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Japan quake : Russia & N. Korea also issue tsunami warnings

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A powerful earthquake has struck central Japan, destroying buildings, knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and prompting residents in some coastal areas to flee to higher ground.
The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 triggered waves of about 1 metre along Japan’s west coast and neighbouring South Korea on Monday, with authorities saying larger waves could follow.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued tsunami warnings for the prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama. A major tsunami warning – the first since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan – was initially issued for Ishikawa but later downgraded.

Russia and North Korea also issued tsunami warnings for some areas.

Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that the earthquake had caused several destroyed houses, and led to fires, and army personnel have been dispatched to help with rescue operations while authorities continue to assess the damage.

More strong quakes in the area, where seismic activity has been simmering for more than three years, could occur over coming days, JMA official Toshihiro Shimoyama said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters he had instructed search and rescue teams to do everything possible to rescue lives, even though access to quake-hit areas is difficult due to blocked roads.

Chris Gilbert, reporting from Tokyo, said authorities had located several people trapped.

“The government has identified at least 6-10 people trapped inside buildings and maybe much higher than that, considering the government is usually quite conservative about these numbers until their official,” Gilbert said.

Footage aired by NHK appeared to show buildings collapsing in Ishikawa, and tremors shook buildings in the capital Tokyo on the opposite coast.

More than 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, utilities provider Hokuriku Electric Power said.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said no irregularities have been confirmed at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan, including five active reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui prefecture.

Hokuriku’s Shika plant in Ishikawa, which was located the closest to the quake’s epicentre, had already halted its two reactors before the quake for regular inspection and saw no impact from the quake, the agency said.

South Korea’s meteorological agency said the sea level in some parts of the Gangwon province on the east coast may rise.

Japan is one of the countries in the world most at risk from earthquakes. A huge earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, killing nearly 20,000 people, devastating towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.

(Aljazeera)

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Heat forces shut down of Acropolis during afternoon hours

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The Acropolis in Athens will be closed during the afternoon today (14 June) for a second consecutive day, as Greece swelters under unseasonably high temperatures.

The Culture Ministry said the hilltop citadel, which is Greece’s most popular ancient site, would be closed from midday to 5 p.m. 

All other archaeological sites in the Greek capital will be closed during the same hours. 

Temperatures are expected to exceed 40 C (104 F) today in much of central and southern Greece, including greater Athens, the Cyclades islands and Crete.

The weather is expected to cool Friday and Saturday. 

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University Impact Rankings 2024

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The Times Higher Education (THE) announced the University Impact Rankings for 2024 yesterday (12 June), identifying and celebrating universities that excel across multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These institutions stand out by demonstrating comprehensive excellence in contributing to global sustainable development. They also showcase their commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, including environmental sustainability, social inclusion, economic growth and partnerships.

THE evaluated 2,152 universities from 125 countries/regions to produce the overall Impact Ranking for 2024.

Australia’s Western Sydney University tops the list for the third consecutive year. The UK’s University of Manchester and Australia’s University of Tasmania follow in joint second place. Denmark’s Aalborg University is in fourth. Overall, the top 10 includes five countries across three continents.

The top newcomer in 2024 is France’s Institut Agro at joint 21st.

India is the most-represented country in the overall table, with 96 institutions.

Meanwhile, the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka has been ranked in 4th place among the Sri Lankan Universities and ranked between 801-1000 among the world Universities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024.

The University scored high marks for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4: Quality Education. The University joined the ranking in 2023.

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Buenos Aires rocked by clashes

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Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires was rocked by clashes, and tear gas and water cannons were dispersed by the riot police to disperse protesters outside Congress on Wednesday (12 June).

This was as lawmakers prepared to give an initial approval to budget-slashing reforms in the country’s Senate.

Demonstrators feel the measures will hurt millions of Argentines.

Local media described the scene on Wednesday as a “battlefield”.

The reform package, proposed by right-wing President Javier Milei, is aimed towards reviving the country’s flagging economy. It includes declaring a state of economic emergency, cutting pensions and diluting labour rights.

The measures are opposed by leftist political parties, labour unions and social organisations.

The motion, which was initially tied 36-36 in the Senate, was preliminarily passed on Wednesday after the head of the chamber, Vice President Victoria Villarruel, broke the tie.

The 328-article bill will now be surveyed point by point before its expected full approval today (13 June).

It will then return to the lower house for the final go ahead.

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