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Cyclone Amphan Causes Misery In West Bengal; 12 Dead, Electricity, Internet Disrupted

Maximum wind speed within the cyclone centre had risen up to 180 kph in gusts/ squalls.

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ODISHA/WEST BENGAL: Thousands of houses were blown away and several electric poles uprooted as the cyclone battered West Bengal, with coastal districts of South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore being the worst affected.

At least 12 people have been killed in the state and the number was expected to go up. Kolkata has also witnessed massive damage with buildings being collapsed, trees uprooted on almost every road and water being logged after the heavy rains. The internet is also down in many areas.

Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas districts and their nearby areas bore the brunt of the natural calamity.

Kolkata suffered from massive damages to buildings including some reports of structures collapsing after cyclone Amphan made landfall yesterday. Uprooted trees were found on almost every road today morning amid massive waterlogging after Kolkata received 222 mm of rainfall yesterday.


Power is yet to be restored at most places and internet services are mostly down.

The crops have also been destroyed, farmlands inundated and embankments breached at many places, leading to water from rivers and sea gushing in. Massive damage is apprehended in the Sunderbans Delta that could have long-term effects on the ecosystem.

Cyclonic Storm Amphan crossed West Bengal coast this morning and moved towards Bangladesh. Packing winds of up to 190 kmph, Amphan rampaged through coastal Odisha and West Bengal yesterday.

The most powerful cyclone to form over the Bay of Bengal in over two decades, Amphan made landfall at 4.30 pm yesterday.


No casualties have been reported from Odisha yet. Intense rainfall was recorded in several areas of Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Ganjam, Ganjam, Bhadrak and Balasore districts of Odisha.

At least 6.58 lakh people were evacuated in West Bengal and Odisha before the cyclone struck. NDRF chief SN Pradhan said over 5 lakh people were evacuated in West Bengal and more than 1.58 lakh in Odisha.

20 NDRF teams have begun road clearing operations in Odisha, while 19 teams are shifting people to safety in West Bengal.

Amphan moved north-northeastwards with a speed of 28 kilometres per hour during the past six hours. It lay centred over Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal as a Severe Cyclonic Storm about 110 kilometres northeast of Kolkata.

It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and weaken further into a Cyclonic Storm during the next six hours.

Light to moderate rainfall will occur at most places in West Bengal with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over Malda and Dinajpur districts during next six hours and over most of the districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim today.


Rainfall is likely at most places with heavy falls at isolated places over Meghalaya during next six hours and heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over the western districts of Assam and Meghalaya today.

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News Report

130 People Dead In UP And Bihar Due To Lightning Strikes

Most of the casualties are farmers who were doing agriculture-related works in fields.

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LUCKNOW/PATNA: In Bihar, the death toll in lightning and rain-related incidents in 25 districts of the state during the last 24 hours has reached 106 while 56  others have been injured. Most of the casualties are farmers who were doing agriculture-related works in fields.

Thirteen people died in Gopalganj, eight each lost their lives in Madhubani and Nawada, six each in Siwan and Bhagalpur, five each in East Champaran, Darbhanga and Banka, three each in Khagaria and Aurangabad, two each in West Champaran, Kishanganj, Jehanabad, Jamui, Purnia, Supaul, Buxar and Kaimur and one each in Samastipur, Sheohar, Saran, Sitamarhi and Madhepura,” state Principal Secretary (Disaster Management) Pratyaya Amrit said.

In Gopalganj district, the deceased were residents of Barauli, Manjha, Vijaipur, Uchkagaon and Kateya areas. The lightning struck when they were working in their farms. Gopalganj Sadar Hospital, where the injured were brought for treatment, had a flooded emergency ward. District Magistrate Arshad Aziz said seven people were admitted to the hospital, and added that compensation will be provided to the kin of the deceased.


In Madhubani, eight of a family were killed in villages under Phulparas and Benipatti police station limits. In East Champaran district, among other deaths was a 14-year-old girl killed in a lightning strike in Surendra village under Raxaul police station limits.

The Met department has forecast heavy rain and lightning in the next three days in different parts of the state. The people have been advised to remain indoors during this period. The state government has appealed to people to take all necessary precautions during turbulent weather.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the loss of lives and announced an ex-gratia of four lakh rupees to the next of kin of the deceased. He has ordered free treatment to injured people.


Similarly, in the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, at least 24 persons were killed and 12 others injured due to lightning yesterday. AIR Correspondent reports that as per the report of the Relief Commissioner of the state, 9 casualties were reported from Deoria district where 6 persons were also injured in incidents of lightning.

Six persons lost their lives in Prayagraj while there are reports of 3 deaths in Ambedkarnagar, 2 in Barabanki and one each death in Kushinagar, Fatehpur, Balrampur and Unnao districts. Those who lost their lives were either working in their farms or had taken shelter under trees during the lightning strike.

Nine of them died in Deoria district. “Amid rain and thunderstorms, 24 people have died due to lightning strikes in various districts of the state today – one in Kushinagar, one in Fatehpur, one in Unnao, nine in Deoria, two in Barabanki, six in Prayagraj, three in Ambedkar Nagar and one in Balrampur,” Uttar Pradesh Relief Commissioner Sanjay Goyal said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has expressed grief over the deaths and has announced ex-gratia of 4 lakhs for the families of the deceased. He also ordered officials to provide proper medical care to the injured and help the families of victims of this natural calamity immediately.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives due to heavy rains and lightning strikes in some districts of Bihar and UP.


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Rajnath Singh In Moscow At A Crucial Hour; Expected To Talk S-400, Other Equipment

Moscow is likely to not take sides in the ongoing India-China faceoff.

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NEW DELHI/MOSCOW: Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh left for Moscow, Russia on Monday morning. He will be on a three-day visit. In a tweet, RM Singh said that during his visit, he will hold talks on ways to further deepen the India-Russia defence and strategic partnership.

The Victory Parade will be held on Wednesday to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the victory in the Second World War. The Parade is organized to honour the heroism and sacrifices made by the Russian and other friendly people.

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu had invited RM Singh to the Victory Parade, which was originally scheduled on the 9th of May but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Separately, a Tri-Service 75- Member Indian Military Contingent has already reached Moscow to participate in the Victory Parade along with Russian contingent and other invited contingents. The marching contingent taking part in the Victory Day Parade is led by a major rank officer of the gallant Sikh Light Infantry Regiment.

The Regiment had fought with valour in World War II and has a proud distinction of earning four Battle Honours and two Military Crosses amongst other gallantry awards.

The Indian participation in the Victory Day parade will be a mark of tribute to the great sacrifices made by Russia and other nations in the Second World War, in which Indian soldiers also participated and made supreme sacrifice. The visit of  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to strengthen the long-standing special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia.


Russia, India, China Trilateral Too:

Interestingly — interesting because of the circumstances elsewhere — the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China will be holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

With India and China going hard at each other — quite literally — at the LAC, it remains to be seen which way is Russia going to lean.

Will Moscow back its old friend India, or will it support China?

It is not going to be an easy choice for Russia.

China is Russia’s top trading partner. In 2018, the bilateral trade between the two countries stood at 108.3 billion dollars. To give a context to that statistic, it has to be noted that Germany, which is Russia’s second-biggest trade partner accounted for a trade worth 59.6 billion dollars — almost half.


When it comes to India, bilateral trade with Russia has been between 7 to 8 billion dollars for almost a decade now — just about a 12th of the China-Russia trade.

Moreover, Russia is also a part of China’s Belt and Road Project.

On the other hand, Russia is India’s largest defence supplier. Among the big-ticket deal is the USD 5.2 billion deal for S-400 missile defence systems.

In 2019, India also signed a deal worth 2 billion dollars for the T-90 tanks. The Akula class nuclear-powered submarine deal was worth 3 billion dollars. These are just a few examples.

India has historically been one of the closest allies of Russia. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea (originally a territory of Ukraine) led to international sanctions on Russia, which forced India too to adhere to many of the sanctions. Russia then began leaning ever more towards China.

Russia On Galwan:

Russia has assured its support to New Delhi when it comes to resolving issues with China. Russia’s Deputy Chief of Mission to India, Roman Babushkin, said, “we hope that the tensions will soon de-escalate.”

Russian media recent quoted presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying “China and India are Russia’s close partners and allies, and have close and mutually beneficial relations built on mutual respect.”

Moscow believes in a multi-vector foreign policy. It has tried to stay out of the US-China trade war, and when it comes to India-China stand-off too, Moscow is likely to play safe.


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DEFENCE-SECURITY

India Dismisses China’s Claims On Galwan As “Untenable, Unacceptable”

All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC: MEA

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NEW DELHI:  In a terse, precise and categorical message to China, India has once again reiterated that Galwan Valley is historically its territory and New Delhi will not accept “untenable and exaggerated” claims by China with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The position with regard to the Galwan Valley area has been historically clear. Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Saturday.

He said that the Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley. They abide by it scrupulously and the Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC. In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident.


On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian released a statement that gave Beijing’s “step by step” version of the events which led to the Galwan valley face-off of June 15. India has said that 20 of its soldiers were killed, while around 76 were injured in the physical hand-to-hand fight with Chinese troops on Monday night.

The Chinese document reiterated China’s recent claim over the whole Galwan valley, but it also accused India of violating the understanding reached on June 6 among senior commanders that Indian patrols “would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river”.

Responding sharply to the statement by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday on the events in the Galwan Valley area, Srivastava gave a detailed account of the incident.


The MEA official said that since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area which had resulted in a face-off that was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.

Subsequently in mid-May, the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas. These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us. Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC…We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He added that the senior commanders met on June 6, 2020, and agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that involved reciprocal actions.

However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties,” he added.

The Spokesman said, the two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed.


Referring to telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17, Srivastava said the EAM conveyed India’s protest “in the strongest terms on the events leading up to and on the violent face-off on June 15, 2020“.

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