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Blast hits Central Paris, 2 killed, Several injured

The police had originally said four people died, before revising down the death count. Thirty seven people were injured, 10 seriously, including a firefighter.

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FRANCE PARIS GAS BLAST

Paris, Jan 12 : Two firefighters died and dozens were injured after a gas leak led to an explosion at a bakery in central Paris on Saturday, officials said.

The blast took place at 9.10 a.m. (local time) at the bakery on Rue de Trevise in the 9th arrondissement of the French capital as firefighters were responding to reports of the leak, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was cited as saying by the BBC.

The police had originally said four people died, before revising down the death count. Thirty seven people were injured, 10 seriously, including a firefighter.

“Profound sadness. Standing by the families of victims. The nation shares in their pain,” Castaner tweeted.

He visited the scene with Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and the city’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo and said the situation was under control. He wrote earlier on Twitter that the toll of victims “will be heavy”.

The explosion caused windows to shatter in the vicinity and glass to rattle over a larger area, while significant damage to the surrounding buildings and shops was visible on the streets, Efe news reported.

Pictures from the scene showed smashed windows and scattered debris across the street, as fire crews evacuated people from apartments above the bakery.

“At this stage, we can tell the origin of the explosion is accidental, a gas leak, but we should remain prudent as an ongoing investigation will determine the causes of this,” said Prosecutor Rémy Heitz.

The police advised the public to stay away from the area and to make space for emergency vehicles.

Jean, a young man who lives in front of the bakery, told Efe news that several windows in his house were smashed after a rumble in the streets in a scene “that looked like an earthquake”.

The incident occurred as new anti-government protests were being held in Paris and other French cities.

Some 80,000 police officers were due to be on duty on Saturday as “yellow vest” demonstrators keep up their pressure protest, even though the Paris explosion was not thought to be connected with the demonstrations.

World

Six Indians died in Russia ship fire: MEA

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Raveesh Kumar , MEA

New Delhi, Jan 23: Six Indians were killed and six others remain missing after a major fire broke out on two Tanzanian-flagged ships in the Black Sea, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

Conveying its condolences to the families of the Indian seamen, the Ministry identified the victims as Pinal Kumar Bharatbhai Tandel, Vikram Singh, Sarvanan Nagarajan, Vishal Dod, Raj Debnarayan Pani (from vessel Candy) and Karankumar Haribhai (Maestro).

The missing Indians are Maestro’s Siddharth Meher, Neeraj Singh, Sebastian Britto Breezlin Sahayaraj and Anandasekar Avinash and Candy’s Rushikesh Raju Sakpal and Akshay Baban Jadhav.

Four Indians were rescued: Harish Joi, Sachin Singh, Ashish Ashok Nair and Kamleshbhai Gopalbhai Tandel.

A Ministry statement said the Russian Maritime Agency and Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre Novorossiysk were continuing their efforts to locate those listed as missing.

Saying that the Director General Communication Centre at the Indian Registry of Shipping in Mumbai was in touch with the families of the Indian seamen, the statement said arrangements were being made to bring back the bodies of the deceased.

The two ships had a total of 32 crew members including Turks, Indians and a Libyan intern.

Preliminary information said the fire erupted on Monday night due to the failure of a pump being used to transfer fuel between the two vessels in violation of security regulations, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Tuesday.

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India

Xi likely to visit India before general elections: Report

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Modi Xi

New Delhi, Jan 23: Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit India for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before this year’s general elections and as early as February, a media report suggested on Wednesday.

Reporting out of Beijing and New Delhi, the Nikkei Asia Review business journal cited an Indian source as saying that the visit might happen as early as February with the elections due in May though a Chinese source was quoted as saying it will take place after China’s National People’s Congress in March.

The report comes amid speculation here about when Modi will host Xi for a return informal summit with elections around the corner. The Chinese leader hosted the Prime Minister for a similar summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April last year.

According to the report, the impending visit is being seen as a move by Beijing to counter Washington’s increasingly antagonistic trade policy and aggressive Indo-Pacific diplomacy.

It stated that Xi is expected to discuss with Modi measures to defuse border tensions as well as propose deals to expand imports of Indian farm products and increase cooperation in advanced technologies.

“The visit, whenever it occurs, offers Modi a golden opportunity to show voters a diplomatic victory ahead of an election in which he likely faces an uphill fight,” the report said.

In 2017, Indian and Chinese troops were in a face-to-face situation at the Doklam region in India-Bhutan-China international trijunction after China’s People’s Liberation Army tried to construct a road there.

After being made President for life, Xi then hosted Modi for the informal summit last year to break the chill in bilateral ties in the wake of the Doklam incident.

In 2018, apart from the Wuhan summit, Modi and Xi met three more times – on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July and the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December.

Xi’s visit will also help Beijing in re-balancing its strategy in the Indo-Pacific after India, the US, Japan and Australia revived a quad in 2017 to work for peace and prosperity in the region.

The revival of the quad was seen as a move by these four important powers to counter China’s increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific, a region stretching from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa.

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China imposes anti-dumping duty on Indian and Japanese import

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Beijing, Jan 22 : China’s Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday it has decided to impose anti-dumping duties on ortho dichlorobenzene (ODCB) imported from Japan and India as of Wednesday.

The announcement comes on the same day when India’s visiting Commerce Secretary met the Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen and discussed trade deficit in favour of Beijing.

The domestic industry has been subject to substantial damages due to the dumping of these products, the ministry said in a final ruling after anti-dumping investigations into the imports.

From Wednesday, duties will be collected at rates ranging from 31.9 percent to 70.4 percent for a five-year period, Xinhua quoted the Commerce Ministry as saying.

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