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Landslide Buries Mountain Village in SW China, Fears for 100 People

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(Last Updated On: June 24, 2017)

A landslide on Saturday morning in China’s southwestern Sichuan province has buried the homes of around 100 people, according to the official Xinhua news agency, citing local authorities.

Xinhua did not give an estimate of the number killed or injured, but it said the landslide had covered 40 homes in Xinmo village in Maoxian county, a remote mountainous area of north Sichuan close to the region of Tibet.

The landslide blocked a two-kilometer (1.24 miles) stretch of a nearby river, according to Xinhua.

State television reports showed villagers and rescuers scrambling over piles of mud and rocks that had slid down a long steep slope. Xinhua said there were 400 people involved in the rescue effort and 6 ambulances were at the scene, and more were on their way.

Police have closed roads in the county to all traffic except for emergency services, the news agency said

There is an extensive network of dams in the region, including two hydropower plants in Diexi town near the buried village.

The area is prone to earthquakes, including one in 1933 that resulted in parts of Diexi town becoming submerged by a nearby lake, and an 8.0 magnitude tremor in central Sichuan’s Wenchuan county in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people.

Written by: Reuters

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Rescue workers still digging for missing people after devastating Beirut blast

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

As foreign countries prepared to send in search teams and medical supplies, Lebanese rescue teams pulled out bodies and continued to dig for missing people through the night and into Thursday after Tuesday’s massive explosion sent a devastating blast wave across Beirut, killing at least 135.

On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared three days of mourning from Thursday as early investigations blamed negligence for the explosion at Beirut port, which has left a large number of people missing and more than 5,000 injured. 

Officials have also said that up to a quarter of a million people were without homes fit to live in, after shockwaves smashed building facades, sucked furniture out into streets and shattered windows miles inland.

In addition, hospitals were inundated and health officials were on Thursday appealing to the public to donate blood. 

Tuesday’s explosion was the most powerful ever in Beirut, a city still scarred by civil war that ended three decades ago and reeling from an economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus infections. 

But countries around the world have rushed to help and so far Lebanon has received four field hospitals from Qatar, Iraq and Jordan, in addition to urgent medical assistance to help deal with the aftermath of the explosion. 

Anadolu Agency reported Qatar sent two field hospitals with a capacity of 500 beds for each, as well as Iraq and Jordan sending one field hospital each.

An Amiri Air Force aircraft carrying two field hospitals and other medical supplies reached the Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut arriving from Qatar on Wednesday. 

Lebanese media reported that the country had received oil supplies to continue until the country recovers from the tragedy.

The Iraqi oil minister informed Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab that Baghdad will provide fuel assistance to Beirut and shipments of wheat will arrive on Friday – also from Iraq.

Local Lebanese media indicated that France had also sent assistance to Lebanon, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that his country would dispatch urgent assistance to Lebanon.

A Turkish military plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in Beirut early Thursday carrying medical aid and search and rescue teams. 

The aircraft was sent on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s orders.

The aircraft was carrying 21 National Medical Rescue personnel, two emergency units, three tents, medicine and medical equipment, 10 Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) personnel, equipment, a search and rescue vehicle, three Kizilay personnel, a search and rescue team and medical and humanitarian aid. 

Speaking to the press right before the aircraft took off, AFAD President Mehmet Gulluoglu told Anadolu Agency that Turkey is preparing to send the required support for Beirut following the blast.

He said 20 more National Medical Rescue personnel including trauma experts, surgeons, orthopedics experts and emergency medical doctors will be on their way to Beirut.

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UN Security Council condemns Daesh attack on Jalalabad prison attack

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2020)

The UN Security Council has condemned Sunday’s attack on Jalalabad prison and said terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. 

This comes after Daesh militants attacked the prison on Sunday evening. The siege lasted at least 18 hours and 30 people were killed. 

Daesh immediately claimed responsibility for the incident and later issued information and photographs of the 11 attackers who had been involved. Only three were reportedly Afghan. The rest were Tajiks, Indians and one Pakistani. 

In a statement issued late Wednesday by the council’s president, Dian Triansyah Djani,  the Security Council said: “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Government of Afghanistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.”

The Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. 

They reaffirmed the need for all countries to combat, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.

The council also expressed its sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Afghan government. 

 

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Toll expected to rise in blast that shook Beirut, killing 78 and injuring thousands

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2020)

Lebanese rescue workers dug through the rubble looking for survivors of a powerful warehouse explosion that shook the capital Beirut, killing 78 people and injuring nearly 4,000 in a toll that officials expected to rise, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Tuesday’s blast at port warehouses storing highly explosive material was the most powerful in years in Beirut, already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and he said that was “unacceptable”.

He called for an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Officials did not say what caused the blaze that set off the blast. A security source and local media said it was started by welding work being carried out on a hole in the warehouse.

“What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”

Hours after the blast, which struck shortly after 6 pm, a fire still blazed in the port district, casting an orange glow across the night sky as helicopters hovered and ambulance sirens sounded across the capital.

The blast revived memories of a 1975-90 civil war and its aftermath, when Lebanese endured heavy shelling, car bombings and Israeli air raids. Some residents thought an earthquake had struck.

Dazed, weeping and injured people walked through streets searching for relatives.

“The blast blew me off meters away. I was in a daze and was all covered in blood. It brought back the vision of another explosion I witnessed against the US embassy in 1983,” said Huda Baroudi, a Beirut designer.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the deadly blast at the “dangerous warehouse”, adding “those responsible will pay the price.”

The US embassy in Beirut warned residents about reports of toxic gases released by the blast, urging people to stay indoors and wear masks if available.

Many Missing

“There are many people missing. People are asking the emergency department about their loved ones and it is difficult to search at night because there is no electricity,” Health Minister Hamad Hasan told Reuters.

Hasan said 78 people were killed and nearly 4,000 injured.

Footage of the explosion shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port, followed by an enormous blast, sending a white cloud and a fireball into the sky. 

Those filming the incident from high buildings 2 km from the port were thrown backwards by the shock.

Bleeding people were seen running and shouting for help in clouds of smoke and dust in streets littered with damaged buildings, flying debris, and wrecked cars and furniture.

The explosion occurred three days before a U.N.-backed court is due to deliver a verdict in the trial of four suspects from the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah over a 2005 bombing which killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 21 others.

Hariri was killed by a huge truck bomb on the same waterfront, about 2 km (about one mile) from the port.

Israeli officials said Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, had nothing to do with Tuesday’s blast and said their country was ready to give humanitarian and medical assistance. 

Shi’ite Iran, the main backer of Hezbollah, also offered support, as did Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni power.

At a White House briefing, US President Donald Trump indicated that the explosion was a possible attack, but two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial information contradicted Trump’s view.

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