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Putin signs law that could keep him in Kremlin until 2036

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(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that could keep him in office in the Kremlin until 2036, the government said on Monday, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters the legislation allows him to run for two more six-year terms once his current stint ends in 2024. It follows changes to the constitution last year.

Those changes were backed in a public vote last summer and could allow Putin, 68, to potentially remain in power until the age of 83. He is currently serving his second consecutive term as president and his fourth in total.

The reform, which critics cast as a constitutional coup, was packaged with an array of other amendments that were expected to garner popular support, such as one bolstering pension protections.

The law signed by Putin limits any future president to two terms in office, but resets his term count. It prevents anyone who has held foreign citizenship from running for the Kremlin.

The legislation was passed in the lower and upper houses of parliament last month.

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Gas pipe explosion kills 12 in China

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2021)

A gas pipe explosion in a residential community in a central Chinese city killed 12 people and injured 138, state media CCTV reported Sunday.

One hundred-fifty people were evacuated following the deadly accident in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province, it said, of which 37 are critically injured.

The explosion caused a food market building to collapse at 6:30 a.m., local media reported. Footage from CCTV shows wreckage and shattered glass covering the first floor of the collapsed building, where people were having breakfast and buying groceries when explosion happened.

People can be seen walking in a rubble-strewn street between damaged buildings.

Hospitals in Shiyan are asking residents to donate blood, as the injured are still under emergency treatment, CCTV said.

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Saudi Arabia bars foreign travellers from Haj over COVID

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(Last Updated On: June 13, 2021)

Saudi Arabia has restricted the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA)reported on Saturday.

Only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated or immunised against the virus, and are free of chronic diseases, will be able to take part, the ministry that manages the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca said in a statement carried by SPA.

It also set a maximum of 60,000 participants.

“The decision (was made) to guarantee the safety of haj amid uncertainty over the coronavirus,” the kingdom’s health minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah said in a televised press conference carried by SPA.

“Despite the availability of vaccine, there is uncertainty over the virus and some countries still record high numbers of COVID cases, the other challenge is the different variants of the virus, hence came the decision to restrict haj,” al-Rabiah said.

The minister said only approved COVID vaccines from Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be valid for the haj.

Sources told Reuters in May a plan was being considered to bar overseas pilgrims from performing Haj, a once in a lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

Before the pandemic enforced social distancing globally, some 2.5 million pilgrims used to visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj, and the lesser, year-round umrah pilgrimage, which altogether earned the kingdom about $12 billion a year, according to official data.

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At least 20 Muslim pilgrims die in Pakistan bus crash

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(Last Updated On: June 11, 2021)

A bus crammed with pilgrims coming back from a religious festival crashed in southwest Pakistan on Friday killing at least 20 and leaving 10 others critically injured, officials and a hospital doctor said.

The bus careened off the road into a ditch during the early morning in the Karkh area of Khuzdar district, in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan.

“The bus was overloaded, and passengers were even traveling on the roof of the bus,” a Pakistani security official in the area told Reuters after paramilitary forces and soldiers were sent to help the survivors.

“We have received 20 bodies and over 40 injured in Khuzdar district hospital,” Dr. Manzoor Zahir told Reuters, adding that the condition of at least 10 of the injured was serious and the death toll could increase.

Deputy Commissioner Khuzdar Bashir Ahmed told Reuters the victims were pilgrims who were returning from attending a religious festival honoring a local Muslim saint, and the victims were from the province of Sindh. Ahmed said all the dead were males.

Traffic and rail accidents are commonplace in Pakistan, partly because of the poor state of roads and track.

At least 56 people were killed on Monday when a passenger train smashed into the derailed carriages of another train in southern Pakistan.

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