Saturday, April 13, 2024


India infuses 50 pc additional funds to ongoing grant projects in Sri Lanka

To meet the sharp rise in the cost of construction in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing financial crisis, India would provide up to 50 per cent additional funds to grant projects in the island nation. High Commissioner of India, Santosh Jha, and Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Housing W.S. Sathyananda on Thursday signed and exchanged diplomatic letters to formalise the Indian government's decision to provide an additional grant of SLR (Sri Lankan Rupee) 150 million for the construction of Houses and Infrastructure Facilities in Sobitha Thero Village in Anuradhapura, one of the nine grant projects of India.

IMF, Sri Lanka reach staff-level agreement for $337 million bailout

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Thursday that it has reached a staff-level agreement with Sri Lanka to release the next tranche of the promised $3 billion bailout package to recover from the worst-ever financial crisis.

Sri Lanka will have access to $337 million totalling $1 billion from the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) which the global lender agreed to in March last year. "The IMF team reached staff-level agreement with the Sri Lankan authorities on the second review under the economic reform program supported by a 4-year EFF arrangement and concluded the 2024 Article IV Consultation discussions. The EFF arrangement was approved by the IMF Executive Board for a total amount of SDR 2.3 billion (about $3 billion) on 

Train derailment disrupts coastal line operations in Sri Lanka

Eighteen trains were cancelled on Wednesday morning in the country's coastal line due to the derailment of a train between Colombo Fort and Kompannaveediya railway stations, a senior official said. General Manager of Railways H.M.K.W. Bandara said the coastal line has two tracks where the accident occurred and both tracks were obstructed due to the derailment on Tuesday evening.

12 killed, 8 injured in coal mine explosion in Pakistan

Twelve labourers were killed and eight others injured in an explosion in a coal mine in Pakistan's Balochistan province, officials said on Wednesday. The explosion occurred on Tuesday night as toxic gas accumulated inside the cave in Harnai district of the province, Abdul Ghani Baloch, chief inspector of mines of Balochistan.

Seven killed after South Korean tanker capsizes off coast of Japan

Seven people died after a South Korean-flagged tanker capsized on Wednesday in waters off the Japanese prefecture of Yamaguchi, local media reported. There were 11 non-Japanese crew on board the tanker, the Keoyoung Sun. Nine crew members were rescued, but seven of them were later confirmed dead, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing the Japan Coast Guard. The local coast guard station said it received an emergency call at around 7:05 a.m. local time on Wednesday (2205 GMT on Tuesday) from the tanker in waters west of Mutsure 

Russia to scrap contracts of Nepalese nationals who joined Russian Army: Deputy Nepal PM

Palestinian death toll mounts to 31,645: Ministry

Gaza Health Ministry on Monday said that the Palestinian death toll has mounted to 31, 645 following Israel’s counter-operations inside the Gaza Strip, media reports said.

Australia house price growth slowed down in July

The Home Value Index (HVI) for Australia rose 0.7 per cent in July as compared with June, marking the fifth consecutive month of growth, according to a report released on Tuesday. Although the home values are still on the upward trend, its growth momentum in July has further eased from 1.2 per cent in May

Imran Khan fears he will be arrested again

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday reiterated his fears that he would be arrested once again

"There is a fear that I will be arrested again as soon as I leave the High Court," Khan told media persons at Islamabad High Court, where he was produced by law enforcement agencies in Al-Qadir Trust billion of rupees corruption case.

For what reason Imran Khan's defender angry at the Pakistan Army?


A 34-second video shot on May 9 in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore first shows a group, including a woman, entering a mansion.

They waved sticks, chanted slogans and hoisted flags of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"People broke through the gate and entered the corps commander's residence," the man who made the video said, citing military leaders by name.

Then he approached a soldier standing in the corner of a large lawn, saw a crowd entering the compound, and said, "Sir, we told you not to touch Imran Khan." I was.

The mansion was not only the residence of Lahore's high-ranking military generals, but also had historical significance. Named the Jinnah House after its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, parts of the imposing building were later set on fire by protesters.

S.Korea, Japan to hold working-level meeting on Fukushima inspection

South Korea and Japan plan to hold working-level consultations this week to discuss details of Seoul's inspection of Tokyo's plan to discharge contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Foreign Ministry here said on Thursday.

The director-general-level meeting will be held in Seoul on Friday, with the South Korean side headed by Yun Hyun-soo, head of the ministry's bureau for climate change, energy, environment and scientific affairs, and the Japanese side led by Atsushi Kaifu, director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry's disarmament, non-proliferation and science department.

27 people injured in bridge collapse near Helsinki

At least 27 people, most of them children, were injured on Thursday when a pedestrian bridge collapsed in Espoo, west of Finland's capital Helsinki, local rescue officials said.

The Helsinki region health district (HUS) told the media that 15 people have been taken to hospital.

Vast outburst in Milan leaves dozens of cars on fire

Firefighters said an explosion erupted in central Milan, in northern Italy, on Thursday, setting several vehicles on fire and injuring one person. No deaths were reported.

The explosion was suspected to have originated in a van transporting oxygen gas canisters.

Footage from Milan's Porta Romana neighborhood, showing high plumes of black smoke and firefighters on the scene.

Covid was 4th leading cause of death among Americans in 2022: US CDC

Covid-19 was the fourth leading cause of death among Americans in 2022, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than 3.2 million persons died in the US during January to December 2022.

Heart disease (699,659) remained the top reason for death, followed by cancer (607,790), unintentional injuries (218,064) -- which includes drug overdoses and car accidents -- and Covid (186,702).

German food retailers record largest drop in turnover since 1994

Retail food sales in Germany in March were down by 10.3 per cent in real terms, recording the sharpest year-on-year decline since the record keeping began in 1994, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said.

"The further significant increase in food prices is likely to be a reason for this," Destatis said.

US reports over 10,000 weekly child Covid cases

More than 10,000 child Covid-19 cases were reported in the US in the week ending on April 27, according to the latest report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association.

Almost 15.6 million children have been reported to have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.

Over the past seven months, weekly reported child cases have plateaued at an average of about 27,000 cases, while in the past four weeks the average reported weekly cases have dropped further to about 10,000, according to the report.

Reported cases are likely a "substantial undercount" of Covid-19 cases among children, it added.

There is a need to collect more age-specific data to assess the severity of illness related to new variants as well as potential longer-term effects, said the report.

It is important to recognise there are immediate effects of the pandemic on children's health, but importantly there is the need to identify and address the long-lasting impacts on the physical, mental, and social well-being of this generation of children and youth, said the AAP.

Pak saw slight increase in terror attacks in April

Pakistan witnessed a slight increase in the number of terror attacks in April with a total of 48 incidents, which led to 68 deaths and 55 injuries, according to a new report.

In its report released on Tuesday, the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies said the new figures were higher than the 39 militant attacks recorded in March, resulting in 58 deaths and 73 injuries.

US will end Covid vax requirements for federal employees, int'l travellers

The US administration announced it will end Covid-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees, international air travellers and contractors on May 11 -- the same day that the public health emergency implemented for the pandemic will also end.

In a statement on Monday, the White House said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also separately announced that they will start the process to end their vaccination requirements for head start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, and certain non-citizens at the land border.

4 killed in mass shooting in California desert community

Four people were killed in a mass shooting in a small desert community in California, local media reported citing police.

The shooting took place at a home in Mojave, a community of some 4,000 residents and about 104 km east of Bakersfield, the county seat of Kern County in the southern Central Valley of the state.

The victims were men in their 20s or 30s, said the report, citing the Kern County Sheriff's Office.

Iranian President to visit Syria

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will embark on a visit to Syria on Wednesday, marking the first such trip by an Iranian leader to Damscus in 13 years.

During the two-day visit, talks will be held between senior officials of the two countries aimed at furthering diplomatic relations and strengthening economic and trade cooperation.

Raisi will also attend meetings with Iranian and Syrian traders as well as Iranian nationals living in the conflict-hit Arab nation.

'Bride and Prejudice' actress Dannii Erskine dies in a 'serious' car accident

Reality show 'Bride and Prejudice' actress Dannii Erskine has died in a fatal car accident at the age of 28.

Dannii Erskine was driving back from the shops on Friday when a "drunk" driver hit her car, her sister Dee told.

"As she went through a green light, a driver was intoxicated and T-boned her", Dee said, adding that Dannii's "skull was crushed upon impact with the airbag".

Turkey joins nuclear power club with Akkuyu plant: Erdogan

Turkey has joined the club of nuclear power countries with the nuclear fuel delivery into the first power unit of the Akkuyu power plant, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"With the delivery of nuclear fuel by sea and air to our plant, Akkuyu has now acquired the nuclear power plant status. Therefore, our country has risen to the league of countries with nuclear power, albeit after 60 years of delay," Erdogan said at a ceremony via video link, joined by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin online.

Akkuyu nuclear power plant, Turkey's first nuclear power plant, is being built by Russia's state nuclear energy company Rosatom in Mersin province on the southern Mediterranean coastline.

Belgian teachers demonstrate for better working conditions

Several thousand teachers marched in Brussels to express their dissatisfaction with the Belgian education system.

The demonstrators on Thursday denounced teaching conditions, such as an administrative overload and an unsustainable student-teacher ratio, causing classes to be overcrowded.

The trade unions organising the march also criticised a draft coalition agreement in French-speaking education, which they say will have a negative impact on the rights of teachers, while it will not solve the prevailing problems.

"We are so busy with administration, management and everything else that is not pedagogical, that it is no longer possible to do a proper job," said Nathalie Brousniche, a third-grade teacher at a primary school in the city of Charleroi.

Leaks in gas pipelines cause strong odour in Dhaka

Leaks in gas pipelines in parts of Dhaka left a strong odour, creating panic among city residents, an official said on Tuesday.

Rafi Al Faruk, a duty officer of the fire service and civil defence headquarters, told that they received numerous complaints of gas leaks from a number of areas of the Bangladeshi capital late Monday night.

According to the officer, leaks in pipelines mostly in eastern part of Dhaka were responsible for the smell.
Leaks in gas pipelines in parts of Dhaka left a strong odour, creating panic among city residents, an official said on Tuesday.

Rafi Al Faruk, a duty officer of the fire service and civil defence headquarters, told that they received numerous complaints of gas leaks from a number of areas of the Bangladeshi capital late Monday night.

According to the officer, leaks in pipelines mostly in eastern part of Dhaka were responsible for the smell.

No casualty has been reported so far, said the officer, adding that there was no danger to the public.

"We've already reported this matter to Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd. which is responsible for gas distribution in Dhaka," the officer said.

According to a statement from the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources, Titas has advised residents not to panic about the spread of the odour.

There was a shutdown of gas supply in industrial factories during Eid, and the smell is coming out due to increase in gas pressure in transmission and distribution lines, which gave rise to an overflow.

Natural gas reserves worth $1 bn found in Turkey: President

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the country has discovered natural gas reserves valued at $1 billion in Gabar Mountain in southeastern Sirnak province.

Erdogan made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a sports complex in Sakarya province.

Philippines to evacuate 1st batch of Filipinos in Sudan 'within 24 hours'

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said that it is preparing to evacuate up to 50 Filipinos from Sudan as the violent unrest in the north African country continues unabated.

Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said the first batch will likely leave Sudan's capital Khartoum "within 24 hours", reports Xinhua news agency

A bus will take the Filipinos from Khartoum to northern Sudan at the border with Egypt, a distance of about 1,000 km, de Vega said, adding that the Filipinos will take a bus ride from the border to Aswan City in southern Egypt, where there is an international airport.

Hotel prices in Japan rise 15% from pre-Covid levels

A new survey has revealed that the average hotel price in Japan during the latest quarter rose 15 per cent from the same period in 2019, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey conducted by STR, a research firm that provides market data on the hotel industry worldwide, shows that the average price for a hotel room in Japan during the January-March quarter was 16,125 yen ($120), up by around $15.7 from the same period in 2019.

Lightning strikes kill 9 in Bangladesh

A series of lightning strikes in Bangladesh killed nine people in less than two hours amidst heavy rain, officials said on Monday.

The deaths were reported in different areas of Sunamganj, Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The majority of the fatalities occurred in rural areas where people were working on their farmlands.

S.Korea reports 10 more mpox infections

South Korea confirmed 10 more cases of mpox on Monday, bringing the country's total to 30, health authorities said.

Six of them are living in Seoul, three in Gyeonggi province and one in North Chungcheong province, while one of the 10 patients is a foreigner, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

All have not recently travelled abroad, Yonhap News Agency quoted the health body as saying.

Russian, Saudi leaders discuss cooperation over phone

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a phone conversation with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud on expanding bilateral relations in trade, economic cooperation, investment and energy.

The leaders discussed several key topics on Friday, and expressed satisfaction with the level of coordination at the OPEC Plus mechanism aimed at ensuring the global oil market stability.

US Supreme Court preserves access to abortion pill

The US Supreme Court has preserved access to a widely used abortion pill, ruling the drug can remain available in the market while a lawsuit in a lower court continues.

The future of the drug was questioned after a federal judge in Texas, on April 7, ruled to suspend FDA-approved mifepristone used in more than half of abortions in the country.

In a split decision, it also rejected restrictions on mifepristone implemented by a lower court, essentially maintaining the status quo.

Finland's birth rate drops to lowest on record since 1776

Finland's registered 1.32 births per woman in 2022, the lowest level since record keeping started in 1776, according to official data.

Statistics Finland said the figure in 2021 was 1.46.

In 2022, 44,951 children were born in Finland.

Statistics Finland said the main reason for the drop was that families chose not to have a second or third child.

In recent years, the proportion of first-born babies among newborns has increased slightly.

While just under 41 per cent of those born in 2018 were first-born children, this proportion rose to 43 per cent in 2022.

However, the number of second and third-born children decreased more than that of first-borns.

New Omicron subvariant spreading in US

A new Omicron subvariant is spreading in the United States, and has accounted for nearly 10 per cent of new weekly Covid-19 cases reported across the country, according to data updated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The subvariant XBB.1.16, referred to as "arcturus", has been added by the CDC to its variant tracker.

The percentage is expected to increase in the coming weeks, and it may become the next dominant coronavirus strain in the country, experts warned.

Australian citizenship made easier for New Zealanders

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living in Australia will be able to claim citizenship under a policy shift, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Saturday.

He announced that from July, hurdles to citizenship will be removed, allowing New Zealanders on Special Category Visa to apply directly for Australian citizenship without becoming permanent residents first, as long as they meet a four-year residence and other eligibility requirements.

Biden's loan forgiveness programme in danger of being shelved by GOP

US President Joe Bidens decree to forego loans under the government-funded PELTs scheme is in danger of being shelved by the GOP as Speaker Kevin McCarthy backed by the Republican members introduced a bill to nullify it on grounds of depleting the government's treasury.

Biden had planned to cancel up to $20,000 of debt per student borrower, but McCarthy's bill seeks to cancel this and end the freeze on monthly repayments with interest on the borrowings, media reports said.

Thousands of students in the US who had borrowed money for their higher education are on tenterhooks.

Pak FM Bilawal Bhutto rules out Indo-Pak bilateral talks during SCO meet

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari confirmed on Thursday that he would represent Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting scheduled to be held in Goa on May 4-5, media reports said.

Bilawal also announced to consult with all the political parties for their inputs on his visit to India.

He said all members of the regional body have realised the importance of SCO and it would yield positive results.

Anyone trying to resist global trend towards multipolarity will lose: Putin

The global trend towards multipolarity will intensify, and those who choose to resist this shift will "ultimately lose and face new challenges", Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

"The global trend ... towards multipolarity is inevitable, and will only intensify," Putin said during a videoconference of the Council for Local Self-Government Development on Thursday.

3 killed in Colombian coal mine explosion

The National Mining Agency of Colombia has confirmed that three of the seven missing miners were found dead after the coal mine explosion in the municipality of Cucunuba. At least seven miners had been missing after the explosion in the Colombian municipality in the department of Cundinamarca, Governor Nicolas Garcia was quoted. "We have a report from the rescue team stating that they pulled out alive four trapped miners, who are being taken to the hospital, while we continue the search and rescue for seven other miners," Garcia said on Thursday in a video posted on Twitter. The explosion occurred at about 1:00 a.m. local time on Thursday in interconnected mines in an area of Pueblo Viejo. Minister of Mines and Energy Irene Velez detailed on social media that teams from the National Mining Agency, the Civil Defense, the Public Force and the fire department were working on the rescue mission.

Turkey starts delivery of natural gas from Black Sea field

Turkey has started the delivery of natural gas from its Black Sea field, as part of its flagship project aiming at reducing the country's dependence on energy imports.

The gas, shipped from a depth of 2,200 meters at the offshore Sakarya field via a 170-km-long subsea pipeline and through various compression plants, was delivered to the newly constructed Filyos land facility located in the northern Zonguldak province on Thursday.

Missing for 3 days on Mt. Annapurna, Indian climber rescued alive

Indian climber Anurag Maloo, who went missing after falling into a deep crevasse on Mt. Annapurna, was been rescued alive, an official confirmed on Thursday. A team of rescuers found the 34-year-old in the crevasse below Camp III of the world's 10th highest peak, Thaneshwor Guragain of Seven Summit Treks, told. But Maloo's health is critical and is currently undergoing treatment at Manipal Hospital in Pokhara, Guragain added. His brother Sudhir posted a video on social media after meeting Anurag. Anurag was reported missing on Monday after he fell into the crevasse from 5,800m while descending from Camp II. A team of six Sherpa climbers led by Chhang Dawa conducted a ground search and found him in some 300m deep crevasse on Wednesday and he was airlifted to Pokhara. Anurag's family and friends had also written a letter to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, asking him to intervene for the climber's safe return.