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Thai PM in Japan vows no more flood chaos
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 7, 2012

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday pledged floods would never again disrupt business in the kingdom as she sought to reassure investors during a trip to Japan.

The Thai premier said she had ordered the establishment of schemes to help companies get back on their feet from the disaster that knocked businesses sideways last year.

"I have reaffirmed to the Japanese government and business leaders that the Royal Thai government is committed to ensuring that the devastation caused by such disasters will never happen again," she told reporters in Tokyo during a joint press conference with her Japanese opposite number.

"(The Thai government) has expedited assistance to affected factories in order to rehabilitate their operations as soon as possible," she said, adding it had created a fund to subsidise disaster insurance for businesses.

As many as one in 10 Japanese companies in Thailand said they were considering leaving the country in the wake of the flooding, which crimped supply chains and hammered profits.

The Thai government has since launched a charm offensive as it seeks to reassure investors that the kingdom remains a good place to do business.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thailand and Japan, which mark the 125th year of diplomatic relations this year, share the same basic values and remain strategic partners.

The two countries "agreed to enhance cooperative relations in the areas of space, railway and information computer technology development at a time that Thailand needs to build infrastructure following the floods", he said.

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, who met Yingluck earlier, proposed the sale to Thailand of Japan's observation satellite system to help the country monitor and forecast flood damage.

Thailand suffered a double-digit contraction in the final three months of 2011, the sharpest on record, as the worst floods in half a century pummelled the nation's industrial sector.

The months-long floods took a heavy toll on Thailand's industrial heartland north of Bangkok, with many factories forced to close temporarily.

Yingluck is due to meet Crown Prince Naruhito, who is standing in for Emperor Akihito after heart surgery, and visit Japan's tsunami-hit northeast on Thursday.

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Death toll rises to 72 in Madagascar storm
Antananarivo (AFP) March 7, 2012 - At least 72 people were killed and 78,000 left homeless in Madagascar in the wake of Tropical Storm Irina, the disaster management agency said Wednesday.

The storm struck on February 26, but spun off a series of storms which have drenched the Indian Ocean island over the last week.

The district of Ifanadiana, 400 kilometres (250 miles) southeast of the capital, was hardest hit with 47 dead, the National Office for Disaster and Catastrophe Management said.

The road leading to the district re-opened Wednesday, but aid teams were already in the area delivering emergency supplies and medicines.

Irina was the second killer storm of the season. Last month, tropical cyclone Giovanna left 35 people dead and many more injured.

Madagascar's storm season normally runs from November through February and costs dozens of lives every year.

Relief agencies help victims of Madagascar storm
Antananarivo (AFP) March 6, 2012 - Relief agencies and government officials started distributing emergency supplies Tuesday to Madagascan communities impacted by Tropical Storm Irina, which killed at least 65 people.

Prime Minister Jean Omer Berizky's office said the government had delivered 15 tonnes of white rice and several tonnes of beans to affected districts.

The United Nations World Food Programme and UNICEF said they had sufficient food to help people for several days.

Irina was the second killer storm of the season. Last month, tropical cyclone Giovanna left 35 people dead and many more injured.

Madagascar's storm season normally runs from November through February and costs dozens of lives every year.


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Fires brought 'under control' in Congo munitions depot: army
Kinshasa (AFP) March 6, 2012
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