Death toll from Philippine landslides, floods climbs to 85

People wade through a flooded street in the town of Baao in Camarines Sur province on December 30, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 January 2019

Death toll from Philippine landslides, floods climbs to 85

  • Scores of people have been killed by the devastating floods
  • Officials put three provinces under a “state of calamity” to give them access to emergency funds

MANILA: The death toll from landslides and devastating floods in the central Philippines triggered by a tropical depression climbed to 85, officials said on Wednesday, and 20 people were missing as rescuers slowly reached cut-off communities.
The casualties, including young children, were mostly killed when their homes collapsed in landslides after days of heavy rain in several provinces in the central Philippines, said Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the national disaster agency.
“If we don’t recover the missing or we recover them dead, that is 105 deaths, which we hope not,” Jalad said.
The tropical depression, which weakened into a low pressure system before leaving the Philippines on Sunday, brought heavy rain that triggered landslides and flooding in the Bicol and eastern Visayas regions.
Officials put three provinces under a “state of calamity” to give them access to emergency funds.
Bicol, with a population of 5.8 million, was the hardest hit, with 68 killed in intense rains and landslides. Damage to agriculture in Bicol, which produces rice and corn, was estimated at 342 million pesos ($6.5 million).
Rescuers, including the police and military, used heavy-lifting equipment to clear roads leading to landslide sites and entered flooded communities using rubber boats.
“The sun is already out, with occasional light rains. We hope floods will subside,” Ronna Monzon, a member of the operations personnel at the disaster agency in Bicol, told Reuters.
About 20 tropical cyclones hit the Philippines every year, with destroyed crops and infrastructure taking a toll on human lives and weighing down one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.


Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

Updated 25 September 2020

Pakistan Hindus rally in Islamabad over India migrant deaths

  • The dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital
  • The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus

ISLAMABAD : Pakistan’s minority Hindus rallied late on Thursday in Islamabad, briefly clashing with the police, to protest the deaths of 11 members of a Hindu migrant family who died in India last month under mysterious circumstances.
Since then, the dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province but this was the first time they had taken their demonstration to the country’s capital, vowing to stage a sit-in near the Indian Embassy.
The protesters accuse India’s secret service of poisoning the 11 Hindus, who were found dead at a farmhouse in India’s Jodhpur district in Rajasthan state. The demonstrators arrived in Islamabad around midnight, chanting, “We want justice.” They briefly skirmished with officers who prevented them from reaching the embassy site.
After the Aug. 9 deaths, Indian media reports suggested the Hindu family members, originally from Pakistan, had taken their own lives. Official Islamabad says New Delhi had not shared any reports of the case.
Thursday’s rally was an unusual move for Pakistan’s Hindus, who have mostly lived without conflict with the country’s predominantly Muslim majority. Earlier this year under pressure from radical Muslims, Pakistani authorities halted construction of a Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Ramesh Kumar, a top leader of the Hindu community who led Thursday’s protest, met on Wednesday with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, seeking his help in pressuring India to release results of the initial police probe into the case.
Pakistan has also asked for access to a Hindu worker who was at the Jodhpur farm at the time of the deaths, according to government officials.
In his meeting with Qureshi, Kumar said Shrimati Mukhi, the daughter of the head of the family that died, had levelled the poisoning accusations. She earlier this month told local media that India allegedly pressured the family to issue a statement denouncing Pakistan’s government. There was no official comment from India on the allegations.
Last week, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to convey concerns over the “Jodhpur incident.” A subsequent ministry statement said India had “failed to share any substantive details regarding the cause and circumstances of the deaths” of the Hindus and asked for a comprehensive investigation.
Nuclear armed rivals Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations. Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that two of its soldiers were killed by Indian fire in a cease-fire violation in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. The region is split between the two countries but claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two out of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence in 1947.

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