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A residential building leans on a collapsed first floor following an earthquake on Feb 7, in Hualien, southern Taiwan. (Inset): Rescue workers carry a victim’s body from a building which tilted to one side after its foundation collapsed in Hualien after a strong 6.4-magnitude quake rocked eastern Taiwan. (AP/AFP)

HUALIEN, Taiwan, Feb 7, (AFP): Rescue workers pulled survivors and bodies from buildings tilting precariously in the Taiwanese city of Hualien Wednesday after an overnight earthquake killed at least seven people, injured more than 200 and left dozens missing.

Emergency responders were focusing on a 12-storey apartment block and a nearby hotel, both of which were leaning dangerously with their lower floors pancaked after the 6.4-magnitude quake hit the popular tourist city late Tuesday. The national fire agency said six people had been killed across the city, revising down an earlier toll of seven dead after a woman was revived. Some 88 people remain unaccounted for and it was not immediately clear how many of those were trapped inside buildings.

There were grave concerns for the badly leaning Yun Tsui residential building, which also housed a restaurant, shops and a hostel. Dozens of residents — and a string of pets — were rescued with ropes, ladders and cranes. But fire department staff at the site told AFP at least four bodies had been pulled out of the building in the day.

Officials temporarily suspended rescue efforts over fears the building might slip further as engineers raced to push large concrete blocks and steel bars to support the leaning side. Rescue efforts began again as night fell, with emergency responders wielding crowbars and torches to search the lower floors for survivors.

One resident who lives nearby told AFP how he watched the tower block partially collapse. “I saw the first floor sink into the ground. Then it sank and tilted further and the fourth floor became the first floor,” said Lu Chihson, 35, who saw 20 people rescued from the building. “My family were unhurt but a neighbour was injured in their head and is bleeding. We dare not go back home now.

There are many aftershocks and we are worried the house is damaged,” he told AFP. Chen Chih-wei, 80, said he was sleeping in his apartment on the top floor of the building when the quake struck. “My bed turned completely vertical. I was sleeping and suddenly I was standing,” he told AFP. Chen said he managed to crawl to a balcony to wait for rescue, adding that the quake was the strongest he had felt in more than five decades of living in Hualien.

At the Marshal Hotel, which was also leaning and badly damaged, at least two people were killed when the lower floors collapsed. But most residents got out and authorities said they believed there were no more people trapped inside. President Tsai Ing-wen visited the apartment block Wednesday morning. “Now is the prime time for our rescue efforts, our first priority is to save people,” she said in a Facebook post. Hualien is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist hubs as it lies on the picturesque east coast rail line and near the popular Taroko Gorge.

The government said 17 foreigners sought medical treatment for minor injuries. Local resident Blue Hsu said some of those carried out of the hotel were foreigners. “The lower floors sunk into the ground and I saw panicked tourists being rescued from the hotel,” Hsu told AFP. Officials said 214 people had been injured in the quake and 117 rescued from damaged buildings so far. Some 830 people were in shelters while 1,900 houses were without power.

The quake hit just before midnight (1550 GMT) around 21 kms (13 miles) northeast of Hualien, according to the United States Geological Survey. It followed almost 100 smaller tremors to have hit the area in the last three days and comes exactly two years since a quake of the same magnitude struck the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, killing more than 100 people.

Most of the deaths from the February 2016 earthquake were from the 16-storey Wei-kuan apartment complex, which toppled on its side and buried many residents in the rubble. The safety of the building was called into question immediately after the disaster, when metal cans and foam were found to have been used as fillers in the concrete and residents said there had been cracks in the structure.

Five people were found guilty over the disaster, including the developer and two architects. Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes. The island’s worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people. Taiwan has built itself a reputation for cutting edge technology, efficient public transport and safe streets. But an earthquake has again highlighted the well-off island’s history of shoddy construction and questionable safety standards.


More than 20 Houthi fighters surrendered to Yemeni troops on Saturday in the Bayhan district of Shabwa province in eastern Sanaa

The Yemeni army said that it had reclaimed "strategic areas" in eastern Sanaa from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The forces — which are supported by a Saudi-led coalition — fighting in favour of the internationally-recognised government of Yemen's president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi liberated the mountains of Dahshush, Jabal Al Tafaha, Tabat Al Qanaseen and Jabal Al Mashna, said a statement by an army spokesman carried by UAE’s state news agency Wam on Saturday.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, has been fighting the Houthi militias in Yemen's more than two-year-old civil war, in which more than 10,000 people have been killed, to restore the legitimate government of Mr Hadi.

The statement added that the Yemeni forces killed 28 Houthi rebels and wounded dozens others.

Dozens of Houthi rebels were killed by snipers in the past two weeks, a security source told The National on Sunday.

“Two Houthis were shot and killed by a sniper with suppressors yesterday [on Saturday] in the Shoub area in Sanaa,” he said, adding that it instilled fear in the group "that didn't know where the shots were coming from".


Meanwhile, more than 20 Houthi fighters surrendered to Yemeni troops on Saturday in the Bayhan district of Shabwa province in eastern Sanaa, Yemen’s capital that is controlled by the Houthis.

Dozens of militia fighters have surrendered in the past two weeks in the eastern battlefront in the Bayhan and Usailan districts in Shabwa, reported the Yemeni defence ministry’s 26 September news website.

Maj Gen Abdo Majali, spokesman for the Yemeni army, said that the Houthi rebels are “suffering major losses” on all fronts in the western coast of Hodeidah and Taiz as well as in the northern provinces of Al Jawf and Saada — a stronghold of the Iran-backed rebel group.

“They are suffering major losses day after day as our military forces tighten their grip over the lands, which they control,” Gen Majali told The National on Sunday.

“They were wiped out from Shabwa, and the last posts in Al Safara and Haid bin Akeel were liberated, along with the road that links Shabwa, Maareb and Al Bayda provinces. Al Bayda province will also soon be liberated as the main road is clear now.”

Gen Mejali also said that the Yemeni authorities arrested a number of high-ranking Houthi officials along with loyalists, who are “engineers and responsible for the thousands of landmines planted in various sites they controlled”.

Maps detailing landmine positions were found and designed in Tehran, where most of the engineers were trained, he added.

Fierce clashes between the Yemeni forces and Houthi rebels also broke out in Taiz and Hodeidah to the north of the city of Aden.

A military source told The National that the two sides battled in Al Hamily and Al Nujaiba in the Taiz province as well as Hodeidah.

At least 20 Houthis were killed and 16 were injured, while three troops of the government forces were killed, said the source.

WASHINGTON: The top US general in Afghanistan said on Tuesday that he had not seen a change in Pakistan’s support for militants so far, despite President Donald Trump taking a tougher line against Islamabad.

US officials have long been frustrated by what they see as Pakistan’s reluctance to act against groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that they believe exploit safe haven on Pakistani soil to launch attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.

In August, Trump outli­ned a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, chastising Pakistan over its alleged support for Afghan militants.

US official expressed hope that relations between the two countries could improve after a kidnapped US-Cana­dian couple and their three children were freed in Pakistan in October, after the couple was abducted in neighbouring Afghanistan.


“We have been very direct and very clear with the Pakistanis... we have not seen those changes implemented yet,” Gen John Nicholson told reporters.

“We are hoping to see those changes, we are hoping to work together with the Pakistanis going forward to eliminate terrorists who are crossing” the border, Nicholson said.

He added that he believed that senior Taliban leaders were based in Pakistan, while the lower level leadership was in Afghanistan. Pakistan says it has done a great deal to help the US in tracking down terrorists.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2017

ریاض (اے پی پی) سعودی عرب کی سماجی تنظیم ’’خیرات‘‘ کی چیئرپرسن نورہ العجمی نے کہا ہے کہ ملک میں روزانہ 70 ملین ریال کی خوراک ضائع کی جا رہی ہے اور کھانا ضائع کرنے والے ممالک میں سعودی عرب پہلے نمبر پر ہے۔ العریبیہ نیوز کے مطابق سعودی عرب کی سماجی تنظیم ’’خیرات‘‘ کی چیئرپرسن نے ریاض میں صحافیوں سے گفتگو کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ سعودی عرب میں روزانہ 70 ملین ریال کی خوراک ضائع کی جا رہی ہے جن میں سب سے زیادہ بوفے والے کھانا شامل ہے۔ انھوں نے کہا کہ تقریبات میں ذبح کئے جانے والے جانور پھینک دیے جاتے ہیں اور ضائع شدہ خوراک اتنی ہوتی ہے کہ ریاض کے پورے باشندے سیر ہوکر کھا سکتے ہیں۔ 

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia aims to start issuing tourist visas to foreigners next year, a senior Saudi official told CNN, as the government seeks to open up the conservative kingdom and find new sources of revenue to diversify its economy. At present, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia are largely restricted to resident workers and their dependents, business travellers, and Muslim pilgrims who are given special visas to travel to holy sites. (RTRS)

RIYADH, Nov 21, (AFP): Saudi authorities said Monday they had detected an “advanced” cyber attack targeting the kingdom, in a fresh attempt by hackers to disrupt government computers. The government’s National Cyber Security Centre said the attack involved the use of “Powershell” malware, but it did not comment on the source of the attack or which government bodies were targeted. “The NCSC has detected a new Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) that is targeting Saudi Arabia,” the agency said in a statement, adding the attack sought to infiltrate computers using email phishing techniques. Saudi Arabia has come under frequent cyber attacks, including “Shamoon”, the aggressive disc-wiping malware employed in attacks against the Saudi energy sector in 2012.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, was among the firms hit by Shamoon, in what is believed to be the country’s worst cyber attack yet. US intelligence officials at the time said they suspected a link to the kingdom’s regional rival Iran.

سعودی عرب کے فرماں روا شاہ سلمان نے ممکنہ طور پر آئندہ ہفتے اپنے 32 سالہ بیٹے محمد بن سلمان کو بادشاہت سونپنے کا فیصلہ کرلیا۔

برطانوی خبر رساں ادارے نے دعویٰ کیا ہے کہ شاہ سلمان نے یہ فیصلہ محمد بن سلمان کے 40 شہزادوں اور سرکاری حکام کی گرفتاری کے احکامات کے پیش نظر کیا۔

ڈیلی میل کی رپورٹ میں بتایا گیا کہ محمد بن سلمان تاج سنبھالنے کے بعد اپنی ساری توجہ اپنے مبینہ حریف ملک ایران کی طرف مبذول کرلیں گے۔

رپورٹ میں کہا گیا کہ اگر کسی قسم کی غیر متوقع صورت حال پیش نہیں آتی، تو سعودی عرب کے فرماں روا شاہ سلمان اگلے ہفتے تک محمد بن سلمان کو سعودی عرب کا اگلا فرماں روا بنانے کا اعلان کردیں گے۔

رپورٹ میں مزید دعویٰ کیا گیا کہ محمد بن سلمان اسرائیلی فوج کی سے لبنانی مسلح تنظیم حزب اللہ کے خلاف کارروائی کریں گے، جسے ایران کی حمایت حاصل ہے۔

رپورٹ میں مزید بتایا گیا کہ محمد بن سلمان شاہی خاندان کے بیشتر افراد کے موقف کے خلاف ایران اور حزب اللہ کو اپنا پہلا حدف بنانا چاہتے ہیں اور اس کام کے لیے انہوں نے لبنان میں جنگ کی شروعات کا منصوبہ تیار کر رکھا ہے جبکہ انہوں نے اسرائیل کی حمایت کرنے پر اسے اربوں ڈالر امداد دینے کا پہلے ہی اعلان کر رکھا ہے۔

رپورٹ کے مطابق شاہ سلمان اپنا عہدہ چھوڑنے کے بعد صرف مقدس مقامات کی حفاظت پر مامور رہیں گے۔

قبل ازیں برطانوی خبر رساں ادارے رائٹرز کی رپورٹ میں بتایا گیا تھا کہ سعودی عرب کے شاہی فرمان کے مطابق سعودیہ کے فرماں روا شاہ سلمان نے 31 سالہ بیٹے کو ترقی دے کر ملک کا ممکنہ اگلا فرماں روا نامزد کردیا تھا۔

خیال رہے کہ سعودی ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد بن سلمان بہت تیزی سے سعودی عرب اور دنیا کے چند طاقتور ترین افراد کی صورت میں ابھر کر سامنے آئے ہیں۔

مزید پڑھیں: سعودی فرماں روا نے اپنے بیٹے کو ولی عہد نامزد کردیا

32 سالہ شہزادے کو سعودی عرب کی فوج، خارجہ پالیسی، معیشت اور روزمرہ کی مذہبی اور ثقافتی زندگی پر اثررسوخ حاصل ہوچکا ہے۔

سعودی ولی عہد کو ہی اس وقت اسلامی مملکت میں جاری کرپشن کے خلاف مہم کا روح رواں سمجھا جارہا ہے اور ان کی ذات میں طاقت کا ایسا اجماع ہوچکا ہے جو اس سے قبل سعودی عرب کی تاریخ میں کبھی دیکھنے میں نہیں آیا۔

خیال یہ کیا جارہا ہے کہ طاقتور ترین سعودی شہزادے محمد بن سلمان مشرق وسطیٰ کی تاریخ بدلنے جارہے ہیں۔


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