Several rockets landed near the embassy of the United States in Iraq's capital early on Sunday, US and Iraqi military officials said, in the latest of a series of attacks against US assets in the country. The rockets struck an Iraqi base hosting US troops and other coalition forces in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, an area that is home to foreign embassies and government offices. According to Colonel Myles B Caggins III, a spokesman for the US military operation in Iraq, the attack - which took place just before 3:30am (00:30 GMT) - caused no casualties and only minor damage. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Iraq's military said three Katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone, while a fourth hit a different neighbourhood, striking a logistics base operated by the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, a military network officially incorporated into the Iraqi state.
February 17, 2020 07:18 UTC
The new figures bring the COVID-19 global death toll to 1,770, with the number of deaths in Hubei province at 1,696. The Hubei health commission said the total number of cases in the province had reached 58,182 by the end of Sunday. The number of new cases rose nearly 5 per cent from the previous day, but the number of deaths fell from 139 on Saturday. Nearly 90 per cent of the new cases were in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. Wuhan has accounted for 71 per cent of the province's total cases and 77 per cent of deaths.
February 17, 2020 06:56 UTC
A 36-year-old man who was injured in a shooting incident was taken to Balapitiya Hospital this morning, Police said. The injured man, identified as Sunil Kumara (36) is employed as a driver in Qatar and had only returned to Sri Lanka on January 18, according to his relatives. According to the Police, The incident had taken place at around 7am today. Two unidentified gunmen, who came to the house has shot the person and had fled the scene. Investigations are currently underway to arrest the suspect.
February 17, 2020 06:49 UTC
Lycuem International School of Wattala continued their dominance on the second day of the International Schools athletic championship as they topped the medals tally at the Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday. The school from Wattala won 27 golds, 18 silver and 20 bronze medals while Gateway College secured second place with 17 gold, 17 silver and 16 bronze. Lyceum Nugegoda was placed third with six gold, ten silver and 9 bronze medals. Meanwhile, Pasindu Gunawardena and Binitha Chandrasena of Gateway College, Colombo, established new meet records in the U-18 200M (21.80Sec) and U-20 High Jump (2.01m) respectively. Sandun Kumara of Lyceum International School, Wattala, also established a New Meet Record (15.44m) in the boys U-20 Triple Jump.
February 15, 2020 20:03 UTC
The short term plans proposed by the four-member Tourism Development Task Force appointed by Minister of Industrial Exports, Investment Promotion Tourism and Aviation, Prasanna Ranatunga, recently, will be included in the 2020 Budget, official sources told Sunday Observer Business on Friday. The Task Force will submit its Interim Report to the Government at the end of February, they said. The four-member Task Force comprises: Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Secretary Marina Mohamed (Head of the Task Force) and Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Exports and Investment Promotion M.P. Mapa Pathirana, Chairperson of the four tourism agencies, viz the Tourism Development Authority, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and the Sri Lanka Institute of Hotel Management Kimarli Fernando, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd. (Retired) General G.A. This follows President Gotabaya Rajapaksa directing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga to appoint a task force to formulate a Tourism Development Plan on January 13 for reaching a target of seven million tourist arrivals and a revenue of US $ 10 million per annum by 2025.
Emirates is offering two nights of free hotel stay in Dubai, with no strings attached, for those travelling via the airline’s home base en route to Europe, the Americas and Africa. The offer is valid on all new bookings made before February 24 on Economy, Business or First Class, for travel with Emirates beyond Dubai between February 20 and March 31. Emirates said that bookings made during this period would also be eligible for a complimentary 96-hour visa, subject to UAE Immigration approval. For Economy passengers, the offer includes two complimentary nights’ stay at a Rove hotel or equivalent on room-only basis, subject to availability. First and Business Class passengers would also be able to avail of Emirates’ chauffeur drive facility for airport transfers for a seamless travel experience in Dubai.
SriLankan Airlines is evaluating the situation with regard to the coronavirus outbreak in China and the load factor in deciding the number of frequencies to the top travel destination, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage told Sunday Observer Business on Friday. Airlines slashed the number of frequencies to China and the region due to the drop in passenger demand following travel restrictions imposed by China on its citizens. Four Chinese airlines operate flights between Colombo and several Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Canton. Sri Lanka Tourism anticipates a major drop in the number of arrivals from China in the first half of this year. Around 150 million Chinese nationals had travelled overseas and around 330,000 to Sri Lanka in 2018 according to data.
The Bank of Ceylon (BOC) teamed up with Mobitel, to deliver convenience to Mobitel customers in making digital payments through the QR (quick response) code based payment solution, SmartPay. The BOC SmartPay app can be downloaded free for android and IOS mobile users. Customer can self-register (Self on boarding) and activate SmartPay App by adding their own current or savings accounts as this payment app follows a simplified and secured registration process. SmartPay app uses national QR code, ‘Lanka QR’ which is interoperable with other Bank’s mobile payment apps as long as they are Lanka QR certified. The Smartpay app is embedded with high level security features.
Prashanth Fertility Research Centre (PFRC) opened its doors in 2001. Since its inception, PFRC has become a leader in Reproductive Medicine and Assisted Reproductive Technologies in India, a spokesman for the Centre said. Patients come from all over the world - especially from Sri Lanka - to PFRC and undergo IVF treatment under the guidance of Dr. Geetha Haripriya. She is Chairperson, Prashanth Multispeciality Hospital, and Medical Director, Prashanth Fertility Research Centre. She has vast experience as an Infertility Specialist and has delivered more than 40,000 babies from assisted reproductive techniques.
February 15, 2020 19:52 UTC
Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) represented by the Planters’ Association of Ceylon have turned down the request of workers through plantation trade unions to increase the daily wage to Rs. Plantation companies have been reiterating the need to shift away from the age-old attendance based wage model to a productivity based, self-managed wage model which will enable workers to earn more and plantation companies sustain operations in a competitive market. RPCs had proposed the ‘Revenue Sharing Wage Model’ several years ago to replace the old wage based model which is not sustainable for the industry which is facing stiff competition in the global market. Therefore, the RPCs have proposed an interim model of productivity based, self-managed, wage model for the RPC plantation sector. To this end, having an enabling environment for plantation companies and workers is of paramount importance.
February 15, 2020 19:52 UTC
WhatsApp has amassed two billion users, up from 1.5 billion by the end of 2017, the company announced on Wednesday. The deal was valued at $19 billion, the largest acquisition by the social media giant to date. Despite its size, WhatsApp's growth remains robust: It has gained 500 million new customers over the past two years. WhatsApp touts its end-to-end encryption technology, which ensures that all contents in chats are secured by default. Not even WhatsApp can read messages or listen to calls that take place among the participants of conversations, according to WhatsApp's blog posts.
February 14, 2020 07:07 UTC
The 33 students who returned from Wuhan city who were quarantined at the Diyatalawa Army Base, have departed to meet Commander of Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva at the Army Headquarters in Akuregoda. And they are scheduled to return to their homes this evening, said the Sri Lanka Army.
February 14, 2020 06:33 UTC
The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic rose to 1,483 on Friday but the number of new infections in hard-hit Hubei province fell after a change in case definitions caused a massive increase the previous day. The central province's health commission reported 116 more deaths and 4,823 new cases, the majority involving "clinically diagnosed" patients. The province, the epicentre of the outbreak, had 242 more deaths and over 14,800 new cases on Thursday (Feb 13). Health officials in Hubei said they started to count clinically diagnosed cases to ensure that patients get treated as early as possible instead of having to wait for laboratory tests to confirm they have the covid-19 disease. But the change raised concerns that the crisis may be more serious than Chinese authorities have reported.
February 14, 2020 00:11 UTC
A 112-year-old Japanese who has been recognized as the world’s oldest living man cited “laughter” Wednesday as the secret to his longevity. Watanabe was recognized as the oldest living man after the previous holder of the title, Masazo Nonaka, who live in Hokkaido, died Jan. 20, 2019, aged 113. Born to a family of farmers in Joetsu, Watanabe moved to Taiwan at the age of 20 and spent 18 years there. He returned to Japan after World War II and worked as a civil servant in his hometown until his retirement. Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old Japanese resident of Fukuoka Prefecture, is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person following the death in July 2018 of another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako from Kanagawa Prefecture, at 117.
February 13, 2020 10:18 UTC
Health officials in China's hard-hit central province of Hubei reported that 242 more people died from the coronavirus COVID-19 on Wednesday - the highest in a single day and more than twice the previous record high - pushing the death toll across the country to 1,355. The province's health commission also reported a huge jump in new cases, saying a further 14,840 people had been confirmed with the infection over the 24-hour period to midnight on Wednesday (16:00 GMT). As this developed, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday that the head of the Communist party in the province of Hubei has been relieved of his post. Hubei is at the centre of the outbreak, which is thought to have originated in a now-closed seafood market in the capital of Wuhan late last year. Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the report said, citing the party's central committee.
February 13, 2020 06:11 UTC