Arab, Muslim condemnation of St. Petersburg terror

A damaged train carriage at the Technological Institute metro station in St. Petersburg following the terror attack Monday. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2017

Arab, Muslim condemnation of St. Petersburg terror

JEDDAH/ST. PETERSBURG: Saudi Arabia condemned a suspected terror attack that killed 11 people and injured dozens more when an explosion tore through a train carriage in a St. Petersburg metro tunnel on Monday.
Russian news media reported that police were searching for a man recorded on surveillance cameras who was thought to have been involved in the attack, which coincided with a visit to the city by President Vladimir Putin.
A source in the Saudi Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the bombing. The source offered condolences to the families of the victims, the Russian government and the Russian people, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the blast and offered condolences to the victims’ families and wished the injured recovery.
Yousef Al-Othaimeen, OIC secretary-general, denounced the criminal act that targeted innocent people and reiterated the OIC’s principled position condemning all acts of terrorism.
He stressed the Islamic bloc’s determination to continue working with the international community to contain terror.
US President Donald Trump called the explosion a “terrible thing.” He told reporters that it was a “terrible thing — happening all over the world — absolutely a terrible thing.”
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he learned of the blast “with deep sorrow.” Gabriel said it appeared to be “a perfidious attack against innocent people.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote on Twitter she was following developments “together with all EU foreign ministers” gathered for a meeting in Luxembourg. “Our thoughts are with all the people of Russia,” she wrote.
A grainy photograph published by the Fontanka news outlet showed a middle-aged man with a beard and black hat.
Interfax news agency cited unnamed sources as saying the bomb, packed with shrapnel, may have been hidden in a train carriage inside a briefcase.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said an explosive device had been found at a different metro station, hidden under a fire extinguisher, but had been made safe.
The Investigative Committee, a state body that probes major crimes, opened a criminal case on charges of terrorism.
Soon after the 2:40 p.m. blast ambulances and fire engines descended on the concrete-and-glass Sennaya Ploshchad metro station as a helicopter hovered overhead.
Video from the scene showed injured people lying bleeding on a platform, some being treated by emergency services and fellow passengers. Others ran away from the platform amid clouds of smoke, some screaming or holding their hands to their faces.
A huge hole was blown open in the side of a carriage with metal wreckage strewn across the platform. Passengers were seen hammering at the windows of one closed carriage.
Authorities closed all St. Petersburg metro stations. 

 


Filipino expats unite as home country battles volcano’s wrath

Updated 8 min 32 sec ago

Filipino expats unite as home country battles volcano’s wrath

  • Filipino groups in Dubai are coming together to collect goods for donation for the Taal eruption victims
  • The Philippines remained on high alert on Friday as authorities monitored Taal, which is the second most active volcano in the country

DUBAI: A vast grey stretched across empty villages – once verdant, now lifeless after volcanic ash wiped its colors. The thick charcoal-like substance cloaked cracked roads, tumbled trees, and dilapidated houses, as an angry volcano rumbled in the Philippines.

Tens of thousands of people were displaced earlier this week when Taal Volcano, a picturesque tourist spot about 70 kilometers south of Manila, spew huge plume of volcanic ash to the sky and triggered sporadic tremors around the province.

“When can we go back to our homes?” a hopeful man asked Filipino volunteer Jaya Bernardo, as she visited an evacuation site near where the Taal Volcano erupted on Sunday.

She couldn’t answer him straight, Bernardo said, because that meant telling him there might not be anything to go back to.

Bernardo, who lives in a mildly-hit town around Taal, has been going around evacuation centers to give out care packages, saying it’s “important for people to come together” in times like this.

Within hours of the volcanic eruption, the call for help reached the UAE, home to about a million Filipino expats. Many community groups have been organizing donation drives to collect goods to be sent back home.

Lance Japor, who leads a community group in Dubai, said inquiries were coming in about how to help volcano victims even before a campaign was announced.

“What I’ve noticed is that the desire to help others in need is innate to us,” he told Arab News, adding it was not the first time Filipino expats showed urgent concern and care for their countrymen when a calamity hit the Philippines.

There was a strong response for families displaced from a city in the south of the country after armed rebels captured the area. A community group from Dubai flew to the restive city to hand out gifts to families who had taken refuge in an abandoned building.

Japor’s volcano campaign has attracted the help of private companies such as hotels donating blankets and pillows, and cargo companies pledging to deliver the packages for free to the Philippines.

Filipino expats have also expressed a desire to volunteer, Japor added, and a volunteer event has been scheduled for Jan. 18 at the Philippines’ Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s office in Dubai.

Groups in the UAE are working with organizations in the Philippines to facilitate the donations and determine what the affected communities need. The list includes special face masks and eye drops, said Japor.

The Philippines remained on high alert on Friday as authorities monitored Taal, which is the second most active volcano in the country.

Volcanic ash has blanketed the area and villages lie empty, with authorities warning of a “bigger eruption” as earthquakes were still being felt around the area. 

The region was at alert level four from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, meaning that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.” The highest alert level is five.

The institute strongly reiterated total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas as identified in hazard maps.

“Residents around Taal Volcano are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall. Civil aviation authorities must advise pilots to avoid the airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircraft,” it added.

Police in the area have also warned residents against trying to go back to their houses without official clearance from authorities, but local media reports said people were sneaking back by boat to the island and nearby towns to check on their possessions.