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64 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean boat sinking

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ROME: As many as 64 migrants, including a mother whose 3-year-old child desperately clung to her, are feared dead after a traffickers’ overcrowded rubber dinghy from Libya started sinking in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said .

The Italian coast guard rescued 86 people from the boat hours after it started sinking on Saturday morning due to a puncture. Specially trained rescue divers leapt into the water to pull dozens to safety, including those who managed to stay aboard the half-submerged dinghy as well as others already flailing in the cold waters around it. The bodies of eight dead women were also recovered.

Since trafficking dinghies are often crammed with far more than 100 migrants, fears quickly arose that dozens more could be missing in the sinking. UN officials said that accounts from survivors bore out those fears.

 

An Italian coast guard search that went through the night didn’t find any more survivors or corpses.

Flavio Di Giacomo of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in tweet that survivors interviewed by the agency in Catania, Sicily, after they arrived on a rescue ship said 150 people had been aboard the dinghy when it set out from the coast of Libya.

“Sixty-four migrants lost their life in the shipwreck (which) occurred last Saturday,” Di Giacomo said, explaining that “probably 56 missing migrants” were lost at sea.

Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco told Italian Radio Radicale that among the survivors was a child who lost her mother.
“I watched a 3-year-old girl while she was starting to play at the port here. She was saved, grabbed at the last second by the coast guard in the sea,” the mayor said. “She was clinging to her mother and she saw her drown.” Bianco said the child is now with her aunt, who was among the survivors.

The dinghy, half-submerged, had been spotted by an aircraft from a European naval mission combatting migrant trafficking.

A doctor aboard the ship said some of the survivors had cardiopulmonary resuscitation aboard.

“We can proudly say that many among those we resuscitated are now alive,” said Maria Rita Agliozzo, a physician from the Order of Malta who, along with a paramedic, was aboard the coast guard rescue ship. “Unfortunately some of them did not make it.” She said among the survivors are three children, who are orphans, and in good condition.

“We still have to reconstruct their personal stories, because the children are shocked and didn’t answer our questions. It’s a step-by-step process, hopefully they will work through what happened and later provide more information,” Agliozzo said.


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‘This Lok Sabha election was like pilgrimage for me,’ says Modi

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday told his ministerial colleagues that this Lok Sabha election was like a pilgrimage for him.

Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said: “PM Modi said that he has seen many elections but this election’s campaign did not seem like a campaign. He said it was like a pilgrimage for him.”

“Terming the completion of the NDA government’s tenure as a successful experiment, PM Modi said the alliance should be further strengthened,” Tomar said.

 

PM Modi on Tuesday had a meeting with the members of his Council of Ministers and congratulated them for successfully working as a team for the last five years.

The 2-hour long meeting was attended by all the ministers, who on their part congratulated PM Modi for the development works that the government did in the last five years under his leadership.

Fully confident to return to power, Union Minister and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur said: “We are 110 per cent forming the next government. The opposition is staring at their defeat.”

On the allegations about drawbacks in electronic voting machines (EVMs), Kaur said: “When they won the Assembly polls in three states, EVMs were good for them but when the exit polls have shown their defeat, they have started blaming EVMs.”

Seeking apologies for their baseless allegations against PM Modi, Giriraj Singh said: “Opposition parties should apologise to the public for their baseless allegations. They have won elections when it was conducted by EVMs in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Delhi.”

Predicting more than 300 seats for BJP and 350 plus for the NDA, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said: “Scared of defeat, the opposition parties indulged in violence and bloodshed. They are not able to digest the defeat.”

Union Minister and LJP president Ram Vilas Paswan also thanked PM Modi for running a strong government at the Centre for five years.

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EC wants to set new precedent of ‘dark secrets’, ‘secluded chambers’: Cong

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New Delhi: A day before the counting of the votes polled in the Lok Sabha election, the Congress on Wednesday termed as “constitutional travesty” the EC’s rejection of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s demand that dissent notes should be recorded and alleged that the poll watchdog wanted to set a new precedent of “dark secrets” and “secluded chambers” in performing its duties.

“A Constitutional travesty! ECI wants to set a new precedent of ‘dark secrets’ & ‘secluded chambers’ in doing its constitutional duties. If CEC can’t play fair in its functioning, can it play fair in ensuring a free & fair election?,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wrote on Twitter.

His comments came a day after the Election Commission (EC) decided not to record the dissents put forward by the members of the “full commission”, overruling Lavasa.

 

On Tuesday, the poll panel rejected with a majority vote Lavasa’s demand that dissent notes should be recorded in its orders on model code violations, days after the simmering tension within the EC over the issue came out in the open.

The “full commission” of the panel, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and two other members — Lavasa and Sushil Chandra — deliberated on the contentious issue, after which the EC said dissent notes and minority views would remain part of the records but would not be part of its orders. Lavasa had dissented on a series of clean chits given by the EC to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on their speeches during the election campaign.

As his demand for recording his dissent notes in EC’s orders was not met, Lavasa recused himself from cases relating to violations of the Model Code of Conduct. The counting of votes for the just-concluded, seven-phased Lok Sabha polls will be taken up on Thursday.

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Pawar plays matchmaker, looks for new partners for a non-BJP front

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Mumbai: The Opposition’s leading players are reaching out to other political leaders who can swing numbers in case the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) falls short of majority. The exit polls, however, predicted otherwise.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar has played a role of matchmaker between various parties for a non-BJP front.

Pawar has reached out to YSR Congress’s Jagan Mohan Reddy, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader K Chandrasekhar Rao and Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, reported NDTV.

 

According to Hindustan Times report, the functionary said KCR confirmed to Pawar that his party would be open to supporting the United Progressive Alliance in the event of a hung Parliament.

He had reportedly made calls for support in case Opposition gets a chance to form the government. He has been in touch with Chandrababu Naidu who has been touring across nation for discussion with leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BSP’s Mayawati, SP’s Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

On Tuesday, Chandrababu Naidu met Karnataka Chief Minsiter HD Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda of JD(S), which is in alliance with Congress.

Jagan Reddy is yet to return calls from the opposition. Reddy is also being pursued by the NDA.

Last year, Naidu broke the alliance with NDA over the delay of granting special status to Andhra Pradesh.

Exit polls on Sunday predicted over 300 of Lok Sabha’s 543 seats for the NDA, well past the majority mark of 272. The Congress and its allies were given 122 and non-aligned parties, 114.

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