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Massive fire rips through Dubai’s Torch Tower

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Dubai, Aug 4, 2017: A massive fire ripped through the 84-storeyed Torch Tower near Dubai Marina on Friday, for the second time in two years, the city’s Media Office said.

The fire broke out at about 3.30 a.m., CNN quoted the Dubai Civil Defence as saying.

It was put out after about two hours. Officials said the building was being cooled.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, the Media Office tweeted.

Video posted on social media showed a line of fire up one side of the building and falling, flaming debris.

A witness told CNN he thought the fire had engulfed 30 to 40 residences. Two cars in the parking deck were set on fire by falling debris, he said.

The Torch Tower was the site of a massive fire in February 2015, reports CNN.

The fire engulfed several floors on at least three sides of the iconic building. There were no deaths or injuries, and the fire was extinguished three hours after it began.

The cause of the 2015 fire remains unknown.

The Torch was the world’s tallest residential tower when it was completed in 2011, according to the building’s developer, Select Group.

It contains 682 residential units with 24-hour security and concierge, and six retail spaces.

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Koreas talks on restoring military communication lines

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Seoul, June 25: South Korea and North Korea held working-level talks on Monday on the issue of moving forward with restoration of cross-border military communication lines in an attempt to reduce tension and build trust amid the recent diplomatic rapprochement.

The meeting, led by South Korean Colonel Cho Yong-geun and North Korean Colonel Om Chang-nam, started at 10 a.m. at the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine office in Paju, south of the inter-Korean border, a spokesperson of the South Korean Defence Ministry said.

Both sides will discuss ways to completely restore western and eastern communication lines, which were suspended during periods of diplomatic tensions, including telephone and fax lines set up years ago to prevent misunderstandings that could provoke unnecessary clashes.

The two sides opened the western communication line in 2002 and the eastern one was established in 2003.

The western communication line  was suspended in 2016 after Seoul shut down the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong as a response to the nuclear test that the North Korean regime conducted that year.

The telephone link was restored in January this year just before the Winter PyeongChang Olympic Games, which marked the beginning of a rapprochement on the Korean peninsula as well as led to the subsequent dialogue with the US.

The eastern communication line was blocked in 2011 amid then-rising military tensions and completely cut off in 2013 due to a forest fire.

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Turkey’s Erdogan wins absolute majority in crucial elections

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Ankara, June 25: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the majority of votes in Sunday’s crucial election, surviving the most serious challenge yet to his political dominance and tightening his grip on the nation he has ruled for 15 years.

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) on early Monday announced that Erdogan “received the absolute majority of all valid votes” with 97.7 per cent of ballot boxes opened, reports Anadolu News Agency.

“The number of votes that have not been counted yet is not enough to affect the outcome,” YSK head Sadi Guven said.

Erdogan had won a 52.54 per cent share of the national vote, while the opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate, Muharrem Ince, gained 30.68 per cent.

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party was also leading in parliamentary elections, with 42.4 per cent of the votes counted, Guven added.

Polling for the presidential and parliamentary elections took place on Sunday.

Eight political parties were contesting for the parliamentary polls while six candidates including Erdogan were in the fray for the presidential election.

Voter turnout was high at almost 87 per cent, according to election officials.

The opposition has cried foul, claiming that state media and the election commission had manipulated the results with Ince yet to concede defeat. He is slated to speak at his party headquarters on Monday afternoon.

Erdogan in his victory speech early Monday said “the winner of this election is democracy, the will of the people, each one of our 81 million citizens”, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“We have also taken our lessons from these results. We will stand before our nation by fixing our shortcomings. We will keep our promises.

“I would like to congratulate our nation once again. This has been another test of democracy and we have passed this test successfully,” the 64-year-old leader asserted.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also addressed his supporters in Ankara.

“It is a festival day today. It is Turkey’s day. It is a day that 81 million people won and there is no loser.”

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics since 2003, will gain sweeping new powers following his victory since the role of Prime Minister is dissolved and the President gains the authority to issue laws by decree, reports CNN.

He narrowly won a referendum last year to transform the country’s parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency.

Erdogan was prime minister for 11 years before becoming president in 2014, the BBC reported.

Under the new constitution, he could stand for a third term when his second finishes in 2023, meaning he could potentially hold power until 2028.

IANS

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Syria condemns US financial support to ‘White Helmets’

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Damascus, June 25: The Syrian Foreign Ministry has condemned the recent US decision to render financial support to the Syrian Civil Defence group, or “White Helmets,” listed by the Syrian government as a terror group.

In a statement released by SANA news agency, the ministry said on Sunday the additional financial support by the US to the White Helmets is a flagrant evidence of the support of US-led Western countries to terrorism in Syria since 2011, Xinhua reported.

The ministry accused the US and its Western allies of using the White Helmets to practice terrorism, particularly in the alleged chemical attacks that were staged to tarnish the image of the Syrian government and prolong the Syrian war.

It said the White Helmets are part of the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

The condemnation came just days after the US administration has reportedly agreed to provide fund of $6.6 million for the White Helmets, the so-called “rescue group” by Western powers in certain rebel-held areas of Syria.

The Syrian government has for long blamed the White Helmets for allying with the Nusra Front, citing evidence of the organisation’s attempts to falsify facts and to put on a fake humanitarian face to support the ultra-radical rebel groups in Syria.

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