ANKARA, Oct 24 (IANS): Rescuers frantically searched for survivors as the toll in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Turkey’s Van province rose to 217, a minister said Monday.
The temblor, the worst to hit the country since 1999, left 100 people dead in the city of Van and another 117 in the worst-hit town of Ercis, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin was quoted as saying.
Sahin, in charge of emergency operations, said a total of 1,090 people were injured.
He said that in Ercis alone about 80 multistory buildings collapsed when the earthquake struck Sunday, reported Xinhua.
He added that some 40 buildings still had people trapped inside, giving rise to fears that the toll could increase substantially. He did not give any estimates.
Hundreds of rescue teams worked throughout the night searching for survivors among dozens of damaged buildings. Aid groups scrambled to set up tents, field hospitals and kitchens to assist thousands left homeless.
“Rescue work is ongoing, especially at buildings where (rescuers) have determined survivors,” Sahin said.
Turkish Industry Minister Nihat Ergun said Monday that Turkey will provide support for small businesses affected by the earthquake, according to a report posted on the website of Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman.
Nihat Ergun said at a conference in the capital of Ankara that ministries would work together on an economic aid package in response to the quake.
Dozens of countries and organizations offered condolences and help to Turkey after the earthquake hit Van province Sunday, Turkish semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Monday.
Dozens of countries and international orgnisations, including the US, Britain, Israel, China, NATO and the UN, have offered to help Turkey after the earthquake.
Schools in Van will be suspended for the next three days.
A total of 1,275 rescue teams from 38 Turkish provinces have reached Van province, a TV report said.
Turkey, lying atop the North Anatolian fault, has been plagued by frequent quakes. On March 8, 2010, at least 38 people died after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Elazig province in eastern Turkey.
A major earthquake hit Van province in November 1976, leaving 5,291 dead. The province has a population of just over 1 million.
ISLAMABAD, March 28 – Ahead of their crucial World Cup semi-final against India, Pakistani cricketers have been warned not to indulge in any match-fixing by Interior Minister Rehman Malik who said he was keeping a “close watch” on their activities, reports PTI.
“I gave a warning that there should be no match-fixing. I am keeping a close watch. If any such thing happens, we are going to take action,” Malik said two days ahead of the game in Mohali that will showcase one of the world’s most intense sporting rivalries.
Malik said that though he was “sure the team has very clean members”, intelligence is being gathered on the Pakistani cricketers, including “who are meeting them and the position of their telephones”.
“This is necessary because we can’t take a chance after what happened in London,” he said, in a reference to a recent match-fixing controversy in Britain involving three Pakistani players.
Malik, who made the remarks during an interaction with the media in the port city of Karachi, also had some advice for the Pakistani players.
“Do your practise, sleep early at night and wake at the proper time. They should dedicate themselves to Pakistan for the match,” he said.
There is a lot of excitement about the India-Pakistan clash in the World Cup semi-final, he said.
“There is a lot of love for the cricketers and we hope they will win the game for us. We expect they will not disappoint the people,” he said.
Malik also welcomed his Indian counterpart P Chidambaram’s remarks about adequate security being provided to the Pakistani team while in India in light of possible threats to the players.
He noted that Chidambaram had said special arrangements would be made for the game in Mohali, including the deploying of some 1,000 commandoes.
“I am sure of his (Chidambaram’s) capability. He is a man of wisdom and authority and has the capability to handle things well,” Malik said.
Surce: The Assam Tribune
PHNOM PENH, Nov 23 – Rescuers today trawled a muddy river for more bodies and Cambodia prepared for a day of mourning in the wake of a stampede by thousands of festival goers which left at least 378 dead and hundreds injured.
The Prime Minister called it the country’s biggest tragedy since the murderous 1970s reign of the Khmer Rouge.
A panic-stricken crowd celebrating the end of the rainy season on an island in a river tried to flee over a narrow bridge in the capital Phnom Penh late Monday and many people were crushed underfoot or fell over its sides into the water. Disoriented victims struggled to find an escape hatch through the human mass, pushing their way in every direction.
After the stampede, bodies were stacked upon bodies on the bridge as rescuers swarmed the area.
The search for bodies in and along the Bassac River continued today as state television showed horrific footage of twisted and writhing bodies – both alive and dead – piled on each other. Some desperately reached out with their hands, screaming for help and grasping for hands of rescuers who struggled to pull limp bodies from the pile as if they were trapped in sand or snow.
It remained unclear what sparked the stampede. Police and witnesses pointed to the narrow bridge as providing inadequate access to and from the island. Two Singaporean businessmen who organised a sound-and-light show for the festival, said authorities had closed another bridge earlier in the day, forcing tens of thousands of people to use a single span.
One witness said the trouble started when several people fell unconscious in the press of the crowd. Another survivor said he heard a police siren just before the panic erupted.
Ambulances raced back and forth between the river and the hospitals for several hours after the stampede. Calmette Hospital, the capital’s main medical facility, was filled to capacity with bodies as well as patients, some of whom had to be treated in hallways. Relatives, some crying, searched for the missing today morning.
“I was taken by shock. I thought I would die on the spot. Those who were strong enough escaped, but women and children died,” said Chea Srey Lak, a 27-year-old woman who was knocked over by the panicked crowd on the bridge. She managed to escape but described a woman, about 60 years old, lying next to her who was trampled to death by hundreds of fleeing feet. – AP
Source: The Assam Tribune
BEIJING, Nov 17 – The Chinese company, which is constructing a 510 MW hydropower station on Brahmaputra river in Tibet, today said the project will not reduce water flows downstream as feared by countries like India.
Damming of the river began on November 12, marking the formal start of construction of the 7.9-billion-yuan Zangmu Hydropower Station.
The move has caused concern in the downstream countries, including India, who fear the project will disrupt water flows.
“The river will not be stopped during construction,” said Li Chaoyi, chief engineer of China Huaneng Group, the prime contractor for the project.
“After it becomes operational, the river water will flow downstream through water turbines and sluices. So the water volume downstream will not be cut,” he was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
Li said environment protection would be a top priority in the construction and operation.
Zangmu Hydropower Station, with six 85-Megawatt power generating units, is a key project under China’s ambitious plan for Tibet’s development.
The issue of the dam figured high in the fourth round of the India-China strategic dialogue held between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun here.
“The Brahmaputra dam issue was raised by me. I was reassured by the Vice-Minister that it was not a project designed to divert the water and affect the welfare and availability of water to the countries in the lower reaches,” Rao told Indian media after her four-and-a-half-hour talks.
“It is a power project. It is not going to affect people in lower reaches. China is cooperating with India on hydrological data which is going on since 2003. The Chinese Minister said China would continue to do so,” she said. – PTI
Source: The Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Oct 24 – As part of the move to intensify trade relations between the North Eastern States and Bangladesh, Commerce Minister of the country, Muhammad Faruk Khan has proposed a meeting with Industries Ministers of the region in January-February, next year.
With an eye on the bustling markets of the eight North Eastern States, Bangladesh has sought duty-free access to Indian markets, pointing out that fate of the region and Bangladesh are intertwined.
Talking to a group of newsmen before his departure to Dhaka, the visiting Commerce Minister said he met Union Minister for North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Mines, Bijoy Krishna Handique and held a detail discussion about trade possibilities.
The Minister said he has called for a conference with the Industries Ministers of the North Eastern Region during the opening of border haats in January-February, to further strengthen trade ties. Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma is also likely to be present at the inauguration of the haats.
Khan said the opening of border haats would help increase local trade and reduce smuggling across the border areas. He said more such haats would be opened in the border areas depending on the success of the two haats in Meghalaya.
Indian Government has allocated $ 125 million for the development work of seven integrated check posts and eight land ports. Khan said the initiative would further help expand trade between the two countries.
Meanwhile, riding on the wings of improved ties, the Bangladesh side that also included business delegation did some hard bargaining seeking further trade concessions and dilution of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).
The Minister also made passing reference to the changed security scenario between the two countries. Bangladesh had facilitated the flushing out of holed up insurgent leaders of several militant outfits including ULFA, NDFB and UNLF, among others, in the recent months.
The High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Tariq Karim said that Bangladesh with a growth rate of six per cent can latch on India to increase its growth rate, while landlocked North-east with a growth rate of four per cent or less can latch on to Bangladesh to grow.
“The North Eastern States can grow if they latch on to us,” Karim said.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Minister expressed his happiness over the $ 1 billion credit line provided by Delhi to Dhaka, which he would be utilised for the infrastructure development including rails and roads. He said movements of goods would be easier and prices would come down for the benefit of the people.
“We held fruitful discussions and we have achieved our objective from the visit. I will be very happy to see that all the decisions taken are being implemented. It might take some time and we have to wait until that. People want end results,” he added.
The Commerce Minister further said that he had invited Anand Sharma to visit Bangladesh in December.
India has promised to export 1.1 million bales of cotton to Bangladesh in the coming year. The Minister described the move as a ‘good step’. Dhaka imports one thirds of cotton from India to meet its domestic needs.
The Commerce Minister said that India has positively responded to Bangladesh’s demand to exclude 61 items from the negative list of 480 items. He said of the 61 items, 47 were garment related.
He said the huge trade gap between the two countries would be narrowed if India imported more products from Bangladesh and Dhaka could send more duty free items to India.
Khan said that he had raised the issue of export of jute bags from Dhaka during his talks with Anand Sharma and was assured that the matter would be resolved soon.
Source: The Assam Tribune
DHAKA, Oct 3 – A Bangladeshi court today directed the police to show a detained former Home Minister as arrested for suspected links to a 2004 weapons smuggling believed to be destined for India’s banned separatist outfit ULFA.
Lutfuzzaman Babar, the controversial former junior Home Minister in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led government, was arrested nearly three years ago under emergency rules during the past military-backed interim government on graft and criminal charges.
The Metropolitan Magistrate court in southeastern port city of Chittagong ordered the police to show Babar as arrested for suspected links to the weapons haul meant for ULFA militants.
The police sought a 10-day remand to quiz him for his suspected involvement in the country’s biggest ever arms haul.
“Babar was found involved in the incident during further investigations (of the case) and it is evident that he had manipulated the (earlier) investigations,” the state-run BSS news agency quoted investigation officer Moniruzzaman Chowdhury of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) as telling the court.
Judge Fazlul Bari set October 13 for hearing the remand prayer, but ordered Babar to be shown as arrested in the arms haul case. – PTI
Source: The Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Sept 29 – Artistes from the North eastern region are going to participate in the birth anniversary celebration of neighbouring Bangladesh.
Addressing newsmen, Minister for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Mines, Bijoy Krishna Handique said that artist drawn from States of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura are going to Bangladesh to perform at the birth anniversary celebrations.
The team is going to perform in different parts of Bangladesh, besides Dhaka. In addition, a cultural team would also separately perform in Bangladesh, he added.
Meanwhile, Doordarshan (DD) has bagged the contract to air the programmes called North East Wave, sponsored by the Ministry DoNER. The musical programme would designed to showcase the local talents and traditional music and dances of the region would be in competition format.
There were four bidders besides DD, which participated in the tendering process. But DD bagged the contract, as it quoted the lowest price, said the Minister.
Source: The Assam Tribune
DHAKA, Sept 26 – A huge cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition, which was seized six years ago in Bangladesh was procured from a Chinese state-run arms factory for India’s northeastern separatist organisation ULFA, a media report claimed today, reports PTI.
The report also said that some officials of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) made the arrangement to collect the ten-truck arms consignment from China.
The arms were procured from the Chinese state-run arms factory North Industries Corporation(NORINCO) for India’s northeastern separatist organisation ULFA, according to a report published in a Bengali newspaper ‘Prothom Alo’.
These were disclosed in the probe of the Criminal Investigation Department(CID), the report said, adding the investigation was carried out at the directives of the court and on the basis of seven observations.
The CID submitted the report on latest development of the probe to the court of the Chittagong Metropolitan Sessions Judge on September 15. The CID also applied to extend the time of the investigation and hearing.
Source: The Assam Tribune
DHAKA, Aug 8 – India will get access to its landlocked seven North Eastern states through Bangladesh with “unfettered movement of people and goods” as Dhaka seeks to transform itself into a “regional hub” by boosting road and railway connectivity in the country, reports PTI.
Underlining that the country had been isolated for too long, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni today said giving transit facilities (to India) would bring economic benefit for Bangladesh.
She said Bangladesh wants to transform the country into a regional hub so that the entire region is well-connected.
“When we are thinking about transforming Bangladesh as a regional hub and when the entire region will be brought under the connectivity, India will have access to its northeastern states,” she said, adding “unfettered movement of people and goods will be taking place.”
Relations between the South Asian neighbours were chilly between 2001-2006 when the Islamist-allied BNP was in power in Bangladesh and New Delhi regularly accused Dhaka of harbouring anti-India insurgents and fostering militancy.
The bilateral ties, however, have been on the upswing since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power after the landmark general election in 2008.
In the largest-ever loan India has given to any foreign country, New Delhi yesterday signed an agreement with Bangladesh to extend a USD 1 billion credit line to Dhaka for developing 14 infrastructure projects, mostly in the communications sector.
The loan agreement was signed between the Exim Bank of India and the Economic Relations Department of Bangladesh in the presence of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Amid protests by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) over the massive loan, Moni described it as a “win-win situation”. She said it has been taken to fulfill Bangladesh’s interests.
However, she underlined that India will also get benefits from the deal.
“If connectivity is in place, all will get the benefit,” she said, adding “it will be a win-win situation”.
“One must get out of the negative thinking that India will benefit if roads and ports are developed,” Moni was quoted as saying by The Star online today.
The Foreign Minister said if rail communications are improved, Bangladesh will get the benefit and in some areas while India will also get benefits.
Source: The Assam Tribune
ISLAMABAD, Aug 3 (IANS) – Panic and fear gripped Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub, on Monday afternoon following the murder of a member of Sindh provincial assembly Raza Haider by unknown assailants in Nazimabad area where he had gone to attend a funeral.
Raza, 51, was a member of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which has a political stronghold in Karachi. He was elected to the provincial assembly for the first time in 2008 general elections.
According to Medico Legal Officer of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Shiraz Ali, Raza received six bullets, including two in his head.
Riots broke out immediately after the murder in Karachi, Hyderabad and other cities of Sindh. As many as 14 people had died by midnight and more than 50 injured in various incidents of firing.
The mob torched dozens of vehicles on fire, including private cars and public transport. Several petrol pumps were set on fire and the roads presented a deserted look.
Markets closed down immediately after the incident and the masses started rushing to the safety of their homes which created the worst kind of traffic jams on almost all city roads.
Police and rangers have taken control of Karachi and other restive areas and the general public has been appealed to remain confined to their homes.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain, in a message from London secretariat, condemned the incident and termed it a great loss for the party.
MQM leaders Faisal Sabzwari and Wasim Aftab, talking to media, said that Raza was receiving threats for some time and alleged that Awami National Party (ANP) was involved in the killing.
The Sindh president of ANP, Shahi Syed, however dismissed the allegations and said that they were together with MQM in this hour of grief.
He termed this incident a conspiracy against the country. Both parties have traded allegations earlier as well and have been involved in a fierce political tangle that has regularly been turning violent over the years.
Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has directed Inspector General Police Sindh to investigate the killing who has formed a committee headed by DIG West, Sultan Khwaja.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has claimed to track down the culprits within 24 hours. Target killing has claimed more than 1,500 lives in the provincial metropolis in the last two years.
There was widespread condemnation of the killing of Raza Haider from all political parties and mainstream leaders. Karachi transport alliance has announced to keep the public transport off roads Tuesday, while all educational institutions will remain closed.
The examinations to be held have also been cancelled. Situation is expected to remain tense over the next few days as the authorities make a desperate effort to urge calm and control the tempers. MQM has also announced three days of peaceful mourning.
Source: The Assam Tribune