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China bans some food imports after coronavirus detected on shrimp

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China temporarily banned food imports from three Ecuadorian companies after detecting coronavirus on the packaging for frozen shrimp, following fresh scrutiny on refrigerated goods after a recent disease outbreak in Beijing.

Samples taken from the packaging of white leg shrimp at the port cities of Dalian and Xiamen tested positive for the virus, General Administration of Customs official Bi Kexin told a press conference.

Tests on samples from inside the packaging and the shrimp itself returned negative, however.

The customs authority said it was temporarily blocking imports from the three Ecuadorean companies whose products had tested positive, AFP reported.

The emergence of a coronavirus cluster in Beijing last month has led to increased scrutiny of imported food after the virus was found on a cutting board used to prepare imported salmon at the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale market.

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China has banned imports from a number of overseas food producers that have reported virus outbreaks, including top US poultry exporter Tyson Foods and German meat company Toennies.

The country has also launched a nationwide campaign to test imported refrigerated food products from “high-risk countries”.

No other products showed traces of the virus, Bi said, adding that the detection of virus traces on the shrimp did not conclusively mean the products were contagious.

Venice has conducted a trial run of an ambitious anti-flood system of 78 inflatable barriers in hopes of protecting the lagoon city from devastating high tides.

Premier Giuseppe Conte on Friday at a ceremony in Venice pressed a button that activated compressors to pump air into the bright yellow barriers, which then started rising from the sea to act as a kind of a dike-on-demand.

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The project, riddled by corruption, was supposed to be working in 2011. Now the latest date is 2021, but Conte expressed hope it could be ready by this autumn. In November 2019, Venice suffered its worst flooding in more than 50 years.

The project’s name, Moses, recalls the prophet who parted the waters of the Red Sea. But it also is the Italian acronym for Experimental Electromechanical Modules.

The movable flood gates are attached by hinges to cement blocks on the seabed along three openings from the sea into the lagoon. After high-tide danger ceases, seawater is pumped into the gates to make them heavy so they can be lowered.

Inaugurated in 2003, the project was mired in corruption. In 2014, investigators revealed a system of bribes and kickbacks. Nearly 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion) have been poured into the planning and construction of the anti-flood system.

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Environmentalists have opposed the project, afraid it will disturb the lagoon’s delicate ecology. On Friday, some of them rode in small boats near the test site and waved protest banners.

Conte praised the project, saying it was designed to safeguard Venice’s ’marvelous architectural, artistic, and historical heritage.

Had Moses been operational last year, it could have been put to a dramatic test. Floodwaters on Nov. 12 invaded St. Mark’s Basilica and also poured into homes, hotels, stores, and restaurants in the city which live off tourism. City officials estimated flood damage at some 1 billion euros.

The barriers are designed to protect Venice from tides as high as 3 meters (10 feet). In the November flood, the tide surged to 1.87 meters (6.5 feet).

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Flood: FCTA demolishes 102 houses in Gwagwalada

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has begun the demolition of about 102 houses built along waterways, following the recent flood incident which had claimed some lives in the Gwagwalada Area Council.

Garba Kwamkur, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Department of Department Control, who led the exercise on Tuesday in Gwagwalada, said that the illegal houses had been marked for demolition over one year ago.

Kwamkur noted that the occupants of the affected houses were given enough time to move out of the flood-prone areas, adding, however, that they had refused to obey the directive.

He said that the government could not spare the houses anymore, following the recent forecast of more rains and consequential flooding that would affect the area.

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Kwamkur explained that the affected community was part of the land covering about 260 hectares, allocated within the Abuja Master Plan, for the development of the University of Abuja at Gwagwalada.

He, however, expressed the regret that some indigenous people and other squatters were still occupying the land temporarily.

“The University of Abuja had written to us about the encroachment issue. The settlement here that is due for resettlement has grown beyond its boundary.

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“And we had an issue of the flood last week where five persons, who were carried away by the flood, were confirmed dead.

“We actually had to discuss with the village leaders on the need to move away from the flood-prone area,” he said.
“The FCT Emergency Management Agency has also predicted that there would be heavy flood this year.

“So we are taking some precautionary measures; that’s why all the buildings along flood plains will have to go.

“All the contravention notices have been issued since 2019. No government will sit down and do nothing when the lives of its citizens are being threatened by either flood or any other thing,” he said.

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Responding, the Chief of the community, Mr. Isah Egari, said that he was not opposed to the demolition of the houses built on water channels.

Egari, however, appealed to the FCT administration to give the residents more time to move out of the affected community.

He also called on the demolition team to restrict the bulldozers to the areas close to the water channels to avoid undue hardship on other residents who were not affected.

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Lebanon blast kills over 25 people, leaves scores injured

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Beirut blast

A massive explosion ripped through central Beirut on Tuesday, injuring thousands of people and blowing out windows in buildings across the city.

The blast near the port in the Lebanese capital sent up a huge mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings.

It was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away.

At least 25 people were killed in the blast and over 2,500 people have been wounded, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters.

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Footage from the scene captured the injured staggering through streets in the capital; and ambulances, cars and military vehicles packed with the wounded.

One eyewitness described the scenes as “like an apocalypse.”

There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port, according to NNA.

The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated “high explosive materials,” but did not provide further details.

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A red cloud hung over the city in the wake of the explosion as firefighting teams rushed to the scene to try to put out the fire.

At least 10 firefighters were missing, according to the city’s governor Marwan Abboud, who said the scene reminded him of “Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

“In my life I haven’t seen destruction on this scale,” Abboud said.

“This is a national catastrophe.”

The blast comes at a tense time in Lebanon.

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On Friday a UN-backed panel is expected to issue a verdict on the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, a move many fear will stoke sectarian tensions.

The country is also in the midst of an economic meltdown, with ballooning unemployment, a tanking currency and poverty rates soaring above 50%.

 

 

 

 

CNN

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Bayelsa LG chairman’s father regains freedom

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Eighty-year-old Pa Napoleon Alale, the father of the Sagbama Local Government Chairman, Mr. Embeleakpo Alale, has regained freedom after spending about two months in the den of his alleged kidnappers.

The octogenarian was whisked away from his residence at Agbere, Sagbama, on Friday, May 8, 2020, by unidentified gunmen.

Embeleakpo in a statement on Tuesday by his Press Secretary, Dr. Nikade Anderson, confirmed the release of Pa Alale.

The council chairman revealed that the kidnappers dropped his father at Otuokpoti riverside in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa at about 1am on Tuesday, after making series of contacts with the family towards securing his release.

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Embeleakpo did not however disclose if the family paid any ransom before securing the release of the aged man.

The council boss, while noting that his father was receiving medical attention to ascertain his health status, expressed appreciation to God over the safe return of his father.

He also expressed gratitude to Governor Douye Diri and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, for their intervention and moral support while the harrowing experience lasted.

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He also appreciated associates, members of the public, security operatives, and the media for the overwhelming display of solidarity during the trying period.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Police Command says it has arrested one ‘Commander’ Mummy Reuben, the alleged mastermind of Pa. Napoleon Alali.

A spokesman for the command, SP Asinim Butswat, said in a statement after the release of the octogenarian that combined efforts by security agencies led to the arrest of the mastermind.

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He said the suspect had confessed to how he conspired with others to carry out the kidnap.

Butswat said: “Consequently, the kidnappers released the victim, Pa. Napoleon Alale, aged 80, on Tuesday, August 4, at about 0100hours at Otuokpoti, Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa.

“The Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Mike Okoli, has rejigged the security strategy of the command to reduce crime to the barest minimum in Bayelsa.

“Investigation is ongoing to arrest other fleeing suspects.”

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