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Explosion at chemical complex declared ‘extreme threat’ in Germany

Heavy rain in India triggers floods, landslides; at least 125 dead

Rescue teams in India struggled through thick sludge and debris on Saturday to reach dozens of submerged homes as the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by torrential monsoon rain rose to 125.

Maharashtra state is being hit by the heaviest rain in July in four decades, experts say. Downpours lasting several days have severely affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, while major rivers are in danger of bursting their banks.

In Taliye, about 180 km (110 miles) southeast of the financial capital of Mumbai, the death toll rose to 42 with the recovery of four more bodies after landslides flattened most homes in the village, a senior Maharashtra government official said.

“About 40 people are still trapped. The possibility of rescuing them alive is thin as they’ve been trapped in mud for more than 36 hours,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

Harsh weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks, with floods in China and Western Europe and heat waves in North America, raising new fears about the impact of climate change.

Parts of India’s west coast have received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rain, forcing authorities to move people out of vulnerable areas as they released water from dams about to overflow. The hill station of Mahabaleshwar recorded its highest ever rainfall – 60 cm in 24 hours.

Rescuers were searching for victims of landslides in four other places in the state, the official said.

“Around 90,000 people were rescued from flood affected areas,” the Maharashtra government said in a statement, as authorities released water from overflowing dams.

Thousands of trucks were stuck for more than 24 hours on a highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was in anguish over the loss of lives.

“The situation in Maharashtra due to heavy rains is being closely monitored and assistance is being provided to the affected,” Modi said on Twitter on Friday.

In the southern state of Telangana, heavy rain caused flooding in the state capital of Hyderabad and other low-lying areas.

Indian environmentalists have warned that climate change and indiscriminate construction in fragile coastal regions could lead to more disasters.

“The rain fury that lashed Mahabaleshwar … is a strong warning against any more tampering with the ecologically fragile Western Ghats,” environment economist Devendra Sharma said on Twitter referring to the range of hills along India’s west coast.

Courtesy of reuters.com

https://tinyurl.com/67ctjhyw

Heavy flooding hits central China, affecting tens of millions

Unusually heavy rains and massive flooding have hit China’s Henan province, bursting the banks of rivers, overwhelming the public transport system and upending lives of tens of millions.

At least three people have been killed in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, where more than 20cm (7.8in) of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday. The rainfall shut the city’s subway system, leaving passengers trapped in waist-high water.

More than 10,000 residents of the central province have been moved to shelters, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The heavy rain across Henan began on 17 July. On Tuesday, weather authorities issued the highest warning level for the province and Chinese weather forecasts expected further severe downpours.

From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan, one of China’s most populous provinces with 94 million people, reported rainfall exceeding 5cm. Among the stations 1,614 registered levels above 10cm and 151 above 25cm, the authorities said.

Footage on China’s social media show the world-renowned Shaolin Temple, known for martial arts, as well as other cultural sites, badly affected. Hundreds of trapped residents in Henan called for help online as flooding cut electricity to their homes.

Floods are common in China’s rainy season, but their impact has worsened over the decades, due in part to China’s rapid urbanisation and the global climate crisis.

Extreme weather events have occurred in many parts of China this summer. Hundreds of thousands of residents in Sichuan province had to be relocated this month due to floods and landslides.

In June, Hotan city, in the far-west region of Xinjiang, had record-breaking rainfall, causing one resident to comment on social media that “the rainfall [this month] is equivalent to the combined rainfall of the past two years”.

Greenpeace said the risk of extreme weather was now highest in China in the densely populated city centres but that it was also growing fast for the outskirts of large cities because of rapid urbanisation.

Liu Junyan, of Greenpeace International, told Chinese media: “Because of the highly concentrated population, infrastructure and economic activity, the exposure and vulnerability of climate hazards are higher in urban areas. Cities are an important sector of global greenhouse gas emissions, which account for about 70% of the total emissions.”

Courtesy of theguardian.com

https://tinyurl.com/yw6dh8zy

Wildfire in Spain’s Costa Brava forces hundreds from their homes

Wild Fire Alert

Firefighters used water-carrying planes on Saturday as they battled to control a wildfire in Spain’s Costa Brava region that has forced 350 people to be evacuated from their homes, the regional fire service said.

The blaze, which police think was caused by a discarded cigarette, tore through more than 400 hectares (about 1,000 acres) of forest and scrubland on the edge of the Cap de Creus natural park, a popular tourist area.

“We’re trying to bring the fire under control at the moment using six aircraft, which are pouring water onto the flames and 90 fire crews on the ground,” said Sergi Palacios from the Catalan regional government’s fire service.

Video images shot by firefighters showed them clambering across the rocky terrain as they worked in the darkness to tackle the fire, which started on Friday.

More than 231 people had to seek shelter overnight in temporary accommodation offered by the local council in El Port de la Selva district.

Police said anyone found responsible for causing the fire by throwing away a smouldering cigarette could face criminal charges.

“One negligent cigarette butt is 50 years of reforestation,” Jordi Puignero, vice president of the Catalan regional government, told reporters.

Courtesy of reuters.com

https://tinyurl.com/7x3x6dtv

NE Oregon wildfire at nearly 11,000 acres; governor invokes Conflagration Act

Wild Fire Alert

The nearly 11,000-acre Elbow Creek Fire in northeast Oregon continues to be pushed by erratic winds and hot temperatures, challenging firefighters as the fire burns primarily to the east and west, with some growth to the north, officials said Saturday as Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Conflagration Act to bring in more outside resources..

The fire is located in the Grande Ronde River drainage near Mud Springs, about 30 miles southeast of Walla Walla, Wash.

Here’s the rest of Saturday morning’s update from the Oregon Department of Forestry:

Helicopters and air tankers worked to slow the spread of the fire to the north and south yesterday, while crews aided in structure protection. Firefighters also worked the northwest side of the fire to keep the fire from spreading into Elbow Creek and progressing further through the Grande Ronde River drainage. Support from heavy airtankers aided in limiting the fire spread on the south on private ownership and firefighters were able to hold the fire last night north of Sickfoot Road.

Based on infrared mapping, the fire is estimated to be 10,941 acres in size, and remains at 0% containment.

Today, suppression activities are focused on holding the fire in the Wildcat Creek area on the east side and protecting structures at risk. Additionally, firefighters are establishing anchor points and scouting opportunities to build containment lines to the west side of the fire near Elbow Creek. Where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage, firefighters continue working to build line construction and limit the fire spread on private ownership to the south, utilizing aircraft to slow fire spread.

The Elbow Creek Fire was reported on Thursday and is burning on both sides of the Grande Ronde River and is on or threatening Umatilla National Forest lands, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest lands, Vale District Bureau of Land Management lands and Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Numerous resources are aiding in firefighting efforts, including landowners, private operators, and various federal and state resources (hand crews, dozers, multiple engines, and water tenders). The fire is currently being staffed by a Type 3 Northeast Oregon Interagency Management Team. The agencies will inbrief the Oregon Department of Forestry Team 3 Type 1 Incident Management Team led by Link Smith today at 5 p.m. at the Wallowa High School and the team is anticipated to take command of the fire tomorrow.

The conflagration request sent by Wallowa County Fire Defense Board Chief, Paul Karvoski, to the Governor’s Office has been approved and additional resources are en route to support structure protection work with suppression efforts. The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office is surging resources to assist the local fire agencies.

Wallowa County has updated evacuation information. Additional information regarding evacuations is available through the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 426-3131 or by monitoring the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook.

Closures are also in place surrounding the fire. Due to fire activity on both sides of the Grande Ronde River corridor, the river is closed at Minam State Park. Any rafters that arrive into the fire area will be safely evacuated in coordination with Wallowa County Search and Rescue. Due to extreme wildfire activity and the concern for the safety of the public the entirety of the Umatilla National Forest has been temporarily closed.

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME.

Courtesy of ktvz.com

https://tinyurl.com/yfa3bmm8