Archive | August 21, 2015

Severe drought alert issued due to agriculture being hit hard in Central America

Drought Emergency Alert_2

Central American and Caribbean governments on Thursday issued an official alert as severe drought in the region damages the crops of some 1.6 million people.
As part of the step, governments from the farming-dependent region pledged to help afflicted families and coordinate international relief efforts to deal with the drought, the cost of which is still being calculated.
“Agreement has been reached to declare an agricultural alert across all of Central America and the Caribbean, not just to … take preventive steps for what follows, but also raise international awareness and seek cooperation,” Orestes Ortez, El Salvador’s Agriculture Minister, told reporters.
Officials from Central American governments and the Dominican Republic took part in a meeting on the drought in El Salvador.
Last week, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said nearly 1 million people in Guatemala alone are struggling to feed themselves due to drought and poor harvests.
Central American coffee farmers have already been hit hard by a deadly fungus known as roya in the past two seasons.
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Hurricane Danny strengthens into Category 3 storm

Hurricane Danny has strengthened into a Category 3 storm as it moves across the Atlantic far from land.
The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds Friday had increased to near 115 mph (185 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the hurricane is not expected to intensify, and a weakening trend is forecast to begin later Friday.
The hurricane is centered about 900 miles (1448 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands.
Hurricane Danny doesn’t currently pose a threat to land but the hurricane center says those in the Leeward Islands should monitor its progress.
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Lightning strike ignites fire at a refinery in Texas, USA

17.08.15 Oil Refinary Lightning Strike

(Source: KPRC/CNN)
A lightning strike sparked a fire at an oil refinery on Thursday.
Heavy lightning was to blame for two fires in the area, both involving oil, including a fire at the Valero refinery.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find oil burning inside a container. They asked all non-essential personnel to avoid the area.
“We believe lightening struck a transformer, causing a fire there. That fire is basically going out.” Battalion Chief Steve Cooley said.
Officials were not sure whether oil fueled that fire, but considering it’s a refinery, to be safe they let it burn itself out to merely a flicker.
“Valero has everything at their plant under control,” Cooley said.
Another tank fire also was caused by lightning. One person said she felt her house shake and then saw her lights go out.
Officials said no injuries were reported in the refinery fire, and residents were never in danger.
Courtesy of



***BE ALERT***

Proton Alert 21.08.15 20.58 hrs UTC

4 new fires erupt in China’s Tianjin port disaster area

Soldiers from a People's Liberation Army chemical-defence unit work to neutralize sodium cyanide residue on the charred car bodes after the massive explosions at a port in northeastern China's Tianjin Municipality Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Officials have ordered nationwide checks on dangerous materials, and the Chinese military said it was inspecting storage measures for weapons, ammunition, and fuel as well as chemical, explosive and toxic materials, the official newspaper People's Liberation Army Daily reported. (Chinatopix Via AP) CHINA OUT
Four new fires burned Friday within a disaster zone in China’s Tianjin port where massive warehouse explosions more than a week ago killed at least 114 people and contaminated the area with toxic chemicals.
The fires were spotted in a car parking lot and at three other locations within a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) evacuated area, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not give more details, but the state-run Legal Evening News said firefighters put out the fire in the parking lot and that cleanup work in the disaster zone soon resumed.
Technicians have detected levels of cyanide as much as 356 times the safe level within the evacuated zone, although no abnormal contamination was found outside the zone, according to state media reports.
Workers in protective suits have started clearing wreckage, including charred car bodies and crumpled shipping containers, from the area of chemical warehouses that exploded Aug. 12. Xinhua said excavating equipment was being used to clear the site, and trucks were carrying out debris.
Officials have ordered nationwide checks on dangerous materials. Driving home the importance of such efforts, President Xi Jinping and other top leaders gathered in Beijing to hear a report on progress in investigating the disaster.
“Lately, in some places there have been major industrial safety accidents, one after the other, revealing yet again that problems in the area of industrial safety remain prominent and grave,” said a statement issued after the meeting Thursday.
Suspicions that official corruption contributed to the disaster were underlined in revelations Wednesday in a Xinhua article that the two silent owners used their connections with police, fire, port and workplace safety officials to secure approval for their company, Ruihai International Logistics, to operate warehouses for hazardous materials.
The Ruihai owners were able to secure permits to store toxic chemicals, including sodium cyanide, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate, even though their facility is located less than the required 1,000 meters (yards) from homes and public roads — a clear violation of state safety rules.
An Associated Press review of corporate documents found that the principal owner, Yu Xuewei, also was a board member of a state-owned company that operates hazmat warehouses that have similarly been accused of violating the 1,000-meter rule. The state-owned company’s parent, Sinochem, has disavowed any connection with Ruihai.
The explosions that rocked Tianjin were among China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years and the deadliest on record for the country’s firefighters, who accounted for 102 of the 179 total dead and missing. Authorities say almost 700 people remain hospitalized, while 30,000 people in and around the area have had their lives turned upside down by the disaster.
Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said the investigation into the disaster must be thorough and cover every step taken by the company to obtain the license to store hazardous materials.
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Large explosion in Los Angeles knocks LogMeIn’s British customers offline

Explosion Alert

An explosion in Los Angles last night triggered a power blackout and data centre outage, which led to a knock-on impact for UK customers of LogMeIn today, who were left unable to access remote desktop services, The Register can reveal.
The explosion in a Los Angeles high rise hospitalised two people and caused a power blackout in the city. The incident affected several ISPs and impacted remote desktop company LogMeIn’s primary data centres, a spokesman from the company said.
The power outage also affected a Shania Twain concert during a performance of ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’. A secondary power source kicked in within five minutes.
UK customer Rob Lee got in touch to say the service had been offline for several hours today:
Today we are currently into the fourth hour of an outage of LogMeIn Central, leaving us with no ability to login or use our Logmein Central account and no word from LogMeIn as to what is wrong when it will be fixed.
For us it’s a nightmare as I am having to visit customers to tackle issues which would normally be solved in minutes by colleagues remotely.
Lee added: “It’s surprising that the outage only affected Shania Twain for a few minutes, perhaps Logmein should get some backup advice from her.”
However, the problem appears to have been resolved in within the last hour (as of 14:30 BST).
A spokesman from LogMeIn said: “We began a roll over to our other global data centre immediately. This was the cause of the disruption for some customers. It is now resolved.”
The company said in a tweet at 14:06: “Full connectivity is now restored following an outage in one of our primary data centers. Apologies for any disruption this may have caused.” 
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Gas explosion rocks a high school and injures 3 in New York City, USA

Gas Explosion

A gas explosion during construction at a New York City high school Thursday night seriously injured three workers and caused heavy damage to several floors of the building. CBS New York reported the blast occurred at 8:09 p.m. at John F. Kennedy High School in the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. Nearly 140 firefighters responded to the scene. The FDNY said three workers were hurt in the explosion. One was reported in critical condition; the other two suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. All three were taken to the burn unit at Jacobi Medical Center. Authorities said construction crews were working on a sixth floor gas line when the explosion occurred, seriously burning the workers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said work was being done by private contractors to improve the school’s science labs. He said the Department of Buildings was investigating the structural integrity of the building, which suffered major damage. It wasn’t immediately known what triggered the gas explosion. A custodian who was working at the time of the explosion told CBS Radio station 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten what happened. Photos at the scene showed windows blown out and other interior and exterior damage. “There’s contractors up there. They’re working up there. So they’re working up there — I think they’re making them do a few classrooms or something like that; chemistry room. And it just broke down when they hit it with a blow torch, and that was it,” he said. The custodian said he smelled natural gas shortly before the explosion, but there was no smoke or fire. The mayor said people around the neighborhood felt the blast. “A very troubling evening for residents here in Marble Hill. They felt a blast. They felt a building shake. I talked to some of the elected officials here — they literally felt it themselves,” de Blasio said. “And what we see here at JFK High is a shocking scene.” “The room I was in shook. The whole room shook,” resident Emily Langer told CBS New York. “You feel that, ‘Oh my God.’ We went outside. And our neighbors were like, ‘Oh my God, did you feel that? What was that?’ And then right away, we heard the sirens.” Neighbors said they thought the worst when the heard the loud boom. “We thought it was a terrorist attack,” said Jackie Morris. “We really did not know what it was.” The school serves more than 1,200 students in grades 9-12. The first day of school is Sept. 9. The mayor said he couldn’t confirm if the damage would impact the school’s start date. “If part of the building can be opened, if all of the building can be opened, we won’t know until that full assessment is done,” de Blasio said.
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Severe hailstorm devastates 2,000 ha Kakheti vineyards in Georgia

Hailstorm devastated vineyards in Kakheti (Kvareli Municipality)
Over dozen villages of wine-producing Kvareli Municipality, Kakheti province, were hit by a severe hailstorm overnight on Thursday almost totally devastating harvest in the affected territory, damaging houses and vehicles and tearing down trees
According to Kvareli Gamgeoba, hailstorm lasted about 25 minutes destroying mostly vineyards.
Otar Danelia, Minister of Agriculture, told Interpressnews that, according to the preliminary assessment, the storm destroyed about 2,000 hectares of vineyards.
Heavy rain also caused floods and landslides in neighboring  Akhmeta and Lagodekhi municipalities.
Anti-hail rocket systems installed by the government in Kakheti didn’t help to prevent hailstorm. Delta, a company producing the systems, explained that anti-hail rockets are effective only when hail clouds are in the process of formation, but on Thursday they had to deal with already formed clouds, which appeared from South West.
Hailstorm in Kakheti (Kvareli Municipality)
“The cloud moved to the north and stopped near Caucasus range hitting Akhmeta surrounding areas,” spokesperson for Delta said adding that the systems were operational, but there was no point to use them.
Houses were flooded in Lagodekhi, while a landslide blocked a road in Akhmeta. Heavy rain also damaged Pshaveli-Abano-Omalo road, which was blocked on Friday for restoration works.
Emergency workers spend whole night to help affected families. Emergency crews were additionally sent from Tbilisi for assistance.
Hailstorm in Kakheti (Kvareli Municipality)
Hailstorm in Kakheti (Kvareli Municipality)
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