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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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Article 370 was a mistake, Kashmir is integral to India: Harish Salve

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London, 03 Oct : Article 370 was a mistake and it was amended by withdrawing the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir said senior advocate Harish Salve expressing support to the Narendra Modi government’s decision to revoke the provisions of the article and making it a dead letter in the Constitution.

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Houston department’s first Sikh cop shot dead

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Washington, 28 Sep : A Sikh police officer was shot dead in the US state of Texas during during a mid-day traffic stop, authorities said.

Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, was the Harris County Sheriff’s first-ever Sikh Deputy and had been pushing for a historic expansion of religious rights in the department, reports The Houston Chronicle newspaper.

Dhaliwal pulled over a vehicle around 12.45 p.m. on Friday in the 14800 block of Willancy Court in the Cypress area, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Mike Lee told reporters here.

According to Lee, dashcam video showed that Dhaliwal and the suspect, Robert Solis, 47, still in his car, having a conversation with no sign of confrontation.

A few seconds after Dhaliwal returned to his squad car, the suspect ran up and shot him in the head multiple times, Lee said. Dhaliwal was airlifted to the hospital, where he died.

Solis was charged late Friday with capital murder in the case, The Houston Chronicle reported.

A woman who was outside gardening heard the shot and saw Solis run to a getaway car.

Lee said the suspect then went to a store nearby. After a brief search, authorities detained Solis, who has a criminal record that includes convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping and driving while intoxicated.

Dhaliwal was the county’s first Sikh deputy when he joined the force 10 years ago, and became a national figure after convincing the department to allow him to wear religious attire and grow a beard while on patrol.

“He was a hero, a trailblazer,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said of Dhaliwal, who he considered a close friend. “There are no words to speak to how heartbroken we are, how devastated.”

Dhaliwal, a father of three young children, began his career in law enforcement out of a desire to serve after then-Sheriff Adrian Garcia reached out to strengthen the department’s relationship with the Sikh community after deputies botched a domestic violence call at a Sikh family’s home.

He was also very active at his Gurudwara, and his house of worship held a special ceremony after he became a Deputy.

“He was very, very, very important,” community member Sampuran Singh said. “He was always willing to do what the community needed him to do.”

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Imran says Trump, MBS want him to be Iran intermediary

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United Nations, 25 Sep : Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have asked him to be an intermediary with Iran.

“President Trump asked me that if we could de-escalate the situation (with Iran) and maybe come up with another deal,” he told reporters here on Tuesday.

“I immediately spoke to President (Hassan) Rouhani yesterday (Monday), after the meeting with President Trump. But right now I can’t anything more than this except that we are trying and mediating.”

He added that the Crown Prince has “also asked me to talk to the Iranian President” about de-escalating the situation.

Already, because of Pakistan’s patronage of the Taliban, Khan is being seen as an influential player in Trump’s attempts to make a deal with the militant group so he could bring back the American troops stationed in Afghanistan as he had pledged during his election campaign.

A role with Iran could add to Khan’s influence with Trump.

A crisis has been brewing in the Gulf region after Trump pulled out of the 2015 multilateral de-nuclearisation deal with Iran, saying that it was inadequate and Tehran was not adhering to the agreement.

Trump hit Tehran with a series of sanctions and banned its oil exports.

As tensions mounted, Iran brought down a US military drone in June.

Trump stopped a retaliatory US missile attack on Iran at the last moment.

Two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, also in June, and Saudi oil facilities were hit by drone attacks on September 14.

Although the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attacks on Saudi facilities, the US has blamed Iran.

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