49 boys drown in Pakistan boating accident

In this photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, an army diver recovers a child body during search operation in Tanda Dam, in Kohat, a district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP)
In this photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, an army diver recovers a child body during search operation in Tanda Dam, in Kohat, a district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 01 February 2023

49 boys drown in Pakistan boating accident

49 boys drown in Pakistan boating accident
  • Pakistan’s army shared images showing divers traversing the lake in rubber dinghies, entering the green waters to pull out the bodies of children

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Forty-nine children died when their overloaded boat capsized in northwest Pakistan, police said Tuesday after divers spent three days dragging bodies from freezing waters.
The boys aged between seven and 14 were all students of a madrassa and had been taken for a day trip to the scenic Tanda Dam lake on Sunday.
“The water of the dam was freezing due to cold weather that impeded the rescue mission. But today the divers were able to dive deep to recover the remaining bodies,” said Khateer Ahmad, a senior official with Rescue 1122.
The bodies of a teacher and one skipper were also pulled from the water, he added, bringing the death toll to 51.
Muhammad Umar, who sells tea at a picnic site overlooking the popular weekend tourist destination, said dozens of parents and relatives had gathered over the past few days.
“Every time a body was recovered from the scene, they would jump onto the diver to see if it was their son and every time we would hear them screaming in pain and anguish,” he told AFP over the phone on Tuesday.
“I have not witnessed such scenes in my life, it’s something that can’t be explained in words.”
Tanda Dam lake is about five kilometers (3 miles) away from the madrassa — an Islamic school that offers free religious education — in Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Police spokesperson Fazal Naeem issued the new death toll on Tuesday after the end of the rescue mission. It was confirmed by the military’s media wing.
“The boat was overloaded; its capacity was around 20 to 25 persons,” Naeem told AFP.
He added that five people were rescued including four students and one teacher.
Pakistan’s army shared images showing divers traversing the lake in rubber dinghies, entering the green waters to pull out the bodies of children.
“I got stuck under the boat,” 11-year-old survivor Muhammad Mustafa told AFP from his hospital bed on Sunday.
“My shawl and sweater weighed me down, so I took them off.”
“The water was extremely cold and my body went numb. I thought I was going to pass out when a man on an inflatable tube saved me.”
Drownings are common in Pakistan, when aged and overloaded vessels lose their stability and pitch passengers into the water.
On the same day, at least 41 people were confirmed dead after their bus crashed into a ravine in southwestern Balochistan province.
In July last year, at least 18 women drowned after an overloaded boat carrying about 100 members of the same family capsized during a marriage procession between two villages.

 


In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste
Updated 01 April 2023

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste

In Dhaka, civil society initiatives prevent Ramadan food waste
  • During the holy month, excess food is collected from iftar events around the capital
  • Bidyanondo Foundation’s Iftar Car collects leftover items for distribution to the needy

DHAKA: Bangladeshi civil society organizations are trying to prevent food waste during Ramadan, organizing special collections of unsold items for orphanages and poor communities.

During the fasting month that teaches moderation and charity, excess food, especially from iftar events organized at hotels and restaurants in the Bangladeshi capital, is collected.

Bidyanondo Foundation, one of the largest social welfare organizations in the country, is operating a special Iftar Car to collect and distribute unsold or leftover items as well as raise awareness about food security.

“Ramadan is a month of compassion and fellowship. Any wastage of food is contradictory to the spirit of Ramadan,” Salman Khan, the foundation’s communications chief, told Arab News on Saturday.

“Our Iftar Car collects food from donors immediately and distributes it among the destitute people ... every day, we are receiving iftar food for 600-700 people.”

Iftar Car pickups take place in the early afternoon and after people break their fasts at dusk.

Donors are obliged to keep the food cool so that it remains fresh before volunteers redistribute it a few hours later.

“We need to be prudent to prevent food waste in society. Everyone should keep this in mind as this is the true lesson of Ramadan,” Khan said. “Instead of wasting food, we should share it. We believe in this spirit of sharing.”

Besides the Iftar Car, Bidyanondo is also in touch with restaurants, caterers and food delivery services. Some have regularly supported the foundation beyond the fasting month.

“Sometimes, people cancel the ordered food, which is already paid. We have a collaboration with Food Panda, and during night hours around 10 p.m., our volunteers collect food from their local hubs,” Khan said, adding that Food Panda records dozens of order cancellations every day.

“Every night, we distribute this food to the people who sleep on the streets. From Food Panda, we receive burgers, pizza, sandwiches and biryani. These sorts of dishes underprivileged people can’t even imagine affording.”

Awareness of food waste is high in Bangladeshi society, and individual restaurateurs, as well food stores, also join efforts to prevent hunger with their own local initiatives. At the White Hall Buffet in Dhaka, whose all-you-can-eat service is especially popular during iftars, staff make sure to minimize food waste.

“People take a bunch of items during the iftar period. But an empty stomach after day-long fasting can’t consume so much ... our restaurant staffers immediately sort out the leftover food and pack it for distribution,” Russel Biswas, the restaurant’s manager, told Arab News.

“We don’t need to travel far to distribute the food packets. As our restaurant is located next to a busy road of the Dhanmondi residential area, we find dozens of underprivileged children and beggars in front of our restaurant building.”

In Mohammadpur, another part of Dhaka, Sadeeq Agro, a grocery store chain, gathers unsold food and delivers it to nearby orphanages.

“Usually, our vehicles collect the unsold items from the outlets by 11:30 p.m. every night, and by the next hour, they reach the orphanages with the food,” said Salma Suraiya Asha, the company’s marketing chief.

“Any sort of food wastage is not acceptable at all. We don’t allow it.”


Pakistan army says ‘terrorists’ from Iran side kill four soldiers

Pakistan army says ‘terrorists’ from Iran side kill four soldiers
Updated 01 April 2023

Pakistan army says ‘terrorists’ from Iran side kill four soldiers

Pakistan army says ‘terrorists’ from Iran side kill four soldiers
  • The incident took place in Kech district in southwestern Baluchistan province
  • No one has claimed responsibility

QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistan’s army said on Saturday that attackers from Iran killed four of its border patrol soldiers.
“A group of terrorists operating from Iranian side attacked a routine border patrol of Pakistani security forces operating along Pakistan-Iran Border,” the army said in a statement.
The incident took place in Kech district in southwestern Baluchistan province, which shares a long lawless border with Afghanistan and Iran.
The army said Pakistani authorities were making contact with Iran to seek ways of preventing such incidents in future.
No one has claimed responsibility.
Insurgent ethnic Baluch nationalist groups in the area say they are fighting for a greater share of regional resources. The Baluch groups operate on both side of the border.
The province is rich in minerals and also has the deep-water Gawadar port, which is being developed with Chinese money as part of Beijing’s $65 billion “Belt and Road” investment in Pakistan.

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Climate activists turn landmark Rome fountain black

Climate activists turn landmark Rome fountain black
Updated 01 April 2023

Climate activists turn landmark Rome fountain black

Climate activists turn landmark Rome fountain black
  • Three activists from the anti-climate change organisation Last Generation poured a vegetable-based carbon liquid into the landmark
  • The fountain, in the shape of a boat, was designed by famed Italian sculptor Pietro Bernini

ROME: Climate activists in Italy turned a Baroque-style fountain at the foot of Rome’s Spanish Steps black on Saturday, in a protest they said evoked an “end of the world” scenario.
Three activists from the anti-climate change organization Last Generation poured a vegetable-based carbon liquid into the landmark 17th-century fountain, known to Romans as La Barcaccia, before being escorted away by police.
The fountain, in the shape of a boat, was designed by famed Italian sculptor Pietro Bernini.
Popular tradition has it he was inspired by the discovery in 1598 of a boat in the square after it was washed inland by a flooding Tiber river, Last Generation said.
Turning the water black “foreshadows the ‘end of the world’ scenario we are heading for, as we increasingly step on the accelerator: drought alternating with devastating floods, which will put an end to life on Earth, along with heat waves,” it said in a statement.
Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election, urging politicians from all parties to make climate change their priority.
The protests in Italy are part of a series of actions across Europe to focus attention on climate change.
Activists have thrown soup, cake, mashed potatoes or washable paint at heritage and culture sites and artworks in museums.


Muslim man, 73, hospitalized in UK after assault near mosque

Muslim man, 73, hospitalized in UK after assault near mosque
Updated 01 April 2023

Muslim man, 73, hospitalized in UK after assault near mosque

Muslim man, 73, hospitalized in UK after assault near mosque
  • Police arrest 16-year-olds after CCTV footage reveals brutal unprovoked attack in Birmingham
  • Police: ‘We understand the concern this has caused within the community, especially those observing Ramadan’

London: A 73-year-old Muslim man in the UK has been hospitalized after being attacked on his way home from a mosque, Metro newspaper reported.
Two 16-year-olds were arrested and taken into custody following the assault, which was captured on CCTV in the city of Birmingham.
The video shows the man falling and hitting his head as a result of the attack. Police arrived at the scene as the man was rushed to hospital suffering from a broken hand and lacerations to the face.
West Midlands Police Inspector Neil Kirkpatrick said: “We’ve all been appalled by this attack and we’ve had teams working around the clock to identify suspects. We’ve made two arrests and this remains a very active investigation.
“We understand the concern this has caused within the community, especially those observing the holy month of Ramadan.
“We’re grateful for the support we’ve received, and we’re linking in with faith leaders and working with street stewards from local mosques to reassure the community.”
The assault follows attacks in Birmingham and London, when two mosque-goers were set on fire in separate incidents. A man has been arrested in connection with the two attacks.
The family of the 73-year-old victim said: “We would ask for the public to be calm and that they help the police with their investigation. We would also ask that people have respect for our privacy whilst we help our father to recover.”


Kyiv says Russian UN Security Council presidency is 'symbolic blow'

Kyiv says Russian UN Security Council presidency is 'symbolic blow'
Updated 01 April 2023

Kyiv says Russian UN Security Council presidency is 'symbolic blow'

Kyiv says Russian UN Security Council presidency is 'symbolic blow'
  • On Saturday Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month
KYIV: A top Ukrainian official on Saturday criticised the 'symbolic blow' of Russia assuming the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
"It's not just a shame. It is another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations," Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, wrote in English on Twitter.
On Saturday Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month. The last time Moscow held the post was in February 2022, when its troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin said on Friday it planned to "exercise all its rights" in the role.
The United States on Thursday urged Russia to "conduct itself professionally" when it assumes the role, saying there was no means to block Moscow from the post.
Ukrainian official Yermak also hit out at Iran, who Kyiv and its allies accuse of supplying Russia with arms, including hundreds of assault drones which have menaced Ukrainian infrastructure facilities. Tehran denies supplying Russia with weapons.
"It is very telling that on the holiday of one terror state – Iran - another terror state – Russia – begins to preside over the UN Security Council," Yermak wrote, referring to Iran's Islamic Republic Day holiday