An earthquake in northwestern China kills at least 131 people and is the deadliest in 9 years

Ma Lianqiang grieves for his wife who was killed in the earthquake in Yangwa village near Dahejia town in northwestern China's Gansu province, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. (AP)
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Ma Lianqiang grieves for his wife who was killed in the earthquake in Yangwa village near Dahejia town in northwestern China's Gansu province, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. (AP)
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a rescuer uses a sniffer dog to search for survivors at a collapsed houses following a massive earthquake in Dahejia Township of Jishishan Bao'an, Dongxiang, Salar Autonomous County in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. (AP)
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In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a rescuer uses a sniffer dog to search for survivors at a collapsed houses following a massive earthquake in Dahejia Township of Jishishan Bao'an, Dongxiang, Salar Autonomous County in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 20 December 2023
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An earthquake in northwestern China kills at least 131 people and is the deadliest in 9 years

An earthquake in northwestern China kills at least 131 people and is the deadliest in 9 years
  • China’s national commission for disaster prevention, reduction and relief and Ministry of Emergency Management have activated a level-IV disaster relief emergency, Xinhua reported

BEIJING: A strong overnight earthquake rattled a mountainous region of northwestern China, authorities said Tuesday, reducing homes to rubble, leaving residents outside in a below-freezing winter night and killing 131 people in the nation’s deadliest quake in nine years.
The magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck just before midnight on Monday, injuring more than 700 people, damaging roads and knocking out power and communication lines in Gansu and Qinghai provinces, officials and Chinese media reports said.
As emergency workers searched for the missing in collapsed buildings and at least one landslide, people who lost their homes spent a cold winter night in tents at hastily erected evacuation sites.
“I just feel anxious, what other feelings could there be?” said Ma Dongdong, who noted in a phone interview that three bedrooms in his house had been destroyed and a part of his milk tea shop was cracked wide open.
Afraid to return home because of aftershocks, he spent the first night in a field with his wife, two children and some neighbors, where they made a fire to stay warm. In the early morning, they went to a tent settlement that Ma said was housing about 700 people. As of mid-afternoon, they were waiting for blankets and warm clothing to arrive.
The earthquake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) in Gansu’s Jishishan county, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the provincial boundary with Qinghai, the China Earthquake Networks Center said. The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 5.9.
State broadcaster CCTV said 113 were confirmed dead in Gansu and another 536 injured in the province. Eighteen others were killed and 198 injured in Qinghai, in an area north of the epicenter, CCTV said in an update early Wednesday.
There were nine aftershocks measuring magnitude 3.0 or higher by 10 a.m. — about 10 hours after the initial earthquake — the largest one registering a magnitude of 4.1, officials said.
Emergency authorities in Gansu issued an appeal for 300 additional workers for search and rescue operations, and Qinghai officials reported 16 people missing in a landslide, down from 20 earlier, according to Chinese state-owned media.
The earthquake was felt in much of the surrounding area, including Lanzhou, the Gansu provincial capital, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the epicenter. Photos and videos posted by a student at Lanzhou University showed students hastily leaving a dormitory building and standing outside with long down jackets over their pajamas.
“The earthquake was too intense,” said Wang Xi, the student who posted the images. “My legs went weak, especially when we ran downstairs from the dormitory.”
The death toll was the highest since an August 2014 quake that killed 617 people in southwest China’s Yunnan province. The country’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that left nearly 90,000 dead or presumed dead and devastated towns and schools in Sichuan province, leading to a yearslong effort to rebuild with more resistant materials.
Li Haibing, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, said that the relatively high number of casualties in the latest quake was in part because it was shallow. “Therefore, it has caused greater shaking and destruction, even though the magnitude was not large,” he said.
Other factors include the quake’s mainly vertical movement, which causes more violent shaking; the lower quality of buildings in what is a relatively poor area, and the fact that it happened in the middle of the night when most people were home, Li said.
The epicenter was about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of Beijing, the Chinese capital. The remote and mountainous area is home to several predominantly Muslim ethnic groups and near some Tibetan communities. Geographically, it is in the center of China, though the area is commonly referred to as the northwest, as it is at the northwestern edge of China’s more populated plains.
Tents, folding beds and quilts were being sent to the disaster area, state broadcaster CCTV said. It quoted Chinese leader Xi Jinping as calling for an all-out search and rescue effort to minimize the casualties.
The overnight low in the area was minus 15 to minus 9 degrees Celsius (5 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit), the China Meteorological Administration said. The Beijing Youth Daily, a Communist Party newspaper, quoted an unnamed rescue coordinator saying there was a need for generators, long coats and fuel for stoves, among other items. The coordinator recommended sending halal food because of the ethnic makeup of the affected population.
At least 4,000 firefighters, soldiers and police officers were dispatched in the rescue effort, and the People’s Liberation Army Western Theatre set up a command post to direct its work.
A video posted by the Ministry of Emergency Management showed emergency workers in orange uniforms using rods to try to move heavy pieces of what looked like concrete debris at night. Other nighttime videos distributed by state media showed workers lifting out a victim and helping a slightly stumbling person to walk in an area covered with light snow.
Two residents of Jishishan county told The Associated Press that there were cracks in their walls but that their buildings did not collapse. They were unsure whether it was safe to stay in their homes and figuring out where to spend the night.
Middle school student Ma Shijun ran out of his dormitory barefoot without even putting on a coat, according to a Xinhua report. It said the strong tremors left his hands a bit numb, and that teachers quickly organized the students on the playground.
Earthquakes are somewhat common in the mountainous area of western China that rises up to form the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
In September 2022, 93 people were killed in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, where 21 million residents were under a COVID-19 lockdown.
 

 


‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
Updated 9 sec ago
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‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
  • Ousmane Dembele: ‘We need to mobilize to get out and vote’
  • FFF planning player proxy vote if still involved in Euro 2024
PADERBORN, Germany: France star Ousmane Dembele admitted on Thursday the political situation in the country had “set alarm bells ringing” and said he and his teammates intended to vote in upcoming legislative elections even if they are still involved at Euro 2024 in Germany.
“We need to mobilize to get out and vote,” Dembele told reporters at the French team’s training base in western Germany where they are preparing for their opening European Championship game against Austria on Monday.
“I think the situation in France has set alarm bells ringing. Everyone needs to rally round and come together to vote.”
President Emmanuel Macron has called elections for the lower house National Assembly with the first round set for June 30 and the second round on July 7.
He announced the snap poll last Sunday in response to the results of the EU elections, in which far-right parties — including the top-scoring National Rally (RN) — managed to take almost 40 percent of the vote in France.
“I was watching the news not long ago and I saw that one in every two people in France doesn’t vote, so everyone needs to vote in the legislative elections,” added Dembele, the former Barcelona winger now playing back in France for Paris Saint-Germain.
The French squad will still be in Germany at the time of the election, provided they make it beyond the group stage.
The first round of the election is set to take place the same weekend as the last 16 of Euro 2024, while the second round comes just after the quarter-finals.
However, Dembele said the French Football Federation was planning to help players set up a proxy vote if they remained in Germany at the time.

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi

Pope Francis to meet at G7 summit with Biden, Zelensky, Macron, Modi
  • Pope Francis is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions
  • Pope will have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will meet with the leaders of the United States, Ukraine, France and India, among others, on the sidelines of the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Italy, the Vatican said on Thursday.

Francis, who in January warned against the “perverse” dangers of artificial intelligence, is due to take part in leaders’ talks on the new technology on Friday.

He is the first pope to participate in G7 discussions.

Issuing a program for his one-day appearance, the Vatican said Francis would have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, a fellow Catholic.

The Vatican said he would also have one-on-one meetings with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, France’s Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Turkiye’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kenya’s William Ruto,

Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.

Francis and Biden met at the Vatican in 2021 and the president said the pope told him he was a “good Catholic” who can receive communion even as conservative US bishops wanted to deny it because of Biden’s support for abortion rights.

The two men also spoke in October last year about the crisis in the Middle East after Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Biden has spoken movingly of his respect for the pope, praising his empathy and calling him a “decent man.” They stay in touch, Biden has said.


Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
Updated 13 June 2024
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Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Cal State LA building, leaving damage and graffiti
  • Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building
  • The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website

LOS ANGELES: A takeover of a building at California State University, Los Angeles, by demonstrators protesting Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, leaving the facility trashed and covered with graffiti, TV news reports showed.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators barricaded the multistory Student Services Building on Wednesday and workers inside were told to shelter in place, but it was empty by Thursday morning, said university spokesperson Erik Frost Hollins.
“What I can tell you, at the moment, is that the building is clear of employees and protesters and the building is secure,” said Frost Hollins, who did not immediately offer details on what occurred overnight.
The university posted a “protest action alert” on its website announcing that all main campus classes and operations would be remote until further notice and asking people to stay away.
Images from the scene showed graffiti on the building, furniture blocking doorways and overturned golf carts, picnic tables and umbrellas barricading the plaza out front.
The CSULA Gaza Solidarity Encampment, a group that has camped near the campus gym for about 40 days, sent an email indicating that members were staging a sit-in in the building, Hollins said.


Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
Updated 13 June 2024
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Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin

Russia slowing down in Kharkiv area after lifting of arms restrictions, says Austin
  • “What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front,” said Austin

BRUSSELS: Russia’s advance in the Kharkiv area is slowing and the frontline is stabilizing after some allies lifted restrictions on Kyiv’s use of donated weapons on Russian territory, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.
“What I see is a slowing of the Russians’ advance and a stabilizing of that particular piece of the front. Now, I think we’ll see incremental gains — and we’ll see puts and takes — going forward,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
“But again, a couple of weeks ago, there was concern that we would see a significant breakthrough on the part of the Russians. I don’t think we’ll see that going forward.”


Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
Updated 13 June 2024
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Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns

Unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan will affect 200,000 people, a top UN official warns
  • The UN has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya
  • The weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks

ISLAMABAD: An estimated 200,000 people in Pakistan could be affected by the upcoming monsoon season, which is expected to bring heavier rains than usual, a top UN official warned on Thursday.
The United Nations, with help from local authorities, has prepared a contingency plan, with $40 million set aside to respond to any emergencies, said Mohamed Yahya, the newly appointed Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.
Yahya told journalists in Islamabad that the weather forecasters in Pakistan are projecting above-normal rainfall in the coming weeks. However, the rains would not be as heavy as in 2022 when devastating floods killed 1,739 people, destroyed 2 million homes, and covered as much as one-third of the country at one point.
Pakistan is one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, in part because of its immense northern glaciers, which are now melting as air temperatures rise. Warmer air can also hold more moisture, intensifying the rains of the monsoon.
Until recently, public opinion and even some government officials took little account of the possible negative impact from climate change on daily life. Pakistan’s weather patterns have changed in recent years, forcing cities to strengthen their infrastructure and farmers to adapt their practices.
The 2022 floods caused more than $30 billion in damage to Pakistan’s already cash-strapped economy.
Analysts and government officials say Pakistan in recent years failed to achieve goals for economic growth because of man-made disasters, which have repeatedly hit the country in the form of droughts, heatwaves and heavy rains, which badly damaged the road network, bridges, power system and other infrastructure.
Pakistan says despite contributing less than 1 percent to carbon emissions worldwide, it is bearing the brunt of global climate disasters. This year, Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall.
Yahya said he was in contact with officials at Pakistan’s ministry of climate change, who were preparing their contingency own plans for monsoon season, which in Pakistan runs from July to October.
Earlier this week, weather forecasters in Pakistan urged people to stay indoors as the third heatwave in a month began. A recent study by the United Nations children’s agency said that Pakistan could avert 175,000 deaths by 2030 by developing resilient energy systems to power its health facilities.
On Thursday, temperatures in various parts of Pakistan soared as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), forcing many people to stay indoors. Authorities are asking people to hydrate and avoid unnecessary travel.