Gopalpur, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — A severe cyclone damaged homes and blew down trees and power poles Thursday in eastern India, where eight people were killed and about 300,000 forced to move to higher ground.
Cyclone Titli, or Butterfly, had winds blowing up to 150 kilometers per hour (95 mph) when it came onshore, the India Meteorological Department said. It spread rain widely in coastal districts of Orissa state and also hit northern parts of neighboring Andhra Pradesh state.
Eight people died from drowning, wall collapses and fallen trees in the Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh, said Kinjarapu Acchan Naidu, the state labor minister.
Schools were closed and air and train travel curtailed in the region. Authorities also set up more than 800 shelters stocked with food and relief materials.
Electricity and telephone services were cut in a number of areas in both states.
The cyclone was likely to weaken further and become a deep depression by Friday, the meteorological department said.
Orissa state is prone to cyclones which develop in the Bay of Bengal. In 1999, a devastating cyclone killed more than 15,000 people.
Bangladesh's coastal districts were also warned to prepare for possible storm effects there. Boats were ordered ashore and inland ferries were told to suspend services.
Palu, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — An earthquake collapsed homes on Indonesia's Java island, killing at least three people, and shook the tourist hotspot of Bali on Thursday, two weeks after a major quake-tsunami disaster in a central region of the archipelago.
Indonesia's disaster agency said the nighttime quake was centered at sea, 55 kilometers (34 miles) northeast of Situbondo city, and also felt in Lombok. The U.S. Geological Survey said it had a 6.0 magnitude.
The agency said the worst affected area was in Sumenep district, East Java where three people died in one village and several homes were damaged.
It said "the earthquake was felt quite strongly by people in Sumenep and Situbondo for 2-5 seconds. People poured out of their houses. In other areas the earthquake was felt to be moderate."
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding annual meetings on Bali through Sunday.
Some tourists and residents on Bali went outdoors as a precaution but then back to sleep when there was no tsunami warning.
The country is still working to recover from the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people and left perhaps thousands more buried deeply in mud in some neighborhoods of Palu city in central Sulawesi.
Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Wednesday the death toll from the double disaster on Sept. 28 has risen to 2,045, with most of the fatalities in the coastal city of Palu. More than 80,000 people are living in temporary shelters or otherwise displaced, he said.
Possibly 5,000 people were buried in places where the earthquake caused liquefaction, a phenomenon where wet soil weakens and collapses, becoming mud that sucks houses and everything else into the ground in a quicksand-like effect. Stretches of the coastline were trashed by the tsunami that Nugroho said had waves up to 11 meters (36 feet) high.
The official search for bodies will end Thursday with mass prayers in hard-hit neighborhoods, but Nugroho said volunteers and family members can continue searching. Memorials will be constructed in hard-hit neighborhoods such as Balaroa and Petobo, he said at a news conference in Jakarta.
"People are traumatized. They don't want to go back" to those places, Nugroho said. "They asked to be relocated to another place and a house made for them."
After making a rare appeal for international assistance, Indonesia is now trying to limit foreign involvement in the disaster relief effort. Nugroho said there's no need for international aid other than the four priorities identified by Indonesia — tents, water treatment units, generators and transport.
The disaster agency has circulated guidelines that say foreign aid workers can be in the field only with Indonesian partners. Groups that sent foreign personnel to the disaster zone are "advised to retrieve their personnel immediately," according to those guidelines.
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — Malaysia's government reportedly plans to abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions.
Local media reported Law Minister Liew Vui Keong announced Wednesday that the Cabinet had agreed to abolish the death penalty and that the bills to do so would be tabled when Parliament resumes Monday.
Human rights groups hailed the decision. Amnesty International on Thursday called it a major advance but urged the government to ensure the abolition is complete.
More than 1,200 people are on Malaysia's death row, and execution by hanging is mandatory for murder, drug trafficking, treason and other crimes.
Amnesty said the move by the new government that won May's election is encouraging but urged the government to "completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions."
Seoul, Oct 11 (AP/UNB)— South Korea on Thursday walked back on a proposal to lift some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea following President Donald Trump's blunt retort that Seoul could "do nothing" without Washington's approval.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha had said on Wednesday that Seoul was considering lifting measures applied after a deadly attack in 2010 that killed 46 South Korean sailors. She cited the intent to create more diplomatic momentum for talks over North Korea's nuclear program. South Korean conservatives reacted with anger as well, and Kang's ministry downplayed her comments later, saying in a statement that the government has yet to start a "full-fledged" review on sanctions, meaning no decision was imminent.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a parliamentary audit on Thursday there has been no serious consideration given to removing the sanctions and that doing so would be hard unless North Korea acknowledged responsibility for the 2010 attack. North Korea has fiercely denied it sunk the Cheonan warship.
Trump's response when he was asked about Kang's comments implied friction between the allies over the pace of inter-Korean engagement amid concerns in Washington that Pyongyang is lagging behind its supposed promise to denuclearize.
"They won't do that without our approval," Trump said. "They do nothing without our approval."
Trump has encouraged U.S. allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearizes as part of what his administration has termed a campaign of "maximum pressure" against Kim Jong Un's government.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has mostly stayed firm on sanctions despite actively engaging with North Korea and floating the possibility of huge investments and joint economic projects in return for the North's relinquishment of its nuclear weapons.
A move by South Korea to lift some of its sanctions would have little immediate effect since U.S.-led international sanctions remain in place. But it's clear Seoul is preparing to restart joint economic projects if the larger nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea begin yielding results.
South Korea effectively shut down all cross-border economic cooperation and banned North Korea from using shipping lanes in South Korean territory in the 2010 sanctions. A jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong wasn't shut down until 2016 in response to a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.
During Moon's visit to Pyongyang last month, he and leader Kim Jong Un agreed to normalize operations at the Kaesong factory park and resume joint tours to North Korea when possible, voicing optimism the international sanctions could end and allow such projects.
The North and South also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border. The North also said it would dismantle its main nuclear facility in Nyongbyon if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.
Washington, however, has insisted efforts to improve relations between the Koreas should move in tandem with efforts to denuclearize the North.
Kang said Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreement. Kang was not specific but her comments are likely to fuel speculation Washington wasn't fully on board before Seoul signed the agreement.
Despite three summits with Moon and one with Trump this year, Kim has yet to provide a convincing sign that he's ready to deal away his nuclear weapons.
Despite the current mood of detente and negotiation between the Koreas, the removal of sanctions will be a difficult decision for Seoul's government.
South Koreans are deeply divided along ideological lines and many people still harbor deep anger over North Korea's 1950 attack that started the Korean War. There has been occasional bloodshed ever since — the 2010 attack on the warship was followed months later by North Korea's shelling of a South Korean border island that killed four and gutted homes.
Kang pointed out that many parts of South Korea's 2010 sanctions now duplicate with the United Nations sanctions that were considerably strengthened after 2016 when the North began accelerating its nuclear and missile tests. She also described Seoul's unilateral sanctions as a key obstacle in restarting South Korean tourism to the North's Diamond Mountain resort, which was suspended in 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean woman there.
But the removal of such sanctions wouldn't be enough to get the tours back on, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon. While U.N. sanctions against North Korea don't ban tourism, they do place strict restrictions on bulk cash transfers, he said. Still, the lifting of the 2010 sanctions could offer at least some tangible benefits to the North.
"For North Korea, the most meaningful result from the lifting of the May 24 measures would be that its ships will be able to travel through Jeju Strait again," said Koh, referring to waters between South Korea's mainland and the southern island of Jeju. "This will allow them to save time and fuel."
Wellington, Oct 11 (AP/UNB) — An earthquake rattled part of Papua New Guinea on Thursday, but no major damage or injuries have been reported.
The magnitude 7.0 quake was deep enough that it likely did not generate a tsunami, said Chris McKee, the government's acting director of geohazards management.
McKee said disaster officials had been reaching out to people in the Pomio District, near where the quake struck. He said that communication systems in the region were notoriously poor.
McKee said there had been no reports of any major problems from the quake, which he took as a good sign. He added that the quake was also felt in the township of Rabaul.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was centered about 117 kilometers (73 miles) east of Kimbe, West New Britain, on the Pacific island nation and was about 40 kilometers (25 miles) deep.
It was followed by two magnitude 5.9 aftershocks in the same region and then a magnitude 6.3 quake that was centered further northeast on the island.
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center oceanographer David Walsh said scientists don't have tide gauges close to the where the earthquake happened and weren't able to say for sure whether any tsunamis were generated, he said. But the risk was low and likely only in the immediate area.
Papua New Guinea next month hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which is expected to draw world leaders beginning on Nov. 17.
A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in February in the nation's central region killed at least 125 people and forced another 35,000 from their homes.
The Hela and Southern Highlands provinces that were worst affected are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out.
Home to 7 million people, Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, to the east of Indonesia.
It sits on the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world's earthquakes and volcanic activity occur.