India starts mass cremation of monsoon flooding victims
A member of the rescue operation team of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), or Armed Border Force, walks toward the officers training center damaged by floods at their campus in Srinagar in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Himalayan tsunami. Government officials reported that India has started the mass cremation of bodies recovered in the northern Himalayan region after nearly two weeks of flooding triggered by heavy and early monsoon rains. At least 822 people have been killed by the floods, 96,000 evacuated and around 350 are still missing:
The disaster has been dubbed a “Himalayan tsunami” by the media due to the torrents of water unleashed in the hilly region, which sent mud and boulders crashing down, burying homes, sweeping away buildings, roads and bridges. Eighteen bodies were cremated on Wednesday in the temple town of Kedarnath – one of the worst affected areas – and at least 40 would be cremated on Thursday, said a government doctor in Guptkashi, some 25 miles from Kedarnath.
Uttarakhand state, the area affected, is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims thanks to its temples and shrines. Aid groups on Wednesday said they fear that rotting corpses are contaminating water sources, potentially causing serious outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and diarrhea. One expert told CNN the floods are an example of “ecocide,” explaining that ad hoc and reckless development has exacerbated the effect of monsoon rains. The flooding is the worst India has seen since 2008, when around 500 people were killed. Footage from Reuters on Tuesday shows survivors running toward rescue helicopters. See more images of the flooding here.
Obama begins long-awaited Africa tour. President Obama arrived in Senegal on Thursday, starting a much-anticipated trip to the continent with a visit to an infamous slave port:
In his first – and, many Africans say, long-overdue – extended tour of the continent, President Barack Obama will focus on political and economic issues, but is also paying homage to a painful chapter in American history. On the first leg of his eight-day visit he is taking his family to the House of Slaves, a fort built in the late 18th century on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal, as a transit point for the human traffic and now a museum.
As president, Obama only visited Africa once during his first term, and many Africans were disappointed by the one-day stopover in Ghana. Unlike his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Obama has not focused extensively on developing ties with the region. Obama said he won’t cancel his visit to South Africa if former president Nelson Mandela succumbs to a lung infection that has placed him in critical condition.
A protester uses her mobile device as she walks at Gezi Park on Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Erdogan fail whale. While mainstream Turkish press offered little substantive coverage of recent protests, Twitter served as an essential medium for anti-government protesters to air grievances and communicate. Now Turkey wants a Twitter office, which could give the state tighter control over the microblogging platform.
While Ankara had no problems with Facebook, which had been working with Turkish authorities for a while and had representatives inside Turkey, Yildirim said it had not seen a “positive approach” from Twitter after Turkey issued the “necessary warnings” to the site. “Twitter will probably comply, too. Otherwise this is a situation that cannot be sustained,” he said, without elaborating, but he stressed the aim was not to limit social media. An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said the government had asked Twitter to reveal the identities of users who posted messages deemed insulting to the government or prime minister, or that flouted people’s personal rights.
Turkey successfully convinced Google to set up an office last October after blocking YouTube, and is now angling for more access to social media sites. Twitter has not responded to the request yet.
Nota Bene: Egypt faces showdown in the streets after Mursi speech disappoints anti-government protesters.
After the abdication – Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Shibley Telhami discusses what’s next for Qatar after a surprise power transfer. (Reuters)
Chocolate cartel – Canada accuses prominent chocolatiers of price-fixing. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Language lawsuit – A Japanese viewer sues a broadcasting network for causing him “mental distress” by excessively using English words. (BBC)
Fuel for the fire – Long gas lines bolster anti-government frustration in Egypt. (The New York Times)
Origins of war – How things fell apart in the DRC. (The Atlantic)
From the File: