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Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

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Washington, Sep 15 : At least seven people were killed as hurricane Florence made landfall in the US state of North Carolina, battering the state with a powerful combination of wind and rain. Warnings were issued about the risk of life-threatening flash flooding in parts of North and South Carolina as well as in Virginia.

It was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Friday, but continued to soak the East Coast area with rain, downing trees and damaging homes. Some areas grappled with intense flooding, while hundreds in the city of New Bern and North Carolina required rescue in the early hours of Saturday.

Parts of New Bern and North Carolina were 10 feet underwater after local rivers overflowed their banks. Thousands of people were staying in emergency shelters. Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region, the US media reported.

Florence was slowly grinding over the eastern states, with winds of 65mph (105km/h). It was expected to keep lashing parts of North and South Carolina into the weekend, according to the Washington Post.

Up to 40 inches of rain and storm surges pushing water inland will produce catastrophic flash flooding, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Two people in Carteret County died due to the storm, officials said. A mother and her infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their home. According to officials, the child’s father was also transported to hospital with injuries.

Two men in their 70s were killed in Lenoir County. One was killed while connecting an electrical generator and another man was killed in a wind-related incident when checking on dogs outside his property.

A county official said that a woman died from cardiac arrest in the town of Hampstead after emergency responders had their route to reach her blocked by downed trees.

The White House announced on Saturday that President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for North Carolina a day earlier, an order that opens up federal funding, including housing and home repair grants.

The storm originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday as a category one hurricane.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was likely to “continue its violent grind for days” and described the severity of the downfalls as a “1,000 year event”.

Almost 800,000 people are reported to be without power in North Carolina and officials have warned that restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.

IANS

World

India blaming us without probe: Pakistan

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Dr Mohammad Faisal

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan on Sunday told foreign envoys here that India was blaming it for a horrific suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir even without any investigation.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said this to diplomats from Africa and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states.

The Dawn newspaper quoted Janjua as saying that there was “a familiar pattern of India blaming Pakistan instantly after such incidents without any investigation”, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said a “deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy is being spurred in India” and warned that “baseless Indian allegations and aggressive rhetoric are counterproductive and a threat to regional peace”.

Islamabad’s statement came three days after the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district that killed 49 troopers.

Pakistan said it had rejected India’s allegations of its complicity because they were “made within a short time from the attack and without carrying out any investigations.

“These knee-jerk and preconceived accusations were nevertheless consistent with well-rehearsed tactics from the Indian playbook after such incidents in the past,” the Foreign Office statement added.

“Bluster, belligerence and pursuit of expedient standards to suit internal political interests is both delusional and counterproductive.

“India must come out of the denial mode, end state repression against Kashmiri youth, address widespread alienation in (Jammu and Kashmir) and pursue the path of dialogue,” the statement said.

The Foreign Office also raised questions over India’s acceptance of a video released by the attacker claiming to have ties to the JeM, saying New Delhi had double standards.

“India needs to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack,” it said. “India owes an explanation on reports of (suicide bomber) Adil Ahmed Dar’s arrest and custody since 2017.”

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Counter-terrorism, energy security to top Indian agenda during Saudi Crown Prince visit

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saudi prince

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Counter-terrorism, including Pakistans role in sponsoring terrorism against India, and energy security are likely to be on top of Indias agenda for discussion during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans visit starting on Tuesday.

India is expected to take up with the Saudi Crown Prince Pakistan’s role in the Pulwama terror attack that killed at least 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, informed sources said.

India has already started diplomatic efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefing envoys of around two dozen nations including those of P-5 and South Asian nations about Pakistan’s footprint in the Pulwama attack.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to New Delhi Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saty has said that Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India presents a “historic opportunity” to expand collaboration in all sectors.

Moammed bin Salman is on a three-nation diplomatic tour to Pakistan, India and China.

He will be on a two-day visit to India staring February 19 and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He is visiting Pakistan before coming to India.

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World

India yet to tell us about MFN status withdrawal: Pakistan

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Abdul Razak Dawood Pakistan
Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan's Prime Minister

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan said on Sunday that it has not yet been informed by India on withdrawing the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Islamabad in the wake of a bloody suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Commerce, said: “We are looking into the withdrawal of MFN status by India. We can speak to India about this issue.

“Pakistan can raise this issue at different forums including the World Trade Forum,” The Nation quoted him as saying.

A day after the terror attack on Thursday, India announced it was taking back the MFN status given to Pakistan in 1995.

The status means that a country will treat all World Trade Organisation member states equally in matters of tariffs on imports.

After withdrawing the MFN status, New Delhi imposed a 200 per cent import duty on all goods originating or exported from Pakistan.

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