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Hurricane Henri barrels toward US East Coast

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(Last Updated On: August 21, 2021)

The U.S. East Coast braced on Saturday for the arrival of Hurricane Henri as it threatened to bring fierce winds and heavy rains that could cause dangerous storm surge and flooding across the region, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

As of Saturday morning, the storm was gathering strength packing 120 kph winds, Reuters reported.

On its current track, Henri was expected to make landfall in Long Island, New York or southern New England on Sunday, the center said in an advisory.

Parts of Long Island, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut, were under hurricane and storm surge warnings on Saturday. Other parts of New England, such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, were under surge and tropical storm watches and warnings.

“This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” the NHC said.

 

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Blast kills at least 19 worshippers at mosque in Pakistan

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

An explosion in a mosque killed at least 19 worshippers and wounded dozens more in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday, a hospital official said.

According to him, many of the casualties were police officers who had gathered for afternoon prayers.

The mosque was located close to a police housing block, and there were some 260 people inside when the blast occurred, according to police.

“It happened during prayers. A two-storey building has collapsed,” an eyewitness told local news channel Geo TV, saying he was just outside the mosque when explosion happened.

“We received 19 dead and over 90 injured from the Peshawar Police Lines blast,” said Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for the city’s Lady Reading Hospital, referring to the neighborhood. “Many others are in critical condition.”

According to police there were more casualties buried beneath the rubble.

Footage from government broadcaster PTV showed police and residents scrambling to remove the debris and carrying wounded people on their shoulders.

“A portion of the building had collapsed and several people are believed to be under it,” police official Sikandar Khan said.

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Israel appears to have been behind drone strike on Iran factory: US official

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(Last Updated On: January 30, 2023)

Israel appears to have been behind an overnight drone attack on a military factory in Iran, Reuters quoted a US official said on Sunday.

Iran claimed to have intercepted drones that struck a military industry target near the central city of Isfahan, and said there were no casualties or serious damage.

The extent of damage could not be independently ascertained. Iranian state media released footage showing a flash in the sky and emergency vehicles at the scene, read the report.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military declined to comment. Arch-foe Israel has long said it is willing to strike Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programmes, but it has a policy of withholding comment on specific incidents.

Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said no US military forces were involved in strikes in Iran, but declined to comment further, Reuters reported.

That US officials were pointing to an Israeli role in the attack was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, citing several unidentified sources. One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters it did appear that Israel was involved. Several other US officials declined to comment, beyond saying that Washington played no role.

Tehran did not formally ascribe blame for what Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called a “cowardly” attack aimed at creating “insecurity” in Iran. But state TV broadcast comments by a lawmaker, Hossein Mirzaie, saying there was “strong speculation” Israel was behind it.

The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of arms – including long-range “suicide drones” – for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations at home.

The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s Defence Ministry said the explosion caused only minor damage and no casualties.

“Such actions will not impact our experts’ determination to progress in our peaceful nuclear work,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in televised remarks.

An Israeli strike on Iran would be the first under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he returned to office last month at the helm of the most right-wing government in Israeli history, Reuters reported.

In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to attack civilian targets in Ukrainian cities far from the front, a senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy linked the incident directly to the war there.

“Explosive night in Iran,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Did warn you.”

Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but says they were sent before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Moscow denies its forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, although many have been shot down and recovered there.

“Around 23:30 (2000 GMT) on Saturday night, an unsuccessful attack was carried out using micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) on one of the ministry’s workshop sites,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement carried by state TV.

It said one drone was shot down “and the other two were caught in defence traps and blew up. It caused only minor damage to the roof of a workshop building. There were no casualties.”

A military official in the region said given the location of the strike in central Iran and the size of the drones, it was likely that the attack was staged from within Iran’s borders.

Separately, IRNA reported early on Sunday a massive fire at a motor oil factory in an industrial zone near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It later said oil leakage caused that blaze, citing a local official.

Iran has accused Israel in the past of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team made up of Kurdish militants working for Israel who planned to blow up a “sensitive” defence industry centre in Isfahan.

Several Iranian nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a number of explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial sites in recent years, Reuters reported.

Talks between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have stalled since September. Under the pact, abandoned by Washington in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Tehran agreed to limit nuclear work in return for easing of sanctions.

Iran’s clerical rulers have also faced internal turmoil in recent months, with a crackdown on widespread anti-establishment demonstrations spurred by the death in custody of a woman held for allegedly violating its strict Islamic dress code.

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Bus crash in southern Pakistan kills at least 41

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2023)

More than 40 people were killed after a bus fell into a ravine and caught fire in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan on Sunday, officials said.

Forty-one bodies had been recovered from the wreckage, some burned beyond recognition, district police officer Israr Umrani told Reuters.

The bus carrying around 48 people crashed on the way from Balochistan’s capital of Quetta to the southern city of Karachi, officials said.

Dozens of people were combing through the wreckage, footage shared by the Edhi Foundation aid and emergency response organisation showed, and ambulance workers were carrying a dead body out of the debris, read the report.

Assistant Commissioner Hamza Anjum for Lasbela, a district in Balochistan, told Dawn newspaper the vehicle had crashed into a bridge, causing it to fall into a ravine and catch fire.

Fatal road accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed and roads in many rural areas are in poor condition, Reuters reported.

At least 22 people were killed in June, including nine members of one family when a passenger van fell into deep ravine in Balochistan.

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