India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
Children run behind a truck spraying water along a street on a hot summer day in New Delhi on May 28, 2024. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2024
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India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports

India’s capital sees first heat-related death this year, media reports
  • India experiencing a severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius

NEW DELHI: India’s capital Delhi recorded its first heat-related death this year as temperatures reached record highs, media reported on Thursday.
Parts of northwest and central India have been experiencing heat wave to severe heat wave conditions for weeks, and the temperature in Delhi reached a record high of 52.9 degrees Celsius in Mungeshpur neighborhood on Wednesday.
That reading may be revised however, as maximum temperatures in other parts of the city ranged from 45.2 C to 49.1 C.
The capital territory’s first heat-related fatality this year was a 40-year-old laborer who died of heatstroke on Wednesday, The Indian Express newspaper reported.
Delhi’s lieutenant governor on Wednesday directed the government to ensure measures were taken to protect laborers by providing water and shaded areas at construction sites and granting them paid leave from noon to 3 p.m.
Delhi recorded a temperature of 36 C which felt like 37.8 C on Thursday morning, according to India’s weather department. It has predicted heat wave to severe heat wave conditions over northwest and central India will begin reducing gradually from today.
India classifies a heat wave as a situation where the maximum temperature is 4.5 C to 6.4 C above normal, while a severe heat wave occurs when the maximum is higher than normal by 6.5 degrees or more.


US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China

US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China
Updated 4 sec ago
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US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China

US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China
DHARAMSHALA, India: A bipartisan United States congressional delegation met with the Dalai Lama Wednesday at his residence in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China which views the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism as a dangerous separatist.
This comes as Washington and Beijing have recently restarted talks after several years of turmoil that began after the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods under the Trump administration. Relations deteriorated even more following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising military tensions in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait.
The high-level delegation, led by Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and including Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arrived Tuesday at the hillside town, which the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has made his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. There, they met with officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile, which wants more autonomy for Tibet.
Beijing doesn’t recognize the exiled administration and hasn’t held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama since 2010.
After meeting the spiritual leader on Wednesday, the seven US lawmakers addressed hundreds who had gathered at a monastery just outside the 88-year-old Dalai Lama’s residence, waving American and Tibetan flags.
They told the crowd that a key focus of their visit was to underscore the Resolve Tibet Act, passed by the US Congress last week, and aims to encourage dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials with the hopes of finding a peaceful resolution between Tibet and Beijing. The bill should now be sent to the White House to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The bill is “a message to the Chinese government that we have clarity in our thinking and our understanding of this issue of the freedom of Tibet,” Pelosi said, eliciting applause.
McCaul, the Republican representative, said the bill reaffirms American support for the Tibetan right to self-determination. “Just this week our delegation received a letter from the Chinese Communist Party, warning us not to come here... but we did not let the CCP intimidate us for we are here today,” he said as people cheered.
However, the visit and newly passed bill have triggered swift backlash from Beijing.
Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, urged Washington on Tuesday not to support Tibetan independence and said the White House “must not sign the bill into law,” or China will take “resolute measures,” without elaborating on what these measures may be.
“It’s known by all that the 14th Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure, but a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion,” Lin added, urging the US side to “have no contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world.”
The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he only advocates substantial autonomy and protection of Tibet’s native Buddhist culture.
The Tibetan spiritual leader has a history of engaging with US officials, including meeting American presidents — from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama — except for Donald Trump. He has yet to meet Biden since he took office in 2021.
The Dalai Lama is expected to travel to the US on Thursday for medical treatment on his knees, but it is unclear if he will meet any officials while there.
Meanwhile, Beijing has repeatedly asked the US not to interfere with Tibetan affairs and has argued that the people of Tibet have enjoyed social stability and economic growth under its rule.
While India considers Tibet to be part of China, it hosts Tibetan exiles.

Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive

Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive
Updated 8 sec ago
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Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive

Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive
  • India battling extreme weather that caused severe heatwaves, landslides and floods
  • Billions across Asia are grappling with extreme heat this summer, in a trend worsened by climate change

GUWAHATI, India: India was battling on Wednesday extreme weather that caused severe heatwaves, landslides and floods, killing at least 11 people this week, among them a woman and her three daughters buried alive in a northeastern state, officials and media said.
The capital, New Delhi, sweltered through its hottest night in six years on Tuesday, with hospitals in the city of 20 million reporting at least five deaths from heatstroke this week, the Times of India newspaper said.
Floods and landslides triggered by incessant rain in the northeastern state of Assam killed at least six people on Tuesday night, officials said.
“A landslide buried a woman and her three daughters alive,” a state disaster management official, Siju Das, said by telephone.
“Their house was on a slope, and they died on the spot around midnight,” he said, adding that the bodies were retrieved after a three-hour search operation by rescuers.
“A three-year-old was killed too.”
Billions across Asia are grappling with extreme heat this summer, in a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change.
Since March, temperatures have soared to 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) in Delhi and the nearby desert state of Rajasthan, while more than twice the usual number of heatwave days were recorded this season in the country’s northwest and east.
These conditions stemmed from fewer thundershowers, as well as warm winds blowing in from neighboring arid regions.
In Assam, more than 160,000 people were affected, with waters surpassing the danger level in the Kopili, one of the largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra, which ranks among India’s biggest rivers.
More than 30 people in the state have died since the end of May in floods and landslides brought by heavy rain, officials said.


Landslides kill nine as Bangladesh lashed by rain

Landslides kill nine as Bangladesh lashed by rain
Updated 15 min 23 sec ago
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Landslides kill nine as Bangladesh lashed by rain

Landslides kill nine as Bangladesh lashed by rain
  • Bangladesh, a nation of around 170 million people, is among the countries most vulnerable to disasters and climate change
  • Those killed in landslides were in the southeastern Cox’s Bazar district

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: Torrential rains in Bangladesh have triggered landslides burying alive at least nine people and forcing thousands to flee to higher ground, police and government officials in the low-lying nation said Wednesday.
Schools have been turned into shelters for those abandoning their homes to rising river waters, while more than a million people have been stranded in northern areas.
Bangladesh, a nation of around 170 million people, is among the countries most vulnerable to disasters and climate change, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.
The annual monsoon rains cause widespread destruction every year, but experts say climate change is shifting weather patterns and increasing the number of extreme weather events.
“At least 700,000 people have been stranded by flash floods and heavy rains in Sylhet district, and another 500,000 people in neighboring Sunamganj district,” Abu Ahmed Siddique, commissioner of Bangladesh’s northeastern Sylhet district, told AFP.
Those killed in landslides were in the southeastern Cox’s Bazar district.
Eight were Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar, and the other was from Bangladesh, said Amir Jafar, a police official in command of security in the camps.
“They were sleeping in their shelters when heavy rains overnight triggered the landslides in five spots of the camps,” Jafar told AFP. “They were buried under the mud.”
He said hundreds of refugees had been moved from areas deemed at risk.
“The rain is still going on,” he said.
About one million Rohingya live in makeshift shelters of bamboo and tarpaulins in dozens of scattered camps cut out of cleared forest land on the slopes of small hills, where landslides are a regular threat.
In Sylhet, lashing rain and rivers swollen by flooding upstream in India also swamped heavily populated areas.
“More than 17,000 people have been taken to shelters only in Sylhet district,” senior local government official Sheikh Russel Hasan said, warning rivers were still rising.
Much of Bangladesh is made up of deltas as the Himalayan rivers of the Ganges and Brahmaputra slowly wind toward the sea.
Floods in 2022 in Sylhet were some of the worst on record, leaving millions stranded and around a hundred killed.
Towhidul Islam, chief administrative officer of Gowainghat, part of Sylhet, said the river had risen two centimeters (0.7 inches) in the first three hours after dawn.
“If the rain and water level continues to increase, the situation will get worse, like 2022,” Islam told AFP.


US lawmakers’ visit to Dalai Lama sparks China criticism

US lawmakers’ visit to Dalai Lama sparks China criticism
Updated 19 June 2024
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US lawmakers’ visit to Dalai Lama sparks China criticism

US lawmakers’ visit to Dalai Lama sparks China criticism
  • Lawmakers led by Congressman Michael McCaul and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the Buddhist spiritual leader at his home base in the northern Indian hill-town of Dharamsala

NEW DELHI: A group of senior US lawmakers including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi met Wednesday with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, sparking heavy criticism from China.
The bipartisan group of US lawmakers, led by Congressman Michael McCaul and Pelosi, visited the 88-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader at his home base in the northern Indian hill-town of Dharamsala.
Pelosi told crowds of Tibetans it was an “honor” to have met with the Dali Lama, in a speech carried by the government-in-exile’s Tibet TV.
“It is truly a blessing,” Pelosi said.
The visit follows the passage of a bill by the US Congress that seeks to encourage Beijing to hold talks with Tibetan leaders — frozen since 2010.
“This bill is a message to the Chinese government that we have clarity in our thinking and understanding in the issue of the freedom of Tibet,” she said.
Pelosi said the bill was “soon to be signed” by US President Joe Biden.
Ahead of the visit, China’s embassy in New Delhi criticized the meeting, saying the Dalai Lama was “not a pure religious figure, but a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion.”
Many exiled Tibetans fear Beijing will name a rival successor to the Dalai Lama, bolstering control over a land it poured troops into in 1950.
The Dalai Lama was just 23 when he escaped the Tibetan capital Lhasa in fear for his life after Chinese soldiers eviscerated an uprising against Beijing’s forces, crossing the snowy Himalayas into India.
He stepped down as his people’s political head in 2011, passing the baton of secular power to a government chosen democratically by some 130,000 Tibetans around the world.
“The democracy of the diaspora of the Tibetans in exile is very important to us,” Pelosi said.
Penpa Tsering, the sikyong or head of that government, said it does not seek full independence for Tibet, but rather to pursue a long-standing “Middle Way” policy seeking greater autonomy and “to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict through dialogue.”
But Beijing’s embassy accused the Tibetan administration of seeking to break away.
“We urge the US side to fully recognize the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai group,” the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India wrote on social media late Tuesday.
It reiterated its oft-repeated position that the high-altitude territory “has always been part of China since ancient times.”


Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin meet amid worry about Pyongyang and Moscow’s military ties

Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin meet amid worry about Pyongyang and Moscow’s military ties
Updated 19 June 2024
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Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin meet amid worry about Pyongyang and Moscow’s military ties

Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin meet amid worry about Pyongyang and Moscow’s military ties
  • Russian leader hails ‘close friendship’ between the two countries based on ‘equality and respect of mutual interests’
  • North Korean state media described the meeting between the leaders as a historic event

SEOUL: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow and Pyongyang will sign an agreement that will bolster their ties, and thanked North Korea for supporting the Kremlin’s policies in Ukraine.
Speaking at the start of his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Russian leader said in remarks carried by Russian state Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies that the “new fundamental document will form the basis of our ties for a long perspective.”
Putin also hailed a “close friendship” between the two countries based on “equality and respect of mutual interests,” and noted their “fight against the imperialist hegemonistic policies of the US and its satellites against the Russian Federation.”
“We highly appreciate your consistent and unchanging support of the Russian policies, including in the Ukrainian direction,” Putin added.
Putin was met upon his nighttime arrival by Kim, who shook his hands, hugged him twice and rode with him from the airport in a limousine in a huge motorcade that rolled through the capital’s brightly illuminated streets, where buildings were decorated with giant Russian flags and portraits of Putin.
North Korean state media described the meeting between the leaders as a historic event that demonstrates the “invincibility and durability” of the two nations’ friendship and unity. Huge crowds lined up on the streets to greet Putin’s motorcade before the talks, chanting “Welcome Putin” and waving flowers and North Korean and Russian flags.
Putin, making his first trip to North Korea in 24 years, was quoted in official media outlets before his arrival as saying the two countries want to cooperate closely to overcome US-led sanctions and actively develop their partnership. He also said he appreciated North Korea’s firm support of his military actions in Ukraine. The Kremlin launched a full-scale invasion of the neighboring country in 2022.
Putin’s visit comes amid growing concerns about an arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that would enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.
North Korea is under heavy UN Security Council economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, while Russia is also grappling with sanctions by the United States and its Western partners over its aggression in Ukraine.
Putin is being accompanied by several top officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Denis Mantrurov, Defense Minister Andrei Belousov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to his foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov. He said a number of documents will be signed during the visit, possibly including an agreement on a comprehensive strategic partnership.
US and South Korean officials accuse the North of providing Russia with artillery, missiles and other military equipment for use in Ukraine, possibly in return for key military technologies and aid. Both Pyongyang and Moscow deny accusations about North Korean weapons transfers, which would violate multiple UN Security Council sanctions that Russia previously endorsed.
Along with China, Russia has provided political cover for Kim’s continuing efforts to advance his nuclear arsenal, repeatedly blocking US-led efforts to impose fresh UN sanctions on the North over its weapons tests.
Aside of sending military supplies to Russia to help its war fighting Ukraine, the North may also seek to increase labor exports and other illicit activities to gain foreign currency in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions, according to a recent report by the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank run by South Korea’s main spy agency. There will likely be talks about expanding cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and mining and further promoting Russian tourism to North Korea, the institute said.