Freak weather triggers state of emergency in Russia’s Far East, with freezing ice rain & plummeting temperatures
Strong winds and ice cold downpours have struck the city of Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia, leaving thousands without power, electricity and running water. The local government has officially declared a natural disaster.
As many as 120,000 homes were initially affected and, as of Friday, more than 1,500 households in the area were reportedly still cut off from the grid, with many having also lost their central heating. Although temperatures remained comparatively mild, at -1 degree Celsius, the combination of heavy snowfall and high-speed gales disrupted infrastructure and even caused damage to buildings.
In viral footage shared widely on Thursday, Alexander Zhuk, a Vladivostok native, narrowly escaped being crushed by a giant slab of concrete that fell onto his car, which he had been de-icing. He was later pictured next to the written-off vehicle, drinking a beer and celebrating his lucky escape.
The incident underlines concerns from the city’s residents that the fresh snow and freezing temperatures are taking their toll on the older high-rise residential blocks that are a staple in many Far Eastern cities. Some locals also woke up to find their cars virtually entirely frozen by sweeping ice rain that fell across the region overnight.
The Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper published disturbing images on Friday that purport to show the “first fatality” from the weather, with a body laying in the snow in one of Vladivostok’s parks. Local authorities have since confirmed that the man was a 60-year-old of no fixed address. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
A state of emergency has been in place across the region since Thursday, and temporary shelters offering food, warmth and psychological support have been set up for those unable to stay at home. Authorities warn that conditions could continue to worsen. In the longer-term, scientists warn that extreme weather could become more and more frequent as a side effect of climate change.
Courtesy of rt.com
Coronavirus: France declares state of emergency as night-time lockdown imposed on Paris and eight other cities
A state of emergency has been declared in France, and President Emmanuel Macron has announced a curfew between 9pm and 6am for the areas worst-affected by coronavirus.
Ile-de-France and eight metropolitan areas – including Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint Etienne and Toulouse – will face the curfews for four weeks, starting on Saturday.
During the curfew hours, people will not be allowed to go to restaurants or visit friends – but there will be no restrictions on public transport or on people travelling within regions.
Anyone who is out during the curfew will need to have a good reason, the president said.
Further details will be announced on Thursday, including exemptions for those working during curfew hours.
Speaking on French television, Mr Macron said the situation was “worrying” but the country had not yet “lost control” of the pandemic. He did, however, say the country was experiencing a second wave.
Mr Macron went on to say that anyone breaking the curfew rules would be fined €135 (£122).
He also said there should be no more than six people around the table for family gatherings, although exceptions could be made for those with more than six in their immediate family.
“The message I want to send this evening is that I need each of you, we need each other, to find solutions,” he said.
“We will come out of this stronger, because we will be more united. We will get through this, together.”
The French government earlier said the public health state of emergency will begin at midnight on Friday.
In a statement, the government said COVID-19 was a disaster which endangered the health of the population and justified the adoption of strict measures.
Areas under the maximum alert level have already had to close bars and restaurants are operating under restricted hours.
The move comes as the number of people in hospital with coronavirus in France has risen to more than 9,100 for the first time since the end of June.
The country reported 22,591 new daily cases on Wednesday, the third time in six days the daily total has surpassed 20,000.
Courtesy of Sky News
Storm Ianos: Two dead after ‘medicane’ lashes Greece and sparks islands emergency #StormIanos #Medicane #Greece
At least two people have been killed after a “medicane” – a rare Mediterranean hurricane – toppled trees, cut power and flooded streets in Greece.
Storm Ianos hit the Ionian islands and the western Peloponnese on Friday before lashing the centre of the country on Saturday.
Greece’s weather agency warned of damage and threat to life as it issued alerts for many areas.
An elderly woman was found dead in a flooded house in Farsala and the body of 63-year-old man was discovered near a hospital in Karditsa.
“We’re dealing with a total catastrophe,” one Farsala resident told state television.
Areas of Karditsa, one of Greece’s biggest plains – around 125 miles (200km) north of Athens, were swamped with water and a bridge collapsed.
The fire service said it had received more than 2,450 calls since the storm began – to rescue people, cut down trees and pump water from houses and businesses.
Five boats also sank off the holiday islands of Zakynthos (also known as Zante) and Lefkada on Friday, said the coastguard.
Greece’s civil protection agency declared a state of emergency on Kefalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos as power was cut in many areas.
Kefalonia’s mayor, Theofilos Michalatos, said no one was hurt but that homes, roads and water facilities had been damaged.
The storm reached the Athens area on Saturday but there have so far been no reports of damage. Trains between the capital and the second city of Thessaloniki were suspended.
A medicane is a hybrid phenomenon with “some characteristics of a tropical cyclone and others of a mid-latitude storm”, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.
They have strong winds spinning around a central core and torrential rain, but are smaller in diameter than hurricanes and don’t last as long – typically 24 to 48 hours.
Such storms first appeared in Greece in 1995 and, while far less common than hurricanes, have become more frequent in recent years.
Courtesy of Sky News
Authorities have activated a state of emergency in Senegal, West Africa, in the face of ongoing floods in several parts of the country.
President Macky Sall activated the Plan Orsec – Organisation de la Réponse de Sécurité Civile – after heavy rainfall from 05 September 2020 caused widespread flooding, including in the capital, Dakar.
Senegal’s National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology (Anacim) said that the areas of Joal, Khombole, Sokone, Passy, Thiare and Toubacouta all recorded more than 200mm of rain in 24 hours on 05 September. Parts of the capital recorded more than 100mm of rain on 05 September.
Local media reported that at least 6 people have died as result of flooding in several parts of the country on 05 and 06 September. Fatalities were reported in the regions of Dakar (1), Kaolack (2) and Sédhiou (3).
Courtesy of floodlist.com
Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency #OilSpill #ArcticCircle #StateOfEmergency
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle.
The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.
The power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.
The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence, as there was reportedly a two-day delay in informing the Moscow authorities about the spill.
Ground subsidence beneath the fuel storage tanks is believed to have caused the spill. Arctic permafrost has been melting in exceptionally warm weather for this time of year.
President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident on Sunday.
Russian Minister for Emergencies Yevgeny Zinichev told Mr Putin that the Norilsk plant had spent two days trying to contain the spill, before alerting his ministry.
The leaked oil drifted some 12km (7.5 miles) from the accident site, turning long stretches of the Ambarnaya river crimson red.
In a televised video conference on Wednesday, Mr Putin criticised the head of the company over its response.
“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” he asked the subsidiary’s chief, Sergei Lipin. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”
The region’s governor, Alexander Uss, had earlier told President Putin that he became aware of the oil spill on Sunday after “alarming information appeared in social media”.
The spill has contaminated a 350 sq km (135 sq mile) area, state media report.
In a statement, Norilsk Nickel said the incident had been reported in a “timely and proper” way.
The state of emergency means extra forces are going to the area to assist with the clean-up operation.
The accident is believed to be the second largest in modern Russian history in terms of volume, an expert from the World Wildlife Fund, Alexei Knizhnikov, told the AFP news agency.
What can be done?
The incident has prompted stark warnings from environmental groups, who say the scale of the spill and geography of the river mean it will be difficult to clean up.
Greenpeace has compared it to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
Oleg Mitvol, former deputy head of Russia’s environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, said there had “never been such an accident in the Arctic zone”.
He said the clean-up could cost 100bn roubles (£1.2bn; $1.5bn) and take between five and 10 years.
Courtesy of BBC News
Floods Batken Region, Kyrgyzstan, May 2020. Photo: Kyrgyzstan Ministry of Emergency Situations
The Ministry of Emergency Situations in Kyrgyzstan reported flash flooding and mudflows in parts of Leilek district in Batken Region in the south of the country on 02 May 2020.
Flooding came after a period of heavy rain. Houses and roads have been severely damaged. A state of emergency was declared for Isfana and other areas. Images on Social Media showed torrents of muddy water and debris flowing through streets of Isfana.
Isfana is about 135km south of Syrdarya in Uzbekistan, where recent heavy rainfall caused a reservoir dam to break, forcing 70,000 people to evacuate their homes.
Courtesy of floodlist.com
Coronavirus: Trump declares national emergency in US over COVID-19 #COVID19 #coronavirus #USA #pandemic #emergency
US President Donald Trump has declared the coronavirus outbreak is a national emergency.
The move is set to free up tens of billions of federal dollars to try to combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
More than 30 people in America have died after contracting COVID-19 and there have been over 1,200 infections in the pandemic.
It comes as the speaker in House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced the Democrat-controlled House would approve a coronavirus aid package.
The plan would provide free coronavirus testing and two weeks of paid sick and family leave for those affected by the disease, Ms Pelosi said.
But Mr Trump has not yet publicly backed the package, making its outcome uncertain in Congress.
Ms Pelosi does not need support from the Republicans to pass legislation in the Democrat-majority House.
But it would probably not get far in the Republican-controlled Senate without bipartisan support.
The House aid package builds on an emergency $8.3bn measure approved last week.
Ms Pelosi promised a third coronavirus package will follow soon.
Courtesy of Sky News
The Spanish government is to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus epidemic, paving the way for drastic containment measures after the number of confirmed cases in the country passed 4,200 and the death toll rose to 120, Sam Jones reports from Madrid.
In an urgent appearance on Friday afternoon, the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the cabinet would convene on Saturday to declare an emergency by activating article 116 of the constitution.
Its provisions allow the government to limit the movement of people and vehicles in specified places, to temporarily requisition goods, to take over factories and businesses, to ration the consumption of basic items, and to issue the necessary orders to ensure the provision of services.
The article has not been used since 2010, when it was enacted in response to an air traffic controllers’ strike. The state of emergency will initially apply for two weeks, but can be extended with parliamentary approval.
Spain is the European country most affected by the outbreak after Italy, which has confirmed 15,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
The decision came after the government of neighbouring Portugal also enacted a state of alert as the number of cases in the country reached 78, explaining the situation was now “a fight for our survival and for the protection of Portuguese lives”.
As well as ordering the closure of schools and universities, it said the number of customers allowed in bars and restaurants would be reduced.
The Madrid authorities have not ruled out a lockdown of the capital, the mayor said on Friday morning, as the number of cases in the region reached 2,000.
José Luia Martínez-Almeida told Antena 3 TV that he had not discarded the idea of locking down the city, saying it would be “irresponsible” not to look at every possible scenario.
He added: “We can’t say that it’s going to happen immediately, nor can we say we’ve ruled it out.”
The mayor also suspended licenses for terraces and seating areas outside bars and cafés in the capital, urging owners to shut them down before it became mandatory.
The mayor said “stricter measures would be needed” to halt the spread of the virus, adding that children’s play areas in parks would be closed from Friday.
Hours earlier, authorities in the Basque country had activated a civil protection plan, which allows the regional government to order the confinement of people to stop the spread of the disease.
“We need to use all containment and prevention measures as the situation is serious. We’re not over the worst yet,” the Basque president, Iñigo Urkullu, said on Friday morning.
The Basque country has confirmed 346 cases of the coronavirus, and here have been 11 deaths.
On Thursday night, the regional government of Catalonia ordered around 70,000 people in four municipalities in the Barcelona region to remain in their homes for a fortnight after a steep increase in Coronavirus cases in the area.
Igualada, Vilanova del Camí, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Òdena have been placed in lockdown after the number of cases linked to a hospital in Igualada rose to 58 on Thursday.
“No one is allowed out of these affected areas,” the regional government said on Thursday evening.
“Only emergency personnel and vehicles bringing fuel and food supplies will be allowed to move around the area.”
The move comes almost a week after neighbourhoods in a small town in the northern region of La Rioja were placed in lockdown after a cluster of cases was traced to a funeral in the nearby Basque Country.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is now warning against all but essential travel to the regions that the Spanish Ministry of Health have designated as areas of community transmission of coronavirus.
They are Madrid and La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida and Vitoria (both in the Basque Country) and Miranda de Ebro (in Castilla y León).
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Bulgaria declares a state of emergency over coronavirus #COVID19 #coronavirus #Bulgaria #pandemic #quarantine #emergency
Restrictions will be in force until April 13 to contain the spread of coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases in the Balkan country more than tripled to 23 in one day.
Bulgaria confirmed its first death of a patient due to the virus on Wednesday, and on Thursday the number of confirmed cases jumped to 23 from seven.
The state of emergency, which parliament voted for unanimously, will allow for travel bans to and from countries with large coronavirus outbreaks, the closing of schools and universities, and will permit police to intervene when the imposed isolation of infected people is not observed.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov appealed to Bulgarians to follow the rules and threatened one-year prison terms for those who fail to observe quarantine.
“We want this state of emergency for one month,” he told parliament.
“We need it for those who violate quarantine.”
The capital Sofia, home to two million of the country’s seven million people, will keep all schools, cinemas, gyms and clubs closed for a week.
Under the state of emergency rules local governments will decide on closures in their areas.
Courtesy of Sky News