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Heatwave pushes death toll in India

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Courtesy : Image grabbed from a Reuters video

INDIA – As many as 28 people have died in India’s Gaya city due to heat stroke, Bihar state health minister, Mangal Pandey, said on Monday (June 17).

Hospital wards at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College were full of people lying on hospital beds suffering from heat exhaustion over the weekend.

Speaking at a news conference, Pandy said that in some cases people had been brought into hospitals already dead.

The government of Bihar has ordered that all schools in the region remain closed until June 22 due to the intense heat after being previously due to reopen on Monday following the end of summer holidays.

At least 36 people have died from a heatwave this year, with the nation’s capital Delhi recording its highest-ever temperature of 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit), and temperatures in Churu in Rajasthan state hitting 51C.

India typically witnesses water scarcity during summer months, but the situation this year is particularly bad due to less than normal rainfall in the 2018 monsoon season.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had predicted that a heatwave would hit India from mid-March but the weather turned extreme in mid-May and is expected to last until mid-June. – REUTERS

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India ramps up relief efforts after Cyclone Fani hits eastern coast

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Tropical Cyclone Fani lashed coastal areas of eastern India on May 3, 2019. | Courtesy: Reuters

Relief efforts gathered pace on Friday (May 3) as a powerful cyclone lashed coastal areas of eastern India with torrential rain and winds gusting up to 200 kilometres per hour (124 mph).

Tropical Cyclone Fani, the strongest to hit India in five years, spent days building up power in the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal before it struck the coast of the state of Odisha at around 8 a.m. (0230 GMT), the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Howling winds and driving rain impacted visibility in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha state, leaving broken branches and felled trees strewn across the city’s streets.

Odisha had evacuated more than a million people from the most vulnerable communities along the low-lying coast, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Twitter.

Local authorities in the eastern seaport town of Paradeep said it was providing around 2,000 with hot meals across eight cyclone centres.

India’s cyclone season can last from April to December, when severe storms batter coastal cities and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both

India and neighbouring Bangladesh, but recent technological advances have helped meteorologists predict weather patterns more accurately and prepare. (REUTERS)

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Indians gather at border with Pakistan to welcome downed pilot

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019

Indian Soldiers and civilians await at border with Pakistan for the return of downed Pilot Abhinandan | Photo grabbed from a Reuters video

(REUTERS) — Indians eagerly waited for the return of a captured pilot by Islamabad on Friday (March 1), with some who have been staking out the Wagah border with Pakistan vowing to stay there until the arrival of their “hero”.

The pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan, became the human face of the flare-up over the contested region of Kashmir following the release of videos showing him being captured and later held in custody.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot would be released on Friday, even as his military reported that four Pakistani civilians had been killed by India firing across the disputed border in Kashmir.

The United States, China, European Union and other powers have urged restraint from the two nations, as tensions escalated following a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14.

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region has been at the heart of more than 70 years of animosity, since the partition of the British colony of India into the separate countries of Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India.

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DFA urges Filipinos to be vigilant amid tensions between India, Pakistan

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday urged Filipinos in India and Pakistan to be vigilant amid soaring tensions between the two countries.

In an advisory, the department advised Filipinos in the said countries to take necessary precautions and to avoid travelling to the Kashmir region.

DFA said there are approximately 1,780 Filipinos in Pakistan and 1,167 others in India, based on government data.

India and Pakistan have been reported to have shot down each other’s fighter jets on Wednesday as the international community called for restraint.

Pakistan even captured an Indian pilot a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war.

The two countries have been trading blows since at least 40 Indian paramilitary police died in a February 14 suicide car bombing led by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir. But the tensions escalated dramatically when India launched an airstrike on Tuesday on an alleged militant training base.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has expressed hope that India and Pakistan will exercise restraint even as it closely monitors the situation in Kashmir in the wake of rising tensions between the two countries,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA noted that although there are no Filipinos residing in Kashmir, all seven Filipino military observers serving with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) are safe.

Filipinos in Pakistan who may find themselves in emergency situations may call the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad at +92 333 524 4762 for assistance while those in India may wish to call the Philippines Embassy in New Delhi at (+91) 99 1079 7014. – Robie de Guzman

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