Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines

Special Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
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Halsema Highway in the Municipality of Bontoc, Mountain Province, is blocked following a landslide, after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the northern Philippines, July 27, 2022. (AFP)
Special Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
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Construction workers evacuate their building after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, some 300 kilometers away, was felt in Manila on July 27, 2022. (Jam Sta. Rosa / AFP)
Special Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
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Residents evacuate their building after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, some 300 kilometers away, was felt in Manila on July 27, 2022. (Jam Sta. Rosa / AFP)
Special Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
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This picture shared on social media shows a building in Lagangilang, Abra province damaged by the earthquake that hit the northern Philippines early Wednesday. (Office of Rep. Ching Bernos via Facebook)
Special Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
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This picture shared on social media shows a building in Lagangilang, Abra province damaged by the earthquake that hit the northern Philippines early Wednesday. (Office of Rep. Ching Bernos via Facebook)
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Updated 27 July 2022

Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines

Powerful 7-magnitude earthquake strikes northern Philippines
  • At least 5 people killed and over 100 injured, officials say
  • Nation’s islands lie in the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ where most of world’s quakes occur

MANILA: A strong earthquake hit the northern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring over 100 others, and causing severe damage to homes and infrastructure, officials said.

The 7-magnitude quake, which had sent strong tremors through the capital Manila, struck at 8:43 a.m. at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

The powerful earthquake was centered in the mountainous Abra province, and killed at least five people, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Police said more than 100 people were injured in the Cordillera region, which covers six provinces including Abra.

“Anything greater than seven is a major earthquake and we would expect significant effects of this event,” Renato Solidum, director at the seismology institute, said at a press briefing.

Solidum said the strong tremors had triggered landslides and caused damages to homes and buildings.

“Many of the churches and historical buildings were damaged,” he said.

The seismology institute downgraded the quake from the initial 7.3 magnitude after further analysis, and said there was no risk of a tsunami because the fault was inland.

More than 6,700 villages on Luzon island were affected by Wednesday’s tremors, with dozens of roads and at least 173 buildings damaged, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said. The quake had also interrupted power and communication lines in Abra and Benguet provinces.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the immediate dispatch of rescue and relief teams to the affected areas, and is expected to visit the region on Thursday.

“Despite the sobering news brought by the damage caused by the earthquake, we assure the immediate response to the needs of our countrymen in areas affected by this disaster,” Marcos Jr. said on Twitter.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, lies along the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where the majority of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

In 2019, an earthquake of 6.1 magnitude struck Zambales province on Luzon, killing 18 people.

One of the deadliest recorded in the Philippines occurred on July 16, 1990, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people in the country’s north.


Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach
Updated 43 min 14 sec ago

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach
  • The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia
  • Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits

MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said his nation may need to turn to Russia to fulfil its fuel needs amid rising global energy prices, bucking pressure from Western allies for countries to shun Moscow.
Speaking to the Manila Overseas Press Club, Marcos, who is also agriculture minister, said the Philippines may also deal with Russia for supply of fertilizer.
“We take we take a very balanced view because the truth of the matter is, we may have to deal with Russia for fuel, for fertilizer,” said Marcos.
The Philippines like many countries is grappling with soaring inflation, due to supply woes fanned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia.
Marcos, the son and namesake of the ousted late strongman who ruled the Philippines for two decades, also said he wanted his country to play a key role in promoting regional peace, amid challenges posed by North Korea and China-Taiwan tensions.
“We hope to be part of leading, the ones that are leading the effort for peace,” he said.
He said he would propose a new approach to the crisis in Myanmar at an upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, which could involved engaging the military government directly.
Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits over its failure to implement a five-point peace plan it agreed with ASEAN in April last year, after violent turmoil erupted in the country following a military coup.
The generals have been outraged by ASEAN’s unusually tough stand and have said they intend to comply with its plan, but will not agree to its call to hold dialogue with a pro-democracy resistance movement they call “terrorists.” “It’s time to put together, to put forward some concrete proposals on what we can do to at the very least to bring at least representatives of the military government to the table so we can begin to talk about these things,” Marcos said.
On Wednesday, Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, confirmed that a request had been sent to the State Administrative Council, as the junta is known, that it nominate a non-political figure to represent Myanmar at the upcoming leaders’ summits. “Again, the SAC has refused to send anyone to the summits,” Cambodia Foreign spokesperson Chum Sounry said.


Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2
Updated 45 min 7 sec ago

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

KABUL: A blast hit a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital in the vicinity of the heavily fortified interior ministry compound on Wednesday, officials said, killing at least two people and wounding 18, according to medics.
The government did not immediately say what caused the explosion in Kabul, where militants have carried out a number of attacks in recent months.
“The mosque was used by visitors and sometimes by interior ministry employees,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said.
Italian NGO aid group Emergency, which runs a hospital in Kabul, said on Twitter it received 20 patients from the blast, two of whom were dead on arrival.
The interior ministry compound is in a secure area next to Kabul international airport.
The ruling Taliban have said they have secured the country since taking over in 2021. But though widespread fighting has ended, a series of blasts have hit urban centers in recent months.
An explosion at an education center in West Kabul on Friday killed 53 people, most of them young women, according to the United Nations’ Mission to Afghanistan. 


Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’
Updated 05 October 2022

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’
  • Truss: Conservatives must unite to kick-start stagnant growth and tackle the many problems facing Britain

BIRMINGHAM: British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Wednesday urged her fractious party to stick together and help transform the economy and the country, fighting to restore her dwindling authority after a chaotic first month in office.
Addressing Conservative lawmakers and members at an annual conference overshadowed by internal bickering and confusion over policy, Truss said the party needed to unite to kick-start stagnant growth and tackle the many problems facing Britain.
So far, however, her misfiring attempt to cut $51 billion (£45 billion) of taxes and hike government borrowing has sent turmoil through markets and her party, with opinion polls pointing to electoral collapse rather than a honeymoon period for the new leader.
“We gather at a vital time for the United Kingdom. These are stormy days,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and the death of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
“In these tough times, we need to step up. I’m determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and to put us on a stronger footing.”
As she started to speak, two protesters held up a sign asking “Who voted for this?” before they were escorted away by security personnel as the crowd chanted “out, out, out.”
Truss, elected by party members and not the broader electorate, was addressing the party faithful after she was forced to reverse plans to scrap the top rate of tax. She acknowledged that change brings “disruption.”
That U-turn has emboldened sections of her party who are now likely to resist spending cuts as the government seeks ways to fund the overall fiscal program.
That risks not only the dilution of her “radical” agenda but also raising the prospect of an early election.
Having entered the conference hall to a standing ovation and the sound of M People’s “Moving On UP,” Truss told party members and lawmakers that she wanted to build a “new Britain for the new era.”
“For too long, the political debate has been dominated by how we distribute a limited economic pie. Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice,” she said in the central English city of Birmingham.
“That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle.”
The conference, once expected to be her crowning glory after being appointed prime minister on Sept. 6, has turned into a personal nightmare, and a battle for the country’s political future.
As the debate moved on from tax cuts to how the government would fund them, lawmakers and ministers openly clashed, in stark contrast to the sense of discipline on display at the opposition Labour Party conference last week.
Some lawmakers fear Truss will break a commitment to increase benefit payments in line with inflation, something they argue would be inappropriate at a time when millions of families are struggling with the cost of soaring prices.
Ministers say they are yet to take a decision and are obliged to look at economic data later this month.
While markets have largely stabilized after the Bank of England stepped in to shore up the bond market — albeit after the cost of borrowing surged — opinion polls now point to an electoral collapse for the Conservatives.
John Curtice, Britain’s best-known pollster, said before the speech that Labour now held an average lead of 25 percentage points and the Conservatives needed to accept they were “in deep, deep electoral trouble.”


Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe
Updated 05 October 2022

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe
  • Four leaks were discovered last week on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of being behind the blasts

MOSCOW: Moscow said Wednesday it should be part of the probe into leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, after Sweden blocked off the area around the pipelines pending an investigation.
“There should really be an investigation. Naturally, with the participation of Russia,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin said, as quoted by Russian news agencies.
Four leaks were discovered last week on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany, raising political tensions already sky high since the Kremlin sent troop to Ukraine in February.
On Friday, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the issue.
Vershinin told the assembly that “the general opinion was that this was sabotage and that it should be investigated” but that “no decision had been made” on an international probe.
Last Wednesday, Russia launched an “international terrorism” investigation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said such a probe “required the cooperation of several countries.”
He denounced an “acute shortage of communications and unwillingness of many countries to contact” Russia.
On Monday, Sweden blocked off the area around the pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea while the suspected sabotage was being investigated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of being behind the blasts.
Russia’s Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said Wednesday that “it is clear that the United States is the beneficiary, primarily economic” of the leaks.
Both Moscow and Washington have denied involvement.


Trial date set for man accused of threatening to kill Queen Elizabeth

Trial date set for man accused of threatening to kill Queen Elizabeth
Updated 05 October 2022

Trial date set for man accused of threatening to kill Queen Elizabeth

Trial date set for man accused of threatening to kill Queen Elizabeth
  • 20-year-old Jaswant Singh Chail is accused of making a threat to kill the late 96-year-old monarch

LONDON: A man accused of making a threat to kill the late Queen Elizabeth after being arrested at her Windsor Castle home on Christmas Day last year will go on trial next year, London’s Old Bailey Court heard on Wednesday.
Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, who has been charged under Britain’s Treason Act, is accused of making a threat to kill the 96-year-old monarch, possessing a loaded crossbow with intent to use it to injure the queen, and possession of an offensive weapon.
Elizabeth, who died last month, was at the castle on the day of the intrusion with her son and now King Charles and other close family members
Chail, who appeared at Wednesday’s hearing via videolink wearing a black hoodie, spoke only to confirm his name and his date of birth.
He was told the trial date was set to March 20 next and would last two to three weeks.
He did not enter a plea, the case was adjourned for further evidence to be obtained and Chail was detained in custody. The next hearing will take place at a date yet to be confirmed in December.