>International News 23.03.2011

23 मार्च

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Gaddafi’s forces continue their assault on key towns

Despite four nights of missile and airstrikes, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces pressed ahead with their assault on key towns of Misruta, Ajdabiya and Zintan. His tanks and heavy artillery laid a siege on the embattled Misruta, the sole city held by the rebels in western Libya, and heavy shelling by his forces left more than 50 people, including children dead.

According to reports, intense fighting also raged for the town of Zintan where outgunned rebel forces were repeatedly thrown back by government troops. Loud explosions continued to rock the capital for the fourth night and flares from the firing of anti-aircraft guns lit the sky.

Libyan leader declared on Wednesday that they will not surrender. He said they will prefer to die like martyrs. Gaddafi said this in a live television broadcast, making his first public appearance since the allied strikes against his country.

BBC said that divisions were appearing among the rebels, with some pressing for pushing on to Tripoli, while others wanted to take Ajdabiya and consolidate their hold in the East, hoping Libyan in other cities will rise up and liberate themselves.

The US has slapped sanctions on 14 companies controlled by Libya’s state oil company. The move has cut off a key source of funds for the Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control Adam J Szubin said, the Libyan National Oil Corporation has been a primary funding source for the Gaddafi regime. He said, Consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 1973, all governments should block the National Oil Corporation’s assets and ensure that Gaddafi cannot use this network of companies to support his activities.

Missile, air strikes by Western forces in Libya continue

The missile and air strikes by Western forces in Libya continued for the third day. They pounded several Libyan military targets across Tripoli. The allied firepower also targeted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold of Zuwarah, Sirte, Sebha as well as embattled city of Ajdabia. Commander of US Naval Forces (Europe and Africa) Admiral Samuel J Locklear III said Libyan air force’s capabilities have been significantly degraded as a result of the air strikes. He claimed that the coalition forces have virtually frozen Gaddafi’s advance in the key rebel city of Benghazi.

Meanwhile, international criticism of the Coalition air-strikes in Libya is growing. India, Russia and China have demanded an immediate end to the strikes. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Lok Sabha yesterday that no external power should interfere in the internal affairs of any other country. Earlier, Political parties cutting across party lines urged the Lower House of Parliament to adopt a unanimous resolution deploring what they called brutal attacks on Libya. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that international forces’ air strikes have resulted in civilian deaths. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday that the government opposes the wanton use of armed force leading to more civilian casualties and more humanitarian disasters.

In the meantime, fighting continued between Gaddafi’s forces and the rebels. Al Jazeera channel said, the government troops pounded rebel-held towns of Misurata and Ajdabia. Four children were killed while trying to flee their home in Misurata. Fighting also broke out between Libyan loyalists and the rebels in the town of Yafran killing at least nine people.

Colonel Gaddafi appeared at a site in Tripoli that was recently attacked by a US-led coalition and told his followers that he will finally emerge victorious. He said at the Bab al-Aziziya compound, hit by air strikes on Sunday, that all Islamic armies should join him.

Power lines connected to all six reactors at Fukushima

In a significant development, Japanese workers struggling to avert a nuclear disaster have succeeded in reconnecting all six reactors to power lines at the quake-hit Fukushima plant. This was disclosed by Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant. However, the company cautioned that a lot of work still needs to be done before electricity can actually be turned on at the plant. The workers are checking all additional equipment for damage to make sure cooling systems can be safely operated.

The critical restoration work at the plant was stalled yesterday after smoke rose from No 2 and No 3 reactors, fuelling fears of fresh radiation leaks from the area rocked by the March 11 quake of magnitude 9 and devastating tsunami.

Meanwhile, seawater pollution in the region has expanded, but the country’s nuclear safety agency said there are no immediate health threats. The amount of radioactive iodine reached 80.3-fold of the standard level at the point 8 km south of the plant and 16.4-fold at the point 16 km south.

The Fukushima prefectural government denied the possibility that seafood from the area was distributed to markets saying fishing had not been conducted near the nuclear plant.

Chief of China’s People Liberation Army arrives in Kathmandu

Chief of China’s People Liberation Army, General Chen Bingde has arrived in Kathmandu on a three day official visit. He is leading a high level military delegation.

Gen. Bingde will hold bilateral talks with his Nepali counterpart Gen. Chhatra Man Singh Gurung and sign memoranda of understanding this evening. He is expected to announce technical assistance worth 1.42 billion rupees during his goodwill visit. The delegation will call upon President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and Defence Minister Bishnu Poudel on Thursday.

This is one of the highest military visit from China in a decade. Vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and Minister for National Defence of China, Chi Haotian, had visited Nepal in February 2001.

China sentences 4 people to jail for selling melamine-tainted dairy products

In China, four people have received jail sentences for selling and producing melamine-tainted dairy products in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

The Linwei District Court said in a statement on Wednesday that the former manager of Lekang Dairy Company in Weinan city was sentenced to five years in jail and fined 500,000 yuan.

The statement said two Deputy Managers of the dairy firm Zhu Shuming in charge of production and marketing, were sentenced to four years and fined 250,000 yuan each.

A local dairy dealer, received a two-and-a-half year jail term and was fined 150,000 yuan for selling tainted milk powder to the dairy firm. The distribution of melamine-laced milk products in 2008 killed at least six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country.

6 people die in China as van catches fire

In China, six people have died after their van caught fire in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

According to a spokesman of the local government, the incident occurred on Wednesday morning in Jinghe country in Bortala Mongol Prefecture.

The spokesman said three of the nine people inside the van managed to escape. He said it is unknown how the fire broke out.

ASEAN Human Assistance Centre to be launched in Jakarta

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is to officially launch the ASEAN Human Assistance Centre in Jakarta in June 2011 for study on mitigation of catastrophe and coordination in handling natural disaster in the region.

Spokesman of the Indonesian Vice Presidential Office Yopie Hidayat said Indonesia had been selected to host the centre due to its experience in dealing with catastrophe. Indonesia, home to over 240 million population, has experienced a series of major earthquake and tsunami since 2004.

Australian PM Afghanistan’s decision to begin taking over security

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed Afghanistan’s decision to begin taking over security in parts of the country.

In a statement, Gillard said the transition is a process, not an event, and Australia and its International Security Assistance Force partners will continue to support Afghanistan as the mission progresses. She said the key challenge for the Afghan government and the Force is to ensure that transition is sustainable and irreversible.

Gillard said Australia, which has around 1,550 troops in Afghanistan and has lost 23 soldiers in the conflict since 2001, will continue to train the Fourth Brigade of the Afghan National Army in the southern province of Uruzgan.

On Tuesday, Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced that the transfer of power from NATO-led forces will begin in July and includes parts of the Helmand province in the south. The transfer is the first step towards the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

5 sailors missing as boat capsizes in China

In China, five sailors are missing after their boat capsized in waters off the eastern Zhejiang Province. The local marine rescue centre said the accident happened on Tuesday night in waters off the coast of Zhoushan.

According to a rescued sailor, the 64-metre boat was damaged after another fishing boat hit on it on the side. He said all eight crew members aboard the boat jumped into the water before it capsized and sank. Three have been picked up by rescuers while rescuers are still searching for the other five.

टोक्यो के पानी में विकिरण

जापान में अधिकारियों का कहना है कि फुकुशिमा परमाणु संयंत्र से निकले विकिरण ने राजधानी टोक्यो की जल आपूर्ति को प्रदूषित कर दिया है.
राजधानी के कुछ इलाक़ों में विकिरणों की मात्रा सुरक्षित स्तर से काफ़ी अधिक हो चुकी है.
फुकुशिमा संयंत्र के आसपास के इलाक़ों में रहने वाले लोगों से कहा गया है कि वो आसपास उगने वाली कुछ सब्ज़ियां न खाएं क्योंकि उनमें विकिरण हो सकता है.
फुकुशिमा संयंत्र के छह रिएक्टरों में रिएक्टर नंबर 3 में धुआं उठने के बाद संयंत्र को अस्थायी रुप से खाली करा दिया गया है.
इंजीनियर पिछले कुछ दिनों से लगातार रिएक्टरों को ठंडा करने के प्रयासों में लगे हैं क्योंकि अगर रिएक्टर ठंडा नहीं हुआ तो इसमें रखे इस्तेमाल किए गए ईंधन छड़ों से बड़ी मात्रा में विकिरण निकल सकता है.
भूकंप और सूनामी के कारण रिएक्टर की कूलिंग प्रणाली ख़राब हो चुकी है.
अधिकारियों ने टोक्यो में रहने वाले लोगों को चेतावनी दी है कि एक साल से कम के बच्चों को नल का पानी न पीने दें.
मंगलवार को नलों के पानी का परीक्षण किया गया था तो पाया गया कि ये स्तर सुरक्षित स्तर से दोगुनी है.
अधिकारियों ने ज़ोर देकर कहा है कि बच्चे अगर बहुत अधिक नल का पानी पिएंगे तो ही विकिरणों का नुकसान हो सकता है जबकि बड़े लोगों को इससे कोई ख़तरा नहीं है.
सरकार ने फुकुशिमा के आसपास रहने वाले लोगों को 11 किस्म की सब्ज़ियां खाने से मना किया है. ये हरे पत्तों वाली वो सब्ज़ियां हैं फुकुशिमा के आसपास के इलाक़े में उगाई जाती हैं.
स्थानीय लोगों से कहा गया है कि वो अपनी सब्ज़ियां और अन्य सामान बेचने के लिए बाज़ारों में न भेजें. इसके अलावा पास के इबाराकी इलाक़े में लोगों से कहा गया है कि वो दूध उत्पादों को बाहर भेजने पर तत्काल प्रभाव से रोक लगा दें.
जापान के कैबिनेट सेक्रेटरी यूकियो इदानो का कहना था कि अगर लोग ये सब्ज़ियां खाते हैं तो भी उनके स्वास्थ्य पर कोई बुरा प्रभाव नहीं पड़ेगा.
इदानो का कहना था, ‘‘ दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण बात ये है कि ऐसी स्थिति लंबे समय के लिए रह सकती है इसलिए हम लोगों से कह रहे हैं कि दूध बाहर भेजने से रोका जाए और ये सब्ज़ियां आदि कम से कम इस्तेमाल की जाएं.’’
अमरीका के खाद्य एवं ड्र्ग्स संगठन ने घोषणा की है कि जापान के फुकुशिमा, इबाराकी, टोचिगी और गुनमा इलाक़ों से किसी भी फलों और सब्ज़ियों के आने पर रोक लगा दी गई है.
चीन, ताइवान और दक्षिण कोरिया पहले से ही जापान से आ रही हर वस्तु की कड़ी निगरानी कर रहे हैं.
जापान में आए भूकंप और सूनामी से मरने वालों की संख्या अब दस हज़ार तक पहुंच चुकी है और 15 हज़ार के करीब लोग गायब बताए जाते है.
इस आपदा में पाँच लाख लोग बेघर हुए हैं जबकि तीन लाख लोग अभी भी अस्थायी केंद्रों में रह रहे हैं.
जापान का कहना है कि इस आपदा के बाद देश के पुनर्निर्माण में 25 ख़रब येन की लागत आएगी.

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