Mountain melt shutters classic Alpine routes

Hikers walk in front of snow from the last winter season covered with blankets to prevent it from melting due to global warming at the
Hikers walk in front of snow from the last winter season covered with blankets to prevent it from melting due to global warming at the "Glacier 3000" alpine resort, Switzerland, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 01 August 2022

Mountain melt shutters classic Alpine routes

Mountain melt shutters classic Alpine routes
  • The Guide Alpine Italiane said on its Facebook page that the “particularly delicate conditions” caused by the temperature spike made it necessary to “postpone the climbs”

GENEVA: Little snow cover and glaciers melting at an alarming rate amid Europe’s sweltering heatwaves have put some of the most classic Alpine hiking routes off-limits.
Usually at the height of summer, tourists flock to the Alps and seek out well-trodden paths up to some of Europe’s most iconic peaks.
But with warmer temperatures speeding up glacier melt and thawing permafrost — which scientists say are driven by climate change — routes that are usually safe this time of year now face hazards like falling rocks released from the ice.
“Currently in the Alps, there are warnings for around a dozen peaks, including emblematic ones like Matterhorn and Mount Blanc,” Pierre Mathey, head of the Swiss mountain guide association, told AFP.
This is happening far earlier in the season than normal, he said.
“Usually we see such closures in August, but now they have started at the end of June and are continuing in July.”

Hikers are seen walking next to the Fee Glacier (German: Feegletscher) melting above the Swiss alpine resort of Saas-Fee on July 30, 2022. (AFP)

Alpine guides who usually lead thousands of hikers up toward Europe’s highest peak announced earlier this week that they would suspend ascents on the most classic routes up Mont Blanc, which straddles France, Italy and Switzerland.
The Guide Alpine Italiane said on its Facebook page that the “particularly delicate conditions” caused by the temperature spike made it necessary to “postpone the climbs.”
Mountain guides have also refrained — reportedly for the first time in a century — from offering tours up the classic route to the Jungfrau peak in Switzerland.
And they have advised against tours along routes on both the Italian and Swiss sides of the towering pyramid-shaped Matterhorn peak.
Ezio Marlier, president of the Valle D’Aosta guides association, said having to steer clear of routes most coveted by tourists was a blow after the Covid slowdowns.
“It is not easy... after two almost empty seasons to decide to halt work,” he told AFP.
He stressed that the Italian Alpine region had shut only two and that there were many other breathtaking and safe routes to take.
But he lamented that many people simply canceled their trip when they heard their preferred route was off-limits.
“There are plenty of other things to do, but usually when people want Mont Blanc, they want Mont Blanc.”

Climbing on some of the thousands of glaciers dotting Europe’s largest mountain range is also proving trickier.
“The glaciers are in a state that they are usually in at the end of the summer or even later,” said Andreas Linsbauer, a glaciologist at Zurich University.
“It is sure that we will break the record for negative melts,” he told AFP.
He said a combination of factors were contributing to a “really extreme” summer, starting with exceptionally little snowfall last winter, meaning there was less to protect the glaciers.
Sand also blew up from the Sahara early in the year, darkening the snow, which makes it melt faster.
And then the first heatwave hit Europe in May, with subsequent ones following in June and July, pushing up temperatures even at high altitudes.
The rapid melting can make glaciers more dangerous, as seen with the sudden collapse of Italy’s until then seemingly harmless Marmolada glacier earlier this month, which saw 11 people killed as ice and rock hurtled down the mountain.
While scientists have yet to draw clear conclusions on what caused the disaster, one theory is that meltwater may have reached the point where the glacier was frozen to the rock, loosening its grip.

Mylene Jacquemart, a glacier and mountain hazard researcher at Zurich’s ETH university, told AFP there were many unknowns about the catastrophe.
“But the general theme is definitely that more meltwater... makes things complicated and potentially more dangerous.”
Mathey, who said warmer temperatures had put mountain guides on high alert, also voiced concern that meltwater filtering under a glacier posed an “additional and invisible threat.”
But despite the challenges, he voiced confidence that guides would find solutions, seeking out alternative routes to keep showing off Alpine splendours.
“Resilience is really in the mountain guides’ DNA,” as is adaptability, he said.
“Humans have to adapt to nature and to the mountains, not the other way around.”


Saudi-UK business to grow ‘significantly’ under GCC trade deal, says lord mayor of London

Saudi-UK business to grow ‘significantly’ under GCC trade deal, says lord mayor of London
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi-UK business to grow ‘significantly’ under GCC trade deal, says lord mayor of London

Saudi-UK business to grow ‘significantly’ under GCC trade deal, says lord mayor of London
  • UK-GCC free trade agreement appears to remain a priority for Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss
  • Vincent Keaveny says UK expertise will “contribute massively” to the Kingdom’s net-zero targets

LONDON: A pending free-trade agreement between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council will “significantly increase” their financial ties at a transformational moment for the global economy, the lord mayor of the City of London told Arab News prior to his tour of the region.

Vincent Keaveny, who will begin his tour in Riyadh this weekend, said Saudi investment in Britain already topped £65 billion ($69.36 billion) annually, with UK trade with the Gulf surpassing £33 billion.

“The GCC is our fourth-largest trading partner, which gives you an idea of the importance and scale of investment flows, which are two way, and I see this increasing significantly over the years,” he added.

“Saudi Arabia has great transformational plans for its own economy, and the financial and professional services here in the UK have a huge amount to offer in helping implement and support this.”

One of the oldest continuously elected civic officers, the lord mayor of London serves as mayor of the City of London and leads the City of London Corp., with a focus on representing, supporting and promoting business within the financial heart of the UK capital.

The UK-GCC FTA that was announced in June appears to remain a priority for Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss, and is hoped to generate £33.5 billion in new trade.

While hosting GCC foreign ministers last December, then-Foreign Secretary Truss stressed that “closer economic and security ties with our Gulf partners” was a priority.

Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny and his wife Amanda arrive to attend the Lord Mayor's Banquet in central London last year. (AFP/File Photo)

Keaveny said: “The FTA would be a very positive statement of intent about the future relationship between the UK and the countries that make up the region, and we would support the prime minister’s ambitions to get this done and get this done as quickly as possible.”

He added: “I think with Liz Truss this will happen; she’s someone the City knows very well. We worked with her closely on the international trade agenda when she was international trade secretary and indeed, she had a pronounced focus on trade during her time as foreign secretary.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, told Arab News that the FTA will be a priority for Truss.

Her focus when it comes to the Middle East, he said, would very much be on “getting the free-trade deal over the line.”

Keaveny said he would not be surprised by requirements for country-level agreements between each of the parties to flesh it out, stressing that “we’d have to wait and see” on the details.

“I take the view that free-trade agreements provide a framing context. It may be that some of the FTAs we see coming through in the next couple of years aren’t as full as we’d like them in the City,” he added.

“I’d only encourage the negotiators involved in this FTA to get it settled as quickly as possible, albeit I do recognize that this is a complicated position when negotiating with a body, like the GCC, that represents a diverse group of countries with divergent interests.”

Vincent Keaveny will begin a regional tour in Riyadh this weekend. (AFP/File Photo)

When questioned if increased regulatory alliance was on the agenda, he stressed that he was “not close enough to the negotiation to know if regulatory alignment will be the outcome,” but that greater alignment would be a positive, particularly from a financial services perspective.

“Anything that makes provision of financial services smoother, whether through regulatory alignment or the liberalization of data flows, would be welcome,” he said. “But I’m genuinely not close enough to the negotiations to know if this is a realistic outcome.”

For Keaveny, “strong, historic” ties exist between the Gulf and the UK, and he envisages “significant investment requirements and opportunities.”

In Saudi Arabia, there is the combination of its Vision 2030 plan — aimed at reducing its reliance on hydrocarbons, diversifying its economy and expanding public services — and its determination to be net-zero by 2060.

“All of this requires support, and the UK’s expertise and approach to net-zero and the financing of the transition means in many ways the City of London and the country are the thought leaders on this issue,” said Keaveny.  

“So we’ll be able to contribute massively to Saudi Arabia’s plans on this. It’s a big win as there are all sort of benefits that will flow and scope to significantly increase this, both in terms of financial assets and UK infrastructure, whether power structure or other utilities.”

Keaveny praised “strong, historic” ties between the Gulf and the UK, and said he envisaged “significant investment requirements and opportunities.” (Supplied/City of London)

Keaveny’s tour coincides with a fractious moment for the world, as the Russia-Ukraine conflict ekes into its ninth month amid growing concerns of a winter of discontent for a Europe that grew dependent upon Russian gas.

Even so, he does not see it being a major talking point for the parties involved. “Clearly the war in Ukraine has global economic repercussions, and if it comes up I believe it will be in the context of that, and on the effects it’s having on inflationary pressures around the world and on our net-zero ambitions,” said Keaveny.

He expressed excitement at the decision to host this year’s and next year’s UN Climate Change Conference in the Middle East, in Egypt and the UAE respectively.

“It’s very exciting that we have a COP festival in Africa this year and next year’s in Dubai, as it will frame a different set of discussions than the Glasgow one, and will set in motion what we need to do to finance the transition in developing economies,” he said.

“My own view, and I think it’s a view that’s shared by Mark Carney (former Bank of England governor) and John Kerry (US special presidential envoy for climate), is that the role of the multilateral development banks that define the finance institutions in this process are critical players, provided the right conditions are set.” 

As floodwaters recede, rising tide of disease hits southwest Pakistan

As floodwaters recede, rising tide of disease hits southwest Pakistan
Updated 30 September 2022

As floodwaters recede, rising tide of disease hits southwest Pakistan

As floodwaters recede, rising tide of disease hits southwest Pakistan
  • Tens of thousands of new malaria, cholera, skin, eye disease cases reported in Balochistan
  • ‘Full-scale operation’ needed in Pakistan’s poorest province to stem disease outbreak: World Health Organization

BALOCHISTAN: As Yar Khan stood outside the outpatient ward at the District Headquarter Hospital in a small town in southwestern Pakistan, it was not his own stomach pain that worried him but the high fever that had for days gripped his one-year-old nephew.

Khan’s family feared the infant had contracted one of the many infectious and water-borne diseases that have spread in the aftermath of devastating monsoon rains and floods in Pakistan.

Record rains in the south and southwest of Pakistan that began in mid-June, and glacial melt in northern areas, triggered flooding that has killed more than 1,600 people and affected nearly 33 million people in the South Asian nation of 220 million, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads, and livestock and causing an estimated $30 billion of damage.

Weeks after the rains stopped, large swathes of the country’s southwestern Balochistan and southern Sindh provinces remain flooded, and millions of survivors, many living in tents, makeshift shelters, or under the open sky on roadsides, face a host of other problems, including diseases such as diarrhea, skin infections, and coughs and colds, government and relief officials said.

The presence of mosquitoes and the spread of the diseases they carry, including dengue fever and malaria, have become particularly concerning.

Data from the Balochistan health department showed 38,476 cases of malaria, skin diseases, acute respiratory infection, cholera, and eye infections having been reported in Balochistan since Sept. 17. The World Health Organization on Thursday warned that a “full-scale operation” was needed in Balochistan to stem the tide of disease.

The influx of new patients daily has overwhelmed Pakistan’s already weak health system, particularly in Balochistan, the country’s poorest and least-developed province.

“I have taken him to all the doctors in my village, but my nephew didn’t get well,” Khan, 21, told Arab News from Dera Allah Yar city in Balochistan’s Jaffarabad division, where he had traveled from his village of Chatan, still “neck deep” in water, six kilometers away.

“Now I have brought him to the DHQ Hospital and traveled through floodwater to reach Dera Allah Yar,” the daily wage laborer added.

“For too many days I have been feeling pain in my stomach,” Khan said. “I visited all doctors in my village, but they were unable to diagnose what is causing my pain and why my nephew is sick.

“In the three or four houses of my relatives, everyone is ill.”

Tania Bibi, 20, a resident of Goth Karam Shah in Dera Allah Yar, was diagnosed with a skin disease 10 days ago. But her illness is the least of her worries, she said, as her four children are all ill.

“It’s been a month, we have been living on the Dera Allah Yar highway which is surrounded by contaminated flood water,” Bibi told Arab News. “There are too many mosquitoes and insects.

“The pimples (on her face) popped up after the flood. It used to hurt a lot, it still hurts, it’s still the same.”

Bibi said her daughters and one son had been diagnosed with malaria and anemia respectively and now another son had a high fever.

Doctors at DHQ Dera Allah Yar had prescribed medicines for the whole family but Bibi, whose husband is an out-of-work daily wage laborer, said she did not have the money to buy them.

The hospital itself is struggling to deal with the influx of patients from surrounding areas.

“We have a shortage of medicines and staff to deal with the overburden of patients at the DHQ Hospital,” Dr. Ishma Khoso, a senior medical officer at the DHQ Dera Allah Yar, said. “It is because people from Sohbat Pur district and other far-flung areas are now coming here for treatment.

“The same water, animals are standing in it and using it, and now people are using it to wash clothes and dishes and perhaps drinking it as well,” Khoso said, adding that the hospital was facing a “200 percent increase in the number of patients suffering from water-borne diseases.”

Dr. Imran Baloch, a medical superintendent at the hospital, said at least 12 newborn babies were being regularly treated for ARI at the facility, and the number was steadily rising, creating challenges for doctors.

“There used to be 400 patients regularly coming to the hospital, but now 900-plus patients are coming daily, so we are having a lot of difficulty in managing them,” Baloch added.

Umar Khan Jamali, a legislator from Jaffarabad district, described the flood as “one of the most severe natural disasters in the history of Pakistan,” and pointed out that no government would have been capable of coping with a natural catastrophe on such a large scale.

“The government of Pakistan and Balochistan have made international calls for assistance but unfortunately we didn’t receive any positive response, particularly in the health crisis that surfaced after the flood,” Jamali told Arab News.

“The provincial health department has been utilizing all its available resources to ensure quality health services to the flood-affected people.”

Meanwhile, people such as Khan and his family wait for help.

“I want my nephew to be treated by senior doctors here, but due to a large number of patients in the hospital, we are facing delays in medical treatment. Despite sitting outside the OPD for five hours, I am still waiting for my turn to see a doctor,” he said.

US announces ‘severe’ sanctions on Russia over annexations

US announces ‘severe’ sanctions on Russia over annexations
Updated 30 September 2022

US announces ‘severe’ sanctions on Russia over annexations

US announces ‘severe’ sanctions on Russia over annexations
  • UK sanctions Russia’s Central Bank governor and bans exports of nearly 700 categories of goods
  • G7 ministers threaten ‘economic costs on Russia’ over Ukrainian annexation

WASHINGTON/LONDON: The US on Friday announced “severe” new sanctions on Russia in response to what President Joe Biden called Moscow’s “fraudulent” claim to have annexed four Ukrainian regions.
“The United States is imposing swift and severe costs on Russia,” the White House said in a statement. It also announced that G7 allies support imposing “costs” on any country that backs the Kremlin’s attempt to incorporate the Ukrainian regions.
In a statement, Biden said “the United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere.”


“The United States will always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders. We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to regain control of its territory by strengthening its hand militarily and diplomatically, including through the $1.1 billion in additional security assistance the United States announced this week,” he continued.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “the United States unequivocally rejects Russia’s fraudulent attempt to change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.”
“In response, the United States and our allies and partners are imposing swift and severe costs,” he said.


The Biden administration said the sanctions will target scores of Russian parliament members, government officials, family members and also industries supplying the Russian military, “including international suppliers.”
The US Treasury Department said it imposed sanctions on 14 people in Russia’s military-industrial complex, two leaders of the country’s central bank, family members of top officials and 278 members of Russia’s legislature “for enabling Russia’s sham referenda and attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory.”
The Treasury also issued guidance warning of a heightened sanctions risk to those outside Russia should they provide political or economic support to Moscow.


Among those designated was Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak; 109 State Duma members; the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia and 169 of its members; and the governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina.
The US Department of Commerce also added 57 entities in Russia and Crimea to its US export blacklist.
It also issued new guidance saying that US restrictions on exports to Russia can apply to entities in other countries that support Russia and Belarus’ military and industrial sectors by shipping prohibited technologies and other items prohibited by the US and the 37 countries with similar restrictions.
The US State Department in a separate statement said it imposed visa restrictions on more than 900 people, including members of the Russian and Belarusian military and “Russia’s proxies for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence,” barring them from traveling to the US.



“We are also issuing a clear warning supported by G7 Leaders: We will hold to account any individual, entity, or country that provides political or economic support for Russia’s illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory,” Blinken said.
Meanwhile, the G7 foreign ministers condemned Russia’s proclaimed annexation on Friday as a “new low point” in the war and vowed to take further action against Moscow.
“We will never recognize these purported annexations, nor the sham ‘referenda’ conducted at gunpoint,” said a statement from the top diplomats of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the US and the EU.
“We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia — that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law,” it added.



The UK also sanctioned Nabiullina on Friday, imposing an asset freeze and travel ban, the British Foreign Office said.
The foreign office said Britain had also imposed new services and goods export bans, targeted at “vulnerable sectors of the Russian economy,” in response to Russia declaring “the illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine.”
The sanctions announcement — which comes after multiple rounds of earlier measures designed to isolate Russia’s economy and cripple its ability to maintain the military — followed Putin’s speech earlier Friday in which he declared Russian annexation of four territories.



The regions — Donetsk, Kherson, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia — are currently under partial Russian occupation, with Ukraine’s Western-armed military pushing hard to recapture the land.
In 2014, Putin annexed another region, Crimea, where Russian troops faced almost no opposition from the then badly organized Ukrainian military.
This February, he launched a full-scale invasion of eastern, southern and northern Ukraine in a bid to topple the pro-Western government, but the revamped Ukrainian military has since partly repelled the invaders and continues to push Russian lines back.
(With AFP and Reuters)

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Putin: Russia will use all means to guard annexed regions

Putin: Russia will use all means to guard annexed regions
Updated 30 September 2022

Putin: Russia will use all means to guard annexed regions

Putin: Russia will use all means to guard annexed regions
  • Russian leader warns Moscow would never give up the occupied areas
  • Vladimir Putin urges Ukraine to sit down for talks to end the fighting

KYIV: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed documents to incorporate four Ukrainian territories into Russia in a televised ceremony in the Kremlin.

Russia declared the annexations of the regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson - after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and unrepresentative.

In a speech preceding a treaty-signing ceremony to make four Ukrainian regions part of Russia, Putin warned his country would never give up the occupied areas and would protect them as part of its sovereign territory.

He urged Ukraine to sit down for talks to end the fighting, but warned sternly that Russia would never surrender control of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. He accused the West of fueling the hostilities as part of its plan to turn Russia into a “colony” and a “crowds of slaves.”

The ceremony comes three days after the completion of Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia that were dismissed by Kyiv and the West as a bare-faced land grab, held at gunpoint and based on lies.

The event in the Kremlin’s opulent white-and-gold St. George’s Hall was organized for Putin and the heads of the four regions of Ukraine to sign treaties for the areas to join Russia, in a sharp escalation of the seven-month conflict.

The separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine have been backed by Moscow since declaring independence in 2014, weeks after the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The southern Kherson region and part of the neighboring Zaporizhzhia were captured by Russia soon after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Both houses of the Kremlin-controlled Russian parliament will meet next week to rubber-stamp the treaties for the regions to join Russia, sending them to Putin for his approval.

Putin and his lieutenants have bluntly warned Ukraine against pressing an offensive to reclaim the regions, saying Russia would view it as an act of aggression against its sovereign territory and wouldn’t hesitate to use “all means available” in retaliation, a reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

The Kremlin-organized votes in Ukraine and the nuclear warning are an attempt by Putin to avoid more defeats in Ukraine that could threaten his 22-year rule.

Russia controls most of the Luhansk and Kherson regions, about 60 percent of the Donetsk region and a large chunk of the Zaporizhzhia region where it took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Asked about Russia’s plans, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that at the very least Moscow aims to “liberate” the entire Donetsk region.

As it prepared to celebrate the incorporation of the occupied Ukrainian regions, the Kremlin was on the verge of another stinging battlefield loss, with reports of the imminent Ukrainian encirclement of the eastern city of Lyman.

Retaking it could open the path for Ukraine to push deep into one of the regions Russia is absorbing, a move widely condemned as illegal that opens a dangerous new phase of the seven-month war.

Russia on Friday also pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles, rockets and suicide drones, with one strike reported to have killed 25 people. The salvos together amounted to the heaviest barrage that Russia has unleashed for weeks.

They followed analysts’ warnings that Putin was likely to dip more heavily into his dwindling stocks of precision weapons and step up attacks as part of a strategy to escalate the war to an extent that would shatter Western support for Ukraine.

The Kremlin preceded its scheduled annexation ceremonies Friday with another warning to Ukraine that it shouldn’t fight to take back the four regions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would view a Ukrainian attack on the taken territory as an act of aggression against Russia itself.

The annexations are Russia’s attempt to set its gains in stone, at least on paper, and scare Ukraine and its Western backers with the prospect of an increasingly escalatory conflict unless they back down — which they show no signs of doing. The Kremlin paved the way for the land-grabs with “referendums,” sometimes at gunpoint, that Ukraine and Western powers universally dismissed as rigged shams.

“It looks quite pathetic. Ukrainians are doing something, taking steps in the real material world, while the Kremlin is building some kind of a virtual reality, incapable of responding in the real world,” former Kremlin speechwriter turned political analyst Abbas Gallyamov said.

“People understand that the politics is now on the battlefield,” he added. “What’s important is who advances and who retreats. In that sense, the Kremlin cannot offer anything сomforting to the Russians.”

A Ukrainian counter-offensive has deprived Moscow of mastery on the military fields of battle. Its hold of the Luhansk region appears increasingly shaky, as Ukrainian forces make inroads there, with the pincer assault on Lyman. Ukraine also still has a large foothold in the neighboring Donetsk region.

Luhansk and Donetsk – wracked by fighting since separatists there declared independence in 2014 – form the wider Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that Putin has long vowed, but so far failed, to make completely Russian. Peskov said that both Donetsk and Luhansk will be incorporated Friday into Russia in their entirety.

All of Kherson and parts of Zaporizhzhia, two other regions being prepared for annexation, were newly occupied in the invasion’s opening phase. It’s unclear whether the Kremlin will declare all, or just part, of that occupied territory as Russia’s. Peskov wouldn’t say in a call Friday with reporters.

In the Zaporizhzhia region’s capital, anti-aircraft missiles that Russia has repurposed as ground-attack weapons rained down Friday on people who were waiting in cars to cross into Russian-occupied territory so they could bring family members back across front lines, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said.

The general prosecutor’s office said 25 people were killed and 50 wounded. The strike left deep impact craters and sent shrapnel tearing through the humanitarian convoy’s lined-up vehicles, killing their passengers. Nearby buildings were demolished. Trash bags, blankets and, for one victim, a blood-soaked towel, were used to cover bodies.

Russian-installed officials in Zaporizhzhia blamed Ukrainian forces for the strike, but provided no evidence.

Russian strikes were also reported in the city of Dnipro. The regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, said at least one person was killed and five others were wounded.

Ukraine’s air force said the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa were also targeted with Iranian-supplied suicide drones that Russia has increasingly deployed in recent weeks, seemingly to avoid losing more pilots who don’t have control of Ukraine’s skies.

Putin was expected to give a major speech at the ceremony to fold Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia into Russia. The Kremlin planned for the region’s pro-Moscow administrators to sign annexation treaties in the ornate St. George’s Hall of the palace in Moscow that is Putin’s seat of power.

Putin also issued decrees recognizing the supposed independence of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, steps he previously took in February for Luhansk and Donetsk and earlier for Crimea, seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, called an emergency meeting of his National Security and Defense Council and denounced the latest Russian strikes.

“The enemy rages and seeks revenge for our steadfastness and his failures,” he posted on his Telegram channel. “You will definitely answer. For every lost Ukrainian life!”

The US and its allies have promised even more sanctions on Russia and billions of dollars in extra support for Ukraine as the Kremlin duplicates the annexation playbook used for Crimea.

With Ukraine vowing to take back all occupied territory and Russia pledging to defend its gains, threatening nuclear-weapon use and mobilizing an additional 300,000 troops despite protests, the two nations are on an increasingly escalatory collision course.

That was underscored by the fighting for Lyman, a key node for Russian military operations in the Donbas and a sought-after prize in the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched in late August.

The Russian-backed separatist leader of Donetsk, Denis Pushilin, said the city is now “half-encircled” by Ukrainian forces. In comments reported by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, he described the setback as “worrying news.”

”Ukraine’s armed formations,” he said, “are trying very hard to spoil our celebration.”

UN to seek $800 million more in aid for flood-hit Pakistan

UN to seek $800 million more in aid for flood-hit Pakistan
Updated 30 September 2022

UN to seek $800 million more in aid for flood-hit Pakistan

UN to seek $800 million more in aid for flood-hit Pakistan
  • The unprecedented deluges — likely worsened by climate change — have killed 1,678 people in Pakistan since mid-June
  • The UN resident coordinator in Pakistan said the UN decided to issue the revised appeal

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations will seek $800 million more in aid from the international community to respond to soaring life-saving needs of Pakistani flood survivors, a UN official said Friday.
The unprecedented deluges — likely worsened by climate change — have killed 1,678 people in Pakistan since mid-June. About half a million survivors are still living in tents and makeshift shelters.
Julien Harneis, the UN resident coordinator in Pakistan, told reporters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, that the latest appeal will be issued from Geneva on Tuesday. It comes just weeks after the agency sought $160 million in emergency funding for 33 million people affected by floods.
Harneis said the UN decided to issue the revised appeal “to respond to the extraordinary scale of the devastations” caused by the floods. Pakistan’s displaced are now confronting waterborne and other diseases, he said. The outbreaks, health officials say, have caused more than 300 deaths so far.
Since July, several countries and UN agencies have sent more than 130 flights carrying aid for the flood victims, many of whom complain they have either received too little help or are still waiting for aid.
Officials and experts have blamed the rains and resulting floodwaters on climate change. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited some of the flood-hit areas earlier this month. He has repeatedly called on the international community to send massive amounts of aid to Pakistan.
The Pakistani government estimates the losses from the floods to be about $30 billion.