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Hurricane Harvey to be costliest natural disaster in US: Report

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Hurricane Harvey

New York, Sep 6: Hurricane Harvey, which has wreaked havoc in Texas and Louisiana in southeast US, is likely to be the most expensive weather disaster in US history, according to a report.

The total losses from Harvey would reach $190 billion or one per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), countering the expected growth in the economy for the rest of this year, according to the report published Friday by AccuWeather, a US weather forecasting firm.

It said the losses will impact every American and counter GDP growth, while it will likely force the Federal Reserve to postpone any interest rate changes for the rest of the year, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The economic growth that had been predicted for the rest of this year will at least be cut in half as a result of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey,” it noted, adding that effects of the storm will ripple across the country, impacting everything from food and gas prices to shipping costs and jobs, etc.

Harvey blew ashore on August 25 as the most powerful hurricane hitting Texas in more than 50 years, displacing more than one million people and damaged some 200,000 homes in a path of destruction that stretches for more than 500 km. The Houston area has been devastated by severe flooding, after receiving 1.4 m of rain.

Joel N. Myers, president of AccuWeather, said that as the disaster continues and the extent of human suffering will only increase as floodwaters and lack of electricity and basic services puts Houston into third world-like conditions for days or weeks to come.

Adding to the misery, temperatures will climb between 100 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the next few days, Myers explained. Standing water may lead to disease, hazardous mold and other concerns like outbreaks of mosquitoes.

“This will be the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,” he said.

IANS

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US, Russia diplomats discuss Helsinki meeting, ties

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Washington, July 23 (IANS) The US Department of State has said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss Helsinki meeting fruits and issues over bilateral and regional concerns.

According to a statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Sunday, the phone conversation took place on Saturday when the two foreign ministers discussed a broad range of issues, “some of which were following up from the meeting between President Trump and President Putin” in Finland on July 16, Xinhua reported.

Among the topics discussed was the situation in Syria.

The two also discussed how to implement ideas on counterterrorism process coordination and the mutual goal of establishing business-to-business dialogue between private, non-governmentally controlled entities in the two countries, another deliverable of the Trump-Putin meeting.

Pompeo and Lavrov also discussed “the need for Russia to provide equal diplomatic access to the US, at a level that is fair and reciprocal”.

US White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Thursday that Putin will be invited to Washington in the autumn, and “those discussions are already underway”.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Friday in response that that his country is open to a new meeting between the two presidents.

Trump has been widely attacked after his meeting with Putin on July 16, due to his reconciliatory remarks that many saw as a sign to side with Moscow against US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 US elections.

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Philippines Rains: Over 700,000 affected, 5 dead

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Manila, July 22 : At least five people have died and more than 700,000 have been affected due to days of torrential rains that have lashed the Philippines and have caused dams and waterways in Northern and Central Luzon, as well as Metro Manila to overflow.

 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it had received reports that a resident of Luisa Pelew died in a landslide while a resident of Negros Oriental Angelito Jipulan drowned, reports Xinhua news agency.

Police have also reported at least three more deaths, including a Negros Occidental resident who reportedly drowned, and two children from Antique province whose house was buried by a landslide.

The NDRRMC said the affected population of 158,509 families or 728,003 persons were from 585 villages in the National Capital Region (NCR) and several provinces in the Philippine.

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Exempt S. Korean vehicles from new tariffs: Seoul to Washington

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Seoul, July 22 :South Korea has asked the US to exempt its vehicles from the new 25 per cent tariffs Washington is planning to impose on imported vehicles and spare parts, officials said on Sunday.

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon made the request to his US counterpart Steve Mnuchin in a meeting on Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Efe news agency reported.

According to an official statement by the finance ministry, Kim asked Mnuchin that South Korean vehicles be excluded from the new tariffs the White House is planning to impose on national security grounds.

The South Korean official reminded his US colleague of the positive impact the Asian country’s automobile industry has had on employment and investments in the US.

Currently, South Korean vehicles entering the US market are not subject to import tariffs under the free trade agreement signed by both countries in 2012.(IANS)

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