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Record heat broils Japan, prompting warnings

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Record heat broils Japan

TOKYO: Japanese officials issued new warnings Monday as a deadly heatwave blankets the country, producing record high temperatures in Tokyo just two years before the city hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Officials said last week that the heatwave had killed at least 15 people and forced the hospitalization of over 12,000 others in the first two weeks of July. But the death toll may be more than double that, with Kyodo News agency reporting 11 people died on Saturday alone across Japan. An updated official toll is expected later this week.
The heatwave has toppled temperature records across the country, with Kumagaya in Saitama outside Tokyo setting a new nationwide record on Monday with temperatures hitting 41.1 Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit).  And in western Tokyo’s Ome, temperatures hit 40.3 degrees Celsius, the first time temperatures over 40 have been recorded in Tokyo’s metro area.
Records fell at 13 other observation stations across the country, with more than a dozen cities and towns seeing temperatures around 40 degrees, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.  “People in areas where temperatures are as high as 35 degrees or higher should be extremely careful” to avoid heatstroke, meteorological agency official Minako Sakurai told AFP. “And even at lower temperatures, the heat can be dangerous for small children and elderly people, and depending on the environment and activities you are doing,” she warned.
“People should be all the more careful as many people must be exhausted after days of cruelly hot weather,” she added. Yoshihide Suga, a top government spokesman, warned that extremely hot days “are expected to continue until early August.”  Japan’s disaster management agency has urged people to use air conditioning, drink sufficient water and rest often while at work. The heatwave follows record rainfall that devastated parts of western and central Japan with floods and landslides that killed over 220 people.
Japan’s summers are notoriously hot and humid, and hundreds of people die each year from heatstroke, particularly the elderly in the country’s aging society. But this year’s record temperatures have surprised residents and officials alike and revived concerns about the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in July and August in Tokyo. Olympic officials and Tokyo’s local government are touting measures from solar-blocking paint on roads to mobile misting stations to tackle the heat.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike acknowledged Monday that the recent heatwave was “exactly like living in a sauna. For the athletes, they’re trained but for spectators who are cheering on the road, we may not necessarily be able to say the same,” she said at a Monday press conference. “Countermeasures against heat is one of the major pillars for the success of the 2020 Olympics.”

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Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism!

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Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism

KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stressed for a joint strategy to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the region.

Pakistani Foreign Minister was addressing a joint Presser along with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts after trilateral dialogue here today.  Shah Mehmood Qureishi held that only through collective efforts we can wipe out terrorism and achieve the objectives of peace and development.  Maintaining that we all want peace and stability in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister said Pakistan would benefit the most from the peace and stability of the neighboring country. 

He said Pakistan will extend cooperation to bring all the Afghan groups to the table of negotiations. He, however, said it is up to the Afghans themselves as to how they want to achieve the goal of peace.  Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said he is visiting Kabul to bridge the trust deficit. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressing the Media personnel held that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends of China and his country would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries. He said his country will also assist in establishing connectivity projects including a rail line between Peshawar-Kabul and Kandahar. The Chinese foreign minister said the Afghan reconciliation process can be taken forward by bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations.

Salahuddin Rabbani, the Afghan Foreign Minister, said Pakistan has an important role for peace in Afghanistan.  He said peace in his country is vital for peace and security of the entire region. He said eradication of terrorism will pave the way for economic development and augmentation of employment opportunities. 

Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul today and discussed improvement in bilateral relations and important issues of mutual and regional interest. Foreign Minister on the occasion said trilateral dialogue forum will help promote connectivity as well as regional peace and stability. He expressed the hope that a stable Afghanistan will lead to the well-being of the whole region. Foreign Minister Qureshi congratulated Afghan President on making best arrangements for holding of trilateral dialogue. President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani thanked Shah Mehmood Qureshi for participating in the trilateral dialogue and his assurance of cooperation. 

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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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