Strong quake rocks northern Venezuela coast; buildings evacuated in capital

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People evacuate an office building after an earthquake in Caracas, Venezuela August 21, 2018. (REUTERS)
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A woman reacts after an earthquake in Caracas, Venezuela August 21, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Strong quake rocks northern Venezuela coast; buildings evacuated in capital

CARACAS: A major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck the northern coast of Venezuela on Tuesday and shook buildings as far away as the capital, Caracas, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake was centered near the town of Carupano, an area of poor fishing communities and was felt as far away as neighboring Colombia to the east and nearby island nations like Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Lucia, to the west and north.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said in an Internet broadcast on Tuesday.
The US Pacific Tsunami Center said the quake could cause small tsunami waves along the coast near the epicenter, 23 miles (37 km) southwest of the town of Carupano.
USGS Geophysicist Jessica Turner said the quake’s depth, 76.5 miles (123.11 km) below the surface, would dampen some of the shaking but not enough to prevent damage.
“A 7.3 magnitude quake is going to cause some damage particularly as in this area structures are vulnerable. The Earth is able to absorb some of the energy, but a 7.3 quake produces a lot of energy,” she said by telephone.
Turner said the quake’s depth caused the quake to be felt as far away such as in Caracas, where witnesses said buildings were shaken. “I feel like I’m about to faint. I’m shaking. It was long,” said telemarketing worker Sheny Fuentes, 22, speaking outside her work building in eastern Caracas. “I’m relieved that it doesn’t seem like damage was that bad. We would have been even more affected (given Venezuela’s economic crisis) — there are already people eating from the garbage and buildings aren’t well made,” she told Reuters. 


AU leaders agree reforms to reduce donor dependence

Updated 2 min 18 sec ago
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AU leaders agree reforms to reduce donor dependence

  • Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms

ADDIS ABABA: African Union leaders on Sunday finally agreed measures compelling members states to pay their dues as part of a drive to reform a body often seen as toothless and donor-dependent.
Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms that have been mulled for nearly two years.
The AU in 2016 charged its chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame with getting reforms passed, but observers have said time is running out because Egypt — which is set to assume the chairmanship — is thought to oppose aspects of the agenda.
In proposals unveiled last year, Kagame envisioned a more narrowly focused AU headed by a powerful commission whose bills were covered by its 55 member states rather than foreign donors.
Although not all his reforms were passed, Kagame welcomed the progress made at the two-day summit.
Their effect would be “felt for decades” to come, he said.
“We have done our part to continue the journey, and I expect the coming... chairperson of the African Union to continue with the same momentum and the same progress,” he added.
The majority of the bloc’s 55 member states rejected Kagame’s plan to give the head of the AU commission — the body’s executive branch — the power to appoint their own deputy and commissioners.
This was seen as a move to make the administration more accountable to their leader.
However members backed moves to streamline the body while bringing in revenue from member states and sanctioning those who don’t pay their dues.
The AU currently depends on foreign donors, who in 2019 will pay for 54 percent of a total budget of $681.5 million (596 million euros).
The AU also agreed to reduce the number of commissions to six from eight, with peace and security merged with political affairs and trade and industry merged with economic affairs, AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told journalists.
On Saturday the AU launched a fund dedicated to paying for responses to crises on the continent before they evolve into full-blown conflicts.
The Peace Fund is part of the AU’s proposals to wean itself off donor money, the centerpiece of which is a 0.2 percent import levy meant to finance the body which 24 countries are in the process of implementing.
But the US has opposed the duty, arguing it violates World Trade Organization rules.
The US mission to the AU issued a statement saying it supports the AU’s self-funding goals but opposed “trade measures” to achieve them.
“We are proud of our partnership with the AU and will continue to work with the AU... to find impactful ways to bring peace and security to the continent,” the statement sent to AFP said.
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