Magnitude 5.6 earthquake recorded in Iraq's Basra - Iraqi news agency

A general a view of the city of Basra, Iraq. (File/Reuters)
A general a view of the city of Basra, Iraq. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 19 July 2021

Magnitude 5.6 earthquake recorded in Iraq's Basra - Iraqi news agency

Magnitude 5.6 earthquake recorded in Iraq's Basra - Iraqi news agency

LONDON: A magnitude earthquake struck the Iranian southern city of Bushehr on Sunday, 250 kilometers from the Iraqi border, the Iraqi General Authority for Meteorology and Seismic Monitoring announced.
The authority said the tremor recorded 5.6 on the Richter scale, and was felt by residents in Basra, Iraqi News Agency reported.
“We call on citizens to take caution, stay away from rumors and false news, and to abide by the seismic authority’s instructions commandments,” it added.
The quake struck at a depth of 11 kilometers, with the epicenter near the town of Khesht, at around 7 PM (1430 GMT). Several weaker aftershocks followed, according to Iran’s seismological center.
The United States Geological Survey put the initial tremor at 5.4-magnitude.
There were no reports of casualties or damage, about two hours after the quake.
Rescue and survey teams were sent to the area and hospitals put on alert, Fars province’s head of crisis management Rahim Azadi told state television.
Iran sits astride the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity.
In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in the southeast levelled the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.
Iran’s deadliest was a 7.4-magnitude quake in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in the north, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.
(With AFP)


British woman arrested for smuggling cash to Dubai

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
Updated 27 July 2021

British woman arrested for smuggling cash to Dubai

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases. (National Crime Agency)
  • British border officials said the seizure was the biggest cash capture that the force had made in 2020

LONDON: A 30-year-old British woman has been jailed for almost three years over money laundering offences worth more than £5 million ($6.8 million).

Tara Hanlon, from the north of England, was arrested on Oct. 3 while boarding a flight to Dubai and carrying £1.9 million of cash hidden in five suitcases.

She pleaded guilty at a London court in June having previously admitted to three counts of removing criminal property relating to cash amounts.

When arrested, Hanlon had been travelling with a friend to Dubai for a holiday with pals and told arresting officers that she had many suitcases because she “wasn’t sure what to wear” while away.

British border officials said the seizure was the biggest cash capture that the force had made in 2020.

Hanlon had hidden the cash in vacuum-packed bags surrounded by coffee to keep sniffer dogs off the scent.

She told investigators it was her first trip, but when they searched her phone and checked with her airline, they found she had made three previous visits as a courier. These were in July and August 2020, and she was paid approximately £3,000 for each trip.

Hanlon had texted friends that her job gave her the “perfect life,” and said: “Few days in the sun and a few at home.” She also bragged about her job and added: “Three big ones … with this wage and the next my debts go bye.”

Hanlon’s lawyer argued in court that she was vulnerable at the time of the offences because the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic meant that she had lost access to work. He added that her crimes were committed shortly after the unexpected death of her mother in March.

Judge Karen Holt said: “Although you were vulnerable at the time, I don’t find that you have been exploited and find that you knew what you were doing.”

National Crime Agency (NCA) senior investigating officer, Ian Truby, said: “Tara Hanlon thought that she was going to be living a jet-set lifestyle, instead she is now serving a prison sentence.

“I hope her story is a cautionary one for others who would consider doing the same. Stopping the flow of illicit cash is a priority for the NCA and our partners.”


Egypt reiterates commitment to Gaza reconstruction

Egypt reiterates commitment to Gaza reconstruction
Updated 27 July 2021

Egypt reiterates commitment to Gaza reconstruction

Egypt reiterates commitment to Gaza reconstruction
  • Ambassador praises reconstruction efforts at function hosted by Cairo’s embassy in Palestine

CAIRO: Egyptian Ambassador to Palestine Tariq Tayel said Cairo is in constant dialogue with other nations over the reconstruction of Gaza and efforts to stabilize the truce between Hamas and Israel following the conflict in May.
Fighting broke out after Jewish settler groups tried to evict and confiscate the property of long-time Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem.
On May 10, armed Palestinian groups in Gaza started to launch rockets toward Israel. The Israel Defense Force retaliated, firing on Gaza with aircraft, drones and artillery.
Tayel said Cairo would continue its efforts for reconciliation at a function on Monday at the Egyptian Embassy in Ramallah, where he highlighted the work accomplished so far in removing the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza to pave the way for new projects.
He said the Palestinian cause will remain the central issue in the Middle East.
“Work has been done on two levels; the first is the launch of the tripartite cooperation formula between the people in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine, with the aim of developing a common vision to deal with the challenges facing the issue and the revival of the Arab Peace Initiative,” he said.
“As for the second level, it is pushing toward reviving the peace process at the international level and working to conduct international contacts within the international determinants … to achieve peace,” Tayel added.
The Arab Peace Initiative was drawn up by Saudi Arabia in 2002, with Arab nations offering Israel normalized ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.
Emphasizing the strength of Egyptian-Palestinian relations, Tayel said they “most often go beyond what governments can achieve individually, or what traditional diplomatic work can accommodate, as it is a direct relationship between two fused peoples.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, referring to the ties between the two people’s since Egypt’s revolution on July 23, 1952, said: “The July Revolution is a turning point in the history of Egypt and the entire Arab region. This revolution raised the values of freedom, social justice and self-reliance.
“During the July Revolution, we found the Arab commitment to Palestine, and it strengthened the blood bond between the Egyptian people and its national forces, and between the Palestinian people and its revolutionary forces. Egypt has a firm position in support of Palestine, its people, its cause and its leadership,” Shtayyeh said.
“We are partners with Egypt in the political solution toward ending the occupation, establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return for refugees. We are partners in saying and believing that the Palestinian legitimacy is represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization and its fighting forces,” he added.


Italy fears current crisis in Tunisia may lead to new waves of migrants

Italy has recently put political pressure on Tunisia after a recent wave of migrants arrived on its southern shores and islands. (Reuters/File Photo)
Italy has recently put political pressure on Tunisia after a recent wave of migrants arrived on its southern shores and islands. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 27 July 2021

Italy fears current crisis in Tunisia may lead to new waves of migrants

Italy has recently put political pressure on Tunisia after a recent wave of migrants arrived on its southern shores and islands. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Calm sea weather could incentivize up to 15,000 migrants to head toward Italian shores
  • Italian foreign minister calls on EU to increase cooperation with Tunisia

ROME: Italian authorities fear that the ongoing political turmoil in Tunisia may result in a drastic increase in migrants arriving from Tunisia, with numbers potentially reaching up to 15.000.

Despite bad sea conditions, yesterday nearly 200 people arrived on dinghies and small boats from the Tunisian shores to Lampedusa, the tiny Italian island in the Mediterranean, where the local holding center known as the “hotspot” and designed to accommodate only 100 people came under pressure once again.

However, in the next few days, the situation could progress from strained to intolerable. As weather forecasts announce calm seas, this could significantly incentivize migrants to depart from Tunisia toward the Italian shores.

“We are seriously worried about this situation,” Adm. Giovanni Pettorino, chief of the Italian Coast Guard, told Arab News.

“Our primary mission is saving lives at sea. In the past 10 years, 900,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean, and we have always made every effort to save them. We will continue to do so, but solutions to the issue of migrant flows must be found on land and not at sea. Every time a boat leaves the coasts of North Africa overcrowded with people, it’s a defeat for everyone. The solution must go beyond rescue,” he added.

A source in the Italian Interior Ministry believes that “the political turmoil could exacerbate the economic crisis in Tunisia, which is already severe due to the impact of the pandemic.”

The same source added: “If Tunisia faces social unrest, protests, or even civil war or a new dictatorship, as it is realistic to expect, the impact will immediately be felt in Lampedusa with a surge in arrivals by sea.”

Since the beginning of the year, 5,805 Tunisians have arrived in Italy. Italian intelligence services told Arab News they estimate that over 15,000 Tunisians could reach Italy by the end of the year if the situation in the country does not improve.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio immediately called on the EU Commission for help, asking for increased cooperation with Tunisia to solve the local economic crisis and discourage the departure of migrants. The government is also worried about the Italian community in Tunisia, comprising 3,537 nationals.

“In this situation, we can only show great concern for what is happening now in Tunisia. We believe that this crisis can be solved through democracy,” Di Maio said.


Discontented Iranians march through central Tehran, chanting ‘death to the dictator’

Disgruntled Iranians held protests in central Tehran on Monday. (Screenshot)
Disgruntled Iranians held protests in central Tehran on Monday. (Screenshot)
Updated 27 July 2021

Discontented Iranians march through central Tehran, chanting ‘death to the dictator’

Disgruntled Iranians held protests in central Tehran on Monday. (Screenshot)
  • The Tehran protests come after recent violent protests over water shortages in Iran’s southwest Khuzestan province

LONDON: Disgruntled Iranians held protests in central Tehran on Monday. 

Demonstrating in Jomhouri Avenue and other parts of central Tehran, angry protestors shouted “death to the dictator,” and “Khamenei, shame on you, leave our nation alone.”

Other chants from the crowd included “Tanks, guns (are not going to save your regime), the mullahs must go,” and “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran.”

The Tehran protests come after recent violent protests over water shortages in Iran’s southwest Khuzestan province.

Ahwazi Arabs are one of the largest minority groups living in Iran and most of them live in Khuzestan. 

Protesters, rights groups and activists say the water demand by Ahwazi Arabs is part of wider discontent over historic and systematic racial discrimination. 

The President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Maryam Rajavi praised the protestors in Tehran.

“The sacrifices of martyrs in Khuzestan now echoes in the cries of “Death to the dictator” in Tehran’s central streets, near Khamenei’s headquarters. The uprising continues on for the twelfth day and shows that the henchman of the 1988 Massacre cannot save Khamenei from his inevitable destiny,” Rajavi said.


Egypt officials: Cairo apartment building collapses; 1 dead

Egypt officials: Cairo apartment building collapses; 1 dead
Updated 27 July 2021

Egypt officials: Cairo apartment building collapses; 1 dead

Egypt officials: Cairo apartment building collapses; 1 dead
  • The woman spent over 5 hours buried under rubble of the four-story building
  • Rescuers managed to locate and speak with the woman and passing her a bottle of water

CAIRO: An apartment building in the Egyptian capital of Cairo collapsed on Tuesday, killing a man while rescue workers hours later pulled his wife alive from under the rubble, officials said.
The woman spent more than five hours buried under the rubble of the four-story building in the city’s Waraq neighborhood, officials said. She was taken to hospital. No other residents were believed to be inside the building at the time of the collapse.
Earlier, the rescuers had managed to locate and speak with the woman — even passing her a bottle of water, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Prosecutors opened an investigation, the state-run MENA news agency reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collapse but such incidents are common in Egypt, where shoddy construction is widespread in shantytowns, poor city neighborhoods and rural areas.
Last month, at least five women died when an apartment building collapsed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Another building in Cairo collapsed in March, leaving at least 25 dead.
With real estate at a premium in big cities such as Cairo and Alexandria, developers seeking bigger profits frequently violate planning permits. Extra floors often, for example, are sometimes added without proper government permits.
The government recently launched a crackdown on illegal construction across the country, jailing and fining violators, and in many cases demolishing the buildings.