ABC News(HONG KONG) -- For much of the next two weeks, millions of Chinese will welcome in the Year of Monkey, which begins Monday, with a cavalcade of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky.
In almost every corner of every city or village in Mainland China, families will light their own firecrackers and boxes of fireworks, with the sounds and flashes of explosions lingering each night into the early hours of the morning.
In the village of Nuanquan, however, which sits on the edge of China’s coal country in Western Hebei province and a five-hour drive from Beijing, there is traditional a pyrotechnic display so unique and dangerous that it is still only found here.
A brave blacksmith, wearing only a wide-brim hat and sheepskin vest for protection, hurls molten iron against the old city wall. When the hot liquid metal, with temperatures of over 2,900 degrees, makes contact with the cold brick, an arc of sparks rains down over the blacksmith like snow.
They call it “DaShuHua” or, literally, “Beating down the tree flowers.”
Nuanquan villagers claim it has been performed for over 500 years by local blacksmiths. It was traditionally only performed once a year on Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the New Year and the unofficial climax of the annual two-week-long festivities. Nowadays, there are a few more opportunities to witness it.
ABC News visited Nuanquan a week before the Lunar New Year and met Sui Jianguo, a 14th generation blacksmith. Sui has been performing “DaShuHua” for more than 25 years and shows off his skills on a new nightly cultural show hoping to draw more tourists to the neglected region.
Sui explained to ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff that DaShuHua started out being the “poor man’s fireworks.” In the past, only the wealthy residents of Nuanquan could afford firecrackers to ring in the New Year.
So the town’s blacksmiths, noticing sparks flew out when they poured on their molten iron, tried throwing it in the air against a wall. The result is still on display every year since.
When asked whether he thought DaShuHua was more beautiful than traditional fireworks, Sui simply said, “It certainly is the most unique.”
SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images(TAINAN, Taiwan) -- A woman was still alive Monday after being buried under debris of one of the collapsed buildings from the earthquake that shook Taiwan two days ago.
Rescuers were able to pull her out to safety, as video footage shows.
Taiwan’s Eastern Broadcasting Corp. was able to get footage of the rescuers’ pulling victims out of the rubble. At least three other people were rescued Monday morning, including an 8-year-old girl, the BBC reported.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan Saturday morning, causing at least two buildings to collapse in the southern city of Tainan. The capital of Taipei had no signs of damage after the quake.
So far, at least 38 people have been killed by the earthquake, according to the BBC. More than 100 others are believed to be buried under the debris.
Dozens have been rescued but people are beginning to lose patience as they wait for information concerning loved ones who are still missing.
Nearby counties -- Kaohsiung and Pingtung -- had their rescue teams help rescue people from the buildings, as well. About 20 counties in Taiwan, including, Taipei, will continue to support Tainan in this tragedy, according to a Feb. 8 news brief from the Tainan City Government.
The Tainan City Government could not be immediately reached by ABC News.
Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Authorities in Somalia have released video footage from inside Mogadishu’s airport that they say shows a laptop packed with explosives being handed to a passenger before the mid-air explosion that forced a Daallo Airlines flight to make an emergency landing last week.
In the video, reportedly taken by surveillance cameras after security checks, two men can be seen walking together when one of the men hands a laptop case to a third man.
The suspected bomber was sucked out of the airplane after the mid-air explosion left a relatively small hole in the plane, authorities said.
It is still unclear exactly who is responsible for planning the explosion, but authorities are looking into whether the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al Shabab, based in Somalia, may be behind it, and they're not ready to rule out ISIS, sources said.
iStock/Thinkstock(BANGALORE, India) -- A leopard found its way into a school in southern India Sunday afternoon, attacking at least two people who tried to capture the animal, according to video of the incident and local authorities.
Video footage was taken of the leopard making its way past a fence, then dashing across the fenced-in area and scaling up a wall of Vibgyor School in Bangalore, and making its way into the school building. Other videos online show two men, identified by reports as scientist Sanjay Gubbi of the Nature Conservation Foundation and forest department employee Benny Maurius, trying to capture the leopard.
The two men are in the pool area of the school where the leopard was roaming. As one of the men tries to climb a locked gate to get away, the leopard charges at him and pulls him down. He tries to run off, but the leopard attacks him again, almost knocking him into the pool.
After several seconds, the man was able to knock the leopard off his arm, and the leopard runs away from the pool, exiting the frame of the video. The one man is then brought over to a group of people on the other side of the pool. He can be seen limping with his shirt covered in what appears to be blood on his right arm.
It took several hours for the leopard to be shot with a tranquilizer dart and then finally go down.
The Nature Conservation Foundation, Vibgyor School, Wildlife Trust of India and the Karnataka Forest Department could not be immediately reached by ABC News for comment.
iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — Russian security services have arrested seven people accused of plotting terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State in major Russian cities, the country’s FSB intelligence agency said Monday.
The arrests were made in the city of Ekaterinburg, located in the Urals region on the edge of Siberia, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation said in a written statement.
The agency said the group was planning to carry out "high-profile attacks" using improvised explosives on Moscow, St. Petersburg and in the area around Ekaterinburg. During searches of the group’s houses, agents found a bomb-making laboratory, including explosives and detonators, as well as guns and grenades, according to the statement. Officers also allegedly found banned extremist writings.
Those arrested have been charged with plotting a terrorist act, as well ammunition trafficking and illegally storing explosives.
The members of the group were Russian citizens, as well as from Central Asian states, the FSB said, although the agency did not specify which countries. The group was being led by an alleged Islamic State militant recently arrived from Turkey, implying he may have returned from Syria.
Russian security services have been on high alert for attacks from Russian fighters returning from Syria, particularly since Moscow launched its air campaign there in support of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s government in September.
In the past two years, hundreds of Russian citizens have traveled to join the Islamic State -- also known as ISIS, or ISIL -- in Syria, mostly coming from the North Caucasus region where Russia has been waging a grinding counter-insurgency campaign against local jihadists for years.
The Islamic State has pledged to carry out terror attacks in Russia in revenge for Moscow’s military intervention in Syria. So far, the terror group has not succeeded in hitting the Russian homeland, although ISIS bomb brought down a Russian passenger airliner over Egypt in late-October, killing 224 people.
In the past few months, Russian security services have said they have interrupted a number of terror plots in Russia, and have arrested and killed militants they accuse of belonging to ISIS.
ESA/Hubble & NASA(NEW YORK) -- Check out this galactic merger captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The photo shows a galaxy known as NGC 1487, located 30 million light-years away from Earth, but rather than viewing it as an object, NASA said it can be thought of as an "event."
"Here, we are witnessing two or more galaxies in the act of merging together to form a single new galaxy. Each galaxy has lost almost all traces of its original appearance, as stars and gas have been thrown by gravity in an elaborate cosmic whirl," a NASA blog post explained.
The violence of the merging process makes it difficult to determine how many galaxies are a part of the event -- or their individual characteristics. NASA said the yellow and red stars seen on the outskirts of the galaxy are older, while the bright blue stars in the center are likely the result of the galactic merger.
Michele Tantussi/Getty Images(ROME) — Italian President Sergio Mattarella will meet President Obama at the White House Monday as part of his first seven-day official visit to the United States during which he will visit Washington, New York and Houston.
Mattarella will be accompanied to his meetings Monday by Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and both will hold further talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden throughout the day.
Italian presidential meetings with U.S. presidents are always treated with great pride and given much attention in the Italian media. Mattarella's visit has been one of the lead stories on the Italian news broadcasts since his Saturday departure for the United States.
Italy has always been treated as a valued NATO ally and a close partner on a wide range of global issues. U.S. presidents and secretaries of state have repeatedly and publicly said how much the United States appreciates what Italy does in difficult conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in other hot-spot peace-keeping missions around the world.
The two men are expected to speak about a number of issues, focusing in particular on the crisis in the Mediterranean, the shared efforts to counter ISIS -- especially in Libya and Syria -- and the migrant situation in Europe. Italian leading dailies Monday report that Obama will probably ask Italy to do more in Libya to counter ISIS while Italy’s president is expected to insist that all must be done to bolster the political situation in Libya before any sort of joint military action can be taken.
Economic matters affecting Europe may also be a topic of discussion at Monday’s meetings between the leaders, along with a more detailed exchange of views on the yet-to-be-finalized Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
U.S. administrative officials have taken note that Italy’s young Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has seemed to abandon Italy’s accommodating stance toward the European Union in recent months and has taken a more aggressive position on hot-topic issues, even challenging Merkel's Germany with his proposals.
The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reports Monday that President Mattarella and his delegation are also expected to use this trip to continue Italy’s campaign to win a seat among the 10 members of the U.N. security council. The vote to choose member states is expected later this year and the General Assembly will have to approve all candidate states. The Italian presidential delegation will hold meetings at the U.N. Wednesday.
Mattarella served as minister of education and defense during his parliamentary career and then was elected judge on the constitutional court in 2011 prior to being elected president of the republic in 2015.
The rather shy 74-year old Sicilian was not a well-known public figure when he was elected but Italians seem to have warmed to his quiet manner. His brother, also a politician, was killed by the Sicilian mafia in 1980.
Mattarella paid homage to the late President John Kennedy Sunday, placing a wreath on his tombstone at the military cemetery in Arlington and visited Washington’s National Gallery, which he told reporters was “splendid.”
Mattarella is also expected to visit Columbia University, Ellis Island, Ground Zero and the Johnson Space Center during his visit.
ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images(TAINAN CITY, Taiwan) -- A woman and a man have been rescued from a collapsed apartment building days after a powerful earthquake hit Taiwan.
According to BBC, the woman was found underneath her husband's body and near the body of her two-year-old son.
The man was pulled alive from the rubble not long after, local media said.
At least 35 people died in the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit Tainan City on Friday, BBC reported, and more than 100 are believed to still be trapped inside the collapsed 17-story Weiguan Jinlong building.
Officials said most who died from the earthquake were in the apartment building, BBC reported.
The rescue effort is ongoing with at least 310 rescued from the apartment, according to BBC. About 100 of those rescued from the building had to be hospitalized.
Kelly is participating in a study along with his twin, former astronaut Mark Kelly, about the long-term effects on humans in space. The implications of the study are expected to help NASA better prepare for one day sending humans to Mars.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- North Korea's long-range missile launch has been "strongly" and unanimously condemned by members of the United Nations Security Council Sunday.
During an emergency meeting over the launch Sunday, council members "restated their intent to develop significant" new sanctions against North Korea for violating UN resolutions, the UNSC said today in a statement.
The missile was launched from western North Korea on Saturday at 7:29 p.m. ET, or Sunday at 9:29 a.m. local time, in a trajectory that took it over the Yellow Sea, according to a U.S. official.
"U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch into space," U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement. The missile did not pose a threat to the U.S. or its allies, officials said.
The missile passed over Japan and landed near the Philippines, according to Japan's U.N. ambassador, Mothide Yoshikawa, who said the launch was "a clear threat to the lives of many people" before heading into today's closed council meeting.
China and the U.S. have been working on a new sanctions resolution since North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6. Though North Korea claimed the nuclear test was a hydrogen bomb, U.S. officials said an analysis showed that was not the case.
iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A double-decker bus was blown up on bridge in front of Parliament in London on Sunday morning, sparking panic from those nearby who were unaware it was done on a movie set.
The loud, fiery explosion was part of a stunt for The Foreigner, an upcoming action film starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, according to city officials. Though the film's producers had warned neighboring residents about the blasts, some passer-bys and Twitter users said the city should have better notified the general public about the stunt.
Some said children in a nearby playground were frightened and "freaked" by the blast.
One Twitter user said the explosion brought back harrowing memories of the 2005 attack on London's transport system, in which 52 people were killed. A bus was also blown up in central London during that attack.
If you're filming a London bus blowing up and tweeting it out, SAY IT'S FAKE. Some of us lived through 7/7 waiting to see who'd died.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(MADRID) -- Spain's Interior Ministry announced Sunday the arrests of six individuals for alleged links to terror organizations, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.
The arrests include four Spanish citizens of Syrian, Jordanian and Moroccan origin as well as two Spanish residents of Syrian and Moroccan citizenship.
In a rough English translation, Spain's Ministry of Interior said the investigation began in 2014 and "has now allowed the dismantling of a cell whose members are integrated into the exterior structure of terrorist organizations of jihadist character located on the Syrian-Iraqi zone Jabhat Nusra (JAN), and Daesh [ISIS], by providing essential to support their terrorist activities logistical material."
The arrests were made in the Spanish cities of Valencia, Alicante, and Ceuta.
(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- U.S. officials said North Korea successfully launched a long-range missile, apparently into space, and condemned the move as another provocation from the country.
"U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch into space" said a statement from Strategic Command.
North Korean state media confirmed the launch in an noon announcement Sunday local time, and vowed that futures launches will take place.
But the missile did not pose a threat to the United States or its allies, officials said.
According to a U.S. official, the missile was launched from western North Korea at 7:29 PM ET in a trajectory that took it over the Yellow Sea.
The Japanese government said that the missile had traveled 2,000 kilometers south and parts had landed in the South China Sea.
A U.S. official said it appeared that the missile's third stage had entered space, which would be of major concern to those who have said that the North Korean "satellite launch" was really a cover for a test of its intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
The successful entry of the third stage into space would be of major concern to U.S. officials who have said that the North Korean "satellite launch" was really a cover for a test of its intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
"North Korea's launch using ballistic missile technology, following so closely after its January 6 nuclear test, represents yet another destabilizing and provocative action and is a flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions," said Susan Rice, National Security Adviser in a statement issued after Saturday night's launch.
"We condemn today's launch and North Korea's determination to prioritize its missile and nuclear weapons programs over the well-being of its people, whose struggles only intensify with North Korea’s diversion of scarce resources to such destabilizing activities" she added.
The United Nations Security Council will meet in an emergency session on Sunday to discuss the North Korean missile launch.
"We will continue to work with our partners and members of the UN Security Council on significant measures to hold the DPRK to account," said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement.
In January, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test that it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, though the United States said analysis showed that was not the case.
"This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well," said Kerry.
"We reaffirm our ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan."