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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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Pakistani man arrested for attacking Sikh shrine in England

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New Delhi/London, 25 May : A Pakistani man, who was trying to mobilise Sikhs against India over Kashmir in England, attacked the Guru Arjan Dev shrine in Derby on Monday morning. He was later identified and arrested.

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Italy registers 63,927 COVID-19 cases, toll touches 6,077

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Rome, March 24 : A total of 63,927 coronavirus cases have been assessed in Italy since the pandemic broke out in its northern regions on February 21, the Civil Protection Department managing the COVID-19 emergency has said, adding that 601 fatalities were also registered on Monday, with the death toll reaching 6,077.

The number of total infections grew by 4,789, or 8 per cent from 59,138 cases recorded on Sunday. The daily fatality figure dropped from Sunday’s 651 and Saturday’s 793, the department said, Xinhua reported.

Although still upward, the figures showed the daily rise in both the number of people testing positive and the number of deaths has been less marked for the second day in a row, Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli told a press conference late Monday afternoon.

Health authorities, however, warned that it was still too early to confirm a decreasing trend in the ongoing pandemic.

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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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