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Massive forest fires cause deaths, force evacuations in scorching southwest Europe

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(Last Updated On: July 17, 2022)

A summer heatwave that has triggered devastating forest fires across southwest Europe showed no signs of abating Sunday, as parts of the continent readied for new temperature records over the next few days.

Firefighters in France, Portugal, Spain and Greece are battling forest blazes that have ravaged thousands of acres of land and killed several people over the past week, AFP reported.

It is the second heatwave engulfing parts of southwest Europe in weeks as scientists blame climate change and predict more frequent and intense episodes of extreme weather.

Firefighters in the coastal town of Arcachon in France’s southwestern Gironde region were fighting to control two forest blazes that have devoured more than 24,700 acres since Tuesday.

“It’s a Herculean job,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Chavatte from the fire and rescue service, which has 1,200 firefighters and five planes in action.

Further evacuation orders were given on Saturday for a few hundred residents, firefighter spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP.

“Several fires are still active in France,” interior minister Gerald Darmanin said in a tweet. “Our firefighters are fighting the flames with remarkable courage.”

Since Tuesday, more than 14,000 people — residents and tourists combined — have been forced to leave their homes with seven emergency shelters set up in order to receive evacuees.

Meteo France forecast temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius in parts of southern France on Sunday, as well as up to 35 in the northwest, with new heat records expected on Monday.

France late on Saturday placed 22 more departments, mainly down its Atlantic seaboard, on high orange alert, taking the current total to 38.

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Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash 

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(Last Updated On: August 4, 2022)

Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday. 

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3. 

The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered. 

Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram. 

Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded. 

 

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Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights

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(Last Updated On: July 29, 2022)

Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.

According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.

IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.

Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.

Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.

According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.

Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.

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China adds science lab to its orbiting space station

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(Last Updated On: July 25, 2022)

China added a laboratory to its permanent space station Monday as it moves toward completing the structure in coming months.

The Wentian lab module was launched from the Wenchang space base on the tropical island province of Hainan on Sunday with a large crowd of amateur photographers and space enthusiasts watching, AP reported.

After 13 hours of flight, it successfully docked with the Tiangong station’s main Tianhe living module early Monday according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The Wentian is designed for science and biology experiments, and 23-ton lab module is heavier than any other single-module spacecraft currently in space, according to the state-owned Global Times.

It will be followed by a second lab module, the Mengtian, due to be launched in October.

Three astronauts are currently living in the core module on a six-month mission and oversaw the Wentian’s arrival.

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