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‘Extremely loud’ explosion in city centre – at least three people dead in Madrid, Spain

At least three people have died and six others were injured after an “extremely loud” explosion destroyed a residential building belonging to the Catholic Church in Madrid’s city centre.

The blast happened near a nursing home and a school – and videos and images shared on social media showed rubble scattered in the street.

The city’s mayor said early information indicated the blast was caused by a gas leak, and confirmed that one of the bodies has been discovered under the rubble. Someone was working on a boiler at the time.

Two people have been transferred to hospital for further treatment – and one of them is in a serious condition with a head injury.

Rescue teams, firefighters and police are all at the scene.

Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said there was an ongoing fire in the six-storey building devastated by the blast.

It was a complex that provided residential training for priests and also gave meals to homeless people, a neighbour said.

The mayor said a nearby school had suffered minor damage.

The school was believed to be empty at the time, according to TVE, because classes had not resumed yet following a record snowfall in the Spanish capital on 9 January.

All nursing home residents were safe and evacuated, according to police sources.

The mayor said the residents were being taken to a hotel across the street.

A witness, Leire Reparaz, said she heard a loud explosion a few minutes before 3pm local time as she headed to her home near the Puerta de Toledo landmark.

She told the AP news agency: “We didn’t know where the sound came from. We all thought it was from the school.

“We went up the stairs to the top of our building and we could see the structure of the building and lots of grey smoke.”

Another witness, Tania Tapia, said: “Suddenly there was a brutal explosion behind my back and that pushed me forward.

“I didn’t know where it came from, my ears were ringing so I turned around and I saw a lot of smoke and the sidewalk full of debris.”

The explosion happened in Toledo Street. Footage on Twitter showed smoke coming from the building, a number of wrecked cars and debris strewn in the road.

A police spokeswoman said the area was being evacuated but could not confirm the cause of the explosion.

Courtesy of Sky News

https://tinyurl.com/et9ct7h6

Missing Woman’s Car Buried Under 15 Feet of Mud in Gorge Landslide, Oregon, USA

Landslide Danger Alert

Early Wednesday morning, a landslide near the small town of Dodson, Ore., in the Columbia River Gorge swept away 50-year-old Jennifer Camus Moore while she was driving. Two days later, the search continues, but officials no longer hold out hope she will be found alive.

The rescue teams believe they’ve discovered where her car came to a rest, and are actively working to uncover the mud and debris, which is estimated to be 15 feet deep, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. The teams have brought special equipment to safely locate the missing woman.

Courtesy of wweek.com

https://tinyurl.com/1oz5kc5o

Madrid Paralysed’ by Heavy Snow Storms as Roads shut and Madrid Airport forced to Suspend Operations

Snow Emergency

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

https://tinyurl.com/yxcuszln

Heavy snow hits parts of the UK as police warn drivers to take care

Snow Alert

Heavy snow has hit parts of the UK today, including in the West Midlands and the Cotswolds, as police warned people to take care due to delays on the roads.

There were reports of snow falling in counties such as Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire as well as in Birmingham and Stourbridge, and lighter dustings as far south as Devon.

Gloucestershire Police tweeted: “Heavy snow is starting to fall in the rural parts of the county. This will cause delays on the roads. Only go out if it is essential to do so.

“We are receiving a number of reports of snow around the county causing disruption, particularly in the Forest of Dean and the A417 around Birdlip. Please stay safe and avoid all unnecessary travel.”

Staffordshire Police also warned of “serious disruption”, with several roads in the area impassable.

Snow and ice warnings remain in place for much of the UK today as a cold snap bites in the aftermath of Storm Bella.

It comes as around 90 flood warnings are still in force in England, along with about 160 less serious flood alerts.

Snow had already fallen in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, including in the Peak District in Derbyshire, on Sunday.

The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” warning for snow and ice on Monday until 6pm in London, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Southampton and West Berkshire, as well as Gloucestershire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

The warning said: “Further rain, sleet and snow is likely at times this afternoon. For many, this will not settle on roads.

“However, 1 to 3cm is possible in a few places, mainly on high ground above 200 metres where some icy surfaces are also possible. The rain, sleet and snow will clear steadily southwards by early evening.”

The forecasters’ advice warns of the potential for injuries from icy surfaces and delays to trains and road transport.

There has also been a new yellow warning issued for snow and ice covering much of the country from 6pm today to 10am on Tuesday.

The Met Office said: “Ice is likely to form on untreated surfaces during Monday night, especially where showers move well inland.

“Some of the showers will be wintry and could produce 2 to 5cm of lying snow above 250 metres, mostly over the Pennines and North York Moors where up to 10cm is possible.

“Elsewhere, most places will see little or no snow, but a slight covering of a centimetre or so is possible in a few places.”

Large swathes of London, the Midlands, the South, the South West, plus the east of England and Wales have also been warned that snow and ice could hit on Wednesday and Thursday.

The chilly temperatures follow several days of extreme weather over the Christmas period, which saw severe flooding in parts of southern England before Storm Bella arrived on Boxing Day, with winds of more than 100mph.

Sky News weather presenter Isobel Lang said: “There will be wintry showers around eastern and southeastern counties of England, although the area of more persistent wintry weather moving southwards over central, southern and southwest England is more of a concern.

“Some snow is likely through the morning there, especially over Salisbury Plain, the Mendips and the Cotswolds.

“Some places will miss the showers and see some good sunny spells but everywhere will feel cold, particularly in the brisk winds in the west.”

Further into the week and towards the New Year, the Met Office says conditions will remain cold with sunshine and the possibility of wintry showers.

As of 12pm on Monday, 88 flood warnings remained in place across England calling for immediate action as flooding was expected, alongside 162 flood alerts.

Parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire have been badly affected, with some people forced to evacuate their homes due to the floods.

There were also some flood warnings and alerts in Wales.

Courtesy of Sky News

https://tinyurl.com/u62bvck7

Flooding In Italy Prompts Evacuations

Severe Flood Warning

Some 60 families were evacuated on Sunday in the Emilia-Romagna region of central Italy which was hit by severe floods, as heavy rain and snowfall caused havoc primarily in the country’s north.

The heavy rain caused landslides in several parts of the country, while avalanche alerts were issued as a result of heavy snowfalls.

In the area of Modena, in the Emilia-Romagna region, firefighters helped families to safety after the Panaro River burst its banks following heavy rain, forcing the closure of roads and railways.

For the past 48 hours firefighters have been working in the Centre-North in rescue operations in Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany regions. Over 2,200 interventions have been carried out.

In the area of Belluno, in Veneto, the road system was under severe pressure due to rain, snowfall and consequent landslides, with the president of the region, Luca Zaia, calling on all citizens to avoid heading towards the area because of the risk of landslides and avalanches caused by bad weather.

A small bridge over a stream in Gosaldo collapsed, causing a fire brigade vehicle to crash onto the riverbed. The vehicle was empty as the three occupants had already sought safety elsewhere.

For safety reasons, the Brenner railway line was closed between Bolzano and the Italy-Austria border and since Saturday evening the Brenner motorway has also been closed, with Austria currently not accessible from the Italian side.

In various areas of the Dolomites the avalanche risk is very high (grade 5 of 5) and in the most affected regions 80 to 140 cm (31 to 55 inches) of snow have fallen, with strong winds making the situation even more difficult.

Courtesy of republicworld.com

https://tinyurl.com/y2q56k4p

Plane makes emergency landing on Minnesota interstate by award-winning pilot

Plane Emergency Landing

The pilot of a small plane that made an emergency landing on a Minnesota interstate Wednesday was identified as an award-winning member of the U.S. aerobatics flying team. The single-engine Bellanca Viking plane landed and hit a vehicle, temporarily closing part of the highway Wednesday night in the St. Paul suburb of Arden Hills, officials said. The pilot has been identified as 52-year-old Craig Gifford, a Minneapolis resident and competitive aerobatic pilot. Gifford represented the United States in international competition in 2017 and 2019 on the Unlimited Aerobatic Team. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation and Safety Board are investigating.

Courtesy of wqow.com

https://tinyurl.com/y4y8642v

Tornadoes hit northern parts of Turkish Cyprus, damage power grid

Tornado Alert

Photo Illustration

Tornadoes hit the Girne (Kyrenia) district of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) late Friday, inflicting significant damage on businesses, homes and the power grid.

Coastal settlements of Ozanköy, Çatalköy, Karşıyaka and Lapta Hotels Region were particularly damaged with strong winds ripping off rooftops, trees and power lines. Three people were slightly wounded due to falling objects.

The Teknecik Power Plant, the main electricity plant of the TRNC, was also affected as a transformer blew up, causing blackouts in the town of Girne and adjacent settlements.

President Ersin Tatar visited the affected areas on Friday and pledged to help those who suffered losses.

Authorities resumed efforts early Saturday to assess the damage and clean up the debris.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Saturday in a Twitter message that Turkey will continue to stand by the TRNC to overcome the damage, offering his condolences.

Tornadoes are a rare phenomenon in the Mediterranean basin, however, they have increased both in number and strength in recent years with experts pointing to adverse effects of climate change and global warming.

Courtesy of dailysabah.com

https://tinyurl.com/y2swcthw

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

https://tinyurl.com/y5op7gay