US commander hints that quad grouping may be shelved as North Korean testing site reopens

North Korean long-range rocket launch site appears to have resumed “normal operation status” as work to rebuild the launch pad has proceeded rapidly, US experts said Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2019
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US commander hints that quad grouping may be shelved as North Korean testing site reopens

  • US said on Thursday that it appears a North Korean nuclear testing site is operational once again
  • Satellite photos taken on various dates showed new activity at the Tongchang-ri launch site

SINGAPORE: A US military commander suggested Thursday that a loose security grouping of his country, Japan, Australia and India, also known as the quad, may be shelved for now.
Admiral Phil Davidson, who heads the US Indo-Pacific Command, said he was on a panel with the other navy chiefs at the Raisina Dialogue, a multilateral conference in New Delhi in January.
Davidson said the issue came up “several times” but Indian navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba “made it quite clear that there wasn’t an immediate potential for a quad.”
The announcement comes as a blow, especially as the US said on Thursday that it appears a North Korean nuclear testing site is operational once again.
On Wednesday, foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul’s spy service said North Korea was restoring facilities at a long-range rocket launch site that it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps. Satellite photos taken on various dates showed new activity at the Tongchang-ri launch site, northwest of Pyongyang.
North Korean long-range rocket launch site appears to have resumed “normal operation status” as work to rebuild the launch pad has proceeded rapidly, US experts said Thursday.
“Given that construction, plus activity at other areas of the site, Sohae (Satellite Launching Station) appears to have returned to normal operational status,” the specialized website 38 North said.
The website and the Center for Strategic and International Studies tracked activity at the site — which began before last week’s aborted summit in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — using commercial satellite imagery.


Quake kills at least 11, 24 missing in northern Philippines

Rescue workers carry a survivor out of the collapsed Chuzon supermarket in Porac, pampanga province on April 23, 2019, a day after a 6.3 magnitude quake. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Quake kills at least 11, 24 missing in northern Philippines

  • The Philippines is part of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’

PORAC, Philippines: Rescuers found more bodies overnight in the rubble of a supermarket that crashed down in a powerful earthquake that damaged buildings and an airport in the northern Philippines, raising the death toll to 11, officials said Tuesday.
The bodies of four victims were pulled from Chuzon Supermarket and three other villagers died due to collapsed house walls, said Mayor Condralito dela Cruz of Porac town in Pampanga province, north of Manila.
An Associated Press photographer saw seven people, including at least one dead, being pulled out by rescuers from the pile of concrete, twisted metal and wood overnight. Red Cross volunteers, army troops, police and villagers used four cranes, crow bars and sniffer dogs to look for the missing, some of whom were still yelling for help Monday night.
Authorities inserted a large orange tube into the rubble to blow in oxygen in the hope of helping people still pinned there to breathe. On Tuesday morning, rescuers pulled out a man alive, sparking cheers and applause.
“We’re all very happy, many clapped their hands in relief because we’re still finding survivors after several hours,” Porac Councilor Maynard Lapid told The Associated Press by telephone from the scene, adding another victim was expected to be pulled out alive soon.
Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda said at least 10 people died in her province, including those who perished in hard-hit Porac town. The 6.1-magnitude quake damaged many houses, concrete roads, bridges, Roman Catholic churches and an international airport terminal at Clark Freeport, a former American air base, in Pampanga. Another child died in nearby Zambales province, officials said.
At least 24 people remained missing in the rice-growing agricultural region, mostly in the rubble of the collapsed supermarket in Porac, while 81 others were injured, according to the government’s disaster-response agency.
The four-story building housing the supermarket crashed down when the quake shook Pampanga as well as several other provinces and the capital, Manila, on the main northern island of Luzon. The quake was caused by movement in a local fault at a depth of 12 kilometers (8 miles) near the northwestern town of Castillejos in Zambales province, said Renato Solidum, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
More than 400 aftershocks have been recorded, mostly unfelt.
The US Geological Survey’s preliminary estimate is that more than 49 million people were exposed to some shaking from the earthquake, with more than 14 million people likely to feel moderate shaking or more.
Clark airport was closed temporarily because of damaged check-in counters, ceilings and parts of the departure area, airport official Jaime Melo said, adding that seven people were slightly injured and more than 100 flights were canceled.
In Manila, thousands of office workers dashed out of buildings in panic, some wearing hard hats, and residents ran out of houses as the ground shook. Many described the ground movement like sea waves.
One of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, the Philippines has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it lies on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active arc of volcanos and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.