Cyclone Amphan tears into India; destroys homes, whips up storm surge

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020   •   533

A powerful cyclone tore into eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday (May 20), destroying mud houses and embankments and whipping up a storm surge along the coast, officials said, after millions of people were moved out of its path.

At least one 70-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Bangladesh’s coastal Bhola district, a police official said. The low-lying country has evacuated 2.4 million people to shelters.

Another 650,000 people have been moved to safety in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, authorities said, an operation carried out amid surging coronavirus infections.

It was too early to estimate a toll on life or damage to property.

Cyclone Amphan began moving inland with winds gusting up to 185 kph, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters.

Mohapatra said that the storm surge could rise to around five metres in the Sundarbans delta, home to around four million people and thick mangrove forests that are a critical tiger habitat.

The storm will also sweep past Kolkata, a sprawling city of 4.5 million people, where strong winds uprooted trees and electricity poles, littering several streets, television showed.

A home ministry official said authorities in West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha had struggled to house thousands of evacuees as shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centres.

Extra shelters were being prepared in markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks were being distributed to villagers.

Police in West Bengal said some people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of being infected by the coronavirus and many were refusing to leave their livestock. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Mussab Al-Khairalla)

Bangladesh ferry accident kills at least 23

UNTV News   •   June 29, 2020

At least 23 ferry passengers were killed in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Monday (June 29) when the vessel sank after a collision, officials said.

The boat had around 50 passengers aboard when it capsized in the Buriganga river that runs along southwest Dhaka, a fire service official told Reuters.

The dead include six women and three children, he added.

Some passengers swam ashore to safety but some were missing.

“He is my younger brother. Everyday he comes to Dhaka with this ferry but today this has happened. I want to see his body – please you all, help me. I just want to see the body,” said relative of victim Monir Hossain.

Hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents in Bangladesh, a low-lying country that has extensive inland waterways but slack safety standards. (Reuters)

(Production: Rafiqur Rahman)

Filipino repatriates from Sri Lanka, India return to their provinces

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 18, 2020

Filipino repatriates from Sri Lanka and India returned to their respective provinces on Wednesday (June 17).

The Philippine Navy facilitated the return of the Filipino repatriates who were stranded overseas due to travel restrictions spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were accommodated by BRP Davao Del Sur (LD602) during the Naval Task Forces humanitarian mission in the Middle East.

“These repatriates considered as returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) already finished the required quarantine period aboard ship and were tested negative for coronavirus in the swab testing conducted upon their arrival,” the Navy said. AAC

China conducts high-altitude military drill as tensions flare with India

UNTV News   •   June 18, 2020

China recently conducted a military drill at the south of the Tanggula Mountains in Tibet, according to the state broadcaster CCTV, amid rising tensions between China and India.

The drill, involving dozens of tanks and armed vehicles, was to test troops’ capabilities operating in extreme situations at a high elevation, reported CCTV.

Tensions have been running high along the border of China and India.

India’s army said on Tuesday (June 16) 20 of its soldiers had been killed in clashes with Chinese troops at a disputed border site in the western Himalayas.

The deaths were the first since the last major border clash in 1967 between the nuclear-armed neighbors – also the world’s two most populous countries – which have been unable to settle the dispute along their lengthy frontier.

Since early May, hundreds of soldiers have fronted up against each other at three locations, each side accusing the other of trespassing. (Reuters)

(Production: Irene Wang)

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