Archive | June 11, 2014

Devastating flooding causes mayhem to thousands in Paraguay

Flood Alert

The cresting of the Paraguay River is driving out of their homes the most vulnerable inhabitants of Asuncion, rural immigrants who for decades have been settling on the banks of the city’s often dry riverbeds in search of a better life in the capital.
Los Bañados (Swamplands), as the atomized neighborhoods of fragile houses in the lower levels of the capital are called, have been growing constantly for many years and are subject to frequent flooding during the rainy season.
On such occasions the inhabitants are often left without water or electricity and have no way to get to work, but the situation now is the worst in almost 20 years, according to Maria Eloida Mareco, 71, who came here to live some 30 years ago.
She spoke of “my beautiful home” and of the “many years of work it cost us,” adding that “we came from the countryside, Capiata…my husband has work, I sell things here in my house, it’s my kiosk, but now there’s nobody to sell to,” Mareco told Efe.
Mareco complained in front of a truck of the SEN emergency services agency, currently serving the flooded Cateura neighborhood, because no one has helped her move her belongings and now flood waters are pouring into her patio,
Authorities told her they won’t be able to lend her a hand until Wednesday, she said.
“Nothing like this has been seen since ’96, but I was younger then and could move my things. Now I have kidney disease,” Mareco said.
She has no choice but to move – like 40,000 other people – to one of the improvised refugee camps that are all over the city.
The floods have now affected some 129,000 people throughout Paraguay and the number is expected to rise, according to the SEN.
The SEN estimates that the Paraguay River will rise by as much as another 8 centimeters (3 inches) over the coming week in Asuncion, which will displace another 15,000 families.
Over the past 10 years, some 900,000 people have had to leave the countryside and move into poor dwellings in the capital due to the expansion of the vast corn and soybean plantations, highly mechanized and with little need for field hands, according to the National Farmworkers Federation, which is campaigning for agrarian reform.

Okanogan River reaches flood level in Canada

The Okanogan River has risen to minor flood stage in the Tonasket area. National Weather Service officials have issued a flood warning for the Okanogan Valley.
The Okanogan River has risen to minor flood stage in the Tonasket area. National Weather Service officials have issued a flood warning for the Okanogan Valley
A National Weather Service flood warning for low-lying areas along the Okanogan River remains in effect.
In an updated statement Tuesday, the Weather Service reported flooding along the river near Oroville, Tonasket, Omak-Okanogan and Monse.
“Minor flooding on the Okanogan River is due to recent snowmelt from the warm temperatures,” the flood warning statement said. “The Okanogan is expected to remain in minor flood stage … it will then lower to action stage through the end of the week.”
But meteorologists predict that the lower water levels will only be temporary as the Okanogan River is expected to start rising again over the coming weekend and reach minor flood stage again next Monday.
Officials are warning residents and visitors to avoid flood waters.
“The spring snowmelt runoff in lakes and rivers is dangerously cold and can be life-threatening for those that come into contact with the water,” officials said. “Take appropriate precautions.”
The flood waters are also expected to sweep debris into the river, making conditions hazardous for boaters, swimmers and fishermen.
“Be aware of large debris in the river,” officials said. “High water levels can push logs and other large debris into the river, increasing the danger to people and boats.”
As of 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, the Okanogan River was at 15.46 feet at Tonasket — flood stage is 15 feet, officials said.
Flooding was reported on some farmlands adjacent to the river from Oroville to Monse. The waters had also covered some dirt-road river accesses.
“At 16 feet, pasture land between Rodeo Trail Road and Benton Street, on the East Side of the river near Omak, will begin to flood,” officials said.
“Never drive cars, trucks or sport-utility vehicles through flooded areas,” officials said. “The water may be too deep to allow for safe passage.”
The river was forecast to rise to as high as 16.4 feet before falling, meteorologists said. Water levels are not expected to rise above 17 feet, which is the moderate flood stage level, officials said, noting that if the water reached that high some homes near Okanogan could have flooded basements.

Landslide Traps 3 Miners At Turkish Coal Mine

Landslide Alert

The incident in the southeastern province of Sirnak comes a month after 301 miners died in Soma

Three miners are trapped after a landslide struck a coal mine in the southeast of Turkey on Wednesday, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Rescue workers are continuing to search for the missing miners.

The incident occurred at 3: 20 pm (1320 GMT) in the province of Sirnak on Wednesday.

It comes a month after a blast killed 301 miners in Soma in Turkey’s worst-ever mine disaster.

Mayon Volcano shows abnormal activity; Albay prepares counter-measures

Volcano Alert

The world-famous “perfect cone” shape Mayon Volcano has been showing abnormal activity recently; causing apprehension to the people who lives nearby.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)  has even recorded rockfall incidents in the 8,077-foot high active volcano.
Mayon Volcano is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and as such, it is regularly monitored by PHIVOLCS.
 Phivolcs science and research analyst Alex Baloloy disclosed that they have warned the public to avoid conducting activities within the six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) owing  to the deflationary changes.
The seismic network reportedly first recorded two volcanic earthquakes last Saturday, June 7; aside from the moderate emission of white steam plumes from the crater of Mayon.
In the event that Mayon Volcano erupts, the governor of Albay, Joey Sarte Salceda, has given his constituents the assurance on Tuesday that preparations in the province are being done as counter-measures.
Governor Salceda apparently disclosed in a press briefing that a new sanitary engineer has been hired to attend to evacuation centers and to focus on the readiness of the various centers in the event that their province’s pride, the Mayon, become a threat to public safety.
The governor expressed that water and sanitation in evacuation centers could be the problem in any eventuality.
To date, Mayon’s alert status remains at Alert Level 1, which means that it is still in abnormal condition.

Deadly MERS virus reaches Kuwait, infecting 5 camels

MERS Virus Alert

Five camels have been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Kuwait in the country’s first detection of the fatal virus, according to state media.

The Gulf state’s Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources board chairman Jassim Al Bader said a random test on 83 camels revealed five were infected, KUNA reported.

Al Bader said the camels had been isolated and preventive measures had been taken, including contacting the owners, who were immediately tested and would be monitored.

Health Ministry officials also held an urgent meeting to discuss the emergence of MERS in the country and to coordinate further examinations of camels.

Kuwait has managed to avoid MERS despite neighbouring Saudi Arabia being the source of the virus.

About 600 cases have been detected in Saudi Arabia, with about one-third of infected people dying. Cases have been recorded as far away as Asia and the US, while the UAE also has had a relatively high number of infections, including more than 10 deaths.

The World Health Organisation last month held an extraordinary meeting to discuss whether to classify the virus as an international health emergency but it was deemed not to be.

Deadly Ebola Virus kills 12 in Sierra Leone

Ebola Virus

The Sierra Leone Ebola virus death toll reached at least 12 this week after doubling in a matter of days, health officials said Monday — a sure sign that the deadly illness that killed more than 200 people in Guinea and Liberia has indeed infiltrated the West African country.
The mounting deaths in Sierra Leone, which had been spared cases for months after Ebola was confirmed in the region in March, underscore the challenges weak health systems face tackling one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, Reuters reported.
Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control, said all the confirmed deaths in Sierra Leone were in the east, mainly in the Kailahun district on the border with Guinea.
“It is very difficult for us to ascertain community deaths at this moment, but the 12 deaths are the ones the hospital can definitely confirm to have died of Ebola,” Jambai said.
Jambai added that there were now 42 confirmed cases of Ebola from 113 people tested and new cases had been recorded in the northern district of Kambia.
Ebola was confirmed in a remote corner of Guinea in March and then later spread to Guinea’s distant capital, Conakry, and over the border into Liberia.
All suspected cases in Sierra Leone tested negative until last month and Jambai said that the disease was spreading as authorities are struggling to control the movement of people.
International medical experts have been dispatched to Sierra Leone but they face a combination of poor existing health systems and tensions among locals fueled by the lack of understanding over the disease.
Two weeks ago, relatives removed an Ebola patient from a treatment center in Koindu as they doubted the disease existed.
Iron ore producers London Mining and African Minerals have imposed some restrictions on staff in Sierra Leone as a result of the outbreak but the firms say their output has so far not been affected.

Texas cliffhanger: Luxury home left dangling after landslide

After a bluff collapsed, an $800,000 luxury house was left teetering on a cliff about 23 metres above Lake Whitney in Whitney, Texas. According to TV station WFAA, which provided the image, the house has been condemned and the owners were evacuated about two weeks ago. (AP)

A luxury $800,000 (U.S.) Texas home perched on a lakeside bluff was poised to plunge into the water below on Wednesday after the ground under its foundation eroded and left it precariously balanced on a decaying cliff.

The house on Lake Whitney, about 120 kilometers southwest of Dallas, is perched about 23 meters in the air and being circled by a local TV news helicopter waiting to record its plunge into the water below.

A massive piece of land under the house fell into the lake on Tuesday night, neighbors told local media. Video footage shows about half of the house on the ground and half in the air, with a dangling air conditioning unit tethered to the structure.

The land started to give way in February, and since then about 50 meters of territory that separated it from the water’s edge has eroded, said Mark Wilson, the chief deputy for the Hill County Sheriff’s Department.

The owners, who use it as a second home, have abandoned the property while people are being kept away from it on land and in the lake below.

“When they built the house, it looked like a safe area, away from the bluff. There is just a lot of the bluff that gave way,” Wilson said.




***BE ALERT***

Proton Alert 11.06.14 21.11 hrs UTC

Hurricane Cristina expected to strengthen off Mexican coast

Hurricane Alert
US national hurricane center says storm swells could cause life-threatening surf conditions off Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane Cristina has formed off Mexico’s Pacific coast.

The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds early Wednesday were near 75mph (120kph) and the US national hurricane center said it was expected to strengthen during the next two days.

Cristina is centered about 265 miles (425 kilometers) south of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving west near 6mph (9kph).

The hurricane center says swells generated by Cristina are affecting parts of Mexico’s south central and south-western coast. The swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Flash flooding causes two dozen homes to be evacuated in Prince George’s County, USA

Flood Alert

Heavy storms drenched Prince George’s County on Tuesday morning, causing dramatic flash flooding that left drivers stranded on rain-soaked roads and forced residents of about two dozen homes to be evacuated. No injuries were reported.
Hit by the most damage was Berwyn Heights, a small town of 3,000 near College Park, where residents spent the afternoon dragging waterlogged furniture, clothes and toys onto their lawns while trying to clean up from flooding.
Evelyn Ruiz, 43, sat in front of her family’s house on 59th Avenue, her red eyes staring at a decade’s worth of possessions slowly drying in the sun.
“We have to throw away all this stuff,” said her husband, Max Ruiz, 46, pointing to a laptop covered in dirt.
Ruiz and his son spent the morning bailing water out of their basement before having to give up. The water reached Ruiz’s chest, and firefighters had to pull him out of a window because he couldn’t get out the door.
At least 20 residents were sent to a temporary shelter set up in the morning at Berwyn Heights Elementary School, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department. But many returned home when the sun came out.
Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist for the Capital Weather Gang, said the region’s most extreme rainfall inundated the College Park area, which had four to five inches over two hours. Much of the county was under a flash-flood watch until about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve had some other flooding events like this this year,” Samenow said, “but it was the amount of rain falling in such a short period of time that distinguishes this particular event.”
Brady said the department conducted at least 24 water rescues starting about 9:40 a.m., shortly after the National Weather Service issued its flash-flood warning for the region.
In most flooding situations, emergency crews come upon cars that have driven into standing, high water, Brady said. But on Tuesday, many of the rescues were for vehicles that became stuck while near intersections that suddenly flooded.
“If there’s ever a textbook example of flash flooding, this is it,” Brady said. “The water was up to the door handles.”
Fire crews also rescued two dogs that had been tied up in a Riverdale back yard, Brady said.
“The water started to quickly rise, and the homeowner was home but couldn’t do anything with water rushing in,” Brady said. “They were tied up and had nowhere to go.”
Although the rain subsided by lunchtime, residents braced themselves for the possibility of more floods because meteorologists were forecasting another storm rolling through the area during the evening.
And it might not be the last of the season’s floods, Samenow said, since very localized, hard-to-predict storms are no stranger to the region this time of year.
“In June, it is humid and tends to be the month we see flooding events,” Samenow said. “It is nothing totally out of character for the month.”