Massive power grid failure plunges Pakistan into darkness
Pakistan’s national power grid has failed, leaving almost the entire country in the dark. With officials blaming a mysterious “plunge in the frequency,” conspiracy theories quickly proliferated.
“A countrywide blackout has been caused by a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system,” Pakistani power minister Omar Ayub Khan wrote on Twitter, shortly after the country was plunged into darkness before midnight on Saturday.
Pakistanis soon shared pictures of their blacked out cities and towns, with the starry night sky clearly visible above without the usual light pollution.
Khan added that repair crews had been dispatched to power stations, and urged citizens to remain calm.
Government spokesman Imran Ghazali said shortly afterwards that power would be restored to Islamabad within three hours, and to the rest of the country by Sunday morning.
Abid Qaiyum Suleri, an economic adviser to Khan, said on Twitter that a 500KV transmission had broken down, though Suleri did not know exactly how. He suggested that fog or an “uptake issue” from the Tarbela Dam hydroelectric plant could have been responsible.
However, other theories soon spread in the darkness. Some predicted a coup against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Others warned of an impending attack by India.
Other commenters stepped in to remind them not to panic, to wait for power to be restored, and to “go to sleep early tonight.”
While rebel attacks have caused massive blackouts in Pakistan before, the country’s crumbling infrastructure and growing demand for power often leave citizens without power for hours on end. However, new Chinese-built power stations and supply lines are beginning to make up the shortfall.
Courtesy of rt.com
The Brrrrrrritish Isles: Snow-coated Britain wakes to fresh warning of ice and freezing fog after England suffers COLDEST night of winter so far with -11.1C low
Britain today awoke to a fresh warning of ice and freezing fog after England suffered its coldest night of the winter so far, with bracing lows of -11.1C recorded in the North.
Yellow weather warnings remained in place for ice across much of the UK this morning, with only southern parts of Scotland escaping the freezing conditions which are set to last until Monday.
England endured its coldest night of the winter so far overnight, with Redesdale Camp in Northumberland seeing lows of -11.1C overnight, while Scotland recorded lows of -11.6C in the Highlands.
Britons have been warned to take care on icy stretches which could lead to difficult driving conditions across much of the UK, with injuries from slips and falls also a risk amid a blast of cold air from Scandinavia and the Arctic.
Temperatures were expected to remain as low as -9C in northern parts of the UK early today, with more snow predicted to fall over the Pennines, North York Moors and the high ground of Wales, the Met Office said.
Forecasters added it will remain largely dry with sunny spells elsewhere, though low cloud and freezing fog is expected to hit parts of central and southern England throughout Saturday.
It follows heavy snowfall which hit much of the UK yesterday, causing chaos on the roads as cars overturned, emergency service vehicles skidded off the road, and motorway traffic ground to a halt.
The Met Office warned that some areas of northwest Scotland could experience flooding over the weekend due to heavy rain which is expected to move across the region on Sunday.
Forecaster Greg Dewhurst told MailOnline the freezing conditions are pushing over the north and north east of the UK from Scandinavia and the Arctic.
The colder weather will persist until Monday, he said, when temperatures are expected to reach 11C in the south of England.
He said: ‘We are looking at generally dry weather across England, but there is a risk of icy patches this morning.
‘Scotland will see a cold start with sleet and hill snow eastwards, it will be a cold day for many with temperatures reaching 2C to 4C across the country. However, it will be milder in the northwest with temperatures of 7C to 8C.’
The cold temperatures will persist overnight on Saturday and into Sunday, with widespread frost and icy stretches expected again, alongside more patches of freezing fog.
‘Overall, staying cold is the main theme for the weekend with fog and icy stretches,’ Mr Dewhurst said.
Heavy snowfall hit much of the UK on Friday, causing chaos on the roads as cars overturned, emergency service vehicles skidded off the road, and motorway traffic ground to a halt.
Britons were told to remain cautious when venturing out into the hazardous conditions brought by the cold snap on Friday, which forecasters have warned could be the precursor to a dump of snow and strong winds from Siberia of the kind last seen during 2018 when the memorable Beast from the East struck.
Although all of the UK is under strict ‘stay at home’ orders – with exceptions such as for essential work – to stem the spread of coronavirus, drivers were warned to be careful on the roads as temperatures plummeted.
The A1 in County Durham was yesterday brought to a standstill with motorists enduring hour-long tailbacks because of problems caused during the snow, including a stalled truck.
Gritters, snow ploughs and salt-spreaders were on the roads early on Friday morning to try to make the tarmac as safe as possible. Drivers in the North East were told to only take to the roads if absolutely necessary as the weather caused huge logjams.
Highways England tweeted: ‘We are currently monitoring heavy snowfall which is causing disruption in the area of County Durham. Traffic officers and gritters are out patrolling the area. With delays reaching 60 mins on the A1M southbound we are advising drivers to only travel if essential.’
In nearby Otterburn, Northumberland, a lorry skidded round a tight bend and crashed through the barriers. It is pictured coming to a rest tilted slightly to one side on a steep bank, while part its front damaged.
Thames Valley Police, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, said: ‘Please take extra care when driving this morning as some roads could be icy. If you’re driving this morning, please fully de-ice your car windows, adapt your driving to the conditions, keep well back from vehicles in front, and leave extra time for travel.’
Surrey Police warned that just because the roads have been gritted it ‘does not ensure that they are entirely ice free! Drive safely and be aware that black ice on roads is possible.’
The cold snap comes as the same conditions that brought snow storms three years ago are said to be forming again high up in the atmosphere.
The ‘sudden stratospheric warming’ (SSW) event happens when the temperature in the stratosphere soars by 50C (122F). This ‘reverses’ Britain’s wind pattern, from the warmer west out in the Atlantic to the east – and Siberia.
It can take two weeks for the effects of a SSW to be felt. This was the case in February 2018 with the infamous Beast from the East, which saw much of the UK gripped by travel chaos and school closures amid heavy snow.
The cold spell saw temperatures in parts of Britain drop as low as -10C and brought snow to much of the country. The weather was so cold in Brecon Beacons national park that an entire waterfall froze solid.
Sixteen people died in winter-related deaths, including a seven-year-old girl from Loos, Cornwall, who was hit by a car that slid on ice.
Dr Richard Hall, an expert in SSWs from the University of Bristol, said it ‘loads the dice’ or ‘tips the odds’ in favour of another blast of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures from Siberia.
A study by experts at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath shows how dramatic meteorological changes above the North Pole can have severe consequences for the weather in the UK.
During an SSW the stratosphere – the layer six to 31 miles above the Earth’s surface – can increase in temperature by up to 50C over a matter of days.
This disturbance can travel down through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface and cause shifts in the jet stream, the fast-moving air currents that cool Europe.
UK experts studied 40 stratospheric warming episodes from the last six decades in the latest study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Dr Hall said an SSW happens ‘every two years in three’ and one is ‘taking place at the moment’. In 2018 there was an SSW event two weeks before the ‘Beast from the East’ brought 50cm (20in) snowfalls.
However Dr Hall said only two thirds of SSWs reach the surface and the current one could ‘just peter out’.
He added: ‘The main area of impact is over Siberia where you get intense cold and that then extends westwards toward Europe. We are right on the edge of this and so slight variations can affect if it reaches us.’
The phenomenon, which in Britain usually leads to cold periods, begins 30km (18 miles) into the atmosphere in the high altitude jet stream, which usually flows from west to east, bringing relatively warm and wet air from the Atlantic into the UK.
A disturbance hits the jet stream, pushing its waves down towards the Arctic and reversing the stream from east to west. As the air is compressed over this region, it begins to warm.
This leads to high pressure over the North Atlantic, blocking the usual flow of mild air that flows into Britain from the west.
Instead, colder air from the east is sucked over the British Isles, resulting in colder temperatures.
Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
NHS nurse ‘angry and heartbroken’ at catching coronavirus three weeks after Pfizer-BionNtech vaccine in Wales
A nurse is worried she was lured into a false sense of security regarding the vaccine after she caught coronavirus only a matter of weeks after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
The NHS employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, works within the Hywel Dda University Health Board area in south-west Wales, which covers Pembrokeshire Local, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.
She’s said of her new positive test result that she is “angry and heartbroken” that she’s caught the deadly virus at this stage.
Wales is also in a tight lockdown, with First Minister Mark Drakeford set to review the measures next week as the UK continues to report staggering death figures.
The new mutant strain of Covid has been ripping across Britain, and the nurse in question explained she was initially relieved to be offered the chance of the vaccine back in December when the new, highly contagious strain emerged.
At first, she had trouble getting an appointment, however, she managed to receive her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine just over three weeks ago.
The hospital nurse, who works in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area in west Wales, said she felt “angry and heartbroken” about catching Covid at this stage.
She added: “It gave me peace of mind. It made me feel safer and that I was doing the right thing for my family, but it gives a false sense of security.”
The nurse also explained that she was told it would take 10 days for the jab to offer her some protection against the virus and reduce risk of transmission, however, she started feeling unwell three weeks later.
Her partner and one of her children has also tested positive, experiencing “quite severe symptoms” of a high temperature, breathlessness and a bad cough.
She added she was “shocked” when she found out she had contracted the virus.
The Pfizer vaccine was the first to be rolled out and began on December 8 2020.
Two doses are needed for the vaccine to work fully, and currently, around a million people have had their first dose.
Advice regarding the vaccine for the whole of the UK was that the second dose of the vaccine was needed three weeks after the initial one, however, this has since changed.
Now, it’s recommended that there is a 12-week gap between doses, following the UK’s chief medical officers’ advice.
The World Health Organisation has stated that it does not recommend following the UK’s decision but has “made a provision for countries in exceptional circumstances of vaccine supply constraints and epidemiological settings” to delay the second dose for a few weeks, as this will maximise the number of people getting their first dose.
Courtesy of dailystar.co.uk
Ukraine rocked as huge gas pipeline explosion ‘leaves entire villages shaking’
A giant gas explosion has been reported in the Ukraine – with the explosion believed to have happened on a main gas pipeline in the Urengoy – Pomary region.
Local news reports have suggested the explosion occurred near the village of Kalaydyntsi – while footage and photos from the area showed a giant ball of fire lighting up the sky.
No casualties have been reported – with the giant explosion taking place on Saturday.
A local news update stated: “Emergency gas shutdowns are possible. Please, if the gas is turned off, make sure that all gas burners are closed.”
Footage shared on Twitter showed a giant ball of fire erupting skywards as locals reported a deafening explosion.
One Twitter user, sharing footage, wrote: “The explosion thundered on the gas pipeline of the Lubnygaz enterprise in the #Poltava region of #Ukraine.”
Another video uploaded to Twitter showed the flames erupting on the horizon while a roar from the fire could be clearly heard.
Locals filming the incident could be heard gasping and exclaiming in the background of the video.
While further footage from a busy motorway showed flames and dark smoke leaping from the source of the explosion near the village of Novaki.
The BBC reports Ihor Mosiychuk, who resides in the vicinity of the explosion, said that the incident occurred between the villages of Yenkivtsi and Tarandyntsi.
He is reported stating via Facebook: “The explosion was so strong that the windows in the neighboring villages were shaking.”
He added: “You can see the fire.”
Meanwhile, local emergency services have warned that some towns, cities and regions will be affected by emergency gas shut downs.
Kyiv Post reports local authoritie warning: “The list of settlements that have been disconnected or will be disconnected from the gas supply is being specified.”
They add: “JSC Lubnygaz is putting all emergency services on duty in an operational mode.”
Courtesy of dailystar.co.uk
CDC launches probe after ‘very healthy’ Miami doctor dies 2 weeks after taking Pfizer’s Covid-19 jab
A middle-aged doctor from Florida has passed away two weeks after receiving his first dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, succumbing to a rare blood disorder. The CDC and local officials have opened a probe into his death.
Dr. Gregory Michael – a 56-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist who ran his own practice at Miami Beach’s Mount Sinai Medical Center for more than a decade – died late last week, 16 days after taking the vaccine developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Local health officials said on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Florida Health Department and the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office were investigating the exact cause of Michael’s death, which was linked to a rare condition that affects the body’s ability to clot blood.
“The cause of death is pending the completion of studies being done by the medical examiner and the Centers for Disease Control,” said the office’s director, Darren Caprara, in an email to media outlets. He added that while an autopsy was conducted on Tuesday, “the case is still under investigation, so nothing has been finalized” and that a connection to the vaccine had not been ruled out.
A CDC representative separately told a local media outlet that the agency would “evaluate the situation as more information becomes available and provide timely updates on what is known and any necessary actions.”
The doctor was said to be in good health prior to his death on Sunday, with his wife describing him as “very healthy” in a Facebook post, while his own website noted that he was an avid big game fisherman and a certified scuba diver.
Pfizer, meanwhile, said it was “actively investigating the case,” acknowledging that Michael died of a “highly unusual clinical case of severe thrombocytopenia,” the blood-clotting condition, but noted it does not believe “there is any direct connection to the vaccine.”
Though the Pfizer/BioNTech jab has cleared safety and efficacy hurdles in a number of countries and secured official authorization, at times under emergency-use provisions, the immunization has been linked to alarming reports of adverse reactions in recent weeks, such as two nursing home residents in Norway who passed away days after taking their first dose. Like Michael’s case, officials are still investigating whether the deaths were linked to the vaccine. Meanwhile in Portugal, authorities dismissed reports that a similar sudden death of an otherwise ‘perfectly healthy’ doctor was somehow linked to her taking it.
Courtesy of rt.com
Indonesia plane missing: Boeing lost contact after dropping ‘more than 10,000ft in less than a minute’
A search and rescue operation is under way in Indonesia after contact was lost with a Boeing 737-500 plane on a local flight.
An Indonesian Transport Ministry spokesman said the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182 was flying from the capital Jakarta to Pontianak City in West Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo. The last contact was at 2.40pm local time (7.40am in the UK), it said.
Tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter that the flight “lost more than 10,000ft (3,000m) of altitude in less than one minute” about four minutes after departure.
The Indonesian Navy has determined the plane’s co-ordinates and ships have been deployed to the location, Navy official Abdul Rasyid said.
Suspected debris has been located in waters north of Jakarta, an official from the Basarnas rescue agency told the Reuters news agency, although it has not been confirmed that it is from the missing plane. Fishermen spotted metal objects believed to be parts of an aircraft in the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta, on Saturday afternoon.
Friends and relatives of people on the flight have been seen in television footage praying and hugging each other as they wait for news at the airports in Jakarta and Pontianak airport.
Some 62 people were on board, including crew. Ten of the passengers were children, the rescue agency said.
In its latest statement, the airline said it was still gathering information on the incident.
“Sriwijaya Air is still in contact with various related parties to get more detailed information regarding the SJ-182 flight from Jakarta to Pontianak,” the company said.
“Management is still communicating and investigating this matter and will immediately issue an official statement after obtaining the actual information.”
Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said: “The missing plane is currently under investigation and under co-ordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee.”
A spokeswoman for Boeing said: “We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information.”
A plane flying from Jakarta to Pontianak would spend most of the 90-minute flight over the Java Sea. Sriwijaya Air is one of Indonesia’s discount carriers, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people.
The missing plane is not a Boeing 737 Max, the model involved in two major accidents in recent years – the first of which involved a crash in Indonesia.
The Lion Air 737 MAX, carrying 189 passengers and crew, crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta in October 2018, killing everyone on board.
It was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda flight near Medan on Sumatra island.
And in December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore crashed into the sea, killing 162 people.
Courtesy of Sky News
Madrid Paralysed’ by Heavy Snow Storms as Roads shut and Madrid Airport forced to Suspend Operations
Madrid Paralysed’ by Heavy Snow Storms as Roads shut and Madrid Airport forced to Suspend Operations.
The very heavy snow fall that was forecast by AEMET, the Spanish meteorological service, has tonight struck Spain’s capital Madrid.
Storm Filomena has kept all of Spain, except Melilla, on alert for intense cold, wind, rain and snow. The storm is affecting some 406 roads throughout Spain, 42 of them on the main network, according to an update by the General Directorate of Traffic. In addition, the secondary road network, 41, is on the black level, that means it is impassable and more than 200 roads are on the red level, with heavy vehicles now obligated to wear snow chains.
So far, up to 7:00 pm, there have been three flight diversions, one in Malaga, another in Córdoba and another in Tenerife North, and nine cancellations at Ceuta heliport.
In the capital, the M-30 ring road between the north junction and the Manoteras junction and the M-40 is cut into a small section. In this second route, snow chains are mandatory in the 60 kilometres of its journey.
The Community emergency service recommends not using private vehicles and reminds everyone of the obligation to use chains on their cars after ten at night. Also on the main network, the passage of traffic is completely interrupted in three kilometres in both directions of the CM-40 and another of the CM-42 as it passes through Toledo.
Courtesy of euroweeklynews.com
Winter storm impacts parts of New Mexico, USA
Warmer weather to finish out the week, but a winter storm will impact parts of New Mexico this weekend.
Temperatures will continue to hover above average for this time of year on Friday as cloud cover will move across the state. However, a winter storm will begin to move into New Mexico on Saturday, first across the northern part of the state, then bring the potential for heavy snow across eastern New Mexico Saturday evening into Sunday morning.
There are still some uncertainties in the forecast with the track of this weekend’s storm system, but forecast models are getting a better handle on it. It is appearing more likely that many areas along and east of the central mountain chain will see snowfall this weekend, with pockets of heavy snow upwards of 6″. East facing slopes will be the focus for some of the heaviest snowfall too as upslope flow will aid in heavy snow development.
Keep an eye on the forecast as this will likely affect travel for many areas in eastern and northern New Mexico by Sunday morning.
Courtesy of krqe.com