Millions still marooned as floods recede in northeast Bangladesh

Millions still marooned as floods recede in northeast Bangladesh
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The floods had hit some 70 percent of Bangladesh’s Sylhet district, above, and about 60 percent of neighboring Sunamganj. (AFP)
Millions still marooned as floods recede in northeast Bangladesh
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Floodwater breached a major embankment in Bangladesh’s Sylhet region, above, affecting around two million people. (AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2022

Millions still marooned as floods recede in northeast Bangladesh

Millions still marooned as floods recede in northeast Bangladesh
  • Flooding is worst the region has seen in almost 2 decades
  • Authorities bracing for more flash foods this year

DHAKA: Millions of people in Bangladesh have been marooned by the worst floods to hit the country’s northeast in almost two decades, officials said on Sunday, with rescue efforts ongoing as waters begin to recede.

After heavy rain in neighboring India in the past week, flash floods hit Bangladesh’s Sylhet district, causing rivers to swell and swamping dozens of villages.

At least four people in Sylhet were killed in the floods, according to data from the local health department.

“More than 1.2 million people were affected only in Sylhet district,” Mohammad Nurul Islam, Sylhet’s relief and rehabilitation officer, told Arab News. “At the moment our first and foremost concern is to save the people’s lives with necessary shelter and food.”

Authorities have opened hundreds of shelters in affected areas. Thousands of people are taking refuge in the shelters while others have stayed with relatives. Officials said that the situation is slowly improving.

“The overall flood situation in Sylhet region is getting better slowly since the heavy rainfall stopped pouring,” Arifur Rahman, executive engineer of the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, told Arab News. “This is the worst flood in Sylhet region since 2004.

“The monsoon is about to begin and I fear this region will experience several more incidents of flash floods this year,” Rahman said.

Shelters should be kept ready for future incidents, he added, and authorities should work on strengthening embankments in the region.

Though many parts of low-lying Bangladesh are prone to flooding and the region itself is used to such incidents, an official from neighboring Sunamganj district, where about 300,000 residents were also hit by the floods, said that the deluge has lasted longer this year.

“Usually flash floods don’t stay too long. But this year people are suffering more as the flood water stayed for a longer period,” Sunamganj's relief and rehabilitation officer Mohammad Shafikul Islam told Arab News.

Some residents in Sylhet district said that their homes were still submerged in knee-high water on Sunday.

“I have been marooned with flood water for the last seven days. Although the water started receding, today my house is still flooded with knee-high water,” Rajat Kanti Gupta, 49, told Arab News.

Deb Jotyi Das, 39, whose house is in a similar situation, recalled the 2004 floods and said that it “was not so devastating like this year.”

Das told Arab News: “I am really afraid of the situation. I fear the residents of Sylhet will witness five to six more flood incidents this year.

“How can we bear the brunt of so many floods in a single year?”


UN-chartered ship in Ukraine readying for journey to Africa

UN-chartered ship in Ukraine readying for journey to Africa
Updated 14 August 2022

UN-chartered ship in Ukraine readying for journey to Africa

UN-chartered ship in Ukraine readying for journey to Africa
  • The ship will sail to Ethiopia via a grain corridor through the Black Sea
  • It will be the first humanitarian food aid cargo bound for Africa since Russia’s invasion

ODESA, Ukraine: The United Nations-chartered ship MV Brave Commander will depart Ukraine for Africa in coming days after it finishes loading more than 23,0000 tons of wheat in the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, a UN official said.
The ship, which arrived in the port near Odesa, will sail to Ethiopia via a grain corridor through the Black Sea brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in late July.
It will be the first humanitarian food aid cargo bound for Africa since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. under the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The cargo was funded with donations from the United Nations World Food Programme, US Agency for International Development and several private donors.
A total 16 ships have now departed from Ukraine following the deal with Russia to allow a resumption of grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, after they were stalled for five months due to the war.
The agreement was reached last month amid fears that the loss of Ukrainian grain supplies would lead to severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.
Ukraine has some 20 million tons of grain left over from last year’s crop, while this year’s wheat harvest is also estimated at 20 million tons.
So far most of the cargoes under the deal have carried grain for animal feed or for fuel.
As part of the UN deal, all ships are inspected in Istanbul by the Joint Coordination Center, where Russia, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN personnel work.


River torrent kills 7 in China amid widespread heavy rains

River torrent kills 7 in China amid widespread heavy rains
Updated 14 August 2022

River torrent kills 7 in China amid widespread heavy rains

River torrent kills 7 in China amid widespread heavy rains

BEIJING: Seven people were killed by a torrent of water that came rushing down a river in a popular recreational spot following mountain rains in southwestern China, authorities said Sunday.
Workers and volunteers mobilized to urge people to leave the area after receiving an imminent heavy rain warning about 2:40 p.m. on Saturday, the emergency management bureau in Pengzhou city said.
People could be seen scrambling to flee in videos posted on social media, but some were caught when the torrent hit about 50 minutes later at 3:30 p.m.
One man at the scene said several people were washed away, including some children, when the water flow in the lower reaches of the river suddenly increased in just 10 to 20 seconds, the state-owned China National Radio reported.
The Chengdu city government said Sunday that seven people had died and three others were hospitalized with minor injuries. Pengzhou is a tourist spot about 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
A video showed a helicopter rescuing a person stranded on a small outcropping by descending to just above the water and opening a door so the person could climb in.
Elsewhere in China, heavy rain flooded streets in the northwestern city of Xining on Saturday night. Heavy to torrential rain was forecast for the northeast from Sunday to Monday afternoon, with 10 to 18 centimeters (4 to 7 inches) of rainfall expected in parts of Liaoning and Jilin provinces.
A heat wave was hovering over a wide swath of southern China, with forecast highs on Sunday of 35 to 39 degrees Celsius (95 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit) and possibly surpassing 40 degrees (104 Fahrenheit) in some places including Shanghai.
Jiangsu province warned that road surface temperatures could rise to 72 degrees (162 Fahrenheit), raising the risk of flat tires, state broadcaster CCTV reported.


Police detain gunman in Canberra airport shooting

Police detain gunman in Canberra airport shooting
Updated 24 min 51 sec ago

Police detain gunman in Canberra airport shooting

Police detain gunman in Canberra airport shooting
  • No reported injuries in the attack
  • Several apparent bullet impacts were visible on the glass front of the airport

SYDNEY:  A gunman fired about five shots inside Canberra’s main airport Sunday, sending passengers fleeing but injuring no-one before he was detained by Australian police.
The airport was evacuated and locked down, leading to the suspension of flights.
Images posted on social media showed a police officer restraining a man on the ground inside the terminal as the emergency alarm sounded in the capital’s main airport.
“A male has entered Canberra Airport in the departures area. He has sat in one of the areas adjacent to the glass windows,” detective acting superintendent Dave Craft told reporters outside the airport building.
“After approximately five minutes, this male has removed a firearm from his possession and let off approximately five rounds,” he added.
Craft said the crime scene indicated that the man had fired shots at the glass inside the terminal.
“There was no shots directed at people, or persons, passengers or staff,” he said
Several apparent bullet impacts were visible on the glass front of the airport, according to images shown by Australia’s public broadcaster ABC.
A woman identified only as Helen was quoted as telling a reporter for The Guardian newspaper that she saw a man “shooting into the air” not far from the check-in counter, describing him as being middle-aged and “clean cut.”


Rushdie attack a ‘wake-up call’ on Iran, says Britain’s PM candidate Sunak

Rushdie attack a ‘wake-up call’ on Iran, says Britain’s PM candidate Sunak
Updated 14 August 2022

Rushdie attack a ‘wake-up call’ on Iran, says Britain’s PM candidate Sunak

Rushdie attack a ‘wake-up call’ on Iran, says Britain’s PM candidate Sunak
  • Iran’s reaction to the attack strengthens the case for proscribing the IRGC, the former finance minister told the Sunday Telegraph

LONDON: Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates seeking to become Britain’s next prime minister, said Friday’s attack on author Salman Rushdie should serve as a wake-up call to the West over Iran, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Indian-born author Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after Iran urged Muslims to kill him over his novel “The Satanic Verses,” was stabbed in the neck and torso on stage at a lecture in New York state. After hours of surgery, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening.
There has been no official government reaction in Iran to the attack on Rushdie, but several hard-line Iranian newspapers praised his assailant.


ALSO READ: Background of Rushdie attacker sheds light on Khomeini sympathizers in US


“The brutal stabbing of Salman Rushdie should be a wake-up call for the West, and Iran’s reaction to the attack strengthens the case for proscribing the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps),” Sunak, the former finance minister, said, according to the paper.
The IRGC controls Iran’s elite armed and intelligence forces.
Sunak, referring to stuttering talks between Iran and the West to revive a nuclear deal, said, “We urgently need a new, strengthened deal and much tougher sanctions, and if we can’t get results then we have to start asking whether the JCPOA is at a dead end.”
The JCPOA, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the 2015 agreement under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from US, EU and UN sanctions.
“The situation in Iran is extremely serious and in standing up to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin we can’t take our eye off the ball elsewhere,” Sunak said.


N.Korea criticizes UN chief’s support for the North’s denuclearization

N.Korea criticizes UN chief’s support for the North’s denuclearization
Updated 14 August 2022

N.Korea criticizes UN chief’s support for the North’s denuclearization

N.Korea criticizes UN chief’s support for the North’s denuclearization
  • It demands the unilateral disarmament, and Secretary-General Guterres perhaps knows well that the DPRK has totally rejected it without any toleration, says Kim

SEOUL: North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday criticized the United Nations Secretary-General’s recent comment on his supports for the North’s complete denuclearization, calling the remarks lack impartiality and fairness.
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA released a statement from the foreign ministry after UN chief Antonio Guterres on Friday said he fully supports efforts to completely denuclearise North Korea when he met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
“I cannot but express deep regret over the said remarks of the UN secretary-general that grossly lack impartiality and fairness and go against the obligations of his duty, specified in the UN Charter, as regards the issue of the Korean peninsula,” Kim Son Gyong, vice minister for international organizations of North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kim added that the UN secretary-general should not request or accept orders from the government of a specific country but refrain from doing any act that may impair his or her position as an international official who is liable only to the UN.
Kim said the North’s “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” (CVID) was “an infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK,” referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“It demands the unilateral disarmament, and Secretary-General Guterres perhaps knows well that the DPRK has totally rejected it without any toleration,” said Kim, adding that Guterres should be careful when uttering “dangerous words” amid the extremely acute situation on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has test fired a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say that it appears to be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017, amid stalled denuclearization talks.