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Thousands flee as volcano erupts on Spain’s La Palma island, homes destroyed

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(Last Updated On: September 20, 2021)

The Canary Islands’ first volcanic eruption in 50 years has forced the evacuation of about 5,000 people, including around 500 tourists, and destroyed about 100 houses, officials said on Monday.

The volcano erupted on Sunday, shooting lava hundreds of metres into the air, engulfing houses and forests, and sending molten rock towards the Atlantic Ocean over a sparsely populated area of La Palma, the most northwestern island in the Canaries archipelago.

No fatalities have been reported but the volcano was still active on Monday. A Reuters reporter saw heavy smoke coming from the volcano and houses burning.

Officials said they were hopeful they would not need to evacuate any more people.

“The lava is moving towards the coast and the damage will be material. According to experts there are about 17-20 million cubic metres of lava,” regional president Angel Victor Torres told Cadena Ser radio.

The lava flow has destroyed about 100 houses so far, Mariano Hernandez, president of La Palma‘s council, told Cadena Ser.

About 20 houses were engulfed in the village of El Paso along with sections of roads, Mayor Sergio Rodriguez told state broadcaster TVE. The lava was spreading through neighbouring villages, putting hundreds more at risk, he said.

A group of 360 tourists were evacuated by boat to Tenerife from the beach resort of Puerto Naos, ferry operator Fred Olsen said, and more could be transferred later in the day.

Despite the destruction, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto told Canal Sur radio the eruption should be seen as an opportunity to entice visitors to the island.

“The island is open, if your hotel is affected we will find you another one,” she said. “Make the most of this opportunity to enjoy what nature has brought us.”

Volcanologist Nemesio Perez said there were unlikely to be fatalities as long as no-one behaved recklessly.

La Palma had been on high alert after thousands of tremors were reported over a week in Cumbre Vieja, which belongs to a chain of volcanoes that last had a major eruption in 1971 and is one of the Canaries’ most active volcanic regions.

One man was killed in 1971 as he took photographs near the lava flows. A submarine eruption occurred about 10 years ago close to the islands but caused little damage.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in La Palma on Sunday to coordinate with regional authorities and said citizens could “rest easy.” He will visit affected areas later on Monday.

Emergency services said it was unclear what path the lava would take to the ocean. Authorities had evacuated people with mobility issues from several coastal towns, including the Puerto Naos resort.

Airspace around the Canaries remained open with no visibility problems, the Enaire civil air authority said. Local airline Binter cancelled four flights but said it would resume its service later on Monday.

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Bayat Power ‘looking forward’ to increasing domestic electricity output

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Bayat Power, Afghanistan’s first and currently only, natural gas to electricity generation, energy company is looking forward to expand its domestic power output.

In a speech, delivered by a company representative, Lotfullah Stanikzai, Bayat Power informed delegates attending the key energy conference in Kabul that the “team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

Stanikzai said the company was committed to working with government to achieve energy security and develop a pathway to energy self-sufficiency in Afghanistan.

The one-day conference, which was attended by senior Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) leaders, representatives of foreign countries and members of the private sector, was convened to attract investment in the energy and water sectors.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the acting Deputy Prime Minister, said in his opening speech the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is committed to developing the country but urged the people to be patient adding “because we have to build this country ourselves”.

Baradar also pointed out that Afghanistan is potentially a wealthy country that has great investment opportunities.

Abdul Latif Mansour, the acting Minister of Energy and Water, also addressed delegates and said the IEA is committed to managing the country’s water efficiently and to producing enough energy for the people.

Mansour said the conference was being held to map out opportunities available in the water and energy sectors for investors and that the IEA had paved the way for local and international business owners to invest in the sectors.

Shahabuddin Delavar, acting head of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum also addressed delegates and said it is “now time for us to maintain our country’s independence, and utilize our natural resources”.

He singled out Bayat Power, and said at the moment the company produces 40MW electricity but that it hoped to increase this substantially.

“We welcome the company’s decision,” he said.

Stanikzai told delegates that Bayat Power was the direct result of a solid private and public partnership between the company and various Afghanistan government entities, including the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, Afghanistan Gas Enterprise (AGE), and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat.

However, he stated that Bayat Power calls on the IEA to support the continuation of operations with current investors and attraction of further investment.

He urged the authorities to ensure timely payment of outstanding invoices by DABS was made to various private entities including Bayat Power; to facilitate a favorable investment environment; promote investment through favorable taxation policies and lower operational costs; and promote transparency with government entities to expedite new and the renewal of existing agreements.

He also urged the IEA to ensure that AGE continues to receive full government support so that they can remain operational and provide clean gas.

Stanikzai said it was important for DABS and the ministry of energy and water “to continue the excellent work in keeping the grid stable to take the domestic electricity produced by private sector companies.”

In conclusion, he said: “Bayat Power team is looking forward to deploying additional state-of-the-art turbines in Afghanistan to continue to develop the domestic gas to electricity sector, contributing to the energy security and building the nation for the long term.”

About Bayat Power

Bayat Power supplies electricity to schools, homes, mosques, hospitals, factories, business enterprises and other essential services. Currently the company supplies electricity to over 200,000 end users.

Bayat Group established the Bayat Power Electricity Services Distributor Company in 2013. Using the nation’s abundant natural gas reserves, the goal was to provide the people with a reliable supply of affordable and sustainable electricity.
Site work on Bayat Power-1’s 40MW gas-fired turbine started in 2019 and achieved commercial operation in November of that year. This landmark milestone made Bayat Power the first company in Afghanistan to operate a new gas-fired generation facility in more than 40 years.

Bayat Power-1 uses the most advanced, powerful, and efficient technology to extract the gas without adverse environmental impact.

Using Siemens Mobile Gas Unit “SGT-A45”, with up to 44 MW of electrical output, offers significantly more power and higher efficiency than any other mobile gas turbine worldwide.

The SGT-A45 turbine generates more than 300 million kWh per year of electricity, increasing revenue for the Afghanistan Gas Company through the purchase of gas for the project, as well as significant tax revenue for the Afghan government in the form of BRT, salaries and customs taxes, Bayat Power has been – and continues to be – a considerable PPP (private, public partnership) achievement.

This project has created more than 1,000 direct and indirect job opportunities for Afghans, which has contributed to improving the nation’s economic condition and fostered new technical skill sets amongst the country’s talented citizens.

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‘I am still president of Afghanistan’, Ghani says in TV interview

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, said in the first television interview since he fled the country on August 15 last year that according to the country’s constitution, he is still technically the country’s president.

In an interview with the newly established ABN channel, Ghani said: “I am the president according to the constitution and until the people of Afghanistan legally elect someone else, I am the president.”

He also stated that he fled the country because he was afraid of being killed and did not want to face the same fate as Dr. Mohammad Najibullah, ex-president of Afghanistan who was assassinated in 1996.

However, many Afghans call him shameless, adding that Ghani’s escape caused serious misery among the people in the country.

In response to the question on why he fled Afghanistan, Ghani said that he was the last person to leave Afghanistan and most of the cabinet members, including the Minister of Defense, had already fled by the time he flew out.

“I was the last person to leave the country, and this was also so that the bitter experience of Dr. Najib regarding an Afghan president would not be repeated,” he said.

In addition, Ghani stated that all politicians had a part in the downfall of the previous regime and he accuses Abdullah Abdullah, the former head of the National Reconciliation Council, for destabilizing the republic system. He also criticized Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistans who led peace talks with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and secured the Doha agreement in February 2020.

“Dr. Abdullah is responsible for not consolidating the republic, especially in the last seven years and secondly, he was in charge of the Afghanistan Peace Council, which step did he take on paper, which plan did he come up with, or in practice, when he went to Doha on a special plane and then came back on the day of Eid and said that the Taliban is not ready to make any kind of move,” Ghani added.

But Afghans at home lashed out at Ghani and said his words meant nothing and that he failed to even apologize for his actions.

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IEA commits to implementing Sharia law

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(Last Updated On: August 11, 2022)

Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, acting Minister of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, said Thursday that he will not give into any international pressure on the hijab issue and will implement this Islamic rule.

Hanafi said that along with the members of the vice and virtue ministry, all religious scholars, imams at mosques and elders in communities should implement Islamic rules in society.

Hanafi said in the last 20 years, the mindset of young Afghans had changed considerably.

Currently, there are 8,000 people employed by the ministry who are mostly employed to ensure individual and social reforms are carried out.

A number of religious scholars, however, said that facilities should be provided for those who are busy at this ministry.

In relation to women’s rights, he stated that once again women’s rights will be ensured according to Sharia law.

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