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Indonesian tsunami toll rises to 281 amid fresh warnings issued




Jakarta, Dec 24: Indonesian authorities have confirmed the death of at least 281 people in the devastating tsunami that hit the Sunda Strait in the western part of the archipelago on Saturday night, which also left 1,016 injured. Emergency teams on Monday resumed rescue efforts.

According to the the latest figures released by the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), another 57 were missing and 11,687 displaced, Efe news reported. It added that there were still victims under the rubble.

Coastal residents near Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano were warned earlier in the day to keep away from beaches amid fears it could trigger a new tsunami.

Head of BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, held a news conference in Java, and said: “Recommendations from (the) Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency are that people should not carry out activities on the beach and stay away from the coast for a while,” he said.

“The potential for a fresh tsunami is still possible because the volcanic eruption of Anak Krakatau continues to occur, potentially triggering tsunami.”

The disaster on Saturday, thought to be caused by an underwater landslide triggered by the eruption of nearby Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait, damaged 611 houses, 69 hotels, 60 shops and 420 boats.

About 25 minutes after the eruption, a giant wave hit beaches, causing casualties and damaging houses, hotels and boats, mainly in the province of Banten, northern Java.

Pandeglang in Banten is the most affected area. It is about 100 kilometers north of the capital Jakarta and serves as a weekend getaway for its residents.

The BNPB said the casualties and damage were found in the districts of Pandeglang, Serang, South Lampung, Tanggamus and Pesawaran in Baten and Lampung (Sumatra) provinces.

Indonesia does not have a tsunami early warning system triggered by underwater landslides and volcanic activity, Nugroho told the media on Monday. The current warning system is activated by earthquakes.

He added that there were no observable signs of a tsunami so people did not have time to evacuate.

At present all recorded fatalities are Indonesian, and the toll is expected to increase.

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) is providing assistance to local health services, while the UN has offered humanitarian and logistical assistance, mainly for transport and to set up mobile kitchens. The Indonesian Red Cross is providing first aid.

“Current emergency handling priorities are coordination, evacuation, search and rescue of victims, health services, handling refugees, repairing emergency damaged infrastructure,” the BNPB said Monday.

Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatoa), with an altitude of about 300 metre, which grows by about 6.8 meters per year, was formed as a result of the 1883 explosion of the legendary Krakatoa, which cost the lives of more than 36,000 people.

According to historical records, the explosions were so violent that they were heard 5,000 km away and ash columns reached 80 km high. The effects of the eruption were felt around the world for weeks.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that is shaken every year by some 7,000 earthquakes, most of them are moderate.

Between the last July and August, several earthquakes caused 564 deaths on the island of Lombok, while an earthquake followed by a tsunami caused more than 2,000 deaths on the island of Sulawesi in September.

The Sunda Strait tsunami occurred four days before the anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that hit northern Sumatra and another 14 countries on Dec. 26, 2004, leaving 226,500 dead and missing, mostly in Indonesia.



Coronavirus crisis may get ‘worse and worse and worse’, warns WHO



Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

GENEVA : The raging coronavirus pandemic has the potential to get far worse if all nations do not adhere to basic healthcare precautions, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday.

“Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one,” Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

“If basics are not followed, the only way this pandemic is going to go, it is going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way.”

Infections rose above 13 million across the world on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, climbing by one million in just five days in a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people.

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Global coronavirus infections top 13 million




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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Rail Bhawan shut for 2 days after officials test Covid positive

However, if there is specific urgency that requires an official to attend office, specific directives will be given to the official concerned, the ministry said.




Rail Bhawan

New Delhi, July 13 : The Railways Ministry will remain closed for the next two days as a matter of “precaution” after some officials were found to be positive for coronavirus, an official statement said on Monday.

“Some officials of the Railway Board have tested Covid positive during the rapid antigen testing camp organised at Rail Bhawan on 9th, 10th and 13th July, 2020. Accordingly it has been decided to close all offices at Rail Bhawan on 14th and 15th July, 2020 to carry out intensive sanitisation of rooms and common area,” read a circular issued by the Ministry.

During these two days, all officials will work from home. They are also asked to remain available not only through phone but other electronic means of communication.

However, if there is specific urgency that requires an official to attend office, specific directives will be given to the official concerned, the ministry said.

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