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In what could be seen as a snub to India, Maldives has asked the New Delhi to withdraw its military helicopters and personnel posted in the island country following the expiry of an agreement in June between the two countries, news agency Reuters reported.

According to the Maldives' Ambassador in India, Ahmed Mohamed, the two military helicopters provided by New Delhi were mainly used for medical evacuations but were no longer required.

"They were very useful in the past but with the development of adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources we are now in a position to handle medical evacuations on our own," Reuters quoted Mohamed, as saying.

The latest development has added to the simmering tension between India and President Abdulla Yameen's government in Maldives, which is said to have been receiving backing from China.

China has been developing airport, building roads and bridges in the Indian Ocean nation with an aim to upstage India's position of main provider of military and civil supplies. 

India, a close supporter of former Maldivian President Abdul Gayoom, has been opposing incumbent President Abdulla Yameen's crackdown on political rivals. Reports suggest that Yameen is being backed by Beijing.

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At least 387 people have been reported dead and several others injured and displaced after the powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Lombok island last Sunday, which were followed by 451 aftershocks. The number of injured and displaced went up to 13,688 and 387,067, respectively.

National Agency for Disaster Management spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho warned in a statement that the toll could further increase because of the ongoing search for victims buried under rubble and landslides after the temblor, Efe news reported.

The northern region of Lombok, where the epicentre was located, was the worst affected with 334 deaths. It was followed by West Lombok with 30, East Lombok with 10, Mataram with 9, Central Lombok with 2, and Denpasar, capital of the neighbouring island of Bali, with 2.

A total of 67,875 houses, 468 schools, six bridges, 50 oratories, 20 offices, 15 mosques and 13 health centres were demolished or damaged.

Sutopo said that conditions on the ground were difficult as there were still many victims that had not been evacuated or refugees who had not received adequate attention, coupled with continued aftershocks.

Regional authorities extended the emergency response period till August 25 given the conditions, which will help in providing assistance to victims, according to the disaster agency.

Hundreds of non-profits and community organizations were participating in the relief process in Lombok.

Lombok, located next to the Flores plate, had already suffered the impact of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake on July 29 which left 16 dead, 355 injured and 1,500 buildings damaged.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of great seismic and volcanic activity in which some 7,000 earthquakes, mostly moderate, are recorded each year.

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The Parker Solar Probe was set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Saturday, but last-minute investigations have delayed it for 24 hours.

It is now scheduled to blast off - on board the mammoth Delta-IV Heavy rocket - on Sunday morning.

The probe is set to become the fastest-moving manmade object in history.

The rocket was on the launch pad when the countdown clock was interrupted, as officials investigated an alarm.

Nasa had a weather window of 65 minutes to launch, but the time elapsed before the issue could be resolved.

The probe aims to dip directly into our star's outer atmosphere, or corona.

Its data promises to crack longstanding mysteries about the Sun's behaviour - assuming it can survive roasting temperatures above 1,000C.

The Delta will hurl the probe into the inner Solar System, enabling the Nasa mission to zip past Venus in six weeks and make a first rendezvous with the Sun a further six weeks after that.

Over the course of seven years, Parker will make 24 loops around our star to study the physics of the corona, the place where much of the important activity that affects the Earth seems to originate.

The probe will dip inside this tenuous atmosphere, sampling conditions, and getting to just 6.16 million km (3.83 million miles) from the Sun's broiling "surface".

"I realise that might not sound that close, but imagine the Sun and the Earth were a metre apart. Parker Solar Probe would be just 4cm away from the Sun," explained Dr Nicky Fox, the British-born project scientist who is affiliated to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Why is this mission important?

Parker will help us better understand how the Sun works.

The star is constantly bombarding the Earth with charged particles and magnetic fields. This perpetual flow, or "solar wind", is responsible for generating the beautiful auroral lights that appear in polar skies, but there are some interactions that initiate much more troubling effects.

The biggest outbursts from the Sun will rattle the Earth's magnetic field. In the process, communications may be disrupted, satellites can be knocked offline, and power grids will be vulnerable to electrical surges.

Scientists try to forecast these "storms" and Parker promises new and valuable information to help them do that.

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"A suicide bomber used an explosives laden pick-up for the attack," said Saifullah Khaterin, Deputy Commissioner for Chagai district in Baluchistan

Five people were wounded, including three Chinese nationals, in a suicide bombing on a bus carrying Chinese workers in Pakistan on Saturday, a police official said, in an attack claimed by Baloch separatists.

"A suicide bomber used an explosives laden pick-up for the attack. He exploded the (vehicle) when the coach reached the site," said Saifullah Khaterin, Deputy Commissioner for Chagai district in southwestern Baluchistan province, where the attack took place.

The separatist group Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack in Dalbandin, about 340 km (210 miles) south-west of provincial capital Quetta.

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