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70 dead in massive Dhaka fire

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Dhaka Fire
Photo Credit-IANS

Dhaka, Feb 21: Seventy people have lost their lives and 56 are injured in a massive fire in Bangladesh that has engulfed several multi-storey buildings in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka.

According to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) registrar nine of the injured with significant burn injuries were currently admitted to the hospital. The death toll was expected to rise.

The fire had begun at a chemical storehouse on the ground floor of the building. The narrow roads of the old town and the concentration of chemical and plastic factories and storages turned into firefighters’ nightmare late on Wednesday as they tried to limit casualties after the fire began at 10.35 p.m.

The fire-fighters managed to douse the flame by 3 a.m. nearly five hours after it broke out and engulfed the Haji Wahed Mansion at Nanda Kumar Lane in Chawkbazar’s Churihatta, Dhaka Tribune said.

The devastation was so huge that the mansion housing a warehouse of plastic products appeared to be tilted around 1.45 a.m., the media report said.

Earlier, a Fire Service Control Room official Mahfuz Riben confirmed the death of 69 people to the newspaper. “We have so far recovered all 69 bodies,” Riben had said, an hour before one more body was recovered.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police said the blaze spread rapidly due to multiple chemical godowns situated in the area. Fire Service Deputy Director Dilip Kumar Ghosh confirmed that the fire was finally doused completely around 3 a.m.

The death toll in the devastating inferno will rise, warned fire officials, who have been working throughout the night to douse the devastating blaze that first broke out in a three-storey building situated at the intersection of roads leading to Rahmatganj, Churihatta and Chawkbazar areas.

Numerous people, including women and children, were also injured and admitted to nearby hospitals, including Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) and Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital (Mitford Hospital).

“Our priority right now is to douse the fire completely and tend to the wounded,” Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon said.

Khokon and MP Haji M. Salim who had rushed to the spot, however, did not respond to questions about the warehouses in the buildings in Old Dhaka where chemicals are kept in unsafe conditions.

Wednesday night’s fire reminded many Old Dhaka residents of the Nimtoli fire tragedy that took place barely one kilometre from the spot on June 3, 2010 and killed at least 124 people.

In the last nine years though there has been little progress made in addressing the issues that led to the Nimtoli fire, or many smaller subsequent fires that took place, the media report added.

IANS

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US hardens stance against China’s South China Sea resource claims

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

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mike pompeo

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday hardened its rejection of China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, calling it “unlawful,” a move that will further sour the already-fraught ties between the world’s largest two economies.

China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other South Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration, said in a statement.

The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, even sending U.S. warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law,” Pompeo said.

The relationship between the United States and China has grown increasingly tense over the past six months over Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, its tightened grip on Hong Kong and its crackdown on China’s Uighur Muslim community.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year. Beijing has built bases atop atolls in the region but says its intentions are peaceful.

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Global coronavirus infections top 13 million

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Worldwide coronavirus infections passed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease which has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took three months to reach one million cases. It has taken just five days to climb to 13 million cases from 12 million recorded on July 8.

The number of cases is around triple that of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization.

There have been more than 568,500 deaths linked to the coronavirus so far, within the same range as the number of yearly influenza deaths reported worldwide. The first death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe and then later in the United States.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Other places, such as the Australian city of Melbourne, are implementing a second round of shutdowns.

The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in Latin America. The Americas account for more than half the world’s infections and half the deaths.

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10. In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

India, the country with the third-highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 26,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect only a proportion of total infections. Experts say official data likely under-represents both infections and deaths.

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India created fake Ayodhya, Ram was from Nepal: Nepali PM Oli

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli, on Monday, said that ‘real Ayodhya’ is in Nepal and ‘Lord Ram is Nepali not Indian’.

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KP Oli Napali PM

Kathmandu, July 13 : Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has claimed that India has created a ‘fake’ Ayodhya, and Lord Ram was originally from Nepal — a shocking statement that has come at a time when India’s diplomatic ties with the Himalayan nation is going through certain upheavals.

“We have been oppressed a bit culturally. Facts have encroached. We still believe that we gave Sita to Indian Prince Ram. But we gave to the prince from Ayodhya, not India. Ayodhya is a village a little west to Birgunj, not the Ayodhya created now (sic),” Oli said at an event at his official residence in Baluwatar.

Oli was addressing a program to mark the birth anniversary of Bhanubhakta Acharya.

The stunning claim comes on the backdrop of an ongoing diplomatic tussle between Kathmandu and New Delhi over the newly published Nepal map which claims Indian territory as its own.

Bilateral ties between India-Nepal were stressed after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long road connecting Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8. Kathmandu reacted sharply to the development and claimed that the road was built on Nepalese land.

Nepal also updated its political map which included Indian territories. India condemned the move and handed over a diplomatic note to Nepal over the map issue.

The ties worsened further when Oli blamed India for demands by his party colleagues who sought his resignation over multiple ‘failures’. During a rally, Oli alleged that the leaders of his Nepal Communist Party (NCP) who were making attempts to ‘topple his government’, were doing so at the behest of India.

His remarks have invited severe criticism from senior leadership in that country. Former prime minister ‘Prachanda’, who was among leaders who demanded Oli’s resignation, said that Oli’s anti-India remarks were “neither politically correct nor diplomatically appropriate.”

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