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Indian crew of ship that caused US bridge collapse safe (Ld)

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Washington, March 26 (IANS) All the 22 Indian crew members of a container ship that caused the collapse of a bridge in Baltimore, a port city in the state of Maryland on the east coast of the US, in the early hours of Tuesday are safe, according to a spokesperson for the company.

The spokesperson was not sure if they were all still on board.

Two of eight members of a road construction crew working on the bridge were rescued from the river, one of them in a serious condition, but six were missing till hours later.

Andrew Middleton, director, The Apostleship of the Sea in Baltimore, a Catholic ministry that provides services for seafarers when they arrive at the ministry, told the Washington Post that he had texted the crew after he heard of the mishap.

“Is everyone on board safe?” he had asked.

“Yes,” he heard back five minutes later.

“By God’s grace.”

Dali, as the Singapore flagged ship is called, was bound for Colombo in Sri Lanka.

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It was sailing at eight knots, which is said to be relatively, when it went out of control because of a power outage, according to Wes Moore, Maryland governor.

It hit a pillar of the Francis Scott Bridge over the Patapsco River, bringing down a portion of it. The Washington Post reported that the Francis Scott Bridge had the third-longest main span among all continuous truss bridges in the world.

It was over 1,200 feet between adjacent towers and supporting pillars.

The 1.6-mile bridge was used by over 35,000 commuters daily, authorities have said.

US President Joe biden has said the federal government will pay for reconstructing the bridge.

Officials have said they were focused now on finding those missing.

The cause of the bridge collapse will be investigated although it was in sound condition at the time. Alternative travel routes were being planned for users of the bridge.

“The words that the Key bridge is gone – it still shakes us,” Governor Moore said at a news conference he addressed along with other state and federal officials.

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He could not give a timeline on when shipping would remain normal in these waters, reiterating rescue and recovery remained the focus for now.

Officials said an early May Day call from the ship saved more lives as it allowed for traffic headed for the bridge to be stopped and diverted.

Congresswoman Kweisi, whose district includes the bridge, said in a statement: “The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is an unthinkable horror. Our prayers right now are for the missing individuals and victims of this tragedy. We thank God for the effective service of our first responders.”

–IANS

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At least 28 killed in Israeli strike near Rafah: Palestinian medics

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Tel Aviv, May 27 (IANS/DPA) An Israeli airstrike near the southern Gaza city of Rafah hit tents housing displaced people, Palestinian medics said on Sunday evening.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said on X that there were “numerous” people killed and injured in the bombardment northwest of Rafah.

Medics in the Gaza Strip spoke of at least 28 people killed.

Footage from the scene showed the makeshift shelters on fire. It was not clear how many people may trapped or under the debris.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that the air raid hit a designated humanitarian zone for those who had been forced to evacuate Rafah due to the Israeli fighting.

The strike came just days after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to halt its assault on Rafah.

The information provided by the aid workers could not initially be independently verified.

Israeli media said the military is investigating the reports.

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–IANS/DPA

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Russia's ex-President Medvedev threatens Poland with 'radioactive ash'

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Moscow, May 27 (IANS/DPA) Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has threatened Poland with the prospect of “radioactive ash” in response to remarks on the use of nuclear weapons from Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski over the weekend.

Sikorski had earlier told British newspaper The Guardian how the US would purportedly react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

“The Americans have told the Russians that if you explode a nuke, even if it doesn’t kill anybody, we will hit all your targets (positions) in Ukraine with conventional weapons, we’ll destroy all of them,” Sikorski told the paper.

Medvedev responded on the social network X by saying that the US had said nothing of the sort since “they are more cautious”.

“Americans hitting our targets means starting a world war, and a foreign minister, even of a country like Poland should understand that,” the deputy head of the Russian Security Council wrote on Sunday.

Polish President Andrzej Duda had asked for tactical nuclear weapons from the US to be stationed in Poland, Medvedev said. “Warsaw won’t be left out, and will surely get its share of radioactive ash. Is it what you really want?” Medvedev added.

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Duda had said in April that Poland, one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, was prepared to accept NATO nuclear weapons as a counterweight to the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Medvedev, during his time as president from 2008 to 2012, had been considered a key figure in liberal Russian policy. However since the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has become one of the biggest hardliners and routinely defends the war with inflammatory posts on social networks.

Sikorski’s comments are likely to relate to events of late 2022. US media have repeatedly reported that the leadership in Washington had the impression at the time that Moscow could be preparing to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

At that time, the Kremlin had reportedly been made to understand that the US would not respond with nuclear weapons, but with other powerful means.

–IANS/DPA

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Hezbollah member among 3 killed in Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon

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Beirut, May 27 (IANS) Israeli airstrikes targeting a town and a village in southern Lebanon on Sunday resulted in the deaths of a Hezbollah member and two civilians, with another civilian being injured, Lebanese military sources said.

The anonymous sources said the Israeli army used for the first time a suicide drone to target a motorcycle on the road linking the town of Naqoura to the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, killing a local Hezbollah leader and seriously injuring a civilian, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a separate attack, an Israeli drone targeted a motorcycle in the village of Aita al-Shaab, killing two civilians.

The sources said that the killed Hezbollah member was Mohammad Hassan Baydoun from the city of Bint Jbeil, and the two civilians killed in Aita al-Shaab were Rafiq Qasim and Hussein Saleh.

Lebanese military sources said that they monitored the launching of 24 surface-to-surface missiles from southern Lebanon to northern Israel.

Tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border escalated on Oct. 8, 2023, following a barrage of rockets launched by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah toward Israel in solidarity with Hamas’ attack on Israel the day before. Israel then retaliated by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

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The confrontations between Hezbollah and Israel have killed 487 people on the Lebanese side, including 309 Hezbollah members and 91 civilians, according to Lebanese security sources.

–IANS

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11 killed as tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction in three US states (Lead)

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Washington, May 26 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed and several others injured as tornadoes wreaked havoc in the US states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, destroying buildings, power and gas lines, and a fuel station where many people were sheltering, reports said on Sunday.

Severe storms had formed over the states, where temperatures are running high, on Saturday night (local time), with Texas’ Cooke County, north of Dallas, and Denton County among the worst-affected areas, accounting for seven fatalities, the BBC reported.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington told local media that authorities feared that the toll was likely to rise.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations were on and they were hopeful of finding survivors, he added.

Footage on local media showed a fuel station almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal and damaged vehicles.

In Oklahoma, two people were killed in Mayes County and six others were injured, the BBC reported, citing the local emergency management authority.

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Two deaths, including of a woman, found dead in her wrecked house, were reported in Arkansas, as per US media reports.

Police officials in Arkansas’s Rogers city said they had rescued several people who were trapped after tornadoes downed trees and power lines, and damaged gas supply lines.

The tornadoes also affected surface traffic across Texas, leaving lorries overturned and major highways shut, while the power supply was snapped as many poles were uprooted. Officials said that it could take days to restore services.

Parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were at risk of severe weather on Sunday, after the havoc in the three states, as per reports.

–IANS

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Macron calls Franco-German ties 'indispensable' as state visit starts

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Emmanuel Macron began the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 24 years with warm words for his hosts.

“Franco-German relations are indispensable and important for Europe,” said Macron at the start of his three-day state visit to Germany on Sunday.

He rebuffed the suggestion that the relationship, often described as the engine of Europe, has begun to stutter.

“That is not true. We are moving forward,” Macron said through a translator.

Upon landing in Berlin, Macron immediately travelled to the German capital’s government quarter to meet with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attend a democracy-themed festival.

Steinmeier greeted Macron and called his visit “proof of the depth of the Franco-German friendship.”

He said that despite sometimes differing on individual policy points, Berlin and Paris always “come to an agreement in the end.”

“If Germany and France are in agreement, then there is still a lot that can be achieved in Europe,” he said.

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Macron also emphasized the importance of the European elections in June and called the EU a defender of democracy and common values.

–IANS/DPA

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