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Indonesia calls off search for dead in quake-tsunami

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Indonesia calls off search for dead in quake-tsunami

PALU: Indonesia today called off the grim search for those killed in the quake-tsunami, with no hope of retrieving around 5,000 bodies believed to be still buried under the ruins nearly two weeks after the disaster.
The magnitude 7.5-quake and a subsequent tsunami razed swathes of the city of Palu on Sulawesi island on September 28.
A total 2,065 bodies had been recovered since the twin disaster, the disaster agency said Thursday. But authorities fear 5,000 more could be buried beneath the ruined city, where entire villages were swallowed. Rescuers had struggled to find remains in the twisted wreckage, a job made worse as mud hardened and bodies decomposed in the tropical heat.
“The search and rescue (SAR) operation for the victims will end this Thursday afternoon,” SAR field director in Palu, Bambang Suryo, told the Media. 
“Considering the difficulty on the ground, we really need to consider the health and safety of our rescue personnel.”
Teams would, however, remain on standby in Palu until October 26, when a state of emergency is expected to be lifted. The government earlier indicated that hard-hit areas would be left untouched as mass graves.
Parks and monuments are planned at three of these worst-hit areas – Balaroa, Petobo, and Jono Oge – to commemorate the possibly thousands of dead who will never be found.
Those zones were all but destroyed by liquefaction, a phenomenon where the brute force of a quake turns the soil to quicksand. More than 200,000 people remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Palu, with clean drinking water and medical supplies still in short supply.
The United Nations has sought $50.5 million for immediate relief to help the victims. Planeloads of donations have flown into Palu from the United States, Australia, the European Union, and the Philippines, among many others.
Nearly 80,000 people were displaced by the disaster, many sheltering in tents outside their destroyed homes. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will tour the disaster zone with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Friday.
Central Sulawesi governor Longki Djanggola said the survivors would be supported in their time of need. “I am sure Central Sulawesi will rise again,” he said in a statement.
Humanitarian efforts have accelerated into the disaster-ravaged city, but the recovery effort was criticized for moving too slowly.
Looters ransacked shops in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, as food and water ran dry and convoys bringing life-saving relief were slow to arrive.
Getting vital supplies to the affected areas proved hugely challenging as flights into Palu were limited by its small airport, leaving aid workers facing grueling overland journeys. Indonesia initially refused international help, saying the military had the situation in hand.
Four days after the disaster, once the picture became clearer, President Joko Widodo reluctantly agreed to allow in overseas aid.
But earlier this week foreign aid workers were told to withdraw their personnel, frustrating some groups keen to help out on the ground.
Some foreign rescue teams were unable to access the disaster zone and deploy quickly to help search for the dead and missing.
“We just came here because the government of Indonesia asked for assistance,” said Marcus Butler from South African charity Gift of the Givers, which was denied permission to help with the search.
“They say there is no need for aid in Indonesia. But look at all these people,” he told the Media. Indonesia sits along the world’s most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
Another earthquake rattled the region Thursday, killing at least three people in Java and sending tourists and IMF delegates in Bali for a major summit scrambling from hotels.
The 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Bali and Java islands in the early hours, jolting residents awake and sending them rushing into the streets.

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Ankara train crash leaves nine dead

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ANKARA: Nine people were killed and nearly 90 injured after a high-speed train crashed into a locomotive in the Turkish capital on Thursday, officials said, becoming the latest rail disaster to hit the country.
The accident comes less than six months after 24 people were killed in a train crash in northwestern Turkey in a series of several fatal accidents in recent years.
Transport Minister Cahit Turhan told reporters that three of those killed were operators of the train. One of the victims died in hospital, he added.
Among those killed was a German citizen, a source in the Ankara governor’s office told AFP, confirming reports in German media.
The Ankara public prosecutor said 86 people were injured. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said 34 of those injured were still in hospital for treatment.
Two were in a serious condition, Koca added on Twitter.
The fast train had been on its way from Ankara’s main station to the central province of Konya. According to Hurriyet daily, there were 206 passengers on board.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said three people had been detained. In a speech in Ankara, he vowed those responsible would be held to account.
The three were employees of the Turkish state railways agency who were detained over suspected negligence, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Ankara governor Vasip Sahin said the accident happened “after the 6.30 high-speed train to Konya hit a locomotive tasked with checking rails on the same route.”
Turhan said the accident took place six minutes after the train left Ankara as it entered the Marsandiz station.
The governor said, “technical investigations” were underway to find out exactly what caused the crash in Yenimahalle district.
The capital’s chief prosecutor launched an investigation into the crash, Anadolu said.
Images published by Turkish media showed some wagons had derailed and debris from the train scattered on the track, which was covered in snow.
The windows of one wagon were completely broken while another wagon had been smashed after hitting the footbridge, which also collapsed, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
The correspondent saw at least seven bodies taken away as rescue workers searched the blue and white wagons covered with debris.
Turkish Red Crescent relief workers distributed blankets and tea to the survivors, who were gathered on a road near the scene that had been blocked to traffic.
A female witness whose name was not given told NTV broadcaster that the passenger train had not yet increased its speed when the crash happened.
A relative of one of those aboard the train told the channel that some passengers had broken windows and then safely exited the wagons.
One of those killed was Berahitdin Albayrak, a science lecturer and former vice-chancellor at Ankara University, the institution said on Twitter.
Later trains from Konya to Ankara and vice versa were canceled.

 

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ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.

In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.  

The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector.  The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.

ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).

The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL).  The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources.  ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.

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Modi loosing from traditional stronghld!

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NEW DEHLI: India’s ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing election results on Tuesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls in 2019.

Early election results in the central state of Chhattisgarh indicated the main opposition Congress party of Rahul Gandhi would win 59 seats compared to just 11 for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Hindu nationalist BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.

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