A strong typhoon tore through the northern tip of the Philippines on Saturday packing winds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) along with torrential rain, killing three people and causing floods, landslides and power outages. Mangkhut entered the Philippines as a super typhoon in the early hours, and sent winds and rains across the entire main island of Luzon, home to about half the country's 105 million people. Known locally as Ompong, Typhoon Mangkhut at one point had maximum gusts of 305 kph (190 mph) before it exited the land area before noon and moved toward southern China and Vietnam with reduced wind speeds of 170 kph (106 mph). Two rescue workers were killed while trying to free people trapped in a landslide in the mountainous Cordillera region, said Ricardo Jalad, head of the nation's disaster agency. No further details were provided. Police also said a body had been found in a river in Manila. Philippine state weather agency PAGASA downgraded the domestic threat level, but warned the danger was far from over, with continued storm surges and heavy rains that could trigger floods and more landslides. "We are asking the people to remain alert and continue taking precautions," said PAGASA meteorologist Rene Paciente. Rapid response teams were on stand by with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometers away. There was flooding in several provinces and parts of the capital Manila. Authorities were preparing to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels. Mangkhut had been a category 5 storm for days since wreaking havoc in U.S. Pacific territories of Micronesia before edging toward the Philippines, where it is the 15th and strongest storm this year. The typhoon's peak winds were stronger than those of Hurricane Florence, which killed five people in the United States after it piled into the Carolinas knocking down trees, and gorging rivers and causing major power outages before it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Some 105,000 people were staying in temporary shelters after mass evacuation of coastal areas of the Philippines following major storm surge warnings. Authorities in some areas of northern Luzon turned off power as a precaution, and said some residents in high-risk areas chose to ride out the storm to protect homes from looters. More than 1,000 houses were impacted in Cagayan province, where the storm first made landfall, with authorities in the town of Baggao saying they had lost contact with an emergency response team, said Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Rogelio Sending, a government official in Cagayan said there were provincewide power and communication outages and reports of uprooted trees blocking roads. "This makes the clearing operations really difficult," he said by phone. The Philippines is still haunted by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in central areas of the country in 2013, most due to huge storm surges. But authorities say they were better prepared this time in terms of evacuating and informing high-risk communities. "I talked to the president last night. His clear and concise marching order was 'Save lives, save lives,'" said Francis Tolentino, the government's disaster response coordinator and adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Renato Solidum, a senior official at the Science and Technology department, said people in northern Luzon experienced a super typhoon in 2016 and were not caught off guard. "There has been an aggressive information dissemination to prepare well," he said. "Because the people had experienced a super typhoon only recently, they really had imagination about what happened before and that they really need to be prepared."
Fifty two people, including several women and children, were killed, and more than 20 suffered injuries on Tuesday morning when a Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) bus plunged into a gorge on the Kondagattu ghat road in Jagtial district. The bus, belonging to the Jagtial depot, had more than 60 passengers, who reportedly came to the hillock temple at Kondagattu. It was going from Shanivarampeta village to Jagtial via the Kondagattu ghat road and Muthyampet villages when the accident happened. More than two dozen passengers died on the spot and bodies of seven children have been recovered. The bus was overcrowded, eyewitness accounts said. Initial reports said the bus driver lost control of the vehicle at the third sharp curve, resulting in the bus plunging into the gorge. Most of the passengers lost balance and fell on the right side of the bus leading to the accident. Many due to suffocation as they fell on one another. Some four-wheelers following the bus stopped and launched a rescue operation with the help of the locals. The severely injured were rushed to the Jagtial Area Hospital for treatment. The condition of close to a dozen passengers was said to be critical and death toll is likely to go up, reports said. Jagtial Collector A. Sharath, SP Sindhu Sharma and Karimnagar Police Commissioner Kamalhasan Reddy, and other officials reached the spot and shifted the injured to the Jagtial hospital. The bodies have been shifted to the hospital pending post mortem.
Japan has been hit by its strongest typhoon in 25 years, causing at least 10 deaths and 200 injuries. Typhoon Jebi made landfall in western areas, bringing heavy rain and reports of winds up to 172km/h (107mph). In Osaka Bay it swept a tanker into a bridge and in Kyoto parts of a railway station roof came down. Officials ordered more than a million people in affected areas to evacuate their homes amid warnings of high waves, flooding and mudslides. It has already left tens of thousands without power and authorities have urged people to move to safety. The storm made landfall on Shikoku island around noon on Tuesday local time and then moved across Japan's largest main island of Honshu. It is expected to weaken as it moves north. Jebi is the first typhoon classed as "very strong" by the country's weather agency to make landfall on Japan's main islands since a typhoon left 48 people dead or missing in 1993, Kyodo reports. Hundreds of flights, trains and ferries have had to be cancelled. Flooding covered the runways at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, which is built on a man-made island in a bay. Universal Studios Japan, a popular amusement park near Osaka, was closed.
The US military says it is cancelling $300m (£230m) in aid to Pakistan over what it calls Islamabad's failure to take action against militant groups. President Donald Trump has previously accused Pakistan of deceiving the US while receiving billions of dollars. Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Koné Faulkner said the US military would aim to spend the money on other "urgent priorities". The move, which needs to be approved by US Congress, is part of a broader suspension announced in January. The US state department has criticised Pakistan, a key ally, for failing to deal with terrorist networks operating on its soil, including the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. "We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups," Col Faulkner said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the $300m aid - which had earlier been suspended - should be used elsewhere due to "a lack of Pakistani decisive actions" in tackling the issue. The announcement comes just days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Pakistan to meet the country's new prime minister, Imran Khan. In January, the US government announced it was cutting almost all security aid to the country. The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan - something that Islamabad denies. [i]Agencies[/i]
Pakistan's new government has banned the discretionary use of state funds and first-class air travel by officials and leaders, including the president and the prime minister, as part of its austerity drive, reports NDTV. The decisions were made at a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday, according to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. "It has been decided that all the top government officials, including the president, prime minister, chief justice, senate chairman, speaker national assembly and the chief ministers will travel in club/business," he told media. To a question, Mr Chaudhry said that the Army chief was not allowed first-class travel and always used business class. He said that the discretionary allocation of funds by the prime minister and the president and other officials was also stopped by the Cabinet. Mr Chaudhry claimed that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif used Rs. 51 billion discretionary funds in a year. The prime minister also decided to stop using special plane for foreign visits or domestic travelling and use business class. After his victory in the July 25 general election, Khan decided not to use palatial Prime Minister House and instead live in a small portion of it that was previously used as the residence by the military secretary to the prime minister. Mr Khan also decided to use only two vehicles and keep two servants. He refused to use elaborate official protocol. The Cabinet took up a host of issues, including reverting to six-day working week but decided to continue five-day working after some ministers opposed the idea because it may alienate government servants. The five-day working was instituted in 2011 due to power shortages and save fuels. The Cabinet was briefed that five-day working had not affected the performance or output by the civil servants. While retaining two weekly off-days, the Cabinet changed the official office timings from 8-4 pm to 9-5 pm. The meeting also decided to conduct an audit of all the mega transport projects carried out in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the previous governments.
A blast targeting a police van killed more than 25 people in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Quetta on Wednesday, a hospital spokesman said, as the South Asian nation goes to the vote to choose a new government. The blast happened near a polling station, said a witness in Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan, but it was unclear if voting had been disrupted. Television images showed a charred police vehicle, cordoned off by security officials. 24 others were injured in the attack. The bomb disposal squad has also reached the site of the attack after reports that an unexploded grenade has been discovered. Rescue sources said the explosion occurred near a police vehicle on routine patrolling. DIG Abdul Razzak Cheema said the injured have been shifted to Sandeman Provincial Hospital. A state of emergency has been declared at the hospital. The border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Chaman, Balochistan was closed by the government on Tuesday for two days in the wake of the general election. Polling across the country for the 11th General Election began at 8am. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
Myanmar violated its obligations to the United Nations child rights convention in its crackdown on the Rohingya that led to an exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from the minority community, legal experts have found. Children make up around half of the more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh since the start of a military crackdown last August. The U.N. has called the Myanmar military operations a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Myanmar denies the allegation and has said it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation after Muslim militants attacked security posts. Legal experts commissioned by Save the Children Norway analysed research by U.N. bodies and international human rights groups who have alleged that mass killings, arson, and torture were conducted by Myanmar security forces on the Rohingya. “The research finds that the response by the Myanmar Government to the August 2017 attacks on police posts, together with the ongoing discrimination against Rohingya, constitute violations of at least seven key articles of the (UN convention on the rights of the child),” their report said. The analysis found both the government and the security forces at fault. The Myanmar government “took positive steps” to assist the military operations and there was no evidence to suggest it did anything to curtail or condemn the security forces’ actions, the report said. Myanmar acceded to the United Nations convention on the rights of the child in 1991 and is bound to it by law. Representatives of the Myanmar government and military did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The violations highlighted in the report include failure to protect children from violence, abuse, neglect, sexual and other exploitation, inhumane treatment and detention. It refers to “indiscriminate and extrajudicial killing of Rohingya children, and the torture, ill-treatment and gender-based violence” committed against them. The government’s failure to conduct an independent investigation into the events following the August 2017 attacks, and ongoing discrimination against Rohingya children by denying them citizenship also are in violation of Myanmar’s obligations to the child rights convention, the report said. The report was shared exclusively with Reuters ahead of its release next week. “The list of violations we have found is not exhaustive,” said Guy Goodwin-Gill, emeritus professor of international refugee law at Oxford University, who co-authored the report. “It represents only the most serious violations and there most likely are several others.” [i]Source: Reuters[/i]
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made recommendations to strengthen diplomatic relations with Russia and China to help resolve Rohingya crisis. The recommendations on Thursday came at the 17th meeting of the committee held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with its Chairman Dr Dipu Moni in the chair. Other members of the committee — Foreign Affairs Minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali, Muhammad Faruq Khan, Kazi Nabil Ahmed, Raji Mohammad Fakhrul, Selim Uddin and Begum Mahjabin Khaled attended the meeting. It was discussed in the meeting that heads of government from different countries and top officials of international organizations are visiting ***’s Bazar to see the situation of the Rohingya people. So, the committee recommended modernization and expansion of ***’s Bazar Airport. The meeting suggested the Foreign Affairs Ministry to take initiatives to ensure safe return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
Kim Jong-un will on Friday become the first North Korean leader to cross into South Korean territory since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In newly announced details, South Korea said President Moon Jae-in would personally meet Mr Kim at the border at 09:30 local time (00:30 GMT). The historic talks will focus on the North's recent indications it could be willing to give up its nuclear weapons. The landmark summit is a breakthrough after years of mounting tension. But Seoul has warned reaching an agreement aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons will be "difficult", because North Korea's nuclear and missile technology has advanced so much since the sides last held talks. "The difficult part is at what level the two leaders will be able to reach an agreement regarding willingness to denuclearise," South Korean presidential spokesperson Im Jong-seok said. The meeting - the third of its kind following summits in 2000 and 2007 - is the result of months of improving relations between the two Koreas, and paves the way to a possible meeting between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump. As well as addressing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the leaders are expected to discuss a path to peace on the peninsula to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, and a series of economic and social issues. Mr Moon will meet Mr Kim and his delegation of nine officials at the border, Mr Im told reporters on Thursday. DESHISMASH.COM
As many as 13 children were killed on Thursday morning when a school vehicle collided with a moving train at an unmanned rail crossing near Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Eight students have been critically injured and the death toll may rise, said a local police official to ANI. Eighteen children were traveling in the school vehicle. The accident occurred at a rail crossing in Dudhi near Kushinagar town. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath is said to be rushing to Kushinagar and the accident site for an on-the-spot assessment. He expressed his deepest condolences, and directed the district administration to provide all help and medical aid to the injured. He also declared an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs and directed an inquiry into the cause of the accident. [i]TIMES OF INDIA[/i]
The Commonwealth on Friday called for a halt to all violence, restoration of normality and accountability of the perpetrators for gross violations of human rights in northern Rakhaine state of Myanmar through an independent investigation. The 53-nation grouping made the call in a joint communiqu,, adopted unanimously on the concluding day of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that ended here yesterday afternoon. According to the joint communiqu,,, the member states called for sustainable return of all displaced Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh to their rightful homes in Myanmar under UNHCR oversight. Besides, the leaders of the member states called for creation of necessary conditions for sustainable return in safety, security and dignity. Praising the role of Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue, the Commonwealth leaders expressed full solidarity with the government and the people of Bangladesh affected by the influx of Rohingyas, the joint communiqu,, added. It said the Commonwealth leaders commended Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing shelter to the distressed humanity facing an existential threat. The heads of the government also stressed actions to address the root causes of the current crisis including through immediate implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission recommendation. The leaders noted the general agreement and agreements reached between Bangladesh and Myanmar as a beginning towards sustainable return of the Rohingyas and their reintegration into Myanmar society as equal members. Opposing use of chemical weapons under any circumstances, the communiqu,, said, the heads of the member states expressed commitment to strengthening the effective implementation of the chemical weapons convention. The leaders reiterated their pledge to strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regime against the spread and use of chemical weapons, it said. Besides, they underlined the importance of timely investigation and stressed that the conduct of all investigations of any alleged use of chemical weapons must be in accordance with the provisions of the convention. The heads of the government also condemned violent extremism in all its forms, expressed their continued support of the UN Secretary General's Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told reporters on Thursday that in the executive sessions of the CHOGM, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the Rohingya issue and reiterated her five-point proposals which she placed at the UNGA last September to solve the crisis. Sheikh Hasina, he said, also renewed her call to the international community to put more pressure on the Myanmar government for quick repatriation of the Myanmar nationals with full security and dignity. [i]BSS[/i]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he will suspend all missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site with immediate effect. "From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles," the Korean Central News Agency said. The decision is aimed at pursuing economic growth and peace on the Korean peninsular, state media report. Mr Kim is due to meet his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in next week. He is also expected to hold an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump by June. If it takes place, it will be the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. "This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress!," Mr Trump tweeted after Kim Jong-un's announcement. The declaration came in six dramatic bullet points on North Korea's state run news agency, and it is a significant statement. Mr Kim says it is not necessary to conduct any more missile tests because nuclear weaponisation has been achieved. This echoes his previous statement during a New Year address that the state is satisfied it is a nuclear power. After six nuclear tests North Korea may feel it does not need to upgrade its existing designs. This is not denuclearisation as demanded by the international community. Although North Korea has said it will abolish its atomic test site, it is not promising to get rid of its weapons. Pyongyang has also broken these kind of pledges before. But this is still an important step ahead of the summits with President Moon and a potential meeting with Mr Trump. North Korea has repeatedly defied international sanctions over its weapons programme. In November, it said it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the whole of the continental United States. The latest announcement from Pyongyang comes during a thawing of relations between North and South Korea. A telephone hotline has been set up between Mr Kim and Mr Moon ahead of the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade. "It was as if we were talking to a neighbour right next door," a South Korean official told local media after a successful test call that lasted 4 minutes 17 seconds. The agreement to set up the phone link was made last month when Mr Moon's top security adviser travelled to Pyongyang for a meeting with Mr Kim, who then agreed to hold the inter-Korean summit. The two states remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, with neither side able to claim an outright victory. [i]Agencies[/i]