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Death toll in Russian mine tragedy jumps past 50

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2021)

A gas leak in a Siberian coal mine killed at least 52 people on Thursday, Russian news agencies said, including six rescuers who were sent down to try to bring out dozens of men in what was one of Russia’s worst mining disasters since Soviet times, Reuters reported.

The regional Investigative Committee said three people, including the director of the Listvyazhnaya mine and his deputy, had been arrested on suspicion of violating industrial safety rules.

It said miners had suffocated when a ventilation shaft became filled with gas. State television said prosecutors believed there had been a methane explosion.

According to the report the dead comprised 11 miners already confirmed killed, 35 who had been reported missing, and the six rescue workers.

Dozens of people were treated in hospital, at least some of them for smoke inhalation. Four were in critical condition.

The coal-producing region of Kemerovo, roughly 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow, has suffered fatal mining accidents for years.

The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The owner had no immediate comment, read the report.

Some 285 people were inside the mine when smoke spread through the ventilation shaft, the Emergencies Ministry said. Authorities said 239 had made it to the surface.

President Vladimir Putin said he had spoken with the governor and emergency officials, and the Kremlin said he had ordered the emergencies minister to fly to the region to help, Reuters reported.

Kemerovo declared three days of mourning.

In 2007, the region was the site of the worst mining accident since the collapse of the Soviet Union when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine claimed the lives of more than 100 people. In 2010, explosions at the region’s Raspadskaya mine killed more than 90 people.

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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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Russia, Southeast Asia conclude first joint naval exercise

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(Last Updated On: December 4, 2021)

Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concluded their first joint naval exercise, Indonesia’s navy said on Saturday, as the region faces rising tensions with China.

The three-day exercise off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island aimed at increasing interoperability between the ASEAN member states and the Russian navy in the strategic maritime area. It comes amid rising tensions between major powers in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway of geopolitical significance, Reuters reported.

“The exercise has a strategic impact because it was designed to cultivate friendships between the Indonesian government, ASEAN countries and Russia,” the navy said.

The two-stage drills involved eight warships and four aircraft from Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.

Aleksei Bolotnikov, commander of the Russian warship Admiral Panteleyev, was quoted as saying he hoped the next ASEAN-Russia exercise could take place in Vladivostok, Reuters reported.

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