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At least 44 killed in Turkey flood as search for missing continues

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Photo credit Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 14, 2021)

Families of those missing after Turkey‘s worst floods in years anxiously watched rescue teams search buildings on Saturday, fearing the death toll from the raging torrents could rise further.

At least 44 people have died from the floods in the northern Black Sea region, the second natural disaster to strike the country this month.

Drone footage by Reuters showed massive damage in the flood-hit Black Sea town of Bozkurt, where emergency workers were searching demolished buildings.

Thirty-six people died as a result of floods in the Kastamonu district which includes Bozkurt, and another seven people died in Sinop and one in Bartin, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) said.

In one collapsed building along the banks of the swollen river, 10 people were still believed buried. The rapid floodwaters appeared to have swept away the foundations of several other apartment blocks.

Relatives of the missing, desperate for news, were nearby.

“This is unprecedented. There is no power. The mobile phones were dead. There was no reception. You couldn’t receive news from anyone,” said Ilyas Kalabalik, a 42-year-old resident.

“We had no idea whether the water was rising or not, whether it flooded the building or not. We were just waiting, like this. Our wives and children were panicked. Once sun came up in the morning, we saw police officers. They took us from the building and hurled us into a gas station.”

Kalabalik was surrounded by residents who were asking each other whether anyone had any news about missing people.

“My aunt’s children are there. My aunt is missing. Her husband is missing. Her twin grandchildren are missing. The wife of our building manager is missing along with their two children,” Kalabalik told Reuters.

The floods brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring wildfires that raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.

About 45 cm (18 inches) of rain fell in less than three days in one village near Bozkurt.

“It was so awful. I cannot get the screams of a dog with her puppies out of my head,” Elif, a resident in her 20s, told Reuters.

Torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed bridges, closed roads and cut off electricity to hundreds of villages.

“We were working in our textile workshop, and the electricity was cut off. Then we found out that the hydroelectric dam had overflowed. We left the factories and ran for our lives,” said Emine Rencler, a 42-year-old worker.

The small town of Bozkurt lies in a valley along the banks of the Ezine river in Kastamonu province, 2.5 km (1.6 miles) from the Black Sea.

“The water quickly took over Bozkurt completely. (…) At least 60, 70 people I know are still missing. My neighbours, my colleagues, my relatives. We have so many casualties,” Rencler said.

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Exiled Afghan politicians form council, call for talks with IEA

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

A number of exiled Afghan politicians recently gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara where they formed a council and called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to engage in talks with them.

The politicians met at the residence of former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum and included Abdu Rab-ur-Rasool Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Ahmad Wali Masoud, Mohammad Alam Ezidyar and Mir Rahman Rahmani.

Ehsan Nero, a spokesman for Dostum, said that the meeting was held to exchange views on how “we could change the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”

While urging talks with IEA, the politicians issued a statement and declared support for the conflict that is underway in some provinces in the country.

“Such a large meeting was held in Turkey with the Turkish police providing security. They will meet again in Austria two weeks later and then in Geneva. There is certainly something fishy going on,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst.

Habibullah Janibdar, another political analyst, however, said that such meetings would not help Afghanistan as Afghans have already tested these politicians.

The IEA meanwhile has already formed a commission to encourage Afghans in exile to return home.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, said that the “door for talks is already open.”

“We have no problems with any Afghan. We would welcome anyone returning. They would be protected. They would be respected. Their wealth would be safe,” Mujahid said.

“But Allah forbid, if they intend to start a war, then obviously Afghans won’t allow it,” Mujahid warned.

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IEA claims it supports local media but urges them to stick to Islamic values

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Thursday it will support and cooperate with media outlets and journalists, both local and foreign, but urged them to observe Islamic principles and keep the interests of the country in mind.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman said: “Today, the Media Violations Commission resumed its operations and the Information Access Commission will start its activities as soon as possible in the near future.”

He said the IEA is committed to supporting media outlets in the country in accordance with Sharia Law.

However, Mujahid urged media organizations to stick to Islamic values and principles in terms of broadcasting and publishing.

Mujahid said: “The government will continue to support media outlets financially and we will work to reduce the media’s problems to zero. We call on media officials to carry on their operations based on the principles of Islam.”

According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently, about 198 media outlets operate in the country, however, nearly 170 media organizations have closed down, largely due to financial constraints, since the collapse of the former government.

Many of these media organizations have lost staff who left Afghanistan after the US troops withdrawal while other, that were reliant on foreign donor money, lost all income.

Media support organizations have said that an estimated 6,000 media workers have left the country since the IEA take over.

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US looking to expand ties with Pakistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that US President Joe Biden’s administration was looking forward to working with the new government in Pakistan and discussed “expanding partnership” between the two countries.

The meeting took place in New York on the sidelines of the food security meeting that the US is hosting in collaboration with the UN.

The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken came against the backdrop of strained ties between Pakistan and the US. The relationship during the PTI government between the two countries remained tense and there had been further dip in ties when former premier Imran Khan directly held the US responsible for his ouster, Pakistan’s Tribune reported.

Blinken said the US was keen to expand partnership with Pakistan on a range of issues covering economic as well as regional security issues.

According to a State Department statement, Blinken met with Bilawal to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.

“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties,” the statement read.

It further said the two foreign ministers underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles.

The foreign minister added that as the current chair of the G77 and China, Pakistan welcomed the support of the UN secretary general to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the global organisation.

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