UN Security Council Unanimously Adopts New North Korea Sanctions

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Friday new sanctions on North Korea. (Reuters)
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Friday new sanctions on North Korea. (Reuters)
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UN Security Council Unanimously Adopts New North Korea Sanctions

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Friday new sanctions on North Korea. (Reuters)
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Friday new sanctions on North Korea. (Reuters)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Friday new sanctions on North Korea over its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test.

The resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 12 months.

The US-drafted resolution would also cap crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year. The United States has been calling on China to limit its oil supply to its neighbor and ally.

Friday’s move could have a significant impact on the isolated country’s struggling economy, said analysts.

The resolution passed by a vote of 15 to 0, said Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations. Japan holds the presidency of the Security Council this month.

North Korea on November 29 said it successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile in a “breakthrough” that puts the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons whose warheads could withstand re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.

Tensions have been rising over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which it pursues in defiance of years of Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.

In November, North Korea called for a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions,” saying a previous round imposed after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 constituted genocide.

US diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but have proposed new, tougher sanctions to ratchet up pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, the United States and Japan, and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter US aggression. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

On Friday, a spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry called US President Donald Trump’s recently released national security strategy the latest American policy seeking to “stifle our country and turn the entire Korean peninsula” into an outpost of American hegemony.

He said Trump was seeking “total subordination of the whole world”.

Speaking before the Security Council vote, analysts said the new sanctions could have a major effect on the North’s economy.

“If they were enforced, the cap on oil would be devastating for North Korea’s haulage industry, for North Koreans who use generators at home or for productive activities, and for (state-owned enterprises) that do the same,” said Peter Ward, a columnist for NK News, a website that tracks North Korea.

The forced repatriation of foreign workers would also cut off vital sources of foreign currency and investment not only for the government but also for North Korea’s emerging market economy, he said.

“If such sanctions were enforced, they would thus impede and endanger North Korea’s economic development.”

Asked about the effects of sanctions before these latest proposals were announced, Michael Kirby, who led a UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, said cutting off fuel imports would be “a very serious step”.

“Cutting off oil, petroleum supplies, would obviously have a very big impact on the ordinary population,” he said.

China, which supplies most of North Korea’s oil, has backed successive rounds of UN sanctions but had resisted past US calls to cut off supplies to its neighbor.



NATO Member Türkiye to Send Troops to Kosovo amid Unrest in the North

A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
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NATO Member Türkiye to Send Troops to Kosovo amid Unrest in the North

A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo

Türkiye plans to send commandos to Kosovo on Sunday and Monday in response to a NATO request to join the alliance's KFOR peacekeeping force following unrest in the north of the country, the Turkish defense ministry said.

In a statement on Saturday, the ministry called for restraint and constructive dialogue to resolve a crisis that it said could harm regional security and stability.

"Our assigned unit (a commando battalion) is planned to be deployed to ... Kosovo on June 4-5," the ministry said.

A political crisis that has spiraled into violence in Kosovo's north has intensified since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in the region's Serb-majority area, which led the US and its allies to rebuke Pristina. The majority Serb population had boycotted the April election, allowing ethnic Albanians to be elected.

In violence on Monday, 30 peacekeepers and 52 Serbs who protested against the installation of the mayors were injured. The violence prompted NATO to announce it would send additional troops on top of 700 already on their way to the Balkan country to boost its 4,000 strong mission.


Counter-Offensive on Track Despite Russian Missile Barrages, Says Ukrainian Defense Official

A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Counter-Offensive on Track Despite Russian Missile Barrages, Says Ukrainian Defense Official

A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)

Ukraine's plans for a counteroffensive against Russian occupation remain on track, its deputy defense minister told Reuters on Saturday, despite an "unprecedented" wave of missile and drone attacks across the country in recent weeks.

Volodymyr V. Havrylov said that alongside cruise missile strikes, Ukraine had faced repeated volleys of ballistic missiles in May, especially in urban centers including the capital, Kyiv.

"Their primary goal is to stop our counter-offensive and target decision-making centers," he said on the sidelines of Asia's top security conference, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Havrylov called Russia's heavy use of ballistic missiles in May a "last strategic resort" and noted that his country's air defense systems had been "more than 90 percent effective" against the attacks.

For Russia "it was a huge surprise to find that the effectiveness of (their ballistic missiles) was almost zero against modern air defense systems, which we received from our partners," he said.

The United States and Germany provided Ukraine advanced Patriot missile batteries this year. Ukraine had already received advanced shorter-range systems such as NASAMS and IRIS-T from Western partners.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday his country was ready to launch a much-awaited counter-offensive. Havrylov said the missile barrages had not affected the timing.

"Nothing can stop our efforts, our desire, and our confidence that we'll win this war," he said.

Ukraine will "start the counter-offensive, with the ambition to liberate our territories this year," he added.

Moscow calls the invasion, which began in February 2022, a "special operation."

Havrylov declined to comment about recent drone attacks and border incursions into Russian territory, including some strikes that reached near Moscow.

"They (Russia) have a lot of internal events that are of course linked to this war," he said. "We have a lot of people inside Russia who support Ukraine."

The two countries have accused each other of spreading terror in their respective capitals with air strikes.

Havrylov, who joined defense and military officials from all over the world at the Singapore meeting, said Ukraine expects NATO allies to provide a detailed roadmap to membership at the defense pact's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month.

"We want to see a clear... set of steps to be taken by both sides," he said. "Not just an indication that the door is open."

He added that Ukraine also expected guarantees of security to be provided while the country is in a "transition period" on the way to membership.

He dismissed a proposal by Indonesia's defense minister at the Singapore meetings to establish a demilitarized zone to halt the fighting in Ukraine, saying: "We are not going to negotiate any deal related to loss of our territory, including Crimea."

Havrylov praised the recent supply of British Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which British defense minister Ben Wallace said on Friday had not missed any targets Ukraine had attacked. The addition of modern fighter aircraft such as F-16s would improve the country's air defense capabilities, Havrylov said.

He said he could not comment on whether Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb, another long-range strike weapon Western allies have provided this year, had been used in combat yet.

Ukraine has had good meetings and discussions with many countries, including Asian nations, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Havrylov said.

"We want to engage with everybody," he said.


Canada Facing Rising Threat from Cyberattacks

A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
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Canada Facing Rising Threat from Cyberattacks

A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Saturday that the country's critical infrastructure was increasingly being targeted by cyberattacks, posing a significant threat to the economy of the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer.

The US State Department warned last month that China was capable of launching cyberattacks against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems, after researchers discovered a Chinese hacking group had been spying on such networks, Reuters said.

In an interview on the sidelines of an Asian security summit in Singapore, Anand said there had been an increase in cyberattacks across North America, although she did not attribute the strikes to any state-sponsored actors.

"We have seen attacks on critical infrastructure in our country and we are very conscious to advise Canadian organizations and Canadian companies to take mitigation measures," Anand said.

"The risks can be substantial to our economy and systems that are protecting the lives of our citizens."

Canada is home to a number of large oil pipelines that are important for global crude supplies. Multinational energy companies like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have major operations in the country.

Anand was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's top security meeting, where rising tensions between the United States and China have dominated proceedings.

Chinese military officials have accused the US and its allies of using the conference to gang up on Beijing and open divisions in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We have to keep our eyes wide open on China. They have become an increasingly disruptive global power," Anand said when asked about China's complaints.


Russia to Come Back to START if US Abandons Its ‘Hostile Stance’, Says Foreign Ministry

In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
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Russia to Come Back to START if US Abandons Its ‘Hostile Stance’, Says Foreign Ministry

In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)

Russia will come back to full compliance with the New START treaty if Washington abandons its "hostile stance" toward Moscow, Russian news agencies reported, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The United States said earlier this week that it would stop providing Russia some notifications required under the arms control treaty, including updates on its missile and launcher locations, to retaliate for Moscow's "ongoing violations" of the accord.

According to Ryabkov, the move didn't come as a surprise to Moscow, and Russia's decision to suspend the New START treaty stands despite any counter-measures.

"Regardless of any measures or countermeasures from the US side, our decision to suspend the START Treaty is unshakable," the TASS news agency quoted him as saying.

"And our own condition for returning to a fully operational treaty is for the US to abandon its fundamentally hostile stance toward Russia."


One Dead, Two Missing in Japan after Heavy Rain

A general view shows a flooded street in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture on June 3, 2023, after heavy rains caused by passing Tropical Storm Mawar hit much of the country the day before. (AFP)
A general view shows a flooded street in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture on June 3, 2023, after heavy rains caused by passing Tropical Storm Mawar hit much of the country the day before. (AFP)
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One Dead, Two Missing in Japan after Heavy Rain

A general view shows a flooded street in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture on June 3, 2023, after heavy rains caused by passing Tropical Storm Mawar hit much of the country the day before. (AFP)
A general view shows a flooded street in Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture on June 3, 2023, after heavy rains caused by passing Tropical Storm Mawar hit much of the country the day before. (AFP)

Heavy rain across parts of Japan has killed one person, left two missing and injured dozens more, authorities said Saturday, with thousands of residents issued evacuation warnings.

The inundation has been caused by the remnants of former Typhoon Mawar, now downgraded to a tropical storm.

A rescue team in central Aichi region's Toyohashi, where the country's highest-level evacuation alert was issued Friday, "found a man approximately in his 60s in a submerged car, but he was later confirmed dead," a city official told AFP.

In western Wakayama, where several rivers burst their banks, officials told AFP that they had resumed the search for one man and one woman missing in the region.

A total of six people were seriously injured and 24 suffered minor injuries as of Saturday morning, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

In central and western Japan, many evacuation orders -- which are non-compulsory, even at the highest level -- were being downgraded as rains eased.

But new warnings were issued in areas close to Tokyo in the early morning due to flooding risks.

With several cities including Aichi's Toyohashi and Koshigaya near Tokyo reportedly seeing the highest 24-hour rainfall on record, the Japan Meteorological Agency urged residents to "be on high alert for landslides, overflowing rivers, and flooding of low-lying areas".

Some 4,000 households in regions close to Tokyo suffered power outages early Saturday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said, but the issue was mostly resolved several hours later.

Shinkansen bullet trains were temporarily suspended between Tokyo and Nagoya, but Japan Railway said they resumed operations around noon.

Scientists say climate change is intensifying the risk of heavy rain in Japan and elsewhere, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

Strong rain in 2021 triggered a devastating landslide in the central resort town of Atami that killed 27 people.

And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country's annual rainy season.

Earlier this week, Mawar -- then a typhoon -- passed just north of the Pacific island of Guam, uprooting trees and leaving tens of thousands of homes temporarily without power.


US Defense Chief Tells China Talks Essential to Avoid Crisis

Attendees watch a livestream of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking during a plenary session on a screen outside the main hall during the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, 03 June 2023. (EPA)
Attendees watch a livestream of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking during a plenary session on a screen outside the main hall during the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, 03 June 2023. (EPA)
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US Defense Chief Tells China Talks Essential to Avoid Crisis

Attendees watch a livestream of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking during a plenary session on a screen outside the main hall during the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, 03 June 2023. (EPA)
Attendees watch a livestream of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaking during a plenary session on a screen outside the main hall during the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, 03 June 2023. (EPA)

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday he was deeply concerned by China's unwillingness to engage on military crisis management, warning that talks are key to avoiding conflict.

The relationship between the United States and China is at its lowest point in decades, as they remain deeply divided over everything from the sovereignty of Taiwan to espionage and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's top security summit, Austin said that open lines of communication between US and Chinese defense and military leaders were essential to avoid conflict and bolster stability in the Asia-Pacific.

"I am deeply concerned that the PRC (People's Republic of China) has been unwilling to engage more seriously on better mechanisms for crisis management between our two militaries," Austin told the meeting in Singapore.

"The more that we talk, the more that we can avoid the misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to crisis or conflict."

China's Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu had this week declined an invitation to meet Austin at the security summit. Li, a general who has been sanctioned by the US, delivers his own speech on Sunday.

On Friday, the two shook hands on the sidelines of the conference but did not hold detailed talks, the Pentagon said.

"A cordial handshake over dinner is no substitute for a substantive engagement," Austin said.

Dialogue between the two countries has stalled since

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to China

in February after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was tracked flying across the United States.

Liu Pengyu, spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said on Friday in an emailed statement that communication between China and the US was conducive to a greater mutual understanding.

"However, now the US says it wants to speak to the Chinese side while seeking to suppress China through all possible means and continue imposing sanctions on Chinese officials, institutions and companies," the statement said.

China will have bilateral talks with defense chiefs from a dozen countries at the summit, Lieutenant General He Lei, former vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences, said in comments published by state-backed Chinese newspaper the Global Times on Saturday.

Taiwan tensions

One of the thorniest security issues between the two superpowers is over the future of Taiwan, a democratically governed territory which Beijing wants to bring under its rule.

There are increasing concerns that China could invade Taiwan with the US drawn into any conflict.

Austin pointed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an example of "how dangerous our world would become if big countries could just invade their peaceful neighbors with impunity".

He said the US was "deeply committed" to preserving the status quo in Taiwan and opposes unilateral changes from either side.

"Conflict is neither imminent nor inevitable. Deterrence is strong today and it’s our job to keep it that way," Austin said.

Chinese Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that Austin's comments risk creating confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region, including over Taiwan.

"It (US) wants instability in Taiwan so that it can bring its soldiers to Taiwan, and earn money from selling military weapons to Taiwan," said Zhao, a researcher at China's Academy of Military Sciences.

US military officials have previously said that Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on his armed forces to develop the capabilities for a possible invasion of Taiwan by 2027.

"It doesn't mean that he's made a decision to do that," Austin said in response to a question about Xi's plans.

Under President Joe Biden, the US has been strengthening its ties with allies in Asia, including Australia, Japan, India, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Beijing has criticized a deal announced by Australia in March to buy US nuclear-powered submarines.

Australia is set to spend A$368 billion ($250 billion) over three decades on the submarine program, part of a broader security pact with the US and Britain known as AUKUS.

"(AUKUS) promotes greater stability and security," Austin said.


Zelenskiy Says Ukraine Ready to Launch Counteroffensive

Local resident Aran stands inside the shop he rents, which was destroyed by recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in Makiivka (Makeyevka) outside Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Local resident Aran stands inside the shop he rents, which was destroyed by recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in Makiivka (Makeyevka) outside Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 2, 2023. (Reuters)
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Zelenskiy Says Ukraine Ready to Launch Counteroffensive

Local resident Aran stands inside the shop he rents, which was destroyed by recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in Makiivka (Makeyevka) outside Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Local resident Aran stands inside the shop he rents, which was destroyed by recent shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in Makiivka (Makeyevka) outside Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 2, 2023. (Reuters)

Ukraine is ready to launch its long-awaited counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied territory, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview published on Saturday.

"We strongly believe that we will succeed,” Zelenskiy told the Wall Street Journal.

"I don’t know how long it will take. To be honest, it can go a variety of ways, completely different. But we are going to do it, and we are ready."

Kyiv hopes a counteroffensive to reclaim territory will change the dynamics of the war that has raged since Russia invaded its smaller neighbor 15 months ago.

Zelenskiy said last month Ukraine needed to wait for more Western armored vehicles arrived before launching the counteroffensive. He has been on a diplomatic push to maintain Western support, seeking more military aid and weapons, which is key for Ukraine to succeed in its plans.

Russia holds swaths of Ukrainian territory in the east, south and southeast.

A long spell of dry weather in some parts of Ukraine has driven anticipation that the counteroffensive might be imminent. Over the past several weeks Ukraine has increased it strikes on Russian ammunition depots and logistical routes.

On Saturday Ukraine's military said in a daily report that Mariinka in the Donetsk region in the east was the focus of fighting. Ukrainian forces repelled all 14 Russian troops' attacks there, the report said.


India Train Crash Kills over 280, Injures 900 in Country's Deadliest Rail Accident in Decades

Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a three-train collision near Balasore, India, on June 3, 2023. Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP
Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a three-train collision near Balasore, India, on June 3, 2023. Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP
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India Train Crash Kills over 280, Injures 900 in Country's Deadliest Rail Accident in Decades

Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a three-train collision near Balasore, India, on June 3, 2023. Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP
Rescue workers search for survivors at the site of a three-train collision near Balasore, India, on June 3, 2023. Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP

Rescuers waded through piles of debris and wreckage to pull out bodies and free people on Saturday after two passenger trains derailed in India, killing more than 280 people. Hundreds of others were trapped inside more than a dozen mangled rail cars overnight in one of the country's deadliest train crashes in decades.

The accident, which happened about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southwest of Kolkata on Friday night, led to a chaotic scene as rescuers climbed atop the wrecked trains to break open doors and windows using cutting torches to free survivors, The Associated Press said.

About 900 people were injured in the accident in Balasore district in the eastern state of Odisha, said P.K. Jena, the state's top administrative official. The cause was under investigation.

At least 280 bodies were recovered overnight and into Saturday morning, Sudhanshu Sarangi, director of Odisha's fire department, told The Associated Press. He said more than 800 injured passengers were taken to various hospitals with many in critical condition.

Rescuers were cutting through the destroyed rail cars to find people who may still be trapped. Sarangi said it was possible that people were stuck underneath but that it was unlikely they would still be alive.

“By 10 p.m. (on Friday) we were able to rescue the survivors. After that it was about picking up dead bodies,” he said. “This is very, very tragic. I have never seen anything like this in my career."

Ten to 12 coaches of one train derailed, and debris from some of the mangled coaches fell onto a nearby track, said Amitabh Sharma, a railroad ministry spokesperson. The debris was hit by another passenger train coming from the opposite direction, causing up to three coaches of the second train to also derail, he added.

A third train carrying freight was also involved, the Press Trust of India reported, but there was no immediate confirmation of that from railroad authorities. PTI said some of the derailed passenger coaches hit cars from the freight train.

The death toll rose steadily throughout the night as footage showed shattered carriages that had overturned completely. Scores of dead bodies, covered by white sheets, lay on the ground near the train tracks as locals and rescuers raced to help survivors.

Teams of rescuers and police continued sifting through the ruins on Saturday morning as the search operation carried on, amid fears that the death toll is likely to rise further. Scores of people also showed up at a local hospital to donate blood.

Officials said 1,200 rescuers worked with 115 ambulances, 50 buses and 45 mobile health units through the night at the accident site. Saturday was declared as a day of mourning in Odisha as the state's chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, reached the district to meet injured passengers.

Villagers said they rushed to the site to evacuate people after hearing a loud sound created by the train coaches going off the tracks.

“The local people really went out on a limb to help us. They not only helped in pulling out people, but retrieved our luggage and got us water,” PTI cited Rupam Banerjee, a survivor, as saying.

Passenger Vandana Kaleda said that inside the train during the derailment people were “falling on each other” as her coach shook violently and veered off the tracks.

“As I stepped out of the washroom, suddenly the train tilted. I lost my balance. ... Everything went topsy turvy. People started falling on each other and I was shocked and could not understand what happened. My mind stopped working," she said, adding she felt lucky to survive.

Another survivor who did not give his name said he was sleeping when the impact woke him up. He said he saw other passengers with broken limbs and disfigured faces.

The derailed Coromandel Express was traveling from Howrah in West Bengal state to Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state, PTI said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his thoughts were with the bereaved families.

"May the injured recover soon,” tweeted Modi, who said he had spoken to the railway minister and that “all possible assistance” was being offered.

Despite government efforts to improve rail safety, several hundred accidents occur every year on India’s railways, the largest train network under one management in the world.

In August 1995, two trains collided near New Delhi, killing 358 people in one of the worst train accidents in India.

In 2016, a passenger train slid off the tracks between the cities of Indore and Patna, killing 146 people.

Most train accidents are blamed on human error or outdated signaling equipment.

More than 12 million people ride 14,000 trains across India every day, traveling on 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of track.


Erdogan to Be Sworn in for Third Term as Turkish President

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the annual general meeting of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges after winning Sunday's presidential election runoff in Ankara, Türkiye, May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the annual general meeting of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges after winning Sunday's presidential election runoff in Ankara, Türkiye, May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
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Erdogan to Be Sworn in for Third Term as Turkish President

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the annual general meeting of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges after winning Sunday's presidential election runoff in Ankara, Türkiye, May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the annual general meeting of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges after winning Sunday's presidential election runoff in Ankara, Türkiye, May 30, 2023. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to be sworn in on Saturday as head of state after winning a historic runoff election to extend his two-decade rule for another five years as Türkiye’s economic woes worsen.

The inauguration in parliament will be followed by a lavish ceremony at his palace in the capital Ankara attended by dozens of world leaders, said AFP.

Türkiye’s transformative but divisive leader won the May 28 runoff against a powerful opposition coalition, and despite an economic crisis and severe criticism following a devastating February earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.

Erdogan won 52.18 percent of the vote while his secular rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu 47.82 percent, official results show.

Türkiye’s longest-serving leader faces immediate and major challenges in his third term driven by a decelerating economy and foreign policy tensions with the West.

"From a geopolitical point of view, the election will reinforce Türkiye’s recent pursuit of an independent foreign policy," said Matt Gertken, chief geopolitical strategist at BCA Research.

"This policy aims to extract maximum economic and strategic benefits from eastern and autocratic states while still preventing a permanent rupture in relations with western democracies," he said.

"Tensions with the West will likely increase again, within that framework, now that Erdogan has a new mandate."

Biting economy

Addressing the country's economic troubles will be Erdogan's first priority with inflation running at 43.70 percent, partly due to his unorthodox policy of cutting interest rates to stimulate growth.

Late on Saturday the president is due to unveil his new cabinet with media speculating that former finance minister Mehmet Simsek, a reassuring figure with international stature, could play a part.

A former Merrill Lynch economist, Simsek is known to oppose Erdogan's unconventional policies.

He served as finance minister between 2009 and 2015 and deputy prime minister in charge of the economy until 2018, before stepping down ahead of a series of lira crashes that year.

"Erdogan's government looks like it will pursue an orthodox stabilization program," said Alp Erinc Yeldan, professor of economics at Istanbul's Kadir Has University.

"What we see now is that the news about Mehmet Simsek and his team is greeted with enthusiasm by the markets," he told AFP.

Türkiye’s new members of parliament started being sworn in on Friday in a first session after the May 14 election, also attended by Erdogan.

His alliance holds a majority in the 600-seat parliament.

Erdogan's victory came against a unified opposition coalition led by Kilicdaroglu, whose future as leader of the CHP party remains in doubt following the defeat.

NATO chief visits

NATO allies are anxiously waiting for Ankara to green-light Sweden's drive to join the US-led defense alliance, before a summit in July.

Erdogan has been dragging his feet in approving the application, accusing Stockholm of sheltering "terrorists" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will attend Erdogan's inauguration at the weekend and hold talks with him, the alliance said Friday.

Sweden's foreign minister Tobias Billstrom said on Twitter that "a clear message" emerged at a NATO meeting in Oslo for Türkiye’s and Hungary to start the ratification process.

His Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu responded: "A crystal clear message to our Swedish Friends! Fulfill your commitments arising from Trilateral Memorandum & take concrete steps in the fight against terrorism.

"The rest will follow."


US, Allies Clash with Russia, China over North Korea's Failed Military Spy Satellite Launch

FILE - In this undated photo provided by the North Korean government on March 11, 2022, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
FILE - In this undated photo provided by the North Korean government on March 11, 2022, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
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US, Allies Clash with Russia, China over North Korea's Failed Military Spy Satellite Launch

FILE - In this undated photo provided by the North Korean government on March 11, 2022, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
FILE - In this undated photo provided by the North Korean government on March 11, 2022, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

The United States and its allies clashed with Russia and China on Friday over North Korea’s failed launch of a military spy satellite this week in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, which Moscow and Beijing refused to condemn.

The confrontation was the latest over the North’s escalating nuclear, ballistic missile and military programs, which US deputy ambassador Robert Wood warned are threatening international peace and security. The failed launch “not only disrupted maritime and air traffic in the region, but it also caused alarm for its neighbors in Japan and the Republic of Korea,” he said.

Pyongyang is threatening another launch soon, The Associated Press said.

The Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006 and tightened them over the years in a total of 10 resolutions seeking — so far unsuccessfully — to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut off funding. In the last sanctions resolution adopted by the council in December 2017, members committed to further restricting petroleum exports to North Korea if it conducted a ballistic missile launch capable of reaching intercontinental ranges.

China and Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution in May 2022 that would have imposed new sanctions, including on petroleum exports, over a spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches. Since then, they have blocked any council action including press statements.

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council the last time North Korea conducted a similar satellite launch to Wednesday’s failed attempt was on Feb. 7, 2016 and it was condemned by the Security Council.

“The lack of unity and action in the Security Council does little to slow the negative trajectory on the Korean Peninsula,” she said, and North Korea “is unconstrained, and other parties are compelled to focus on military deterrence.”

But North Korea’s neighbor and ally China and Russia, which has drawn closer to Pyongyang since the war in Ukraine, blamed the West and especially the United States for the current tensions.

China’s deputy UN ambassador Geng Shuang said the situation on the Korean Peninsula is a remnant of the Cold War. He accused the United States of failing to respond to North Korea’s attempts at dialogue over the years and instead resorting to sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang, missing an opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue.

“By incorporating the (Korean) Peninsula into its Indo-Pacific strategy, the US has continued its military activities and significantly increased its military presence both on the peninsula and in its surrounding areas, seriously undermining the strategic security interests of the peninsula and its neighboring countries,” Geng said

He also pointed to the recent US-South Korea Washington Declaration, including plans to send strategic nuclear submarines to the peninsula.

Geng claimed US policies are “driven by geopolitical self-interest” and told the council that blaming one party “will only exacerbate conflicts, provocations and inject new uncertainties into the already tense situation on the peninsula.”

He urged the council to adopt a resolution circulated by China and Russia in November 2021 that would end a host of sanctions on the North, saying this would be a starting point “to promote de-escalation, mutual trust and unity” among the 15 members.

Russia’s deputy ambassador Anna Evstigneeva blamed increased pressure on North Korea by the US and its allies for “the spiral of tension we’re witnessing now.” And she criticized growing military activity by the US, Japan and South Korea, especially recent large-scale US-South Korean military exercises, saying they are destabilizing not only for northeast Asia but for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Russia is against “the dead end and inhumane policy of increasing sanctions pressure,” Evstigneeva said, stressing that UN resolutions that imposed sanctions also back efforts to resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula by political and diplomatic means.

Russia calls on the United States to take steps to lower tensions and resume dialogue, instead of trying to shift responsibility “to other countries,” she said, also backing council action on the China-Russia resolution.

Wood, the US envoy, countered that the Washington Declaration was a response to North Korea’s destabilizing nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

“It’s hard to imagine we would ease sanctions” as called for in the China-Russia draft resolution and reward Pyongyang while it continues to violate Security Council resolutions, he said.

As for diplomacy, Wood said the United States on many occasions has stated it is prepared to have an unconditional dialogue, but North Korea “has rejected our interventions on many occasions.”

He stressed that US-South Korean military exercises are lawful efforts to defend against Pyongyang’s escalating activities that are allowing the country to advance its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs – and to “continue to choose ammunition over nutrition” for its people.