Tornado destroys homes, causes power outage near Canadian capital

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Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in Mont-Bleu, Gatineau, Quebec, close to Ottawa after a tornado shattered Canada's capital on September 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / VINCENT-CARL LERICHE)
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Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in Mont-Bleu, Gatineau, Quebec, close to Ottawa after a tornado shattered Canada's capital on September 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / VINCENT-CARL LERICHE)
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Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in Mont-Bleu, Gatineau, Quebec, close to Ottawa after a tornado shattered Canada's capital on September 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / VINCENT-CARL LERICHE)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Tornado destroys homes, causes power outage near Canadian capital

  • Gatineau city bears the brunt of 190 kph gusts
  • Ottawa emergency services office says around 30 people were injured, five seriously

OTTAWA: A tornado sparked chaos near the Canadian capital Ottawa on Friday, injuring dozens as homes were damaged, cars flipped over, and over 130,000 people left without power, local media said.
Meteorologists reported gusts whipped up to around 120 miles per hour (190 kilometers per hour), with the city of Gatineau, about five miles north of the capital, taking the brunt.
Images on social media showed homes with damaged rooftops and trees torn apart, as debris was seen swirling through the air in dramatic video footage.
“There was a power cut and less than a minute later, the wind began to hit the windows,” Vincent-Carl Leriche, who filmed the video, told AFP.
“The debris was flying everywhere, I had never see anything like it except in Hollywood,” the 30-year-old, from Gatineau’s Mont-Bleu neighborhood said, adding he saw sofas and freezers that had been blown into the street.
Ottawa emergency services official Anthony Di Monte told local media around 30 people were injured, five seriously.

Meanwhile, electricity company HydroQuebec reported over 130,000 customers were without power in the Ottawa area Friday evening.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged residents to check on neighbors who might need help.
“We’re monitoring the situation and thinking of everyone affected,” he said on Twitter.
A weather alert was put in place Friday afternoon for all of southern Ontario and Quebec. Winds eased by the time they reached greater Montreal, which was hit by heavy rains but escaped major damage.


US push to delay Afghan presidential poll receives mixed reaction from Kabul

In this Nov. 6, 2018, photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, listens during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at the presidential palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)
Updated 46 min 11 sec ago
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US push to delay Afghan presidential poll receives mixed reaction from Kabul

  • Afghanistan is a democracy and any transfer of power has to be done through a democratic process

KABUL: A US newspaper report that President Donald Trump’s administration is considering asking the Afghan government to postpone the presidential election has drawn backing from some in Afghanistan’s political quarters, while others have criticized it.
The report comes amid speculation that the presidential poll will be delayed and that instead an interim government will be formed involving the Taliban leaders in a effort to end the 17-year-long conflict.
It comes after last month’s long-delayed and chaotic parliamentary elections and the renewed US efforts for peace talks which involved the appointment of special US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Khalilzad in recent weeks has spoken with leaders of the regional powers, Taliban emissaries and the Afghan government as well as regional strongmen, some of whom fear that the outcome of presidential poll in a fractured government at this time may push the country into deeper chaos.
On Tuesday, citing US officials, The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington was looking into postponing the vote.
“The possibility of such a step, one of several options being considered by US officials, is a sign of the urgency the administration sees in trying to broker a political breakthrough in a conflict that has bedeviled three successive American presidents,” The Wall Street Journal said.
The current administration of the joint National Unity Government (NUG), where the power is shared by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah, was formed as a result of allegedly rigged polls held in 2014.
Public frustration has mounted over the NUG’s failure to curb the crime rate, alleviate poverty and stop the deadly attacks by militants in the past four years.
Some politicians push for formation of an interim government, while others, including former President Hamid Karzai, deem the convocation of a traditional assembly, known as Loya Jirga, as a solution for the political and security crisis the country faces.
Officials close to Ghani, who is standing for re-election in the April 20 vote, said the poll will have to take place.
“Afghanistan is a democracy and any transfer of power has to be done through a democratic process. Any other proposal that runs contrary to the Afghan constitution and people will not be acceptable to our people,” Fazel Fazly, an adviser to Ghani, said.
Abdullah, following the Wall Street Journal report, met on Tuesday with the US Ambassador to Kabul, John R. Bass. Abdullah in a tweet said he discussed the parliamentary and presidential elections with Bass, who told him that “the upcoming presidential election will take place on time.”
Later in the day, Bass said the US was helping Afghans to hold the elections based on the time stipulated, but added that the Afghans themselves can choose the time
for it.
“We remain committed to helping the electoral commissions and the Afghan government to prepare for the presidential elections in April 2019. Timing of the Afghan election is for the Afghans to decide,” he said in a statement. Bashir Bezhen, a lawmaker in President Ghani’s government, argued that delaying the polls goes against the constitution and it will damage the credibility of the US as well.
“This issue (the US option for delaying polls) is in violation of the constitution and it will also be a blow to US prestige because Afghanistan’s fate has its impact on the US as it has been fighting here for over 17 years,” he told Arab News.
However, he said there is no guarantee that a proper time will come that can pave the way for fair elections.
“We do not have the hope for a democratic, free, transparent election under this government and the current situation, but to hope that things will get better is a merely a dream.”
He said if the election is not held on time, then one solution would be an interim government or convocation of Loya Jirga and either way, Ghani will lose.
“Ghani is keen to hold the poll so he can win by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes. We feel worried about the future both if the election is held or delayed, but we have to know... what will happen if the polls are not held.”
Mohammad Nateqi, a politician, former diplomat and member of the government-appointed High Peace Council, said delaying the poll is necessary if it can lead to peace with the Taliban.
“If an interim administration or postponing of the election can help a comprehensive peace process, then it (delaying the poll) will not be a problem,” he said.