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It will take months to clean beaches: Expert

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Chairman of the local shipping agency arrested and granted bail

By Ifham Nizam

Sri Lanka would have to clean the beaches affected by the MV X-Press Pearl for months on end, senior environmental lawyer and Chairman of the Centre of Environmental Justice (CEJ), Ravindranath Dabare told The Island yesterday.

“The beach clean-up must go on. If you look at similar incidents in other countries, debris keeps piling up on beaches for months. We have to keep at it and that will cost money.”

Dabare said that the CEJ had filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court the previous week against the government and the operators of the MV X-Press Pearl, over the environmental damage caused by the ship disaster.

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Chief Attorney-at-Law Dharshani Lahandapura yesterday said a marine ecology team from the United Nations would shortly visit Sri Lanka to assess the environmental damages.

They will advise the MEPA and Central Environmental Authority (CEA) on future action to be taken with regard to the environmental destruction caused and the legal proceedings.

Lahandapura said the UN team comprised an expert in Toxicology and an expert in environmental damage analysis.

The Colombo High Court yesterday released on bail Arjuna Hettiarachchi, the chairman of the local shipping agency representing the ‘X-Press Pearl’. He was arrested by the CID. After being produced before the Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta releaased him on a cash bond of Rs 100,000 and two personal bonds of Rs 1 million each.

The judge barred Hettiarachchi from leaving the country. His passport was impounded. The judge further ordered the Immigration and Emigration Controller to refrain from issuing a new passport to the accused.

Hettiarachchi has been charged under the Marine Pollution Protection Act. Investigations carried out by the CID into the ‘X-Press Pearl’ incident have revealed that the local agent had deleted several e-mails exchanged with the ill-fated vessel’s captain.

 

 



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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