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Women pulled alive from Turkey quake debris nine days on: death toll passes 41,000



(picture BBC)

Nine days after Turkey’s earthquake disaster, two women have been pulled from the rubble – alive.

Forty-two year old Melike Imamoglu and 74-year-old Cemile Kekec were saved by rescuers in the Turkish town of Kahramanmaras.Their rescue came as workers turned their attention to cleaning up cities devastated by the disaster.Millions of people across Syria and Turkey are living in makeshift camps and require humanitarian aid.

Video of the rescue posted to social media by the Mayor of Darica, Muzaffer Biyik, showed workers applauding and embracing one another as Ms Kekec was loaded into the ambulance.Local media reported that when they found the 42-year-old survivor, Ms Imamoglu, they told her she was “awesome”.

In Antakya- another Turkish city badly affected by the earthquakes – local media reported that a mother and her two children were pulled alive from the rubble.

Ten days on from the disaster, it is becoming harder to find quake survivors. The combined death toll has now passed 41,000.

Foreign rescue workers who arrived in Turkey shortly after the quakes are beginning to pack up and return home, while locals are shifting their focus to cleaning up the debris.

Survivors must now begin to rebuild their lives. The Turkish government has encouraged people to return to their homes if possible, after authorities have declared they are safe.But many have lost their homes and are living in makeshift camps. In Kahramanmaras, where the women were rescued, more than 1,000 survivors camped in a local stadium.

In Syria, relief efforts have been hampered by the civil war that has divided the country. The UN did not provide aid to Syria for days, saying logistical issues were to blame. When aid did arrive following the opening of a second border crossing through Turkey, rescuers said they did not supply any of the heavy machinery required to remove rubble.


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Foreign News

US congressman carjacked at gunpoint in Washington DC




Henry Cuellar also had his phone and iPad stolen in the carjacking, according to an aide (pic BBC)

US congressman Henry Cuellar was held up at gunpoint while his car was stolen in Washington on Monday evening, according to local media reports.

Cuellar, a Republican from Texas, was reportedly parking about a mile (1.6km) from the US Capitol when he was approached by three armed people.

He was unharmed and his vehicle was later recovered. US Capitol Police said in a statement that detectives were working to track down the suspects.

The incident happened at about 21:30 local time (01:30 GMT) in the city’s south-eastern Navy Yard neighborhood. As well as the car, the 68-year-old’s phone and iPad were also taken, according to Mr Cuellar’s chief of staff Jacob Hochberg. It is not clear if these have been returned.

The number of carjackings in Washington has been on the rise in recent years. In 2021, the local police department launched a task-force to deal with the issue.

According to the latest police figures, there have been 750 incidents of carjacking in the city so far this year and 75% of these offences involved guns.

Mr Cuellar is currently serving his 10th term in the US House of Representatives for Texas’ 28th congressional district.


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Foreign News

Defiant Trump turns up at $250m New York fraud trial to blast ‘scam’




Former President Donald Trump attended the trial at the New York Superior Court on Monday (02) (pic BBC)

Former President Donald Trump has attacked a judge and prosecutor in a day of courtroom drama as he attended the opening of a fraud trial that could threaten his business empire.

On entering the room on Monday dressed in a blue suit, Mr Trump – who turned up voluntarily – looked ahead as he walked past the prosecutor who brought the case. State’s attorney general Letitia James, sitting in the front row, averted her gaze. Their paths did not cross for the rest of opening statements as both sides laid out their case.

Mr Trump, the Trump Organization, several executives and two of his children – Donald Jr and Eric – are the defendants in the civil trial in New York Superior Court. They are accused of fraud, falsification of business records, issuing false financial statements and conspiracy.

As the trial got under way, the former president occasionally glanced in the direction of Judge Arthur Engoron as he addressed the court.

Moments beforehand, in a tirade outside court that echoed across the chamber, Mr Trump had called the judge a “rogue adjudicator”.

Ms James was not spared either in his remarks to reporters at the top of the courtroom steps. “It’s a scam, it’s a sham. Just so you know, my financial statements are phenomenal,” Mr Trump added. “There was no crime – the crime was against me.”

Given the former president’s personal attacks, observers expected a tense atmosphere in the cramped confines of the court. But the three key figures in the legal drama had minimal direct interactions.

While prosecutors set out their case, Mr Trump for the most part sat still, occasionally whispering to his legal team.

Ms James kept her eyes on the lawyer unveiling a visual presentation that accompanied her team’s opening statements.

Proceedings began with her team accusing Mr Trump and his co-defendants of intentionally and persistently committing fraud, which reaped Mr Trump over $100m (£82.7m).

Last week Judge Engoron ruled against Mr Trump in a central claim of the lawsuit, finding that he had overvalued his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars in order to get favourable bank loans.

Mr Trump’s lawyers took the stand shortly afterwards, attacking the New York attorney general’s arguments. Alina Habba said Ms James’ goal as attorney general was to “go to work, get Trump and go home”.

She claimed that Mr Trump did not inflate the value of his assets – including his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Real estate was malleable, she said, and his properties were “Mona Lisas” – Mar-a-Lago would sell for at least a billion dollars, she argued.

But before lunch, proceedings turned increasingly fractious. Mr Trump’s attorney, Chris Kise, argued with Judge Engoron about issues including whether expert opinion counted as testimony.

And Ms Habba’s attacks on Ms James drew Judge Engoron’s ire. The judge said he had already dismissed claims that the suit was politically motivated.

The afternoon in court proved calmer, with former Trump accountant Donald Bender testifying as the first witness called by the attorney general’s office. Mr Bender said he had worked on Trump’s tax returns and completed accounting work for Mr Trump’s corporate entities. He testified in a criminal trial against the Trump Organization in Manhattan last year, claiming the company sought to evade taxes on bonuses and other luxury benefits.

His two-hour testimony on Monday – largely focused on technical questions about his work for the Trump Organization – capped off the first day of the three-month long trial.

The case will be decided by Judge Engoron, not a jury. None of the defendants will face jail time if convicted, because this is a civil case not a criminal one.

Ms James is seeking $250m (£207m) and sanctions that could prevent the Trumps from doing business in the state of New York. There is even the possibility that Mr Trump could lose some of the properties that have become a signature part of his brand. The stakes could not be higher.


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Foreign News

Nobel Prize-winner to contest Democratic Republic of Congo presidency




In 2012, Nobel Prize-winner Dr Denis Mukwege was attacked by gunmen – a consequence, he believes, of criticising the Democratic Republic of Congo government’s policies on gender-based violence.

A decade later, living under the protection of UN peacekeepers, Dr Mukwege has launched another challenge against the nation’s leadership. He will be running for president in elections due in December, he announced on Monday.

Known as “Dr Miracle”, the 63-year-old rose to global fame for performing reconstructive surgery on women who had been raped in the country’s war-torn east. His hospital has so far treated more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence, while he has cemented himself as one of the world’s foremost experts in his field.

Dr Mukwege was born in 1955 in Bukavu, a city in eastern DR Congo. After numerous visits to see sick members of the community with his preacher father, he decided he wanted to become a doctor. He began his training at a medical school across the border in Burundi, later studying gynaecology and obstetrics at the University of Angers in France.

In 1998, he set up a clinic in his home city. The doctor intended Panzi hospital to be for maternal health, with his team treating new or expecting mothers. However, when war broke out, more and more women came to the clinic with gruesome injuries from sexual violence committed by various armed groups.

In 2013, Dr Mukwege told the BBC that rape in eastern DR Congo was part of a ‘stratergy’ to force communities away from their land and resources.

For three decades the region has been wracked by conflict, with numerous armed groups battling for gold and other valuable resources. Different militias have been accused of carrying out indiscriminate rape – tens of thousands of women are thought to have been attacked over the course of the conflict, Amnesty International has reported.

Dr Mukwege told the BBC about his first experience of treating a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men. “After being raped, bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs,” Dr Mukwege said of the first rape survivor that came to his clinic. “The real shock came three months later. Forty-five women came to us with the same story.”

Along with his colleagues, Dr Mukwege has since treated tens of thousands of victims and become “the world’s leading specialist in the treatment of wartime sexual violence”, according to the Nobel Prize.


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