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North Korea warns US allies over surveillance

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Seoul, May 13 (IANS/DPA) North Korea has warned allies of the US, including Germany, France and Britain, to stop provoking tension in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Foreign Ministry in Pyongyang denounced the “military interference” in the region “under the pretext of monitoring violation of UN sanctions” in a statement carried by state-controlled news agency KCNA on Monday.

North Korea warned Germany, France, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to “immediately stop the provocations of causing tension and instability,” KCNA reported.

“Western countries should ponder over the fact that their unreasonable and blind policy of following the US is an act of harming their own interests.”

Pyongyang would “take necessary measures to firmly defend the sovereignty and security of the state,” the statement said.

In April, the US held a two-day training exercise involving the navies of South Korea and Japan.

Earlier this month, an Australian helicopter surveying North Korea was intercepted by a Chinese warplane in international airspace, while a Canadian plane was intercepted in similar circumstances in October.

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Tensions on the peninsula are very high. Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has significantly increased the scope of its weapons tests, including the testing of nuclear-capable missiles, and has stepped up its rhetoric against the US and South Korea, both of which Pyongyang considers to be enemy states.

–IANS/DPA

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UN official: Death toll in Papua New Guinea landslide estimated to surpass 670

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Sydney, May 26 (IANS) The death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was estimated to surpass 670, an official from the International Organisation for Migration told the media on Sunday.

According to Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the UN migration agency’s mission in the Pacific island country, the scale of the impact was much greater than initially thought.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Aktoprak said that more than 150 houses might be buried under the debris six to eight metres deep, and over 670 people could have lost their lives.

The area surrounding the disaster zone in Enga province also remained dangerous, with incessant rockfalls and continuous landslides prompting the evacuation of about 1,250 survivors, the official noted.

At around 3:00 a.m. local time on Friday, a massive landslide battered a remote region in Enga province, located over 600 km northwest of PNG’s capital, Port Moresby.

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The UN office in PNG issued a statement on Saturday, offering its deepest condolences to the victims and their families in the Lagaip Porgera District of Enga province.

“While the total number of casualties is yet to be determined, preliminary reporting indicates the death toll may be significant. Search and rescue efforts are underway, although continuous landslides and falling boulders are affecting these efforts,” said a spokesperson.

–IANS

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10 members of a family killed in flooding in Afghanistan

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Islamabad, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Ten members of a family were killed overnight in a village in the capital of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province due to heavy rainfall and flooding, local officials said on Sunday.

Rescue teams are searching for the remaining victims after four bodies were recovered, the head of the information and culture department, Zabihullah Amiri, said in a statement. There are no reports of survivors from the family.

Flooding has deepened Afghanistan’s already dire humanitarian crisis, adding to the death toll caused by multiple natural disasters in recent years.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement that floods in the past few weeks have affected at least 80,000 people in the country.

This month, Afghan authorities reported more than 400 deaths due to flash floods across different provinces. Baghlan province, in the north, was hit the hardest.

Extreme weather events such as flash floods and droughts are on the rise in Afghanistan. Experts blame the climate crisis for this. The country remains among the world’s top 10 climate-impacted nations, despite having a negligible carbon footprint.

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After decades of wars and conflicts, Afghanistan is ill-prepared to cope with the consequences of climate change.

The country is still reeling from the multiple earthquakes earlier this year and severe flooding in March.

–IANS/DPA

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Ukraine reports renewed Russian attacks in country's west

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Kyiv, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Russia subjected Ukraine to a massive drone and missile attack overnight, according to Kyiv’s military.

The Ukrainian air force said missiles, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, rockets and drones, were fired at western Ukraine.

Explosions were reported from the Khmelnytskyi region, where the Starokostiantyniv Air Force Base is also located.

According to the regional administration, a residential building was hit in the Vinnytsia region. Three people were injured in the attack, Governor Serhiy Borzov wrote on Telegram.

The Lviv region on the border with Poland was also attacked, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Telegram.

An explosion was also heard near the capital, Kyiv, reported the public broadcaster Suspilne. Air raid warnings sounded across the country.

The heavy nighttime air raid was preceded by the launch of Tu-95 strategic bombers in Russia, which fire cruise missiles. Later, MiG-31 fighter jets, which are the carrier systems for the Kinzhal, also took off.

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The country has been fending off a full-scale Russian invasion since February 2022.

–IANS/DPA

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In a first, Indian Haj pilgrims travel from Jeddah to Mecca by high-speed train

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Jeddah, May 26 (IANS) In a historic first, Indian Haj pilgrims, who arrived at the Jeddah airport on Sunday, travelled to Mecca by high-speed Haramain Train instead of buses.

The arrangement, which will make the journey of the pilgrims more comfortable, has been facilitated by India’s Consulate General in Jeddah in coordination with the concerned Saudi authorities.

The Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Suhel Ajaz Khan and Consul General Shahid Alam accompanied by Vice President of Saudi Arabian Railways, Al Harbi and other officials from Ministry of Haj and Ministry of Transport, escorted the Indian Haj pilgrims from Jeddah Airport to Mecca on first such journey on the High Speed Train on Sunday.

With the highest speed of the train being 300 km per hour, the journey will also reduce the travel time from Jeddah to Mecca considerably.

It is estimated that about 32,000 Indian Haj pilgrims will use the exclusive service this year.

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The Indian Haj Mission – the biggest operation of its kind handled by the Indian government outside the country’s borders, has closely coordinated logistics with the concerned Saudi authorities to make the new initiative a success.

–IANS

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Gaza aid deliveries restart from Egypt via Kerem Shalom crossing

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Cairo, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Badly needed aid to the Gaza Strip started coming from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in nearly three weeks on Sunday, an Egyptian TV station reported.

The state-affiliated al-Qahera News TV said 200 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies were moving from outside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, heading to the Karm Abu Salem crossing or Kerem Shalom.

According to the broadcaster, these included four fuel trucks and began moving through Karen Shalom.

Earlier this month, Israel took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah, crossing with Egypt, in an operation that halted aid deliveries via the vital facility into the heavily populated strip.

Since the closure of the Rafah crossing, Egypt has indicated it will not coordinate aid transports through Rafah until the Israeli forces withdraw.

Hamas has recently attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing and Israeli settlements with rockets.

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Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi agreed on aid deliveries to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Egypt, in a temporary arrangement, will hand over humanitarian aid and fuel to the United Nations at the crossing until a legal mechanism is reached to reopen the Rafah crossing from the Palestinian side, an Egyptian presidency statement said.

–IANS/DPA

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