Volcano forces 85,000 Filipinos to flee their homes

Philippine authorities who have declared a no-go zone around an erupting volcano said Thursday they will remove all holdouts, by force if necessary, to avoid casualties after tens of thousands of other residents fled to safety. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2018

Volcano forces 85,000 Filipinos to flee their homes

MANILA: The Mayon volcano on the island of Luzon continued to spew lava and ash after forcing more than 85,000 people to flee their homes in the two weeks since it began to display signs of unrest.
Most of the affected population are now staying in emergency shelters, mainly schools turned into evacuation centers.
State volcanologists are keeping a close watch on the volcano’s activity, which shows no sign of stopping 13 days after it began to spew ash. The volcano is located in Albay province, south of the Philippines’ capital of Manila.
An alert level four remains hoisted over Mayon, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.
The Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology said it had recorded six lava fountains at Mayon yesterday. The fountains reached 400 meters to 500 meters in height and generated ash plumes that soared five kilometers above the crater.
Despite the risks, some villagers are returning to their homes within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone to check on animals and crops. No casualties have been reported from the eruption.
Damage to agriculture, fisheries and livestock has been estimated at more than $2 million.
The volcano’s activity has also forced the cancelation of several domestic and international flights to nearby Naga and Legazpi cities.
As as the eruption draws more local and foreign tourists, authorities repeated their appeal to the public to stay clear of the danger zone and observe safety precautions.


Militants attack in Indian Kashmir as it locks down for anniversary

Updated 05 August 2020

Militants attack in Indian Kashmir as it locks down for anniversary

  • Authorities blanketed Kashmir with troops, who laid out barbed wire and set up road blacks to prevent demonstrations
  • Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it

SRINAGAR, India: Militants attacked Indian security forces with a grenade and gunfire in Kashmir on Wednesday, defying a strict security lockdown on the first anniversary of the government’s scrapping of the disputed Himalayan region’s autonomy.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, police said.
Authorities blanketed Kashmir with troops, who laid out barbed wire and set up road blacks to prevent demonstrations a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped India’s only Muslim-majority state of its special rights.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the strife-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India but it infuriated many Kashmiris and neighboring Pakistan.
Some critics saw it as part of a pattern by the Hindu-nationalist government aimed at sidelining Muslims. The government denies that.
Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it. Militants have been fighting Indian rule in its part of Kashmir since 1989 in a conflict that has killed at least 50,000 dead, according to official figures.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was due to travel to the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir to mark the anniversary later on Wednesday.
He reiterated a long-standing Pakistani appeal for international intervention to help resolve the dispute over Kashmir between the nuclear-armed neighbors that has bedevilled their ties since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
“It is imperative that the international community steps in immediately and backs its words of condemnation with practical steps that will force India to reverse its present course against the Kashmiri people,” he said in a statement.
India has ruled out any outside mediation over Kashmir.
In Srinagar, a handful of members of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gathered at their headquarters to unfurl an Indian flag to mark the occasion. The party had long campaigned for ending Kashmir’s special status.
Party spokesman Altaf Thakur said similar celebrations took place in all district headquarters in the territory. “It is an important and historic day for our party,” Thakur told Reuters.
Elsewhere in Srinagar, police and paramilitary troops enforced the strictest lockdown for several months, stopping public movements, including a proposed meeting of politicians.
“One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet, much less carry out any normal political activity. This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
Last August’s change in status in Indian Kashmir was accompanied by a communication blackout, widespread restrictions and mass detentions, including of elected leaders.
Most of those measures have been eased, although Internet speeds are still restricted. More recently, many families have been confined indoors because of coronavirus lockdowns. (Additional reporting by Sheree Sardar in ISLAMABAD; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel)