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Strong quake rocks Afghanistan,tremors felt in India,Pakistan

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A 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked northeast Afghanistan on Friday night at 12:44 pm close to the country’s borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan, leaving at least 17 people injured and the tremors were felt in some parts of north India, including Delhi.

The quake strongly shook the Hindukush region of Afghanistan  for about 30 seconds, which measured 203.5 kilometres (126 miles) deep, struck about 280 kilometres northeast of the Afghan capital Kabul at 11:44 pm (1914 GMT), the USGS said on its website.

The impact of the earthquake was felt in Pakistan and India .

Kabul residents rushed out of their homes and buildings on what was a bitterly cold night amid fears of aftershocks, while the quake also caused buildings to sway in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

Tremors were also felt in the national capital and Kashmir.

The capital city Peshawar of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was the worst-hit area from where the all 37 casualties were reported.

The provincial authorities have imposed a state of emergency in all the three major hospitals in Peshawar and in neighbouring Nowshera district to facilitate the injured people.

Ghulam Rasool, Director General of Pakistan, said that the quake’s focal depth was 197 km in the Hindukush mountain ranges along Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.

In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

For many in Pakistan, October’s quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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