Worst locust outbreak in 25 years in Ethiopia
At the end of a tough farming season, Ethiopian farmer Leila Mohammed was looking ready to harvest her millet crop with a sense of pride.
As she was drafting plans and calculating profits, she saw gigantic swarms of locusts like a cloud approaching the fields. All her efforts of waving a piece of cloth to beating steel plates to drive the swarm away failed. Within minutes all the hard labor of months and money she had invested to grow crops were ruined by little monsters.
Residing in Somali province, 50 kilometers (31 miles), north of the regional capital Jijjiga, Mohammed with his six children is looking at a bleak future and starving days ahead.
“They have destroyed my crop. I do not know what to do. We have lost food and battle against desert locusts,” she told Anadolu Agency.
She recalls that it was like a giant tornado flying high in the sky. Then they lost heights, starting descending and devastated crops.
The region has seen a second such attack from insects last weekend during the current farming season.
“Just last week, this area was sprayed with chemicals and the swarms got paralyzed. But look at them, they have come again to destroy whatever little had been left,” said Siba Aden Mohammed, a local official serving at Awbare district of Fafen zone.
While moving around, telling devastation is visible. Farms, where crops like millet, wheat, and chickpea were standing tall and awaiting harvest are empty, with farmers cursing their luck in desperation.
A vast blanket of dark brown winged insects has covered huge tracts of farmlands. As farmers try to remove them, they fly but soon return to sap the last grain of crop left in the field.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), since January, swarms of desert locusts have damaged over 200,000 hectares of cropland in Ethiopia affecting the food security of millions of people.
Courtesy of aa.com.tr
Winter arrives early in central Newfoundland, with 1st major snowfall of the season
Newfoundland’s first major snowfall of the season started causing problems early Wednesday morning, keeping schools closed and causing slow and sloppy highway conditions in central parts of the island.
Gander had over 27 centimetres of snow on the ground as of 7 a.m., according to Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney, with plows in the town out before dawn clearing parking lots.
A swath of central Newfoundland stretching from Gander through the Terra Nova area, Clarenville and up through the Bonavista Peninsula remained under a snowfall warning, with snow tapering off into flurries by mid-morning.
Environment Canada also issued a special weather statement for the Bay of Exploits and Grand Falls-Windsor areas, warning of up to four centimetres more of snow combined with strong winds making for a slow morning commute.
Many schools in central Newfoundland delayed opening Wednesday morning.
With the first snowfall came the opportunity for those with snowblowers to get their machines up and running ahead of a full-on winter. Some also experienced their first hiccups.
Jeff White, who manages Gander Repair Shop Ltd., told CBC Radio’s On The Go he had a busy morning with repairs.
“We’re into Friday afternoon now before we can get them [all] picked up,” White said.
“It’s usually the first one. It catches people off guard, and where your snowblower has most likely been laid up since last March or April, most people just don’t have them tuned up.”
White said it will be early next week before his shop clears through its backlog of repairs.
Courtesy of cbc.ca
Typhoon Goni devastates the Philippines
Typhoon Goni (“Rolly”), the most powerful storm in the world this year, tore through the heavilypopulated centre of the Philippines over the weekend. Government reports show that at least 20 have been killed, though this number is likely to rise as communications are slowly restored between its island provinces.
The storm made landfall as a super typhoon on the eastern island province of Catanduanes at 4:50 am on Sunday with sustained maximum wind speeds of 310kph (195mph) recorded in the turbulent eyewall of the storm, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre. As measured by one-minute average winds, it is the strongest typhoon to make landfall ever recorded in the world.
At least six people died in Catanduanes, and the island is without electricity, water or a cellular network. Provincial governor Joseph Cua told a news conference: “While there’s no more typhoon, we have no air and sea transportation.” The hashtag #NasaanAngCatanduanes or “Where is Catanduanes” has been trending on twitter to encourage recommunication with the area.
An emergency telecommunications team was deployed Monday, along with initial deliveries of food packs.
Cua reported that more than 13,000 homes on the island were damaged with some withstanding a five-metre storm surge. According to a “visual” assessment of the damage from ground level, the Red Cross has suggested that “80 to 90 per cent” of the easternmost town of Virac—home to 70,000 people—had been damaged by the storm.
The storm weakened as it travelled west over the Bicol region—the southern part of the main island of Luzon and the most populous area of the Philippines. Bringing floodwaters, toppling trees and triggering mudslides, it barrelled through the provinces of Albay through to Batangas, just south of the capital Manila, before heading towards the South China Sea.
The storm displaced 382,381 people and left 53,863 homes without electricity, according to government figures. The municipalities of Camarines Sur and Cavite were declared in a state of calamity following the storm. As of yesterday, 165 cities in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas are still experiencing power outages.
Over 50 sections of road are affected by flooding, landslides and uprooted trees throughout the island of Luzon, with 37 still impassable.
Summing up the cost estimates of rebuilding the worst affected areas of Camarines Sur, Metropolitan Manila, Quezon, Cavite and Camarines Norte, the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported $136 billion in damages, making it among the costliest storms in history.
The storm is a product of unusually warm waters as a result of the La Nina weather event, a phase of the vast oceanic and atmospheric cycle in the Pacific that drives warm surface waters to East Asia, with a resultant upwelling of colder water along the western coast of South America. Sea temperatures in the region where Goni formed are 30 to 31 degrees Celsius, which can lead to very powerful and unpredictable weather events.
Additionally, there is a trend of increasing major natural disasters due to climate change. A 2018 paper by Bhatia et al., “Projected Response of Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Intensification in a Global Climate Model” predicts a multiplication of destructive category 5 tropical cyclones towards the end of the century. From one Super Typhoon similar to Goni every eight years on a global scale, the occurrence is predicted to increase to one every year between 2081 to 2100.
The tropical archipelago of the Philippines is particularly vulnerable to this process, which routinely experiences around 20 storms and typhoons each year. The last storm, Typhoon Molave, passed through the same region last week killing 22 people.
The country is now on alert for Storm Siony (“Atsani”) likely to become a typhoon and make landfall on Thursday, though this time in the far north of Luzon island. The state weather agency forecasts two to three more typhoons to enter the Philippines in November and another one to two in December.
The UN reported around 68.6 million, or roughly 65 percent of the population are affected by Typhoon Goni, with 24.3 million living in the worst affected areas. Of that number, 2.3 million, including 724,000 children, are classed as “vulnerable”. Those most affected are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and other diseases in crowded evacuation centres, or face delayed and inadequate rescue efforts due to the lack of resources.
As of November 2, 385,400 COVID-19 infections have been recorded in the Philippines, with 7,269 deaths, the second-highest in south-east Asia. In order to establish Covid-secure emergency shelters, schools, gyms and government-run evacuation centres were requisitioned, with individual tents provided inside for families.
The mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, Filipino Grace America, told DZBB radio that “because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient.”
President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Guinobatan municipality in Albay Province on Monday, where more than 300 houses are buried under volcanic debris. Residents blamed the mudslide on quarrying operations on the slopes of Mt. Mayon, which had contributed to similar avalanches in previous weather events.
According to the Philippine Inquirer, Duterte initially dismissed the residents’ concerns saying Bicol would always be in harm’s way, “as long as it is facing the Pacific Ocean and a volcano is here.”
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, accompanying Duterte asked, “Who owns the quarry sites?”
To which a resident shot back, “Politicians!”
Later, bowing to public pressure, 12 groups operating in the area had their permits suspended. It was discovered that operators had left stockpiles on rivers which contributed to debris damage in flooding.
Courtesy of wsws.org
Storm Eta lashes Nicaragua with rain, sparking deadly mudslides
Tropical Storm Eta is spinning through northern Nicaragua after lashing the country’s Caribbean coast for much of the past day, with floodwater isolating already remote communities and setting off deadly landslides that killed at least three people.
The storm has weakened from the Category 4 hurricane that battered the coast, but it is moving so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America is on high alert.
On Wednesday morning, Eta had sustained winds of 45mph and was 125 miles north-north-east of Managua, moving westward at 7mph.
The long-term forecast shows the storm taking a turn over Central America and then reforming in the Caribbean, possibly reaching Cuba on Sunday and Florida on Monday.
Eta came ashore on Tuesday afternoon south of Puerto Cabezas, also know as Bilwi, after stalling just off the coast for hours.
The city of about 60,000 had been without power since Monday evening. Corrugated metal roofing and uprooted trees were scattered through its streets, and 20,000 of residents were in shelters.
About 100 miles west of where Eta made landfall, two gold miners were killed when a mountainside unleashed tons of mud. A third miner escaped the slide and sought help.
One body was recovered before rescuers had to suspend recovery efforts due to nightfall and there were fears that more slides could occur as the rain continued, said Cesar Malespin of Bonanza Fire Department.
The storm also drenched neighbouring Honduras, and the country reported its first storm-related death on Tuesday. A 12-year-old girl died in a mudslide in San Pedro Sula, the main population centre in northern Honduras, said Marvin Aparicio of the emergency management agency.
In Honduras, at least 559 people had to move to shelters or go to relatives’ homes to escape flooding, he said, and at least 25 people had been rescued. His agency reported at least six rivers causing significant flooding.
Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras could get 15in to 25in of rain, with 35in in isolated areas. Heavy rain is also likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.
Courtesy of centralfifetimes.com
NHS England will move to highest level of emergency alert from midnight tonight
The NHS will move to its highest level of emergency alert from midnight tonight in England.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, announced it would move to “level 4” alert as hospitals see an increase in “desperately” sick patients.
The alert level will move from level 3 – which means coronavirus is in general circulation – to level 4, which means that transmission is high or rising exponentially.
Mr Stevens added: “The facts are clear, we are once again facing a serious situation.
“This is not a situation that anybody wanted to find themselves in, the worst pandemic in a century, but the fact is that the NHS is here.
“The public can help us help you so our fantastic staff – our nurses, our doctors, our paramedics – can get on with looking after you and your family there when you need it.”
On vaccines, Sir Stevens told an NHS press conference: “Our expectation is that it will be the start of next year when the bulk of vaccine becomes available assuming that the Phase 3 trials produce positive results.
“We are obviously planning on the off chance that there is some vaccine available before Christmas.”
Some vaccines need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius he said, adding: “So it’s going to be a combination of what GPs are able to do, what community pharmacists are able to do, but also mass vaccination centres which is one of the purposes we will be using the Nightingale Hospitals for, and other locations as well.
“There will be roving teams who will prioritise care homes and social care staff and other vulnerable groups.
“But the bulk of this is going to be the other side of Christmas but we want to be ready.”
In the press conference from University College Hospital, Mr Stevens said the health service has prepared “very carefully” for the “next phase of coronavirus”.
He said that, for some patients, mortality in hospital and intensive care has “halved since Covid was first known to humanity”.
But he added: “However well-prepared hospitals, the NHS, GP surgeries are, it is going to be a difficult period.”
He said: “We want to try and ensure that the health service is there for everybody, minimising the disruption to the full range of care that we provide, not just Covid but cancer services, routine operations and mental health services.
“And the truth, unfortunately, is that, if coronavirus takes off again, that will disrupt services.
“We are seeing that in parts of the country where hospitals are dealing with more coronavirus patients now than they were in April.”
He added: “The best way we enable the health service to look after all the people who need our care … this, by the way, is what is meant by that slogan ‘Protect the NHS’, what it means, I think, is help us help you by ensuring (we) are able to offer that wider range of care.”
He said that “other lines of defence such as actions individuals are taking to reduce the spread of the virus and the Test and Trace programme” are needed, adding: “The reality is that there is no health service in the world that by itself can cope with coronavirus on the rampage.
“That’s why it is so important that we reduce infections across the country.”
Courtesy of mirror.co.uk
MAGNITUDE 2.7 CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN REGION
Depth: 40 km
Distances: 562 km WSW of Agadir, Morocco / pop: 698,000 / local time: 23:45:15.7 2020-11-03
113 km N of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain / pop: 381,000 / local time: 22:45:15.7 2020-11-03