Death toll in southwestern Iran tower collapse rises to 41

Update Death toll in southwestern Iran tower collapse rises to 41
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits the site where a ten-story building collapsed in Abadan, Iran, June 3, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 June 2022

Death toll in southwestern Iran tower collapse rises to 41

Death toll in southwestern Iran tower collapse rises to 41
  • It’s unclear how many more people remain unaccounted for in the collapse of the still under-construction tower at the Metropol Building in Abadan
  • Rescuers were still working and families still waiting for word of their loved ones despite promises the search operation would be finished by now

The death toll in the collapse of a building in southwestern Iran rose Monday to at least 41, state media reported, two weeks after the disaster struck.
Ehsun Abbaspour, the governor of the city of Abadan, gave the figure based on an official report, state television said.
The May 23 collapse at the Metropol Building some 660 kilometers (410 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran, has dredged up painful memories of past national disasters and shined a spotlight on shoddy construction practices, government corruption and negligence in Iran.
The structural building failure in the oil-rich but impoverished Khuzestan province has focused public attention on shoddy construction practices and prompted mass allegations of government corruption and negligence. Authorities have arrested 13 people as part of a broad probe into the disaster, including Abadan’s mayor, Hossein Hamidpour, who resigned last Friday.
Protesters have gathered in mourning at the collapse site, denouncing top officials and demanding accountability, according to videos widely shared on social media and analyzed by The Associated Press. However, reporting on events in Abadan remains extremely difficult as the threat of arrest looms. Authorities have disrupted Internet access, according to experts, restricting people’s ability to share videos and information.
In an effort to address public mistrust, President Ebrahim Raisi last Friday paid a surprise visit to Abadan, where he surveyed the disaster site and offered personal condolences to the families of victims. During his trip, businessmen lodged complaints about the scope of corruption in local government, state-run media reported.
Raisi vowed the government would “not hesitate to deal with the offenders” and would “monitor construction more closely, especially high-rise buildings.”
“The perpetrators should know that the passage of time will not absolve them of responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also touched on events in Abadan during his live televised speech on Saturday — providing further indication of their seriousness.
In his first speech outside his residence since the pandemic struck Iran, Khamenei warned of severe consequences for those who violated regulations and may have helped cause the disaster in Abadan.
“Those responsible must be brought to justice, their punishment should serve as a lesson for others, and similar incidents in future should be avoided,” he said.
Khamenei also blamed the recent outbreak of protests in the restive Khuzestan province on Iran’s “enemies,” including “treacherous Iranians” abroad, who he said try to harm the country’s interest through “psychological warfare and online campaigns.”
Reza Pahlavi, in exile in the US, the eldest son of Iran’s deposed monarch before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, last week seized on reports of growing anger in Abadan to call for the creation of a “unified front against the Islamic Republic.”


UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
Updated 13 sec ago

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

ARAB NEWS

DUBAI: The UAE will issue a new generation of Emirati passports from Sept. 1, authorities said on Thursday.

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) said the new passports, equipped with the latest technologies, will have advanced security features.

The new-generation passports are part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery or fraud, according to Ali Muhammad Al-Shamsi, Chairman of ICP, in a report from state news agency WAM.

The complex security specifications feature a polycarbonate introduction page, laser technologies and “three-dimensional tangible elements.”

Authorities said holders of the current passports can still use their travel document until expiry.


Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
  • Cairo, Khartoum fear it will reduce their share of Nile waters
  • Egypt says it will take all necessary measures to protect national security

CAIRO: In a letter to the UN Security Council, Egypt has warned of cracks in the concrete facade of the sub-dam linked to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Cairo said this is particularly alarming due to Ethiopia’s failure to comply with its duty to conduct the required environmental and socioeconomic impact studies.

The letter, sent to the UNSC president, said Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Aty had received a message about Ethiopia’s intention to unilaterally resume filling the GERD during the current rainy season.

Abdel-Aty said Ethiopia’s decision comes in the absence of an agreement between it and Egypt and Sudan on the rules governing the filling and operation of the dam, constituting a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries.

He stressed that Cairo holds Ethiopia fully responsible for any significant harm that may be caused to Egypt by these repeated violations.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the country reserves its right guaranteed in the UN Charter to take all necessary measures to ensure and protect its national security, including against any harm that Ethiopia’s unilateral measures may cause.

The GERD has raised tensions between Ethiopia on one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other.

The latter two countries are demanding a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, which they fear will reduce their share of the Nile’s waters.

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UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
Updated 11 August 2022

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
  • 4-year-old George Jack Temperley-Wells visited Antalya with his mother to see his father

LONDON: Police in the UK have asked for help to locate a 4-year-old boy who is thought to be missing after traveling to Turkey.

George Jack Temperley-Wells is believed to have gone to visit his father Scott Nigel Wells in the city of Antalya on June 29 with his mother Brogan Elizabeth Temperley. Antalya is a popular summer holiday destination for Britons.

Durham Police said anyone in contact with Temperley should notify authorities in Turkey or the UK immediately with information on her whereabouts, adding that they have serious concerns for the welfare of her son.

The police said the boy has red hair, a pale complexion and dark eyes, while his mother is described as being slim with long dark hair and dark eyes.

The force released two images of the trio dining in the area at a restaurant recently, where they were seen smiling together.

People in Turkey with information should visit their nearest police station or call 112/115. Anyone in the UK with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, and quote the incident number 325 for June 30.


UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
Updated 11 August 2022

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
  • Italian Embassy: Project will improve housing for vulnerable people affected by port blast

LONDON: The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the UN Program for Human Settlements have signed an agreement in Beirut to finance the rehabilitation of the public park of the Mar Mikhael train station in the Lebanese capital.

The program will also restore some of the housing damaged by the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020.

The Italian Embassy in Beirut reported the signing, hosting a ceremony at the Italian diplomatic headquarters in Baabda. It was attended by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Nicoletta Bombardiere.

The project, titled “Ensuring safe public spaces and adequate housing for all within the city of Beirut,” is being funded by the agency and will be implemented by the UN program alongside Lebanese authorities.

The embassy said the project will improve “housing conditions for vulnerable populations affected by the explosion of the port of Beirut, in particular in the vicinity of the old Mar Mikhael railway station.”

It added that the project intends to increase “access to safe and inclusive public spaces within the railway station, also revitalizing the urban fabric of the city.”

Bombardiere said: “This project will allow the citizens of Beirut to rediscover the old Mar Mikhael railway station and its historical relevance.

“At the same time, we continue our commitment to respond to basic needs, such as social housing, restoring the cultural and social fabric of the districts most affected.”


Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets
Updated 4 min 58 sec ago

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets

Hostage situation: Armed man storms Lebanese bank, demands release of frozen assets
  • The gunman entered the Federal Bank of Lebanon branch in the Hamra neighborhood in west Beirut with a firearm, security source said

BEIRUT, LEBANON: A gunman has entered a Beirut bank in Al Hamra Street demanding his own funds are released so he can pay his father’s hospital bills.
The man, named as Bassam Sheikh Hussein, 42, says his money has been withheld as part of measures taken by the Banque du Liban since 2019.

It is understood that the man has taken eight hostages, they are six employees and two customers.

The man poured gasoline into the bank hall on Thursday morning and pulled out a gun threatening to burn himself and kill those in the bank unless he was given the $2,000 to pay for his father’s hospital costs.

The security services have cordoned off the area and are still trying to communicate with Hussein.

 

Customers who were inside the bank when the gunman stormed it said, he had had an account with the bank, containing $200,000 and was demanding they release $2,000.

It is understood the gunman told customers to leave the bank and kept on the employees.

Shortly after the siege began the gunman was seen leading an elderly man from the Federal Bank of Lebanon in Hamra, Lebanon.

 

After two hours people gathered in the area in solidarity with the gunman chanting: “Down with the rule of the bank.”

A number of customers who had gathered in the area shouted to the media that they supported the actions of the gunman, stressing that they too wanted their money.

The head of the Lebanese Depositors Association, Hassan Mughniyeh, attended with members of the association to the area in an attempt to stop the armed depositor and discourage him from causing any harm to anyone.

Mughniyeh said the gunman “fired two shots inside the bank,” adding that the man was with his brother who also holds money in the branch.

He said the gunman justified the siege as the only way he could get his money.”

The following is a live update of the events as they unfold. All timings are GMT:

11:05 am - Man outside the bank tells gathered media he has been commissioned by the hostage-taker to negotiate on his behalf.

 

 

10:47 am - Al-Akhbar tweets footage of demonstrators outside the bank chanting "Down with the banks ruling" of Lebanon.

 

 

10:29 am – Al Arabiya news channel reports that eight hostages are being held inside the bank.

10:20am – The face of the gunman (Reuters)

10:11 am – Video of the gunman appears to show his hostages pleading with him.

 

 

09:30am - Al Jadeed Television confirms that Basem Al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, has taken hostages in a branch of Federal Bank Lebanon in Hamrah Street in Beirut, demanding his money back.

He has $210,000 and his brother has $500,000 in accounts in the bank. Direct negotiations are ongoing between the families of the hostages and Hussein.