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Race to rescue turtles entangled in plastic on Bangladesh beach | News

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At least 20 turtles have been found dead as dozens more were rescued after getting entangled in plastic waste washed ashore on one of the world’s longest beaches in Bangladesh, officials and conservationists said.

Locals said waves of waste – mostly plastic bottles, fishing nets and buoys – floated ashore late on Saturday and turtle carcasses were spotted among the sand dunes early on Sunday.

Bangladesh’s forestry department said it was the first time such a large volume of plastic had washed onto the 120-kilometre (75-mile) beach along the Bay of Bengal.

“Hundreds of locals rushed to the beach since early morning to rescue the wounded turtles,” forestry spokesman Sohail Hossain told AFP news agency.

“We have buried the dead ones and are trying to release the rescued turtles back to sea.”

Beach clean-up charity Plastic Bank Bangladesh said their volunteers found and buried at least 20 Olive Ridley turtles among the estimated 50 tonnes of waste spread out over a 10-kilometre (six-mile) stretch of beach at Cox’s Bazar.

“I haven’t seen these many dead turtles lying on the beach in my life and also haven’t seen such a massive pile of waste floating ashore,” fisherman Jashim Uddin told AFP.

A dead sea turtle is seen on a beach in Cox's Bazar on July 12, 2020. - Bangladesh green activists said on July 12 hundreds of sea turtles have floated ashore and at least 20 were killed as tonnes of

A dead sea turtle is seen on the Cox’s Bazar beach[Suzauddin Rubel/AFP]

Leading Bangladesh turtle and tortoise expert Shahriar Caesar Rahman of the NGO Creative Conservation Alliance said most of the turtles were at least 30 years old.

“The turtles often get trapped in gigantic waste patches floating in the sea and eventually die of suffocation. This seems to be a similar case,” he told AFP.

About 26 tonnes of waste produced from ships and neighbouring countries float into the Bay of Bengal every year, said Moazzem Hossain of local conservation charity Save the Nature Bangladesh.

“This is a unique case of plastic invasion. It sends a great danger signal to our marine biodiversity,” he said.

It was not clear how many turtles were rescued.

Local district administrator Kamal Hossain said authorities were investigating the incident.

Olive Ridleys are the most abundant of all sea turtles around the world, according to conservationists.

But their numbers have been declining, and the species is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

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Biden nominates Iran nuclear deal negotiator to State Department | Politics News

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Wendy Sherman, Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, was key US negotiator of 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

United States President-elect Joe Biden has nominated a key negotiator of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to be the US’s next deputy secretary of state, the second-highest position at the State Department.

In a statement on Saturday, Biden unveiled a string of State Department nominees, including longstanding diplomat Wendy Sherman to be deputy secretary of state.

Sherman, a professor and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, served as under secretary of state for political affairs for four years during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice president.

“She has successfully rallied the world to strengthen democracy and confront some of the biggest national security challenges of our time, including leading the U.S. negotiating team for the Iran Deal,” the statement said.

Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has promised to return to the accord under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 as he pursued a “maximum pressure” strategy against the Iranian government.

The Trump administration has hit Tehran with a wide array of sanctions and tensions between the two countries have increased amid a torrent of hostile rhetoric and actions in the final weeks of the Republican president’s time in office.

In mid-December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was not necessarily “excited” for Biden to take office, but that it was “very happy” to see Trump’s presidency end. “We are not very excited with Biden coming, but we are very happy with Trump going,” Rouhani said.

Meanwhile, Biden on Saturday also nominated Victoria Nuland, a retired career foreign service officer who was the top US diplomat for Europe, NATO ambassador and State Department spokeswoman, to be under secretary for political affairs.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state.



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