Hong Kong, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — Police in Hong Kong raided a homemade-explosives manufacturing lab ahead of another weekend of protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Banners voicing opposition to an extradition bill that has sparked more than a month of demonstrations were found at the lab, according to Hong Kong media reports. Police said the investigation was continuing and that they had not found concrete evidence linking the explosives-making to a major protest march planned for Sunday.
Police said they found about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of TATP, or tri-acetone tri-peroxide, in the late Friday night raid.
Alick McWhirter, a senior bomb disposal officer, said the homemade explosive is very unstable and extremely powerful. One kilogram was detonated Saturday morning.
Public broadcaster RTHK said a 27-year-old man was arrested. Police said more arrests may follow.
Police have erected huge barricades near government headquarters in preparation for Sunday's march. Earlier protests have often ended with police clashing with groups of protesters who try to occupy streets or refuse to disperse after the demonstration is over.
A counter-rally in support of the police was held Saturday evening. Thousands of people under umbrellas and overcast skies filled a park in central Hong Kong. A giant screen behind a stage for speakers read "Safeguard Hong Kong."
Many wore white, heeding a call by organizers, and did not wear masks or helmets, RTHK said.
Many of the anti-extradition law activists wear black and don protective gear against police pepper spray and batons.
New Delhi, Jul 20 (UNB) - Former chief minister of Delhi and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit passed away in Delhi on Saturday at the age of 81 years, reports The Times of India.
Dikshit was unwell for some time and was admitted to a private hospital.
Dikshit served as the chief minister of Delhi for three terms from 1998 to 2013. She was the longest serving chief minister of Delhi.
In the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, under her leadership, the Congress party managed to push AAP candidates on the third place in five of the seven seats in Delhi, besides registering growth in its vote share.
In January this year, the three-time former Delhi chief minister was appointed president of the city unit after the incumbent Ajay Maken stepped down citing health issues.
Despite being an octagenarian, Dikshit led the party in Lok Sabha polls and herself contested against Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari from the North East Delhi seat. She lost by over 3.66 lakh votes.
President Ram Nath Kovind extended his condolences to the family of the Congress leader and said that her term was a period of momentous transformation for the capital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first political leaders to extend his condolences.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the party has lost a beloved daughter.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the demise of Dikshit a huge loss for the city.
Gauhati, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India's Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India's Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam's flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon's village was flooded and closed.
"I would have felt happier if the baby's father was here," said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
"We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people," said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam's finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal's districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia's monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.
Dhaka, July 20 (UNB) - Family members of the victims in Sonbhadra firing case met Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Saturday at the Chunar guest house in Mirzapur where she was detained on Friday from visiting the district. “Two relatives of victims have come here to meet me, 15 others are not being allowed to meet me. Even I am not being allowed to meet them,” Priyanka told, reports The Indian Express.
The Congress leader was detained and stopped from going to Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week, triggering a standoff with the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. UP DGP O P Singh had said on Friday that Priyanka and others were not allowed to go there because CrPC Section 144 was in force in Sonbhadra district to maintain peace.
Even as she continues to sit on dharna, the Congress leader insisted she won’t leave until and unless she is allowed to meet the victims’ entire family. “It has been 24 hours. I am not going to leave until and unless I am allowed to meet the victims of Sonbhadra’s firing case,” Priyanka told. Earlier today, the Congress general secretary also shared a video of aggrieved Sonbhadra families who were seen mourning the death of their near ones. “Is it a crime to wipe these tears?” she asked in a tweet.
Priyanka also questioned the mindset of the Uttar Pradesh administration in dealing with the issue. “Prasashan ko inki (family of victims of Sonbhadra firing case) rakhwali karni chaiye. Jab inke sath hadsa ho raha tha, madad karni chaiye thi. Prasashan ki mansikta meri samaj se bahar hai (The administration should safeguard the family of victims. When the incident happened with them, they should have helped. I don’t understand the mindset of the administration),” Priyanka told ANI.
As Priyanka and Congress workers remained at the guest house, where there was no electricity till late night, Congress leaders alleged that power was purposely disconnected. The workers shared photographs of Priyanka interacting with them in the light of mobile phones even as party leader Raj Babbar tweeted, “Prashashanne Chunar guest house mein bilji-pani ki supply band kar di hai.” He also wrote that if the administration thinks that Priyanka would go back fearing such tactics, then they are mistaken.”
Beijing, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — The death toll has risen to 12 in a gas plant explosion in central China, authorities said Saturday.
Another 13 people were seriously injured and three others remained missing, China's Ministry of Emergency Management said. About 270 firefighters and rescue workers have completed three rounds of search and rescue, the ministry said.
The Friday evening explosion in Yima city in Henan province shattered windows 3 kilometers (2 miles) away and knocked off doors inside buildings, Chinese state media reports said.
The official Xinhua news agency said the explosion occurred in the air separation unit of the Yima gas factory of the Henan Coal Gas (Group) Co., Ltd. The blast was not in the gas tank areas, and all production has been stopped.
China experiences frequent industrial accidents despite orders from the central government to improve safety at factories, power plants and mines.
More than 60 people died in March in a chemical plant explosion in eastern Jiangsu province.
Among the worst accidents was a massive 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. That blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.