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Mississippi tornado kills 26 and brings devastation to US state

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Search and rescue efforts are continuing in Mississippi after a deadly tornado hit the US state.

At least 25 people have died in the state, and one in Alabama, with dozens more left injured by Friday’s tornado.

The storms devastated several rural towns, with Rolling Fork in western Sharkey County almost completely wiped out.

Mississippi state governor Tate Reeves has declared a state of emergency to help respond to the damage.

US President Joe Biden also described the images coming out of Mississippi as “heartbreaking”, and said the federal government would “do everything we can to help”.

“We will be there as long as it takes. We will work together to deliver the support you need to recover,” he said in a statement.

More storms are predicted to hit parts of Alabama and Georgia early on Sunday and potentially bring large hail.

The storm system which ripped through Mississippi produced a tornado that has caused catastrophic damage to communities across the state. The biggest twister obliterated dozens of buildings in several small towns, flipping cars on their sides and toppling power lines.

The small town of Rolling Fork, located in Sharkey County in western Mississippi, has essentially been wiped out, according to its mayor.

“My city is gone,” Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN. “But we’re resilient and we’re going to come back.”

He added that lots of families in his community were “affected and hurting”, and all he could see was “devastation”.

Rolling Fork residents said windows were blown out of the back of their homes.

Local resident Brandy Showah told CNN: “I’ve never seen anything like this… This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.”

Drone footage of Rolling Fork, shared with the BBC, shows the devastation inflicted on the town. Trucks and trees are shown piled on top of buildings, with detritus scattered over large areas.

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Colombo air show and CADE 2024 exhibition postponed to next year

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The Colombo Air Show and Defence Exhibition (CADE 2024), initially set to take place from May 29 to June 2 at Galle Face and Colombo Port City, has been postponed to next year, according to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

The SLAF stated that the decision to reschedule the event was made in response to multiple requests from international partners, defence industry stakeholders, and foreign Air Forces. This postponement aims to enhance participation and provide a more diverse experience for spectators.

The rescheduled event will now be held from February 26 to March 2, 2025, coinciding with the 74th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

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 Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrives in Sri Lanka

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The Global Peace Ambassador and Spiritual Leader Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrived in Sri Lanka this afternoon (18) for a three-day visit. He was welcomed at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake by State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and Eastern Province Governor Senthil Thondaman.

During his stay from May 18 to 20, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will participate in an event titled ‘Ekamuthuva: An Evening of Music, Meditation and Wisdom,’ which will be held at Taj Samudra on May 19. Renowned for his global humanitarian efforts and as a peace envoy, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is also an Indian yoga guru and the founder of ‘Transcendental Meditation’.

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President leaves for Indonesia

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has left for Indonesia this morning (18) to attend the 10th World Water Forum High-Level Meeting in Bali, at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The 10th World Water Forum is being held from May 18th to 20th in Bali, Indonesia.

This significant gathering, themed “Water for Shared Prosperity,” will convene global leaders to address pressing issues related to water management and sustainability.

President Wickremesinghe left for Indonesia on Saturday, following an invitation from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, underscoring Sri Lanka’s commitment to international cooperation on water-related challenges.

Scheduled to deliver a keynote address on May 20th, President Wickremesinghe will articulate Sri Lanka’s perspective on achieving equitable access to water resources for all, the President’s Media Division said.

During the forum, President Wickremesinghe is expected to engage in bilateral discussions, including a meeting with President Widodo, to explore avenues for collaborative action in water resource management.

His delegation, comprising senior officials from the Presidential Secretariat and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reflects Sri Lanka’s comprehensive approach to addressing global water issues.

President Wickremesinghe’s participation underscores Sri Lanka’s proactive role in advancing sustainable solutions to ensure water security, not only domestically but also on the global stage, the PMD said.

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