Death toll from Indonesia quake climbs over 320

People carry an earthquake victim for a burial ceremony at Tanjung, in northern Lombok on West Nusa Tenggara province on August 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Death toll from Indonesia quake climbs over 320

PEMANANG: The death toll from a huge 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia’s Lombok island has climbed to more than 320, officials said on Friday, even as relief efforts picked up pace.
The national disaster mitigation agency said it had verified 321 deaths and that over 270,000 people had been forced to flee their homes because of a series of tremors over the past two weeks.
On Thursday, the death toll from Sunday’s quake jumped to 259.
A fresh 5.9 magnitude aftershock prompted fresh panic in the north of the popular holiday destination on Thursday.
Nearly 75 percent of residential structures have been destroyed in northern Lombok because of poor construction unable to withstand strong tremors, the agency said in a statement.
“Aid is being distributed as quickly as possible upon arrival,” Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman for the agency said in a statement, adding that hundreds of volunteers were assisting the efforts.
Mobile kitchens have started distributing much-needed food and water to thousands of evacuees in the worst-hit areas, he said, after several days’ delay due to poor access and communications.
President Joko Widodo on Friday said he was delaying plans to visit Lombok until next week, citing concerns over continuing aftershocks.
“After the emergency period is over, the government will undertake rehabilitation, reconstruction, repairs to residential areas and public facilities,” the cabinet secretariat website quoted Widodo as saying.
Widodo visited the island after a 6.4 magnitude quake on July 29 killed 17 people and injured dozens more.
The quakes have prompted tourists to flee during what is otherwise the peak season for the island destination famous for its beaches.


Rajapaksa resigns as Sri Lanka’s prime minister

Updated 11 min 55 sec ago
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Rajapaksa resigns as Sri Lanka’s prime minister

  • Sri Lanka has had no functioning government for nearly two weeks
  • The country runs the risk of being unable to use state funds from Jan. 1 if there is no government to approve the budget

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned from his post Saturday amid the country’s political crisis.
A Sri Lankan lawmaker previously mentioned Rajapaksa’s planned resignation.
The pro-Rajapaksa lawmaker, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, told reporters that Rajapaksa decided in a meeting Friday with President Maithripala Sirisena to resign to allow the president to appoint a new government.
Sri Lanka has had no functioning government for nearly two weeks and is facing the prospect of being unable to pass a budget for next year.
“Unless the prime minister resigns, another prime minister cannot be appointed. But the country needs to face situations that it needs to face in January; a country cannot function without a budget,” Abeywardena said. “Therefore Mr. Rajapaksa says that he will make a special statement tomorrow and resign from the position of prime minister.”
The decision appears to have been hastened by a Supreme Court decision to extend a lower court’s suspension of Rajapaksa and his Cabinet. The top court put off the next hearing until mid-January, when it plans to rule on whether they should hold office after losing two no-confidence votes in Parliament.
The country runs the risk of being unable to use state funds from Jan. 1 if there is no government to approve the budget. It also has a foreign debt repayment of $1 billion due in early January and it is unclear if it can be serviced without a lawful finance minister.
Sri Lanka has been in political crisis since October, when Sirisena abruptly sacked then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa is a former strongman president who is considered by some as a war hero for defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 after a long civil war. But he lost a 2015 re-election bid amid allegations of wartime atrocities, corruption and nepotism. After his appointment as prime minister, he sought to secure a majority in the 225-member Parliament but failed. Sirisena then dissolved Parliament and called new elections, but the Supreme Court struck down that move as unconstitutional.
Sirisena has repeatedly rejected appeals to reappoint Wickremesinghe as prime minister, but may now be compelled to do so since Wickremesinghe has the support of 117 lawmakers in Parliament.

(With Reuters)