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11 dead in Russian mining accident, rescue team goes missing

The accident happened when coal dust caught fire in a ventilation shaft in the Listvyazhnaya mine in the snowbound Kemerovo region.

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11 dead in Russian mining accident, rescue team goes missing
GNN Media: Representational Photo

At least 11 miners died in a coal mining accident in Russia's Siberia on Thursday and an operation to rescue 35 more people stuck underground was suspended due to the risk of an explosion, the region's governor said.

In a further grim twist, the Emergencies Ministry said a team of rescuers was later declared missing after they failed to report in with other rescue units who were ordered to return to the surface.

The ministry did not say how many rescuers were missing.

The accident happened when coal dust caught fire in a ventilation shaft in the Listvyazhnaya mine in the snowbound Kemerovo region early on Thursday, filling the mine with smoke, the TASS news agency cited local emergency services as saying.

"The chance of an explosion is very high. We've decided to suspend the search and rescue operation until the concentration of gas reduces," Regional Governor Sergei Tsivilev said. Methane levels were dangerously high, he said.

Dozens were being treated in hospital, at least some of them with smoke poisoning. Four were in critical condition.

The coal-producing region of Kemerovo roughly 3,500 km (2,175 miles) east of Moscow has been hit by fatal mining accidents for years.

The mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The union had no immediate comment.

Before the rescue operation was halted, the governor said there was still electricity and ventilation in the mine, but that they had lost contact with some people deep underground.

"For now there is no heavy smoke, so we hope that there is no fire," Tsivilev said on his Telegram channel. "We have no communication lines with these people, the underground communications system is not working."

Some 285 people were inside the mine when smoke spread through the ventilation shaft, the Emergency Ministry said. At least 239 made it above ground, authorities said. They did not say what had caused the smoke.

'GREAT MISFORTUNE'

On state television, President Vladimir Putin said he had spoken with the governor and emergency officials, describing the accident as a "great misfortune".

"Unfortunately the situation is not getting easier. And there's a danger to the lives of the rescuers ... We'll hope they can save as many people as they can," he said.

The Kremlin said Putin had ordered the emergencies minister to fly to the region to help.

Kemerovo declared a three-day period of mourning.

In 2007, Kemerovo was the site of the worst mining accident since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union when an explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine claimed the lives of more than 100 people.

In 2010, explosions at the region's Raspadskaya mine killed more than 90 people.

The Investigative Committee law enforcement agency's regional branch said it had opened a criminal case into negligence causing loss of life.

SOURCE: REUTERS

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

World

'Will be forced to act if NATO places missiles in Ukraine to strike Moscow': Putin

Tensions have been rising for weeks, with Russia, Ukraine and NATO all staging military exercises amid mutual recriminations over which side is the aggressor.

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'Will be forced to act if NATO places missiles in Ukraine to strike Moscow': Putin

Russia would pay a high price for any new military aggression against Ukraine, NATO and the United States warned on Tuesday as the Western military alliance met to discuss Moscow's possible motives for massing troops near the Ukrainian border.

President Vladimir Putin countered that Russia would be forced to act if US-led NATO placed missiles in Ukraine that could strike Moscow within minutes.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that now aspires to join the European Union and NATO, has become the main flashpoint between Russia and the West as relations have soured to their worst level in the three decades since the Cold War ended.

"There will be a high price to pay for Russia if they once again use force against the independence of the nation Ukraine," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Stoltenberg, saying: "Any escalatory actions by Russia would be a great concern to the United States..., and any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences."

Tensions have been rising for weeks, with Russia, Ukraine and NATO all staging military exercises amid mutual recriminations over which side is the aggressor.

Putin went further than previously in spelling out Russia's "red lines" on Ukraine, saying it would have to respond if NATO deployed advanced missile systems on its neighbour's soil.

"If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be 7-10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine," the Kremlin leader said.

"What are we to do in such a scenario? We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now," he said, pointing to Russia's recent testing of a hypersonic weapon he said could fly at nine times the speed of sound.

EU and other Western leaders are involved in a geopolitical tug-of-war with Russia for influence in Ukraine and two other ex-Soviet republics, Moldova and Georgia, through trade, cooperation and protection arrangements.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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Omicron threat: Sindh govt braces for new Covid curbs, allows schools to remain open

The provincial home department, in line with the NCOC's recommendations, has announced new curbs, which will be applicable from December 1-15.

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Omicron threat: Sindh govt braces for new Covid curbs, allows schools to remain open

The Sindh government on Tuesday announced that educational activities would continue across the province, but at the same time, announced new curbs as it braces for omicron, the latest coronavirus variant.

Pakistan had last week announced a ban on entry from six southern African countries as well as Hong Kong "due to threat" from the new COVID-19 variant.

In a notification, the Sindh Home Department said the National Command and Operations Centre had placed Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar in "category B" (cities with good vaccination progress) while other cities of the province fell under "category C" (cities with low vaccination progress).

The home department, in line with the NCOC's recommendations, has therefore announced new curbs, which will be applicable from December 1-15. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are only allowed for vaccinated individuals with the following cap:

Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar — indoor 500 people and outdoor 1,000 people. Other cities, divisions — indoor 300 people and outdoor 1,000 people.

Indoor dining is only allowed for fully vaccinated individuals till 11:59pm. In Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar, it will be allowed at 70% occupancy, while in other cities and divisions, the maximum cap is 50%.

Outdoor dining is also allowed for fully vaccinated individuals throughout the province till 11:59pm. Takeaway and drive-through services can function 24/7, given that they follow

Indoor and outdoor ceremonies are allowed only for fully vaccinated individuals. Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar — indoor 500 individuals and outdoor 1,000 individuals.

Other cities, divisions — indoor 300 individuals and outdoor 1,000 individuals.

Markets and business activities can continue till 10pm, while essential services — pharmacies, medical facilities, vaccination centres, petrol pumps, CNG stations, and others — can function 24/7.

Amusement parks, water sports, and swimming pools in individuals Karachi, Sukkur, and Sanghar can function at 70% occupancy, while in the remaining cities and divisions the cap is 50%.

Public parks, however, will remain open under strict COVID-19 protocols. Contact sports are allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.

Shrines will remain open, however, only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed to visit the places. Routine office timings will be followed and 100% attendance is permitted. The employees should be fully vaccinated.

Only fully vaccinated individuals can exercise at indoor gyms. Public transport can operate with 80% occupancy and only fully vaccinated individuals can benefit from the service. Wearing masks is mandatory.

Cinemas can entertain fully vaccinated individuals and can operate without time restrictions. Railways will operate with 80% occupancy and only fully vaccinated individuals can benefit from the service. Wearing masks is mandatory.

District administrations may impose broader lockdowns in areas under their jurisdiction. They can also smart and micro smart lockdowns in specified areas. Wearing masks shall be compulsory in public spaces.

All education institutes will follow 100% attendance with a focused campaign to vaccinate students above 12 years of age.

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Business

Inflation rate in Euro Zone rises to a record high for November

Higher energy prices contributed the most to the latest inflation reading.

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Inflation rate in Euro Zone rises to a record high for November

The euro zone’s inflation rate has risen to a record high in November, preliminary data showed Tuesday, prompting further questions about what the European Central Bank will do next with its monetary policy.

Headline inflation came in at 4.9% for the month, compared to the same month last year. This was above a consensus forecast of 4.5% from Reuters and was higher than October’s 4.1%. The figure was the highest on record in the 25 years that the data has been compiled.

According to Europe’s statistic office, Eurostat, energy is on track for its highest annual price rise in November at 27.4%, from 23.7% in October.

The data comes at a time when policymakers are waiting for more data on a new Covid-19 variant, omicron, which was reported for the first time last week in southern Africa.

The travel restrictions implemented in the wake of the new variant are raising concerns about how economies could suffer. Experts argue that societies are better equipped to deal with the virus now compared to the first Covid lockdowns, but market players have been on edge with the prospect of further restrictions.
ECB
Nonetheless, consumer prices rose once again in the euro zone off the back of higher energy costs and supply chain issues.

In Germany — a country historically scared of high inflation — the inflation rate hit a 29-year high in November. They were up by 6% from a year ago, as measured by the harmonized index of consumer prices.

The trend is the same in France, where the inflation rate reached 3.4% in November, the highest reading since 2008.

The question going forward is how the ECB will square the high inflation readings with uncertainty over the pandemic.

ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said last week that the central bank still plans to end its emergency bond purchases program in March. However, market players want to know how the central bank will be adjusting its other tools.

“The Omicron variant has increased the level of uncertainty even further but for now we suspect that it will have a fairly small impact on inflation,” Jack Allen-Reynolds, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, said in an emailed note to clients.

On the other hand, Rupert Thompson, chief investment officer at wealth manager Kingswood, said the latest figures make it more likely that the ECB will have to reduce monetary stimulus.

“Euro zone inflation now looks set to remain well above the ECB’s 2% target for much of next year and these numbers will make it all the harder for the central bank to justify continuing its QE [quantitative easing] program and holding off on any rate rise before 2023,” he said.

In addition, Charles Hepworth, investment director at GAM Investments, said: “It may be wishful thinking on the part of ECB President Lagarde when she declares that price pressures won’t run out of control – they already are and it’s difficult to follow the argument that it will abate soon.”

SOURCE: CNBC

 

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