13 killed in strong Myanmar quake: NGO

Updated 12 November 2012
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13 killed in strong Myanmar quake: NGO

SHWEBO, Myanmar: A powerful earthquake which hit Myanmar Sunday killed at least 13 people, injured dozens and sparked panic in the central city of Mandalay, residents and aid workers said.
The shallow 6.8-magnitude quake struck in a rural area 116 kilometers (72 miles) north of Mandalay followed by a series of aftershocks, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Another strong quake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook the same region late Sunday, it added. The tremor was felt by an AFP team near the town of Shwebo, which is north of Mandalay and close to the epicenter of the earlier quake.
There was no immediate information on whether the latest quake caused further deaths or major damage.
Four laborers flung into the Irrawaddy river from a partly-built bridge in the region were among those believed to have died, according to a situation report from the Save the Children charity.
The collapse of a monastery in the nearby village of Kyauk Myaung killed two people and one died in Mandalay, it said. A further six were killed in Sint Ku township, including two people who died when a gold mine collapsed.
“People everywhere are very worried that another earthquake might strike,” the aid organization said.
Residents of Mandalay fled shaking buildings in terror, although no major damage was reported there.
“I ran from my bed carrying my daughter out to the street. There were many people in the road. Some were shouting and others felt dizzy,” Mandalay resident San Yu Kyaw told AFP by telephone.
An official from Myanmar’s Relief and Resettlement Department confirmed a death toll of seven so far, with four still considered missing from the bridge construction site.
He told AFP information was still patchy and the number of dead could rise.
Save the Children, which has an office in Mandalay, said reports indicated that 25 were injured in the bridge collapse on the Irrawaddy, with 10 taken to hospital.
It said 20 people were thought to have been taken to hospital in Shwebo and a further 10 were being treated in Mandalay.
Construction standards are generally poor in the country formerly known as Burma, one of Asia’s most impoverished nations.
A large crack stretching from the second to the sixth floor of Mandalay’s highest building, the 25-story Mann Myanmar Plaza, appeared after the quake, a local resident told AFP.
He said people were afraid to enter the structure and it remains closed.
The USGS issued a yellow alert after the morning quake, saying “some casualties and damage are possible” but the impact should be relatively localized.
The quake hit at 7:42 a.m. (0112 GMT) at a depth of just 10 kilometers.
It was followed by two shallow 5.0-magnitude aftershocks within 20 minutes, according to the USGS.
“The quake was quite strong. I was shopping in the market at the time and I saw women crying in fear when they felt it. We expect more quakes are coming. Everybody is afraid,” said 23-year-old Win Win Nwe, a resident in Shwebo.
It comes little more than a week before US President Barack Obama is due in Myanmar on a historic visit, as the West begins to roll back sanctions to reward dramatic political reforms under President Thein Sein.
The quake was felt in neighboring Thailand including in Bangkok.
Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar. The USGS said six strong earthquakes, of 7.0-magnitude and more, struck between 1930 and 1956 near the Sagaing Fault, which runs north to south through the center of the country.
Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, an official at the National Earthquake Information Division in Naypyidaw, said it was the strongest quake in the area since a 6.0-magnitude quake in 1991.
More than 70 people were killed in March 2011 when a powerful 6.8-magnitude quake struck Myanmar near the borders with Thailand and Laos, reducing homes and government buildings to rubble and affecting thousands of people.
Aid workers praised Myanmar’s regime for its speedy response to that quake, in contrast to the handling of natural disasters by the previous junta which had ruled the country for decades.


More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

Updated 26 April 2018
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More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

  • Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
  • The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.