3 dead, 77,000 flee as storm pounds Philippines

Villagers wade through a flooded street in Brgy Calingatngan, Philippine, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2017
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3 dead, 77,000 flee as storm pounds Philippines

TACLOBAN: At least three people were killed and tens of thousands were driven from their homes by floods as Tropical Storm Kai-Tak pounded the eastern Philippines on Saturday, cutting off power and triggering landslides, officials said.
Kai-Tak, packing gusts of up to 110 km/per hour, hit the country’s third-largest island Samar in the afternoon and tore through a region devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan four years ago, the state weather service said.
Local officials reported three deaths on neighboring Leyte island — a two-year-old boy who drowned in the town of Mahaplag, a woman buried by a landslide and another person who fell into a flooded manhole in Ormoc city.
Samar and Leyte, with a combined population of about 4.5 million, had borne the brunt of Haiyan in 2013, which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
Bus driver Felix Villaseran, his wife and four children hunkered down in their two-story house in the Leyte city of Tacloban along with 11 relatives whose homes were flooded from incessant rain.
“We have yet to shake off our phobia. I hope we don’t have a repeat of that,” Villaseran, who lost 39 cousins in the Haiyan onslaught, told AFP.
“My missus stockpiled on groceries before the storm hit, but since we also have to feed these three other families we’re now running low on food,” he added.
Military trucks drove through rising floodwaters on Samar and Leyte to rescue trapped residents, with more than 77,000 people now in evacuation centers, local officials said.
Strong winds toppled trees and power pylons, knocking out power throughout the region while floods, small landslides and rock falls blocked roads and buried some homes, local officials and witnesses said.
Farmland in the mainly rural region was also under water, while seven people were injured by landslides and flying objects, the regional civil defense office said in a report.
A spokeswoman for the national government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told AFP it was trying to confirm reports of two other deaths from landslides and floods on the islands of Biliran and Dinagat.
“It was like a flashback again for residents of Tacloban city,” its Vice Mayor Sambo Yaokasin told Manila TV ABS-CBN, referring to the Haiyan disaster.
The station broadcast images of flooded streets and corrugated iron roofing sheets flying off homes.
“Nearly half the villages here are flooded,” Marcelo Picardal, vice governor of Eastern Samar province told ABS-CBN in an interview.
Three other people were missing in Ormoc after being swept away by floods on Saturday, city Mayor Richard Gomez told CNN Philippines TV in an interview.
“We need a lot of water and a lot of blankets,” Gomez added, citing widespread flooding that may have contaminated the tap water system of the city of 200,000 people.
The state weather service said more heavy rain was expected in the eastern Philippines in the coming hours with Kai-Tak forecast to slice across the rest of the central Philippines over the weekend.
Ferry services on the storm’s path were suspended due to rough seas, the civil defense office in the area said.
About 20 typhoons or weaker storms either make landfall in the Philippines or reach its waters each year, bringing annual misery and death and consigning millions of survivors to perennial poverty.


Majlis culture brings a little Saudi warmth to freezing Davos

At a five-star hotel in Davos, the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority has sponsored a prominent display proclaiming ‘The future-forward economy — Invest Saudi.’ (AN photo)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Majlis culture brings a little Saudi warmth to freezing Davos

  • The Misk Pavilion is one of the many signs of the Kingdom’s enthusiastic involvement in the world’s biggest gathering of political, business and thought leaders

DAVOS: From the sub-zero temperatures of the icy Davos Promenade you are ushered through a glass door into the warmth of a desert majlis, with works by young Saudi artists on the walls and traditional Arabian delicacies being served. It is quite a culture shock.

The Davos majlis is the work of the Misk Global Forum (MGF), the international arm of the organization founded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote youth empowerment. 

The Misk Pavilion is one of the many signs of the Kingdom’s enthusiastic involvement in the world’s biggest gathering of political, business and thought leaders.

“The Kingdom’s participation in WEF 2019 highlights its role in developing the regional and global economy, and reflects the nation’s continuing ambition for sustainable development,” said Bader Al-Asaker, head of the crown prince’s private office and chairman of the Misk Initiatives Center. 

The Saudi delegation’s HQ overlooks the main congress hall, inside the Davos security cordon. 

At a nearby five-star hotel, the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority has sponsored a prominent display proclaiming: “The future-forward economy — Invest Saudi.” 

This is the second year Misk has been prominent at Davos. As well as the majlis, its pavilion offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in modern Saudi art via a virtual reality tour of the work of four young artists.

Misk is organizing daily events there, building up to a power breakfast with leading executives on Friday on the theme of youth empowerment.

“In an age of profound economic disruption, we regard young people as the problem-solvers, not a problem to be solved,” said MGF executive manager Shaima Hamidaddin.

“We’re holding interactive discussions on how to empower young people to be the architects of the future economy, not the tenants of it.”