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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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Tokyo shares rise after Wall Street rally

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TOKYO: Stocks here ended higher today with investor sentiment boosted by robust corporate earnings that triggered a rally on Wall Street and lifted shares in Asia.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.29 percent or 291.88 points to 22,841.12 while the broader Topix index added 1.54 percent or 25.96 points at 1,713.87. Market sentiment brightened across Asia, after US and European shares extended gains on a wide range of factors including solid US business earnings, an apparent fading of tensions between Italy and the EU over Rome’s spending, and hopes that Brexit talks may see some progress. Tokyo players also embraced the dollar’s renewed strength.
The US unit kept its ground at 112.25 yen in Tokyo after reaching 112.26 in New York, higher than 111.95 yen seen at the start of the week. “Investors cheered gains of US shares on the back of robust corporate earnings, as well as the relative stability of US bond yields,” Okasan Online Securities said in a note. “The Nikkei index began the day with buy orders leading the way. The dollar hovered just above the 112-yen mark. The yen’s downswing also brightened the sentiment,” the brokerage said. Strong gains of US tech issues drove up Tokyo-based IT shares. IT investor SoftBank Group added 2.13 percent to 9,790 yen, partly on news that Uber was aiming at a valuation above $100 billion for its share offering. Softbank has a 15-percent stake in the ridesharing service.
Softbank stock had taken a hammering in recent days due to the firm’s links to Saudi Arabia, which is under intense international scrutiny after a journalist disappeared from its consulate in Istanbul. Sony jumped 2.23 percent to 6,498 yen. Panasonic rose 1.26 percent to 1,250.5 yen. Toyota gained 1.38 percent at 6,612 yen while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group added 1.84 percent to 4,481 yen. FujiFilm, which rose 1.66 percent to 4,890 yen, announced that a US court lifted an injunction that had stopped the firm’s merger talks with US printer maker Xerox. The Japanese firm plans to continue the discussion.

 

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Sindh offers vast opportunities for Iranian investors

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s southern Sindh province offers vast opportunities for investment and Iranian entrepreneurs can benefit from them by investing in different projects.

This was stated by Irani Consul General Ahmed Mohammadi while talking to the Media. He further said that Iran was willing to provide Pakistan with technical and engineering services in all sectors.
He added that Iran and Pakistan have a strong geographical position and this area has a very old civilization. The diplomat added trade between Iran and Pakistan should be further enhanced which will also help to boost bilateral ties.
Mohammadi stressed the need for exchange of delegations between the business communities of Iran and Pakistan.
He was of the view that private sectors of Iran and Pakistan must benefit from the vast business opportunities available to them in the two countries.
He noted that after a gap of fifteen years, many Iranian companies participated in Pakistan’s industrial expo held recently in Karachi.
He said that many Iranian companies and entrepreneurs displayed their products at the expo. Iran consul general went on to say that participation of Iranian businessmen in the expo provided a conducive environment to enhance trade ties between Iran and Pakistan.
He said that because of such activities, Iran-Pakistan bilateral trade has witnessed the growth of 16 percent. Mohammadi added that various steps such as reduction of prices have been taken to export Iranian candies and chocolates to Pakistan. The envoy said that Iranian businessmen can invest their money in different sectors of Sindh Province like, ceramics, dairies, and tiles.
He said that Iranian businessmen can easily open their offices in Karachi to export their products. He said that Iran and Pakistan right now are considering launching ferry service between Karachi and Bandar Abbas ports. He strongly believed that such a service would also help to enhance trade activities between the two friendly neighboring states.
He said that Iranian investors can also help Sindh province in improving its health facilities, enhancing waste management system, providing drinking water and infrastructure projects. Earlier Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while addressing the Iran-Pakistan Business Forum had said that Sindh Province boasts vast investment opportunities, particularly in energy, infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture and in various other sectors.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his visit to Pakistan also traveled to Karachi leading a high-level delegation of Iranian businessmen to explore investment opportunities in Sindh and boost trade between the two countries.
The Sindh government has already introduced the Public Private Partnership concept that is producing good results.
Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail during a meeting with Consul General of Iran in Karachi Ahmed Mohammadi had said that Iranian companies must benefit from tremendous investment opportunities emerging fast in Sindh Province.
A 2016 study commissioned by Pakistan Ministry of Planning found that urban Sindh and northern Punjab province are the most prosperous regions in Pakistan. Its GDP per capita was $1,400 in 2010 which is 50 percent more than the rest of the nation or 35 percent more than the national average.
Historically, Sindh’s contribution to Pakistan’s GDP has been between 30% to 32.7%. Its share in the service sector has ranged from 21% to 27.8% and in the agriculture sector from 21.4% to 27.7%. Performance wise, its best sector is the manufacturing sector, where its share has ranged from 36.7% to 46.5%.
In April this year, a high-level Iranian delegation led by Minister for Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhundi had visited the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to explore avenues of cooperation with Pakistan.
The delegation took a keen interest in the deepwater container port project of the KPT along with other future projects like multipurpose bulk terminal, Cargo Village, LNG Terminal and Port Elevated Expressway.
The delegation was briefed about the KPT infrastructure, the overall setup and the ensuing discussion specifically focused on the avenues of investments available to the private sector in Pakistan marine sector.
The delegation complimented the development works and offered to join hands for an interconnection linkage of the KPT and Bandar Abbas.
Sindh is the third largest province of Pakistan by area and second largest province by population after Punjab.  The provincial capital of Sindh in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and financial hub.
Sindh has Pakistan’s second-largest economy. Karachi hosts the headquarters of several multinational banks. Sindh is home to a large portion of Pakistan’s industrial sector and contains two of Pakistan’s commercial seaports, Port Bin Qasim and the Karachi Port.
Sindh also has an agriculture-based economy and produces fruit, food consumer items, and vegetables for the consumption of other parts of the country. Sindh is also the center of Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry.
Karachi is an attractive destination for national and international investors, due to its geographical location, provides ample investment opportunities to Iran too.
Huge potential exists for increasing cooperation between Government of Sindh and Iranian investors through joint venture Projects specifically in power and energy, shrimp farming and infrastructure development projects. Iran and Pakistan have already agreed to enhance the bilateral trade volume to $5 billion in the next five years.

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14 killed in bomb attack on Afghan election rally!

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KUNDUZ: A motorcycle carrying explosives blew up among supporters of an Afghan election candidate on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, officials said, in the latest attack on a political rally.
Violence related to the parliamentary vote has killed or wounded hundreds of people in recent months and more militant attacks are expected ahead of Afghanistan’s October 20 poll. More than 30 people were wounded in the explosion in the northeastern province of Takhar where candidate Nazifa Yousefibek had been campaigning, provincial governor spokesman Mohammad Jawad Hejri told the Media. Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said most of the 14 killed were civilians.
“The explosives were placed in a motorcycle and detonated behind a tent where Nazifa Yousefibek was campaigning,” Rahimi said.  Yousefibek was not hurt in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility.  Ambulances have been sent to the remote district of Rustaq where the attack happened, but officials also are seeking to airlift the wounded to hospitals, Hejri said.
Khan Jan, who told AFP he saw the explosion, said there had been a powerful blast and “a lot of people” had been killed. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the long-delayed legislative elections.  At least nine candidates have died so far, most of them in targeted killings, according to the Independent Election Commission.  A candidate was among eight people killed in a suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand – a Taliban stronghold – on October 9. No group has claimed responsibility.  That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to pull out of the “bogus” election, describing it as a “malicious American conspiracy”.
The group vowed to attack the ballot and those involved in it. An attack on a rally in the eastern province of Nangarhar on October 2 killed 13 people and wounded more than 40. The Islamic State group claimed the attack, which the candidate survived. Violence had been expected to escalate ahead of the poll. Preparations for the ballot, which is a test run for next year’s presidential vote, have been in turmoil for months and there has been a debate about whether the vote should go ahead.
Bureaucratic inefficiency, allegations of industrial-scale fraud and an eleventh-hour pledge for biometric verification of voters threaten to derail the process, which is three years late. Some 54,000 members of Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces will be responsible for protecting more than 5,000 polling centers on election day. But there are concerns over how they will manage as the Taliban and the Islamic State group step up attacks across the country.

 

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