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Cyclone Fani lashes India’s east coast — 1.2 million people evacuated  – National

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Cyclone Fani lashes India’s east coast — 1.2 million people evacuated National

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Cyclone Fani tore through India’s eastern coast on Friday as a grade 5 storm, lashing beaches with rain and wind gusting up to 205 kilometres per hour and affecting weather as far away as Mount Everest.

The India Meteorological Department said the “extremely severe” cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha around 8 a.m., with weather impacted across the Asian subcontinent.


READ MORE:
Thousands of people evacuated as India prepares for ‘phenomenal’ conditions from Cyclone Fani

Dust storms were forecast in the desert state of Rajasthan bordering Pakistan; heat waves in the coastal state of Maharashtra on the Arabian Sea; heavy rain in the northeastern states bordering China; and snowfall in the Himalayas.

Around 1.2 million people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters, according to India’s National Disaster Response Force. Indian officials put the navy, air force, army and coast guard on high alert. Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said the evacuation effort was unprecedented in India.

By Friday afternoon, Fani had weakened to a “very severe” storm as it moved north-northeast toward the Indian state of West Bengal.

Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. 

AP Photo

In Bhubaneswar, a city in Odisha famous for an 11th-century Hindu temple, palm trees whipped back and forth like mops across skies made opaque by gusts of rain.

The national highway to Puri, a popular tourist beach city with other significant Hindu antiquities, was littered with fallen trees and electricity poles, making it impassable. A special train ran Thursday to evacuate tourists from the city.

The airport in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, closed from 3 p.m. Friday to Saturday morning. At least 200 trains were cancelled across India.

The National Disaster Response Force dispatched 54 rescue and relief teams of doctors, engineers and deep-sea divers to flood-prone areas along the coast and as far afield as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands that comprise a state located about 1,300 kilometres east of mainland India in the Bay of Bengal.

READ MORE: 900,000 children orphaned, separated or impacted in Mozambique due to Cyclone Idai

On Mount Everest, some mountaineers and Sherpa guides were descending to lower camps as weather worsened at higher elevations. The government issued a warning saying that heavy snowfall was expected in the higher mountain areas with rain and storms lower down the mountain, and asked trekking agencies to take tourists to safety.

Hundreds of climbers, their guides, cooks and porters huddled at the Everest base camp, according to Pemba Sherpa of the Xtreme Climbers Trek, who said weather and visibility was poor. May is the best month to climb the 8,850-foot (29,035-foot) Everest when Nepal experiences a few windows of good weather to scale the peak.

“It is still the beginning of the month, so there is no reason for climbers to worry” that weather from the cyclone will cost them their chance to reach the summit, Sherpa said.

On India’s cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

Its timing is unusual, according to data from the Meteorological Department. Most extremely severe cyclones hit India’s east coast in the post-monsoon season. Over roughly half a century, 23, or nearly 60% of the cyclones, to hit India were observed between October and December.

WATCH: Global News’ past coverage of cyclones


Because Fani spent 10 days gathering strength over the sea, it delivered a huge blow when it made landfall.

Some of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record have occurred in the Bay of Bengal. A 1999 “super” cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha. Due to improved forecasts and better co-ordinated disaster management, the death toll from Cyclone Phailin – an equally intense storm that hit in 2013 – were less than 50, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The 1999 super cyclone reached wind speeds of 260-280 kph (161-173 mph)r, said India Meteorological Department scientist Dr. M. Mohapatra.

“This is not as bad,” he said.

Sethi, the special commissioner in Odisha, said communications were disrupted in some areas, but no deaths or injuries had been reported.

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh just south of Odisha, Fani topped electricity poles and uprooted others, leaving them in sharp angles. In the Srikakulam district, where around 20,000 people had been evacuated, thatched-roof houses collapsed and fishing boats left unmoored on beaches had been sliced into shards.

Clouds loom ahead of cyclone Fani in Visakhapatnam, India, May 1, 2019.

REUTERS/Stringer

The district experienced wind speeds of 140 kph and received heavy rains but no loss of life or major damage was reported, district collector J. Niwas said.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the storm would reach the southwestern part of Bangladesh by Friday.

Aid agencies warned that the more than 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar living at refugee camps near the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar were at threat. Hillol Sobhan, local communications director for the aid group Care, said it had emergency supplies for the refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority said it suspended operations of all vessels. Authorities also halted activities at Chittagong Seaport, which handles 80% of the country’s overseas trade.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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