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Hurricane kills 264, Obama declares emergency

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Washington: The death toll from Hurricane Matthew, which barrelled towards the southeastern United States, in Haiti has climbed to 264, authorities said, forcing the US President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency.

Emergency officials in Haiti’s Sud province, which bore the brunt of the storm’s impact, provided the new fatality figure just hours after Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph cited a provisional death toll of 108.

Matthew, the most powerful hurricane to strike the Caribbean since 2007, made landfall in southwestern Haiti on Tuesday as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 230 kph.

A partial evaluation indicates that more than 20,000 homes were severely damaged, Joseph said, describing the storm’s impact as a “catastrophe.”

The search for additional casualties continues, authorities said.

Most of the victims were killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers.

Due to the emergency declaration in Florida, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency are authorised to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, local authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order on Thursday for nearly 1.5 million coastal residents in preparation for the hurricane, one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in a decade.

“This storm will kill you. We don’t have much time left,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott at a press conference.

According to the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, Hurricane Matthew remained a Category 3 hurricane as of Thursday morning.

There was still possibility that it would evolve into a Category 4 storm in approaching the east coast of Florida, said the Centre.

Matthew is now moving on to the coast of the US. The US National Weather Service warned on Thursday that the hurricane could be the worst storm seen in Florida for decades. Over 2 million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas.

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Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed sent to jail for five years

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New Delhi/Islamabad, 12 Feb : Just ahead of the FATF review, founder and patron of the banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Saeed, was convicted in terror funding cases and sent to jail for five-and-a-half years by a Pakistani court on Wednesday.

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Govt plans massive ‘Kem Chho, Trump’ welcome

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New Delhi/Washington, 12 Feb : US President Donald Trump will get a red carpet welcome in Gujarat later this month — on a grander scale than the event organized for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston last year.

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Coronavirus toll in China reaches 132; 5,974 infected

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Beijing, 29 Jan : Chinese health authorities on Wednesday said the death toll due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in the country has increased to 132, with 5,974 confirmed cases in 31 provincial-level regions.

The National Health Commission said that 1,239 patients remained in critical conditions, and 9,239 people were suspected of being infected with the virus as of Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 103 people were discharged from hospital after recovery. Tuesday saw 1,459 new confirmed cases, 3,248 new suspected cases, including one in Tibet Autonomous Region, and 26 deaths — 25 in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak) and one in Henan.

A total of 65,537 close contacts have been traced, the Commission said, adding that among them, 1,604 were discharged on Tuesday, with 59,990 others still under medical observation.

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