BBC reported that the UN has purchased a huge ship that it hopes will prevent an environmental catastrophe off the coast of Yemen.
For years, more than a million barrels of crude oil have been sitting on a decaying supertanker in the Red Sea. There are fears the vessel could soon break apart or explode, risking one of the worst oil spills in recent memory.
But on Thursday, the UN said it had purchased a crude carrier that would head to Yemen and remove the oil from the stricken ship. “The purchase of this suitable vessel marks the beginning of the operational phase of the plan to safely remove the oil and avoid the risk of an environmental and humanitarian disaster,” Achim Steiner from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said, adding that it was a “major breakthrough”.
A UNDP statement said the ship – which it purchased from major tanker company Euronav – was undergoing routine maintenance in China and would arrive for the operation in early May. “A major spill would devastate fishing communities on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, likely wiping out 200,000 livelihoods instantly. Whole communities would be exposed to life-threatening toxins. Highly polluted air would affect millions,” it said.
The organisation added that a potential oil spill could cost up to $20bn (£16.7bn) to clean up.
The UN had been searching for years for a solution and appealed for donations. The planned operation is estimated to cost $129m of which $75m has been received and another $20m has been pledged, it said.
The stranded ship – the FSO Safer – was left abandoned off the port of Hodeida after Yemen’s civil war broke out in 2015. It has not been serviced since. It was constructed as a supertanker in 1976 and converted later into a floating storage for oil. It is anchored near the Ras Isa oil terminal, which is controlled by Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement.
The 376m (1,233ft) vessel holds an estimated 1.14m barrels of crude oil.
Maldives opposition candidate Muizzu projected to win presidential run-off
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has conceded defeat in a presidential run-off vote after an official count showed his rival Mohamed Muizzu in an impenetrable lead.
“Congratulations to president-elect Muizzu,” Solih wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, after the Elections Commission of the Maldives showed his opponent winning 54 percent of ballots on Saturday. “Thank you for the beautiful democratic example shown by the people in the elections,” he added. Official results are expected later today.
Muizzu, 45, emerged as the surprise fore runner during the first round of voting on September 8, taking some 46 percent of the ballots cast. Solih – hurt by a low voter turnout and a split within his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – won 39 percent.
The run-off was seen as having significant implications for the Maldives’s foreign policy, especially in deciding China and India’s battle for influence in the strategically located archipelago.
“Today’s result is a reflection of the patriotism of our people. A call on all our neighbours and bilateral partners to fully respect our independence and sovereignty,” a top official of Muizzu’s Progressive Party of Maldives, Mohamed Shareef, said according to the Associated Press news agency.
He told the news agency that it was also a mandate for Muizzu to resurrect the economy and the release of People’s National Congress party leader and former President Abdulla Yameen from prison.
Yameen is serving a prison term for corruption and money laundering, but his supporters say he has been jailed for political reasons. Muizzu had served as the housing minister for seven years and is currently the mayor of the capital Male.
Watchdog group Transparency Maldives said there had been some incidents of “electoral violence,” without specifying further details.
There were more than 282,000 eligible voters and turnout was 78 percent an hour before the polling stations closed.
Israeli conscripts banned as guards after allegations of sex with Palestinian inmate
Female Israeli soldiers are to be banned from serving as high security prison guards after allegations of sex with a Palestinian inmate.
Israeli media say a soldier admitted to physical intimacy with a Palestinian man said to have carried out a deadly attack on Israeli civilians.
The woman is thought to have been on military service which is compulsory for the majority of Israelis. Women must serve for at least two years and men for 32 months.
The name of the soldier and the inmate serving a life sentence have not been released.
The court hearing the case ordered that other details including the location of the prison should not be revealed. Israeli media also reported that during questioning, the soldier – who has been arrested – claimed four other women had also had intimate relations with the same man.
The Palestinian inmate was transferred from his cell to a segregated wing ahead of questioning, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) said.
On Friday, IPS chief Katy Perry and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced that female soldiers would no longer serve in high security prisons holding Palestinian “terrorists”.
Israeli media quoted Mr Ben-Gvir as saying that by mid-2025 “not a single female soldier will remain in the security prisoners’ wings”.
There have been repeated calls for the service of female Israeli soldiers in high-security Israeli prisons to be halted. However, these previously stalled because of a lack of staff to replace them.
Last year, Israeli ministers ordered an investigation after a scandal at one jail in which it was alleged that Palestinian convicts had assaulted and raped female soldiers serving as prison guards and that some senior prison officers had “pimped out” the conscripts.
State of emergency declared in New York City over flash flooding
A state of emergency has been declared in New York City as strong storms bring flash flooding.
Many of the city’s subway systems, streets and highways have flooded, while at least one terminal at LaGuardia Airport closed on Friday.
Up to five inches (12.7cm) of rain fell in some areas overnight, and up to seven more inches (17.8cm) are due, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has said. “This is a dangerous, life-threatening storm,” she added. “I am declaring a state of emergency across New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley due to the extreme rainfall we’re seeing throughout the region,” she said on X, formerly known as Twitter and urged people to take steps to stay safe and “never attempt to travel on flooded roads”.
No deaths or critical injuries have been reported.
A state of emergency was also declared in the New Jersey town of Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from New York City.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams, warned people it was a time for “heightened alertness and extreme caution” as the state of emergency was put in place. “Some of our subways are flooded and it is extremely difficult to move around the city,” he told a press briefing.
Authorities have so far conducted at least six rescues of residents trapped in flooded basements, according to officials.
Pictures and video footage showed people wading through water reaching up to their knees, as streets and subways were hit by heavy rain. Several videos posted to social media appeared to show water pouring from the ceiling and walls of subway stations and onto inundated platforms. Much of the flooding has so far centred on the borough of Brooklyn.
More than 2.5 inches of rain was reported in one hour in Brooklyn Navy Yard. In a virtual briefing, New York’s chief climate officer Rohit Aggarwala said that the city’s sewage system was only designed to handle 1.75 inches an hour. “It’s no surprise that parts of Brooklyn have borne the brunt of this,” he said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) advised people to stay home if they did not need to travel.
Terminal A at La Guardia Airport is currently closed because of flooding, authorities said. Passengers were advised to check with their airline before travelling.
The New York Police Department also announced multiple road closures and said the National Guard had been deployed. Elsewhere, traffic hit a standstill as water rose above cars’ tires along a stretch of the FDR Drive – a major road along the east side of Manhattan.
And in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, workers waded through knee-high water as they tried to unclog a drain as cardboard and other debris floated by.
There had been no storm-related deaths or critical injuries as of midday (1600 GMT), city officials said.
Flood warnings and advisories from the weather service are currently in place for some 18 million people in the New York metropolitan area and in other major cities along the East Coast.
New York City has had nearly 14 inches of rain so far this month, making it the wettest September since 1882, according to National Weather Service data.
Showers above 50mm can be expected at some places in Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle, Matara and Puttalam districts
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