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City ‘wobbles like jelly’ in powerful New Zealand quake

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AFP) - Christchurch residents said the walls of their homes “wobbled like jelly” when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked New Zealand’s second largest city early yesterday.
The force of the quake, one of the most powerful recorded in the country, tore jagged fissures in the ground and destroyed the facades of buildings, littering the city’s streets with bricks and shards of glass.
Markham McMullen, a school principal at Darfield, near the quake’s epicentre, said it felt like a train had hit his house, creating a jolt that threw him and his wife out of bed.

“It just kept coming, it went and on and on,” he said.
“It was absolutely terrifying. We grabbed our daughter, Sophie, from her room and crouched under a doorway. The TV was flying around the room... it was very scary.”
Old buildings were the worst affected, with entire facades of brick structures collapsing onto the street, crushing cars under tonnes of debris and leaving kitchens and living rooms exposed, many eerily untouched by the surrounding chaos.

At Castle Rock, a rugged outcrop just outside the city, the earthquake sent boulders bigger than cars tumbling down the hillside. Only two people were seriously injured, but Civil Defence officials said the toll would have been much worse had the quake hit in daylight, when there would have been thousands of people on the streets.
“We’ve been extremely lucky as a nation that there’s been no fatalities ... we’re blessed actually,” Civil Defence Minister John Carter said. Hotelier Richard Hawes said he thought he was going to die as his 130-year-old building shook.

“(It) wobbled like a jelly,” he said.
Aftershocks continued to rattle the city of around 340,000 throughout Saturday, as dazed residents assessed the damage.
Police pleas for people to stay away from the city centre were ignored, with thousands of sightseers flocking to the worst-hit areas, many recording the moment on their mobile phones.
Children played in chasms in the road created when the surface buckled and warped as the ground shifted beneath it.

In some seaside suburbs, where roads had earlier been jammed as locals fearing a tsunami attempted to flee, ruptured pipes spewed out raw sewage.
Some residents wore facemasks to protect themselves from the smell, while others gathered river water in buckets for their flushing toilets.
“Honestly, the scale of it is quite astonishing,” Frances Adank, who lives in the suburb of St Albans, told Radio New Zealand.
“The city council I think is going to be working for days to get the water mains sorted out... There’s just water pouring out of every front section.”

In the same suburb, Marsha Witehira said she had a narrow escape when a friend pulled her from her bed moments before the wall of her house collapsed on top of it.
“He saved my life, no doubt about it... if I had been there, I would have smashed my head,” she told the Christchurch Press newspaper.

Pilots killed as cargo plane crashes in Dubai

DUBAI (AFP) - A cargo plane owned by US courier United Parcel Service caught fire shortly after take-off and crashed in a military base on the outskirts of Dubai, killing both crew members, civil aviation authorities said.
An AFP journalist saw plumes of smoke rising from inside the military base where the Boeing 747-400 came down, reportedly after it caught fire and the pilots tried to crash-land the jumbo jet, one of the world’s largest aircraft.
An Emirati official said the accident “has not affected air traffic in Dubai or road transport,” and that there were no casualties on the ground.
The plane, carrying mostly children’s toys and plastic products, crashed inside the base, which only ambulances and rescue vehicles were allowed to enter, according to a civil defence official and an AFP journalist.
The pilot and co-pilot were found dead” in the debris, the official United Arab Emirates WAM news agency reported.
A statement by UPS, the world’s largest courier service, said the plane was flying with a crew of two.

Sonia Gandhi wins place in history books

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Sonia Gandhi was elected on Friday for a record fourth term as president of India’s ruling Congress party, cementing her role as the country’s political power broker.
Gandhi, widow of assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and seen as India’s most powerful politician, was elected unopposed for the top Congress job to wild cheers from party supporters who set off crackers in celebration.

“It’s a great responsibility and I thank all Congress workers. Whether we are in power or not we should always work for the oppressed,” she said in a speech after her win, which made her the longest-serving party chief.
Gandhi holds great sway within the Congress party. She is credited with shaping its welfare policies and is regarded as a champion of the poor as India undergoes rapid economic growth.
“She is a socialist at heart,” Indian political commentator Parsa Venkateshwar Rao told AFP.
Gandhi also crafted the strategies which gave Congress back-to-back general election victories, ending years in the political wilderness.

Gandhi, 63, whose dark brown hair only now shows streaks of grey, took over the party’s reins when it faced “drift and despondency,” said one party leader.
She arrived in India as the shy bride of Rajiv Gandhi in her early 20s, and was transformed into a sari-clad Indian who now speaks fluent Hindi.

Her years in the Gandhi household, when her strong-willed autocratic mother-in-law Indira -- slain in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards -- was premier, gave her an intimate insight into India’s turbulent politics.
She took charge of the Congress party as its president in 1998, becoming the fifth member of the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to serve as its chief.
Congress’s fortunes were on the slide when party workers implored Sonia Gandhi to take the helm.
“Her great strength is that she kept the party intact,” said Rao.
Gandhi -- who has described herself as “a reluctant politician” -- rebuilt the party, leading it to victory in the 2004 general elections.

“There was a lot of trial and error but she learnt from her mistakes and it paid off,” Rasheed Kidwai, author of a biography of Sonia Gandhi, told AFP.
Gandhi handed the prime minister’s job to the current incumbent Manmohan Singh, worried about a political backlash against her because of her foreign origins.
She now is widely thought to be preparing the way for her son Rahul, 40, to become the country’s next leader, replacing 77-year-old Singh.

Rahul, who took a key role in last year’s election campaign, has been seeking to build a reputation as a democratic reformer and, like his mother, a defender of the poor.
The opposition often mocked Sonia Gandhi over her foreign birth, calling her a “foreign doll”.
But Gandhi, who is an Indian citizen, has said while her foreign origins might rile some, in the country’s rural heartland -- especially among the poor -- she is not an outsider.
“I never felt they look at me as a foreigner,” she said. “Because I am not, I am an Indian.”

Is Australian politics a man’s, man’s world?

SYDNEY (AFP) - Feminists rejoiced when Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female leader, but her failure to win national polls has raised questions about whether the country is ready to have a woman in charge.
Australians delivered a hung parliament in August 21 polls, with neither centre-left Labour Prime Minister Gillard nor her conservative opponent Tony Abbott galvanising enough support to form a government.
Leading feminist Eva Cox believes that while some voters have supported 48-year-old Gillard simply because she was a woman, others probably voted against her for the same reason.

“We are still not comfortable when we have a woman in a top position -- even if it’s not a big issue,” she said.
During a campaign littered with references to Gillard’s hairstyles and childlessness, the former lawyer played down her sex, presenting herself as a leader who just happened to be a woman.
“All the stuff around the hair and the boyfriend... I just think there was a level of discomfort,” Cox said in reference to Gillard’s ever-changing red hair and her live-in partner, hairdresser Tim Mathieson.
“The fact that it was discussed so much suggests that we are not very good at dealing with the fact that we’ve got powerful women around.”

Melbourne University’s Lauren Rosewarne said the country’s worst political crisis in decades could not be blamed on Gillard’s gender because “voters had other things to worry about”
But the Welsh-born Gillard’s lightning rise to power, in which she challenged her former boss Rudd for the leadership as he slumped in the polls, had left an impression on the electorate.
“Her whole coming-to-power was very much driven by a gendered narrative,” said public policy expert Rosewarne.

US condemns ‘reprehensible’ Pakistan bombings

Envoy predicts major increase in death toll from floods

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US strongly condemned a wave of deadly militant attacks against religious minorities in Pakistan.
“To target innocent civilians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at an already difficult time as the country is working hard to recover from terrible flooding caused by monsoons makes these acts even more reprehensible,” the White House said.

“In line with the deepening partnership between our two nations, the US government continues to assist and work closely with the government of Pakistan in its efforts to rebuild and recover, and we will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan as they face these challenging times,” the White House said.
At least 53 people were killed and 197 wounded on Friday in a suicide bombing targeting a rally in the southwestern city of Quetta, police said. Earlier, at least one man was killed and four wounded Friday when a suicide bomber blew himself up after being apprehended by police outside a mosque of the Ahmadi sect in the city of Mardan in northwest Pakistan, police said.

Pakistan is already struggling to deal with massive flooding that has killed nearly 1,800 people and left an estimated eight million people reliant on aid handouts to survive.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN predicted a major increase in the death toll from the floods. The official death toll is now 1,760.
Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said many more were known to have died and that more were dying each day.

Haroon, grandson of one of Pakistan’s independence leaders, spoke at UN headquarters in New York, in an unusual joint appearance with Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
The ambassador said the toll had not changed recently because “the government has stopped counting. We don’t know how many are just lying there”.
He described the current toll as the “the tip of the iceberg. The worst is yet to come. People are still drinking the water and scrounging for food”.


David Miliband ‘would move party forward’

london: Britain’s shadow foreign secretary David Miliband has told Labour members he would move the party on from the Blair-Brown era if his leadership bid was successful.
In an email to party members, he insisted he was “ready to lead” and would “change the way we do politics”.
Miliband said that although he respected both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, “their time has passed”
Blair’s memoirs published this week have reopened old wounds about the Blair-Brown feud during Labour’s years in government.
In ‘A Journey’, Blair issued a stark warning to the party not to drift to the left and said he believed Labour lost the general election in May because it “stopped being New Labour” under Brown’s leadership.
Although he made no endorsement in his memoirs of any of the leadership candidates Blair’s comments will be seen as a mark of support for front-runner Miliband over his brother Ed.
But with ballot papers being delivered to party members Miliband said: “I’m sick and tired of the caricature that this leadership election is a choice between rejecting or retaining New Labour. It does a disservice to all of the candidates and, even worse, a disservice to the thousands of members who’ve been participating in this contest over the last few months and working hard for years.”
He said the leadership election was about “pulling together all the talents of our party” rather than “tired old Westminster games”.
“I want to change the way we do politics. Because I want to lead a government not a gang, a movement not a machine, where honest debate can be a source of strength, not a sign of weakness,” he said.


Quotes of the week

Some of the best quotes of the week from around the world:


“I can’t regret the decision to go to war.”
Britain’s ex-prime minister Tony Blair, writing in his memoirs of the 2003 decision to go to war with Iraq.


“The problem with this war for many Americans is that the premise on which we justified going to war proved not to be valid.
“Even if the outcome is a good one from the standpoint of the United States, it will always be clouded by how it began.”
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, asked whether the invasion of Iraq was worth it


“Islam should become the religion of all of Europe.”
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi quoted in the Italian press as telling 500 young women paid to attend a lecture that he delivered in Rome.


“Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the State.”
Russia’s Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin argues that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services in Russia where alcohol and cigarette consumption are already extremely high.


“It’s important not to build false hopes and its also important to be honest with our patients -- in this case with the miners,” NASA’s deputy chief medical officer James Duncan, called in for advice on dealing with 33 trapped Chilean miners


“There are many devils that die in the wild that don’t have a name.”
Dr Alex Kreiss of the Menzies Research Institute in Australia mourns the death of Cedric, a Tasmanian devil once thought to have been immune to a devastating cancer which is threatening to wipe out the species.


“Now is the time for leaders of courage and vision to deliver the peace that their people deserve”.
President Barack Obama before direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington.


US lauds Japan for new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US praised Japan for imposing new sanctions on Iran that include an asset freeze and tighter restrictions on financial transactions, part of a global response to Tehran’s contested nuclear programme.
“The US welcomes the announcement by Japan of new sanctions on Iran that implement UN Security Council 1929,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a joint statement.
“They mark a significant step forward in the international community’s efforts to combat proliferation and prevent Iran’ development of nuclear weapons.
“Japan joins other responsible nations that have also implemented such sanctions on Iran for its failure to meet its international obligations, including the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway.”
The steps come a month after Tokyo approved punitive measures in line with a June UN Security Council resolution which slapped a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment work.
Japan’s new sanctions include a freeze on the assets of 88 companies, banks, state agencies and other entities and of 24 people linked to Iran’s nuclear program, which many nations fear masks a drive for atomic weapons.
Japan also said it would suspend any new oil and gas investments in Iran, but there are no plans to restrict imports of crude oil from the Islamic republic, the fourth-biggest oil supplier to resource-poor Japan.
Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Iraq still far from sovereign, despite US pullout

BAGHDAD (AFP) - With the US combat mission officially at an end Iraq is a step closer to independence, but contrary to what its leaders proclaim the country is still far from sovereign, analysts say.
Seven years of occupation and two decades of UN sanctions that followed Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait have so disabled this once regional powerhouse that it is still in great need of the United States, they say.
“Iraq has for years been trying to recover its sovereignty,” said Hamid Fadel, who teaches political science at Baghdad University.

“The gradual withdrawal of the US army can be a step in this direction, but many obstacles remain in between,” he said. US forces ended their combat mission in Iraq this week, drawing down troop numbers that surged to almost 170,000 following the 2003 US-led invasion to less than 50,000 at present, prior to a complete withdrawal at the end of 2011.
“This is a day that will remain in the memory of all Iraqis. Today, Iraq has become a sovereign and independent country,” Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said in a televised speech.
But for Fadel, the supposed sovereignty of Iraq is also contradicted by the “preponderant” US role in the country, particularly on security issues, and UN sanctions which give the New York-based institution considerable power here.

“Baghdad is still under Chapter 7 of the UN charter,” he said, which means that 20 years after the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq is still the target of drastic sanctions of the Security Council.
Chief among them is the requirement to pay five percent of oil revenues into a UN special fund which handles war reparations, and to which Iraq has paid 30 billion dollars so far.
“Iraq still needs the American umbrella. It is unable to protect itself from external attacks,” Fadel added.
For Ihsan Al Shammari, a political economist at Baghdad University, it is difficult to speak about Iraqi independence when 49,700 troops remain stationed in his country.

“The withdrawal was a commitment that (US President Barack) Obama intended to keep, and it was symbolic,” he said.
“When he announced the end of combat missions on Tuesday evening at the White House it felt like the speech was intended for Americans, not Iraqis,” al-Shammari added.

Hopes of an elusive Middle East peace

By Thanapathi
Middle East peace talks got underway last week in Washington between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raising hopes again for a negotiated settlement for a conflict that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in the last six decades since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. President Barak Obama hosted the leaders in Washington in what is seen as his first major move to bring about a settlement to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Later Secretary of State Hilary Clinton chaired a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas signalling the beginning of the first round of high level negotiations since the Gaza conflict in late 2008.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the opening session of talks said that his country is prepared to make “dramatic compromises” to strike a lasting peace with the Palestinians, but insisted recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and security guarantees must be part of any final agreement.
“The people of Israel and I, as their Prime Minister, are prepared to walk this road and to go a long way in a short time to achieve a genuine peace,” said Netanyahu, whose embracing of the process and willingness to accept an independent Palestine has made the prospect of a deal within a year a viable possibility.

Netanyahu’s appeal for Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state marked the opening play in negotiations that are expected to be protracted and contentious. Considered as a hardline hawk, Netanyahu has come a long way from his previous stance of refusing to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to his current position of not only assuring that there would not be new settlements built in the disputed lands but also agreeing to a two state solution where a future independent Palestine would exist alongside Israel. However, the borders of such a state would be far more difficult to agree upon.
The Palestinians consider the entirety of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as it was before the 1967 Arab Israel war, as the legitimate borders of a future state.
However there has been significant encroachment into this territory by Israel since it began its occupation in 1967.

Currently, more than half a million Jewish settlers live in these lands which are considered as occupied territories by the UN and land which is not even recognised by the US, Israel’s closest ally as part of the Jewish state.
With the settlements that have already taken place in the West Bank Palestinians are now offered only 20 percent of the land that was originally demarcated by the UN in 1948 for a Palestinian State.
Israeli decision to halt further expansions in the West Bank has much to do with the pressure excreted by the Obama administration.

For over a year Washington has been using its influence to convince Israel to cease all settlement activities. These actions had strained relations between the two countries.
In March this year, US Vice-President Joe Biden was embarrassed while visiting Israel when the country’s home minister announced the building of 1600 houses in the West Bank.
The snub brought about a furious reaction from President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.
Yet the harder line taken on Israel may have paid off, at least for the moment to bring theNetanyahu government to the negotiation table.

The Obama administration favours a broad Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank as part of a statehood deal and implies US support for east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. But there are deep doubts in Israel that a treaty sharply reducing its territory would enhance the country’s security.
Been there done that
Numerous Peace processes between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians has been under way for nearly two decades with varying degrees of success.
The last significant breakthrough was made during President Bill Clinton’s time when the two sides signed a historic deal in 1993.
However that process fell apart when both sides blamed each other for not honouring the conditions of the agreement.

Later, President George W Bush made a mediocre attempt to get the negotiations on track by coming up with what his administration called a Middle East Road Map for peace. Days before President Obama took office Israel attacked the Gaza Strip, a narrow stretch of Palestinian territory separated from the West Bank, to purge what it called terrorists who were firing rockets into to Israel. Peace talks have been stalled ever since, until the high level talks this week. The latest peace initiative comes at a time when President Obama has been severely criticised for the lack of progress in the Middle East. Though nearly one and a half years have passed since assuming office, President Barack Obama had almost nothing to show as far as progress in this crucial region was concerned. However that position changed significantly this week.
It was a week that saw not only the leaders of Israel and Palatine gathering in Washington for direct talks but also the fulfilment of the promise to withdraw combat troops from Iraq.

Can the US be an honest broker?
The outcome of this latest round of talks will depend on whether or not the US can be an honest peace broker between the parties to the conflict.
It is no secret that the US remains the strongest and most vital ally of Israel.
Its unwavering support of the Jewish nation has ensured its existence in a hostile geopolitical environment for decades.
However, the US remains the only nation which has the clout and resources to bring the Arabs and Israeli’s together at a negotiation table.

Unlike the George W Bush administration, the current regime in Washington has not given Israel a free hand in determining its course of action in the region. By being firm with its ally, particularly regarding the settlement issue, the US has demonstrated that it has the ability to win some confidence among the Arabs.
With a strong domestic Jewish lobby in the US, it is a risky path for any administration in Washington to project itself as tough on Israel.
However, such a course of action would provide the best chance of achieving a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis which has eluded both nations for the last 60 years.

Low-tech, low-cost solutions connecting farmers

NAITALE, India, (AFP) - Sanjay Sathe stood by his vines in a sweeping agricultural belt outside the city of Nashik in western India and punched a number into his mobile phone.
“Hello, it’s Sanjay Sathe,”” the 36-year-old grape and tomato farmer announced in the local language, Marathi, as if talking to a friend. “Is it going to rain tomorrow?”
The voice at the other end of the line told him there would be 25 millimetres of rain and temperatures would be a cool 24 degrees (75 Fahrenheit).

He was also told how best to treat a furry white substance he had noticed on some of his leaves.
Farmers like Sathe are increasingly being seen as key customers in India’s competitive mobile phone market, as the number of subscribers across the country grows at staggering rates.
Between 16 and 20 million new subscribers are signing up every month and in the last year alone, the number of mobile customers soared 49 percent to 617.5 million.
Some estimates suggest that India will have more than 1.1 billion phone subscriptions in the next two years -- some people already have more than one -- with about a quarter of them in rural areas as the decade draws to a close.

But while people in big cities anticipate the imminent arrival of third-generation phones with high-speed Internet access, low-cost solutions for low-tech devices are set to remain the main focus for sales in rural India.
“Mobile phone firms are looking out for products suitable for particular areas,” said Amit Ahire, a telecoms research analyst at Ambit Capital in Mumbai.
“The key market is still voice. It will probably take some time for data penetration,” he told AFP.
Sathe, one of an estimated 400 million small farmers in India, is a case in point.
He uses a basic pay-as-you-go mobile phone in a plastic protective rain cover that only allows him to send and receive text messages and make voice calls.

On it, he receives an automated voice call five times a day, detailing local weather reports and market prices for his produce. The SIM card cost him just 16 rupees (35 US cents).
The service -- specifically set up for farmers like him by India’s leading mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel -- also gives him access to a helpline at 60 paises (one US cent) per minute to get specialist advice from experts.
Airtel is also running a pilot project in Maharashtra to test the use of farm sprinkler systems that can be activated via mobile phone.


Flight grounded over ‘bomb threat’

TAIPEI (AFP) - A China Airlines flight bound for Sydney was grounded for safety checks because of a bomb hoax, airport police said yesterday.
Flight CI051 carrying 285 passengers departed early yesterday after a nearly three-hour delay for a search. No explosives were found on the plane, said the Aviation Police Office at Taoyuan international airport in northern Taiwan.
In May, a China Airlines flight bound for Shanghai was forced to divert to the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou after a passenger falsely claimed he was carrying explosives in his luggage.

Boy mauled by sea lion at zoo

SYDNEY (AFP) - An 11-year-old Australian boy was recovering in hospital yesterday after reportedly being left with a “dirty great hole in his belly” after being mauled by a sea lion during a show at a Sydney zoo.
Jack Lister may have scared the flippered animal when he moved behind it after being chosen from the audience to get up close to the creatures in the performance in front of hundreds of people, a spokesman for Taronga zoo said.
“Jack had stood back to walk away and the (sea lion) just turned around then lunged at him,” stepmother Dalitta Wright told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
“Jack pulled himself away and it then lunged for his back.
“It all happened so quickly... I heard the scream come from him... and started running towards him. It was quite traumatic.”
Crackdown on rebels stepped up

BOGOTA (AFP) - President Juan Manuel Santos vowed to step up a military crackdown on leftist rebels after they killed 14 police officers and three soldiers since he took office on August 7.
“The order I’ve given military and police commanders is to get tough, get tough, get tough!” Santos said after a cabinet meeting.
“We can’t let our guard down. We must confront terrorism with everything we’ve got,” he added, vowing to continue the crackdown on insurgents his predecessor Alvaro Uribe launched in 2002 and which he spearheaded as Uribe’s defense minister from 2006-2009.

Japan towns declare war on monkeys

TOKYO (AFP) - Two Japanese towns have declared war on a band of marauding monkeys that have attacked more than 60 people in the forested foothills of Mount Fuji, local officials said.
Alarmed by an unusual spate of biting and scratching attacks, Mishima and Susono have deployed hundreds of volunteers, city staff, police, rescue workers and animal researchers to ward off and catch the animals.
At least 62 people have suffered minor injuries since August 22 in the two towns in Shizuoka prefecture west of Tokyo, and the cities are now considering using tranquilizer guns against the animals, an official said.

Engine blast ‘like fireworks’

SYDNEY(AFP) - Passengers on a Sydney-bound Qantas jet rocked by an exploding engine described how the plane felt like it had hit a “speed bump” and showered flames and sparks like fireworks.
The Qantas Boeing 747-400 had to turn back to San Francisco about half an hour into Monday’s flight after an engine failed, blasting a large hole in its casing.
Passengers among the 212 on board finally arrived in Sydney on Thursday, and told of their alarm when the engine gave way with a “loud thump”, sending rumbles through the aircraft.
“It was like the plane hit a speed bump,” one man told an ABC TV reporter at Sydney Airport.
“The plane shuddered violently and passengers were quite concerned about what had happened,” added another.
Delhi uses fish to combat dengue scare

NEW DELHI (AFP) - On top of construction chaos and corruption concerns, organisers of the Delhi Commonwealth Games are now grappling with a mosquito crisis at sporting venues and are even employing larvae-eating fish.
“We are taking all possible precautions against mosquitoes,” a senior official from the Delhi event’s organising committee said. “But we are concerned.”
Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia said she had ordered municipal authorities to spray anti-mosquito repellant “in and around” all the Games venues.
Media reports said organisers were also releasing larvae-eating fish in a pond built in the Games Village to protect participants from dengue, a viral infection transmitted to humans by female Aedes mosquitoes.
“We have introduced Gambusia fish in the water body near the training venue,” he said. A species of the Gambusia is known as the “mosquitofish” as it consumes the insect’s larvae.