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Women, children among 134 killed in Indian collapsed bridge

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The death toll has risen to 134 after a suspension bridge collapsed in India’s western state of Gujarat on Sunday, as authorities revealed the structure had only recently reopened following repairs.

Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi said Monday some 200 people are estimated to have been on the bridge in the town of Morbi when it collapsed into the river below on Sunday evening. A cable at one end appears to have snapped, he added.

The state of Gujarat has lodged a criminal complaint against the agency that was handling the maintenance of the 230-meter long bridge, which was built in the 19th century and reopened last week after renovations, he said.

Photos from the scene Monday showed people gathering on the bank of the river Machchhu beside the mangled metal walkway, which hung at a sharp angle into the water, where rescue workers in inflatable dinghies searched for survivors.

A five-person special investigation committee has been established to investigate the incident, Sanghavi said, amid an ongoing search and rescue operation by hundreds of personnel from state and national disaster relief teams and the Indian military.

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Speaking at a news conference in the early hours of Monday, Sanghavi did not say how many people are missing, but social media video showed dozens in the water following the collapse of the bridge.

TV footage showed people holding the cables and remains of the bridge as emergency teams tried to reach them, Reuters reported. Some climbed up the wrecked structure to reach the river banks, while others swam to safety.

Children were among those killed, MP Mohanbhai Kalyanji Kundariya told Indian broadcaster NDTV.

Speaking later on Monday, senior police official Ashok Yadav said seven of the injured are still in hospital, while 56 people have been discharged after receiving treatment.

The families of the victims will receive compensation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking Monday at a campaign event ahead of a state-level election in Gujarat, Modi said his “heart is filled with love and is with the families of those suffering.”

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“The state government has set up a committee to investigate the incident. I assure the people of the country that there will be nothing lacking in the relief and rescue efforts,” Modi said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said he was heading to Morbi and the state government would provide the equivalent of about $5,000 in compensation per family of the deceased and about $600 each for the injured.

“I express my condolences to the families of the citizens who lost their lives in the tragedy,” he tweeted.

 

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Police rescue two children abandoned by mothers in Lagos

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The Lagos State Police Command says operatives of the Rapid Response Squad unit in the state have rescued two children abandoned by their mothers in the Marina area of the state.

This is contained in a statement posted on its official Twitter handle on Friday.

The children were identified as five-year-old Chidara and three-year-old Shonton Chukwu.

The RRS said that the children were rescued on Thursday at about 6:00 p.m.

“Our patrol team at Marina saw two underage boys on the expressway about to be run over by speeding vehicles.

“The boys disclosed that their mother boarded a car and left them,” the command wrote.

The RRS said that the children had been taken to the Adeniji-Adele Police Division to be reunited with their parents.

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How Diezani shared $115m to politicians to compromise 2015 polls – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that its investigation shows that Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former minister of petroleum resources, allegedly gave politicians $115 million to compromise the 2015 elections.

Abdulrasheed Bawa, the EFCC chairperson, said this at an induction retreat for new resident electoral commissioners (INEC) in Lagos.

Bawa was represented by Adukwu Michael, the chief superintendent of the anti-graft agency.

Diezani was the minister of petroleum resources from 2010 to 2015 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan

Shortly before Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, she left the country.

The former minister is alleged to have stolen $2.5 billion from the Nigerian government while she was a minister.

She has, however, denied the allegations, while the EFCC has since commenced a process to extradite her.

The Federal Government had gained forfeiture of Diezani’s properties located in Banana Island Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, including 18 flats and six penthouses.

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‘OUR FOCUS IS TO DISCOURAGE USE OF MONEY TO INFLUENCE ELECTION’

The EFCC chairperson’s representative said some of the monies allegedly stolen by Diezani have been recovered by the agency.

He disclosed that the anti-graft agency is focusing on how to discourage vote buying.

“The commission’s focus in election management is discouraging the use of money to influence the outcome of election,” THISDAY quoted him as saying.

“Electoral spending by politicians often leads to voter inducement and vote buying.

“Parties often induce voter with money because they lack proper and realistic policies to convince the electorate to vote them into power.

“Whenever one is induced to sell his vote, he automatically loses moral ground to challenge corrupt tendencies of those elected.

“In the 2015 discreet investigation, the commission was able to uncover a grand plan to compromise the 2015 general election through massive cash payments to politicians.

“$115 million was paid out to politicians by former minister of petroleum resources, Diezani Alison-Madukwe, to compromise the election.

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“Some of the money was recovered while many of the culprits are being prosecuted with few convictions recorded. At the heart of EFCC strategy to curb voter inducement is inter-agency collaboration and information sharing.

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Gunmen attack mosque in Delta, many injured

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Some unknown gunmen, early Friday morning attacked a mosque in Ughelli, Delta state, leaving 11 worshippers injured.

According to some residents, the attack took place at about 6.47 am when some Muslim faithful were holding their morning prayers at the Central Mosque, located along Okoroda street in Ughelli.

The resident who gave his name simply as Larry, said many residents were jolted from their sleep by gunshots followed by loud cries from people inside the mosque.

“My name is Larry, I am a commercial vehicle driver here in Ughelli. I live very close to the central mosque, so this morning at about 6.45 am we heard a shooting at the mosque.

“Because of fear, many people in my compound were frightened and we remained inside only peeping through our windows.

“As the shooting lasted, we heard loud cries from some worshippers inside the mosque,” Larry said.
According to him, after the invaders left, many residents thronged to the mosque in their numbers to see what happened.

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He said residents helped to evacuate injured worshippers, adding that those that survived the attack suffered severe injuries.

Larry said that some of the worshippers told residents that three of their fellow worshippers were taken away by the gunmen.

Delta police spokesperson, DSP Bright Edafe, confirmed the attack but said that only 11 worshippers were injured in the attack.

He, however, did not confirm the abduction of three worshippers.

“I just called the DPO at Ughelli and he confirmed to me that 11 persons were injured in the attack at the mosque.
“However, the police have commenced an investigation into the incident and we will update you as we work to unravel the culprits.

“For now, no arrest has been made but I can assure you that we will get those involved,” Edafe said.

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