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X-Press Pearl disaster: Lanka seeks Chinese help to evaluate pollution

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Sri Lanka has requested Chinese help to evaluate the scale of the pollution caused by the X-Press Pearl disaters, Xinhua reported on June 3.

A fire erupted on board the vessel on May 19. The government made an abortive bid to tow the vessel to deep seas. It sank on Thursday (3)

Xinhua report said: On day two after the explosion, Chinese experts from the China-Sri Lanka Joint Center for Education and Research (CSL-CER) received a request from Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), the principal national institute responsible for safeguarding aquatic resources in the country.

Through a forecast model, the CSL-CER helped evaluate the scale of the pollution caused by the debris and the extent to which the chemicals could spread.

The southwest monsoon makes frequent landfall in Sri Lanka in May. At the observation site of the CSL-CER based on the campus of the University of Ruhuna, an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) has been recently updated to study the effects of the monsoon outbreak.

Luo Yao, associate professor at the CSL-CER, told Xinhua that the AWS can improve the accuracy of forecasting models, and it can forecast marine environmental disasters caused by the burnt cargo ship.

“The AWS can monitor the atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and other marine atmospheric parameters. The accumulated data through long-term observations can be used to study the impact of climate change, sea level rise and other issues in the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas,” Luo said.

Sri Lanka is located in an area with warm currents between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean and is one of the most active regions on the path of the monsoon, with frequent marine meteorological disasters. Due to the shortage of marine scientific research personnel and the lack of a mature monsoon climate forecast system, Sri Lanka is vulnerable to marine disasters.

In order to strengthen the capacity to cope with climate change, the CSL-CER was established in 2015 at the University of Ruhuna, the only university in Sri Lanka with a faculty of fisheries and marine sciences.

Vijithamuni Zoysa, former Sri Lankan minister of fisheries, once spoke highly of the observation network, saying that “the network has provided scientific and technological support for the development of the marine economy in Sri Lanka and the reduction of marine meteorological disasters caused by extreme weather such as tsunamis and storms, which are related to people’s livelihood and economic development.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some difficulties for personnel exchanges at the center, it has not stopped its activities. In March this year, the China-Sri Lanka Joint Workshop on Monsoon Climate and Marine Environmental Resource was held as scheduled in both China and Sri Lanka simultaneously by combining online and offline methods.

“As an island country, Sri Lanka is particularly concerned about the monsoon. The enhanced cooperation between China and Sri Lanka on the monsoon issue will enable us to better understand the impact of the monsoon on the environment and reduce disasters caused by climate change,” said Tilak Gamage, co-director of the CSL-CER.

“The successive bilateral seminars on the ocean and climate have greatly enhanced Sri Lanka’s capacity to address climate issues and influence in the international arena,” Gamage said.

Zhang Changsheng, director of the CSL-CER, told Xinhua that since its establishment, the CSL-CER has not only done research but also paid attention to cultivating marine science talent in Sri Lanka.

The center has trained about 30 Sri Lankan graduate students in the fields of marine science and environmental science. They have later engaged in further scientific research in Sri Lanka.

The center has also conducted hydrological training for Sri Lankan institutions and trained personnel for meteorological observation, instrument use, and maintenance.

Charith Madusanka, a research fellow currently employed by both the CSL-CER and his alma mater the University of Ruhuna, is the first China-trained master’s degree student in oceanography from Sri Lanka.

Madusanka said, “Since I went to China, many of my classmates have turned to China.”

Nalin Wikramanayake, a senior Sri Lankan oceanographer, told Xinhua that the CSL-CER has made a major contribution to marine sciences and oceanography in Sri Lanka. 

 

 



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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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