Two dead, thousands flee in storm-weary Philippines

An aerial image shows damaged Daligdigan Bridge, washed out and drifted some 600 meters from its original position, at the height of Tropical Storm Vinta that hit Salvador town, Lanao del Norte, southern Philippines on Dec. 31, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 02 January 2018
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Two dead, thousands flee in storm-weary Philippines

MANILA: Two people were killed and thousands fled strong winds and floods as a tropical depression hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, following deadly back-to-back storms during the Christmas season.
The deaths were reported on Cebu island, where an elderly woman was killed in a landslide while a man died after he hit his head on the pavement as the storm cut off electricity in the area.
Tropical Storm Kai-Tak killed 47 people in the central Philippines last month, while Tropical Storm Tembin killed 240 on the southern island of Mindanao.
The state weather service warned the new disturbance was poised to hit the western tourist island of Palawan with gusts of 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour later on Tuesday.
“The residents are really sad. It is tough that we have three storms coming one after another. People have lost their livelihood and have had no rest since Christmas,” Gil Acosta, information officer of the island, told AFP.
Palawan accounted for 37 of the recorded Tembin deaths, with 60 other people still missing, Acosta added.
About 4,000 people across the central Philippines had moved to safer ground to escape high winds and flooding, the national disaster agency in Manila said.
“There is continuous flooding in some towns where the floodwater from the previous storm has yet to subside,” provincial disaster information officer Julius Regner told AFP by telephone from Cebu City.
The Philippines is battered by 20 major storms each year on average, many of them deadly.


Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

  • Man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial
  • Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: A man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial Tuesday in a process closed to the public.
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court spokesperson told AFP Tuesday the trial for the “brutal murder of four foreign cyclists” had begun in the suspect’s high-security detention center.
Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, already confessed to killing American cycling tourists Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel in July.
The victims were struck by a car as they cycled along the remote Pamir Highway, a popular route among adventure tourists, before being set upon with knives and firearms.
Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt.
A video of the five men pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was released by an official Daesh media channel.
Tajik authorities have so far ignored the video evidence, instead blaming a former opposition party — the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan — that was banned by the government in 2015.
The fact the trial is closed has raised concerns about due process in a country with a poor record on political freedoms and human rights.
Abdusamadov implicated the IRPT as the ultimate organizer of the attack in a televised confession, but critics say the government is using the case to tar the opposition.
A dozen senior members of the IRPT are serving long sentences up to life on charges government critics say are trumped up.
In addition to Abdusamadov, 16 other people stand accused of not offering information to the authorities that could have prevented the attack, a source in the police told AFP.