25 killed in Guatemala volcano eruption, 1.7mn residents affected

25 killed in Guatemala volcano eruption, 1.7mn residents affected

Guatemala City: At least 25 people were killed, 20 others injured and some 1.7 million residents have been affected by the eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, the most violent in recent years, according to government authorities.

The volcanic eruption on Sunday spewed a river of red, hot lava and belched thick clouds of smoke nearly 10,000 metres above sea level, CNN quoted the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) as saying. It urged residents living near the volcano to evacuate immediately and warned residents of the towns of Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla to watch out for volcanic rocks and ash.

More than 3,100 people have been evacuated from their homes while search and rescue efforts continue into the night, Sergio GarcÃ-a Cabanas, director of Conred, said on Sunday night. So far, 15 people been have been hospitalised, including 12 children, some of whom suffered severe burns, according to the Health Ministry.

The volcano, whose name means fire, is one of Central America’s most active. It is located near the colonial city of Antigua. Sunday’s explosion rained soot over the popular tourist destination and other villages in the Sacatepequez department, covering them in ash.

Villages south of the volcano in the Escuintla department were affected, too, Cabañas said. Lesser amounts of ash reached the capital of Guatemala City some 25 miles away, forcing the closure of the La Aurora International Airport. The Guatemalan Army shared images of officers clearing the runway with brooms.

An orange, or prevention, alert has been declared nationwide, reports Efe news. Explosions are still coming from the volcano, said Eddy Sanchez, director of the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology. He warned of mudslides as rainfall continues, and urged people to stay off roads close to the volcano.

Narendra Modi, Jim Mattis pledge to continue strong US-India strategic partnership

Narendra Modi, Jim Mattis pledge to continue strong US-India strategic partnership

Washington: India and the United States have pledged to continue their strong bilateral strategic partnership, the Pentagon said after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. Mattis met the prime minister on the sidelines of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 17th Asia Security Summit — also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue — in Singapore on Saturday.

“The two discussed the importance of the US-India relationship, and the role of both nations in cooperating to uphold international laws and principles, and to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” defence spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said here yesterday. The two leaders “pledged to continue the strong US-India strategic partnership and affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” Davis said in a readout of the meeting.

United States accuses China of ‘intimidation and coercion’ in South China Sea

United States accuses China of ‘intimidation and coercion’ in South China Sea

Singapore: China’s military build-up in the South China Sea and its deployment of high-end weapons systems in the disputed waterway is designed to intimidate and coerce neighbours, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today.

Speaking at a high-profile security summit in Singapore less than two weeks before President Donald Trump is due to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Pentagon chief also said the US military continues to support diplomats pushing for the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Mattis said Beijing had deployed a range of military hardware including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers across the South China Sea, where it has built islets and other maritime features into hardened military facilities.

Beijing has also landed heavy bombers on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. “Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapon systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” Mattis told the Shangri-La Dialogue.

He also blasted Chinese President Xi Jinping for reneging on a 2015 promise made at the White House that Beijing would not militarise the island features in the South China Sea. Mattis’ address in Singapore was the second time he had attended the summit since becoming Pentagon chief.

He returned to a theme that he and other senior US officials have hammered since Trump took office — that America is here to stay in the Asia-Pacific region and that allies should stick with Washington instead of aligning with Beijing. But the message of inclusivity, cooperation and working with allies might be a tougher sell for Mattis, who is generally popular on the international scene, after his boss this week imposed metals tariffs on some of America’s closest allies in the name of “national security”.

Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin asked Mattis whether he thought it was unproductive for Trump to pick fights with allies on trade. “Certainly we have had some unusual approaches, I’ll be candid with you,” Mattis replied. “But I’m reminded that so long as nations continue dialogue, so long as they continue to listen to one another and to pay respect to one another, nothing is over based on one decision.”

In a dig at China, which the Pentagon has accused of using “predatory” economics to exploit neighbours, Mattis said the US supports the peaceful resolution of disputes, “free, fair and reciprocal trade and investment” and adherence to international rules and norms.

Despite frequent warnings from Washington about China’s rising might and the pitfalls of its “Belt and Road” global infrastructure initiative, Beijing has faced few consequences for its South China Sea build-up and sweeping territorial claims. One modest exception came last week when the Pentagon disinvited China from biennial maritime exercises in the Pacific. Mattis characterised this action as an “initial response”.

But “there are much larger consequences in the future when nations lose the rapport of their neighbours,” he warned. “They believe that piling mountainous debts on their neighbours and somehow removing the freedom of political action is the way to engage them. Eventually these things do not pay off.”            Delegates hoping for clarity on Trump’s intentions for a scheduled June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim did not get much from Mattis, though he said the issue of the permanent deployment of about 28,5000 US troops in South Korea will not be “on the table”.

Mattis has tried to avoid weighing in on the summit, deferring questions to the State Department and Trump’s national security team. “On the Korean peninsula, we hold the line with our allies, supporting our diplomats who lead this effort,” Mattis said. “Our objective remains the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”

9 dead in Brazil juvenile jail riot after mattress torched

9 dead in Brazil juvenile jail riot after mattress torched

Rio De Janerio: Nine juvenile detainees died today during a fire that was started when inmates lit a mattress during a riot, authorities said. The facility, located in the city of Goiania, is used to temporarily hold minors between the ages of 13 and 17.

The riot followed an attempt by administrators to move some of the detainees from one cell to another, said Gilles Sebastian Gomes, a lawyer for the human rights commission of state of Goias. Gomes, who is in touch with families of detainees, said the center is only equipped to hold 50 people but often has upward of 80 or 90 inmates. “The cells are small and overcrowded, and there is a significant lack of staff,” he said.

An investigation would be conducted and the families of victims would be provided support, the state government said in a statement. The statement confirmed nine detainees died but did not provide more details. Brazil has one of the largest prison populations in the world. Experts estimate that up to 40 per cent of prisoners have not been sentenced or are awaiting trial.

Two people killed, many injured after train hits truck in Italy

Two people killed, many injured after train hits truck in Italy

Rome: Two people were killed and many others injured after a train hit a large truck that was stuck on a railway crossing, causing multiple carriages to derail, local media reported.

The accident, in which the train driver was killed, occured late Wednesday in northern Italy close to Turin, with three of the train’s carriages coming off the rails, according to television footage. “The regional train 10027 Turin-Ivrea hit a heavy goods vehicle that had stopped on a functioning railway crossing after crashing through the barriers,” RFI, which manages Italy’s rail network, said in a statement.

“According to early information, the driver of the train was killed and many other passengers have been injured,” the statement added. According to the AGI news agency, the second victim was taken to a Turin hospital by helicopter with severe injuries but he did not survive. At the time of the accident he was in a van accompanying the heavy goods vehicle, other media reported.

“Everything happened so fast, I felt the train break suddenly and then I found myself in hell and around me everything was black,” Paolo Malgioglio, 23, told le Corriere della Sera newspaper. According to La Stampa newspaper, eye witnesses said the vehicle, which was registered in Lithuania, looked to be a particularly large and heavy truck. The van that was in front of it passed safely through the level crossing but when the barriers started to come down, the vehicle failed to brake in time and came to a stop on the tracks, the newspaper said.

Many other people have been hospitalised, including four who are in a serious condition, local media reported. AGI said one female passenger was in a serious condition after sustaining a head injury but she remains conscious. It comes after another accident in April 2017 in the north that killed two people and resulted in the temporary closure of the main railway line between Italy and Austria. In July 2016 a collision between two trains in the south of Italy left 23 people dead and 52 others injured.

Pak teenager killed at Texas school laid to rest in Karachi

Pak teenager killed at Texas school laid to rest in Karachi

Karachi, May 23 (PTI) The body of a 17-year-old female Pakistani exchange student killed in the latest mass shooting incident in the US was today laid to rest. Sabika Sheikh was among 10 students and staff who were killed on Friday at Santa Fe High School in Taxes. The alleged shooter is 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is being held on capital murder charges. She was today laid to rest at the Azimpura graveyard in Shah Faisal Colony after funeral prayers were offered at Karachi’s Hakeem Saeed Ground, Dawn News reported. The body of the teenager arrived at cargo complex of Karachi airport this morning from Houston, Texas. The body was received by family members and officials of US Consulate at the airport.

Sabika was studying in Texas on a US State Department scholarship under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme. She had been attending classes at the school since August last, and said that getting accepted into the US programme to study was the best thing that ever happened to her. Sabika, the eldest of three sisters, was to return home in Pakistan in three weeks, by Eid ul-Fitr. Her host family said their time with her was “such a precious gift.”             A memorial service was held for the young woman at a mosque Sunday night in Stafford. A memorial of flowers and messages for Sabika has been grown outside of the high school.

Meanwhile, her father Abdul Aziz Sheikh, has urged US President Donald Trump to take action. Her family was notified on Friday that Sabika was one of the 10 killed at the hands of a gunman inside of Sante Fe High School. Sheikh now has a strong message for the president. “I would like to say to the Trump administration, kindly stop this type of incident,” Sheikh said. Sheikh called on Trump to reform gun laws in the name of his daughter. “You can make rules and law and you can amend your Constitution and change the law of guns, kindly take serious action on this.” Sheikh said.

UAE Entrepreneurs to sponsor education of Kerala nurse’s kids

UAE Entrepreneurs to sponsor education of Kerala nurse’s kids

Abu Dhabi : Two Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneurs have pledged to support the two children of a Kerala nurse who died after attending to Nipah virus patients in the Indian state.A mother of two, 28-year-old Lini Puthussery from Kozhikkode was cremated on Monday even before her family members could bid a final goodbye because of fears that the virus could spread.

Santhi Pramot and Jyothi Pallat, executive directors of Avitis Institute of Medical Sciences in Palghat in Kerala, told the Khaleej Times they have pledged to sponsor the education of Puthussery’s two sons, aged 2 and 7.Hailing her dedication, Santhi Pramot, who lives with her family in Abu Dhabi, said: “What she did is a heroic sacrifice in the line of duty. We want to take a small step to honour her devotion to the nursing profession and also support the family in their grief.
“We have contacted the family and informed them that their sons’ education till they are self-reliant is our responsibility.
“We are in the healthcare profession and are aware of the sacrifices and hardships of medical nurses. It was indeed a heart-breaking incident that she died while attending to her patients,” Pramot said.

Meanwhile, Puthussery’s brother-in-law Jayakumar Velom, a Sharjah resident, said Lini aspired to work in the Gulf. “Lini wanted to find a job in the Gulf region to support her children and her aged mother. She tried many times but couldn’t get anything,” Velom told the daily.In a final note that Puthussery scribbled for her husband in a hospital isolation unit, she urged him to take care of their children and take them to the Gulf.


Manchester attack: City remembers arena bomb attack victims

Manchester attack: City remembers arena bomb attack victims

Manchester [United Kingdom]: About 3,500 choir singers have come together to lead a chorus of amateur voices for a mass sing-along as Manchester marked the first anniversary of the arena bomb attack that killed 22 people.

Albert Square hosted the Manchester Together – With One Voice event, which featured songs by Elbow and Oasis and as well as by American singer Ariana Grande, reported Sky News. Other performances included Oasis hit Wonderwall, by Manchester’s lesbian and gay chorus choir, and a group of emergency services staff singing Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Meanwhile, Prince William remembered the 22 victims of the Manchester bombing by attending the Manchester Arena National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral, according to the reports. The evening began with video tributes from well-known local figures. Meanwhile the Duke of Cambridge gave a reading and met some of the bereaved families.

In May 2017, Grande had finished her concert at the Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom when a terrorist detonated a bomb, killing 22 people and injuring more than 500 others. “The Manchester Arena attack showed the worst of humanity,” said Ariana Grande as she spoke in detail for the first time about last year’s bombing.

Summit with Kim Jong-un on June 12 “may not work out”: US President Donald Trump

Summit with Kim Jong-un on June 12 “may not work out”: US President Donald Trump

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that his historic summit with Kim Jong-un “may not work out” even as he asserted that the North Korean leader was “serious” about denuclearisation. Trump met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House on Tuesday as the  fate of the much-awaited June 12 Singapore summit between him and Kim loomed large.

As he welcomed Moon in the Oval Office, Trump told reporters that it will be great if his meeting with Kim occured as scheduled, but if did not, it will take place later. “We’re moving along. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said in response to a question. “There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12,” Trump said in the Oval Office where he hosted Moon.

Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12. However, North Korea has threatened to cancel the meeting over a joint US-South Korea military exercise. The US has said it was going ahead with the preparation. “You will know soon,” Trump told reporters about the summit. “If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later…You never know about deals…I’ve made a lot of deals. You never really know,” Trump said.

Trump said he believed Kim was “serious” about denuclearization as he aims to push ahead with the Singapore summit. “I do think he is serious. I think he is absolutely very serious,” he said, but declined to say whether he had spoken to Kim. “They’re hardworking, great people,” he said of North Koreans. “He will be extremely happy. He will be very happy” he said of Kim if the deal works out.

Earlier, Moon’s national security advisor Chung Eui-yong told reporters that there were 99.9 per cent chances for the summit to happen. “We believe there is a 99.9 per cent chance the North Korea-US summit (set for June 12 in Singapore) will be held as scheduled. But we’re just preparing for many different possibilities,” Chung told reporters.

“We’re trying to understand the situation from the North’s perspective,” he said when asked about changes in North Korea’s rhetoric. The two leaders were scheduled to have a candid conversation – in multiple settings including over lunch at the White House – on how to make the North-US summit a success and produce significant agreements and how to best implement those agreements, Chung said.

“South Korea and the US have been sharing every bit of information and have remained in close coordination with each other,” Chung said. “We’ve had various working-level discussions on how to steer North Korea in a direction that we want, and I expect (Moon and Trump) will have great talks this time,” he added. Chung denied the New York Times article reporting that Trump is now doubting the advisability of the June 12 summit. “During phone calls between our two leaders or talks between our National Security Councils, I never got such an impression,” he said.

Pakistan court issues notice to authorities on delay in release of funds for Sikh crematorium

Pakistan court issues notice to authorities on delay in release of funds for Sikh crematorium

Peshawar: A Pakistani court today issued notice to authorities after a Sikh leader filed a petition urging the court to direct the government to release funds to build a crematorium for the community in the provincial capital so that they can cremate their dead instead of burying them.

Sikh community leader Babaji Guru Gurpal Singh, through his lawyer, submitted the writ petition in the court last week, saying the provincial government had allocated Rs 30 million in the 2017-18 budget to build the crematorium for the Sikh community and a graveyard for Christians in the city.

However, the government has yet to release funds for these projects nor has it made any plans for these projects.

Additional Advocate General, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Qaiser Khan informed the Peshawar High Court bench that the differences among the Sikh community members were the main hurdle in building crematory ground, claiming that the government has already taken measures to provide facilities to Sikhs.

Justice Mussarat Hilali said that the court would retrieve the withheld money for minorities if the government failed to facilitate it for minorities.

The court also summoned the Auqaf Department administrator and Town I nazim on May 31 and adjourned the hearing.

Singh said that about 60,000 Sikhs live in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including 15,000 who live in Peshawar alone. Despite that, there is no crematorium where Sikh mourners can carry out the last rites of their loved ones.

“Against their religious teachings, they are forced to bury dead one,” Singh wrote in his petition, adding that the nearest crematorium is located near Attock, 45 kilometers away from Peshawar.

Although the Attock crematorium is intended to primarily serve the Hindu community, it is also used by the Sikh community.

While cremation is culturally imperative for Sikhs and Hindus, the cost is a major prohibitive factor for them since many middle and low-income members of the community cannot afford the high costs of cremation.

“We are grateful for such a facility,” Singh said, adding, “But for the poor members of the community, they cannot even afford to transport the funeral.” The petitioner asked the court to direct the government to select a suitable spot to build the crematorium near Peshawar and set up a modern facility, keeping in view the environmental requirements and concerns, so that the community can perform the last rituals of their loved ones without any problem.

The petitioner also claimed that the KP government had allocated millions of funds for establishment of a crematory ground and Christian cemetery, but officials in the Department of Auqaf and Religious Affairs were employing delaying tactics in utilization of these funds for the purpose.