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N.Korea fires multiple-rocket launcher, South says

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(Last Updated On: March 20, 2022)

North Korea appeared to have fired a short-range multiple rocket launcher on Sunday, South Korea’s military said, amid heightened military tensions on the peninsula after a spate of larger missile launches by the nuclear-armed North.

While they garner much less attention than the massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), North Korea has displayed several new types of multiple launch rocket systems in recent years, adding to an already large arsenal of artillery and rockets ideal for potentially striking targets in the South, Reuters reported.

“This morning there was firing in North Korea which is assumed to be multiple rocket launcher shots, and our military was monitoring the related situation and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, without elaborating.

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency vice-ministerial meeting over the launches, Reuters reported.

Last year South Korea approved plans to pursue a $2.6-billion artillery interception system, similar to Israel’s “Iron Dome”, designed to protect against North Korea’s arsenal of long-range guns and rockets.

About half of South Korea’s 52 million people live in the capital Seoul and the surrounding areas, within range of the neighbour’s long-range guns and multiple rocket launchers.

Pyongyang has conducted an unusually high pace of missile launches this year.

South Korea and the United States warn that the North could resume test-firing its largest ICBMs for the first time since 2017 amid stalled denuclearisation talks. North Korea also appears to be preparing to launch a spy satellite, and new construction has been spotted at its shuttered nuclear test site.

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Death toll from Indonesian earthquake rises to 310

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

The death toll from this week’s earthquake that shook Indonesia’s main island of Java has risen to 310, the country’s national disaster mitigation agency said on Friday.

Monday’s earthquake triggered landslides, collapsed roofs and walls and buried victims in mounds of earth.

The agency’s chief Suharyanto, who goes by one name, said 24 people are still missing in the West Java town of Cianjur.

On Wednesday, a six-year-old boy, Azka, was rescued alive from the rubble – a rescue that was described as a “miracle” after he survived more than two days without food or water.

Heavy rain and potentially deadly aftershocks have hampered the rescue effort.

Henri Alfiandi, head of the national search and rescue agency, told RTE: “The problems are the unstable soil, the thickness of the landslide pile aggravated by continuous rain, and the concerns of aftershocks.”

He said the emergency period for the search and rescue effort would last a week until Monday and authorities would evaluate if it needed to be extended if all the missing had not been found.

Many of those killed in the quake were children, some in classes at school, according to officials.

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Pakistan appoints former spy as new army chief

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s former spy chief, Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, was on Thursday named Pakistan’s new army chief after months of speculation.

Munir was approved by Pakistani President Arif Alvi after being nominated for the post by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

He replaces Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires next week. The job is widely seen as Pakistan’s most powerful government posting.

Munir is the country’s most senior general and closely aligned with Bajwa. He was picked from a list of six candidates.

Once he takes office, Munir will oversee relations between neighboring India and Afghanistan.

He takes over as the country continues to deal with the fallout of devastating floods during its most recent monsoon season. More than 1,300 people died within a few weeks of the start of monsoon season while millions have been displaced.

Pakistan is also in the midst of an economic crisis, coping with soaring inflation.

Though technically separate, the position of army chief often wields significant political power in Pakistan. The army has seized power three times in Pakistan’s history and directly ruled the country for almost four decades.

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Indonesian child rescued from earthquake rubble after two days

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(Last Updated On: November 24, 2022)

A six-year-old boy was rescued on Wednesday night from the rubble of Monday’s deadly earthquake in Indonesia in what has been described as a miracle rescue.

The boy, who was trapped under rubble without food or water, was pulled out alive by emotional rescue workers.

“Once we realized Azka was alive everybody broke into tears, including me,” 28-year-old local volunteer Jeksen told AFP on Thursday.

“It was very moving, it felt like a miracle.”

Video showed rescue workers pulling the boy Azka free from a destroyed home in Cianjur’s worst-hit district of Cugenang, wearing the blue shirt and trousers he had on when he became trapped.

The man who pulled him out of a hole cut in the debris clasped him in both arms, as another rescue worker in an orange hard hat ran after them to hold the boy’s hand, footage released by the administration of West Java’s Bogor district showed.

Azka — who like many Indonesians goes by one name — was then shown calmly sipping a drink, held by a soldier as another emergency worker stroked his hair.

His mother died in the earthquake and her body was found hours before Azka’s rescue, a volunteer told AFP on Thursday.

The boy was then found next to his dead grandmother, Jeksen said.

“We didn’t expect him to still be alive after 48 hours, if we knew we would have tried harder the night before,” he said.

“For all the years since I became a volunteer, I’ve never seen anything like this. How can you not cry?”

At least 271 people died in Monday’s quake and authorities have warned that time is running out to find survivors.

“Today for the search and rescue operation we deployed 6,000 people. It was raining but we keep searching,” said Suharyanto, head of the national disaster mitigation agency, or BNPB.

“Please pray for us so the 40 missing people could be found.”

Authorities are continuing to search for dozens who remain buried under debris, including a missing seven-year-old girl.

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