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Huge blast rocks Kabul near US embassy, several feared dead

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KABUL — A huge blast rocked central Kabul on Tuesday and a thick plume of black smoke could be seen rising from near several Afghan government ministries and security agencies, as well as the US embassy in the capital, witnesses and officials said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that number of individuals were killed and injured in an blast that rocked central Kabul during the morning rush hour.

According to Afghan media, no less than 24 people were killed and 161 injured in the blast that clearly targeted on the workplaces of Afghanistan`s main security office.

A spokesperson for an emergency hospital in the city said the facility had received eight lightly wounded Afghan soldiers.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which sent clouds of acrid smoke billowing in the sky and rattled windows several miles away.

Notably, the blast took place a week after the Taliban announced the commencement of their annual spring offensive.

“The first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two bombers are still resisting,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

“The scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.”

Kabul police also reported some gunfire in the area immediately after the blast, which happened during the morning rush hour.

Several major Afghan security agencies are based in the area, including the National Directorate of Security.

The Ministry of Defence and the presidential palace are also within a few hundred metres.

The Taliban-led insurgency has gained strength since the withdrawal of international forces from combat at the end of 2014 and the Taliban are stronger than at any point since they were driven from power by U.S.-backed forces in 2001.The U.S. embassy said it was not affected by the blast.

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With Agencies input

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

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