At least 78 killed, nearly 4,000 injured in Beirut blast

A huge explosion has rocked Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, leaving at least 78 people dead and nearly 4,000 people injured, with many nearby buildings leveled to the ground. The explosion happened in the capital city’s port area, which local news agencies have confirmed is home to warehouses that contain explosives. The cause of the blast in being investigated, but Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, said the cause of the explosion was 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse for six years. Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared three days of mourning and called for a two-week state of emergency. Photographs and video footage from the scene show survivors covered in blood and many being carried away on stretchers while eyewitnesses described a shower of glass descending from the air in the immediate vicinity of the explosion. Footage of the blast has emerged on social media as locals filmed large plumes of smoke rising from near a multi-story building in the port before the explosion occurred. (CGTN)

Pahang to gazette Bukit Ketam land for Lynas disposal facility

The Pahang state government will gazette a 202.35ha piece of land in Bukit Ketam, Pahang, for Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd to build a permanent disposal facility (PDF), according to Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations Khairy Jamaluddin. He said the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) had on July 28 approved the usage of the land for the construction of the PDF, subject to a radiological impact assessment (RIA), environmental impact assessment (EIA) and other relevant assessments by local authorities. He added that the PDF will only require 12ha out of the approved 202.35ha, a mere 6% of the total area gazetted by the Pahang state government. Lynas will be submitting all reports to the relevant authorities and will be applying for regulatory approval during the remainder of 2020, said Khairy, adding that it aims to commence construction of the PDF in January 2021. (The Edge)

Govt to continue with Sarawak-Sabah Link Road project

The government is set to continue with the Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) project comprising Phase 1 from Lawas to Kampung Pa’ Berunut and Phase 2 from Kampung Pa’ Berunut to Long Lama. “As for the Trans-Borneo Highway project, the project will also continue, but priority will be given to the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway project and the SSLR project first,” said Senior Minister for Infrastructure Development and Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof. The 425-km long SSLR project is the first land route connecting Sabah and Sarawak without going through Brunei. The Trans-Borneo Highway, meanwhile, is a ring road connecting the 1,060-km Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak, 786.41-km Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, SSLR and the 40-km highway from Kalabakan to Serundong in Sabah. (Malay Mail)

Sarawak-Sabah Link Road (SSLR) (Source: Bernama)

Big data an important element to determine property prices

Big data in properties is essential for both buyers and sellers in determining the right prices, according to MyProperty Data. The property data analytics and solutions provider said data gives buyers, sellers and investors more confidence to make the right decision and to understand the current market environment. Its CEO Thor Joe Hock said having data would serve as an independent advisor to give insight for the particular areas of the properties. He said understanding the fundamentals of property purchasing was vital to make wise investment decisions, whether for investment or own stay. For instance, Thor said data can help homeowners to know the current market price of their properties, enabling them to make other decisions such as refinancing their mortgages. (NST Online)

SGX to launch Asia’s first REIT futures

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) announced that it is pioneering Asia’s first international real estate investment trust (REIT) futures based on indices tracking diverse REITs listed in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. This comes on the back of rising global investor demand for real estate related investment products and trading solutions. SGX announced it will launch the SGX FTSE EPRA Nareit Asia ex-Japan Index Futures and the SGX iEdge S-REIT Leaders Index Futures on August 24. The FTSE EPRA Nareit Global Real Estate Index series is a widely followed global benchmark, with an estimated US$340 billion of assets under management actively benchmarked or passively tracking the indices. Meanwhile, the iEdge S-REIT Leaders Index is the most liquid index-basket representation of the Singapore REIT (SREIT) market and one of the most widely referenced in SGX’s suite of indices. Recent years have seen alignment in REIT performances globally, buoyed by rising investor interest. Compared to other asset classes, REITs offer one of the highest dividend yields and lower volatility, with an average dividend yield of 7.1%. (The Edge)