.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay confirmed the grim discovery to AFP, as did a senior police officer in Rakhine who requested anonymity. 

The village where the bodies were found, Ye Baw Kya, lies near a cluster of Hindu and Muslim communities in northern Rakhine called Kha Maung Seik.

Last week Hindus from the area told AFP that militants swept into their villages on August 25 with sticks and knives, attacking people who stood in their way, killing many and taking others into the forest.

Hindu women are believed to have been abducted by the militants.

The grim discovery of the graves will further fuel already white-hot hatred between ethnic groups in Myanmar.

The epicentre of the unrest, in northern Rakhine, is dominated by Rohingya Muslims who are a minority elsewhere and have been the target of decades of state-backed persecution and discrimination.

Around half of their estimated 1.1 million population has fled over the last year.

Northern Rakhine is also home to ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, Hindus and a myriad of other groups.

Religious tensions have simmered for years, erupting into sporadic bouts of violence. 

But the scale of the latest unrest is the worst to hit the region in years. 

While the wretched lines of Rohingya streaming into Bangladesh have shocked and alarmed the world, there is scant sympathy for the Muslim group inside Myanmar. 

Many in the Buddhist majority view the group as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their long-established roots in the country.

Federer leads Team Europe to victory in first Laver Cup

Despite cruising through the first two days, the Europeans needed the last match to finalise the victory and show the dominance expected from a team featuring five of the world’s top seven players.

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Federer delivered in a tight 4-6 7-6(6) 11-9 win over world number 20 Nick Kyrgios, with the Australian pushing to the final point as he sought a win that would have forced an overtime doubles match to decide the tournament.

But Kyrgios squandered a chance at match point and then smashed the ball into the net to end the battle, spurring Federer’s European team mates, led by top-ranked Rafael Nadal, to leap off the bench and embrace the Swiss at the net.

“I was ready to go. I had to be. That is what a team member does. The boys played fantastic all weekend but we knew it could change very quickly on Sunday,” Federer said.

“I was looking at getting ready maybe for doubles at the end… But I got it done.”

An earlier victory from big-hitting German Alexander Zverev also helped fight off the last-day comeback from Team World, which entered the day 9-3 down after dropping six of the first eight matches.

With matches worth three points on Sunday – versus two on Saturday and one on Friday – the group battled back with Americans John Isner and Jack Sock downing Croatian Marin Cilic and Czech Tomas Berdych, who was playing in front of the hometown crowd at Prague’s O2 Arena.

The American duo limited the hard-serving Europeans to three aces in a 7-6(5) 7-6(6) victory.

Zverev, the youngest player in the top 10 at age 20, then faced Team World’s highest ranked player at number 16, Sam Querrey. He broke the American’s serve midway through the first set and never looked back en route to a 6-4 6-4 win.

GIANT KILLER

That left Nadal to face Isner, winless in six career meetings with the Spaniard. But the world number 17 rattled Nadal from the beginning and delivered a barrage of 23 aces and several forceful winners and drop shots.

“I walked to the court like I had absolutely nothing to lose and I just went for it,” Isner said.

Federer then played hero, battling back after dropping the first set to Kyrgios who had looked to keep Isner’s giant-killing momentum going.

The Laver Cup, named after Australian tennis hero Rod Laver, has won plaudits from the players. Matches were close despite fears they would be little more than an exhibition.

Federer and Nadal, the game’s top two players who split this season’s four grand slams, teamed up on Saturday, putting aside a long-running rivalry to play doubles competitively for the first time, giving fans an eagerly anticipated treat.

With next year’s play moving to Chicago, a John McEnroe-captained Team World will look to bounce back against Bjorn Borg’s Team Europe.

“We were so, so close to pulling this off,” McEnroe said.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet and Michael Kahn; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Senate opposition to Obamacare bill grows

A proposal by US Republicans to repeal and replace the Obamacare health insurance program suffered serious new setbacks when Senator Ted Cruz expressed his opposition and Senator Susan Collins dug in with strong criticisms of the legislation.

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Phil Novack, a spokesman for Cruz, confirmed that the Republican senator said at an event in Texas: “Right now, they don’t have my vote, and I don’t think they have (Senator) Mike Lee’s vote, either.”

Aides to Lee, a conservative Republican and close ally of Cruz, were not immediately available for comment.

Politico reported that Cruz complained that the latest Obamacare repeal bill did not address his concerns about bringing down the costs of healthcare.

Despite President Donald Trump’s pressure on his fellow Republicans for quick passage, Senator Susan Collins also appeared poised to oppose her party’s latest replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.

Collins, who just two days ago said she was “leaning against” the legislation, on Sunday declared in an interview on CNN “it is very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill.”

Collins said her concerns centred on the impact the legislation would have on the federal Medicaid program, which helps disabled children and low-income elderly people get healthcare.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can afford to lose the support of only two Republicans, assuming all Democrats vote against the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Last week, Senator John McCain, who was one of three Republicans voting in July against an earlier version, joined Senator Rand Paul in opposition.

The Senate faces a September 30 deadline for deciding on the bill under an expiring rule that lets the healthcare proposal pass with just a simple majority, instead of the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation.

Sydney Airport ‘radar failure’ grounds flights on first day of school holidays

All flights out of Sydney Airport were delayed on Monday morning due to a radar failure at air traffic control with a reduced amount of arrivals and departures commecning after the outage.

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Hundreds of passengers have been affected after the “technical issue” hit around 5am on Monday, on the first day of the NSW schools holidays.

“All flights at Sydney Airport are currently grounded until further notice due to an Air Traffic Control issue,” a Virgin spokeswoman told AAP.

Delays at Sydney Airport following power outages.Twitter: @NadineFloodCPSU

Flights are delayed due to an @AirservicesNews system issue. Please check with your airline for flight status. Thanks for your patience.

— Sydney Airport ✈️ (@SydneyAirport) September 24, 2017

Sydney Aiport advised if people are travelling on Monday people should check with the airline for further information.

Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar have confirmed the problem is affecting flights.

Virgin Australia said it would try to get all of its passengers on their way as quickly at it can after the problem is fixed.

“We will be contacting those guests who may be impacted but we encourage all guests to check the flight status page,” the spokeswoman said.

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Airservices Australia, which manages airport traffice control, confirmed there was an “issue”.

“At this stage we do have a confirmed technical issue at Sydney which we are trying to rectify. We are also managing flights safely,” Air Services Australia spokeswoman, Sarah Fulton told AAP.

Power in the traffic systems operations went down and air traffic control has had to revert to a manual process for departing flights, at a reduced rate, AAP understands.

Passengers at the airport have tweeted photos of a departures board with flight status reading “delayed – due ATC radar failure”.

So close! Apparently radar is down at Sydney airport. And no planes can leave, therefore all gates for, therefore I’m stuck here… pic南京夜生活,/os9Z6WYLec

— 🐐 Jase 🦄 (@BKKJase) September 24, 2017

“Flights are delayed due to an @airservices system issue. Please check with your airline for flight status. Thanks for your patience”, Sydney Airport tweeted.

Power in the traffic systems operations went down around 5am on Monday, AAP understands.

Sydney Airport tweeted that the technical issue has been resolved.

‘Our worst fears have come true’: Protests as Germany’s hard-right AfD marches into parliament

Exit polls credited the AfD with around 13 percent of the vote, making it the third biggest political force in Germany — a stunning result for a party that was founded just four years ago.

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“We will change this country,” vowed Alexander Gauland, one of the party’s top two candidates, pledging to “go after” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

It promised that it would make it a priority to launch a parliamentary probe against Merkel over her decision to let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

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After already winning seats in 13 of 16 state parliaments, the AfD will now send dozens of lawmakers to the Bundestag opposition benches, giving them a platform to spread their views, including challenging Germany’s culture of atonement over World War II and the massacre of six million Jews and others in the Holocaust.

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The AfD’s feat sparked protests in several German cities, including hundreds of people in Berlin who shouted “Nazis out” in front of a club where the party was celebrating.

It was also condemned by Jewish groups and Germany’s established political parties, but celebrated by Europe’s far-right leaders like France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said “it is abhorrent that the AfD party, a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past and should be outlawed, now has the ability within the German parliament to promote its vile platform”.

Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that “unfortunately, our worst fears have come true: a party that tolerates far-right views in its ranks and incites hate against minorities in our country is today not only in almost all state parliaments but also represented in the Bundestag.”

“I expect all our democratic forces to unveil the real face of the AfD and to expose the party’s empty, populist promises,” Schuster added, calling on mainstream parties to close ranks and kick the upstarts out in the next election.

Merkel acknowledged that the party’s entry into parliament posed a “big new challenge” and vowed to “win back AfD voters”, while the Social Democratic Party’s leader Martin Schulz vowed that his party, in opposition, would act as a “bulwark against these enemies of democracy”.

0:00 Angela Merkel claims mandate to form a new government Share Angela Merkel claims mandate to form a new government

‘Bikinis, not burkas’

The AfD began life in 2013 as an anti-euro protest party but then shifted focus to capitalise on misgivings over the record migrant influx in Germany.

Its tone turned increasingly extreme in the last stretch of campaigning, with one of its two leading candidates saying Germany should be proud of its war veterans and claiming that terror was grounded in Islam.

Provocative posters declared “Burkas? We prefer bikinis” and “New Germans? Let’s make them ourselves”, featuring a pregnant white woman.

Its supporters heckled Merkel’s rallies across the country, jeering, whistling and chanting “get lost” in attempts to drown her out.

0:00 SPD leader Schulz concedes election defeat Share SPD leader Schulz concedes election defeat

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has warned that “for the first time since the end of the second World War, real Nazis will sit in the German parliament”.

The AfD will be a pariah in parliament as all mainstream parties have ruled out working with it, but the populists could still be vocally disruptive from the opposition benches.

‘Le Pen pales in comparison’

Critics say widening social inequality is also playing into the hands of AfD populists, especially in the deindustrialised heartlands of the former communist east.

The party captured close to one in four votes in the east, where it was the second strongest party.

Thorsten Benner, head of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said the AfD’s rise shows that “our population is no more virtuous than the French population,” and that “even Le Pen pales in comparison”.

The AfD “will challenge key themes” in parliament, he said, pointing to Germany’s culture of wartime remembrance and debate on cultural identity.

Gauland recently called for Germans to stop atoning for the past.

He also said integration commissioner Aydan Ozoguz should be “disposed of in Anatolia”, suggesting she will never be German because of her Turkish origin.

The presence of the AfD “will very much change the tone of debate in parliament,” Benner warned.

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North Korea says targeting US with rockets is ‘inevitable’ as American bombers fly off coast

North Korea said on Saturday targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader “rocket man”, further escalating rhetoric over the North’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

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North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s remarks to the United Nations General Assembly came hours after US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighters flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea in a show of force the Pentagon said showed the range of military options available to Trump.

Ri’s speech capped a week of rising tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, with Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un trading insults.

Trump called Kim a “madman” on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a “mentally deranged US dotard.”

0:00 Bishop slams North Korea in UN speech Share Bishop slams North Korea in UN speech

On Saturday, the mudslinging continued with Ri calling Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency” who is trying to turn the United Nations into a “gangsters’ nest”.

Ri said Trump himself was on a “suicide mission” after the US president had said Kim was on such a mission.

“‘President Evil’ is holding the seat of the US President,” Ri said, warning that Pyongyang was ready to defend itself if the United States showed any sign of conducting a “decapitating operation on our headquarters or military attack against our country”.

“Now we are finally only a few steps away from the final gate of completion of the state nuclear force,” Ri told the annual gathering of world leaders.

He said sanctions would have no effect on Pyongyang’s resolve to develop its nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal being “balance of power with the US”.

0:00 North Korea threatens a powerful hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Share North Korea threatens a powerful hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific

Trump announced new US sanctions on Thursday that he said allow targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.

Earlier this month the UN Security Council unanimously adopted its ninth round of sanctions on Pyongyang to counter its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.

The US bombers’ flight was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any US fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon said.

“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several flying over Japan, as it accelerates its program aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3 and has threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

Ri met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after delivering his speech. Guterres expressed concern to Ri over the escalating tensions and appealed for de-escalation, the United Nations said in a statement.

The Pentagon said the B-1B bombers came from Guam and their US Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts came from Okinawa, Japan. Previous shows of force with bombers have stayed south of the demilitarized zone.

0:00 North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean Share North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean

The patrols came after officials and experts said a small earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday was probably not man-made, easing fears Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one.

China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor.

The CTBTO, or Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors nuclear tests, and officials of the South Korean meteorological agency also said they believed it was a natural quake.

The earthquake, which South Korea’s Meteorological Agency put at magnitude 3.0, was detected 49 km from Kilju in North Hamgyong Province, where North Korea’s known Punggye-ri nuclear site is located, the official said.

All North Korea’s nuclear tests registered as earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above. The last registered as a magnitude 6.3.

Tensions have continued to rise around the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang carried out its sixth test, prompting a new round of UN sanctions.

Trump told the United Nations on Tuesday the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies.

North Korea’s nuclear tests to date have all been underground, and experts say an atmospheric test, which would be the first since one by China in 1980, would be proof of the success of its weapons program.

The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.

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