Strikes kill 19 in Ukraine’s Odessa

This handout picture released by the Ukraine’s State Emergency Service on Friday shows a firefighter putting out the fire in a residents building hit by a missile strike in Odessa, killing over 16 and 30 injuring. (AFP)
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Updated 01 July 2022

Strikes kill 19 in Ukraine’s Odessa

  • Two children were among the dead and six others among the injured
  • The strikes were launched by aircraft that flew in from the Black Sea

KYIV: Missile strikes killed 19 people and wounded dozens in Ukraine’s Odessa region Friday, a day after Russian troops abandoned positions on a strategic island in a major setback to the Kremlin’s invasion.
Two children were among the dead and six others among the injured, Ukrainian officials said, one day after US President Joe Biden announced $800 million in new weapons for Kyiv at a NATO summit.
The missiles slammed into an apartment building and a recreation center early Friday in the town of Serhiivka about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Black Sea port of Odessa, which has become a strategic flashpoint in the conflict.
“The death toll is 19 people,” wrote Sergiy Kruk, head of the Ukrainian emergency services, on Facebook. Thirty-eight people were wounded, including six children, he added.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior official at the Ukrainian presidency, earlier put the death toll at 18, including two children.
The strikes were launched by aircraft that flew in from the Black Sea, said Odessa military administration spokesman Sergiy Bratchuk.
“The worst-case scenario played out and two strategic aircraft came to the Odessa region,” he said in a TV interview, adding they had fired “very heavy and very powerful” missiles.
There was no immediate comment from Russia on the strikes.
The strikes follow global outrage earlier this week when a Russian strike destroyed a shopping center in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, killing at least 18 civilians. President Vladimir Putin has denied Moscow’s forces were responsible.
On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a “new” chapter of “history” with the European Union, after Brussels recently granted Ukraine “candidate status” in Kyiv’s push to join the 27-member bloc, even if membership is likely years away.
“We’re not close. Now we are together,” he told Ukraine’s parliament.
“We made a journey of 115 days to candidate status and our journey to membership shouldn’t take decades. We should make it down this road quickly,” Zelensky said.
One day earlier he announced Ukraine had begun exporting electricity to the EU, via Romania, as fears grow of an energy crisis in Europe due to reduced Russian gas deliveries.
The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told Ukrainian lawmakers Friday that membership was “within reach” but urged them to make anti-corruption reforms.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, four people died and three were wounded in shelling in Izium and Chuguiv, two districts of the Kharkiv region of north-eastern Ukraine in the last 24 hours, said Oleg Synegubov, Kharkiv chief of district on Telegram.
Ukrainian officials also accused Russian forces of shelling relentlessly the city of Lysychansk in the eastern Donbas region.
Capturing the city would allow the Russians to push deeper in the Donbas, which has become the focus of their offensive since failing to capture Kyiv after their February invasion.
Sergiy Gaiday — governor of the Lugansk region, which includes Lysychansk — said the city continued to face heavy shelling.
“Evacuation from Lysychansk is not possible for now,” he said. “The town is being ruined constantly,” he added.
On Thursday, Russian troops abandoned their positions on Snake Island, which had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance in the first days of the war and was also a strategic target, sitting aside shipping lanes near the port of Odessa.
Russia had attempted to install missile and air defense batteries while under fire from drones.
Zelensky said Russia’s decision to abandon Snake Island “changes the situation in the Black Sea considerably.”
“It does not yet guarantee security. It does not yet guarantee that the enemy will not return. But it already considerably limits the actions of the occupiers,” he said.
The Russian defense ministry described the retreat as “a gesture of goodwill” meant to demonstrate that Moscow will not interfere with UN efforts to organize protected grain exports from Ukraine.
In peacetime, Ukraine is a major agricultural exporter, but Russia’s invasion has damaged farmland and seen Ukraine’s ports seized, razed or blockaded — sparking concerns about food shortages, particularly in poor countries.
Western powers have accused Putin of using the trapped harvest as a weapon to increase pressure on the international community, and Russia has been accused of stealing grain.
The conflict in Ukraine dominated the NATO summit in Madrid this week, as the alliance officially invited Sweden and Finland to join, and Biden announced new deployments of US troops, ships and planes to Europe.
On Thursday, Biden vowed that the United States and NATO would “stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes to make sure they are not defeated by Russia.”
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov compared surging diplomatic tensions to the Cold War.
“As far as an Iron Curtain is concerned, essentially it is already descending... The process has begun,” he told reporters.
On Thursday, a ship carrying 7,000 tons of grain sailed from Ukraine’s occupied port of Berdyansk, said the regional leader appointed by the Russian occupation forces.
Evgeny Balitsky, the head of the pro-Moscow administration, said Russia’s Black Sea ships “are ensuring the security” of the journey, adding that the port had been de-mined.


Biden to host Macron for state visit at White House Dec 1

Updated 11 sec ago

Biden to host Macron for state visit at White House Dec 1

  • State visits, which feature more pomp and ceremony than the frequent bilateral meetings hosted by US presidents for foreign leaders, have not taken place so far during Biden’s presidency
  • Asked why France had been chosen for the honor ahead of other US allies, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said ‘we deeply value our relationship with France’
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden will host French President Emmanuel Macron at the White House on December 1 for the first full-scale state visit of his administration, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.
The visit will “underscore the deep and enduring relationship between the United States and France, our oldest ally,” Jean-Pierre told reporters at the White House.
State visits, which feature more pomp and ceremony than the frequent bilateral meetings hosted by US presidents for foreign leaders, have not taken place so far during Biden’s presidency, which Jean-Pierre attributed to Covid pandemic restrictions.
Asked why France had been chosen for the honor ahead of other US allies, Jean-Pierre said “we deeply value our relationship with France.”
The link between the two countries is “founded on shared democratic values, economic ties, and defense and security cooperation,” she said.
Relations between Paris and Washington hit a major crisis last year when Australia abruptly announced it was ditching a contract to buy conventional French submarines in favor of a US nuclear-powered submarine deal.

After floods, thousands displaced in southern Pakistan to move to ‘tent-city’

Updated 12 min 10 sec ago

After floods, thousands displaced in southern Pakistan to move to ‘tent-city’

  • Nearly 1.5 million people are displaced in southern Sindh province
  • Makeshift facility in Karachi will comprise about 1,300 tents, official says

KARACHI: Thousands of people in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh will be moved to a “tent city” in the provincial capital Karachi this week, officials said on Monday, in the aftermath of catastrophic floods that had submerged a third of the country and killed over 1,600 people.

Torrential rains and melting glaciers in the mountains of Pakistan’s north triggered floods that have swept away homes, key infrastructure, livestock and crops, affecting 33 million of Pakistan’s 220 million people since mid-June.

With nearly 1.5 million people displaced in Sindh province, the local government has been using public schools as temporary shelters. In Karachi, thousands of people have taken refuge in 30 schools in the city.

Local officials are preparing to move the victims to a makeshift facility located in the suburbs of Malir, an administrative district in the eastern part of Karachi, with the relocation set to begin this week.

“About 7,000 people living in our relief camps would be shifted and the schools will be vacated,” said Raja Tariq Chandio, deputy commissioner of Karachi’s East District, where the schools currently used as shelters are located.

The temporary settlement will comprise about 1,300 tents, and K-Electric, the city’s sole power distributor, will set up a power transmission line to provide electricity to the camp, Malir’s Deputy Commissioner Irfan Salam told Arab News.

“In the tent city, flood victims will have safe drinking water and cooked meals. It has 20 washrooms and a hospital with men and women doctors and paramedics,” Salam said.

“It will take at least 10 days for K-Electric to set up the power transmission line,” he added. “Within two days, people will be moved to the tent city.”

A charity organization will be providing meals for the displaced people relocated to Malir, he added, while children will get to attend classes organized by the Sindh Education Foundation.

The deadly floods in Pakistan inundated around 15,000 schools across Sindh alone, where classes have yet to resume. Millions of students in the province are at risk of being permanently out of school, Sindh Education Minister Sardar Ali Shah said earlier this month, as the government lacked resources to rebuild the damaged facilities.

Officials said there are plans to restart classes in Karachi after displaced residents are moved to Malir, when the buildings currently used as temporary shelters can again be used for lessons.

“We are happy that classes are going to resume soon,” Javed Shah, a teacher at the Government Boys Primary School, told Arab News. “We will bring the schools to order to resume classes.”


Bangladesh still searching for missing passengers after deadly boat accident

Updated 20 min 3 sec ago

Bangladesh still searching for missing passengers after deadly boat accident

  • Government launches probe as about 30 not found, 35 dead
  • Small vessel packed with Hindu devotees, women and children

DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities continued their search on Monday for missing passengers after an overloaded boat sank in the country’s northern district and killed at least 35 people in the worst waterways disaster to hit the South Asian nation this year.

The small boat, packed with mostly Hindu devotees, and women and children, sank in the Karatoya river on Sunday. Some passengers were returning from a popular temple in the northern Panchagarh district on the occasion of the Durga Puja celebrations.

Authorities have recovered the bodies of 35 people as of Monday afternoon, comprising 17 women, 11 children, and seven men, Panchagarh district administrator Mohammad Jahurul Islam told Arab News.

“Until Monday afternoon we have found 35 dead bodies,” Islam said. “Still, 20 to 30 people are missing. However, we found some missing people alive today as they were rescued by the locals on Sunday and took shelter in the homes of nearby relatives.”

A committee has been formed to investigate the incident and is expected to file a report within three days, he added.

“This sort of boat capsize is very rare in this region, because these small rivers are mostly calm in nature,” Islam said.

Officials suspect the fatal incident had occurred due to overcrowding.

“It seems that the boat had capsized due to overload(ing),” Shahjahan Ali, who led the search and rescue operations, told Arab News.

“We are conducting the operations in a 15-kilometer radius in the surrounding areas of the river. Now our operations are ongoing in some special areas where few of the bodies might have been floating around. Tomorrow we will also continue the search,” he added.

Bangladesh sees hundreds of people die each year in ferry accidents, due to lax safety standards despite extensive inland waterways in the low-lying country.

At least 34 people died in April 2021 after an overcrowded ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on the Shitalakhsya River outside the capital Dhaka.


Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

Updated 26 September 2022

Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

  • Protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up
  • Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani has long been aligned with ultra-conservative establishment

TEHERAN: A leading Iranian cleric has urged authorities "to listen to the people", as protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of major cities across Iran, including the capital Teheran, for 10 straight nights since the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old was pronounced dead on Sept 16, three days after her arrest in the capital for allegedly breaching Iran's dress code for women.

"The leaders must listen to the demands of the people, resolve their problems and show sensitivity to their rights," said Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani in a statement posted on his website on Sunday.

The powerful 97-year-old cleric has long been aligned with the country's ultra-conservative establishment and strongly backed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on several occasions - notably during the 2009 protests against the reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Any insult to the sanctities and any attack on the rights of the people and public property are condemned," Hamedani added.

At least 41 people have been killed since the protests began on Sept 16, mostly protesters but including security forces, according to an official toll.

The protests have spread to several cities, where demonstrators have shouted slogans against the authorities, according to local media.

More than 1,200 demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations across the country.

On Sept 18, Grand Ayatollah Assadollah Bayat Zanjani, a cleric seen as close to the reformists, denounced what he said were "illegitimate" and "illegal" actions behind the "regrettable incident" of Amini's death.


Apple says it will manufacture iPhone 14 in India

Updated 26 September 2022

Apple says it will manufacture iPhone 14 in India

  • Tech giant is moving some of its production away from China
  • Apple could make one out of four iPhones in India by 2025

NEW DELHI: Apple Inc said on Monday it will manufacture its latest iPhone 14 in India, as the tech giant moves some of its production away from China.

The company launched the flagship iPhone 14 at an event earlier this month, where it focused on safety upgrades rather than flashy new technical specifications, with the exception of a new adventure-focused watch.

"The new iPhone 14 lineup introduces groundbreaking new technologies and important safety capabilities. We're excited to be manufacturing iPhone 14 in India," Apple said in a statement.

Analysts at J.P.Morgan expect Apple to move about 5% of iPhone 14 production from late 2022 to India, which is the world's second-biggest smartphone market after China.

Apple could make one out of four iPhones in India by 2025, JPM analysts said in a note last week.