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THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Landmarks and government buildings across the globe paid tribute Friday to the victims of an attack earlier in the day at a mosque in Egypt's Sinai peninsula that left 235 people dead and another 130 injured.

In Israel, which borders the Sinai peninsula, Tel Aviv's city hall was lit up with the Egyptian flag.

"A horrific attack in #Egypt. We send our condolences to our friends across the border and light the Municipality building in their honor," tweeted mayor Ron Huldai, along with a photo of the building.

A subsequent tweet by Huldai read, "Our hearts and prayers are with our friends in #Egypt. We share a destiny and determination to stand up to #terror."

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark to honor victims of the attack. "Tonight, from midnight, I will turn my lights off to pay tribute to the victims of the Egypt attack. #EiffelTower," read a tweet on the Eiffel Tower's timeline.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted in French, "Terrorism has once again hit # Egypt. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims and my support for the injured. Tonight, the #TourEiffel will go out at midnight to pay tribute to them and underline the solidarity of #Paris."

In England's second largest city, The Library of Birmingham was lit up in the colors of Egypt's flag.

"Tonight our B'ham Library is lit in the colours of Egypt in memory of the victims of the horrific attack earlier today," tweeted city councillor Tristan Chatfield.

And in Canada's most populous city, Toronto, the CN Tower was also lit in honor of the attack's victims.

The Canadian government tweeted a photo of the 1,815-foot structure bathed in the colors of the Egyptian flag. "Canada’s @TourCNTower is lit up in the colours of #Egypt to honour the victims of recent terrorist attacks. Canada stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Egypt," read the tweet.

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Loganair(ORKNEY, Scotland) -- One beloved teddy bear got left behind by his best friend and had to travel a great distance to be reunited with his owner.

Donna, who asked ABC News not to use her last name, was traveling on Monday with her 4-year-old daughter Summer back to their hometown of Orkney, Scotland, from Edinburgh Airport in the country's capital.

The mother said the two didn't realize "Teddy," as he is lovingly known, was left behind until they sat down on the plane.

"I panicked and called the cabin crew guy over, who said he'd [likely] be at security," she added, noting that while going through airport security it was "really crazy."

"It must've fallen off of something," Donna said.

Donna said they didn't have time to go back to security to look for Teddy. Instead, when she touched down in Orkney, she tried recovering Teddy, whom Summer has had as a best friend since she was born.

"As soon as I landed, I was frantically calling everywhere trying to get through to anyone," Donna recalled. "But I wasn't getting anywhere with the airport."

So the mother took to Facebook, posting a plea in a local group for help with locating Teddy. That's where Loganair cabin crew member Kirsty Walter heard about the incident, offering to help.

Walter was able to locate Teddy and personally flew him back Wednesday to Orkney herself to reunite him with Summer.

"Whenever our team was made aware of the 'grizzly' situation, we knew there could be pandemonium if we didn’t help," Loganair's Commercial Director Kay Ryan told ABC News in a statement. "Our cabin crew team quickly tracked down the bear and arranged for him to be on the next service up to Orkney. It was wonderful to see Teddy back in the company of Summer and we’re pleased to have played a role. Loganair prides itself on bringing everyone, including Teddy, home for Christmas."

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iStock/Thinkstock(BIR AL-ABED, Egypt)-- Bodies lined the walls at a mosque in northern Sinai in Egypt after an attack killed hundreds during Friday prayers.

An eyewitness described the perpetrators as having stationed themselves at the mosque's three exits and deliberately attacking those who tried to escape the building, as well as passing vehicles, after first shooting some who were "kneeling in prayer." At least 235 people were killed and 130 more injured, according to Egyptian state news agency MENA.

"The sight was horrific," the witness, Ibrahim Shetewy, told ABC News in Arabic, adding, "We carried whoever we found alive and took them in pickups and private cars until more ambulances could come and help."

Shetewy described the mosque in question as one frequented by travelers on their way in and out of the area. He said the building is "huge" and was lined with bodies and a large quantity of shell casings following the attack.

"Most of the people from the mosque's village are probably all dead, we saw 2-, 3- and 4--year olds dead. I saw a little boy with a hole ... in his head ... a horrible, horrible sight," Shetewy said. "... The mosque is huge and it was all full of dead bodies."

"There was a woman waiting outside for her husband and young child to finish praying; she came inside and found them dead next to each other."

He added that people are lined up at a local hospital to donate blood.

Photographs taken after the attack each show more than a dozen bloodstained bodies lined up on the ground of a building as those who appear uninjured tend to them.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- At least 235 people were killed and 130 more injured in an attack at a mosque during Friday prayers in northern Sinai in Egypt, according to Egyptian state news agency MENA.

An eyewitness described the perpetrators as having stationed themselves at the mosque's three exits and deliberately attacking those who tried to escape the building, as well as passing vehicles, after first shooting some who were "kneeling in prayer."

"The sight was horrific," the witness, Ibrahim Shetewy, told ABC News in Arabic, adding, "We carried whoever we found alive and took them in pickups and private cars until more ambulances could come and help."

Shetewy described the mosque in question as one frequented by travelers on their way in and out of the area. He said the building is "huge" and was lined with bodies and a large quantity of shell casings following the attack.

"There was a woman waiting outside for her husband and young child to finish praying; she came inside and found them dead next to each other," Shetewy said.

He added that people are lined up at a local hospital to donate blood.

Another local resident present at the Beir El-Abd hospital, which received victims in the aftermath, described the wounded arriving via ambulance and private car at a rate beyond the capacity of the hospital, which is between 25 to 30 miles away from the targeted mosque. The resident added that urgent cases are being sent to another hospital in Ismailia, almost 75 miles away.

U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the attack via Twitter Friday morning, writing that it was a "horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers."

Two photographs taken after the attack each show more than a dozen bloodstained bodies lined up on the ground of a building as those who appear uninjured tend to them.

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Andia/UIG via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A 95-year-old woman has come under fire after an Australian newspaper dubbed her a "real-life tomb raider" and "Indiana Joan" for her collection of ancient Middle Eastern artifacts.

Joan Howard of Perth, Australia, shared some of the highlights of her collection with The West Australian, a local news outlet, which reported the collection could be valued at AUD $1 million. Now, some archaeologists and officials are asking the Australian government to investigate how Howard obtained the rare objects and are demanding that she return any that were taken from their countries of origin illegally.

Monica Hanna, an archeologist and founder of Egypt’s Heritage Taskforce, started an online petition calling for an investigation by the Australian government into the origins of Howard's artifacts. So far, the petition has received nearly 500 signatures. Hanna also wrote an open letter to Neil Hawkins, the Australian ambassador to Egypt, on Facebook.

The artifacts include coins, pottery, jewelry and other objects, according to the West Australian.

"I passionately dislike how Indiana Jones is viewed as a hero, rather than a tomb raider. I think in the 21st century, this stereotype of pillaging cultures should disappear and be reprehended rather than praised," Hanna told ABC News via email.

Lara Lamb, the president of the Australian Archaeological Association, shared a letter she said she sent the West Australian on Twitter acknowledging Howard's "great passion for collecting relics and artifacts" while calling her collecting "highly unethical, both by past and present standards."

"Rather than celebrating Mrs. Howard's activities, we should be condemning such behavior," Lamb wrote. "Make no mistake, tomb raiding is not archeology."

Howard has not publicly spoken about the criticisms leveled against her, and a family member speaking on her behalf declined to comment to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Howard told the West Australian that she traveled through Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel while her husband was working as a United Nations diplomat in the region five decades ago.

Of her time volunteering on archeological dig sites led by British and American experts, Howard told the West Australian: "It was all good fun. Dirty work, of course. But as it turned out, very, very rewarding.”

Howard "used her diplomatic freedom to search for antiquities before laws changed and it became legally difficult to do so," the paper reported.

In 1970, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a convention prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and trade in cultural artifacts. Many individual countries adopted their own laws about the sale and export of antiquities before that. Keith Howard was posted to his role in 1967, according to the West Australian. It is not clear whether any of the artifacts in Joan Howard's collection were obtained illegally.

"Collectors need to realize that their expensive hobby sometimes funds terrorist acts and destroys archaeological sites," Hanna said, adding that children are sometimes used to help extract antiquities and have died in the process.

Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the director-general of the Retrieved Antiquities Department at Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the Sydney Monring Herald that Egypt's foreign ministry had contacted Australian authorities to open an investigation.

The Herald also reported that the country's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was looking into the matter.

Neither the Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts nor the Australian embassy in Cairo have responded to ABC News' request for comment.

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(London) -- Officers are responding reports of gunfire on Oxford Street and at the Oxford Circus Tube station in Central London, police said Friday.

People were seen fleeing the station, taking shelter in nearby buildings and holding each other as police descended on the area.

Ian Pannell, ABC News’ senior foreign correspondent, was on the scene at Oxford Street when the chaos erupted. He said at first he couldn’t understand what he was hearing. He left the store he was in to investigate and saw a stampede of panicked people coming toward him.

“It sounded like a herd of elephants. I couldn’t work out what the noise was,” he said.

He ducked back inside the store with his family to stay safe.

“You could hear screaming, shouting,” he said. “People were falling all over each other ...you could see their sheer terror.”

Oxford Street is one the busiest shopping centers in London, comparable to New York City’s Times Square. The stores in the area immediately shuttered their doors to keep people safe from the commotion.

“Everybody was desperately searching for escape routes,” Pannell said.

Officers seem to have the area under control now, he added.

"Police have responded as if the incident is terrorist related. Armed and unarmed officers are on scene and dealing along with colleagues from British Transport Police," Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"At this stage police have not located any casualties," the statement added.

Trains are bypassing the station while police investigate. The station is currently closed.

On Twitter, Metropolitan Police urged people to take shelter in a building if they were on Oxford Street.

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Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Images taken Wednesday appear to show North Korean soldiers refortifying and digging trenches where a defector escaped last week across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) border to South Korea.

A video released by United Nations Command showed the 24-year-old defector, identified only by his family name Oh, running toward the border as his fellow North Korean soldiers chased and fired at him on Nov. 13. Oh was able to cross over the military demarcation line (MDL) but was shot at least five times.

South Korean soldiers cautiously dragged Oh to safety and transported him to a hospital, where he underwent two surgeries. His operations revealed that Oh had parastitic infections and a hepatitis infection.

Marc Knapper, the U.S. diplomatic leader in Seoul, South Korea, tweeted Wednesday as he visited the Joint Security Area, that "the North Koreans have planted two trees and are digging a trench at the spot where their soldier crossed the MDL."

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(NEW YORK) -- Rendered numb from the news of a devastating earthquake in his home country, it took just an hour before Tohid Najafi, a Detroit-based Iranian medical professional, launched a Facebook fundraiser.

The quake, which struck along the Iran-Iraq border on Nov. 13, was the deadliest earthquake of 2017, killing at least 530 people and leaving about 7,500 injured and tens of thousands with no homes or infrastructure.

Relying on over 63,000 members of his “Persian Americans” Facebook group, Najafi set up the personal fundraiser “Raise to Support the Victims of Earthquake in Iran,” with a goal of raising $110,000 from Nov. 13 to Dec. 13.

“I didn’t know if I could reach the goal, but I knew what I had to worry about the most was how to send money to Iran once it was raised,” Najafi told ABC News.

Sanctions against Iran have made banking transactions with the country very tough, especially, as nongovernmental organization (NGO) activists say, upon natural crises. According to the U.S. Treasury, Americans are not authorized “to transfer financial donations directly to Iran or nongovernmental organizations in Iran.” But experts say anyone can apply for the licence that allows transactions.

The day after the earthquake, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., referred to the horrific earthquake in Iran on Twitter, saying, “I hope and expect that the United States will assist in disaster relief efforts for Iran as we did in 2003 and 2012.”

The same day as the quake Najafi emailed the U.S. Treasury to apply for the required licence needed for doing transaction with Iran.

“I knew it would take time, but I hoped, regarding the situation, they would expedite my case,” he said.

The next morning he woke up to a surprise. His fundraiser had already raised $80,000 over about eight hours.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening, and at the same time I worried about the next step -- the transaction,” he said.

The response he got from the Treasury disappointed him.

Najafi was told he would need to receive approval for transactions by going through the process of getting a licence from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a much longer and arduous process.

“It can take months. ... It is harder if you are an individual without much previous involvement in such efforts,” said Richard Nephew, a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University, who formerly worked as Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the Department of State. Although Nephew confirmed consequences of the sanctions on the NGO activities, he said it is “proportional to the risks.”

The U.S. Treasury declined to comment on the specific licensing request, telling ABC News, “We encourage those who seek to assist with disaster recovery to donate through an established nongovernmental organization in order to ensure that they comply with OFAC regulations.”

Explaining the reason, the spokesperson added, “Elements within the government of Iran have a long track record of malign behavior, which includes a lack of transparency and inadequate controls on money laundering and terrorist financing.”

But identifying “established nongovernmental organizations” which comply with the OFAC is not something international donors would easily know how to do during breaking news.

“When there are a lot of doubts and suspicions involved, many may even give up donating,” said Milad Bakhshayesh, 27, an Iranian Ph.D student in economics at Columbia University, who made a donation via the Child Foundation on Facebook.

“It would be specifically tough for foreigners to trust and donate, with all the negative propaganda they hear about Iran.”

Speeding up donations

For Shiva Shahmohammadi, 28, speed should be the highest priority when it comes to donations after natural disasters.

“Fast donations can save lives,” she said.

Shahmohammadi is an Iranian journalism student at Illinois University, who moved to the U.S. last August.

“I still have my account inside Iran and used that to help,” she said. “But that would be a challenge for the international donors without a local account there.”

It was bittersweet when Najafi realized his fundraiser hit $200,000 on just the second day.

“It was great, but it was a huge responsibility, too, as donors wanted their money to be sent quickly,” he said.

Najafi reached out to Facebook for help -- but, to his surprise, Facebook shut down the fundraiser with no explanation.

“I was totally confused, shocked and disappointed,” Najafi said. “Some donors got angry. Some even thought I was a fraud.”

Najafi said his first impression was that Facebook shut down the fundraiser due to the sanctions. But the case had another turn.

As Facebook explained, the problem was money had to be raised for a nonprofit, while Najafi’s campaign had been a personal one.

Meanwhile, Najafi received messages from some NGOs active in the earthquake-hit zones in Iran telling him they could receive and send the money to Iran on behalf of his campaign. Mothers Against Poverty was one of them. The San Francisco Bay area-based nonprofit is active in providing aid and infrastructure in many countries, and is one of the few NGOs that can transfer money to Iran.

But Najafi no longer had access to the fund -- it was with Facebook.

Coming through

When Facebook wrote to Najafi on Nov. 16, asking him to discuss the case, he eagerly accepted.

While Facebook had to return the contributions back to the donors, based on its internal regulations and its security policies, the social network decided to make a donation of the same amount on behalf of the campaign.

“We refunded all donors and made a $200,000 donation to Dr. Tohid Najafi's nonprofit of choice ... to honor the amount and spirit of what the community intended with his fundraiser,” a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News.

Najafi was thrilled with the news.

“Finally I had some good news to tell my donors,” he said.

All he needed to do was to introduce a nonprofit to Facebook to receive the donation. Mothers Against Poverty was the obvious choice.

“Despite all the bad news we were getting from people’s suffering in Iran,” said Delfarib Fanaie, cofounder of Mothers Against Poverty. “Facebook’s measure was a heartwarming move.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Navy has called off search and rescue efforts for three missing sailors who were on board a C-2A “Greyhound” transport aircraft two days after it crashed into the Philippine Sea.

During the two-day search for the missing crew members, eight U.S. Navy and JMSDF ships, three helicopter squadrons, and maritime patrol aircraft were deployed to search over 1,000 square nautical miles. Initially, eight crew members were rescued about 40 minutes after the aircraft crashed.

The Navy tweeted that the victims were recovered and “transferred to #USSRonaldReagan for medical evaluation and are in good condition.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost shipmates and their families,” Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, Commander, Task Force 70, said in a statement Wednesday, with news of the search being called off. "As difficult as this is, we are thankful for the rapid and effective response that led to the rescue of eight of our shipmates, and I appreciate the professionalism and dedication shown by all who participated in the search efforts.”

President Donald Trump also tweeted Wednesday, “We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved.”

The Navy has withheld the missing sailors’ names until their next of kin have been notified.

The C-2A twin-propeller airplane was transporting passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier as a part of a joint exercise between the U.S. and Japanese navies.

The Japan-based 7th Fleet has experienced two other fatal incidents in the last six months. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship killing 7 sailors. Two months later in August, the USS McCain collided with a merchant ship killing 10 crew members.

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British dual citizen who is in jail in Tehran, has been informed by Iranian authorities that she will have a second trial on Dec. 10 on the charge of “spreading propaganda,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe told ABC News.

This latest development has dashed her husband's hopes of seeing his wife back in the U.K. anytime soon. It's just one more bump in the road, following comments made by British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month that many observers feel jeopardized Nazanin's chance of a release.

The 38-year-old mother-of-one has been detained and imprisoned since April 2016, and is now serving a five-year jail sentence on a charge of attempts to topple the Iranian government by training journalists, a charge that she and her family denied.

Now, the news of a second trial and the possibility of extending her sentence have worried her and her family. "She was angry and upset," her husband told ABC News Thursday. "To us, court cases have always meant more charges and long sentences."

Nazanin, who had come to the U.K. from Iran to pursue her studies, made a second home in London, became a British citizen and married her husband, a British accountant.

As a project manager at Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nazanin was in charge of “administrative tasks (and) setting up workshops for journalists. Never in Iran,” Antonio Zappulla, chief operating officer of the foundation told ABC News. "She isn’t a journalist and she never trained a single journalist."

In April 2016, when she wanted to leave for Britain with her 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, she was arrested at the airport in Tehran. The pair were on the way back home after a two-week visit to the country for the Iranian New Year.

Gabriella’s British passport was confiscated, and she has been living with her grandmother since then.

In September 2016, Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison on the charge of attempting to topple the Iranian government by training journalists.

According to Mizan, the official news agency of Iran’s judiciary, Nazanin’s first arrest was related to her activities as a member of an “illegal team” who used to promote propaganda to “damage Iran’s national security” back in 2009 in the riots after the 10th presidential election in Iran.

Charges included “teaching journalists how to use pseudo-emails, make long complicated passwords and how to use encrypting programs,” said Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, according to an Oct. 17 report from the Iranian semi-official Mehr News Agency.

However, on Nov. 1, the case came on the spotlight again when British Foreign Minister Johnson surprised everyone at the House of Commons by saying that Nazanin has been teaching journalism in Iran.

"She was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it, at the very limit," Johnson said.

Johnson’s statements angered Nazanin and her family and the public minds in the U.K., as it could be dangerous to her case.

Iranian state TV called Johnson’s statements “confessions” revealing Nazanin’s real intention of her visits to Iran. While her final sentence had been issued and she was serving her term, she was summoned to another court session and threatened of increasing her imprisonment.

It led to pressures against Johnson to resign for the risk of increasing Nazanin’s imprisonment. However, Richard Ratcliffe disagreed that his resignation could help his wife’s case. Instead, he met with the minister for the first time after his wife’s arrest and asked Johnson to take him to Iran in his planned diplomatic visit to Tehran before the end of the New Year.

“I hope I can join the minister in this visit and I hope I can have my wife in the seat next to me on the way back,” Richard told ABC News, before hearing the news of the second trial yesterday.

But that hope is gone now, he told ABC News, after hearing the news of the second trial.

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Argentina Navy/EPA(NEW YORK) --  Family members of the 44 sailors aboard a missing Argentine sub were told that their loved ones were believed to be dead, one of the family members told ABC News Thursday.

Itati Leguizamon, whose husband German Suarez was aboard the ARA San Juan, said the families had been given the grim news.

Outside the ship's destination in Mar del Plata, where family members gathered, a brother of one of the missing sailors was heard screaming "They killed my brother!"

The news came as Argentine naval officials said that a sound that was detected during the desperate search for the sub, which vanished last week in the South Atlantic Ocean, was consistent with an explosion.

The vessel was last heard from Nov. 15 and officials feared that it would run out of oxygen soon.

According to the Argentine navy officials, the sound, described as "consistent with a non-nuclear explosion" that was "abnormal, singular, short, violent" was detected just three hours after the last known communication.

The sound, which occurred about 270 miles east of the Gulf of San Jorge in the southern part of the country, was picked up by U.S. sensors and international agencies that are capable of detecting nuclear explosions.

According to the officials the site of the detected noise has a radius of 77 miles and a possible depth of approximately 650-10,000 feet.

The officials do not believe the sound resulted from an attack or terrorism and said there was an indication on the morning of the last known communication of an electrical fault in the vessel.

According the officials, there would not be a debris field because an explosion at that depth would be considered an implosion.

Rescuers had been searching a 186,000 square mile area off the coast and rough weather had hampered their efforts.

The vessel had been en route to Mar del Plata from a base in Ushia, Argentina.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Five hundred students stand in front of the school's main gate. With determined attitude, they take off their school uniform jackets, raise their fists in the air and, with all their might, yell as loud as they can. Their voices together form a loud thunder. But this eye-catching performance is not a prep rally for a football or basketball game -- it's South Korea's annual event to cheer on students who take the college entrance exam.

As part of the country's tradition, on the day before the national exam, high schools in South Korea throw exuberant ceremonies to cheer up students who leave for the exam. The eve of the exam is considered an important part of test preparation. Students check out their seats at the exam site so they won’t get lost on the biggest day of their lives.

South Korea is a competitive country where nearly 70 percent of high school graduates enter college. This year, nearly 590,000 students sat for Thursday's exam -- officially called the College Scholastic Ability Test -- that will most likely determine their paths to a successful career.

Due to its grave importance, the whole country pays sharp attention to make sure there is no interference in the exam. Even airplane landings and departures are held back during the hours of English listening tests to prevent any fuss. The country's stock market even opens late.

This year, the college entrance exam was delayed a week for safety concerns. A series of earthquakes hit the southeastern part of Korea on the eve of exam leading to the first postponement in the exam’s 24-year existence.

Cheering ahead of this year’s examination was extra loud to give test takers more emotional support.

High school sophomores and juniors in South Korea cheer for their seniors in various ways. There are flags and chants in each school to reflect their school tradition and characteristics. Among those, Joongdong High School’s event is famous for being the biggest and the loudest.

Student council members play a key role in managing this cheering. The chants and routines go on for 30 minutes. The highlight of this once-a-year event is when they form a huge circle together and roll their feet on the ground for the final chant. After that, most of them are soaked in sweat despite the sub-freezing temperatures.

First graders in Joongdong High school volunteer to cheer for the seniors. At the beginning of a fall semester, student council members put up a notice to recruit those who want to participate in this traditional event upheld for more than a decade. For months, these students give up their lunch breaks just to practice chants and routines.

"Students come up with cheer routines to pass on the positive energy to seniors taking the exam," said Minha Kim, representative of the student council at Joongdong High School.

As senior students pass by the enthusiastic cheering, teachers wait in front of the main gate. They give warm hugs and words of encouragement to ready their pupils for the big day. This elaborate cheering tradition is not only meaningful for the students themselves, but also teachers and parents. Some parents even light candles and pray for the success of their children on the exams.

"Students take high pride in this cheering for seniors," said Hong-ju Kim, whose son takes the exam this year. "My son was one of the sophomores cheering, and now he’s taking the exam. It is very touching."

The fervent longing for their school seniors to excel on the exams continues until the actual day of the examination. Excited and nervous at the same time, the cheering squad gather on the eve of the test day and wait overnight in front of the designated exam sites to greet seniors early in the morning from the best spot.

"I was moved by the cheering in front of the gate," said Jun-yong Lee, a senior at Joongdong High School taking the college entrance exam this year. "The cheers gave me strength and I want to do well on the exam to not let them down."

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iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Hospital records from a young North Korean soldier who defected earlier this month offer telling details about health problems in the closed country.

The soldier had both parasitic infections and a dangerous hepatitis infection -- conditions that speak to the poor sanitation and rough conditions those in the hermit nation experience on a day-to-day basis.

The most shocking details, perhaps, are the reports of large parasitic worms, some measuring 11 inches, recovered from the 24-year-old’s intestines.

“An estimated five million people in North Korea have intestinal roundworms, that’s 20 percent of the population,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor.

Doctors found the parasites -- likely Ascaris roundworms -- when repairing intestinal damage from multiple bullet wounds the soldier sustained during his escape. The eggs of these worms are frequently found in the soil, especially in developing countries that use human waste as an inexpensive fertilizer. Once inside the body, these eggs hatch to form larvae, eventually developing into large, mature worms that infect the small intestine. They can reach lengths of more than 13 inches.

But despite the size of these creatures, Ascaris roundworm infections may not be accompanied by noticeable symptoms. However, Hotez said they can lead to malnutrition in those infected. In children, this can lead to developmental delays and short stature.

"Instead of feeding the kid, you’re feeding the worms," said Hotez. "They rob children of nutrition."

Multiple large worms in an infected person, however, can also cause intestinal blockages, and these worms can travel to the nearby liver, gallbladder, or pancreas and cause damage and inflammation to these organs as well, Hotez said.

While dramatic in appearance, roundworm infections are easy to treat, generally requiring only a single dose of anti-parasitic medication.

Likewise, another parasitic worm infection the soldier reportedly had, Toxocara, is also fairly easily treated. Toxocara is a parasite similar to Ascaris, though it is normally found in the intestines of dogs and cats; the worms do not usually grow as large in the intestines of humans. The larvae of these parasites often migrate to other organs in the body –- often the liver, brain, lungs and eyes –- causing damage to the affected organs.

But even more problematic than these parasitic infections are reports that the soldier was also infected with hepatitis B, a viral infection of the liver that can lead to life-threatening cirrhosis if untreated.

The soldier is just the latest case report of health problems among hundreds of other refugees and defectors from North Korea. Past reports have shown that many who have successfully fled suffer from these maladies, as well as tuberculosis, a common and frequently difficult to treat lung infection.

Studies comparing North Korean defectors to other refugee populations found they were more likely to be underweight -- and another estimated that about one-third of North Korean children under the age of 5 is malnourished. Dental and vision problems, such as cataracts, are also frequently reported.

Though the reclusive nature of the country limits what is known about its active and ongoing health problems, Hotez said these health issues are common to other places in the world that face devastating economic conditions.

“These are not unique to North Korea,” he said. “These are all infections that are extremely common in the poorest parts of Asia. Toxocara is found in poor neighborhoods in the United States, as well.”

Worm eradication programs were successfully implemented in South Korea following the Korean War, Hotez added, and pharmaceutical companies have been willing to donate global supply of anti-parasitic drugs to countries in need.

Other conditions afflicting North Koreans, such as hepatitis B, are completely preventable through vaccination programs.

But North Korea's tense political and economic relations with other countries makes assessing, and attempting to eradicate, these conditions in the country complicated.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The North Korean soldier who was captured on video defecting to the South is enjoying watching South Korean music videos and the American movie "Transformers 3," his doctor says.

The 24-year-old defector, identified only by his last name, Oh, was shot at least five times by North Korean guards before he made it past the demarcation line on Nov. 13. But Oh is "not going to die," Lee Cook-jong, the lead surgeon who operated on the defected soldier, said at a press conference Wednesday.

The United Nations Command in control of the border between the two Koreas released dramatic video footage that shows Oh speeding south in a Jeep, before getting out and running from North Korean soldiers who open fire on him. Oh was later dragged to freedom by South Korean soldiers after being shot.

Oh has been in the North Korean military for eight years, at times working as a vehicle driver. After being rescued, he was immediately transported to Ajou Hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul, where he underwent two critical surgeries. He has since fully regained consciousness and confessed that he defected to the south on his own will, Lee said.

An emergency surgery took place just 30 minutes after Oh arrived at the hospital. The second surgery followed two days later, when surgeons removed five bullets from his body. Lee explained that Oh will be able to leave the intensive care unit as early as this weekend, but it could take over a month until the patient is ready for in-depth interviews, he said.

The medical team discovered parasitic worms in the man's intestines. He is also under examination for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and is suffering from tuberculosis as well as chronic hepatitis, according to Lee.

Lee told reporters Oh is still shy and reticent. Hospital staff do not allow Oh to watch news programming in fear of triggering PTSD. Instead, they have played three K-pop music videos for Oh, including a song called "Gee" by the girl group Girls' Generation, which Oh liked, according to Lee.

Oh has also been watching Korean TV, particularly the movie channel, including the third installment of "Transformers." He likes watching the American crime drama series "CSI" as well as films starring American actors Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman, Lee said.

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Masfiqur Sohan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state as ethnic cleansing for the first time on Wednesday.
Tillerson did not use the term during his brief visit to Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, on Nov. 15, deciding only after visiting and analyzing the situation to describe the situation that way.

What does declaring the violence ethnic cleansing do in effect?

In reality, the new descriptor does not immediately accomplish much. Ethnic cleansing is a term that is not legally defined by U.S. or international law. A declaration does not trigger any sort of obligation or consequence.

For now, State Department officials said they are looking into targeted sanctions against individuals who may have carried out violence if the specific allegations can be confirmed. Some sanctions placed on Burma in 1998 due to anti-democratic activities of a military junta were lifted in 2016.

State officials said they expect the determination to "increase pressure" on the civilian government and military in Myanmar to reach an agreement on repatriating the 600,000 or so Rohingya who have fled as refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.

Who is perpetrating the ethnic cleansing?

Though ethnic cleansing has been declared, the perpetrator has not been defined as the Myanmar military. State Department officials said there are a number of "potential sources" of conflict, including both military forces and vigilante groups.

What will happen to the victims of the violence?

The State Department is focusing on returning the Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh as refugees back to their homes. Even still, officials acknowledge that repatriating even a few hundred Rohingya per day would mean the process could last for years -- a huge logistical challenge at this point. The department will focus on voluntary repatriation, meaning they realize many Rohingya might not want to return to their former homes.

Last week, Tillerson announced an additional $47 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected, bringing the total amount spent to aid the victims since August of last year to $87 million.

Why aren't broader sanctions being imposed?

Broader sanctions remain a challenge, as State Department officials are wary of hindering the fragile civilian government in Myanmar, which has shared power with the military as laid out in the Burmese Constitution about 18 months ago. Transition of power to the fledgling civilian government is a delicate process and could benefit all the persecuted civilian groups in Myanmar -- if it can be accomplished.

What is Aung San Suu Kyi doing about the crisis?

The State Department had little to say about the role of the de facto civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who many have criticized for not doing enough to stem the violence. State Department officials look to Suu Kyi's leadership but did not lay out a specific goal or role for her to play.

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