Afghan girl dies in pesticide poisoning; four hospitalized

Updated 11 March 2014

Afghan girl dies in pesticide poisoning; four hospitalized

One person died and four other people are in critical condition in a suspected case of pesticide poisoning through inhalation in the Al-Warood district of Jeddah, authorities said.
Health, Civil Defense and police authorities took immediate action warning residents against using any chemical without verification and also advised caution in pest control procedures. Civil Defense officials warned that pesticides kill insects swiftly but are equally dangerous for humans.
In a related development, Makkah Region Police spokesperson Lt. Col. Dr. Aati Al-Qurashi said that they have arrested an Arab national who is believed to be the salesman of a pesticide company from where pesticide came. A father and son had to be rushed to the King Fahad Medical City for emergency treatment following exposure to the dangerous chemical.
The fatality in the case is a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan who died in the Jamia district in Jeddah where she was admitted. She had fallen unconscious and had severe breathing difficulties with a sharp drop in blood pressure. She was declared dead by health authorities on Wednesday according to a statement issued by the Health Directorate.
Dr. Sami Badawood, director general of the Health Ministry in the Jeddah governorate, said, “A Saudi family of four inhaled a pesticide sprayed on the roof of their building and were rushed to hospital after they began experiencing severe breathing difficulties.”
The patients are a 24-year-old woman and a 2-year-old child. “Their condition is now stable,” confirmed Badawood. He added that there were two other Saudi nationals in their 30s who had inhaled the poison but were out of danger.

Badawood said that all these cases were suspected to be of poisoning caused by inhalation of fumes from the pesticides that were sprayed in their apartments.
He said that the chemical substance, aluminum phosphide is believed to be the cause of the problem and advised that residents should not return to their apartments for at least 72 hours following a pesticide spray.
Civil Defense spokesperson Col. Saeed Sarhan said that, “Civil Defense teams received a complaint from a 3-story building whose occupants were suffering from breathing problems. On reaching the spot, the Civil Defense teams found a high concentration of aluminum phosphide in the area.
“We moved to evacuate the building with immediate effect,” he said.
Col. Saeed Sarhan also said that, “The pesticide company has been ordered to provide a suitable temporary housing and conduct a medical examination of the building’s residents.”
Aluminum phosphide has been banned in the Kingdom for several years but there are still cases of exposure and fatalities related to its use as a pesticide in homes.
The gas, which is both colorless and odorless, can spread through the air vents of apartments to surrounding areas affecting all the residents of a particular building.
The symptoms of pesticide poisoning include breathing problems, low blood pressure and coldness in the limbs. Persons affected by pesticide poisoning due to inhalation should be taken to the hospital immediately.

Tokyo summit discusses ‘strategic response’ to Saudi Aramco oil attacks

Taro Kono denounced the recent attacks on Aramco sites in Saudi Arabia. (AN Images/Kevin Hammontree)
Updated 29 min 1 sec ago

Tokyo summit discusses ‘strategic response’ to Saudi Aramco oil attacks

  • Shinzo Abe says it is Japan's mission to reset transparent, rules-based international order
  • Goldman Sachs' chief Japan strategist says closing gender gap can greatly boost global GDP

TOKYO: The attacks on Saudi Arabia grabbed all the headline attention at the G1 Global Conference in Tokyo, but the day-long think-in in Tokyo was more than just a survey of the dramatic headlines and images that had dominated the weekend media.

The event is now in its ninth year, as a global leaders’ conference conducted entirely in English on the big themes of international affairs, business, culture and society from a Japanese perspective.

One of the organizers called it the “Davos of Tokyo,” and while it may have fallen short of the famous Swiss Alpine gathering in numbers and glamour, the Sept. 16 event certainly rivaled it in the breadth and ambition of the agenda.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, set a high bar in an opening video address in which he said it was “Japan’s mission” to lead the world in resetting the transparent, rules-based international order that has been weakened by the populist waves in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

On the theme of “sustainable innovation in times of disruption”, the G1 followed a familiar pattern of plenaries, breakouts, workshops and networking, in the functional setting of the Globis University in downtown Tokyo. What it lacked in Alpine splendour, it more than made up for with the convenience of a one-day colloquium.

But first, the weekend’s news stole the show at the opening plenary, and was an elephant in the room for the rest of the day.

Taro Kono, the Japanese defense minister, declared the attacks on Saudi oil installations and the threat to global oil supplies the “most worrying scenario” in the world today.

He was backed up by John Chipman, director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who criticized the failure of the US and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere to counter Iranian expansion in the region.

“The strategic response to this has not been properly considered, and now Saudi Arabia’s most important strategic asset has been attacked,” he said.

The attacks on Saudi oil installations also featured prominently in a later session, conducted behind-closed-doors under the Chatham House Rule, at which security experts debated the origins and impact of the attacks, including the appropriate level of response from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Chipman also spoke frankly about the confrontation between the US and China over trade, technology and digital strategy. “The US and the West has only just woken up to China’s strategic rivalry,” he said.

Referring to the Soviet space launch in the 1950s that stirred the US into a space race with the USSR, Chipman said: “China wants a unipolar Asia in a multipolar world, and that is a ‘Sputnik’ moment for the Americans,” he said.

There was skepticism that US President Donald Trump was the man to lead an effective rule-based order against Chinese expansion.

Mieko Nakabayashi, professor of social sciences at Waseda University, who spent many years in the corridors of power in Washington, said: “A lot of people say that Trump is a disaster, but he also has a lot of supporters. He might win next year’s election, which would make for a very adventurous four years to come.”

Given the East Asian venue and focus of the event, the threat from China, and its relations with neighbors such as Japan, Korea and the Southeast Asian countries, were recurring themes of the day.

A session entitled “Geo-politics: US-China hegemony in Asia” had two experts from opposite sides of the issue. Abraham Denmark, American director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the US was in the middle of the biggest debate about foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

Although recent polls suggested that a large number of Americans still support an active role for the US in trade and global affairs, it was also apparent that the old rules of engagement with the rest of the world were no longer sufficient.

“We used to believe that engaging with China was a good thing in itself. Now we have to balance competition and co-operation, and will co-operate only on matters of mutual self-interest,” Denmark said.

Zha Daojiong, of the School of International Studies at Peking University, said there had been some “positive momentum” in recent weeks with both sides pulling back from higher trade tariffs, adding: “What is the antagonism between China and the USA? It is about primacy, and somebody has to be number one. They are like two 800-pound gorillas rising and falling under their own weight.”

Lynn Kuok, of the IISS, gave a Southeast Asian perspective on the issue. “Trump’s insistence that other countries have to ban Huawei means that the USA is saying ‘you have to chose between USA and China,’ but it should not be a choice between two countries but between rules and non-rules based orders.”

The session turned into a barbed exchange between the US and Chinese representatives. “If you give technology to Huawei, you’ve got to assume it will end up with the People’s Liberation Army,” said Denmark, who also complained about Chinese state subsidies to corporations.

Zha Daojiong responded with allegations about subsidies to US defense manufacturers such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “Where is the state, and where is the company with them,” he said. Taking a swipe at US financial policy, he said: “Negative interest rates are not very capitalist.”

The G1 was not just about high matters of geopolitics, however. One big theme was the progress towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals in environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance.

Also high on the agenda was gender equality. In a session entitled “Womenomics and Gender Equality in Entrepreneurship,” Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs, produced recent research showing a direct link between economic growth and greater female participation in the global workforce. “I believe that if you close the gender gap, you could actually boost global GDP by as much as $5 trillion,” she said.

The Tokyo gathering also focused on events that will put Japan in the global spotlight and boost tourism. The Rugby World Cup begins next week, and the country is hosting the Olympic Games in 2020.

In a session headed “How to evolve into a unique and sustainable tourism super-power,” experts discussed Japan’s ambitious plans to increase the number of international visitors and get them to spend more while on holiday. The government wants 40 million visitors next year.

About 75 per cent of foreign visitors to Japan come from four Asian countries — China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong — and the government would like to attract more Americans, Europeans and Australians, who tend to stay longer and spend more.

This year a 30 per cent drop in the number of Korean tourists is expected as Japan and South Korea square off amid a trade dispute sparked by events dating back to the  Second World War.