Your Wednesday Briefing: Indonesia’s death toll climbs

Plus Saudi Arabia defeats Argentina, Australia loses to France and lockdowns spread across China.
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By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering recovery efforts in Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia’s stunning World Cup triumph over Argentina.

Rescuers carried a body bag through the rubble during a rescue operation.Yulius Satria Wijaya/Antara Foto, via Reuters

The death toll rises in Indonesia

Workers in Indonesia are struggling to find survivors of Monday’s earthquake as power outages and blocked roads hinder rescue efforts.

The death toll has risen to at least 268, and is likely to continue to climb. Many of the dead were women and children in homes or schools. More than 150 people are still missing. Yesterday, rescue dogs sniffed for what officials estimated could be dozens of people still buried under mounds of rust-colored soil.

Tens of thousands of people were displaced from their homes. More than a thousand people are injured, and hospitals are overrun. Some people are being treated outside, in makeshift tents, and there aren’t enough ambulances. Here are photos of the aftermath.

Details: A full picture of the damage from the magnitude 5.6 earthquake is still emerging. One entire village was engulfed by a landslide.

Context: Indonesia sits on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines along the Pacific Basin. Quakes can set off landslides, which can be catastrophic in a country where deforestation for farmland and illegal small-scale gold mining have contributed to unstable soil conditions.

Salem Aldawsari of Saudi Arabia, left, celebrated yesterday.Rungroj Yongrit/EPA, via Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia beats Argentina

In one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina, 2-1.

If you don’t follow sports, it’s hard to overstate how big of a deal this is. Argentina has Lionel Messi, perhaps the greatest player ever, and it carefully built its team to support him. The Saudis were widely viewed as a sacrificial lamb. Even Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman advised them to focus more on “enjoying themselves” than winning.

The loss is not just a defeat for Argentina, my colleague Rory Smith wrote. “It was an embarrassment, an ignominy, a stigma scarred into Argentine skin in front of 88,000 people, streamed live on television and beamed around the world.”

Argentines are disgusted. “What a disgrace,” a woman in Buenos Aires said.

Details: Even at halftime, Saudi’s win seemed wildly improbable. Argentina had put the ball in the net four times, but three had been ruled out for offside. (Here’s an explainer of the term.)

Messi: This is most likely his last World Cup. His team arrived in Qatar with the sole ambition of cementing his golden legacy; despite his acclaim, Messi, 35, has never won the tournament.

Cristiano Ronaldo: The star forward, who is playing for Portugal in the World Cup, will immediately part ways with Manchester United “by mutual agreement,” the club said.

For more, sign up for our World Cup updates.

Other updates:

  • Australia lost to France, 4-1.
  • Denmark tied with Tunisia, 0-0. And Mexico tied Poland, 0-0.
  • The U.S. tied with Wales, 1-1.
Parts of Beijing’s Central Business District were nearly empty yesterday.Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Covid lockdowns resume in China

Despite China’s hints that it will tweak its approach to Covid restrictions, multiple outbreaks are prompting lockdowns across the country.

Shijiazhuang, a northern city, is mostly under a five-day lockdown, barely a week after no longer requiring residents to show a negative Covid test to use mass transit. Several neighborhoods in Shanghai reinstituted frequent tests, just days after telling residents they were seldom needed.

And schools and businesses were forced to close across Beijing, where leaders had been looking to adjust the restrictions that had dragged its economy down. Last weekend, the city recorded its first coronavirus-related deaths in months. Here are photos from the new effort.

It’s part of a nationwide pattern: Earlier this month, China said that it would fine-tune Covid restrictions to limit the disruption caused by lockdowns, quarantines and daily mass testing. But the outbreaks have tested officials’ resolve and raised questions about when — if ever — the world’s second-largest economy might reopen.

Cases: New infections have climbed almost every day since late October. Yesterday, the number of cases announced — 27,307 — came close to China’s single-day record of 28,973 cases, set in April during the early days of the Shanghai lockdown.

Context: China is the only major country still attempting to eradicate Covid infections. Its population has scant immunity; most have never been exposed to the virus; and vaccination efforts dropped off over the summer and autumn.



Asia Pacific
Officials say an investigation is underway into what caused the tragedy in Henan Province.CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press
  • A fire at a factory in central China killed 38 people, one of the country’s deadliest fires in recent years.
  • In the Philippines, Kamala Harris, the U.S. vice president, denounced China for “intimidation and coercion” in the disputed parts of the South China Sea.
  • Malaysia’s king said he would appoint the prime minister, as the country’s political crisis deepens, Reuters reports.
The War in Ukraine
Around the World
Richard Fierro was watching a drag show with his family when the gunman opened fire. His daughter’s boyfriend was killed.Daniel Brenner for The New York Times
A Morning Read
Glamma Beijing, a group of fashion influencers, can make more than $115,000 from advertising and sales commissions with just a handful of live streams.Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

China’s grandparents are rapping and gaming on social media, finding viral success by sharing their daily lives online.

They’re challenging the traditional belief that seniors should stay home and raise the next generation, and they have company: With more than 260 million residents over 60, China has the largest and fastest-growing population of old people in the world.

Lives Lived: Bao Tong was the highest-ranking Chinese official imprisoned over the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. He died at 90.

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Movement as a memory

Melissa Schriek for The New York Times

“If you pay close attention, you know that no two bodies move the same way,” Katja Heitmann, a German choreographer, said. She has been collecting the mannerisms of others — how they walk, stand, kiss or fidget — for her dance project, “Motus Mori.”

Her archive now includes movements “donated” by more than 1,000 people, though she does not record or photograph them; instead, dancers learn the moves in private sessions, commit them to memory and incorporate them into performances.

“In our current society, we are trying to capture humanity in data,” Heitmann said. “But we are losing something this way.”


What to Cook
David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Make mulligatawny soup in a slow cooker.

What to Read

Aesthetica” imagines an ex-influencer who reverses years of plastic surgery.

What to Watch

Daniel Craig reprises his role as the world’s greatest detective in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” a Times critic’s pick.

Where to Go

The Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, offer wild, pristine nature.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Big blue body (three letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Karan Deep Singh won a health award from the South Asian Journalists Association for his reporting on India’s Covid-19 surge.

The Daily” is on a looming “tripledemic” in the U.S.

Tom Wright-Piersanti, an editor with The Morning, wrote today’s Arts & Ideas. Email us at with any questions or concerns.


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