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Death toll from Ida remnants rises to 65 in US

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(Last Updated On: September 5, 2021)

Torrential rains, floods, and tornadoes triggered by Storm Ida remnants claimed at least 65 lives across the United States as of Saturday, U.S. media reported.

Storm Ida also caused damage to residential buildings and infrastructures and led to water and power outages. Under its impact, some hard-hit areas of the United States have yet to return to normal life.

Ida remnants dumped rain at sometimes unprecedented rates on Wednesday night in the region, triggering floods that poured into subway stations and submerged homes and vehicles on highways.

Parts of New Jersey are still recovering from Ida’s impact. Earlier, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state was still not out of the woods, and his biggest concern lies in the further response to the still-high water levels and damages from Ida.

Infrastructures and residential buildings were destroyed in parts of New Jersey, with some residents saying their neighborhoods were almost completely destroyed by Ida.

New York state was also one of the hardest hit by Ida, with heavy rains submerging many parts of the city and flooding into low-lying areas.

U.S. media reported that at least 11 people, mostly immigrants and low-income groups, were killed when floodwaters submerged basement apartments in New York City.

The situation in Louisiana also remains grim. Local life is still not back to normal days after the storm. Statistics showed that over one million households in the state have suffered power outages, and the daily water supply to 600,000 people has been affected.

In addition, some nursing homes in Louisiana were reported to have failed to evacuate residents in time, and staff members even disappeared before the storm, leaving some elderly residents waiting for help without water or power.

At least six nursing home residents died after being evacuated, and their deaths are still under investigation, according to local media.

Many Americans expressed strong dissatisfaction and anger over the government’s poor response to the storm. Some accused the government of slow response and lack of an effective emergency plan. Others believed some lives could have been saved if the government had declared a state of emergency earlier.

Analysts believed that the massive loss of property and lives caused by Ida showed the dangerously old public infrastructures in New York and elsewhere are in urgent need of improvement.

Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a public policy think tank, said in an interview that New York City’s infrastructures had not been able to keep up with population growth over the past few decades, let alone with increasingly violent storms and sea level rise from climate change.

Nicole Gelinas, an urban economics expert at the Manhattan Institute, said that New York City’s infrastructures can’t handle tens of centimeters of rainfall dumped in just a few hours. She added that short periods of heavy rainfall could clog sewer drains, and there is not enough green space to help absorb it.

“So some of these avenues, they become canals when there’s a big storm,” the expert said.

Officials in New York and New Jersey acknowledged Friday that state governments need to improve infrastructures and better prepare for extreme weather events.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the loss of lives from Ida highlighted weaknesses in the state’s disaster notification system, including a lack of notification in different languages.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of initiatives to tackle extreme weather events, including more aggressive travel bans, and measures to guide residents off the streets ahead of a storm and evacuate people living in vulnerable spaces like basement apartments.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also admitted the state had a lot of work to do to adapt to climate change.

Storm Ida landed on Aug 29, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive strike, tying with 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest ever to hit Louisiana. It was downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday afternoon and moved inland with torrential rain.

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On eve of takeover anniversary, Ghani defends decision to flee Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

On the eve of the anniversary of the Islamic Emirate’s takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan’s former president on Sunday defended what he said was a split-second decision to flee, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrender to the insurgents.

Ashraf Ghani also told CNN that on the morning of August 15, 2021, with the IEA at the gates of the Afghan capital, he was the last one at the presidential palace after his guards had disappeared. He said the defense minister told him earlier that day that Kabul could not be defended, Associated Press reported.

Ghani had previously sought to justify his actions on the day Kabul fell but offered more details Sunday. He alleged that one of the cooks in the palace had been offered $100,000 to poison him and that he felt his immediate environment was no longer safe.

“The reason I left was because I did not want to give the Taliban (IEA) and their supporters the pleasure of yet again humiliating an Afghan president and making him sign over the legitimacy of the government,” he said. “I have never been afraid.”

Critics say Ghani’s sudden and secret departure August 15 left the city rudderless as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final stages of their chaotic withdrawal from the country after 20 years.

Ghani also denied persistent allegations that he took tens of millions of dollars in cash with him as he and other officials fled in helicopters.

In a report issued last week, a congressional watchdog said it’s unlikely Ghani and his senior advisers transported that much cash on the escape helicopters, AP reported.

“The hurried nature of their departure, the emphasis on passengers over cargo, the payload and performance limitations of the helicopters, and the consistent alignment in detailed accounts from witnesses on the ground and in the air all suggest that there was little more than $500,000 in cash on board the helicopters,” wrote the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which has tried to monitor the massive U.S. spending in the country over the years.

The agency added, “It remains a strong possibility that significant amounts of U.S. currency disappeared from Afghan government property in the chaos of the Taliban (IEA) takeover, including millions from the presidential palace” and the vault of the National Directorate of Security. The report, however, said the watchdog was unable to determine how much money was stolen and by whom.

In the end, the IEA seized the capital without significant fighting last August, capping a weekslong military blitz in which they rapidly captured provincial capitals without much resistance from the increasingly demoralized Afghan security forces.

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Dozens dead and missing in Parwan floods

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

At least 32 people died and 20 others were injured in flash floods on Sunday in Shinwari and Siagard districts of Parwan province, local sources said Monday.

According to sources, at least 100 people are missing and 17 died in Ghorband valley in Parwan.

This comes after several provinces witnessed heavy rain on Sunday, which damaged dozens of houses.

Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, was also hit hard overnight. Many houses collapsed in the rain, leaving at least nine people dead, officials said.

The ministry of defense confirmed that the air force had been sent in to help save people in Parwan province and to deliver humanitarian aid.

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Pakistan envoy says trade between Islamabad and Kabul continues to grow

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2022)

Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul, said Sunday that cooperation has expanded between Islamabad and Kabul in the areas of trade and transit, and that imports and exports between the two nations have increased.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event at the embassy in Kabul, to mark the 75th anniversary of independence, Ahmad Khan said Islamabad has collaborated with Kabul in resolving its problems during the last year, adding that Pakistan is committed to continuing cooperation with Afghanistan.

He also added that border tensions between the two countries have been resolved.

“Our relationship with Afghanistan is very good and we tried to make it good. In the past year, there were many problems for Afghanistan, but Pakistan helped and cooperated with Afghanistan, and these cooperations were in the areas of evacuation, humanitarian aid and creating facilities at the borders. Also, in the transit and trade sector, our cooperation has increased, exports and imports have also increased and we are committed to always cooperating with Afghanistan,” said Ahmad Khan.

He however emphasized that despite challenges the IEA had over the past year, it did not have satisfactory performances.

He has also said that education is the basic right of all people and women who make up 50 percent of the society should have access to education.

“Education is considered an important part of the country, in the same way, women make up 50 percent of the society. The current government of Afghanistan also says that it is working on the education of women in Afghanistan,” he added. “They are working on a process so that girls can continue their education according to Islamic conditions and according to Afghan culture.”

Moreover, this Pakistani official considers the fight against terrorism as a common goal in the region and added that the war against terrorism is currently underway.

The ambassador of Pakistan in Kabul also emphasized that the problem of issuing Pakistani visas will be completely resolved in the coming days.

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