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27 dead in Bangkok blast

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Bangkok: At least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded — mostly foreigners — in a bomb explosion on Monday close to Hindu Erawan Shrine in the centre of the Thai capital, police said.

“It was a TNT bomb… the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy,” Thailand’s Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said, Channel News Asia reported.

Most of those injured in the explosion were said to be predominantly Asian tourists, with the majority taken to Police General Hospital and Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A number of foreign nationals were injured in the blast, according to witnesses.

The Bangkok Post quoted police as saying that at least one more bomb was defused by officers in Ratchaprasong area.2015-08-18_0046

Local TV showed burnt motorbikes on the main road, with paramedics and police taking the injured away.

The explosion was on the Rajprasong intersection, which has been the centre of political demonstrations in recent years.

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Deadly Blast Jostles Somalia , President Declares Three Days of National Mourning

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab

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BLAST
A Somali soldier helps a civilian who was wounded in a blast in the capital of Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

Somalia, October 15, 2017 : Somalia’s president has declared three days of national mourning following a deadly truck bombing Saturday in the capital, Mogadishu, which left many people dead and dozens injured, including a VOA reporter.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo said the country “will observe three days of mourning for innocent victims and flags will be flown at half-mast.”

Farmaajo also called on citizens to unite against terror, saying it is “time to unite and pray together. Terror won’t win.”

Blast
Somalis gather and search for survivors by destroyed buildings at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

Earlier Saturday, the blast occurred near Zobe, a busy intersection in Somalia’s capital, killing more than 50 people, health officials and witnesses said.

Dead, injured

Mahad Salad Adan, a Somali lawmaker who sustained a slight wound from the blast, told VOA that more than 100 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the explosion. He said more 200 others were wounded as Mogadishu hospitals struggled to treat the wounded.

Abdulkaidr Mohamed Abdulle, a VOA Somali correspondent in Mogadishu, was among the injured. His wife, Samira Abdirahman Sheikh Adam, confirmed to VOA that he had sustained injuries to his neck, head and right hand.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but similar attacks have been carried out by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida, is trying to overthrow the government in an effort to establish strict Islamic rule.

The United States and the United Nations strongly condemned Saturday’s blast and offered condolence to the lives lost and those wounded in the attack.

Buildings leveled

Buildings around the area were leveled by the explosion from a truck bomb, and dozens of destroyed cars littered the streets.

Blast
Mogadishu on the map. VOA

Health officials said Saturday’s bombing was the largest blast in recent memory in Mogadishu. They also called for residents to donate blood to help with the wounded.

“For 10 years, I have been in the emergency service. … I cannot tell the exact death toll, but together I can say we have transported hundreds of people on our 10 ambulances,” said Dr. Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adem, director of the Amin ambulance service. “And economically, I think this is the worst (bombing) ever in Mogadishu in a single day.”

Government soldiers had cordoned off the area, and officials said the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers find bodies in the rubble.

ALSO READ Terror Strikes Somalia: Five killed in Twin Car Bomb Blast in Mogadishu

Most of the victims were civilians. The exact target of the blast remains unclear, though there are several hotels frequented by government officials and members of various diaspora communities.

“This is a disaster. We ask all Somalis to reach us, to help us in the search of dead bodies under the debris. We appeal to the doctors, to those who have digging machines,” Mogadishu Mayor Tabid Abdi Mohamed said on government radio.

Al-Shabab

Saturday’s blast came hours after al-Shabab militants regained control of Barire, a strategic Somalian town in a farming area along the Shabelle river, 45 kilometers from Mogadishu.

The explosion also comes two days after Somalia’s defense minister and military chief, who were leading the fight against Islamist militants, both resigned from the government, citing personal reasons.

Some analysts believe militants tend to carry out such attacks when there are security lapses.

“The resignation of the country’s defense and military chiefs gave the militants a gab [opening] to carry out such disastrous attack,” said Mogadishu University’s Dr. Abdul Kadir Liban Isse. (VOA)

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Award-winning Chef Gaggan Anand Wants to Take Indian Food Beyond its Stereotyped Curry Prism

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Chef Gaggan Anand
Dal Curry. Wikimedia

Bengaluru, Sep 24, 2017: Ranked as Asia’s best restaurant for three years in a row for his eponymous “Gaggan” in Bangkok, Kolkata-born Chef Gaggan Anand is all about taking Indian food to the world beyond its stereotyped curry prism. He’s on a mission to prove to the world that the concept of curry doesn’t exist in Indian cuisine.

“I want to show the world that there’s no such thing as a curry. There’s only a curry leaf that gives the taste. Curry is a very British idea. With just a curry leaf oil, I can make anything taste like curry,” the award-winning Anand said in a conversation with IANS at the Taj West End here.

The owner and executive chef of the Bangkok restaurant, which has won the top spot in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, ranked by theworlds50best.com, for three consecutive years since 2015, was on a four-city tour to present his food through pop-ups at Taj Hotels in the country, from where he had started his culinary career.

Anand’s food is all about elevating humble Indian street-food-inspired-dishes through innovation and plating in a fine-dining fashion — from chocolate paani puri to keema pav.

And he’s managed to do so by eliminating knives and forks and letting global diners eat Indian food the way it’s traditionally eaten — using the hands. Thereby, he managed to place Indian food on the world map in a much larger way.

Also Read: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor Brand Ambassador for Food Street at World Food India event 

Served through 25 courses, he presents the tasting menu through emojis, eliminating the long descriptions of dishes that usually feature on a restaurant menu. And it’s certainly not an easy task to guess what’s going to be served by reading the ideograms.

“My idea is to bring all of people’s senses to life. I use food to seduce people and agitate their minds by surprising them without any pretensions. Everybody would have made jalebis into various sweet versions but no one would have thought of a savoury version,” an exuberant Anand explained.

“I have created my own philosophy of food, which is what sets me apart and has got me where I am now,” said Anand, whose restaurant is also the only Indian eatery to grab a spot among the World’s top 10 restaurants, ranked by theworlds50best.com.

Unlike many other kitchens across the world, Anand’s is always blaring out rock music and most often he’s seen in his favourite band’s T-shirt when he’s out of the kitchen. Music is one of the key elements of his food-making process.

He even created a dish named “Lick it up”, inspired by the American rock band “Kiss”, which diners need to lick off the plate, and treats his service like a concert, filled with surprises and theatrics.

And for constant renovation of his food, Anand has dedicated a total of six teams for research and development in his “food laboratory”.

As the Netflix Emmy-nominated “Chef’s Table” show describes in an episode on his restaurant, “his kitchen is a virtual United Nations with people from across the world working in it”.

Anand had started off his restaurant in 2010 majorly using the molecular gastronomy principles, wherein ingredients undergo physical and chemical transformations, and later adopted a “minimalist” approach to food, he shared.

“Most often, Indian chefs give glory to quinoa, zucchini and goji berries while ignoring our own ingredients like drumsticks and colocasia root. We should create from our ingredients rather than seeking to the West for ideas,” Anand asserted.

“So, my food is all about honesty in using seasonal produce, while keeping the plate as minimalist as possible. Only the elements that belong on the plate stay on it”.

This simplistic approach is perhaps what late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam loved the most about Anand’s food. “I used to travel along with Kalam sir when he was the President. He used to eat the rice and rasam I used to make for him at 6 a.m. each morning,” the chef reminisced.

But restaurants come with an expiry date, Anand believes. “Gaggan will close by 2020. It’s the end of an era. For a decade I cooked at Gaggan, and now I want something else.”

The celebrated chef will be heading to Japan’s Fukuoka city in 2021 to do a 10-seater restaurant.

“It’ll be an inaccessible place. I really want to control the crowd and reduce the volume. Now the volume is too high and I want to do food that pleases my soul now,” he said.

With the Michelin announcing the launch of their prestigious Michelin Guide in Bangkok by the end of 2017, Anand said if he gets three Michelin stars, he would claim the fame of being the first such Indian to be so recognised.

“Even if I don’t get it, I don’t have much to lose; they’ll have to answer to the people who have loved my food,” he said with a nonchalant shrug.

“I still haven’t given my Indian passport away though. I’ll always remain very much Indian at heart, even though nobody in Kolkata really knows me and that I’ve made the region and its food so famous,” Anand concluded. (IANS)

 

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Pool for good luck? Vets extract 915 coins From 25-year-old green Sea Turtle in Bangkok

The coins and other objects removed from the turtle named Omsin — piggy bank in Thai — weighed 5 kg (11 lb)

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Screen show Thai veterinarians operate Omsin, a 25 year old female green sea turtle, during a surgical operation to remove coins from her stomach, during a news conference at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, March 6, 2017. VOA

Thai veterinarians on Monday removed 915 coins from a 25-year-old sea turtle which had been swallowing items thrown into her pool for good luck, eventually limiting her ability to swim.

The coins and other objects removed from the turtle named Omsin — piggy bank in Thai — weighed 5 kg (11 lb). The turtle itself weighed 59 kg (130 lb).

The green sea turtle, living at a conservation center in Sriracha, Chonburi, east of the Thai capital of Bangkok, had been finding it hard to swim normally because of the weight.

The vets said they believed the seven-hour-long operation was the world’s first such surgery.

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“We think it will take about a month to ensure she will fully recover,” said Nantarika Chansue, of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary science faculty, adding that the turtle would need six more months of physical therapy.

There was no immediate estimate of the value of the coins, some of them foreign and many corroded. (VOA)