Tuesday October 17, 2017
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Afghan Taliban to help earthquake victims

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Kabul: The Taliban on Tuesday urged charity organisations not to hold back in delivering aid to Afghan victims of a devastating earthquake, saying militants in the affected areas were ordered to provide “complete help”.

The Taliban has also ordered Mujahideen to help the victims of yesterday’s earthquake in northern Afghanistan, as the official death toll rises to more than 300.

This morning local media reported that the death toll had risen to 311, of which 237 fatalities were in Pakistan.

The earthquake, registered at a magnitude of 7.5, occured in the province of Badakhashan in Afghanistan’s far north. It hit at 1:39pm local time, at a depth of 132 miles, according to the US Geological Survey.afg 2

 

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan issued a statement early this morning, saying the organisation “shares in the tragedy of all countrymen affected by the earthquake and asks Almighty Allah for Jannat ul Firdaws (highest Paradise) for the killed, immediate recovery for the injured and a blessed substitute, patience and great reward for everyone affected”.

“The Islamic Emirate calls on our good willed countrymen and charitable organisations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims of this earthquake,” the group added. “

The fundamentalist organisation also “declares its empathy with the affected Muslim brothers” of other countries, adding that it “asks Allah Almighty to bestow patience and great reward on their relatives”.

However the relief effort is being complicated by unstable security caused by the Taliban insurgency, which has made large parts of the affected areas unsafe for international organisations and government troops.

“We have insufficient food and other aid,” said Abdul Habib Sayed Khil, chief of police in Kunar, one of the worst-hit provinces, where 42 people were confirmed dead.

“It has been raining for four days and the weather is very cold. If we don’t provide aid very soon it may turn to another disaster.”

Roads and communications were cut off to many areas at the epicentre of the earthquake and authorities and international relief organizations were still trying to assess the extent of the damage.

In Pakistan, where landslides and heavy rain and snow over the weekend had already left thousands of tourists stranded in mountainous areas of the north, the country’s well-equipped military was heavily involved in the relief effort.

Several helicopters had been dispatched to affected areas to assess damage and run rescue operations, the National Disaster Management Authority said.

“Rescue work is ongoing and tents, blankets and sleeping mats are being provided,” Latif ur Rehman, a Pakistani disaster management official, told agencies.

he United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) said roads between the Afghan cities of Taloqan and Kunduz in the north and between Jalalabad in the east and the capital Kabul had been cut by landslides.

The United States and Iran were among countries that offered to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, which already depends heavily on foreign aid after decades of war that have wrecked its economy and infrastructure.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. Agency for International Development was ready to provide emergency shelter and relief supply kits.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in London en route from an official visit to the United States, said he would oversee rescue efforts.

“We will try our best to deal with this disaster using our own resources,” he said.

(INPUT FROM VARIOUS AGENCIES)

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Researchers Suggest Studying Aquifer Water Levels in the Himalayas to Predict an Earthquake

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth's surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, believe researchers

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Can water levels in the foothills of Himalayas forewarn about earthquakes? The blinking red light on a seismograph shows the epicentre of an earthquake. (representational image) Wikimedia

Bengaluru, October 16, 2017 : Continuous monitoring of water levels in the foothills of the Himalayas can warn about an impending earthquake in the region, which is due for a major temblor.

This recommendation to the Ministry of Earth Sciences has come from Ramesh Singh, professor of environmental sciences at California’s Chapman University, who is also president of the Natural Hazards Group of the American Geological Union.

Singh says the utility of monitoring the water levels of underground aquifers for predicting earthquakes in quake-prone regions has been confirmed from analysis of water level data in a bore hole collected during the earthquake that rocked Nepal’s Gorkha district on April 25, 2015.

The findings of the study carried out by Singh and three seismologists from China have recently been published in the journal Techtonophysics.

The Gorkha quake, one of the deadliest in Nepal, killed about 5,000 people mainly in Nepal, a few in bordering India, two in Bangladesh and one in China, and injured about 9,200 people.

Whenever earthquakes occur, widespread cracks and deformations on the earth’s surface are common, resulting in changes in groundwater levels, Singh told this correspondent in an email.

In China, many parameters are being monitored in water wells, including water level, water temperature, and water radon concentrations to detect any signal prior to an impending earthquake.

According to the scientists, due to seismic wave propagation, the volume of an aquifer expands and contracts, forming fractures that change the water flow in a bore well sunk into the aquifer.

In the case of the Gorkha quake, the scientists considered the water level in a bore well — called “Jingle” well — atop an aquifer in China’s Shanxi province, 2,769 kilometres from the temblor’s epicenter. The data was analysed soon after the Nepal earthquake.

A “spectrum analysis” of the co-seismic response of the bore hole water level showed large amplitude oscillations with a maximum peak-to-peak value of about 1.75 metres associated with ground vibrations generated by the earthquake, says their report.

In addition, the analysis revealed the arrival of a possible precursor wave at the “Jingle” well about 6.5 hours prior to the actual occurrence.

ALSO READ Indian Seismologist Arun Bapat had Predicted China Earthquake on August 8

“The study of co-seismic changes in groundwater has emerged as an important research area which can provide an improved understanding of earthquake processes and corresponding changes in surface and subsurface parameters,” Singh said.

Water level data in close proximity to the epicenter may be of great importance in getting early warning signals of an impending earthquake, he said. China and the United States routinely monitor aquifer water levels at 15-minute intervals.

In the light of the finding, Singh said that “India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences may consider deploying water level sensors in the Himalayan foothills areas, which may provide valuable information about an impending earthquake in the Himalayan region, which is due for a major earthquake.”

Such data, he added, “is also useful in understanding the dynamic nature of the Indian plate”.

However Arun Bapat, former head of Earthquake Engineering Research at the Central Water and Power Research Station in Pune, says he has some reservations about the study’s conclusion that water level changes observed in the bore hole were the warning signal for the Gorkha earthquake.

“Various effects associated with a large earthquake (Magnitude 7.5 or more) such as electrical, magnetic, geological, tectonic, hydraulic, radioactivity, etc., have been observed within about 600 to 800 km from the epicenter (but not beyond),” Bapat told IANS.

Bapat said the magnitude of the Gorkha quake was about 6.5 to 6.75 which is considered as moderate. “The effect of this quake on water level changes at a distance of 2,769 kilometres from its epicenter is almost not possible.” (IANS)

 

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Taliban Warns Phone Companies to Shut Down Their Coverage in Ghazni

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Members of the Taliban gather in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. voa

Ghazni, Washington October 11: Taliban militants have ordered mobile phone companies to shut down their networks at dark in central Ghazni province, provincial police authorities told VOA.

In a bid to mitigate risks, the insurgent group has asked telecom operators in Ghazni province to halt operations from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to make it difficult for the Afghan forces to get intelligence and tips on militants through mobile phones.

The insurgent group has destroyed several telecom towers in the restive province over the last three days.

“The recent uptick in airstrikes against militants is causing increasing casualties in Taliban ranks. The militants want to destroy telecom towers to disturb communications,” Fahim Amarkhil, a police spokesperson in Ghazni told VOA.

The Taliban has said Afghan and U.S. forces use the network signals to locate the group’s fighters.

In addition to Ghazni, the insurgent group has asked mobile phone companies to halt their networks’ coverage in several other provinces as well, an official of a major cell phone company in Kabul told VOA on the condition of anonymity.

The official added that in many cases, the operators have no option but to comply with what the insurgents want.

The disruption in telecom services have angered customers in Ghazni who rely on mobile phone as their only means of communication. The residents fear that if the government does not address the issue in a timely manner, the telecom companies may end their operation in the province.

“Some time ago, the Taliban had warned the telecom companies to pay taxes to the Taliban, not to the government, and the issue was resolved,” Jamil Weqar, an activist in Ghazni told VOA. “But this time, they destroyed the towers which has created many problems [for customers],” he added.

The telecommunication sector in Afghanistan has made tremendous progress following the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a new government in the post-2001 era. With little to no access to cell phones and the internet 15 years ago, the country now has more than 20 million mobile phone subscribers, covering more than 85 percent of the population.

New strategy

The communication blackout comes as the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is increasing military pressure on militant groups across the country. The new plan includes a more intensive use of airpower against militants.

The latest official data shows U.S. forces dropped 751 bombs in September against the Taliban and militants linked to the so-called Islamic State terror group in Afghanistan. This is the largest number of bombs dropped on militants in a single month since 2012.

“This increase can be attributed to the president’s strategy to more proactively target extremist groups that threaten the stability and security of the Afghan people,” according to a summary from the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command.

U.S.-backed Afghan forces are trying to regain control of areas and districts lost to the Taliban across the country.

The government has said it controls nearly two-thirds of the country’s 407 districts. Taliban reportedly control 33 districts, less than 10 percent of the national total. Around 116 districts are “contested” areas, according to a recent U.S. military assessment. (voa)

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Over 200 Killed As 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Mexico City

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985

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People evacuated from office buildings gather in Reforma Avenue after an earthquake in Mexico City, Sept. 19, 2017. VOA

Mexico, September 20, 2017 :  A powerful earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck Mexico city, leaving more than 200 people dead and many trapped under the collapsed buildings. At about 2.15 p.m. (local time) on Tuesday, the earthquake shook central Mexico, its epicenter was 4.5 km east-northeast of San Juan Raboso and 55 km south-southwest of the city of Puebla, in Puebla state.

“We are facing a new national emergency,” said Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, in his first televised address following the earthquake.

The earthquake was felt far and wide. In Mexico City, there were power outages and more than 40 buildings collapsed crushing cars and trapping people inside.

Dozens of buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of nearby states also.

Thousands of soldiers, rescuers and civilians — including college students — in Mexico City clawed through the rubble with picks, shovels and their bare hands. Windows buckled and shattered, falling several stories to the ground while thousands of people streamed into the streets running away from buildings and potential gas leaks.

People struggled to get home when power poles that toppled in the quake blocked the streets and the public transportation system temporarily shut down operations. Nearly 5 million customers were still without power early Wednesday.

The earthquake came less than two weeks after a massive 8.1-magnitude quake hit the country on September 7 and killed nearly 100.

The earthquake took place on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands in Mexico City in 1985. Just hours before the quake hit, many people took part in drills and commemorative events.

All public and private schools in Mexico City and some of the states affected by the earthquake will remain closed until further notice, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño tweeted.

Foreign leaders sent messages of support to Mexico. US President Donald Trump, who has courted controversy with his plans for a border wall with Mexico, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his support following the “devastating news”.

 

(IANS)