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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

7.8-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Iran

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Iran on Tuesday afternoon, with the US Geological Survey (USGS) centering the earthquake at a depth of 82 kilometres and approximately 83 kilometres east of the city of Khash. At least 40 people were feared dead in Iran itself and at least another seven across the border in Pakistan. The earthquake, the most powerful to strike the region in 40 years, prompted local authorities in the provinces of Sistan and Baluchestan to declare a state of emergency. Iran’s Press TV said assessment, evaluation and rescue teams from the Red Crescent had been dispatched to the area. The tremors from the earthquake were felt as far away as New Delhi, in India, were some buildings shook. It was also felt in the emirates along the Persian Gulf, including Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman. A spokesman for the Russian contractor responsible for the Bushehr nuclear power plant said the earthquake had not affected the complex.

Boston Marathon Blasts Kill Three, Wound at Least 170

Two bombs exploded in the finish line area of the Boston marathon late on Monday, killing three people and injuring at least another 170, most of which were being treated for shrapnel wounds. An eight-year-old boy was among those killed. Doctors said objects appeared to have been placed into the bombs to inflict massive wounds on those standing nearby. A number of amputations had to be carried out on survivors. One of the witnesses said that the marathon’s finish line was instantly transformed into something akin to a war zone. “These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now. There are so many people without legs. So many of them. There are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting”, said Roupen Bastajian, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine. Although Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick confirmed that authorities had found “two and only two explosive devices” along the route, a number of runners had their bags exploded by the security services.

Post-Election Violence in Venezuela Kills Four

Clashes between protesters in the streets of Caracas killed four people on early Tuesday, according to the country’s AVN news agency. Two were killed in Miranda state, in the outskirts of Caracas, one in Táchira state on the border with Colombia and another in oil-rich Zulia state in the west of the country. According to the Reuters news agency, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets against masked, rock-wielding supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in an affluent area of the capital. He has demanded a recount, saying his team has figures that show he has won the election. The country’s National Electoral Council has so far refused to carry out a full recount, calling the election for ruling party candidate Nicolás Maduro. “We are not going to ignore the will of the people. We believe we won. We want this problem resolved peacefully”, said Capriles during a news conference. “There is no majority here, there are two halves”, he added.

Iceland First European Country to Sign Free Trade Agreement with China

Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir signed a free-trade agreement with China, making Iceland the first European country to sign such an agreement with the Asian giant after six years of negotiation. Currently, Iceland exports to China are mostly composed of fish and seafood products, which amounted to approximately €50 million in 2012. “This is a historic agreement that will create jobs in Iceland as well as open unprecedented opportunities for the Icelandic economy and our exports”, said Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson. “The fact that Iceland is the first European state that signed such an agreement with China creates an unique advantage for our economy”, he added. Some specialists speculate that one of China’s interests in celebrating such a deal with Iceland lies in the opening of new routes by the melting of the Arctic ice caps, which could cut shipping times between Shanghai and Hamburg by one-third. China is also reportedly interested in exploring the vast oil reserves under Iceland’s coastal waters.

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