The New York Times 2024-03-24 01:15:29

Moscow Concert Hall Shooting: Death Toll Rises to 133 in Moscow Concert Hall Attack


Paul Sonne and

Russia arrested 4 suspects in the Moscow attack as the death toll climbed to 133.

The Russian authorities said on Saturday that they had arrested the four individuals suspected of setting a suburban Moscow concert on fire and killing at least 133 people, one of the worst terrorist attacks to jolt Russia in President Vladimir V. Putin’s nearly quarter century in power.

The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the brutal assault in three different messages issued since Friday. But Mr. Putin, in his first public remarks on the tragedy more than 19 hours after the attack, made no mention of the extremist group or the identities of the perpetrators, broadly blaming “international terrorism,” while Russian state media quickly began laying the groundwork to suggest that Ukraine and its Western backers were responsible.

The Russian leader did take a swipe at Ukraine, saying that the suspects were apprehended while traveling to the Russian border, where he alleged a crossing was being prepared for them from “the Ukrainian side.” Kyiv has denied any involvement in the attack.

Russian state news broadcasts largely ignored or cast doubt on the ISIS attribution, and commentators focused on trying to blame Ukraine. As of Saturday, the authorities had not disclosed the identities of the alleged gunmen.

But state news media did show what it described as footage of interrogations of at least two of the suspects, including one who spoke in Tajik through an interpreter and another who said he carried out the killings for money after being recruited over the messaging app Telegram. Russia’s Interior Ministry said the four suspects were all foreign citizens.

In his video address, Mr. Putin said the four main perpetrators had been apprehended, as well as seven other individuals.

“The main thing now is to prevent those who were behind this bloody massacre from committing new crimes,” he said.

The Russian leader designated Sunday as a national day of mourning and vowed retribution against those who organized the attack.

“All perpetrators, organizers and commissioners of this crime will receive a just and inevitable punishment,” Mr. Putin said. “No matter who they are, no matter who directed them, I repeat, we will identify and punish everyone who stood behind the terrorists.”

By Saturday, the vast concert venue had been reduced to a heap of burned rubble, dust and smoke, after a mammoth fire engulfed the premises in the hours after the attack and pulled down the roof.

As emergency services continued to comb the scene, survivors gave harrowing accounts of their escapes.

“The panic was terrifying,” said Olya Muravyova, 38, who had been standing in line with her husband to buy a beer before the performance by Piknik, a Russian rock band formed in the late 1970s that was about to play at the venue when the attack occurred.

“We were in such a good mood,” she said on Saturday, visiting the scene of the attack in the hopes of picking up her car. Suddenly, five minutes before the performance was set to start, she heard shots ring out.

“I thought maybe the band was making a dramatic entrance,” she said. But her husband told her to run, and then to hide.

The names of some of the victims have also begun to emerge from officials and in local news reports. Most of those identified so far appeared to have been in their 40s, and many had traveled from other parts of the country to attend the concert.

Alexander Baklemishev, 51, had long dreamed about seeing the band, his son told local media, and had traveled from his home city of Satka, some 1,000 miles east of Moscow, to see them perform.

His son, Maksim, told the Russian news outlet MSK1 that his father had sent a video of the concert hall before the attack and that was the last he heard from him.

“There was no last conversation,” his son said. “All that was left is the video, and nothing more.”

On Saturday night, the governor of the Moscow region announced that rescuers had ended the search for survivors at the suburban Moscow concert venue, according to TASS. The death toll remained at 133, but the search for bodies would continue, the governor said.

Across the country, Russians placed flowers at makeshift memorials. Many lined up in the capital to donate blood. Russian officials gave regular updates about the more than 100 people wounded in the attack, many of them in critical condition. The authorities warned that the death toll was likely to rise, and said three children were among the dead.

United States officials said the atrocity was the work of Islamic State-Khorosan, or ISIS-K, an offshoot of the group that has been active in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

“ISIS is a common terrorist enemy that must be defeated everywhere,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Saturday.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the United States condemns the attack in Moscow and “stands in solidarity with the people of Russia grieving the loss of life after this horrific event.”

The tragedy began on Friday evening, when men in fatigues armed with automatic weapons stormed Crocus City Hall, situated in the Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk.

First, they began shooting people, many at point-blank range. Then, the attackers used a flammable liquid to set fire to the premises of the large concert hall, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee, which said many of the victims perished after inhaling the toxic fumes.

In interviews with Russian media, some of the concert attendees recalled running out of the venue and trying to escape through a utility area, only to find the doors locked.

The attack represented a significant security failure for the Kremlin, and came just days after Mr. Putin claimed victory in the presidential election.

For years, Mr. Putin has emphasized countering international terrorism as a top priority, but since invading Ukraine two years ago, he has pivoted to casting the West as the biggest foreign threat faced by Russians.

The lapse raised questions about whether Mr. Putin’s security services, which have been concentrating squarely on waging war against Ukraine, overlooked the threat posed by extremist Islamic groups. Russia has long been a target for Sunni extremists, because of its backing of Syria and Iran, and the country for years faced extremist attacks emanating from its own North Caucasus region.

At least 128 people died when Chechen extremists took a Moscow theater hostage in 2002 during a performance of the musical “Nord-Ost.” Two years later, Chechen militants besieged a school in Beslan, a national tragedy that killed more than 330 people, more than half of them children.

More recently, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for shooting down a Russian aircraft taking off from Egypt in 2015. An Al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for an attack on the St. Petersburg metro in 2017.

In recent weeks, the Russian authorities had been warned about the possibility of a terrorist attack at a concert in Moscow.

On March 7, the American Embassy in Moscow issued a rare, specific public warning calling on people to avoid large gatherings, including concerts, owing to information that extremists had imminent plans to target such events in the Russian capital.

The public warning came after the United States collected intelligence suggesting that ISIS-K was planning an attack in Moscow, U.S. officials told The New York Times. Beyond the Embassy’s public warning, U.S. officials also privately told Russian officials about intelligence suggesting an impending attack, the officials said.

During a March 19 speech to the Federal Security Service, Mr. Putin dismissed the Western warnings as “outright blackmail” and attempts “to intimidate and destabilize our society.”

After Friday’s attack, Russian state propagandists tried to suggest that the advance warning provided by the United States meant that Washington had a hand in the attack. But Mr. Putin, beyond blaming unspecified individuals on the Ukrainian side for preparing a border crossing, stopped short of making any such accusations.

“We know what the threat of terrorism is,” Mr. Putin said. “We are counting here on cooperation with all countries that genuinely share our pain and are ready, in their deeds, to truly unite efforts in the fight against the common enemy of international terrorism.”

The guests on a political talk show on Russia’s flagship Channel One rushed to find ways to blame Ukraine on Saturday evening, suggesting without evidence that Kyiv had to be behind the attack, despite Islamic State’s claims of responsibility.

Leonid Reshetnikov, a former top Russian intelligence officer, accused Ukraine of turning to terrorism because its forces couldn’t win on the battlefield.

“So long as this kind of government, this kind of regime exists, this terror will continue,” Mr. Reshetnikov said on the show, noting that Moscow needed to “end” Ukraine as a government established on Russian land.

Responding to the Kremlin’s accusations, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, called Mr. Putin a “nonentity” who sent hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine rather than protect their own country.

“They came to Ukraine and are burning our cities and they try to blame Ukraine,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video posted to Telegram on Saturday evening.

Crocus City Hall, the concert hall where the attack took place, opened in 2009 as one of the glitziest new venues in the Russian capital. It went on to host top international acts, including Eric Clapton, Sia and Lorde, as well as Donald J. Trump’s Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

Pictures published by Russian emergency services showed emergency medical workers sawing through the remains of the concert hall, where the seats had been charred down to their metal insides.

Reporting was contributed by Valerie Hopkins from Frankfurt, Anton Troianovski from Dubai, Oleg Matsnev from Berlin, Alina Lobzina from London, Andrew E. Kramer from Kyiv, Alan Rappeport from Washington and Victoria Kim from Seoul.

The White House on Saturday issued a new statement reiterating the Islamic State’s responsibility for Friday’s attack, reacting to Russian comments blaming Ukraine. “ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack,” said Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman. “There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.”

The new statement represented the latest intelligence assessment by the United States, and it signaled American intelligence agencies are confident that Ukraine had nothing to do with the attack.

Piknik, a longtime Russian rock band, is now at the center of a tragedy.

Early Saturday, Piknik, one of Russia’s most popular heritage rock bands, published a message to its page on Vkontakte, one of the country’s largest social media sites: “We are deeply shocked by this terrible tragedy and mourn with you.”

The night before, the band was scheduled to play the first of two sold-out concerts, accompanied by a symphony orchestra, at Crocus City Hall in suburban Moscow. But before Piknik took the stage, four gunmen entered the vast venue, opened fire and murdered at least 133 people.

The victims appear to have included some of Piknik’s own team. On Saturday evening, another note appeared on the band’s Vkontakte page to say that the woman who ran the band’s merchandise stalls was missing.

“We are not ready to believe the worst,” the message said.

The attack at Crocus City Hall has brought renewed attention to Piknik, a band that has provided the soundtrack to the lives of many Russian rock fans for over four decades.

Ilya Kukulin, a cultural historian at Amherst College in Massachusetts, said in an interview that Piknik was one of the Soviet Union’s “monsters of rock,” with songs inspired by classic Western rock acts including David Bowie and a range of Russian styles.

Since releasing its debut album, 1982’s “Smoke,” Piknik — led by Edmund Shklyarsky, the band’s singer and guitarist — has grown in popularity despite its music being often gloomy with gothic lyrics. Kukulin attributed this partly to the group’s inventive stage shows.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kukulin said, the band began performing with exciting light displays, special effects and other innovative touches. At one point in the 1990s, the band’s concerts included a “living cello” — a woman with an amplified string stretched across her. Shklyarsky would play a solo on the string.

This month, the band debuted a new song online — “Nothing, Fear Nothing” — with a video that showed the band performing live before huge screens featuring ever-changing animations.

Unlike some of their peers, Piknik was “never a political band,” Kukulin said, although that did not stop it from becoming entwined in politics. In the 1980s, Soviet authorities banned the group — along with many others — from using recording studios, while Soviet newspapers complained of the group’s lyrics, including a song called “Opium Smoke” that authorities saw as encouraging drug use.

In recent years, some of Russia’s most prominent rock stars have left their country, fed up with President Vladimir V. Putin’s curbs on freedom of expression, including regular crackdowns on concerts. Piknik had benefited from that exodus, Kukulin said, because the band had fewer competitors on Russia’s heritage rock circuit.

Unlike some musicians, Shklyarsky had not acted as a booster for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kukulin said. Still, Ukrainian authorities have long banned Piknik from performing in the country because the group has played concerts in occupied Crimea. In a 2016 interview, Shklyarsky said he was not concerned about the ban.

“Politics comes and goes, but life remains,” he said.

Kukulin said that among Piknik’s songs was “To the Memory of Innocent Victims” — a track that could be interpreted as being about those who were politically oppressed under communism. Now, Kukulin said, many fans were hearing the song in a new way, as a tribute to those who lost their lives in Friday’s attack.

Responding to Kremlin accusations that Ukraine was somehow responsible for Friday’s terrorist attack outside Moscow, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a “nonentity” who sent hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine rather than protect their own country.

“They came to Ukraine and are burning our cities and they try to blame Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a video posted to Telegram Saturday evening. “They torture and rape our people and then blame them.”

Zelensky called the Kremlin’s reaction to the attack “predictable” and warned that if Russians chose to “die silently” rather than ask questions of their security services, Putin would use the situation for his own personal benefit.

Rescuers have ended the search for survivors at the suburban Moscow concert venue where the attack took place, the governor of the Moscow region announced Saturday night. The death toll remains at 133, of which 50 have been identified, but the search for bodies will continue, the governor said.

The evening news reports on the Russian state network Channel One were dismissive of claims of responsibility for the attack by the Islamic State, instead suggesting the assault was a “false flag” operation by Ukraine and possibly the West. One commentator, Mikhail Leontyev, said that the style of the attackers wasn’t in keeping with the Islamic State and added that burning people in a building had the “signature of European Nazism.”

Mothers, fathers, an amateur hockey player, a lawyer: Details are beginning to emerge about the lives lost in the terror attack on the outskirts of Moscow.

news analysis

Deadly attack shatters Putin’s promise of security to Russian people.

Less than a week ago, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia claimed a fifth term with his highest-ever share of the vote, using a stage-managed election to show the nation and the world that he was firmly in control.

Just days later came a searing counterpoint: His vaunted security apparatus failed to prevent Russia’s deadliest terrorist attack in 20 years.

The assault on Friday, which killed at least 133 people at a concert hall in suburban Moscow, was a blow to Mr. Putin’s aura as a leader for whom national security is paramount. That is especially true after two years of a war in Ukraine that he describes as key to Russia’s survival — and which he cast as his top priority after the election last Sunday.

“The election demonstrated a seemingly confident victory,” Aleksandr Kynev, a Russian political scientist, said in a phone interview from Moscow. “And suddenly, against the backdrop of a confident victory, there’s this demonstrative humiliation.”

Mr. Putin seemed blindsided by the assault. It took him more than 19 hours to address the nation about the attack, the deadliest in Russia since the 2004 school siege in Beslan, in the country’s south, which claimed 334 lives. When he did, the Russian leader said nothing about the mounting evidence that a branch of the Islamic State committed the attack.

Instead, Mr. Putin hinted that Ukraine was behind the tragedy and said the assailants had acted “just like the Nazis,” who “once carried out massacres in the occupied territories” — evoking his frequent, false description of present-day Ukraine as being run by neo-Nazis.

“Our common duty now — our comrades at the front, all citizens of the country — is to be together in one formation,” Mr. Putin said at the end of a five-minute speech, trying to conflate the fight against terrorism with his invasion of Ukraine.

The question is how much of the Russian public will buy into his argument. They might ask whether Mr. Putin, with the invasion and his conflict with the West, truly has the country’s security interests at heart — or whether he is woefully forsaking them, as many of his opponents say he is.

The fact that Mr. Putin apparently ignored a warning from the United States about a potential terrorist attack is likely to deepen the skepticism. Instead of acting on the warnings and tightening security, he dismissed them as “provocative statements.”

“All this resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilize our society,” Mr. Putin said on Tuesday in a speech to the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, referring to the Western warnings. After the attack on Friday, some of his exiled critics have cited his response as evidence of the president’s detachment from Russia’s true security concerns.

Rather than keeping society safe from actual, violent terrorists, those critics say, Mr. Putin has directed his sprawling security services to pursue dissidents, journalists and anyone deemed a threat to the Kremlin’s definition of “traditional values.”

A case in point: Just hours before the attack, state media reported that the Russian authorities had added “the L.G.B.T. movement” to an official list of “terrorists and extremists”; Russia had already outlawed the gay rights movement last year. Terrorism was also among the many charges prosecutors leveled against Aleksei A. Navalny, the imprisoned opposition leader who died last month.

“In a country in which counterterrorism special forces chase after online commenters,” Ruslan Leviev, an exiled Russian military analyst, wrote in a social media post on Saturday, “terrorists will always feel free.”

Even as the Islamic State repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attack and Ukraine denied any involvement, the Kremlin’s messengers pushed into overdrive to try to persuade the Russian public that this was merely a ruse.

Olga Skabeyeva, a state television host, wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian military intelligence had found assailants “who would look like ISIS. But this is no ISIS.” Margarita Simonyan, the editor of the state-run RT television network, wrote that reports of Islamic State responsibility amounted to a “basic sleight of hand” by the American news media.

On a prime-time television talk show on the state-run Channel 1, Russia’s best-known ultraconservative ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, declared that Ukraine’s leadership and “their puppet masters in the Western intelligence services” had surely organized the attack.

It was an effort to “undermine trust in the president,” Mr. Dugin said, and it showed regular Russians that they had no choice but to unite behind Mr. Putin’s war against Ukraine.

Mr. Dugin’s daughter was killed in a car bombing near Moscow in 2022 that U.S. officials said was indeed authorized by parts of the Ukrainian government, but without American involvement.

U.S. officials have said there is no evidence of Ukrainian involvement in the concert hall attack, and Ukrainian officials ridiculed the Russian accusations. Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, said Mr. Putin’s claim that the attackers had fled toward Ukraine and intended to cross into it, with the help of the Ukrainian authorities, made no sense.

In recent months, Mr. Putin has appeared more confident than at any other point since he launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russian forces have retaken the initiative on the front line, while Ukraine is struggling amid flagging Western support and a shortage of troops.

Inside Russia, the election — and its predetermined outcome — underscored Mr. Putin’s dominance over the nation’s politics.

Mr. Kynev, the political scientist, said he believed many Russians were now in “shock,” because “restoring order has always been Vladimir Putin’s calling card.”

Mr. Putin’s early years in power were marked by terrorist attacks, culminating in the Beslan school siege in 2004; he used those violent episodes to justify his rollback of political freedoms. Before Friday, the most recent mass-casualty terrorist attack in the capital region was a suicide bombing at an airport in Moscow in 2011 that killed 37 people.

Still, given the Kremlin’s efficacy in cracking down on dissent and the news media, Mr. Kynev predicted that the political consequences of the concert hall attack would be limited, as long as the violence was not repeated.

“To be honest,” he said, “our society has gotten used to keeping quiet about inconvenient topics.”

Constant Méheut contributed reporting.

More than 2,700 people donated blood in the Moscow region on Saturday, the local health ministry reported.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the United States condemns the attack in Moscow and “stands in solidarity with the people of Russia grieving the loss of life after this horrific event.” Russia’s allies and adversaries alike have expressed outrage over the attack and sent condolences to the victims.

There have been other deadly attacks at concerts and music festivals in recent years.

The attack before a sold-out rock concert near Moscow on Friday was the latest in a series of mass killings at concerts and music festivals around the world in recent years.

  • During the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel last year, Hamas targeted Tribe of Nova’s Supernova Sukkot Gathering, a dance music festival in Re’im, leaving at least 360 dead, according to the Israeli authorities. Gunmen surrounded the music festival at daybreak, killing and kidnapping attendees as others fled in their cars, only to find roads blocked and the event surrounded. “It was like a shooting range,” said Hila Fakliro, who was bartending around sunrise. Around 3,000 people had come to the event, timed to the end of the harvest holiday Sukkot.

  • In May 2017, a suicide bombing killed 22 people and injured hundreds more at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in England. The assailant, a British citizen of Libyan descent, detonated explosives packed with nails, bolts and ball bearings moments after the performance ended, sending the crowd — filled with children and adolescent fans of the pop singer, who was then 23 — into a panic. Intelligence officials found that the bomber had previously traveled to Libya to meet with members of an Islamic State unit linked to terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, which included an assault on a concert venue.

  • In November 2015, 90 people were killed at the Bataclan, a Paris music venue that holds 1,500, when three men armed with assault rifles and suicide vests stormed a concert by the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal. The musicians fled the stage as gunfire broke out, and attendees tried to hide from the assailants. A standoff with the police lasted more than two hours, with concertgoers held as hostages, ending when the police entered the club. One attacker was killed; two others detonated suicide vests. “Carnage,” one attendee posted on Facebook from inside the club. “Bodies everywhere.”

  • The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place at a music festival in October 2017, when a gunman fatally shot 60 people and injured hundreds more attending the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. The assailant had stockpiled 23 firearms in a 32nd-floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, opening fire from his window as Jason Aldean was onstage singing “When She Says Baby.” “It was just total chaos,” Melissa Ayala, who attended the festival with four friends, said. “People falling down and laying everywhere. We were trying to take cover and we had no idea where to go.” The F.B.I. concluded that the motive for the killings was unclear, but released files last year suggesting that the gunman, a gambler, was angry over casinos scaling back on perks. He had searched “biggest open air concert venues in USA” and reserved a hotel room overlooking the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago before settling on the Las Vegas event as his target.

The people killed at recent concerts and music festivals were commemorated earlier this year at the Grammy Awards. “Music must always be our safe space,” Harvey Mason Jr., the chief executive of the Recording Academy, which gives out the awards, said during the telecast. “When that’s violated, it strikes at the very core of who we are.”

The ISIS branch the U.S. blames for the attack has targeted the Taliban’s links with allies, including Russia.

The ISIS affiliate that American officials say was behind the deadly attack in Moscow is one of the last significant antagonists that the Taliban government faces in Afghanistan, and it has carried out repeated attacks there, including on the Russian Embassy, in recent years.

That branch of ISIS — known as the Islamic State Khorasan or ISIS-K — has portrayed itself as the primary rival to the Taliban, who it says have not implemented true Shariah law since seizing power in 2021. It has sought to undermine the Taliban’s relationships with regional allies and portray the government as unable to provide security in the country, experts say.

In 2022, ISIS-K carried out attacks on the Russian and Pakistani embassies in Kabul and a hotel that was home to many Chinese nationals. More recently, it has also threatened attacks against the Chinese, Indian and Iranian embassies in Afghanistan and has released a flood of anti-Russian propaganda.

It has also struck outside Afghanistan. In January, ISIS-K, carried out twin bombings in Iran that killed scores and wounded hundreds of others at a memorial service for Iran’s former top general, Qassim Suleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike four years before.

In recent months, the Taliban’s relationship with Russia, as well as China and Iran, has warmed up. While no country has officially recognized the Taliban government, earlier this month Russia accepted a military attaché from the Taliban in Moscow, while China officially accepted a Taliban ambassador to the country. Both moves were seen as confidence-building measures with Taliban authorities.

ISIS-K has both denounced the Kremlin for its interventions in Syria and condemned the Taliban for engaging with Russian authorities decades after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

Its propaganda has painted the Taliban as “betraying the history of Afghanistan and betraying their religion by making friends with their former enemies,” said Ricardo Valle, the director of research of the Khorasan Diary, a research platform based in Islamabad.

In the more than two years since they took over in Afghanistan, Taliban security forces have conducted a ruthless campaign to try to eliminate ISIS-K and have successfully prevented the group from seizing territory within Afghanistan. Last year, Taliban security forces killed at least eight ISIS-K leaders, according to American officials, and pushed many other fighters into neighboring Pakistan.

Still, ISIS-K has proved resilient and remained active across Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Within Afghanistan, it has targeted Taliban security forces in hit-and-run attacks and — as it came under increasing pressure from Taliban counterterrorism operations — staged headline-grabbing attacks across the country. Just a day before the attack at the concert hall in Moscow, the group carried out a suicide bombing in Kandahar — the birthplace of the Taliban movement — sending a powerful message that even Taliban soldiers in the group’s heartland were not safe.

After the attack in Moscow, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, said in a statement on social media that the country “condemns in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack in Moscow” and “considers it a blatant violation of all human standards.”

“Regional countries must take a coordinated, clear and resolute position against such incidents directed at regional de-stabilization,” he added.

Russia’s interior ministry said that the four suspected attackers are all foreign citizens. In a statement, the ministry said that Russia’s law enforcement agencies are investigating when they entered Russia and where they had lived. It did not provide further details or the attackers’ names.

‘We were in such a good mood.’ Then shots rang out, a survivor says.

Olya Muravyova and her husband were standing in line to buy a beer at the Crocus City Hall concert center when she heard shots ring out.

“We were in such a good mood,” she recalled on Saturday. The band they had come to see, Piknik, was minutes away from taking the stage to perform for a sold-out crowd.

“I thought maybe the band was making a dramatic entrance,” Ms. Muravyova, 38, said on Saturday. But her husband told her to run, and then to hide.

Ms. Muravyova, who had returned to the concert venue on the outskirts of Moscow in hopes of picking up her car on Saturday, described “panic” and terror as the attack unfolded.

“I thought they were shooting from above,” she said. “We ran away from the main doors where they had started to shoot. And everyone started pushing.”

She said it seemed as if the fire exits had been blocked, and people had to search for a way out of the venue.

“My husband was screaming that we need to run away from all the people,” she recalled.

When they made it outside, Ms. Muravyova said, they saw hundreds of people running — many without coats, left behind in the chaos.

Names of the victims are beginning to emerge.

As emergency services combed the scene of the attack on a concert hall in Moscow, details on some of the victims began to emerge from officials and local news media.

Most of those identified so far appeared to be in their 40s, and many had traveled from other parts of the country to attend the concert where Piknik, a Russian rock band formed in the late 1970s, was slated to perform on Friday night.

Alexander Baklemyshev, 51, had long dreamed about seeing the band, his son told local media, and had traveled solo from his home city of Satka, some 1,000 miles east of Moscow, for the concert.

His son, Maksim, told the Russian news outlet MSK1 that his father had sent him a video of the concert hall before the attack. That was the last he heard from his father.

“There was no last conversation,” his son said. “All that was left is the video, and nothing more.”

Irina Okisheva and her husband, Pavel Okishev, also traveled hundreds of miles to attend the concert — making their way from Kirov, northeast of Moscow. Mr. Okishev had received the tickets as an early birthday present. He was set to turn 35 next week, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported. Both he and his wife died in the attack, the paper reported.

“Very painful and scary,” Ms. Okisheva’s colleagues wrote on a social media page for a photo studio where she worked. “The whole studio team is horrified by what happened.”

Anastasiya Volkova lost both of her parents in the attack. She told 5 TV that she had missed a call from her mother on Friday night at around the time of the attack. When she called back, there was no response, Ms. Volkova said.

“I couldn’t answer the phone. I didn’t hear the call,” Ms. Volkova told the broadcaster, adding that her mother had been “really looking forward to this concert.”

As the death toll climbed to 133 people, the Moscow region’s health care ministry published a preliminary list of victims. It had 41 names; Andrey Rudnitsky was one of them.

A forward in an amateur hockey league, he turned 39 years old last week, according to his page on the league’s website. Mr. Rudnitsky’s teammates told Pro Gorod, a local news website, that he had moved to Moscow last year from Yaroslavl but planned to return home to play there. Mr. Rudnitsky had two children.

Ekaterina Novoselova, 42, was also on the list. Ms. Novoselova won a beauty pageant in 2001 in her home city of Tver, 110 miles northwest of Moscow, one of the pageant organizer’s told the local news outlet TIA. It reported that she had moved to Moscow to work as a lawyer and is survived by her husband and two children.

Some people appeared to have been named by mistake. Yevgeniya Ryumina, 38, told Komsomolskaya Pravda that she had fled the concert hall to safety. But she had lost her ID, Ms. Ryumina said, suggesting that might have led to the confusion.

In his first remarks on the attack, Putin tries to link the assailants to Ukraine.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia laid the groundwork on Saturday for blaming Ukraine for the Moscow concert hall attack. And in making his first remarks on the assault more than 19 hours after it began, he pledged to punish the perpetrators, “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them.”

Mr. Putin, in a five-minute televised address, claimed that someone in Ukraine had tried to help the attackers escape across the border from Russia before they were apprehended by Russian security services.

He did not definitively pin the attack on Ukraine; nor did he refer to the assessment by American officials that a branch of the Islamic State was behind it.

“They were trying to hide and were moving toward Ukraine,” Mr. Putin said, referring to the four men who carried out the attack and who the Kremlin said had been captured in western Russia. “Based on preliminary information, a window for crossing the border was prepared for them by the Ukrainian side.”

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied having anything to do with the attack, and American officials have said there is no evidence of Ukrainian involvement. American officials voiced concern on Friday that Mr. Putin could seek to falsely blame Ukraine for the attack, and some analysts and Kremlin critics have said that he could use such an accusation to justify another escalation in Russia’s invasion.

Mr. Putin has in the past blamed the West for stoking terrorist groups to commit violence inside Russia, but he did not refer to the United States or the West in Saturday’s speech. Nor did he mention the March 7 security alert issued by the United States Embassy in Moscow about the risk of attacks on concerts in the Russian capital, which pro-Kremlin figures have used as evidence of possible American complicity.

“We are counting here on cooperation with all countries that genuinely share our pain and are ready, in their deeds, to truly unite our efforts in the fight against the common enemy of international terrorism,” Mr. Putin said.

He declared Monday a national day of mourning and said that security measures were being tightened across Russia.

“The main thing now is to prevent those who were behind this bloody massacre from committing new crimes,” Mr. Putin said.

The death toll has risen to 133, Russia’s Investigative Committee says, adding that the authorities are continuing to comb the site.

Russia’s allies and adversaries alike express outrage over the attack.

Despite Russia’s international isolation over the war in Ukraine, adversaries of the Kremlin joined its allies in condemning the concert hall massacre on Friday and calling for accountability.

Statements of condolence and outrage came from around the world, including from China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, and from the U.S. government. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the United States condemns the attack in Moscow and “stands in solidarity with the people of Russia grieving the loss of life after this horrific event.”

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, called the attack an act of terrorism that his government “condemns in the strongest terms. “Nothing can ever justify such horrific violence,” he wrote on X, offering Britain’s “deepest sympathy.”

Germany’s Foreign Ministry called it “a horrific attack” that must be “investigated quickly.” The French Foreign Ministry said that “all effort has to be made to determine the causes of these heinous acts.”

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry, said the country condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and “considers it a blatant violation of all human standards.”

The foreign minister of Pakistan, Ishaq Dar, offered prayers for the victims and their families. “At this hour of national tragedy, Pakistan stands in solidarity with the people and government of the Russian Federation,” he wrote on X.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India also expressed solidarity with Russia “in this hour of grief.”

As emergency services continued to comb the scene, the names of some of the victims have begun to emerge from officials and in local news media. Most of those identified so far appeared to be in their 40s, and many had traveled from other parts of the country to attend the concert. Alexander Baklemishev, 51, had long dreamt about seeing the band, his son told local media, and had traveled from his home city of Satka, some 1,000 miles east of Moscow, to see them perform.

Russian state television is now airing an address by President Vladimir Putin, his first public remarks on the tragedy.

Putin appears to be laying the groundwork to blame Ukraine for the attack, claiming that “the Ukrainian side” had “prepared a window” for the attackers to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine. But he did not definitively pin the blame on Ukraine or anyone else in his five-minute address, saying that those responsible would be punished, “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them.”

The Russian state news media has been silent about the Islamic State’s claim to have carried out the attack and about assertions by U.S. officials that it was the work of ISIS-K, an offshoot of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan. But state media has aired footage of interrogations of at least two alleged attackers, including one in which the suspect speaks in Tajik through an interpreter.

This is what we know about the attack.

At least 133 people were killed and more than 140 injured Friday night in an attack at a popular concert venue near Moscow, the deadliest act of terrorism in the Russian capital in more than a decade.

A branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack; American officials, too, have attributed it to ISIS-K, a branch of the group active in Iran and Afghanistan. Russian officials have not commented on the claim. The authorities have detained at least 11 people, including all four they say were directly involved, but have not identified the assailants or their motives.

Here’s a closer look at the attack.

What happened?

The gunmen entered the Crocus City Hall building, one of the biggest entertainment complexes in the Russian capital, with capacity of more than 6,000, shortly before a sold-out rock concert was scheduled to start. Armed with automatic rifles, they began shooting.

Using explosives and flammable liquids, Russian investigators said, they set the building ablaze, causing chaos as people began to run. The fire quickly engulfed more than a third of the building, spreading smoke and causing parts of the roof to collapse. Russia’s emergency service posted a video and pictures from after the fire showing charred seating and firefighters working to remove debris.

Russian law enforcement said that people had died from gunshot wounds and poisoning from the smoke. Russia’s emergency service said that many of those injured had burns.

At least three helicopters were dispatched to extinguish the fire or to try to rescue people from the roof. The firefighters were only able to contain the fire early on Saturday; the emergency service said it was mostly extinguished by 5 a.m.

Where are the assailants?

Attackers were able to flee the scene. Early on Saturday, the head of Russia’s top security agency, the F.S.B., said that 11 people had been detained in the connection to the attack, including “all four terrorists directly involved.”

There were signs that Russia would try to pin blame on Ukraine, despite the claim of responsibility by the Islamic State. The F.S.B. said in a statement that the attack had been carefully planned and that the terrorists had tried to flee toward Ukraine.

A Russian lawmaker had said earlier that two terrorism suspects had been detained in the Bryansk region, southwest of Moscow.

How are Russians responding?

President Vladimir V. Putin, who claimed victory in a presidential election last weekend, did not publicly address the tragedy until Saturday afternoon. In a five-minute address to the nation, he appeared to be laying the groundwork to blame Ukraine for the attack, claiming that “the Ukrainian side” had “prepared a window” for the attackers to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine.

But he did not definitively assign blame, saying that those responsible would be punished, “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them.”

The attack has punctured the sense of relative safety for Muscovites over the past decade, bringing back memories of attacks that shadowed life in the Russian capital in the 2000s.

People across Russia and beyond brought flowers, toys and candles to spontaneous memorials to victims of the attack, according to posts on social media. Lines in front of hospitals in Moscow grew as people came to donate blood.

Ukraine says Russia’s speculation that it was behind the attack is meant to rally war support.

Ukraine has accused Russia of falsely suggesting that Kyiv was to blame for Friday night’s terrorist attack in Moscow and of using the deadly episode to rally support for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and to escalate the fighting there.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russian officials were making such accusations “with the goals of stirring up anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society and creating conditions to boost mobilization of Russian citizens into the criminal aggression against our state.”

Russia’s speculations, the foreign ministry said, were an attempt at “discrediting Ukraine in the eyes of the international community.”

Russia is now on the offensive along the entire front line in Ukraine, but its advances have come at a creeping pace and at tremendous cost in dead and wounded soldiers. Military analysts have said that any more significant breakthrough would require a large mobilization of fresh troops.

The Ukrainian ministry issued its statement after Dmitri Medvedev, a former Russian president who is now the deputy secretary of Russia’s national security council, floated the possibility late Friday that Ukraine had been involved in the attack on the concert hall in a Moscow suburb.

The ministry said that Kyiv “categorically denies” any involvement, and an adviser to Ukraine’s president also denied any role by the country.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through an affiliated news agency on Friday, and the United States said it believed that a branch of the Islamic State that has been active in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan was to blame.

Mr. Medvedev vowed that Russia would retaliate against those behind the attack. “If it’s determined these are terrorists of the Kyiv regime, it will be impossible to treat them and those who inspire them any differently,” he said, adding that those responsible for the violence would “be found and mercilessly destroyed, like terrorists. This includes official figures of the state committing such an evil act.”

Russia has in the past used violence at home as pivot points in its wars, Ukrainian officials pointed out after Friday’s attack.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry, in its statement, pointed to explosions in apartment buildings in Russia in 1999 that set off the second of the two post-Soviet wars in Chechnya. A Russian security service defector later blamed his agency for orchestrating the attacks to galvanize public support for renewed military action in Chechnya, something that Moscow vehemently denies.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency and the presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, also referred in their statements to the apartment bombings as examples of the risk of Russia’s blaming Ukraine for the concert attack.

In the days before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Russian officials accused Kyiv of blowing up the car of a leader of one of the Kremlin’s client states in eastern Ukraine, and of firing artillery at a chemical plant. Ukraine denied being involved in either of those episodes.

People across Russia and beyond brought flowers, toys and candles to spontaneous memorials to victims of the attack, according to posts on social media. In a show of solidarity, taxi drivers offered through the night to drive people from the site of the concert hall for free, officials said. Lines in front of hospitals in Moscow grew as people came to donate blood.

Russia has been hit by several major attacks in recent decades.

For many Russians, the massacre at a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday night brought to mind shootings and bombings across the country in recent decades, events that the authorities often described as terrorism.

The authorities linked many of those attacks to Russia’s wars against Chechen separatists in the 1990s and 2000s. Those conflicts helped enable the rise of Vladimir V. Putin, who over his two decades in power has sought to project an image of being tough on terrorism.

2002: Moscow theater crisis

In the early 2000s, Chechen militants staged several major terrorist attacks, as Russia waged a second war to defeat a separatist movement in Chechnya. In October 2002, dozens of Chechen gunmen seized a crowded Moscow theater, taking more than 750 people hostage.

The siege lasted for days, until Russian special forces filled the theater with a debilitating gas to incapacitate the gunmen. More than a hundred hostages died as a result of the raid, with most of the deaths attributed to the gas. The Russian government later acknowledged that it had pumped in an aerosol version of fentanyl in its attempt to end the standoff.

2004: Beslan school siege

In September 2004, Chechen militants swept into a school in Beslan, a city in the North Caucasus, taking more than 1,000 people hostage, including 770 children, and rigging the building with explosives.

Three days after the siege began, Russian security forces armed with tanks, rockets, grenade launchers and other weapons stormed the school, which caught fire as they engaged in gun battles with the Chechen fighters.

More than 330 hostages — including 186 children — died in the battle, leading the European Court of Human Rights to decide over a decade later that the Russian authorities had violated European human rights law in their handling of the siege. The Kremlin rejected the conclusion.

2010-11: Moscow bombings

Bombers detonated two explosives at landmark subway stations in Moscow in March 2010, killing at least 38 people. The attack, resembling a subway bombing that killed about 40 people in 2004, revived fears that the Chechen insurgency had not been quelled, and a Chechen militant leader claimed to have ordered the attack.

In 2011, a bomber attacked Moscow’s busiest airport, Domodedovo, killing 37 people. The Russian authorities later said that the bomber was a man from the North Caucasus.

2017: St. Petersburg metro bombing

A homemade device filled with shrapnel exploded during rush hour, killing at least 14 people. Officials named the bomber as a member of the Uzbek minority in southern Kyrgyzstan, and said they were investigating whether he had any links to Islamist extremists.

2022: Izhevsk shooting

About 600 miles east of Moscow, a gunman attacked a school in the city of Izhevsk, killing 15 people, in what the Kremlin called a terrorist attack.

The authorities said the attacker, who had been armed with two pistols, “was wearing a black top with Nazi symbols and a balaclava” and was not carrying any ID.

The death toll has risen to 115, according to Russian law enforcement. “More bodies of the dead were found” as emergency services cleared away the rubble, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The number of victims will “significantly grow,” the governor of the Moscow region, Andrei Vorobyov, said in an interview broadcast on Russian television. He said that he had visited the concert hall and that the situation there was “very difficult.”

Russia’s emergency service published pictures and video from inside the concert hall showing charred seats and structural elements strewn together inside the giant hall, with firefighters working through the debris.

It’s been some 16 hours since the first news reports about the attack, but President Vladimir V. Putin still has not made any public comment. The Kremlin said that the Russian president spoke to his Belarusian counterpart, Aleksandr Lukashenko, on Saturday, and that the two allies “confirmed their readiness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.”

Russian authorities said that at least 145 people had been injured in the attack, along with the 93 reported killed. People lined up on Saturday outside a medical facility in Moscow to donate blood for the injured.

There are signs that Russia will try to pin blame for the attack on Ukraine, despite the claim of responsibility by the Islamic State. The F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, issued a statement on Saturday saying that the attackers planned to escape to Ukraine “and had contacts on the Ukrainian side,” according to Russian state media. Kyiv has denied any involvement and American officials have said there is no evidence that Ukraine played a role.

Russian investigators said law enforcement officers had detained four suspects in the Bryansk region, southwest of Moscow. The statement said that they were detained “not far from the border with Ukraine.”

The Investigative Committee, a top law enforcement body, said in a statement that the attackers had used automatic weapons and explosives, and set the venue, with the injured inside, on fire with “a flammable liquid,” poisoning the victims with its smoke.

The death toll has risen to 93, according to a statement from Russia’s Investigative Committee. “The number of dead will still rise,” the statement said.

Of the 93 killed, only 37 have been identified so far, according to a list published by the regional healthcare authorities.

The Kremlin had issued a statement saying that 11 people had been detained in connection to the attack, including all four who directly took part in it. The head of the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, reported to President Putin that law enforcement officers were looking for people who aided the attackers.

One member of Piknik, the band that had been scheduled to perform at the concert hall on Friday night, remains unaccounted for, according to Yuri Chernyshevsky, the band’s director. He told RIA Novosti, a Russian state news agency, that the other band members were not injured.

Two suspects in the attack have been detained in the Bryansk region southwest of Moscow, according to Aleksandr Khinshtein, a Russian lawmaker. In a post on the messaging app Telegram, Khinshtein said that other suspects were being chased. Russian law enforcement agencies have not released any information about the suspects.

Of those injured in the attack, 107 were still hospitalized on Saturday morning, Russia’s top emergency service said. Many Moscow residents have lined up in the city’s clinics to donate blood for the victims, the country’s state news agencies reported.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, said the country “condemns in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack in Moscow” and “considers it a blatant violation of all human standards.” U.S. officials have said the attack was likely staged by the branch of ISIS that is active in Afghanistan and neighboring countries and that is one of the last significant antagonists the Taliban government has fought with since taking power in 2021.

Three of those killed in the attack were children, the state-run news agency Tass reported, citing the ministry of health for the Moscow region.

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, condemned the attack on the concert venue and said he was “shocked” to learn the news. He sent condolences to President Putin and said that China opposed “all forms of terrorism” and firmly supported Russia’s “efforts to maintain national security and stability,” according to state-run China Central Television.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia issued a statement through a deputy prime minister, Tatyana Golikova, expressing wishes that all those injured in the attack recover and gratitude to the doctors treating them. He has yet to make a direct public statement.

What we know about ISIS-K, the group that claimed responsibility for the Moscow attack.

The group that claimed credit for the deadly terrorist attack in Moscow on Friday is the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan called Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K.

ISIS-K was founded in 2015 by disaffected members of the Pakistani Taliban, who then embraced a more violent version of Islam. The group saw its ranks cut roughly in half, to about 1,500 to 2,000 fighters, by 2021 from a combination of American airstrikes and Afghan commando raids that killed many of its leaders.

The group got a dramatic second wind soon after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government that year. During the U.S. military withdrawal from the country, ISIS-K carried out a suicide bombing at the international airport in Kabul in August 2021 that killed 13 U.S. troops and as many as 170 civilians.

The attack raised ISIS-K’s international profile, positioning it as a major threat to the Taliban’s ability to govern.

Since then, the Taliban have been fighting pitched battles against ISIS-K in Afghanistan. So far, the Taliban’s security services have prevented the group from seizing territory or recruiting large numbers of former Taliban fighters bored in peacetime — among the worst-case scenarios laid out after Afghanistan’s Western-backed government collapsed.

President Biden and his top commanders have said the United States would carry out “over-the-horizon” strikes from a base in the Persian Gulf against ISIS and Qaeda insurgents who threaten the United States and its interests overseas.

Indeed, Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, the head of the military’s Central Command, told a House committee on Thursday that ISIS-K “retains the capability and the will to attack U.S. and Western interests abroad in as little as six months with little to no warning.”

ISIS is clearly seeking to project its external operations well beyond its home turf. Counterterrorism officials in Europe say that in recent months they have snuffed out several nascent ISIS-K plots to attack targets there.

In a post on its official Telegram account in January, ISIS-K said it was behind a bombing attack that killed 84 people in Kerman, Iran, during a memorial procession for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a revered Iranian commander who was killed in an American drone strike in 2020.

ISIS-K, which has repeatedly threatened Iran over what it says is its polytheism and apostasy, has claimed responsibility for several previous attacks there.

And now the group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Moscow.

“ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years” and frequently criticizes President Vladimir V. Putin in its propaganda, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York. “ISIS-K accuses the Kremlin of having Muslim blood in its hands, referencing Moscow’s interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria.”

The U.S. says a branch of ISIS was responsible for the deadly attack in Moscow.

A branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for the massacre at a Moscow area concert hall, one of the deadliest attacks in Russia in decades, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim shortly afterward.

The United States collected intelligence in March that Islamic State-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, the branch of the group based in Afghanistan, had been planning an attack on Moscow, according to officials. ISIS members have been active in Russia, one U.S. official said.

After a period of relative quiet, the Islamic State has been trying to increase its external attacks, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Most of those plots in Europe have been thwarted, prompting assessments that the group had diminished capabilities.

“ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years,” frequently criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin in its propaganda, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York. “ISIS-K accuses the Kremlin of having Muslim blood in its hands, referencing Moscow’s interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria.”

The attack on Friday in Moscow, like a January assault in Iran claimed by the group, could prompt a reassessment of its ability to strike outside its home territory.

In addition to publicly warning on March 7 about a possible attack, U.S. officials said they had privately told Russian officials about the intelligence pointing to an impending attack. It is not clear how much information the United States gave Russian officials beyond what was in the public warning.

American intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” potential targets of dangers when they learn of them.

The United States had warned Iran of a possible attack ahead of twin bombings in January that killed scores and wounded hundreds of others at a memorial service for Iran’s former top general, Qassim Suleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike four years before.

Western intelligence agencies had collected intelligence about possible planning by ISIS-K to bomb the service. As in Russia, ISIS-K claimed responsibility for that attack.

U.S. Embassy warned earlier in March about a possible attack.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a security alert on March 7, warning that its personnel were “monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts.” The statement warned Americans that an attack could take place in the next 48 hours.

The warning was related to the attack on Friday, according to people briefed on the matter. But it was not related to possible Ukrainian sabotage, American officials said, adding that the State Department would not have used the word “extremists” to warn about actions ordered from Kyiv.

Pro-Kremlin voices immediately seized on the U.S. Embassy’s warning to paint America as trying to scare Russians.

America officials are worried that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could seek to falsely blame Ukraine for the attack, putting pressure on Western governments to identify who they think may be responsible. Mr. Putin frequently twists events, even tragic ones, to fit his public narrative. And he has been quick to accuse Ukraine of acts of terrorism to justify his invasion of the country.

U.S. officials said Mr. Putin could do that again after Friday’s attack, seeking to use the loss of life to undermine support for Ukraine both domestically and around the world.

On March 19, the Russian leader called the U.S. Embassy statement “obvious blackmail” made with “the intention to intimidate and destabilize our society.” But he had yet to comment directly on the attack Friday.

John Kirby, a spokesman for President Biden’s National Security Council, told reporters on Friday that the White House had “no indication at this time that Ukraine or Ukrainians were involved.” He added: “We’re taking a look at it. But I would disabuse you at this early hour of any connection to Ukraine.”

“Our thoughts obviously are going to be with the victims of this terrible, terrible shooting attack,” he also said.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said however, according to Reuters, “On what basis do officials in Washington draw any conclusions in the midst of a tragedy about someone’s innocence?” She added that if Washington had information, it should be shared.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a video statement that “Ukraine has absolutely nothing to do” with the attack.

Aishvarya Kavi contributed reporting.

Catherine’s Cancer Disclosure Shows Her Lessons From Previous Media Ordeals

For more than two months, Catherine, Princess of Wales, had lost control of her story to a spiral of wild, baseless online rumors. On Friday evening, with a stark two-minute, 13-second video, she set out to reclaim it.

To do so, the princess had to deliver the wrenching news that she was battling a life-threatening cancer, the kind of deeply personal disclosure that she and her husband, Prince William, have long resisted.

Catherine, 42, made the decision to record the video herself, three people familiar with the planning process said on Saturday. Earlier, she had decided to post an apology for digitally altering a photograph of herself with her three children, which set off a new round of conspiracy theories after it was released on Mother’s Day in Britain.

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Modi’s Party Doesn’t Control All of India. But He’s Working on It.

It is the final frontier for India’s most powerful leader in decades.

Narendra Modi, over his 10 years as prime minister, has made it his mission to turn a complex and diverse country of 1.4 billion people into something approaching a monolith dominated by his sweeping Hindu nationalist vision.

The news media, the national legislature, civil society, sometimes even the courts — all have largely been bent to his will. But one critical group of holdouts remains: some of India’s richest states, the engine of its rapid growth.

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‘Just a Human’: Londoners Offer Sympathy on Princess’s Cancer Diagnosis

The morning after Britain finally got some answers about what had kept Catherine, Princess of Wales, away from public view — that she is receiving treatment for cancer — the handful of news cameras set up on Saturday outside Kensington Palace were the only suggestion that anything was amiss.

The sun shone as Londoners went out for their morning runs in the surrounding park, children biked under budding trees and tourists waited for the palace, where Catherine and her family live, to open the doors of its public areas to visitors.

As news of her illness filtered out after weeks of speculation and suspicion, many expressed their shock and their concern for a well-liked member of the British royal family who is in line to one day be queen. Many also seemed to want to throw a protective arm around a woman whose every move has been scrutinized in her marriage to Prince William.

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U.N. Chief Calls Conditions in Gaza a ‘Moral Outrage’

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, reiterated his call on Saturday for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, using a visit to a border crossing in Egypt to slam the “nonstop nightmare” Palestinians faced in the territory.

“I want Palestinians in Gaza to know: You are not alone,” Mr. Guterres said. “People around the world are outraged about the horrors we are all witnessing in real time. I carry the voices of the vast majority of the world: We have seen enough. We have heard enough.”

Mr. Guterres spoke to reporters from the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, one of the two main ground corridors being used to transport desperately needed humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. More than five months into Israel’s war against Hamas, Palestinians in Gaza are facing widespread hunger and deprivation despite a huge international relief effort.

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Gaza’s Shadow Death Toll: Bodies Buried Beneath the Rubble

A curly-haired young man shakes as he bends over the mound of smashed concrete that used to be his friend’s home. He clutches his rain-spotted iPhone in his trembling hands, but there is no answer. “Please God, Ahmed,” he sobs in a video posted on social media. “Please God.”

A father crawls over a mountain of gray concrete shards, his right ear pressed to the dust. “I can’t hear you, love,” he tells his absent children in a different video shared on Instagram and verified by The New York Times. He scrabbles over a few yards to try again. “Salma! Said!” he yells, hitting his dusty hammer against the mute concrete over and over, before breaking down. “Said,” he cries, “didn’t I tell you to take care of your sister?”

Another man on another rubble heap is looking for his wife and his children, Rahaf, 6, and Aboud, 4. “Rahaf,” he cries, leaning forward to scan the twisted pile of gray before him. “What has she done to deserve this?”

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U.S. Call for Gaza Cease-Fire Runs Into Russia-China Veto at U.N.

A U.S. bid to have the U.N. Security Council call for “an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip failed on Friday, after Russia and China vetoed the American resolution that included some of Washington’s strongest language since the start of the war.

The resolution reflected the Biden administration’s growing frustration both with the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel’s conduct in a war that has killed about 30,000 people and reduced much of the enclave to ruins. The administration has been pressuring Israel not to attack the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have sought refuge, and to enable more aid to enter the territory.

But international frictions, including over Washington’s previous use of its veto power in the Security Council and its refusal to call for a permanent cease-fire, doomed the resolution. Eleven members voted in favor of the resolution, but Russia and China — permanent members — voted against it, as did Algeria. Guyana abstained.

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Catherine’s Cancer Diagnosis Puts U.K. Royals on Even More Uncertain Terrain

Catherine, Princess of Wales, has been diagnosed with cancer and has begun chemotherapy, she announced on Friday, putting a grim coda on months of rumors about her condition and plunging Britain’s royal family into deep uncertainty as two of its most senior figures grapple with grave health concerns.

Her diagnosis follows that of King Charles III, who announced his own cancer diagnosis and treatment in early February. Like the king, Catherine, 42, did not specify what type of cancer she had, nor what her prognosis was.

Speaking in a prerecorded video released on Friday evening, Catherine said, “It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family” as she described having major abdominal surgery in January and then learning through subsequent tests that she had a form of cancer.

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Venezuelan Opposition Names New Candidate in Show of Unity

Venezuela’s embattled opposition announced on Friday that it was naming a new candidate to face off against President Nicolas Maduro this summer, giving renewed hope to the country’s push toward democracy.

The country’s highest court in January barred the previous candidate, the former lawmaker María Corina Machado, from running, leading many Venezuelans to question how free and fair the election would be. The decision raised questions over whether Ms. Machado’s party, Come Venezuela, would try to insist on her candidacy or coalesce around another candidate.

On Friday. leaders of several opposition parties announced that Corina Yoris, a philosophy professor, would run instead in the elections on July 28, a move that analysts saw as a surprising show of unity.

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What We Know About Catherine, Princess of Wales’s Cancer Diagnosis

When Catherine, Princess of Wales, revealed on Friday evening that she had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy, it brought to a head months of speculation about her well-being.

Her prolonged absence from public life in recent months had driven a wave of theories and wild rumors about her health, her whereabouts and even the state of her marriage to Prince William.

Here’s what we know about her diagnosis and treatment.

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Insooni Breaks Racial Barrier to Become Beloved Singer in South Korea

When she took the stage to perform at Carnegie Hall in front of 107 Korean War veterans, the singer Kim Insoon was thinking of her father, an American soldier stationed in South Korea during the postwar decades whom she had never met or even seen.

“You are my fathers,” she told the soldiers in the audience before singing “Father,” one of her Korean-language hits.

“To me, the United States has always been my father’s country,” Ms. Kim said in a recent interview, recalling that 2010 performance. “It was also the first place where I wanted to show how successful I had become — without him and in spite of him.”

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Collecting the Dead Russia Left Behind

Tyler Hicks and Marc Santora traveled with civilian body collectors and the Ukrainian military to several hot spots along the front to report this story.

Oleksii Yukov spends many of his nights dodging drones, navigating minefields and hoping not to be targeted by Russian artillery as he races to collect the remains of fallen soldiers from the battlefield.

In just three shattered tree lines around the ruined village of Klishchiivka outside Bakhmut, where Ukrainian and Russian forces have fought seesaw battles for well over a year, he collected 300 bodies. They were almost all Russian, he said, left behind in a maelstrom of violence where the struggle to stay alive often outweighs concern for the dead.

Mr. Yusov has been collecting bodies from the bloody fields and battered villages of eastern Ukraine for a decade. He is now the head of a group of civilian volunteers called Platsdarm, and has witnessed more death than he would care to remember.

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Democracy Teetering in African Countries Once Ruled by France

In Senegal, the president tried to cancel an election. In Niger, a military coup d’état toppled an elected president, who eight months later is still imprisoned in the presidential palace. In Chad, the leading opposition politician was killed in a shootout with security forces. And in Tunisia, once the only democratic success story of the Arab Spring rebellions, the president is steering the state toward increasing autocracy.

Democracy is in trouble in former French colonies in Africa. And the two ways it is being subverted — by the elected officials entrusted with upholding it, or by coup plotters overthrowing governments — are manifestations of the same malaise, according to some experts.

After they won independence from France in the 1960s, nascent states modeled their constitutions on France’s, concentrating power in presidents’ hands. And France maintained a web of business and political ties with its former colonies — a system known as Françafrique — often propping up corrupt governments. These are among the reasons analysts cite for the democratic crisis in these countries.

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Uganda’s Leader Names Son to Top Post, Fueling Talk of a Succession Plan

Uganda’s president, who has been in office for nearly four decades, has appointed his son as the head of the country’s military, fueling long-held suspicions in the East African nation that the leader is preparing his son to one day succeed him.

The president, Yoweri Museveni, said late Thursday that he had named his son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, 49, as the nation’s top army commander. General Kainerugaba had been serving as a senior adviser to his father, and had been participating in large rallies across the country to help position himself as heir apparent — even as experts say that Mr. Museveni, who is 79, is unlikely to relinquish power during his lifetime.

General Kainerugaba had burst into the global limelight in recent years for his erratic, late-night tweets. At least one of the general’s closest confidants was also named to a top cabinet position.

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Snakes in the Grass — and Under the Piano, by the Pool and in the Prison

Natasha Frost spent two days trailing snake catchers on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.

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The phone rings. It’s the local prison. There’s a snake in a cell. Within a few hours, snakes have also been spotted at a school, beneath a piano stored in a private garage and near a lagoon-like swimming pool at a retirement home. Customers want them gone.

Business has never been so good for Stuart McKenzie, who runs a snake-catching service in the Sunshine Coast, a verdant enclave along miles of pristine beach in the vast Australian state of Queensland. On the busiest days, he can receive more than 35 calls about troublesome snakes.

Queensland is home to the largest number of snake species in Australia — about 120. Of those, two-thirds are venomous and a handful are deadly. Throughout Australia, fatalities from snake bites remain extremely rare — about two a year — and in Queensland, the reptiles are simply a part of life.

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A Boring Capital for a Young Democracy. Just the Way Residents Like It.

Reporting from Belmopan, Belize

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Mention Belmopan, Belize’s capital that sits deep in the country’s interior, and many Belizeans will belittle the city as a bastion of pencil-pushing bureaucrats that’s not just dull, but also devoid of nightlife.

“I was warned, ‘Belmopan is for the newlyweds or the nearly deads,’” said Raquel Rodriguez, 45, owner of an art school, about the reactions when she moved to Belmopan from coastal, bustling Belize City.

Not exactly known as an Eden for young urbanites, Belmopan figures among the smallest capital cities anywhere in the Americas. It has only about 25,000 residents and a cluster of hurricane-proof, heavy-on-the-concrete, Maya-inspired Brutalist buildings.

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For Car Thieves, Toronto Is a ‘Candy Store,’ and Drivers Are Fed Up

Vjosa Isai drove around Toronto in a Volkswagen Passat with 290,000 miles on it, a vehicle not coveted by car thieves, to report this article.

Whenever Dennis Wilson wants to take a drive in his new SUV, he has to set aside an extra 15 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to remove the car’s steering wheel club, undo four tire locks and lower a yellow bollard before backing out of his driveway.

His Honda CR-V is also fitted with two alarm systems, a vehicle tracking device and, for good measure, four Apple AirTags. Its remote-access key fob rests in a Faraday bag, to jam illicit unlocking signals.

As a final touch, he mounted two motion-sensitive floodlights on his house and aimed them at the driveway in his modest neighborhood in Toronto.

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Where Hostage Families and Supporters Gather, for Solace and Protest

A week after Hamas-led terrorists stormed his kibbutz and kidnapped his wife and three young children, Avihai Brodutch planted himself on the sidewalk in front of army headquarters in Tel Aviv holding a sign scrawled with the words “My family’s in Gaza,” and said he would not budge until they were brought home.

Passers-by stopped to commiserate with him and to try to lift his spirits. They brought him coffee, platters of food and changes of clothing, and welcomed him to their homes to wash up and get some sleep.

“They were so kind, and they just couldn’t do enough,” said Mr. Brodutch, 42, an agronomist who grew pineapples on Kibbutz Kfar Azza before the attacks on Oct. 7. “It was Israel at its finest,” he said. “There was a feeling of a common destiny.”

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An English City Gave Soccer to the World. Now It Wants Credit.

As far as the man in the food truck is concerned, the patch of land he occupies in Sheffield, England, is about as humdrum as they come. To him, the spot — in the drab parking lot of a sprawling home improvement superstore, its facade plastered in lurid orange — is not exactly a place where history comes alive.

John Wilson, an academic at the University of Sheffield’s management school, looks at the same site and can barely contain his excitement. This, he said, is one of the places where the world’s most popular sport was born. He does not see a parking lot. He can see the history: the verdant grass, the sweating players, the cheering crowds.

His passion is sincere, absolute and shared by a small band of amateur historians and volunteer detectives devoted to restoring Sheffield — best known for steel, coal and as the setting for the film “The Full Monty” — to its rightful place as the undisputed birthplace of codified, organized, recognizable soccer.

Map locates Sheffield, Manchester and London in England. It also shows where Wembley Stadium is in northwest London.

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An American Who Has Helped Clear 815,000 Bombs From Vietnam

On a visit to the former battlefield of Khe Sanh, scene of one of the bloodiest standoffs of the Vietnam War, the only people Chuck Searcy encountered on the broad, barren field were two young boys who led him to an unexploded rocket lying by a ditch.

One of the youngsters reached out to give the bomb a kick until Mr. Searcy cried out, “No, Stop!”

“It was my first encounter with unexploded ordnance,” Mr. Searcy said of that moment in 1992. “I had no idea that I would be dedicating my life to removing them.”

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‘Decolonizing’ Ukrainian Art, One Name-and-Shame Post at a Time

Hiding for days in the basement of a kindergarten in Bucha, the Kyiv suburb that became synonymous with Russian war crimes, Oksana Semenik had time to think.

Outside, Russian troops were rampaging through the town, killing civilians who ventured into the streets. Knowing she might not make it out, Ms. Semenik, an art historian, mulled over the Ukrainian artworks she had long wanted to write about — and which were now in danger of disappearing.

That time spent holed up in Bucha was during the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion, but even then, two years ago, she had already seen reports of destroyed museums. Precious folk paintings by her favorite artist, Maria Primachenko, had gone up in flames. Moscow, she realized, was waging a war on Ukrainian culture.

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Murder and Magic Realism: A Rising Literary Star Mines China’s Rust Belt

For a long time during Shuang Xuetao’s early teenage years, he wondered what hidden disaster had befallen his family.

His parents, proud workers at a tractor factory in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, stopped going to work, and the family moved into an empty factory storage room to save money on rent.

But they rarely talked about what had happened, and Mr. Shuang worried that some special shame had struck his family alone.

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Architect Embraces Indigenous Worldview in Australian Designs

Jefa Greenaway will never forget the first time he heard his father’s voice. It was in 2017, when he was watching a documentary about Indigenous Australians’ fight to be recognized in the country’s Constitution.

“It was poignant, surreal,” Mr. Greenaway recalled. “In one word: emotional.”

In the film, his father, Bert Groves, an Indigenous man and a civil rights activist born in 1907, recounts how he was prevented from pursuing an education because of the size of his skull, a victim of phrenology, the pseudoscience that lingered in Australia into the 20th century.

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‘Get Ready to Scream’: How to Be a Baseball Fan in South Korea

In the United States, many Major League Baseball games feature long periods of calm, punctuated by cheering when there’s action on the field or the stadium organ plays a catchy tune.

But in South Korea, a baseball game is a sustained sensory overload. Each player has a fight song, and cheering squads — including drummers and dancers who stand on platforms near the dugouts facing the spectators — ensure that there is near-constant chanting. Imagine being at a ballpark where every player, even a rookie, gets the star treatment.

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Canadian Skaters Demand Bronze Medals in Olympics Dispute

Nearly a month after international figure skating’s governing body revised the results of a marquee competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, stripping Russia of the gold medal and giving the United States team a long-delayed victory, a new fight about the outcome erupted on Monday.

Eight members of the Canadian squad that competed in the team competition in Beijing have filed a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport demanding that they be awarded bronze medals in the team event. The court announced the filing but revealed no details.

The Canadians, whose case was joined by their country’s skating federation and national Olympic committee, are expected to argue that figure skating’s global governing body erred when it revised the results of the competition in January after a Russian skater who had taken part, the teenage prodigy Kamila Valieva, was given a four-year ban for doping.

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In Latin America, a New Frontier for Women: Professional Softball in Mexico

Reporting from Mexico City and León, Mexico

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In many parts of Latin America, baseball is a popular and well-established sport with men’s professional leagues in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, among others. But women wanting to play baseball’s cousin — softball — professionally had only one option: to leave. They had to go to the United States or Japan.

Until now.

In what is believed to be a first in Latin America — a region where men often have more opportunities than women, particularly in sports — a professional women’s softball league has started in Mexico. On Jan. 25, when the inaugural season began, 120 women on six teams got to call themselves professional softball players, many for the first time.

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Why the Cost of Success in English Soccer’s Lower Leagues Keeps Going Up

Geoff Thompson knows there are plenty of people who want to buy what he has to sell. The phone calls and emails over the last few weeks have left no doubt. And really, that is no surprise. Few industries are quite as appealing or as prestigious as English soccer, and Mr. Thompson has a piece of it.

It is, admittedly, a comparatively small piece: South Shields F.C., the team he has owned for almost a decade, operates in English soccer’s sixth tier, several levels below, and a number of worlds away, from the dazzling light and international allure of the Premier League. But while his team might be small, Mr. Thompson is of the view that it is, at least, as perfectly poised for profitability as any minor-league English soccer club could hope to be.

South Shields has earned four promotions to higher leagues in his nine years as chairman. The team owns its stadium. Mr. Thompson has spent considerable sums of money modernizing the bathrooms, the club shop and the private boxes. There is a thriving youth academy and an active charitable foundation. “We have done most of the hard yards,” Mr. Thompson said.

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Playing Soccer in $1.50 Sandals That Even Gucci Wants to Copy

The wealthy pros of Ivory Coast’s national soccer team were resting in their luxury hotel last week, preparing for a match in Africa’s biggest tournament, when Yaya Camara sprinted onto a dusty lot and began fizzing one pass after another to his friends.

Over and over, he corralled the game’s underinflated ball and then sent it away again with his favorite soccer shoes: worn plastic sandals long derided as the sneaker of the poor, but which he and his friends wear as a badge of honor.

Shiny soccer cleats like his idols’? No thanks, said Mr. Camara, a lean 18-year-old midfielder, as he wiped sweat from his brow.

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El nuevo objetivo de un cártel del narcotráfico de México: personas mayores y sus tiempos compartidos

Al principio, el cártel comenzó con el tráfico de drogas. Luego pasó a aguacates, bienes raíces y constructoras. Ahora, una organización criminal mexicana conocida por su crueldad está haciendo la transición hacia adultos mayores y sus tiempos compartidos.

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La operación es relativamente sencilla. Personas que trabajan para el cártel que se hacen pasar por representantes de ventas llaman a los dueños de las propiedades de tiempo compartido, ofreciéndoles comprar sus inversiones por sumas generosas de dinero. Luego exigen pagos por adelantado para cualquier cosa, desde la publicación de anuncios hasta el pago de supuestas multas gubernamentales. Los falsos representantes convencen a sus víctimas de que les transfieran grandes cantidades de dinero a México —en ocasiones hasta cientos de miles de dólares— y luego desaparecen.

Esta estafa ha hecho que el Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación gane cientos de millones de dólares en la última década, según funcionarios estadounidenses que no estaban autorizados para hablar públicamente sobre este tema, a través de decenas de centros de llamadas en México que buscan sin descanso a propietarios estadounidenses y canadienses de tiempos compartidos. Incluso sobornan a empleados en resorts mexicanos para que filtren información de los huéspedes, según afirmaron los funcionarios estadounidenses.

Esta estafa representa la evolución más reciente del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, un grupo que está arraigado en sectores legales e ilegales de la economía. Con poco más que un teléfono y un guion convincente, los trabajadores del cártel están victimizando a personas en diferentes países.

Incluso esos mismos trabajadores son vulnerables a la crueldad del cártel.

En mayo del año pasado, se descubrieron los restos de ocho jóvenes mexicanos que trabajaban en un centro de llamadas del cártel en decenas de bolsas de plástico que fueron tiradas en un barranco en las afueras de Guadalajara, la capital del estado de Jalisco.

Por lo general, el cártel busca aprovecharse de personas mayores retiradas que quieren dejarle todo el dinero posible a sus familiares a través de la venta de bienes. Varias víctimas entrevistadas por The New York Times dijeron que el dinero que perdieron excedía el valor de su inversión inicial en propiedades vacacionales de tiempo compartido en Jamaica, California y México.

“Soy viejo, al igual que estos clientes”, dijo Michael Finn, fundador de Finn Law Group en San Petersburgo, Florida, que ha representado a miles de personas que han lidiado con diversas formas de estafas con tiempos compartidos. “Tendemos a confiar cuando alguien nos llama y nos vende estos sueños”.

Finn comprendió la gravedad de este tipo de fraude hace unos 4 años, cuando recibió una llamada de una mujer desesperada que había transferido 1,2 millones de dólares, la totalidad de sus ahorros, a México, para vender su tiempo compartido.

La industria de las propiedades vacacionales de tiempo compartido está en auge, con 10.500 millones de dólares en ventas en 2022, un incremento del 30 por ciento en comparación con el año anterior, según la Asociación Estadounidense de Desarrolladores de Complejos Turísticos. Cerca de 10 millones de hogares estadounidenses poseen tiempos compartidos, informó la asociación, gastando un promedio de alrededor de 22.000 dólares por su inversión además de tarifas anuales de unos 2000 dólares. La mayoría de los tiempos compartidos son complejos turísticos de playa.

El crecimiento del sector coincide con un incremento del 79 por ciento en los últimos cuatro años en las denuncias de fraudes con tiempos compartidos recibidas por el FBI. Pero, para poder investigar las estafas que se originan en México, el FBI debe contar con la cooperación de las autoridades locales. Además, las firmas de abogados no pueden introducir demandas civiles porque no tienen jurisdicción en México.

En los últimos cinco años, a dueños estadounidenses de propiedades de tiempo compartido les han estafado unos 288 millones de dólares, según el FBI, a través de varios tipos de fraudes, lo que incluye los esquemas gestionados por el cártel. La cifra real está probablemente alrededor de los 350 millones de dólares, ya que cerca del 20 por ciento de los estafados no interponen una demanda.

“Las víctimas no quieren denunciar porque están avergonzadas y le ocultan la situación a sus familias”, afirmó Finn.

En octubre de 2022, una pareja retirada —James, de 76 años, y su esposa, Nicki, de 72— dijeron que habían recibido una llamada de un supuesto agente de bienes raíces en Worry Free Vacations en Atlanta, que les ofreció negociar la venta de su tiempo compartido en el lago Tahoe, California, a un empresario millonario mexicano. La pareja pidió que no se publicaran sus apellidos porque estaban “muy avergonzados” de haber sido estafados.

A medida que sus hijas fueron creciendo, dejaron de utilizar la propiedad vacacional que compraron en la década de 1990 por unos 8000 dólares, por lo que la pareja no dudó ante la oportunidad de vender.

La estafa comenzó con tarifas pequeñas, afirmó James, unos pocos miles de dólares aquí y allá destinados para pagar costos de registros con el gobierno mexicano para “transacciones transfronterizas”. Las tarifas fueron aumentando a medida que le decían que estaba siendo multado por las autoridades mexicanas debido a varias infracciones, y que podía ser extraditado por romper la ley a menos que pagara las multas. En un punto, contó James, los estafadores incluso lo convencieron de que invirtiera en una nueva propiedad comercial en México.

Después de unos 20 pagos, la pareja había transferido casi 900.000 dólares a diferentes cuentas bancarias en México, según registros bancarios revisados por el Times.

Las estafas que llegan tan lejos no son poco comunes, según el FBI. La agencia afirmó que, por lo general, víctimas como James y Nicki, transfieren su dinero a cuentas bancarias de socios del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación.

La pareja dijo que agotaron sus ahorros y que ahora estaban endeudados. Afirmaron que incluso pidieron prestado unos 150.000 dólares a una de sus hijas y vendieron la casa de infancia de James, pero no han recibido ni un solo centavo.

“Estoy seguro de que si les hubiera preguntado, me habrían dicho: ‘¿Cómo puedes ser tan idiota?’”, dijo James refiriéndose a sus hijas. “Y me pregunto lo mismo. Solía pensar que era muy inteligente”.

Los estafadores se identificaron como representantes de ventas y como un funcionario del banco central de México, según revelaron correos electrónicos revisados por el Times, y en todo momento prometieron que si pagaba solo “un monto más”, todo se resolvería y su dinero sería liberado.

Sin embargo, después de cada pago, una nueva tarifa aparecía.

En un comunicado, el banco central de México declaró que estaba al tanto de que se estaban cometiendo estafas con tiempos compartidos usando su nombre y advirtió a las personas para que no cayeran en el fraude.

A fines del año pasado, James comenzó a recibir mensajes desesperados de supuestos representantes que afirmaban que uno de sus colegas había sido encarcelado en México tras intentar resolver el caso, según llamadas grabadas y correos electrónicos revisados por el Times.

“Por favor, haz todo lo posible para que mi amigo/jefe regrese a casa. Extraña mucho a su familia y escucharlo es terrible, eres la única esperanza para que esto se solucione”, decía un correo electrónico reciente. “El monto pendiente de pago es: 157.786,61 dólares”.

James dijo que estaba pensando sacar una segunda hipoteca para pagar el monto, hasta que sus hijas lo detuvieron.

Si bien la estafa dirigida a los dueños de propiedades de tiempo compartido es financiera, en México puede ser mortal.

Los ocho mexicanos que fueron hallados muertos el año pasado trabajaban en un centro de llamadas en el centro de Guadalajara que estaba dirigido por el Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, según afirmaron funcionarios estadounidenses. Los fiscales locales dijeron que cuando registraron el centro, encontraron un trapeador con manchas rojas, pizarrones con nombres extranjeros y detalles de membresías de propiedades de tiempo compartido.

Cuando los periodistas de The New York Times visitaron recientemente el centro de llamadas, descubrieron que estaba cerrado, y un vehículo de la policía estaba estacionado afuera. El edificio estaba en un vecindario de clase alta, frente a un parque. Los padres pasaban, llevando a sus hijos a la escuela.

Héctor Flores, fundador del Colectivo Luz de Esperanza, una organización que realiza búsquedas por todo el estado de Jalisco en busca de los cuerpos de los desaparecidos, afirmó que sabía de unas 30 personas que habían desaparecido de centros de llamadas desde 2017. Sin embargo, dijo que con casi toda seguridad hay más porque muchas familias no hacen denuncias por miedo.

La fiscalía del estado no respondió a solicitudes de comentarios.

El Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, que fue fundado hace unos 15 años, ha crecido hasta ser uno de los cárteles más poderosos en México. En los últimos años, se ha expandido hacia sectores legales de la economía, como la venta de aguacates a Estados Unidos.

En Puerto Vallarta, un bastión del cártel y popular localidad costera, los trabajadores mexicanos de los hoteles son presionados de manera rutinaria por la organización criminal para que filtren información de los huéspedes, según James Barnacle, el subdirector asistente del FBI que monitorea los delitos financieros.

Barnacle afirmó que los hoteles y las compañías de propiedades de tiempo compartido en México estaban al tanto de las filtraciones y también dijo que el gobierno de Estados Unidos les ha hecho advertencias para que comiencen a tomar medidas drásticas.

Una preocupación en particular para los funcionarios estadounidenses es el Grupo Vidanta, una de las empresas de complejos turísticos de tiempo compartido más grandes del mundo con sede en México. Su dueño, Daniel Chávez Morán, es amigo y asesor del presidente de México. Muchos de los clientes de Vidanta han sido víctimas del fraude en propiedades de tiempo compartido, según un funcionario estadounidense que no tenía autorización para hablar públicamente.

Vidanta no respondió a las solicitudes de comentarios.

Pete Willard contó que compró su propiedad de tiempo compartido de Vidanta en 2015. Seis años después, recibió una llamada de una supuesta compañía de bienes raíces de Nueva York, la cual le ofrecía alrededor de medio millón de dólares por ella. Tras enviar varias transferencias de dinero a México, había perdido unos 100.000 dólares sin recibir nada a cambio, dijo Willard.

Cuando comprendió que nunca más iba a ver su dinero, Willard contactó al FBI.

“Me dijeron que no había mucho que pudieran hacer porque todo el dinero estaba en México”, afirmó.

Willard intentó introducir demandas con el Better Business Bureau y el fiscal de distrito en Nueva York contra las compañías que lo habían estafado. “Nunca obtuve una respuesta de nadie más allá de ‘lo siento, debió haber sido más diligente’”.

Barnacle admitió que las fuerzas de seguridad de Estados Unidos están básicamente de manos atadas para contrarrestar estos fraudes, más allá de emitir mensajes de advertencia a la población.

“La gente explota tus datos todo el tiempo”, dijo Barnacle. El cártel no “tiene que invertir en un producto que tienen; solo tienen que levantar el teléfono o enviar un correo electrónico a las personas y, ya sabes, engañarlos para que les den su dinero”.

Hasta el momento, el Departamento del Tesoro de Estados Unidos ha impuesto sanciones a 40 compañías mexicanas y a alrededor de una decena de personas por fraude con propiedades de tiempo compartido, pero se han hecho pocos arrestos. Y apenas se clausura una compañía tapadera o una cuenta bancaria, surgen nuevas.

Los bancos mexicanos “tienen culpa en esto”, afirmó Spencer McMullen, un estadounidense que ejerce el derecho en Chapala, México, y añadió que por lo general no verifican si las cuentas gestionadas por el cártel están utilizando direcciones válidas y son negocios legítimos. “Ellos podrían congelar estas cuentas por actividad sospechosa”.

Durante las dos semanas en las que James, el dueño de la propiedad de tiempo compartido que perdió casi 900.000 dólares, estuvo hablando con el Times, comenzó a entender que nunca más iba a ver su dinero. Su esposa, Nicki, está furiosa, pues se lo había advertido desde el principio.

“Sabes, cuando trabajas durante tantos años y ahorras para poder disfrutar de tu vejez y luego te lo arrebatan”, dijo Nicki, “eso no está bien”.

Pasaron de comenzar su retiro de forma muy cómoda a preguntarse si ahora deberían aplicar a empleos de medio tiempo. Nicki está recuperándose de un cáncer y sus gastos se están acumulando.

“¿Voy a tener que trabajar en un Walmart ahora?”, dijo Nicki.

Emiliano Rodríguez Mega colaboró con este reportaje desde Ciudad de México.

Maria Abi-Habib es corresponsal de investigación con sede en Ciudad de México y cubre América Latina. Anteriormente ha reportado desde Afganistán, todo Medio Oriente e India, donde cubrió el sur de Asia. Más de Maria Abi-Habib

París busca organizar los Juegos Olímpicos desde una visión ecológica

Somini Sengupta y

Somini Sengupta y Catherine Porter informaron sobre París y los suburbios del norte en Sena-Saint Denis.

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¿Cómo se organiza un evento deportivo internacional en el que millones de personas visitan una ciudad en la era del calentamiento global?

Esa es la prueba para los Juegos Olímpicos de París 2024 este verano.

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Los organizadores afirman que están sometiendo a las olimpiadas a una dieta climática. Según ellos, estos Juegos Olímpicos no generarán más que la mitad de las emisiones de gas de efecto invernadero de los más recientes. Eso significa ser muy estrictos con todo lo que produce las emisiones que calientan el planeta: electricidad, alimentos, construcciones y transporte, incluido el combustible que quemarán los aviones que serán utilizados por los atletas y aficionados para viajar desde todas partes del mundo y llegar hasta la ciudad organizadora.

Por su naturaleza, un evento al que acuden 10.500 atletas y cerca de 15 millones de espectadores va a tener un costo en términos medioambientales. Y eso ha hecho que quienes adoran las olimpiadas pero odian la contaminación sugieran que el evento se reparta en las instalaciones ya existentes en todo el mundo con el fin de que no se necesiten tantas edificaciones nuevas y viajes en avión. Por esa razón, la cita deportiva de París está siendo vigilada con mucha atención.

La ciudad le está dando más espacio a las bicicletas y menos a los automóviles. Está eliminando los enormes generadores que funcionan con diésel, un elemento básico de los grandes eventos deportivos. Está planeando menús para los huéspedes cuyo cultivo y cocción no generen tanta contaminación como las típicas comidas francesas: con más vegetales y menos carne a la pimienta. También habrá paneles solares que floten de manera temporal sobre el río Sena.

Pero tal vez la medida más importante que han tomado los organizadores sea lo que no están haciendo: construir. Al menos, no tanto.

En vez de construir nuevas obras emblemáticas para las olimpiadas (lo que genera muchas emisiones de gas de efecto invernadero por la fabricación del concreto y el acero), se están reutilizando muchos de sus lugares de interés existentes, entre ellos el Gran Palacio, la plaza conocida como de la Concordia e incluso la piscina construida para los Juegos Olímpicos de París 1924.

Pero esto no ha ocurrido sin controversias.

Una importante iniciativa para la reducción de emisiones, la decisión de prescindir del aire acondicionado convencional en la villa olímpica, ha planteado preocupaciones. En su lugar, los edificios emplearán un sistema de enfriamiento que utiliza agua extraída del subsuelo. Varios equipos olímpicos están considerando llevar sus propios aparatos de aire acondicionado.

No obstante, la esperanza es que este tipo de experimentos sirvan como modelo para otros Juegos Olímpicos en el futuro y para otras ciudades de todo el mundo. Los pocos edificios nuevos que se están construyendo, entre ellos los que albergarán a los atletas, así como un complejo de piscinas y un estadio, están utilizando menos cemento y más madera. Cuentan con paneles solares y vegetación sobre sus azoteas.

También se espera que los nuevos edificios tengan una vida que vaya mucho más allá del evento deportivo. Están diseñados para que los residentes locales los usen en las próximas décadas y, según los dirigentes del comité organizador de París 2024, para revitalizar los suburbios de la ciudad. “Nos planteamos objetivos que nunca se habían planteado para ningún evento anterior, mucho menos a esta escala”, señaló Georgina Grenon, quien se encarga de los esfuerzos medioambientales de los Juegos Olímpicos.

Los críticos objetan que aunque es admirable gran parte de lo que está haciendo París, sobre todo las restricciones a nuevas construcciones, para combatir la crisis climática se requiere algo más que reducir emisiones aquí y allá. “Tenemos que replantearnos fundamentalmente estos megaeventos”, señaló Cesar Dugats, cofundador de un grupo de análisis climático llamado Eclaircies. “En vez de concentrar todos los eventos en una sola ciudad, podría considerarse distribuirlos en todo el mundo”.

Los Juegos Olímpicos se enfrentan a un riesgo más inmediato: el cambio climático en si mismo. El aumento de la temperatura global está haciendo que los veranos de París sean tan calurosos que impliquen un peligro. Eso ha incrementado las inquietudes sobre cómo proteger a los atletas y a los aficionados a fines de julio y principios de agosto.

Las autoridades de la ciudad afirmaron que durante los últimos años se han plantado miles de árboles para atenuar el calor del verano. Están erigiendo torres que emiten llovizna para que se esparza por el aire. Se pretende instalar amplias sombrillas debajo de las cuales puedan esperar los aficionados. “Tenemos soluciones, nos estamos preparando”, comentó Dan Lert, vicealcalde encargado de preparar la ciudad para el calor. “Es una gran prueba”.

Cuando se trata de emisiones, el transporte es otro dolor de cabeza. París ya ha estado restringiendo el espacio para los automóviles y le ha concedido áreas a las bicicletas, y está usando estos Juegos Olímpicos para acelerar ese cambio.

Pero las olimpiadas, con sus enormes multitudes, suscitan un problema para los medios de transporte usados por los parisinos y muchos están haciendo planes para irse de vacaciones y huir del evento.

Pierre Rabadan, un exjugador de rugby que ahora es vicealcalde en el área de deportes de la ciudad, se encogió de hombros para protegerse del viento y salió con paso enérgico de la parada del tranvía que está frente al nuevo estadio de baloncesto de la ciudad, sobre la calle de la Chapelle. Señaló una ciclovía casi terminada que corre a lo largo de la calle, construida en una amplia avenida que solía estar dedicada a los automóviles.

Desde la elección de Anne Hidalgo como alcaldesa en 2014, París ha añadido casi 600 kilómetros de carriles para bicicleta. Cerca del 10 por ciento se han denominado como “olimpistas”.

“El problema es que construimos la ciudad en torno a los automóviles”, explicó Rabadan.

Otro problema es que el sistema del metro de la ciudad está desbordado. Los vagones ya van repletos y los trabajadores se apresuran para terminar las nuevas ampliaciones de dos de las líneas con el fin de que estén listas para los Juegos Olímpicos.

Con el fin de brindarles espacio a los asistentes, las autoridades han exhortado a la población a no usar los vagones o a trabajar desde casa.

Según Grenon, los Juegos Olímpicos proporcionan “un laboratorio”, sobre todo en el caso de edificios diseñados desde cero.

Un nuevo centro acuático, al final de una autopista en el suburbio de Saint-Denis, al norte, es una obra emblemática de pino y abeto de Douglas. Su techo de 5000 metros cuadrados dibuja una curva como si fuera una ola: los arquitectos la diseñaron de ese modo para reducir el tamaño del edificio y disminuir la energía que se requiere para calentar el espacio.

La piscina tiene 5 metros de profundidad solo en la parte necesaria para clavados de mayor profundidad y es menos profunda donde no se necesita. Eso también ahorra agua y la energía que se requiere para calentarla. Parte de ese calor vendrá de un centro de datos cercano. Los 5000 asientos del recinto están fabricados con plástico reciclado.

El objetivo, según señaló la arquitecta Cécilia Gross, fue “hacer más con menos”.

Léontine Gallois colaboró con reportería desde París.

Somini Sengupta es la reportera internacional del equipo climático del Times. Más de Somini Sengupta

Catherine Porter es reportera internacional del Times y cubre Francia. Está radicada en París. Más de Catherine Porter

Bolsonaro enfrenta posibles cargos penales por falsificar registros de vacunación

La policía federal de Brasil recomendó que el expresidente Jair Bolsonaro sea imputado por un esquema de falsificación de su tarjeta de vacunación de la COVID-19, una acción que en parte fue cometida para viajar a Estados Unidos durante la pandemia. Este incidente es la señal más reciente de que las investigaciones penales se ciernen sobre el exmandatario.

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Ahora los fiscales federales tendrán que decidir si siguen adelante con el caso. Si eso sucede, sería la primera vez que el expresidente se enfrentaría a cargos penales.

La policía brasileña acusó a Bolsonaro de ordenarle a uno de sus principales ayudantes que obtuviera registros falsificados de vacunación de la COVID-19 para él y su hija de 13 años, a fines de 2022, justo antes de que el expresidente viajara a Florida donde estuvo durante tres meses después de su pérdida electoral.

La policía brasileña dijo que estaba esperando una respuesta del Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos sobre si Bolsonaro utilizó una tarjeta de vacunación falsa para ingresar al país, lo que podría acarrear diferentes cargos penales. En ese momento, la mayoría de los visitantes internacionales que ingresaban a Estados Unidos estaban obligados a mostrar una prueba de vacunación de COVID-19 para poder entrar al país.

Bolsonaro ha dicho que no recibió la vacuna de la covid, pero ha negado las acusaciones de que estuviera involucrado en cualquier plan para falsificar sus registros de vacunación. Su abogado dijo en un mensaje de texto que todavía estaba revisando las acusaciones.

Si es declarado culpable de falsificar su tarjeta de vacunación, Bolsonaro podría enfrentarse a penas de prisión.

La acusación de la policía federal es la primera vez en que las diversas investigaciones penales sobre Bolsonaro han avanzado hasta la fase de formular cargos.

Bolsonaro ha sido objeto de interrogatorios y registros como parte de varias investigaciones, incluida la venta de relojes y joyas que recibió como regalos presidenciales de Arabia Saudita y otros países, así como las acusaciones de que trabajó con altos funcionarios gubernamentales para fraguar un plan con el fin de tratar de aferrarse al poder tras su derrota en las elecciones de 2022.

El Tribunal Superior Electoral de Brasil ya ha declarado a Bolsonaro inelegible para ocupar cargos públicos hasta 2030 por difundir información falsa sobre los sistemas de votación de Brasil en la televisión estatal, lo que impide su participación en la próxima contienda presidencial de 2026.

Durante la pandemia, Bolsonaro criticó la vacuna de la covid con bromas en las que decía que convertiría a la gente en cocodrilos y también promovió tratamientos no probados, como la hidroxicloroquina, un fármaco contra la malaria.

Su gobierno titubeó en obtener las vacunas cuando se empezaron a distribuir, lo que agravó la pandemia en Brasil, según una investigación del Congreso del país que recomendó en 2021 que se acusara al expresidente de “crímenes contra la humanidad”, entre otros cargos, por su actuación durante la pandemia.

En ese momento, los fiscales no presentaron cargos contra el líder político. Más de 700.000 personas han muerto en Brasil a causa de la covid, lo que lo convierte en el segundo país con mayor número de víctimas mortales después de Estados Unidos.

En mayo de 2023, la policía registró la casa de Bolsonaro, confiscó su celular y detuvo a uno de sus ayudantes más cercanos y a dos de sus guardias de seguridad como parte de la investigación sobre los registros falsos de vacunación.

En una denuncia presentada el martes, la policía federal de Brasil dijo que los registros mostraban que el ayudante personal de Bolsonaro, el teniente coronel Mauro Cid, y su esposa, usaron tarjetas de vacunación falsas para entrar en Estados Unidos en el año 2022. Cid, que fue arrestado el año pasado como parte de la investigación, le dijo a la policía que cuando Bolsonaro se enteró de que tenía una tarjeta de vacunación falsa, le ordenó que también le consiguiera una, según dijo la policía.

La policía también dijo que los registros muestran que el 21 de diciembre de 2022, un funcionario en un suburbio de Río de Janeiro introdujo registros falsos en la base de datos sanitarios de la ciudad que decían que Bolsonaro y su hija habían recibido dos dosis de la vacuna de Pfizer a principios de ese año. Los funcionarios policiales dijeron que durante una de las dos fechas en las que los registros mostraban que Bolsonaro recibió una vacuna, el expresidente no estaba en ese suburbio de Río de Janeiro.

Además de Cid, según la policía, otros aliados del expresidente falsificaron registros de vacunación en un esquema similar, algunos de los cuales utilizaron los registros para acompañar a Bolsonaro a Estados Unidos. La policía también recomendó presentar cargos contra ellos.

Bolsonaro pasó sus tres primeros meses tras dejar la presidencia en una casa alquilada cerca de Disney World, en las afueras de Orlando.

Bolsonaro entró en Estados Unidos varias veces más mientras el país exigía a los visitantes que mostraran una prueba de vacunación, incluso para asistir a la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas y para reunirse con el presidente Joe Biden en Los Ángeles, aunque esos viajes de 2022 preceden al plan descrito por los investigadores para falsificar los registros de vacunas.

En 2021, Bolsonaro, que fue quizás el único líder mundial no vacunado en la Asamblea General de la ONU, ofreció un discurso en el que dijo que Brasil no le exigiría a la gente que se vacunara. Añadió que se había recuperado de la covid usando medicamentos que no fueron desarrollados para el tratamiento específico de la enfermedad.

“La historia y la ciencia pedirán cuentas a todos”, dijo.

Durante ese viaje, él y su comitiva tuvieron problemas para entrar en restaurantes de Nueva York que exigían una prueba de vacunación. En su lugar, publicó una foto de su equipo comiendo pizza en la acera. El ministro de Salud de Bolsonaro, que estaba mordiendo un trozo de pizza en la foto, dio positivo por COVID-19 horas después de asistir a las reuniones de la ONU.

Flávia Milhorance colaboró con reportería desde Río de Janeiro y Paulo Motoryn desde Brasilia.

Jack Nicas es el jefe de la oficina de Brasil del Times, con sede en Río de Janeiro, donde dirige la cobertura de gran parte de Sudamérica. Más de Jack Nicas

La familia real británica lidia con otra foto editada

Cuando Catalina, princesa de Gales, confesó la semana pasada que alteró digitalmente una foto suya con sus hijos, las agencias de noticias empezaron a examinar las fotos de la familia real tomadas por la princesa en busca de otros casos de manipulación.

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No tardaron mucho: el lunes, Getty Images puso una advertencia editorial en una segunda foto tomada por Catalina, esta vez una imagen de la reina Isabel II rodeada de sus nietos y bisnietos, diciendo que la imagen había sido alterada antes de ser publicada por el palacio.

En un comunicado, la agencia de noticias dijo que “de acuerdo con su política editorial ha colocado una nota del editor en una imagen que indica que la imagen ha sido optimizada digitalmente por la fuente”.

La segunda foto manipulada plantea todavía más preguntas incómodas sobre la forma en que la familia real británica se comunica con el público. También aumenta el escrutinio sobre Catalina, quien se ha visto envuelta en un torbellino de rumores y especulaciones desde que se sometió a una operación abdominal en enero y desapareció de la vida pública.

La foto del Día de la Madre con sus hijos, tomada por su esposo, el príncipe Guillermo, y publicada hace 10 días, pretendía calmar el torrente de preguntas. Sin embargo, se desató una nueva ronda de especulaciones después de que The Associated Press, Reuters, Getty y otras agencias retiraran la imagen, alegando que había sido manipulada indebidamente.

Catalina, fotógrafa aficionada, ha documentado a la familia real en muchos momentos privados, a veces retocando los resultados, según admitió la semana pasada. El palacio de Buckingham y el de Kensington, donde ella y Guillermo tienen sus oficinas, han distribuido estas fotos a los medios de comunicación, y aparecen regularmente en las portadas de las publicaciones británicas.

La foto de la reina flanqueada por 10 niños, que fue tomada por Catalina en el castillo de Balmoral, en Escocia, en agosto de 2022, parece tener diversas incoherencias visuales. La más llamativa es un desajuste en la línea vertical de la falda a cuadros escoceses de la reina.

El palacio de Kensington declinó hacer comentarios sobre la foto que publicó el año pasado en el que habría sido el cumpleaños 97 de la reina.

Catalina se disculpó en las redes sociales por la foto del Día de la Madre: “Como muchos fotógrafos aficionados, de vez en cuando experimento con la edición. Quería expresar mis disculpas por cualquier confusión que haya causado la fotografía familiar que compartimos ayer”.

Mientras los rumores seguían extendiéndose, el palacio se negó a comentar sobre un video que salió a la luz el lunes, que parecía mostrar a Catalina y a Guillermo saliendo de un supermercado al oeste de Londres, cerca de su casa en Windsor.

De ser auténtico, el video, publicado por el sitio estadounidense de chismes sobre famosos TMZ, ofrecería las primeras imágenes de Catalina desde antes de que ingresara al hospital. También apareció en el sitio web del tabloide británico The Sun, que publicó las imágenes en su portada el martes, al igual que otro tabloide, The Daily Mail.

El video muestra a Catalina, vestida con ropa deportiva, entrando en un estacionamiento con Guillermo, quien lleva una gorra de béisbol. Ambos llevan bolsas de compras. The Sun informó que Catalina había sido vista yendo de compras el sábado y viendo a sus hijos practicar deportes el domingo.

“¡Estupendo verte de nuevo, Kate!”, se lee en el periódico, que ha sido uno de los más devotos defensores de la princesa de 42 años.

La intensa cobertura contrasta con la forma en la que los tabloides trataron a una foto tomada por un paparazzi en la que aparecía Catalina en un coche con su madre, publicada por TMZ hace dos semanas. Los periódicos se negaron a publicar esa foto a pesar de que había circulado ampliamente en las redes sociales, citando la petición del palacio de Kensington de que se permitiera a Catalina recuperarse de su tratamiento médico en privado.

Los medios de comunicación británicos se han esforzado por equilibrar su tradición de respetar la privacidad en asuntos de salud de la realeza con lo que se ha convertido en una épica avalancha diaria de especulaciones en línea sobre el estado de Catalina, así como el del rey Carlos III. El palacio de Buckingham anunció el mes pasado que al rey se le había diagnosticado un tipo de cáncer no revelado tras ser operado en enero de un agrandamiento de próstata.

Aunque Carlos ha aparecido en fotos y videos recientes, entre ellos con el primer ministro británico, Rishi Sunak, y con el primer ministro de Canadá, Justin Trudeau, eso no ha impedido que se especule descontroladamente sobre la gravedad de su enfermedad, o incluso a los rumores sin fundamentos de su muerte, que aparecieron el lunes en noticias falsas en Rusia.

Canales en Telegram informaron que Carlos había muerto. Citaron un falso comunicado de prensa del palacio de Buckingham, fechado el 18 de marzo, que decía: “El rey falleció inesperadamente ayer por la tarde”. El formato y la escueta redacción son similares a los que utilizó el palacio en septiembre de 2022 para informar de la muerte de Isabel.

El rumor de que Carlos se había convertido en uno de los monarcas británicos que menos tiempo había permanecido en el trono, se extendió con tal rapidez en Rusia que empezó a competir con el análisis de las votaciones del fin de semana pasado, en las que el presidente Vladimir Putin se convirtió en el dirigente ruso que más tiempo ha permanecido en el poder desde Catalina la Grande en el siglo XVIII.

Después de que la historia falsa fuera recogida por sitios de noticias como Sputnik y se extendiera a Ucrania, las embajadas británicas en ambos países se sintieron obligadas a desmentirla, recurriendo ambas a un término popularizado por el expresidente Donald Trump en Estados Unidos.

“¡Los informes sobre la muerte del rey Carlos III del Reino Unido son falsos!”, publicó en X la embajada en Moscú. “Nos gustaría informarles de que las noticias sobre la muerte del rey Carlos III son falsas”, publicó la embajada en Kiev.

Un funcionario del palacio de Buckingham dijo a los periodistas que el palacio no iba a dignificar los reportes con una respuesta.

Mark Landler es el jefe de la oficina de Londres del Times, donde cubre el Reino Unido, así como la política exterior estadounidense en Europa, Asia y Medio Oriente. Es periodista desde hace más de tres décadas. Más de Mark Landler

La falta de agua agravó el incendio forestal más letal de Chile, según denuncias

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A medida que un incendio forestal arrasó con rapidez las ciudades de Viña del Mar y Quilpué en la costa del Pacífico de Chile el mes pasado, las llamas rodearon a los residentes en la calle, destruyeron casas y sobrepasaron la red de servicios públicos. Se cortó la electricidad, se interrumpieron las comunicaciones y no llegó el agua necesaria para una línea de defensa crítica: los hidrantes.

En este reportaje en video, varios bomberos y residentes de Quilpué y Viña del Mar dijeron a los reporteros de The New York Times que la escasez de agua obstaculizó los esfuerzos para salvar casas y detener el avance del fuego, lo que los obligó a tener que salir de algunos sectores de ambas ciudades.

El incendio forestal —el más mortífero de la historia de Chile, con 134 muertos y miles de casas destruidas— ardió fuera de control casi desde el principio, impulsado por unas condiciones climáticas extremas, fuertes vientos y árboles inflamables.

Según los bomberos y los residentes, la falta de agua empeoró las cosas.

Chile, un país inmerso en una prolongada sequía, se enfrenta a continuos problemas de abastecimiento de agua para combatir los incendios forestales en zonas urbanas.

En la región de Valparaíso, que incluye Viña del Mar y Quilpué, los expertos en incendios forestales afirman que el desarrollo desordenado ha hecho que las ciudades y pueblos sean especialmente vulnerables a los incendios forestales.

“Es un problema de oferta y demanda”, dijo Miguel Castillo, profesor del Laboratorio de Incendios Forestales de la Universidad de Chile, quien trabaja con las ciudades en medidas de prevención de incendios forestales.

“Esta agua muchas veces no está disponible para el combate”, dijo y agregó que el problema había persistido durante años en la región. “Ese problema ahora aumentó”.

Esval, la empresa privada que suministra agua a la región de Valparaíso, negó que hubieran problemas con los hidrantes en la zona del incendio y afirmó que el sistema local de agua trabajó a plena capacidad.

Mientras el fuego hacía estragos, Esval dijo que había reducido el suministro de agua fuera de la zona del incendio para reforzar la presión del sistema.

Daniel Garín, un funcionario con experiencia, quien ha trabajado durante 13 años en el cuerpo de bomberos de Quilpué, le dijo al Times que los problemas de presión del agua y los hidrantes fuera de servicio ya existían antes del incendio de febrero.

A principios de enero, después de que un supermercado se incendiara en Viña del Mar, el jefe de bomberos de la ciudad, Patricio Brito, declaró a una estación de televisión local que no había agua en los hidrantes, diciendo: “La verdad es que el agua en este sector es nulo, nulo”.

Un diputado local, Andrés Celis Montt, dijo que era necesario investigar y solucionar el “grave problema” con los hidrantes antes de la temporada alta de incendios forestales, que en Chile suele durar hasta abril.

El 2 de febrero, en el barrio El Olivar de Viña del Mar, Yanet Alarcón dijo que vio con impotencia cómo el fuego se acercaba y la manguera de agua que estaba usando para rociar su casa de dos pisos se secó. Tuvo que huir, y su casa fue consumida por el fuego.

“Cuando yo pasé todavía había una llama aquí. Había llamas adentro, de hecho focos de llamas dentro”, dijo Alarcón entre lágrimas.

En Quilpué, Mauricio Miranda dijo que los bomberos no habían podido encontrar agua en los hidrantes cercanos y se quedaron detenidos esperando a que llegaran suministros mientras su casa ardía.

“Cuando llegamos después del incendio, la casa estaba consumida y no había nada de agua dentro. Eso significaba que los bomberos no tiraron agua”, dijo.

Miranda y una decena de familias del barrio de Canal Chacao dijeron que tenían previsto reunirse con Esval para solicitar una indemnización, alegando que el hecho de que la empresa no suministrara suficiente agua a los hidrantes provocó la destrucción de sus hogares.

Arijeta Lajka y Kristen Williamson colaboraron con este reportaje.

Brent McDonald es corresponsal sénior de video para el Times en Washington. Produce cortos documentales, reportajes en video e investigaciones visuales. Más de Brent McDonald