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Death toll in Pakistan train crash rises to 56

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(Last Updated On: June 8, 2021)

The death toll in a train crash in southern Pakistan rose to 56 on Tuesday, a railway spokeswoman said, the latest accident to highlight a broken railway system that dates back to the 19th century, Reuters reported.

A train smashed into derailed carriages of another train on Monday, killing at least 36 people and injuring over 100.

The toll rose to 56 after bodies were retrieved overnight from mangled coaches strewn across the tracks, Pakistan Railways spokeswoman Nazia Jabeen told Reuters.

Another 23 injured passengers are still under treatment, she said, adding the rest of them were sent to their destinations.

Rescue operations have been completed, said statements from the railway and Pakistani military, which worked at the site along with police and other rescuers.

One side of the two rail tracks have been cleared and work was in progress to clear the other one to help restore traffic.

Several carriages of a train derailed and fell across the adjacent track in the Ghotki district on Monday. Within minutes, a second train, coming from the other direction, smashed into them.

“The driver tried to apply emergency brakes but the locomotive hit the infringing coaches,” Pakistan Railways said in an initial report.

“We saw a terrifying scene here,” a resident Sher Mohammad told Reuters TV. “We brought water, picked up children. Passengers who were coming out of the train were mostly in agony,” he said.

The trains were carrying a total of 1,388 passengers.

Accidents on the decaying rail system are common.

In 2005, in the same district, about 130 people were killed when a crowded passenger train rammed into another at a station and a third train struck the wreckage, Reuters reported.

Successive governments have for years been trying to secure funds to upgrade the system, including a planned new rail track called ML-1 as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative of energy and infrastructure projects.

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Torrential rains kill over 160 in India, dozens trapped in landslides

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

Rescue teams in India were digging through thick sludge and debris on Monday to find over 60 people trapped in landslides caused by torrential monsoon rains that have so far claimed more than 160 lives in four days.

The western states of Maharashtra and Goa, as well as Karnataka and Telangana in the south, are the most affected by heavy rains that have flooded croplands over thousands of hectares and forced authorities to move over 230,000 people to safer places.

In Maharashtra, 149 people have died mainly in landslides and other monsoon-related accidents, while another 64 are still missing, the state government said in a statement.

“We are trying hard to rescue people trapped under landslide debris in Raigad and Satara but the possibility of evacuating them alive is remote. They are trapped under mud for more than three days,” said a senior official with the state government, referring to two badly affected districts.

Rescuers couldn’t reach affected villages quickly because approach roads were cut off by overflowing rivers and landslides, officials said.

In Karnataka and Telangana, more than a dozen people died because of floods but waters in the main Krishna and Godavari rivers are receding, authorities said.

In Goa, a hugely popular tourist destination on the western coast, hundreds of houses were damaged as the state recorded the worst floods in nearly four decades, the state’s chief minister Pramod Sawant said.

Rains are easing on the west coast and that will help in rescue operations, said a Pune-based senior scientist with the India Meteorological Department.

“This week also, the west coast will receive rainfall, but the intensity would be much lower compared to the last week,” he said.

Last week, parts of India’s west coast received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rainfall over 24 hours, forcing authorities to evacuate people from vulnerable areas as they released water from dams that were threatening to overflow.

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Peru socialist Castillo confirmed president after lengthy battle over results

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2021)

Peru’s electoral authority on Monday named socialist Pedro Castillo as the country’s next president, having officially won the June 6 runoff against right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, who accepted the result but said she had been cheated.

The official result had been delayed by appeals from Fujimori aimed at annulling some ballots over fraud accusations. She said she was nonetheless bound by law to recognize the ruling of the National Jury of Elections.

“I proclaim Pedro Castillo as president of the republic and Dina Boluarte as first vice president,” elections chief Jorge Salas said during a televised ceremony on Monday night, Reuters reported.

Earlier in the day, Fujimori said she would recognize the official result “because it is what the law and the constitution that I have sworn to defend, mandates. The truth is going to come out anyway.”

“They have stolen thousands of votes from us,” Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori,told a news conference. She called on her followers to protest, reported Reuters.

“We have the right to mobilize … but in a peaceful manner and within the framework of the law,” she said.

The Organization of American States, the European Union and Britain have all said the election was clean. The U.S. Embassy in Lima sent a tweet, welcoming the announcement. “We value our close ties with Peru and hope to strengthen them with President elect Pedro Castillo after his inauguration on July 28,” the tweet said.

Castillo, in his first comments as president-elect, called for national unity. “I ask for effort and sacrifice in the struggle to make this a just and sovereign country,” he said.

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Heavy rains kill 18 in India, dozens feared trapped in landslides

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(Last Updated On: July 23, 2021)

At least 18 people have died in the western Indian state of Maharashtra after torrential monsoon rains caused landslides and flooding that submerged low lying areas and cut off hundreds of villages, authorities said on Friday.

Rivers in Maharashtra were flooded after authorities released water from dams made full after many parts on the west coast received more than 200 mm (8 inches) of rain in 24 hours and some parts received as high as 594 mm rainfall.

At least four people died after a building collapsed in the financial capital Mumbai, and another 14 were killed in four landslides in other parts of Maharashtra, state government officials said.

“Rescue operations are going on at various places in Satara, Raigad and Ratnagiri. Due to heavy rainfall and flooded rivers, we are struggling to move rescue machinery quickly,” said a state government official, who declined to be named.

Several dozen people were feared to have been trapped at landslides in Satara and Raigad districts, the official said.

In coastal districts, the Indian navy and army have been helping in rescue operation, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said.

Thousands of trucks were stuck on a national highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places, another Maharashtra government official said.

Hundreds of villages and dozens of towns in the affected areas of Maharashtra were without electricity and drinking water, he said.

In neighbouring southern states of Karnataka and Telangana some rivers are overflowing, and authorities are monitoring the situation, government officials said.

Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September cause deaths and mass displacement across South Asia every year but they also deliver more than 70% of India’s rainfall and are crucial for farmers.

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