Global MERS death toll passes 200-mark

Updated 24 May 2014

Global MERS death toll passes 200-mark

JEDDAH: The world’s total death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has passed the 200-mark and is still going up.
As of Thursday, the cumulative global number of MERS infections since September 2012 was 661, of which 205 patients have died, data compiled from reports of the Saudi Health Ministry and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control showed.
Saudi Arabia bore the brunt of the outbreak, with the Health Ministry's count on May 23, 2014 standing at 551 cases, including 177 deaths.
A statement posted by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control on its website on Thursday said that as of May 20, the cumulative number of infections in all countries other than Saudi Arabia stood at 110, with 28 deaths.
Topping the list was the United Arab Emirates with 67 cases and 9 deaths, followed by Jordan with 9 cases and 4 deaths, and Qatar with 7 cases and 4 deaths.
Rounding up the Middle East countries with MERS cases were Oman had 2 cases, 2 deaths; Kuwait, 3 cases/1 death; Egypt: 1 case/0 deaths; Yemen: 1 case/1 death and Lebanon: 1 case/0 deaths.
In Europe, UK led with 4 cases/3 deaths, followed by Germany: 2 cases/1 death; France, 2 cases/1 death; Italy, 1 case/0 deaths; Greece, 1 case/0 deaths; and the Netherlands, 2 cases/0 deaths.
Africa had 3 cases/1 death, all in Tunisia.
The Americas had two cases, all in the United States.
In Asia, Malaysia reported 1 death and Philippines had 1 infection.
While the Philippines had only one case of infection, a number of Filipino workers in the Middle East were reported to have been among the victims, including two nurses who have died in Saudi Arabia and one in the United Arab Emirates. (See related report)

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

Updated 57 min 5 sec ago

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

  • US official says all options, including a military response, are on the table
  • Washington blames Iran for the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field

RIYADH: Iran provided the weapons used to strike two Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said Tuesday.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding they were now probing “from where they were fired.”

The coalition supports the Yemen government in the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which claimed they had carried out the attack on Saturday.



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US officials have said Iran was behind the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field, and that the raid did not come from Yemen, but from the other direction.

“This strike didn't come from Yemen territory as the Houthi militia are pretending,” Maliki said, adding that an investigation was ongoing into the attacks and their origins.

The Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said international experts, including from the UN, will be invited to participate in the investigation.

Preliminary investigations showed that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia's oil production and damaged the world's biggest crude processing plant, the ministry statement said.

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks," it added.

The ministry said the attack above all targeted global oil supplies and called it an extension of previous hostile acts against oil pumping stations in May.

The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”

The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Crude prices rocketed on Monday by more than 10 percent.

Iran has denied involvement, something US President Donald Trump questioned Sunday in a tweet saying “we'll see?”

Later on Monday, Trump said it was "looking likely" that Iran was responsible for the attacks.

A satellite image of Saudi Aramco infrastructure at Khurais. (US Government/DigitalGlobe/ via Reuters)

Trump said "we pretty much already know" but that Washington still wanted more proof. "We want to find definitively who did this."
"With all that being said, we'd certainly like to avoid" war, he said. "I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody."

Trump had raised the possibility of military retaliation after the strikes on Sunday, saying Washington was “locked and loaded” to respond.

The US has offered a firm response in support of its ally, and is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia as a result of the attack, Reuters reported.

A US official told AP that all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

The US government also on Monday produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Also on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that he had spoken over the weekend with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an Iraqi defense official about the recent attack on the oil facilities.

Iraq said the attacks were not launched from its territory and on Sunday Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that Washington possesses information that backs up the Iraqi government’s denial.

Condemnation of the attacks continued from both within Saudi Arabia and from around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council called Tuesday for concerted efforts to hold those behind the attacks accountable.

Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais had consequences well beyond the region and risked dragging Yemen into a “regional conflagration.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Iraq that he was "extremely concerned" about escalating tensionsand accused Iran of "destabilizing" the region.

*With AFP, AP, Reuters