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Container ship Dali that brought down Baltimore bridge moved from crash site

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Baltimore, May 20 (IANS) Container ship ‘Dali’ that brought down the Francis Scott Key (FSK) Bridge in Baltimore on March 26 was re-floated on Monday for the first time in nearly eight weeks.

“The M/V DALI became buoyant at roughly 6:40 a.m. As of 7:00 a.m., it is currently being moved by tugboats under favourable environmental conditions,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, posted on X late on Monday evening (India time).

As Dali began transiting, USACE added that the FSK Bridge was visible for the first time without the vessel in several weeks.

The 20 Indian members of the crew of Dali still remain on board the vessel, more than 50 days after the early morning maritime accident in the last week of March that claimed the lives of six men who were working on the bridge at the time.

Dali hit a pillar of the 50-year-old bridge that served thousands of motorists every day.

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The collision brought the bridge and blocked the passage of all cargo ships waiting to be on their way after Dali.

The FBI has launched a criminal inquiry into the incident apart from separate probes that are underway by National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation.

–IANS

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349 prisoners pardoned in Afghanistan before Eid

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Kabul, June 16 (IANS) The Afghan caretaker government’s Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada has pardoned 349 inmates before Eid al-Adha, according to a statement by the country’s Supreme Court.

The statement noted that 279 other inmates were also exempted from their remaining prison sentence, Xinhua news agency reported.

Eid al-Adha, the largest annual religious festival in Afghanistan, will be celebrated from Monday to Wednesday.

–IANS

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Energy vouchers for 1.3 mn S. Korean vulnerable households this summer

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Seoul, June 16 (IANS) The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and government officials on Sunday agreed to provide energy vouchers to 1.3 million vulnerable households as the country braces for a hotter-than-average summer.

The support scheme was announced during a meeting of senior officials of the government, the presidential office and the PPP, according to Rep. Jang Dong-hyuk, the PPP’s chief spokesperson.

The decision to provide support of up to 53,000 won ($38), up 10,000 won from last year, comes as South Korea’s weather agency has forecast this summer to be hotter than average, reports Yonhap news agency.

The officials also decided to extend an electricity freeze for 3.6 million households in vulnerable groups.

–IANS

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Zelensky calls for second event as Ukraine peace summit ends

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Vienna, June 16 (IANS/DPA) The two-day Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland should be quickly followed up with a second meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday towards the close of proceedings.

Preparations would take only months and not years, Zelensky said after representatives of some 100 countries and organisations came together at the Burgenstock mountain hotel resort near Lucerne.

Some countries had already signalled their willingness to host such a summit, according to Zelensky.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that a prerequisite for Russia’s participation would be Moscow’s commitment to the UN Charter.

The final declaration of the summit, which was signed by 80 of the countries present, makes no mention of a follow-up conference.

Swiss President Viola Amherd acknowledged diverse perspectives at the conference but emphasized that it marked the first high-level discussion on a peace process. Some substantive prerequisites for a path to an end to the war in Ukraine had been created, she said.

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The fact that the vast majority of the states present agreed on the Burgenstock Communique shows what diplomacy can achieve through patient work, Amherd added.

Russia had not been invited to the event and showed no interest in participating. The summit was also an attempt by the West to involve other countries in South America, Asia and Africa in peace efforts based on international law.

Ukraine is calling for a “just and lasting” peace.

–IANS/DPA

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Iran condemns G7 claims against its nuclear activities

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Tehran, June 16 (IANS) Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani slammed on Sunday the claims of the Group of Seven (G7) over the country’s nuclear activities as “anti-Tehran”.

Reacting to a G7 communique issued on Friday, Kanaani stressed in a statement that Iran’s nuclear programme is “exclusively peaceful”, reported Xinhua News Agency.

He said Iran would carry forward its “peaceful” nuclear projects and plans in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and safeguards agreement, regardless of political pressures and “propaganda campaigns.” He said the communique’s mention of an anti-Iran resolution of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was another proof of “the political approach pursued by those behind the resolution” and certain governments’ “abuse” of international mechanisms against independent states.

The communique called on Tehran to “cease and reverse nuclear escalations”, stop the continuing “uranium enrichment activities”, engage in serious dialogue, provide convincing assurances that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful, fully cooperate with the IAEA, and comply with the agency’s monitoring and verification mechanism, “including the Board of Governors’ resolution of June 5”.

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The IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution urged Iran to “step up cooperation with the IAEA and reverse its recent barring of inspectors.”

Kanaani regretted that some countries with “political motivations” made baseless and unproven claims to continue the failed policy of sanctions on Iran, advising the G7 members to refrain from using outdated, “destructive” policies. He stressed that the United States and the E3 group of France, Britain and Germany should give proof of their goodwill and refrain from taking “futile politically-motivated” measures against Iran.

Iran signed a nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers including the United States and the E3 group in July 2015, accepting restrictions on its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. However, the United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018, reinstating sanctions and prompting Iran to scale back some of its nuclear commitments. Efforts to revive the JCPOA commenced in April 2021 in Vienna, but despite multiple rounds of negotiations, no substantial progress has been reported since the last talks in August 2022.

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–IANS

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2 killed, multiple injured in shooting in Texas

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San Francisco, June 16 (IANS) A shooting left two people dead and several wounded on Saturday night near the capital city of the US state of Texas, local police said.

The shooting took place before 11 p.m. Saturday (4 a.m. GMT Sunday) during a Juneteenth celebration at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, about 19 miles (30.4 km) north of Austin, reported Xinhua News Agency.

An altercation began between two groups during a concert at the event and resulted in the shooting, Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks said during a news conference at the scene. The two victims who died at the scene were not involved in the altercation, Allen said, adding that multiple wounded victims were transported to local hospitals.

An investigation was going on. Police did not know how many shooters were involved, and no suspect was yet in custody, he said.

–IANS

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