Archive | November 19, 2014

Apocalyptic snow storm causes mayhem; State of emergency declared on Tuesday evening for Western and Central parts of New York, USA

Conditions near Trout Lake in southern St. Lawrence County, N.Y.,  around 11:30 am. Photo: Jeffery Davis
Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Tuesday evening for much of the western and central parts of New York’s North Country.
 
The declaration includes “Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, and contiguous counties,” according to a statement issued just after 6 pm.
 
The storm is expected to continue at least through Thursday after dumping huge amounts of snow on parts of the North Country and western New York.
 
As part of the declaration, Gov. Cuomo activated the National Guard and other state resources.
 
“New York is experiencing yet another severe winter storm, and I am declaring a State of Emergency in counties that have been or will be affected to help communities as they experience a substantial amount of snowfall,” Governor Cuomo said.
 
“This storm may persist until Friday morning with the potential for another two feet of snow. New Yorkers in these areas should exercise extreme caution, and stay off the roads until conditions are clearer and safer.”
Update: 8:30 am Wednesday:
The storm that has already dumped several feet of snow on parts of the Buffalo and Watertown areas is being called one of the worst in memory.
 
It is blamed for several deaths in the state, including an Erie County man found under a pile of snow this morning.
 
The forecast is calling for as much as 8 more inches before it ends around midday today.
 
The respite isn’t expected to last long. More snow is expected to begin tonight and last all day tomorrow, bringing up to two more feet of snow.
 
Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a State of Emergency for parts of the North Country.  
 
Jefferson, Lewis and Franklin counties will receive additional plows, snow blowers, and salt for roads.
 
The Governor deployed the National Guard to affected areas yesterday afternoon and activated statewide Emergency Operations Centers last night. 
 
The winter storm has moved south of St. Lawrence County.
 
The southern part of the county was pummeled with fast-falling snow yesterday. White-outs and blowing snow made driving conditions difficult.
 
Crews were able to begin clearing the snow late yesterday afternoon. 
 
The St. Lawrence County department of emergency services said traveling south will be difficult today.
 
Drivers should anticipate blowing snow and high winds.
 
St. Lawrence County emergency services director Michael Lecuyer said this is just the beginning of the winter storm season., “A little earlier than expected, but again, you never can expect anything else other than that in northern New York. “
 
State offices in parts of the North Country will be closed today.
 
According to a statement from the Office of General Services, state buildings in Franklin, Herkimer, Jefferson, and Lewis counties will be closed today. Only essential employees will be working today, according to the statement.
Previously:
According to an Emergency Services alert, St. Lawrence County and many municipal highway departments are suspending snow removal operations in the most heavily affected areas in the south of the county, and is advising no travel in those areas.
 
Road conditions in the south of the county are snow covered with visibility at times of less than one-eighth of a mile, according to the alert.
Officials in Jefferson County are advising similar travel restrictions.
Significant snow accumulations along with whiteout conditions are creating dangerous travel conditions.
 
The alert said one of the reasons snow removal crews are suspending their work is because of numerous vehicles abandoned in the roadways.
 
Safety officials will monitor the storm and advise the public should conditions change that would require additional measures to be put into place.

Severe heatwave kills thousands of bats in Australia

Heatwave Warning

Australians are being warned not to touch the foul-smelling carcasses of more than 5000 bats which dropped dead from the trees during a heatwave.
 
The huge flying foxes were killed as temperatures hit record highs of 44.1C in Casino, around 600km north of Sydney, in New South Wales.
 
A massive clear-up is under way to remove the decomposing remains, and volunteers from wildlife charity WIRES are working to save hundreds of baby bats found clinging to their dead mothers. But local residents have been urged not to touch bodies or launch their own rescue efforts for fear they could be infected with diseases such as the lyssavirus, which is closely related to rabies.
 
“Some areas along the riverbank are inaccessible and the stench from the rotting carcasses will be quite unbearable for some time yet,” local council manager John Walker told the Australia Telegraph.
 
“People should avoid the area and not try to help living bats themselves as they could bite and scratch and some carry the lyssavirus.”
 
Photographer Dee Hartin told Huffington post UK of the horrific scenes. “What I saw when I got there was beyond belief. There were hundreds of them all over the ground everywhere I looked,” she said.
 
“They were not only on the ground dead but hanging in the trees as well. I saw many young ones around three-four months old clinging to their dead mothers or hanging in the trees next to them. It was a horrific sight and I was distressed to see such a massive loss of life.”
 
This is not the first time Australia’s hot weather has killed huge numbers of bats – up to 100,000 fell from the sky in Queensland in January.
 
Bat Conservation and Rescue Society president Katrina Faulkes-Leng told the Courier Mail the creatures could not tolerate extreme heat. “Once it hits a certain temperature inside the colony bats start to suffer heat stress,” she said. “If we can get into colonies then, and spray with water, we can stop the stress becoming heat stroke, which kills them.”

Apocalyptic Hailstorm Demolishes Hundreds Of Homes in Zimbabwe, Africa

Disaster Alert

Over 300 families had their homes ravaged by a hailstorm which hit Bikita and Chiredzi over the weekend, following heavy rains that have pounded most parts of Masvingo over the past few days.The hailstorm also swept away roofs at several schools and clinics in the two districts where the affected families are in desperate need of help to rebuild their homes.
 
In Bikita, Zanu-PF district offices at Nyika growth point had their roof swept away.
 
Masvingo provincial administrator and chairman of the Civil Protection Unit, Mr Felix Chikovo, yesterday said they had appealed for help from donor organisations and the National Civil Protection Directorate to help the affected families.
 
Mr Chikovo said 125 homes were destroyed by a hailstorm in the Save area of Chiredzi East.
 
“We are trying to look at how best we can assist the affected families to quickly rebuild their lives and we are concerned that every year it is the same areas that are hit by hailstorms that destroy homes and other infrastructure,” said Mr Chikovo.
 
“At the moment the affected families are busy rebuilding their damaged homes while waiting for assistance from the Civil Protection Unit and other development partners,” he said. Hundreds of schoolchildren at Mupinga primary school in Save were left stranded after the hailstorm swept away classroom roofs.

Apocalyptic storm halts trains, floods streets; Complete chaos in Brisbane, Australia

Floodwaters submerged cars at Bowen Hills in inner-Brisbane after a major storm hit.
A severe storm caused chaos in Brisbane on Wednesday evening, with flash flooding in the city centre trapping commuters and submerging cars, and widespread power outages reported.
Major train stations in Brisbane’s inner city were closed, forcing delays across the rail network as far as the Gold Coast.
 
At one point nearly 15,000 Energex customers were without power in the Brisbane, Ipswich and Redlands areas.
 
By 9:30pm (AEST), about 1,500 Brisbane properties were still blacked out, with another 900 in Ipswich, 773 in Redland City and 233 on the Sunshine Coast also without power.
 
Earlier, flash flooding in the Brisbane CBD and surrounding suburbs left cars floating in streets and water cascading down stairs and across footpaths.
 
In West End, a house caught fire when it was struck by lightning.
 
The roof of a major indoor mall, Toombul Shopping Centre, reportedly sprang a leak.
 
Emergency crews reported flooding right across Brisbane, including in the CBD, Fortitude Valley, Oxley, Inala, Bowen Hills, Kedron and Archerfield.
 
An emergency services spokesman said swift-water rescues were launched in Salisbury and Rocklea.
 
The Salisbury incident involved two cars floating down the street, while in Rocklea three vehicles were stuck in floodwater in an underpass.
 
Rescues were also reportedly launched in Bowen Hills and Acacia Ridge.
 
Images posted on social media show cars being swept away in Bowen Hills, in inner Brisbane.
Rail shutdowns cause commuter chaos
In Brisbane, the fast-moving and severe storm affected major train stations, including Central, Roma St, Bowen Hills, Fortitude Valley, Albion, South Brisbane and Milton.
 
Significant delays were being experienced across the rail network, and as far away as the Gold Coast, prompting Queensland Rail (QR) to urge its customers to seek alternative transport.
 
QR said a direct lightning strike at Yeerongpilly caused an overhead power issue that affected the Gold Coast and Beenleigh lines, while a fallen tree at Banyo affected the Shorncliffe line.
 
A roof had blown onto the tracks at Nundah and caused overhead power lines to come down there.
 
“Customers across the network can expect long delays this afternoon due to work to return services to normal,” a QR spokeswoman said.
 
Trains had resumed running through the CBD by 9:30pm, but there were major delays reported on all lines.
 
City infrastructure struggled to cope with the intense downpour, with grates across Brisbane seen overflowing with water.
 
Police reported powerlines down over roads in the northern Brisbane suburbs of Nundah and Northgate.
 
The State Emergency Service (SES) received more than 200 call-outs across south-east Queensland, mostly for minor flooding and leaky roofs.
 
Across Brisbane and Ipswich, the worst-hit areas were Redbank Plains, Inala, Forest Lakes and Springfield Lakes.
View image on Twitter
Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully said his region was hit hard.
 
The State Emergency Service (SES) received more than 200 call-outs across south-east Queensland, mostly for minor flooding and leaky roofs.
 
“It pounded the Goodna and Redbank Plains area,” he said.
 
“There are some trees down through houses at Redbank Plains there are trees down across roads in the Goodna area so the eastern suburbs of Ipswich got a real thumping.”
 
One caller, Melissa, told 612 ABC Brisbane her short drive home turned into a marathon.
 
“I left work, which is the University of Queensland, just after 5:00pm and then I stayed for an hour and a half about 100 metres away along Sir Fred Schonell Drive,” she said.
 
“There was no movement, and then a few cars turned around and so that allowed us to inch a bit and I went cross country.
 
“It took me two hours to drive eight or nine kilometres – at that time of day it usually takes about 12 minutes.”
 
Senior weather forecaster Rick Threlfall said the storms had moved out to sea, after dumping more rain in one hour than had been seen in many months in the south-east.
 
“The heaviest rainfall was 100 millimetres at Inala down toward the south-west of Brisbane – most of that falling in about an hour,” he said.
 
“To the northeast of Brisbane, Geebung picked up 95mm but all the way through the city most places seeing around the half 50 to 80mm mark.”
Commuters at Bowen Hills train station still trying to get home at 7.20pm on Wednesday night.
Another storm on the way: weather bureau
He said another less severe storm was expected later on Wednesday night.
 
An emergency services spokesman said swift water rescues had occurred in Salisbury and Rocklea.
 
At Salisbury, two cars were floating down the street, while in Rocklea three vehicles were stuck in floodwater in an underpass.
 
“Water is just under the windows and we are still en route to that one,” the spokesman said.
 
It is understood flood rescues also occurred in Bowen Hills and Acacia Ridge.
 
North of Brisbane, rainfall brought relief to firefighters who had been battling a bushfire at Somerset Dam Village and another grass fire burning near Mount Esk.
 
All crews have been stood down as rain drastically reduced the fire threat.

Ebola crisis: Seventh Sierra Leone doctor dies from virus

Ebola Virus

A Sierra Leonean doctor has died from Ebola, bringing the number of doctors killed by the virus to seven, a medical source says.
 
“Dr Michael Kargbo died this afternoon,” said a senior health worker at the Hastings Treatment Centre in the outskirts of Freetown.
 
It was not clear how Dr Kargbo, a 64-year-old dermatologist working at the Magburaka Government Hospital, was infected with Ebola, as he was not serving in a frontline Ebola treatment unit.
 
Sierra Leone has seen at least 128 of its health personnel infected by Ebola, as staff working in general wards and special treatment centres have been exposed to the disease.
 
All seven Sierra Leonean doctors who have contracted Ebola have died.
 
Dr Kargbo’s death comes a day after Dr Martin Salia, a surgeon from Sierra Leone, died in the United States after being evacuated for treatment.
 
The Ebola outbreak has killed over 5,000 people, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
 
Mali is currently facing a new wave of cases but Senegal and Nigeria have successfully contained outbreaks.
 
Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has set a goal of having no new cases by the end of December.
 
UN officials said the disease was still advancing rapidly in Sierra Leone, where there is a lack of treatment centres.

Patient rushed to isolation ward with Ebola Virus symptoms which forces the GP walk-in centre to shut down in Hereford, UK

Ebola Virus

A hospital patient in Hereford has undergone testing for Ebola after displaying early symptoms of the virus, health officials have confirmed.
 
Public Health England (PHE) said the man is being tested “as a precaution”, and they expect test results to show the man is not infected.
 
A spokesman said the man was displaying one of the early symptoms of Ebola, which has killed more than 5,000 people and infected more than 13,000 across parts of west Africa.
 
The spokesman said: “PHE can confirm it has received a sample for precautionary Ebola testing, involving an individual at Hereford County Hospital with a history of travel to west Africa.
 
“Ebola is considered very unlikely but testing is being done as a precaution. Based on the evidence-based risk assessment protocol, we are confident that all appropriate actions are being taken to ensure there is no risk to public health.”
 
Mum Marie Williams, who was in the clinic when it was closed, said: “We were in there at the time and although my daughter has a potential life threatening condition if she is poorly they refused to give me any info on what had happened.”
 
A spokesman for Primecare, which runs the service, said: “As a precautionary measure and in line with standard infection control guidelines the NHS health care centre in Belmont Road, Hereford has been closed after patient with a suspected infectious disease was seen.
 
“The patient has now been transported to hospital.”
 
Deaths from the current outbreak have now reached over 5,000 in West Africa.

India quarantines Ebola survivor over virus traces in semen samples

Ebola Virus

A man who had been cured of Ebola but continued to show traces of virus in his semen upon his arrival in India has been isolated, as authorities are not willing to take a risk of possible sexual transmission within 90 days from clinical cure.
 
A 26-year-old Indian man who was declared free from Ebola in Liberia is now in isolation at the New Delhi airport even after being declared Ebola free under World Health Organization’s standards, India’s Health Ministry has announced.
 
“It is a known fact that during convalescence from Ebola Virus Disease, persons continue to shed virus in body fluids for variable periods. However, presence of virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure,” a ministry statement reads.
Authorities announced that an unnamed Indian male was quarantined after arriving in Indian from Liberia on 10th November. At the airport screening he produced a medical clearance certificate from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Liberia stating that “he has successfully undergone care and treatment related to Ebola Virus Disease and after post treatment assessment he has been declared free of any clinical signs and symptoms and confirmed negative by laboratory analysis.”
 
As a matter of precaution, medical staff at the airport conducted three blood samples that were sent out to the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi. All three came back negative for Ebola, conforming to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. But fearing that “the virus may continue to be positive in secretions like urine and semen for a longer time,” medical staff decided to test his bodily fluids.
 
“His semen sample tested at National Centre for Disease Control on 17th November, 2014 was found positive for Ebola Virus by RT-PCR. The tests for semen samples repeated at National Institute of Virology, Pune, on 17th November, 2014 also tested positive,” the ministry said.
 
Authorities note that currently the man is not experiencing any symptoms of the disease but will be kept under isolation until “his body fluids test negative and he is found medically fit to be discharged.”
 
“This would rule out even the remote possibility of spread of this disease by the sexual route,” authorities concluded.
 
Some experts however said the Indian authorities overreacted as the risk of sexual transmission was only theoretical. “It does seem a rather strong reaction to an individual situation,” Andrew Easton, a professor of virology at the University of Warwick in the UK, told Bloomberg, adding that using a condom would be an acceptable way to reduce transmission risk as per WHO standards.
 
The Ebola outbreak has killed at least 5,177 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the latest figures from the WHO. There have been no Ebola cases reported in India but there are fears that an outbreak could eventually spread as an estimate 45,000 Indian nationals are currently living in West Africa.

MAGNITUDE 3.3 ICELAND REGION

Subject to change

Depth: 1.6 km
 

Distances: Latitude, Longitude  64.665 -17.465
(4.1 km NE of Bárðarbunga)

Earthquake location   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Map of earthquake epicentres

Time and magnitude of earthquake   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Graph showing earthquake timing and magnitude

MAGNITUDE 3.1 ICELAND REGION

Subject to change

Depth: 1 km
 

Distances: Latitude, Longitude  64.663 -17.443
(4.7 km ENE of Bárðarbunga)

Earthquake location   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Map of earthquake epicentres

Time and magnitude of earthquake   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Graph showing earthquake timing and magnitude

MAGNITUDE 4.2 ICELAND REGION

Subject to change

Depth: 3.6 km
 

Distances: Latitude, Longitude  64.666 -17.455
(4.5 km NE of Bárðarbunga)

Earthquake location   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Map of earthquake epicentres

Time and magnitude of earthquake   19 Nov 21:25 GMT

Graph showing earthquake timing and magnitude