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Damascus Blasts: At Least 60 Dead in Bombings Near Sayeda Zeinab Shrine

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  • As Boat Mishap Kills Four in Weekend Tragedy in Lagos

At least 60 people were killed, including 25 Shi’ite fighters, and dozens wounded on Sunday by a car bomb and two suicide bombers in a district of Damascus where Syria’s holiest Shi’ite shrine is located, a monitor said.

Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to Amaq, a news agency that supports the group. It said two operations “hit the most important stronghold of Shi’ite militias in Damascus”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the casualties were expected to rise from the suicide attacks in Sayeda Zeinaba, a district of southern Damascus where the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other Iraqi and Iranian militias have a strong presence.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the British-based Observatory, said the suicide bombers had targeted a military bus carrying Shi’ite militias who were changing guard there.

The explosions occurred as representatives of Syria’s government and its divided opposition began convening in Geneva for the first U.N.-mediated peace talks in two years.

Syrian Ambassador Ibrahim Jaafari, head of the government delegation at Geneva, said the blasts in Damascus just confirmed the link between what the government says are a Saudi-led and funded Islamist “opposition” and terrorism.

State television showed footage of burning buildings and wrecked cars in the neighborhood.

Syrian state news agency SANA, quoting an interior ministry source, said a group of militants had detonated a car bomb near a public transport garage in the neighborhood’s Koua Sudan area.

Two suicide bombers then blew themselves up nearby as people were being rescued. The authorities put the dead at 45 people.

“Bodies were still being pulled from the wreckage,” a witness told state news channel Ikhbariyah.

The heavily populated area in the south of the city is a site of pilgrimage for Shi’ites from Iran, Lebanon and other parts of the Muslim world.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaki was quoted as saying the attacks were prompted by “terror groups” who sought to “raise their morale after a string of defeats” by the army.

The United Nations has said it is aiming for six months of talks, first seeking a ceasefire and later working toward a political settlement for Syria. The nearly five-year conflict has killed more than 250,000 people, driven more than 10 million from their homes and drawn in global powers.

The Sayeda Zeinab shrine area witnessed heavy clashes in the first few years of the war but has since been secured by the Syrian army and Shi’ite militias led by Hezbollah, which has set up protective roadblocks around it.

The shrine houses the grave of the daughter of Ali ibn Abi Taleb, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed, whom Shi’ites consider the rightful successor to the prophet. The dispute over the succession led to the major Sunni-Shi’ite schism in Islam.

Iraqi and Iranian Shi’ite militia groups that have volunteered to fight Sunni Islamist radicals in Syria in a conflict that has heavy sectarian overtones often say they are coming to Syria to defend the shrine.

Rebels says the area is the first destination of thousands of Shi’ite militias drawn from Iran to Afghanistan alongside neighboring Iraq where they are based before heading to fight in battlefields across the country.

Shi’ite militias from the region led by Hezbollah have played a crucial role in covering the shortfall in manpower faced by Syrian President Assad’s overstretched army during nearly five years of conflict.

In the meantime, no fewer than four people have died following a boat accident in Lagos.

The boat capsized Friday after taking off at Ijede in Ikorodu on the way to Lekki, Lagos.

The incident occurred at Badore , according to the official of South-West Zone, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Ibrahim Farinloye.

Farinloye disclosed that 13 people survived the accident.

It would be recalled that five people had in September last year died when a boat carrying 20 people also capsized at Igbogbo area of Ikorodu.

NBC with additional report from Shipping day

Accidents

Tanker Tyre Explosion Sparks Chaos In Surulere

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Tanker Tyre Explosion Sparks Chaos In Surulere

 Pandemonium engulfed Ekololu, a community in the Surulere area of Lagos, on Monday night when the back tyres of a tanker transporting fuel to a Conoil filling station burst into flames near the station.

The News Correspondent who resides in the area reports that the explosion of the tyres and the ensuing billows of smoke made residents living near the filling station flee for safety.

Observations by the newsmen revealed that staff from the filling station hurried out with fire extinguishers to combat the fire, which erupted around 9:00 p.m., just a few meters from the station’s entrance.

Emergency responders, including Federal and State Fire Services, as well as the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), swiftly arrived at the scene following distress calls from the community.

The ill-fated tanker that caused the pandemonium

Upon arrival, the emergency teams assessed the unregistered truck carrying the petrol and raised concerns about safety measures while questioning the driver and filling station management.

They provided guidance and oversaw the safe discharge of the fuel using a long hose to transfer the petroleum product from the stranded tanker into the filling station’s reservoirs.

The Station Manager of the Conoil filling station, Mr Kunle Oniya, informed the emergency responders that the station possessed 20 fire extinguishers, which were promptly utilised to contain the fire and prevent its spread.

The incident led to a traffic gridlock, with vehicles unable to move in the area for nearly an hour.

Some residents shared their experiences of the ordeal with the newsmen.

A resident, Malam Shehu, recounted abandoning his dinner upon witnessing the fiery explosion.

He expressed gratitude that the fire was contained before causing further damage.

Another resident, known as Iya Abigail, described hearing people shouting while she was playing games, prompting her to flee in confusion wearing her nightclothes.

She prayed for continued safety in the community.

An elderly resident, who preferred anonymity, urged filling stations in the area to prioritise safety and the welfare of residents.

She noted that filling stations typically had insurance against fire and other disasters and suggested extending such coverage to vulnerable buildings in their host communities.

Recalling the chaotic events, she said that she heard the sound of an emergency whistle to alert the neighbourhood before hastily evacuating her home.

“I was watching TV and when the incident occurred, I had to blow the emergency whistle to alert the neighbourhood but I quickly dressed up before running out of the house,” she said. 

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Overspeeding Claims 7 Lives In Ibadan- Iseyin Road Crash- FRSC

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Overspeeding Claims 7 Lives In Ibadan- Iseyin Road Crash- FRSC

…As 15 people sustain varying degrees of injuries

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has confirmed the death of seven persons in a road accident that occurred on Ibadan-Iseyin road on Thursday.

The Public Relations Officer, FRSC, Oyo Sector Command, Mr Mayowa Odewo, said in a statement that the deceased were five male adults, one female adult and one female child.

Odewo said that 15 people also sustained varying degrees of injuries out of the 22 people involved in the crash.

He attributed the accident, involving a Nissan Urvan commercial bus, with registration number: SEY 254 ZY and a Mazda commercial bus, with registration number LGB 343 XA, to speed violations and fatigue.

Odewo stated that the 13 injured victims, including three male adults, nine female adults and one female child, had been taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

He said that four of the seven corpses of the victims had been claimed by their families, while the remaining three had been deposited at a morgue.

“The police from Motor Traffic Division (MTD) Police Division, Moniya, Ibadan, have taken possession of the two crashed vehicles, including bags and other valuables recovered from the scene,” he said.

The FRSC spokesperson noted that no victim was saved by the seat belt or other defensive gadgets.

He urged motorists to always obey traffic rules and regulations as well as adhere to all traffic cautions on the road to prevent avoidable crashes. 

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Man Dies After Falling Off Cruise Ship in Australia

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Man Dies After Falling Off Cruise Ship in Australia

Australian police had found a man’s body off Sydney’s coast while searching for a cruise ship passenger who went overboard on Monday.
The man fell overboard before dawn near Sydney Heads, about 18 kilometers from the shore, with police and other emergency services launching a search, New South Wales police said.

At about 10.30 a.m. (0030 GMT), officers located the body and retrieved it, police said.

Police would now prepare a report for the Coroner and have launched an investigation into how the incident unfolded.

P&O Cruises’ ship Pacific Adventure was due to arrive in Sydney Harbour on Monday.

“We thank guests for their care, understanding, and patience on what’s been a distressing day for guests and crew,’’
a statement from the company said, as quoted by local media.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the guest at this difficult time.’’

The ship was returning to Sydney from a three-day trip to Queensland’s Morton Island.

– dpa

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