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Earthquake of 6.3 magnitude strikes Philippines, several dead – media
22 April 2019, 3:36 PM

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the Philippines main island of Luzon on Monday and several people were killed in collapsed buildings, media reported.

The quake struck 60 km northwest of the capital, Manila, at a depth of 40 km, the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The governor of Pampanga province told a radio station that several people had been killed. Media reported some structures had collapsed and the Clark International Airport, a former US military base, had suffered some damage and had closed.

Tall buildings swayed in Manila’s main business district and some people evacuated their offices.

The Philippines is on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a horse-shoe shaped band of volcanoes and fault lines circling the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

Cholera cases reported as hunger, disease stalk African cyclone survivors
22 March 2019, 9:07 PM

Cholera cases were reported on Friday in the Mozambican city of Beira, adding a risk of deadly illnesses for hundreds of thousands of people who are scrambling for shelter, food and water after catastrophic flooding in Southern Africa.

“There is growing concern among aid groups on the ground of potential disease outbreaks,” the International Federation ofthe Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

“Already, some cholera cases have been reported in Beira along with an increasing number of malaria infections among people trapped by the flooding,” it said in a statement.

Cyclone Idai battered Beira, a port city of 500,000 people, with strong winds and torrential rains last week, before moving inland to neighbouring Zimbabwe, where it flattened homes and flooded communities, and Malawi.

The storm killed 242 people in Mozambique and 259 in Zimbabwe, and numbers were expected to rise, relief agencies said.

In Malawi, 56 people died in heavy rains before the onset of Idai.

Cholera is spread by faeces in sewage-contaminated water or food, and outbreaks can develop quickly in a humanitarian crisis where sanitation systems are disrupted.

It can kill within hours if left untreated.

As survivors gathered in informal camps and health officials warned of the danger of cholera and other diseases, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said the situation on the ground was critical with no electricity or running water.

“Hundreds of thousands of children need immediate help,” she said, estimating 1.7 million people were affected by the storm.

Around 45 km (28 miles) west of Beira, in the village of Guara Guara, the government set up a makeshift camp for people rescued nearby, with little water and no toilets.
As for many such camps, progress was slow as aid had to be delivered by helicopter.

“The help is coming, but it’s coming very slowly,” said Esther Zinge, 60, from near the town of Buzi, adding that whatd id arrive had to be given to children first.

“The conditions are terrible, and more people keep coming.”

On a beach in Beira, where the Red Cross estimated 90% of the city was damaged or destroyed, survivors clutching infants and bags disembarked from rescue boats besidea ship marooned on the sand and began receiving Red Cross help.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was saddened by the “heart-wrenching images of human suffering”and urged the world to step up support for the relief effort.


In Zimbabwe’s Coppa Rusitu Valley, a township in Chimanimani near the Mozambican border, hundreds of homes were flattened by large rocks and mudslide from a nearby mountain, burying some residents, who never stood a chance as the cyclone unleashed its fury at night when most were sleeping.

Relatives and rescuers were digging through the debris, hoping to find bodies, but some of the rocks were so big they need blasting, a Reuters witness said.

Most people lost relatives, workmates or friends in the township, which also housed government workers, including police.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Thursday night he had come face to face with horrific accounts of people grieving the loss of family and friends in Chimanimani.

Some survivors have taken refuge at churches and centres offering temporary shelter as they deal with the trauma of their losses while private citizens, international aid agencies and the government rushed humanitarian aid to affected areas.

Zimbabwean Energy Minister Joram Gumbo said the pipeline bringing fuel from Beira had not been affected by the cyclone but the docking terminals at Beira port had been damaged.

He said Zimbabwe had 62 days supply of petrol and 32 days for diesel, which is in short supply and has led to long queues in the capital.

In the city of Mutare, near Mozambique, dieselshortages were worse, according to a Reuters witness.


In Beira, Saviano Abreu of the U.N. humanitarian arm OCHA said the main problem with getting aid to relief camps outside of Beira was that they could be reached only by helicopter, since floods had cut off roads, and helicopters were scarce.

Large parts of Beira lacked running water, but everyone affected was getting 20 litres of water for washing, cooking and drinking.

Briefing his team late on Thursday night, Connor Hartnady, rescue operations task force leader for Rescue South Africa,said Beira residents were getting fed up with shortages.

“There have been three security incidents today, all food related,” he told his team, without giving further details.

Commenting on Beira, U.N. humanitarian spokesperson Jens Laerke said if people were desperate to get aid, that should be treated as part of the community response and not as a security matter.

“These are desperate people,” Laerke said. “I don’t think anybody would blame a desperate mother or father who have children who do not have clean water to drink or food to eat who grab it from wherever they find it in a shop.”

The storm’s rains caused the Buzi and Pungwe rivers, whose mouths are in the Beira area, to burst their banks.

Roads into Beira were cut off by the storm and wide swathes of the Indian Ocean port city lacked power.


British MPs reject Brexit deal again
12 March 2019, 9:46 PM

British MPs overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time on Tuesday, pitching Britain into the unknown just 17 days before it is due to split from the European Union.

The House of Commons voted by 391 to 242 to reject the divorce deal, even after May secured further guarantees from Brussels over its most controversial elements. The move risks unleashing economic chaos, as Britain is scheduled to end ties with its biggest trade partner after 46 years on March 29, no matter what.

Appealing to MPs in a voice half-breaking due to a cold, May had urged them to avoid the “economic shock” of leaving without an agreement. But she also warned eurosceptics, many of whom have campaigned to leave the EU for their whole careers, that if her deal failed, so might Brexit. May has promised to allow MPs to vote on a “no deal” option on Wednesday and if that is rejected, to decide on Thursday whether to ask the EU to delay Brexit.

“If this vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed, then Brexit could be lost,” she said before the vote.

Leaders across Europe also united behind a message that this was the best and final offer Britain could expect. “There will be no third chance,” European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said after his talks on Monday with May.

If MPs vote against a “no deal” exit on Wednesday, and want to postpone Brexit, the other 27 EU nations would need to agree. Their leaders will meet in Brussels for a summit on March 21-22.

Trevor Noah visits SA Parliament
7 March 2019, 7:33 PM

The host of the US satirical news show, The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, was a guest of President Cyril Ramaphosa during his oral question time in the National Assembly.

It was the President’s last oral question session in the fifth Parliament on Thursday.

Ramaphosa welcomed Noah, who sat in the public gallery. “It’s a real joy and pleasure to welcome Trevor Noah among us. (Clapping) … I never get that kind of applause … I am jealous.”


India's Kuldeep Yadav holding a ball
Five-star Kuldeep takes his chance to shine in Sydney
6 January 2019, 7:49 PM

India’s disciplined unit of fast bowlers have been instrumental in the success of the tour of Australia but, with their maiden series triumph Down Under all but secured, it was spinner Kuldeep Yadav who grabbed the spotlight on Sunday.

The left-arm wrist spinner’s five for 99 helped the tourists dismiss Australia for 300 before enforcing the follow-on on the rain-disrupted fourth day of a fourth test they only need to draw to take the series.

Kuldeep happily admits to being India’s third-string spinner behind the injured Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja but, according to bowling coach Bharat Arun, the 24-year-old brings something very special to the team.

“Kuldeep is a very, very skilful bowler as he’s proved in one-dayers, he’s probably the number one bowler in the one-day format,” the coach said.

“He’s unique in the fact that there are very few chinaman (left-arm unorthodox spin) bowlers in the world. He’s also able to bring in the googly.

“There’s also his ability to use the crease. He can bowl over and round (the wicket) and also from wideout. That gives him a lot more variety and there’s a lot more to come from him.”

Kuldeep took 4-91 on his test debut against Australia in Dharamsala in March 2017, but had only five more outings until this week in Sydney.

Those included his maiden five-wicket haul against West Indies in Rajkot last October, but also the disappointment of a wicketless match against England at Lord’s.

“He’s young, he will learn, he didn’t have a great outing in England, so this test match will give him a lot of confidence,” Arun added. “Considering he’s a spinner at his age, he’s got a lot more cricket in him.”

Arun said India’s bowlers had drawn lessons from the lost series in South Africa and England last year to adapt their approach to the tour of Australia.

“We drew on all those experiences and said that to be successful in Australia, we need to take the cut and pull away from the Australian batsmen and focus on our strengths,” he said. “That’s exactly what we did.”

Australia batsman Peter Handscomb said the Indians had executed their plan to perfection.

“I’ve had one cut shot all series and it went straight to second slip,” he admitted ruefully.

“They haven’t missed their mark. You can talk about bowling plans as much as you want but they’ve executed top of off stump, which is test cricket. And they’ve just repeated, repeated, repeated.”



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