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British Columbia sees death toll rising from massive flood; Ottawa pledges aid

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(Last Updated On: November 18, 2021)

The death toll from massive floods and landslides that devastated parts of British Columbia in Canada is set to rise, with the Canadian province declaring a state of emergency on Wednesday and the federal government promising major help.

Authorities have confirmed one death after torrential rains and mudslides destroyed roads and left several mountain towns isolated. At least three people are missing and about 18,000 people are displaced in the Pacific Coast province, Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told Reuters.

“We expect to confirm even more fatalities in the coming days,” British Columbia Premier John Horgan said, describing the calamity as a once-in-500-year event.

“We will bring in travel restrictions and ensure that transportation of essential goods and medical and emergency services are able to reach the communities that need them,” Horgan told a news conference, urging people not to hoard supplies.

The floods and mudslides also severed access to the country’s largest port in Vancouver, disrupting already strained global supply chains.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would help the province recover from what he called a “terrible, terrible disaster.”

Ottawa is sending hundreds of air force personnel to aid the recovery and “there are thousands more on standby,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington ahead of a U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit on Thursday.

Some affected towns are in remote mountain areas with limited access and freezing temperatures.

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Indonesia Semeru volcanic eruption kills 13; dozens injured

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

The eruption of Indonesia’s Semeru volcano has killed at least 13 people and injured dozens, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, as search teams looked for victims in a landscape covered in deep layers of ash.

Semeru, the tallest mountain on Java island, threw up towers of ash and hot clouds on Saturday that blanketed nearby villages in East Java province and sent people fleeing in panic, Reuters reported.

The eruption severed a strategic bridge connecting two areas in the nearby district of Lumajang with the city of Malang and wrecked buildings, authorities said.

BNPB official Abdul Muhari said in a news release that 13 people had been killed. Ninety-eight were injured, including two pregnant women, and 902 have been evacuated, the statement said.

Most injuries were burns, authorities said.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo has ordered authorities to find and treat victims, the state secretary said.

Semeru had started emitting hot clouds and lava flows near its rivers recently, and the country’s volcanology center had warned people not to go near it since Wednesday, it said.

In 2010, an eruption of the Merapi volcano on Java island killed over 350 people and displaced 400,000.

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Pakistan receives $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Pakistan on Saturday received a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia, the prime minister’s finance adviser said, as part of an economic support package.

The South Asian country has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency, Reuters reported.

Pakistan’s total liquid foreign reserves stand at $22,498.8 million, based on central bank data.

Shaukat Tarin, finance adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan, said in a tweet: “I want to thank His Excellency Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the kind gesture.”

The loan from Saudi Arabia will be for one year at a 4% interest rate under the terms of the package, which was signed last month, Reuters reported.

“This is positive news … and will help bolster both the foreign exchange reserves and sentiments in the forex market,” Saad Hashemy, executive director at BMA Capital said.

The loan comes a week after the International Monetary Fund agreed with Pakistan on measures needed to revive a stalled $6 billion funding program.

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Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city named 2023 World Tourism Capital

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Uzbekistan’s historic city of Samarkand was chosen as the 2023 World Tourism Capital at the 24th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Spain, Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Samarkand will host the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO, which will be a “historic event” as it marks the first time in history that the gathering will be held in Uzbekistan, read the statement.

The summit in Madrid was attended by a delegation led by Uzbekistan’s Tourism and Sports Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov, who is also the country’s deputy prime minister.

The opportunity to host a UN organization meeting for the first time is the result of the Uzbek government’s policies and efforts to develop tourism in the country, the statement added.

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