Flood death toll in India’s Kerala rises

This is said to be the worst flooding in the south India state for years. (AF/File)
Updated 26 August 2018

Flood death toll in India’s Kerala rises

  • About one million remain in temporary relief camps, but there are still people missing
  • People returning to their homes have been told to stay alert as receding waters leave behind a glut of snakes

KOCHI, India: The death toll from devastating floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala rose to 445 Sunday with the discovery of 28 more bodies as the waters recede and a massive cleanup gathers pace, government officials said.
Around a million people are still packed into temporary relief camps and 15 are reported missing even as the government mounts an operation to clean homes and public places that have been filled with dirt and sand left by the floods.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a tweet said that more than 130,000 flood-hit houses had been cleaned, or nearly a third of those affected.
Authorities are also in the process of restoring electricity connections.
People returning to their homes have been told to stay alert as receding waters leave behind a glut of snakes. State authorities and wildlife experts have formed teams to come to the aid of those who have found snakes in their home, according to local media.
With death toll rising daily, Kerala authorities said “due process will be followed to ascertain if all these deaths are flood related.”
A 68-year-old man committed suicide Wednesday after seeing the state of his home at Kothad in Ernakulam district. A 19-year-old boy took his own life earlier in the week because his school certificates were destroyed by the floods, police said.
The government says that more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of roads have been destroyed or damaged while a legislator said 50,000 houses had been wiped out.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.