India's Kerala state on high alert after floods kill 37

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An Indian man rides his boat next to houses immersed in flood waters in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 10, 2018. (AFP)
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Rescue personnel patrol the flooded waters on the banks of Periyar River after the opening of Idamalayar and Cheruthoni dam shutters following heavy rains, on the outskirts of Kochi, August 10,2018. (REUTERS)
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Roads and houses are engulfed in water following heavy rain and landslide in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (AP)
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In this photo taken on August 9, 2018, water gushes out of Idamalayar dam as shutters of the dam opened with the storage level crossing 169 metre, the full reservoir level near Bhoothathankettu, on the Idamalayar River, a tributary of the Periyar River. (AFP)
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Photo: (social media)
Updated 12 August 2018
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India's Kerala state on high alert after floods kill 37

  • More than a million foreign tourists visited Kerala last year
  • Hundreds of homes were totally destroyed

NEW DELHI: Flash floods in Kerala have killed 37 people and displaced around 36,000, Indian officials said Saturday, after heavy monsoons led to landslides and overflowing reservoirs across the southern state.
Kerala, famed for its pristine palm-lined beaches and tea plantations, is battered by the monsoon every year but the rains have been particularly severe this season.
Those forced from their homes “have moved to 350 relief camps across the state,” an official at the Kerala State Disaster Management control room told AFP.
The army has been roped in for rescue efforts in Kerala after two days of heavy rain drove authorities to open the shutters of 27 reservoirs to drain out the excess water.
One of the five shutters of a large reservoir in the mountainous Idukki district was opened for the first time in 26 years.
“Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc,” Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation. Many lives were lost. Hundreds of homes were totally destroyed,” he added, lauding the efforts of rescue teams working in the state from across India.
The US embassy Thursday advised its citizens to avoid the areas affected and monitor local media for weather updates.
More than a million foreign tourists visited Kerala last year, according to official data.
The government of Kerala, which has a population of 33 million people, has imposed a ban on the movement of lorries and tourist vehicles in Idukki.


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 19 September 2018
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.