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Over 300 killed in magnitude 7.2 quake in Haiti

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 15, 2021)

At least 304 people died and hundreds were injured after a major earthquake struck southwestern Haiti on Saturday (August 14), authorities said, reducing churches, hotels, schools, and homes to rubble in the latest tragedy to hit the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The 7.2-magnitude quake, which was followed by a series of aftershocks, struck 8 km (5 miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10 km, the United States Geological Survey said.

That made the temblor which was felt as far away as Cuba and Jamaica potentially bigger and shallower than the magnitude 7 earthquake 11 years ago that killed tens of thousands on the island.

This one – which occurred around 8:30 a.m. local time – hit farther away from the capital, however. In Port-au-Prince, it was strongly felt but did not appear to have caused major damage, according to Reuters witnesses.

Still, Haiti’s Civil Protection service said the preliminary death toll stood at 304, with at least 1,800 injured and more people unaccounted for. Preliminary rescue operations by emergency teams and ordinary citizens had enabled many people to already be recovered from the debris.

At least 949 homes, seven churches, two hotels, and three schools had been destroyed, it said. A further 723 homes, one prison, three health centers, and seven schools had been damaged although there was no major damage to port, airport, or telecoms infrastructure.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who flew over the region to survey the damage, declared a month-long state of emergency.

The nearest big town was Les Cayes, where many buildings collapsed or suffered major damage, according to authorities.

USGS said a significant amount of the population was at risk of landslides, with road obstructions likely. Haiti’s Civil Protection service said a landslide had blocked the highway between Les Cayes and the town of Jeremie.

The earthquake comes just over a month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, who had been ruling by decree, which deepened the country’s political turmoil.

 

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Mexico records deadliest year yet for journalists, with 18 murders so far

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

This year will be the deadliest on record for journalists in Mexico, with 18 killed so far, human rights organization Article 19 said in a report Thursday, Reuters reported.

Of the 18 deaths, Article 19 had identified a potential link to their work in nine cases so far, the organization’s regional director Leopoldo Maldonado told Reuters.

“2022 could be the worst year in a century for the press,” Maldonado said.

In a little over eight months, the death toll for 2022 has already outpaced the 13 murders recorded last year and the 14 recorded in 2020. Article 19 found the deaths were linked to the victims’ profession in about half of the cases in 2021 and 2020, it said.

Meanwhile, the organization has documented a total of 331 attacks against journalists in the first half of the year, most of which involve intimidation and harassment. Some also received threats, while a handful of cases involved the alleged abuse use of public power.

That marks a 51.83% increase compared to the first half of 2018, when former President Enrique Pena Nieto was in power, it said.

According to Reuters in addition, Article 19 said four journalists had been forcibly displaced within the country while two went into exile in the first half of the year.

“The role that the authorities have in the violence against the press clearly reflects a breach of the state’s obligations to guarantee the rights and integrity of journalists and the media,” the report added.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said repeatedly that his government does not attack the press and that recent murders were by criminal groups, read the report.

Article 19 alleged the state was behind most attacks on the press, with 128 cases recorded in the first half. This is “a trend that has been consistent since 2007,” the group said.

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Israel and Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

Israel and Turkey have decided to restore full diplomatic ties and will return ambassadors to each other’s countries, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday.

“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” the statement said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the move saying, “Appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps for the normalization of ties. Such a positive step came from Israel as a result of these efforts, and as Turkey, we also decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv.”

In 2018, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after deadly protests on the Gaza border and then-US President Donald Trump moved Washington’s embassy to Jerusalem. Israel also pulled its ambassador to Turkey, Deutsche Welle reported.

Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, “we are not giving up on the Palestinian cause.”

“It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador,” he added.

In recent months, however, both Turkey and Israel have made moves to improve relations.

In March, the countries announced a new era in relations when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Ankara, DW reported.

On Wednesday, Lapid described the diplomatic breakthrough as an “important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel.”

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Turkish airstrikes on Syrian border posts kill 17

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(Last Updated On: August 17, 2022)

Turkish airstrikes on Syria border posts run by regime forces killed 17 fighters on Tuesday, according to a war monitor, prompting the Damascus government to threaten retaliation.

“Seventeen fighters were killed in Turkish airstrikes that hit several Syrian regime outposts… near the Turkish border,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It did not specify if the victims were affiliated with the government or Kurdish forces.

At least three Syrian soldiers were among the dead and six were wounded in the Turkish raids, said the official SANA news agency, citing a military source.

“Any attack on a military outpost run by our armed forces will be met with a direct and immediate response on all fronts,” read the report.

The strikes took place near the Kurdish-held town of Kobane, the site of overnight clashes between Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Kurdish forces also struck inside Turkish territory overnight, killing one soldier, Turkey’s defense ministry said.

“Thirteen terrorists were neutralised” in retaliatory attacks by Ankara inside Syria, the ministry said, adding that operations in the region were ongoing.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to green-light a fresh offensive against Kurdish fighters viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

Turkey has fervently opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backing rebels calling for his removal and opening its doors to refugees.

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