BEIJING, NOV 25 (AP): China said Friday it was sending a central government team to the northern city of Harbin to investigate a massive chemical spill that polluted one of the country's biggest rivers nearly two weeks ago.
"The presence of disciplinary officials in the team indicates punishments of irresponsible acts are on the way," the official Xinhua News Agency said, without giving additional details.
Officials kept news of the spill secret for days and initially said they were shutting off water merely for maintenance.
Chinese authorities estimate that some 100 tons of benzene and nitrobenzene were released into the Songhua River following a Nov 13 chemical plant explosion in Jilin province. The pollutants were expected to flow downstream to Russia within a few weeks.
Diplomatic efforts helped avert vote on Iran issue: India
NEW DELHI (PTI): India Friday said tremendous diplomatic efforts by it had helped avert a vote on the Iran nuclear issue at the IAEA meeting in Vienna, staved off a possible confrontation and opened the door for negotiations to resolve it within the nuclear watchdog.
Official sources here said a divisive vote that would have led to the issue being referred to the UN Security Council would have exacerbated an already difficult situation and might have resulted in Iran walking out of NPT.
Any such decision could also have pushed Tehran into expelling IAEA inspectors from Iran and nudged it into going ahead with uranium enrichment activity, the sources said.
UNHCR head expresses solidarity with quake victims
ISLAMABAD (IRIN): The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday expressed solidarity with the government and people of Pakistan in dealing with the aftermath of the 8 October quake which ripped through the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, killing at least 80,000 people and rendering over 3 million homeless.
"All our resources and capacities are at your disposal," said Antonio Guterres in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, addressing a press conference.
He also said Pakistan had shown great solidarity with the suffering people of Afghanistan. "The people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan have expressed their solidarity for decades with millions of Afghan refugees. And solidarity is not a one-way thing. Solidarity must be a two-way thing," he added.
Tsunami: Ecology needs Rehabilitation: experts
NEW DELHI, (PTI: Tsunami struck animals as hard as it did the humans, but the plight of the animals remained largely ignored, with the rehabilitation efforts focussed more towards the needs of the humans.
Confined to our urban existences, rarely do we realise that the fates of animals and people are closely linked.
"Wild animals sensed something was about to happen, and fled to higher ground upto two hours before the tsunami actually struck. There is a lesson to be learnt here," says Azzedine Thomas Downes, Executive Vice President of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Downes was here for the launch of "The Ground Beneath the Waves: Post-Tsunami Impact Assessment of Wildlife and their Habitats in India", a two-volume report brought out by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).