Ankara mayor warns of ‘manmade quake’ threat

An villager stands in front of her damaged house after two earthquakes, both with preliminary magnitudes of 5.3, jolted Turkey's northern Aegean coast, in Yukarikoy village Canakkale province, on Monday, damaging dozens of homes in at least five villages and injuring several people. (AP)
Updated 08 February 2017

Ankara mayor warns of ‘manmade quake’ threat

ANKARA: Ankara’s outspoken mayor on Tuesday warned that outside forces could be using sophisticated technology to try to trigger a manmade earthquake in a deliberate bid to harm Turkey’s fragile economy.
Melih Gokcek, who has been mayor of the Turkish capital since 1994, made the outlandish claims on Twitter where he regularly updates his more than 3.7 million followers, often writing in capital letters.
His comments were made after two quakes hit the western Canakkale province on Monday and Tuesday morning, measuring 5.3 and 5.2 magnitude respectively, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said.
In these tweets, Gokcek shared a video which claimed there were tools for causing manmade quakes, and he called all submarines and ships with large equipment to be taken under control of the authorities.
Gokcek said he had “researched” the two quakes and suggested they could have been caused by possible foreign interference.
“There was a ship conducting seismic research nearby. What this ship was researching and what country it belongs to must be solved,” he wrote.
The ultimate aim, he suggested, was to trigger an earthquake near Istanbul in a bid to stage an economic “coup.”
“At this moment, the coup aimed at Turkey is an earthquake near Istanbul to cause Turkey’s economic collapse,” he claimed.
It is not the first time that Gokcek, one of the more colorful members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has made such fantastic claims.
Following last July’s failed coup, he suggested that exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the putsch, was hypnotizing his followers through genies.
The Canakkale region includes the Dardanelles Straits which is the gateway to the Sea of Marmara that leads to the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
Istanbul itself lies in a major earthquake-prone zone and in 1999, a quake northwest of the city left 17,000 dead.
It is not the first time a senior Turkish figure has blamed foreign elements for conspiring to harm the country’s economy.
Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself blamed a conspiracy for the recent plunge in value of the lira, without saying who was to blame but saying such actions were akin to that of a “terrorist.”
“The purpose is to bring Turkey to its knees. They’re using the exchange rate as a weapon,” he said.
In the first four weeks of 2017, the lira lost seven percent of its value against the US dollar after losing a quarter in value against the greenback in 2016.


Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir announced that the Alexandria Port would be receiving a new batch of 22 passenger railroad cars, bringing the total of Russian railroad cars so far to 103 vehicles, as part of a deal to manufacture and supply 1,300 new passenger railroad cars.

The deal, signed between the Egyptian Railways Authority and Russian-Hungarian company Transmashholding, is the largest in the history of Egypt’s railways, with a value of €1.16 billion ($1.8 billion).

Al-Wazir confirmed that the 22 railroad cars that arrived are third-class vehicles with dynamic ventilation.

The deal includes 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 third-class air-conditioned vehicles (a new service offered to passengers for the first time in the history of Egyptian railways), 180 second-class vehicles, 90 first-class vehicles, 30 air-conditioned buffet vehicles and 500 dynamic ventilated third-class vehicles.

Al-Wazir indicated that 35 vehicles have arrived during the current month, which is the average monthly supply agreed upon with the manufacturer, pointing out that this rate enables the railway authority to form three new trains consisting of tractors and all-new cars that are entered monthly to become part of the line.

Al-Wazir said that the deal contributes to raising the efficiency of the Egyptian railways’ daily operations and schedules. This coincides with the Egyptian Railway Authority’s projects to modernize infrastructure, including signaling systems, crossings, stations and other aspects.

All these projects that the ministry implemented contributed to increasing safety and security in train operations and improving the level of service.

Egypt is seeking to develop its railways, the second oldest in the world, after witnessing unfortunate accidents during the past two decades.

Over the past few years, railways in Egypt have undergone major development, represented by the modernization of the fleet of tractors and vehicles of various classes and the maintenance of trains and old railways.

According to official data, Egypt spent EGP 40 billion ($2.5 billion) on railway development projects during the past six years. Projects at a cost of EGP 86 billion are currently under way, and there is a plan to start implementing others at a cost of EGP 55 billion.