3 dead, dozens injured by quake in Osaka in western Japan

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Water floods out from crack in the road, following an earthquake in Takatsuki, Osaka, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP)
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People wait for the resumption of train service which was suspended following an earthquake, at Nijo station, Kyoto, western Japan, on Monday. (AP)
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Students sit on a playground after they were evacuated from school building after an earthquake at Ikeda elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka prefecture, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 18, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 June 2018

3 dead, dozens injured by quake in Osaka in western Japan

  • The tremor caused a blackout for thousands of houses and suspended train operations during the morning commuting hours
  • The quake registered a lower six on the Japanese Shindo scale of up to seven

TOKYO: A magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest metropolis, early on Monday morning, killing three people, halting factory lines in a key industrial area and bursting water mains, government officials and broadcaster NHK said.
No tsunami warning was issued. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said authorities were assessing damage and that its top priority was the safety of residents.
Live footage showed burst water mains and a house on fire after the quake hit Osaka, which will host next year’s Group of 20 summit, just before 8 a.m. (2300 GMT Sunday) as commuters were heading to work.
The epicenter of the earthquake was just north of Osaka city, said the Japan Meteorological Agency, which originally put the magnitude at 5.9 but later raised it to 6.1.
The quake struck an important industrial area of central Japan. Osaka-based Panasonic said it was halting production at two of its plants — one that produces lighting devices and another for projectors.
Daihatsu Motor Co, a unit of Toyota Motor Corp, said it had suspended production at its factories in Osaka and Kyoto while it checked for damage.
Japanese media including public broadcaster NHK said collapsing walls had killed an 80-year-old man and a 9-year-old girl, and that another man in his 80s was killed after being crushed by a toppling bookcase.
The government confirmed two of the deaths.
“We were sleeping and it woke us up abruptly,” said Kate Kilpatrick, 19, an American who was staying in a hotel in Osaka when the quake hit.
“It was so terrifying because this is my first earthquake. I thought it was a nightmare because I was so confused,” she said. “The whole world was aggressively shaking.”
Kilpatrick, visiting Japan for the first time, said alarms went off almost immediately in the hotel and a loudspeaker told guests to stay away from windows.
Osaka prefecture, which includes the city and surrounding areas, has a population of 8.8 million.
No irregularities were detected at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants to the north of Osaka, Kansai Electric Power said. More than 170,000 households in Osaka and neighboring Hyogo prefecture lost power temporarily but it was restored within two hours, the utility said.
Sharp Corp. said its directly owned plants in the area were operating as usual, but a joint venture plant with parent Hon Hai Precision Industry said it had halted operations for safety checks.
Honda Motor Co. said production in Suzuka, in nearby Mie prefecture, was halted for checks but no problems were found and operations were back to normal.
A massive magnitude 9.0 quake hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering a huge tsunami that killed some 18,000 people and triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. 


Militant attack on Afghan prison frees hundreds

Afghan security personnel in front of a prison gate after an attack by Daesh that had freed hundreds in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 03 August 2020

Militant attack on Afghan prison frees hundreds

  • The attack, reportedly by Daesh, took place hours before end of cease-fire

KABUL: Militants have stormed a prison in eastern Afghanistan and released hundreds of prisoners, officials said.

The attack on the main prison in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, where several hundred Daesh fighters have been detained, began on Sunday afternoon with a car bomb detonated at the entrance to the jail.
The attack came hours before the end of a three-day ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, who immediately denied any involvement in the assault. Several Western media outlets reported that the Daesh had claimed responsibility.
The Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told Arab News that there was still gunfire on Monday morning, and that more than 20 civilians and personnel and three attackers have died in the fighting.
Two local security sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that nearly half of the prison’s 1,500 inmates managed to flee.
They said 20 assailants made their way into the prison and a number of explosions were heard from inside the jail.
Residents said one group of attackers was firing on the jail from a nearby building and they reported heavy and sustained exchanges of small fire.
According to Khogyani, most of the escapees have been caught. He gave no further details about the attack.
The assault comes amid official claims that Daesh leaders have been arrested or killed in recent months, notably in Nangarhar, which used to be the group’s bastion.
“This is a major embarrassment for the government, which every now and then claims to have wiped out or paralyzed the Daesh. The government needs to answer why such a high security lapse has happened,” analyst Shafiq Haqpal said.
The Eid Al-Adha ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government forces was a part of efforts to begin long-awaited peace talks following a US-Taliban agreement signed in Qatar in late February.
In accordance with the deal, the Taliban is releasing 1,000 Afghan troops in exchange for 5,000 militants held by President Ashraf Ghani’s government.
The process is near completion, but Kabul is refusing to free 400 remaining Taliban inmates, saying they have been behind “heinous crimes.”
After Eid prayers on Sunday, Ghani announced he would summon a traditional grand assembly, Loya Jirga, to help him decide whether the rest of Taliban prisoners should be freed.
The assembly is scheduled to start on Aug. 7. Loya Jirga has deep roots in Afghan history and tradition and is usually summoned during times of crisis or emergency.
The Taliban have voiced their opposition to the convocation of the jirga. Their Qatar-based spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told TOLO News that Kabul’s decision would only complicate the peace process.
Afghan politicians are divided on the jirga announcement. Hamidullah Tokhi, a member of parliament from southern Zabul province, said: “The nation and parliament have deep doubts about Ghani’s goal for summoning the jirga to decide over the fate of 400 Taliban.
“All of the 4,500 Taliban already freed were involved in some sort of bloody attacks. Why did the government not ask for the jirga on the overall release of the Taliban?”
“Summoning the jirga now is a treason to this country and a clear blocking of the peace process,” he said.
Torek Farhadi, who served in the previous government as an adviser, said Ghani hopes that the victory of Democrats in the upcoming US elections, would sideline Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan who struck the Qatar deal with the Taliban, allowing Kabul to be in charge of the peace process.
“We should have one Loya Jirga to discuss substantive matters on peace with the Taliban and the type of future regime,” Farhadi said, adding that the Taliban, too, should participate in the assembly. “This meeting would be like a half-baked national dialogue (if it is) conducted by only one side of the conflict.”