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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Landslides and floods kill at least 58 in Bangladesh's hill areas

Reuters, Dhaka, 15 June : Landslides triggered by heavy rain in southeast Bangladesh buried dozens of houses and an army camp on Tuesday, killing at least 58 people, officials said. The landslides hit villages in the Cox's Bazar hill and resort district, where officials said they recorded 25 cm of rainfall in 24 hours to 9am on Tuesday. "Among the dead were at least six army soldiers camping on a hillside at Himchhari, and four are missing," one senior Cox's Bazar official said.
"The death toll may go further up as rescuers are searching for bodies." Heavy rain was still pounding Cox's Bazar and nearby districts as well as offshore islands in the Bay of Bengal, officials said. Low-lying areas have been flooded and communications disrupted, witnesses said.
Landslides hit hillside villages in south and northeastern districts almost every year during the monsoon season. At least 130 people died in the worst landslide in the port city of Chittagong in June 2007.
In the last few years, Bangladesh has seen an increase in intensity and frequency of climate-related problems. A cyclone in 1991 killed about 140,000 people and another in late 2007 killed over 3,300. The United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted Bangladesh could lose nearly one-fifth of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming. Photos : Tofayel Ahmed READ BBC STORY
Tagore paintings sold for 1.6 M pounds at Sotheby' auction
PTI, London, 15 June : Despite voices of protest in India, a set of 12 paintings by Rabindranath Tagore went under the hammer on Tuesday, sold off for a whopping 1.6 million pounds at an auction house here.
The 12 art works of the Indian Nobel Laureate massively exceeded the pre-sale combined estimate of 250,000 pounds at a Sotheby's auction. One of the paintings, an untitled portrait of a woman fetched as much as 313,250 pounds, a Sotheby's spokesperson said. The news of the auction last month had led some art lovers and politicians in India to seek intervention by the Indian government. They said the paintings were national heritage and should be brought back to the country. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to take steps to bring the paintings back home.

PM condoles deaths in Cox's Bazar, Bandarban landslides
BSS, Dhaka, 15 June : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today expressed deep shock at the death of many people in landslides caused by heavy rain in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban districts.
In a condolence message, the Prime Minister prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and conveyed her deep sympathy to the members of the bereaved families. Wishing for the early recovery of those injured in the landslides.
Rail fracture near Burdwan disrupts train services for 2hours
Burdwan, Kolkata, 15 June : Train services on the main line in Burdwan district were disrupted for nearly two hours today following cracks on the railway track between Burdwan Junction and Gangpur stations. Eastern Railway sources said a railway patrol party noticed that the welding joints of the down track on the Burdwan-Saktigarh section had come off and immediately informed the Burdwan station master as also the control room.
Train services on the down line were immediately stopped at 10:38 am and remained suspended till 12:08 pm for repair work. As a result, the 3006 Dn Howrah-Amritsar Mail was detained for two hours.
Broad gauge rail from Assam' Lumding to Agartala by 2012
Agartala, 15 June : The much-awaited conversion of railway track from meter gauge to broad gauge from Assam's Lumding to Agartala is expected to be completed by 2012, the government said today.
State ransport minister Manik Dey said that it is likely to be completed by 2012. "During a review meeting between Chief Minister Manik Sarkar with the General Manager of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) on 10 February, the later said that the ongoing work from Lumding to Badarpur was progressing satisfactorily and the conversion work from Lumding to Agartala is expected to be completed by 2012."
The conversion work on the 394 km rail track from Lumding to Agartala was started in 1996 but has not made much progress due to militancy in North Cachhar Hills, Dey said adding that with the decline of insurgency in the area, work is progressing fast. The minister further said that the state government had requested the NFR authorities to seek Assam government's help to provide more security in the area to expedite the conversion work.
De said, only three months would be needed to convert the railway track from narrow or meter gauge to broad gauge from Kumarghat to Agartala (110 km) because during the laying of rail lines, provisions were kept for swiftly converting it to broad gauge.

Chinese VP Xi Jinping meets with Bangladesh's Speaker
Xinhua, Dhaka, 15 June : Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with Bangladeshi Parliament Speaker Abdul Hamid Tuesday in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.
During the meeting, Xi first conveyed the regards of China's top legislator Wu Bangguo to Hamid. Xi highly lauded the comprehensive development achieved in bilateral relationship since China established diplomatic relationship with Bangladesh 35 years ago. He reiterated that China would like to work with Bangladesh to push forward the closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation. READ FULL STORY
Con stalling proceedings,Tripura Assembly adjourned twice
Agartala, 15 June : The Tripura Assembly was adjourned twice with opposition stalling the proceedings over a photograph featuring the Industries minister and officials of a non-banking financial institution.
Opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath said Industries minister Jitendra Chowdhury was seen in a photograph with officials of Weird Industries Ltd, an NBFI, and demanded a high-level probe as many cases of cheating by the NBFI came to the fore recently. Chowdhury said a group of people, claiming themselves to be representatives of an industrial house, met him and submitted a memorandum to set up industrial units. They also took a photograph when the memorandum was being handed over.
“How come I will know that they were officials from a NBFI or chit fund,” Chowdhury said, adding it might be a conspiracy against him by his political opponents. Angry over his comment, opposition members demanded an official probe which was rejected by the Speaker.

BSF, BDR exchange gunfire in India-Bangladesh border
IANS, Shillong, 15 June : Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Tuesday traded gunfire in three areas along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya in which a woman was injured, officials here said.
The firing started around 9.30 a.m. in Jaintia Hills district's Muktapur village followed by subsequent firing at Naljuri and Jaliakhola around 11 a.m., an intelligence official told IANS. He said the firing lasted for several hours. A teacher, Sari Nonglamin, was hit by a bullet in her right leg at Amdoh between Naljuri and Muktapur villages, he said. BSF officials could not be reached for comment.
3rd arrest in Gyaneshwari train accident, first arrest by CID
Kolkata, 15 June : A pro-Maoist activist has been arrested for the sabotage that led to the Gyaneshwari Express train derailment in West Midnapore last month killing 148 people, CBI sources said Tuesday. This is the third arrest in the case.
Hiralal Mahato, an active member of Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities' (PCAPA) militant wing 'Sidhu Kanhu Gano Milita' was arrested from Rusua village near Jhargram in West Midnapore district, a police official said. This is the first arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation after taking over the case from the state police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on 10 June.
The Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express ran off the rails 28 May near Jhargram in West Midnapore after a portion of the tracks was sabotaged, allegedly by Maoists. A speeding freight train then rammed into five derailed coaches of the Gyaneshwari, leading to the death of 148 people.