Savage Wind And Rain Pummels UK
Warnings of further flooding are issued as rescue workers continue the search for several people not seen since New Year’s Eve
Emergency services are searching for people missing in vicious weather lashing Britain, as the Government called an urgent meeting over the conditions.
Flooding and power have hit households across the country, with roads closed and hundreds of homes without electricity.
A 27-year-old man is feared dead after being was swept out to sea in Cornwall while celebrating the new year on the beach with friends. That came after a woman died in the surf in north Devon.
And police across the country are searching for several people who have not been seen the night of New Year’s Eve.
More than 200 weather warnings have been issued by the Environment Agency, affecting every region of England and Wales.
Dozens of flood warnings were put in place, mostly in the South West of England, with strong winds, heavy downpours and more flooding forecast over the coming days.
Craig Woolhouse, the Environment Agency’s head of flood incident management, said: “Strong winds and large waves along the west and south coasts of England are forecast between Friday and Sunday, coinciding with high tides.
“Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities.
“Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.
“Environment Agency teams are out on the ground making sure flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood alerts and warnings.”
A Cornwall police spokesman said: “There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may under-estimate the danger a rough sea can pose.
“During the current bad weather, we would appeal to everyone to use common sense and not put themselves in unnecessary danger.”
Meanwhile, in Liphook, Hampshire, 300 homes lost power after lines were brought down in the stormy weather.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is expected to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee on Thursday, in response to flooding that has wreaked havoc.
“We will remain in touch with local councils in at-risk areas,” he said.
“With a number of flood alerts for the South East for tomorrow, including several areas which have previously been flooded, I urge everyone in affected areas to sign up to EA flood warnings and follow the advice issued.”
Fresh plumes of most probably radioactive steam have been detected rising from the reactor 3 building at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said the facility’s operator company.
The steam has been detected by surveillance cameras and appeared to be coming from the fifth floor of the mostly-destroyed building housing crippled reactor 3, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator.
The steam was first spotted on December 19 for a short period of time, then again on December 24, 25, 27, according to a report TEPCO published on its website.
The company, responsible for the cleanup of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has not explained the source of the steam or the reason it is rising from the reactor building. High levels of radiation have complicated entry into the building and further inspection of the situation.
Three of the plant’s reactors suffered a nuclear meltdown in March 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the region. The plant is comprised of six separate water boiling reactors. At the time of the earthquake, reactor number 4 had been de-fueled and reactors 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown for planned maintenance, thereby managing to avoid meltdowns.
Unlike the other five reactors, reactor 3 ran on mixed core containing both uranium fuel and mixed uranium and plutonium oxide, or MOX nuclear fuel. The Reactor 3 fuel storage pond still houses an estimated 89 tons of the plutonium-based MOX nuclear fuel composed of 514 fuel rods.
In a similar incident, small amounts of steam escaped from the reactor 3 building in July 2013, Asahi Shimbun reported. However it was unclear where the steam came from. TEPCO said that radiation levels did not change, adding that the steam could have been caused by rain that found its way to the primary containment of the reactor, and because this vessel was still hot, the water evaporated. On 23 July the steam was seen again coming out of the fifth floor just above the reactor containment, the Japanese newspaper reported.
In November, TEPCO, responsible for the decommissioning of the plant, began the highly risky removal of over 1,500 potentially damaged nuclear fuel rods from reactor 4. The reactor is the most unstable part of the plant as it was offline at the time of the 2011 catastrophe and its core didn’t go into meltdown. Instead, hydrogen explosions blew the roof off the building and severely damaged the structure.One of the most dangerous operations attempted in nuclear history was a success as a total of 22 assemblies containing 50 to 70 fuel rods have been transported to a new storage pool. While the extraction of the fuel rods is a significant challenge for TEPCO, a more complex task of removing the cores of the stricken reactors is yet to come.
MAGNITUDE 6.6 – VANUATU
Subject To Change
Depth: 196 km
Distances: 37km (23mi) W of Sola, Vanuatu
183km (114mi) N of Luganville, Vanuatu
443km (275mi) NNW of Port-Vila, Vanuatu
779km (484mi) N of We, New Caledonia
918km (570mi) N of Paita, New Caledonia
MAGNITUDE 5.0 – EAST OF NORTH ISLAND, N.Z.
Subject To Change
Depth: 10 km
Distances: 856 km NE of Wellington, New Zealand / pop: 381,900 / local time: 03:22:58.4 2014-01-02
455 km NE of Gisborne, New Zealand / pop: 34,274 / local time: 03:22:58.4 2014-01-02
SEVERE WINDS CLOSES QE2 BRIDGE
In a disease outbreak update, the WHO said the new confirmed case of MERS in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was in a 59-year-old woman, the wife of a man previously confirmed as being infected. Although she has no adverse symptoms, she is in hospital in isolation, it said.
The woman’s husband is presumably the 68-year-old in Sharjah listed in Andrew Rambaut’s table. The man was hospitalized on December 14 and died on December 22.