Four passengers die in ‘unbearable’ heat on Indian train

Temperatures in an Indian desert city hit 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) for the second time in three days as a deadly heatwave maintained its grip on the country. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Four passengers die in ‘unbearable’ heat on Indian train

  • The four died Monday while traveling from Agra, where the Taj Mahal is, to Coimbatore in the country’s south
  • A passenger who was a part of the group that boarded in Agra said the train was stiflingly hot

NEW DELHI: Four people died in ‘unbearable’ heat while traveling by train in northern India, which has been in the grip of a heatwave for two weeks, officials and passengers said Tuesday.
The four died Monday while traveling from Agra — the city of the Taj Mahal — to Coimbatore in the country’s south.
“Heat seems to be a factor,” Indian Railways spokesman Ajit Kumar Singh told AFP, “it is really unfortunate.”
“When the train was approaching Jhansi, we got a call from the on-board staff that one of the passengers is unconscious,” Singh said.
“We rushed medical staff to the station but they found that three of the passengers were already dead.”
A fourth person died later in hospital.
Temperatures have hovered around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in Jhansi, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, in recent days.
Singh said the Kerala Express train had no technical problems, but the tourists were not in air-conditioned coaches.
A passenger who was a part of the group that boarded in Agra said the train was stiflingly hot.
“Shortly after we left Agra, the heat became unbearable and some people started complaining of breathing problems and uneasiness,” the passenger was quoted as saying by News18 television.
“Before we could get some help, they collapsed.”
One of the dead was 81 years old, the channel said.
Much of India has been sweltering in temperatures that have risen above 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in northern Rajasthan state. A number of deaths from heatstroke have been reported.
Temperatures touched 50.3 degrees Celsius in the Rajasthan town of Churu recently, just below India’s record of 51 degrees.


Mauritania’s electoral commission confirms Ghazouani win

Updated 24 June 2019
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Mauritania’s electoral commission confirms Ghazouani win

  • The result had been widely expected
  • The election paves the way for the first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania: Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a retired general who served as defense minister before being picked as the chosen successor to Mauritania’s outgoing president, won the weekend election by a large margin, the country’s electoral commission announced.
The result had been widely expected and was swiftly confirmed after Ghazouani claimed victory Saturday evening within hours of polls closing.
The election paves the way for the first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960, though retiring President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz had a hand in choosing his successor. Aziz was barred from seeking a third term under Mauritania’s constitution.
Ghazouani received 52 percent of the vote, while Biram Dah Abied, a human rights activist who has campaigned against slavery in the West African nation, received nearly 19 percent, according to the electoral commission.
Mauritania, a desert nation and moderate Islamic republic, has managed to avoid the spillover in violence from neighboring Mali that has plagued Burkina Faso and Niger.
Mauritania, though, has suffered five coups since independence, and has been led by military rulers for much of that time. Aziz himself was head of the presidential guard when he seized power in a 2008 coup, although he said he did so to prevent a return to repressive military rule.
He then won a landslide election the following year that his opponents decried as a fraudulent “electoral coup.” Most opposition parties boycotted the 2014 election, when Aziz won 82 percent of the vote according to official results.
Mauritania was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981 but did not criminalize it until 2007. The United States ended trade benefits with Mauritania late last year, saying that the country is not making sufficient progress toward combating forced labor, including slavery. The Mauritanian government, however, denies that slavery is widespread in the country.