A major fire has destroyed the Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, at Gyllyngvase in Falmouth Cornwall – Updated 3rd May 2012

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“More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, at Gyllyngvase in Falmouth which started just after 12:00 BST.

Staff and guests, including Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, were moved to safety and a neighbouring hotel was evacuated.

Strong winds fanned the flames, allowing the fire to spread and causing the roof to collapse. No-one was hurt.

Three guests are unaccounted for, but it is believed they were on day trips and not in the hotel when the fire started.” – BBC

More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-17897467

Update 3rd May 2012:

Fire was an accident

“A HOT tar barrel and a blow-torch could be at the root of a devastating fire which ripped through one of Falmouth’s premier hotels on Monday.

Early indications point to an accident by maintenance workers on the flat roof of the main Falmouth Beach Hotel building as the likely cause.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector John Trott said: “We have a reasonable understanding of why we think it has happened.

“We are happy it was an accident – there certainly does not appear to have been any suspicious activity.”- Cornwall Local News

http://cornwalllocalnews.co.uk/2012/05/03/engulfed-clouds-of-smoke-cover-town-as-fire-hits-top-hotel/

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UK: Motorists urged not to drive through floodwater after strandings and a death

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is urging people to be aware of possible flooding and reminding drivers not to risk their lives by driving through any flood water.

Fire crews attended seven separate incidents across Devon and Somerset over the last two days in which vehicles had become stuck in flood water.

Group Manager Laurie Adams said: “There is the potential for heavy, localised downpours as people are driving to work on Tuesday morning.

“We would urge them to drive safely according to the conditions and not to attempt to drive through flood water.”

People should bear in mind the following safety tips:

• do not attempt to drive through flooded roads or fords. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast. Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded. Vehicles can float away in just two feet of water. There may be collapsed culverts hidden below the surface which you may drive into and become trapped

• if your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately if safe to do so and seek higher ground

• do not attempt to walk through flooded areas. Even shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet and there may be hidden dangers such as open drains

Mike Dunning, spokesperson for the Environment Agency, said: “We fully endorse the message not to drive through flood water as it could be extremely dangerous.”

Today a man died after the car he was travelling in was submerged in water near Compton Wood, Newbury

Panama: Star Princess Captain to face Criminal Investigation for alleged Homicide & Failure to Rescue young fishermen in distress

Panama has decided to proceed with a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Master of the Princess Cruises cruise ship Star Princess, for failing to assist three young Panamanian men who were adrift 100 miles out to sea aboard the Panamanian fishing boat Fifty Cents.

More here: http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2012/04/articles/crime/panama-opens-criminal-investigation-into-princess-cruises-captain-perrin-to-face-homicide-failure-to-rescue-inquiries/

UK Government announces independent military medals review

 

The Prime Minister has announced an independent review of the rules and principles governing the awarding of military campaign medals.

 
Campaign medals

Campaign medals (stock image)
[Picture: Sergeant Adrian Harlen, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

David Cameron announced that Sir John Holmes will carry out a fresh, independent review taking account of the longstanding principles that have determined past decisions.

The existing guiding rules and principles for the award of military campaign medals are that:

•  awards will not be considered after a period of five years has elapsed after a particular military action

•  individuals will not be rewarded twice for the same military campaign, ie no “double medalling”; and

•  awards be based upon significant “risk and rigour” for the individual concerned.

The Coalition Government stated its intention in its Programme for Government, published in May 2010, to review the review the rules governing the awarding of general campaign medals as a part of its commitment to rebuilding the Armed Forces Covenant.

The review will not consider individual gallantry awards, nor will it cover medals for long service or good conduct; which are the responsibility of parent government departments.

The review should draw on, but not necessarily be guided by, the work already undertaken as part of an initial Ministry of Defence medal review.

Sir John, who is currently Director at the Ditchley Foundation and formerly served as the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency and as Her Majesty’s Ambassador in Paris and London, will be supported by a small team based in the Cabinet Office.

The review will ensure that all interested parties, including the veterans’ organisations, are fully consulted, and aims to deliver a report with recommendations where appropriate for any change by the summer to the Government.

UK: There are 160 FLOOD ALERTS current in force across England and Wales

England:

35  in the Southwest

37 in the Southeast

11 in the Northeast

41 in the Midlands

25 in Anglia

Wales: 8 in Wales

Flooding is possible. Be prepared

Details here (updated every 15 min)
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/34678.aspx?type=Severity&term=3

UK: There are 22 FLOOD WARNINGS current in force across England

England:

14 in the Southwest

2 in the Northeast

2 in the Midlands

4 in Anglia

Flooding is expected. Immediate action required

Details here (updated every 15 min)

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/34678.aspx?type=Severity&term=2

 

Ghana: 2 die in anthrax outbreak – fear farmers sold infected animals to food outlet

The chief of Googo in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region, Naaba Akpaam Abugri, is alarmed that some farmers in the community whose animals died of anthrax sold such infected dead animals to a chop bar operator in the area.

Veterinary officers in the region, on Wednesday [25 Apr 2012], started the vaccination of cattle and other domestic animals except birdsb against anthrax, following the outbreak of the disease in that community which has claimed 2 human lives.

Although veterinary officers say 9 cows have died of the disease, Naaba Akpaam, briefed at Googo on Wednesday on the havoc caused by the disease, said about 30 cows and several donkeys,goats, sheep, and dogs had also died.

According to him, one of the farmers, who lost 8 cows, revealed that he had sold 6 of them to achop bar operator. Naaba Akpaam, who could not readily name the chop bar operator, and neither the specific location of the chop bar, said he had started making inquiries to know the owner and location of the bar, so that the remaining meat could be retrieved and destroyed to prevent the further spread of the disease.

He said some of the people who were infected with the disease had refused to be taken to the hospital,because they claimed if they went to the hospital and given injections, they would lose their lives.

The Upper East regional veterinary officer, Dr Thomas Anyorikeya, who is leading a team of veterinary personnel to carry out the vaccination exercise, disclosed that on Tuesday — day one of the exercise — 497 animals were vaccinated. They included 384 cattle, 86 sheep, 17 donkeys, 8 goats, and 5 dogs. On Thursday [26 Apr 2012], the 2nd day of the vaccination, 104 cattle were vaccinated by about 10:30 am. The number of the personnel on Thursday increased from 5 to 10, and they intended to vaccinate all the animals in the Googo community and adjoining ones such as Bazua and Sapelga.

Dr Anyorikeya was worried that for about 10 years now, no animals’census had been conducted. The annual animal census, which was being conducted by the Veterinary Service, provided a database of animals in the regions, districts, and communities, and helped in the operations of the service, including vaccinations.

Some of the personnel lamented that they did not have protective wear,such as gloves, wellington boots and overalls. This, they said,exposed them to risk in their line of operation.

The vaccination is expected to avert the further spread of the disease. Meanwhile, a ban on the movement of cattle has been imposed on the area.

Saturday, 28 April, 2012 at 09:29 (09:29 AM) UTC RSOE

US: 14 injured in Collingdale, Pennsylvanvia bus crash

 
 
 

An investigation is continuing into a crash involving a passenger car and a SEPTA bus that sent 14 people to three area hospitals Friday afternoon, police said.

The crash occurred on MacDade Boulevard, near Willows Avenue, at 12:45 p.m, police Chief Robert Adams said.

According to Adams, a silver Chevy Impala heading eastbound rear-ended the bus traveling on the 1200 block of MacDade Boulevard, near the Aldi Supermarket. The bus was stopped “as a result of a pedestrian flagging down the bus to have the bus pick them up,” Adams said. She later provided a witness statement.

The driver of the Impala, identified as Laneshia Major of Wayne Avenue in Collingdale, was unconscious when police arrived on the scene, Adams said. She was admitted to Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The bus driver, identified as Shaina Battis, was taken to Taylor Hospital for observation and back pains. Friday night, Adams said lab tests were pending as part of the ongoing investigation.
“At the present time, no charges are pending against anyone involved in the accident,” he said.

The passenger vehicle sustained extensive front-end damage, and the SEPTA bus appeared to have minor damage but was leaking fluid. SEPTA officials confirmed the bus was a Route 113 bus that had been traveling eastbound on MacDade Boulevard.

Of the 14 individuals injured, 10 were transported to Mercy Fizgerald Medical Center, two were taken to Crozer and two were taken to Taylor. Five passengers refused medical attention and one walked away from the bus as police arrived.

Assisting Collingdale police at the scene: Darby, Glenolden, Aldan and Delco Fire police; Collingdale highway crews; Collingdale Fire Companies No. 1 and 2; paramedics from Collingdale, Yeadon, Briarcliffe, Ridley, Darby, Norwood, as well as Crozer and Taylor hospitals; and Basic LIfe Support (BLS) units from Collingdale, Darby, Lansdowne and Norwood.

Saturday, 28 April, 2012 at 04:22 (04:22 AM) UTC RSOE

Romania: 5 killed in helicopter crash

A private helicopter en-route to extinguish a fire in Turkey crashed in eastern Romania on Thursday, killing five Ukrainian citizens on board, officials said on Friday. There were no survivors.

The accident happened when the Kamov-26 aircraft crashed in Ostrov, a town in Tulcea County near the Moldovan border. “From witness statements, the aircraft made a strange noise and it crashed after an intense fire,” chief prosecutor Marius Iacob said, as quoted by state-run media. “The helicopter rotated several times in the air before the crash.”

The helicopter belongs to a Moldovan private company and was flying from Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, to Turkey where it was to extinguish a fire. The aircraft was flying behind a second helicopter which also belongs to the Moldovan company and landed near the crash site in an attempt to rescue the victims.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but Iacob said it was likely the result of a technical failure. “It was probably a technical failure, but we cannot exclude the possibility of pilot error,” he was quoted as saying. “On board the helicopter were highly qualified people in aviation and I can say that the main driver was very popular and was even asked in 2001 when Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine to fly in the air and make more shots from a helicopter.”

The victims, whose identities were not immediately released, were all aged between 24 and 54.

In July 2010, ten soldiers were killed when an Antonov An-2 aircraft belonging to the Cadet Air Force School crashed minutes after take-off from Tuzla airfield in southeastern Romania. The aircraft was carrying four crew members and nine parachutists. The three survivors were injured.

Friday, 27 April, 2012 at 18:26 (06:26 PM) UTC RSOE

US: At least 2 hurt, 5 homes destroyed in Colorado Tornado horror

At least five homes were destroyed early Friday after as many as three rare nighttime tornadoes reportedly ripped through sparsely populated counties on the southeastern Colorado plains.

The state emergency management division said tornadoes were reported in Prowers, Kiowa and Bent counties. Lamar authorities in Prowers County said they spotted a fast and large tornado south of the city that ripped through four homes and left at least two people injured.

A fifth home in Chivington was totaled after the five people sleeping inside escaped, said owner Therisa Brown, who added that there was no warning before her home was demolished. “We woke up to the roof getting ripped off,” Brown said.

“We went to the living room and we lifted a wall off of a friend who was staying with us. That’s when the tornado circled back and it hit the house again. We barely made it into the bathroom.”

She said only a few exterior walls remained of her home. Chris Sorensen, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, said the areas hit were mostly isolated farmland. A tractor-trailer was blown over on Colorado Highway 96 near Chivington, in Kiowa County.

Nearby in Eads, Mandy Adamson, who works at the Co-Op Service Station, said the damage was isolated.”All I know is that it traveled into Lamar from someplace else, it got a ranch near there and it went up (north) to Chivington and that’s where it took out another house,” Adamson said.

Overnight tornadoes are rare in Colorado, where the temperature usually drops at night, said forecaster Patrick Cioffi. The severe weather hit after near record highs in the 80s. Tornado season usually doesn’t begin until May in Colorado.

The National Weather Service said a survey team was heading to the area to confirm any touchdowns. The same band of storms also dropped snow in Breckenridge and the Eisenhower Tunnel, said forecaster Todd Dankers in Boulder. High winds swept the Western Slope, but no injuries were reported, he said.

Kiowa County emergency manager Jeffrey Wright said authorities were going home to home to locate residents. Power was out in several areas, and state transportation officials said motorists were having trouble finding gas.

Friday, 27 April, 2012 at 19:00 (07:00 PM) UTC RSOE

Lifeboat aids 70 ft sail training vessel with 11 youngsters & 5 crew on board in rough seas off Isle of Iona on 26 April 2012

The Tobermory all weather lifeboat, Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey, launched at 1010 to the 58 tonne sail training vessel whose propeller and rudder had become snagged in lobster creel ropes off the south coast of Iona.

On arriving at the scene, the RNLI volunteer crew found that the Royal Netherlands Navy newly commissioned warship, Friesland, was attempting to assist the training yacht which was struggling in the two metre swell. The Tobermory lifeboat managed to pass a tow to the stricken vessel bringing it into the wind and enabling it to be cut free from the creel ropes. The Tobermory lifeboat then towed the sail training vessel and crew and 11 youngsters aboard more than 30 miles in rough seas to the safety of the marina at the Isle of Kerrera, near Oban.

When the Elizabeth Fairlie Ramsey returned to Tobermory, the crew had not only spent more than ten hours at sea and travelled just under 100 miles but had also circumnavigated the Isle of Mull.

On arrival back at Tobermory, Deputy Second Coxswain Andrew McHaffie said: ‘When we launched this morning we expected this to be a routine towing operation. However, when we arrived on scene we were confronted not only with very challenging conditions with a two metre swell but we were also very aware that there were young people on board the sail training vessel in rough seas. It was vital that we got the vessel under tow as quickly as possible. This was a long rescue but with a very successful outcome. We’d like to thank the crew of the Dutch warship Friesland for their assistance.’

RNLI Video

Arrhhh….so nice to have some positive news for a change!

upside Blog

Driver saves Jack Russell terrier with mouth-to-snout resuscitation

Package car driver Reynaldo Alcantara is being called a hero by his coworkers for saving the life of a dog while on his daily route.

Thanks to Reynaldo’s quick actions, knowledge of animal emergency procedures, and his love of animals, he successfully administered “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation to a choking Jack Russell Terrier. The procedure is similar to traditional mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for humans, with the main difference being that the person performing the procedure closes the dog’s mouth, and then breathes into its nose. 

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Bird Flu fear:100s, maybe 1000s of mystery stork deaths in Thailand

Hundreds and possibly thousands of open-billed storks have died mysteriously in Ang Thong, triggering fear of a new outbreak of bird flu.

The birds were found dead in open ground behind a deserted factory by the side of the Chamlong-Nong Jik road in tambon Chamlong in Sawangha district after residents noticed that the animals looked drowsy and lay around on the ground, causing a bad stench in the air, the kamnan of Chamlong, Suebsak Waewkaew, said.

Residents alerted authorities who inspect the site twice and then went away, Mr Suebsak said. He demanded the authorities collect samples of the birds’ remains and move quickly to identify the cause of the mass deaths as residents living nearby were worried that bird flu might be involved.

Suthee Srisuwan, head of the provincial natural resources and environment office, said he had instructed experts to launch an investigation into the incident. An initial inspection had found huge numbers of dead birds in two locations. He would not elaborate further other than to say an investigation is underway.

Thursday, 26 April, 2012 at 14:44 (02:44 PM) UTC RSOE

9 dead, 3,000 homes flooded & 11000+ evacuated in Haiti & Dominican Republic landslides/flooding – 500,000 people still without homes & more rain soon

Heavy rains drenching the Caribbean island of Hispaniola have caused mudslides and floods that killed up to nine people in Haiti and forced more than 11,000 people to flee their homes in the neighboring Dominican Republic, authorities said Wednesday.

Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said nine people died in the southern and western parts of the country. The deaths included a 6-year-old child and a woman killed by landslides in the capital of Port-au-Prince and four who drowned in rivers outside the city, she said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs gave a lower toll from three days of heavy storms at the start of the rainy season. It said in a statement that only six people had died since Monday. High water and heavy rain are creating problems for the nearly 500,000 people still without homes in the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. In the Dominican Republic, officials said there had not been any reports of deaths or injuries, but said about 11,150 people had been evacuated from their homes.

Emergency office spokesman Jose Luis German said nearly 3,000 homes were flooded when rivers and streams spilled from their banks in the northern province of Puerto Plata and some central and southeastern towns. He said 23 of the country’s 32 provinces were at risk for flooding in the coming days since rains were forecast to continue for the rest of the week.

Thursday, 26 April, 2012 at 02:53 (02:53 AM) UTC RSOE

Also see:  http://www.aljazeera.com/weather/2012/04/2012426941280740.html

14-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome beaten up for being Jewish

Carrickfergus College

Police are investigating a report that a 14-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome was attacked by school bullies because of his Jewish heritage.

Matthew Lough said he has been subjected to physical attacks and anti-semitic abuse at Carrickfergus College in County Antrim.

The PSNI has confirmed they are investigating an assault which took place on 14 March.

Carrickfergus College was not available for comment.

The schoolboy said the abuse began shortly after he revealed that his great-grandmother was Jewish during a lesson about the Holocaust.

He said he was later “punched in the head and thrown to the ground” during a PE exercise outside the school grounds.

Suspensions

Matthew also said the bullies had attached swastikas to his school bag and called him anti-semitic names.

“It kind of annoyed me and upset me but the real truck was when I was attacked in the woods during an orienteering exercise in PE,” he said.

“The guy was suspended for five days.”

“This year, it was a guy who was singing a song about how Hitler had gassed 6.5 million Jews, all happy and do-lallies.”

His mother, Sharon Lough, said the school had responded to their complaints and had taken action through suspensions and detentions.

But she said she was still concerned about her son because the name-calling had continued despite the suspension of two pupils.

“We encourage Matthew to live, as much as he can. Aspergers does not change who he has ever been,” she said.

We don’t want him to be considered as a special case. He is a very intelligent child and very loving and very caring about people around him.”

‘React to bullying’

“Even though he has been bullied over the years, that wouldn’t stop him from standing up for another pupil and that’s the kind of child he is and we are so proud of him for that.”

She said the head master was quick to react to the bullying. “The lad who was responsible for the ganging-up was suspended,” she added.

“Matthew didn’t have any injuries from that and the other other lads involved with the swastikas were put in detention over a period and it seemed to die down.

We were very pleased with the school and the fact that they were so responsive.

We have always been very happy with the school. We are a bit concerned at the minute becausethere are other lads who are still continuing with name-calling.”

“He has been very unsettled at night-time, having nightmares. “I would never, ever tell my children not to mention their heritage, because they are so proud of it. I would never deny my Jewish heritage, never.”

In a statement the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) said it had been assured by the school that they had fully and properly followed board regulations for regarding the suspension of pupils.

The board said the school had also acted within its own anti-bullying policy.

US Coast Guard suspends search for overboard tug master – Updated Thurs 26th April 2012

The US Coast Guard is searching for a 48-year-old man who may have fallen from a Boston bound tugboat approximately nine miles off the coast of Newport, R.I., Wednesday.

The crew of New York-based 91-foot tug Steven-Scott called the Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England Command Center at 2:40 p.m., reporting the man was last seen around 1:30 p.m. and that it was believed he fell overboard.

The Coast Guard has issued an urgent marine information broadcast to alert mariners in the area of the situation and to report any sightings of the person.

A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Point Judith, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Castle Hill, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod and the Coast Guard Cutter Tiger Shark from Newport, have been dispatched for the search.

The man may not have been wearing a lifejacket when he fell overboard.

“We responded quickly, launching boat, cutter, and aircraft crews,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Alayola, the search and rescue controller at the 1st Coast Guard District Command Center in Boston. “We are putting every effort into locating him and continue to hope for the best outcome.”

The current weather conditions on scene are 20 to 22-knot winds, 3 to 6-foot seas and a water temperature of 52 degrees.

Another tug is en route to relieve the Steven-Scott of its tow of a barge carrying 45,000 barrels of jet fuel.

Thurs 26th April 2012 Update:

Coast Guard suspends search for overboard tug master

BOSTON — The Coast Guard has suspended its search pending further developments for a 48-year-old man who was reported to have fallen overboard from a Boston-bound tugboat approximately nine miles south of Newport, R.I., Thursday at 1:36 p.m.

Coast Guard crews covered more than 775 square miles searching for the master of the New York-based 91-foot tug Steven-Scott.

The crew of the Steven-Scott contacted the Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England Command Center at 2:40 p.m., Wednesday, reporting that the man was last seen at approximately 1:30 p.m. and that he may have gone overboard.

“The Coast Guard conducted a thorough search with multiple assets through the night, but unfortunately they did not yield new information,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Alayola, a search and rescue controller at the 1st Coast Guard District in Boston.

Searching were crews from:

In the Northeast, the Coast Guard has responded to three boat-related drownings since April 1 of this year. Boaters and beach-goers are encouraged to remain cautious as the weather warms, follow safe boating practices, and always wear a lifejacket.

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2 children & woman killed, 3,000 displaced in Cyclone in Tinsukia, Assam, India

Three killed after cyclone and heavy hailstorms hit Tinsukia district of Assam.

A nine years old child killed in Majbari village of Kakopathar after a big tree fall over her. Another 55 years old woman died in Sonari Gaon, Dhola in similar incident.
A Third incident happened in Tinsukia districts where thunderstorm killed a small girl.
About 3,000 people are displaced. Homeless people are taking shelter in neighbours houses, nearby schools and churches.

Several other villages like Talap, Dangri, Tezipathar, Katorbasti, Borali, Maithong, Laina, Khobang, Dhola, Haikhati, Ghutung Gaon, Kherbari, Samguri, Kakopathar, Dirak in Tinsukia district are also reported to be affected.

Several residential houses, schools, buildings reported to be damaged by the cyclone.

Source: Assam Tribune

1 killed, 24 hurt after explosion & massive fire at sawmill in Canada

One person has been killed and 24 injured when an explosion and fire ripped through the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George, B.C. on Monday night.

Lakeland Sawmill (Image: CBC)

“RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass says five people were unaccounted for two hours after the blast at the Lakeland Mills sawmill. �Obviously our priority at this point is trying to track down those five people,� Cpl. Douglass said. �We do have a police dog team on scene working with the fire department.� The Northern Health Authority issued a news release saying a Code Orange was called at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia. Twelve were taken there by ambulance and another 11 arrived by other means. The blast rocked houses kilometres away and Cpl. Douglass said the fire is expected to consume the building. �The fire is fully engulfed,� the officer said. �They’re throwing water on it but I don’t think it’s going to be one we can win.� The explosion shattered a quiet evening for Glen Thielmann, who was reading bedtime stories to his kids when the blast occurred at about 9:40 p.m. �It rocked the house and sucked the window shut.� Shortly afterwards, he said his mother called from down the street and Mr. Thielmann walked down the block to join his neighbours, who were watching the flames consume the mill in the distance. Mr. Thielmann said he lives about two kilometres away from the mill site. He estimated the flames had shot more than 60 metres into the air. Two hours later, clouds and steam were still pouring from the mill.”

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012 at 09:09 (09:09 AM) UTC RSOE

Video & further info from CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/24/bc-prince-george-mill-fire.html?cmp=rss

At least sixteen killed, 4 missing & 800 homes destroyed in flash floods – Afghanistan

At least sixteen people were killed on Sunday as a result of severe flash floods in northern and eastern Afghanistan, local authorities said on Monday. As many as 800 houses are believed to have been destroyed. The flash floods occurred on Sunday and mostly affected the districts of Kushandi and Shulgara, located in the northern province of Balkh, where eleven and four people were killed respectively. Deputy Provincial Council chief Ghulam Abbas Ikhalaqi confirmed the number of deaths, according to the Pajhwok Afghan News agency. The provincial official said an estimated 700 houses were destroyed in Kushandi and Shulgara districts while another 80 were washed away in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which serves as the capital of Balkh province. Several other structures and a large number of acre (hectares) of farmland were also damaged. At least 60 shops were destroyed in the district town of Shulgara. Also on Sunday, flash floods killed at least one person and washed away more than 300 houses in several villages in the Gilan district of Ghazni Province, which is located in eastern Afghanistan. Four others are believed to be missing in the village of Zabit, where flash floods damaged dozens of houses. Regional chief Rahmatullah of the Afghanistan Natural Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) said the agency has already deployed a team to the areas involved to review the damages.

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012 at 13:38 (01:38 PM) UTC RSOE

UK: 30 March 2012 – Important changes to Employment and Support Allowance

 
 
 

 

From 30 April people who are able to get back into the workplace will get Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA (C)) for a maximum of 12 months. This change will affect people in what is known as the Work Related Activity Group.

The change will mean that from 30 April if someone has received ESA (C) for more than 365 days their benefit will stop. The Department has contacted all of the claimants who will be affected by this ahead of the implementation.

Claimants who have no access to money or support will be able to claim Income Related ESA. People who already been assesed for Income Related ESA will automatically have their benefit adjusted and for those who have not been assessed for Income Related ESA will be asked if they want to make a claim.

People in the Support Group and those receiving income related ESA are unaffected by this measure.

A Department for work and Pensions spokesperson said:

“The Welfare Reform Bill set out that ESA for people who could work was never intended to be a long term benefit. A time-limit of one year recognised that some people need extra help to enter the workplace and for those with no other financial support in the household there will be Income Related ESA which can be claimed after the one year limit.”

Survival doubtful for Vietnam elephants

DAK LAK

Wild elephants could disappear from Viet Nam’s Central Highlands permanently as deforestation has destroyed their habitat and source of food needed for survival.

Their survival in the country remains doubtful as plans for a preservation project remain only on paper and forests continue to be cut down for rubber, coffee and cassava plantations.

In 2006, the Prime Minister approved an action plan for elephant conservation in the three provinces of Nghe An, Dong Nai and Dak Lak.

In the Central Highland province of Dak Lak alone, around 100 wild elephants live in districts of Buon Don and Ea Sup.

The province’s People’s Committee signed a project in 2010 to preserve elephants in the province through 2015, with the total budget of VND61 billion (US$2.9 million).

Nevertheless, between March 26 and 31, police and forest-protection forces from the province’s Ea Sup District found three dead elephants.

A 150-kg elephant was found in Cu M’Lan commune, and six days later, the bodies of two other elephants, one weighing 400-500 kg and the other two tonnes, were found in the same commune.

Vice director of the province’s Agriculture and Rural Development and head of Forest Protection Division, Y Rit Buon Ya, said that several elephants in the area had been hunted as food, and others had died of accidents or eaten inappropriate food.

The illegal killing of wild elephants for their tusks and tails is common in some provinces.

Y Rit said that last year, the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre was established as part of a protection plan expected to assist local people with nursing their domesticated elephants, as well as to oversee and protect wild ones.

However, so far, the projects has yet to provide any intervention.

Huynh Trung Luan, director of the centre, said that a budget and staff shortfall have delayed the project.

The centre received VND350 million ($16,800) out of the VND61 billion ($2.9 million), but the money is not enough to pay the salaries of the centre’s six officials, according to Luan.

The centre was planned to be built on 200ha, including 100ha for breeding the animal and planting food for them. The other 100ha would contain an elephant medical centre.

The province has asked to use 163ha of Yok Don National Park to build the centre, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development rejected the proposal.

According to the ministry, the land located in the area needs to be strictly protected.

The province is considering using 200ha of protected forest in Don Village to develop the centre.

Central Highland University’s associate professor and Dr Bao Huy, a consultant in the elephant preservation project, said that conservationists and authorities should be aware of their responsibility for elephant deaths regardless of the cause.

According to a survey by the project consultancy group, in 2009, the province had 61 domesticated elephants and about 80-110 wild elephants. The project targets three main pillars: healthcare and reproductive health assistance to domesticated elephants, preservation and expansion of the wild elephant population, and conservation of elephant culture in Central Highland.

Huy said that besides complicated administrative procedures and fund shortages, insufficient human resources posed a difficulty to project implementation.

Moreover, nearly all the urgent actions recommended in the project study had not yet been carried out, Huy said.

“A drastic measure to protect wild elephants would be to make the forests where elephants live completely protected conservation areas,” he said, adding that the elephants needed huge spaces to live and grow.

Meanwhile, domesticated elephants should be taken in for medical assistance and for male and female elephants to breed, rather than live separately and over-serve local tourism. VNS

Portsmouth lifeboat saves two fishermen from sinking trawler

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(Video: RNLI)

RNLI Portsmouth lifeboat Norma T had returned from routine training when a Mayday call was heard over the VHF Radio. The Mayday was from an 11 metre fishing trawler reporting that it was taking on water two miles south of Langstone Harbour.

The lifeboat was immediately re-launched and raced towards the casualty vessel arriving on scene in a matter of minutes.

The trawler used a hand flare to confirm its position. Once on scene the lifeboat could see that the starboard side of the fishing vessel was already resting on the waterline and that it was the boat’s forward motion keeping it afloat.

Helmsman Pete Slidel boarded the fishing boat to check the ingress of water and to prepare the two trawlermen ready to abandon ship.

After the first person was transferred to the safety of the lifeboat the trawler’s engine failed leaving the vessel adrift and unstable in the three metre swell.

The lifeboat managed to secure the second casualty but was pushed away by the swell before the volunteer crewman was able to jump clear.

Pete Slidel said: ‘After the engine cut out, It was only about four or five seconds before the boat started to go, as the bow went up on the next wave the stern just went under and it began to capsize.’

The fishing boat then completely submerged leaving Pete swimming behind it; he was picked up by Gosport Rescue before the RNLI lifeboat rushed the two fishermen back to the boathouse.

The RNLI Crewman and Gosport Rescue remained on scene to collect debris from the sunken vessel and to mark the wreck’s position with a buoy.

Due to the size of the casualty vessel, RNLI Bembridges all-weather Tamar class lifeboat was requested to assist but was stood down prior to launch.

Tony Wheeler, Watch Manager, Solent Coastguard said:The skipper and his crewman made an emergency call as soon as they realized that they were taking water and sinking. Unfortunately, the vessel sank very quickly and couldnt be saved, but the two men are both safe.

This was the third shout of the day for Portsmouth RNLI

Shout 1 ILB launched to assist a kayaker in difficulty in the main Langstone channel.

Shout 2 small power boat with machinery failure just off the boathouse.

Shout 3 Mayday to Sinking Trawler shortly after 3pm

Sea Bird P283 (Photo http://www.trawlerphotos.co.uk/)

Deadly Irukandji jellyfish invasion, Australia


The Irukandji Jellyfish (Carukia barnesi) Picture: http://www.irukandjijellyfish.com

“The Irukandji is believed to be the most venomous creature in the world” (www.irukandjijellyfish.com)

Broome’s Cable Beach has been closed after a potentially deadly irukandji jellyfish was found this morning during a routine net drag. A Shire of Broome spokesman said lifeguards found the jellyfish at 10am. “Cable Beach will now remain closed until tomorrow morning when another net drag will be conducted and a decision made on whether it is safe to re-open the beach,” the spokesman said. “The shire reminds people that it is still stinger season so anyone swimming, fishing in the water or launching boats should remain vigilant and take precautions including wearing stinger suits and carrying vinegar.” Lifeguards and shire beach inspectors conduct routine stinger drags twice a day during the week. The tiny irukandji jellyfish has a bell measuring five to 10 millimetres wide and four tentacles that can be as long as one metre. People stung by the irukandji jellyfish initially experience a mild sting, followed by severe lower back pain and muscle cramps in their arms, legs, stomach and chest.

Monday, 23 April, 2012 at 06:01 (06:01 AM) UTC RSOE

An excellent site about these jellyfish, giving handy first aid advice: http://www.irukandjijellyfish.com/

97 in US water park parasite epidemic

“97 people have reported cases of cryptosporidiosis since last month’s outbreak at Edgewater Resort and Water Park in Duluth, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

22 of those cases have been confirmed in laboratories. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) epidemiologist Trisha Robinson said the confirmed cases probably only represent a fraction of people who were actually sickened by the parasite. The investigation of the outbreak is still in progress.

“One different thing with cryptosporidiosis is the time from when a person is exposed to the time when they become sick can be as long as 2 weeks,” Robinsons said. “Pools were closed on 26 March, so we could still have people becoming ill 2 weeks after that, and their symptoms last anywhere from one to 2 weeks.” Another unrelated cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Brainerd [Minnesota] last month resulted in 36 reported cases, with one case being confirmed in a laboratory. The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include stomach cramps, fevers or diarrhea. It can be contracted by swimming in infected water, contact with animals or even drinking raw unpasteurized milk. “The way that cryptosporidiosis is typically introduced into the water park, and which we believe is the instance in both of these cases, is that it comes in from an infected user,” Robinson said.

In 2011, there were 305 laboratory-confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis, according to preliminary MDH numbers. Robinson said one person was hospitalized in each of the Brainerd and Duluth outbreaks. “It certainly can be more dangerous to those who are immune-compromised: the children, the very elderly, pregnant individuals,” Robinson said. “In Minnesota, we can see about 20 percent of individuals that would require hospitalization for this, so it is something that can cause very serious illness.” Robinson said that people who have been sick with diarrhea in the previous 2 weeks should avoid swimming in recreational waters.”

Monday, 23 April, 2012 at 06:04 (06:04 AM) UTC RSOE

Edgewater Resort and Waterpark

10 crew forced to abandon ship due to shipboard fire 700 miles W of Guam in the Pacific Ocean

The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue partners, coordinated in the rescue of 10 crewmembers forced to abandon ship due to a shipboard fire 700 miles west of Guam Saturday.

Coast Guard Sector Guam watchstanders received an initial alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon from the Hsin Man Chun, a 70-foot Taiwanese fishing vessel, at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Watchstanders then received a call from rescue coordination center Taipei, China reporting that a sister ship of the Hsin Man Chun received a radio call indicating the crew was planning to abandon ship.

A Navy P-3 Orion long-range search aircraft from Patrol Squadron 1 stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, overflew the vessel and reported

eight crewmembers in a life raft and two more on the bridge of the burning vessel.

The P-3 crew deployed two life rafts to assist the crewmembers that remained behind. They passed the location of the distressed crewmembers to the Semirio, a Marshallese flagged bulk carrier diverted to the area by the Coast Guard.

The Semirio was only 40 miles away from the distressed vessel and was asked to assist. Once on scene, the 950-foot bulk carrier launched a small boat and successfully rescued all 10 crewmembers. The Semirio is one of many foreign flagged vessels operating in the Pacific that voluntarily participate in the AMVER System.

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.”

http://www.cruiseindustrynews.com  21 April 2012

124 injured in Amsterdam two-train crash – Updated 21 April 2012 2105GMT/UTC

Reuters said “Almost 125 people were injured, many seriously, when two Dutch commuter trains crashed head-on in Amsterdam on Saturday, police said.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities, but of those injured, 13 suffered major injuries while 43 or 44 were badly injured, a spokesman said. About 70 suffered minor injuries.

A trauma helicopter was used to bring the injured to hospital, a spokesman for railways group NS said.

The trains did not serve Schiphol international airport, the NS spokesman added, but the accident disrupted airport train service.

Some people were lifted from the wreckage by cranes while others were led away from the crash site in protective wraps to dozens of waiting ambulances, while police cars and fire trucks stood by.

“We heard a loud bang. I went outside and saw people on the street in panic,” a woman at the scene told broadcaster AT5.

“We then saw what had happened. Quite quickly there were emergency services at the scene. It was managed well. Some people had head wounds, others were limping.”

One of the trains involved in the crash serves the cities of Den Helder and Nijmegen, while the other runs between Amsterdam and Uitgeest, the railways spokesman said.

Netherlands public broadcaster NOS aired video footage showing two trains that had collided.

(Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger, additional reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Michael Roddy)”

Emergencies, Twitter & Twitcident

Very often folks learn about major accidents and other problems from Twitter first, but those that need to know don’t have the time to sort through this sea of data.

They need a web filter. Twitcident( http://twitcident.com/?kid=8W2W ) does that – once it knows of an incident or potentially dangerous situation developing, it starts monitoring tweets about that incident or situation, together with tweets from the public. However, it filters out much of the rubbish that clogs Twitter, such as @ replies. It zeros in on finding key information.
The general public will find it useful too.
One example, where Goaty’s News had some involvement, perhaps demonstrates the need for this sort of intervention….
During last year’s riots in London & other British cities, Twitter was ablaze. Both the good & bad in people surfaced. Misinformation can spread like wildfire. Some purposely mislead, whilst others were simply led astray & retweeted. There were even calls from certain quarters for Twitter & Facebook to be shut down, during periods of unrest & riot.
Luckily, there were trusted sources tweeting, the emergency services, journalists (notably, Paul Lewis & Neal Mann) & sources deemed reliable from previous incidents.
Although not perfect, Goaty’s News will always try to help dispell misinformation on social media, whenever possible & believes that inspired projects such as Twitcident, that work for the common good, are well overdue.

Here is more on Twitcident: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/04/twitcident-fights-fire-with-twitter/

From The Verge: http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/15/2948447/twitcident-emergency-twitter-crowd-source-crisis-management?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

BBC World on Twitcident: “Bringing order out of chaos” http://blog.twitcident.com/bbc-world-service-interview-about-twitcident

16 hurt after sleepy Air Canada pilot thought Venus was plane, took avoiding dive

“A sleepy Air Canada pilot first mistook the planet Venus for an aircraft, and then sent his airliner diving toward the Atlantic to prevent an imaginary collision with another plane, an official report said on Monday.

Sixteen passengers and crew were hurt in the January 2011 incident, when the first officer rammed the control stick forward to avoid a U.S. plane he wrongly thought was heading straight toward him.” The China Post

Full story here: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/international/americas/2012/04/18/338254/Sleepy-Air.htm

3 die, 50 plagued by mystery illness, chemical herbicide poisoning suspected

“More people are reported suffering from stiffness of the limbs, respiratory problems, and miscarriages, caused by a peculiar and unidentified skin ulceration that has plagued the central province of Quang Ngai since April [2012], said medical authorities from the province.

According to statistics of the Son Ha District Medical Centre on [11 Apr 2012], the numbers of people suffering from the bizarre skin disease have increased to 50, most of them being residents of Son Ba and Son Ky Communes.

Since 8 Mar 2012 to date, 3 inhabitants of Son Ky Commune have succumbed to the disease and 13 others are suffering from eye disease and respiratory problems.

Medical experts suspect the victims are suffering from poisoning from chemical herbicides, as they were affected soon after spraying the chemical in cassava fields. The provincial health authorities have yet to determine the cause of deaths, but believe use of high contents of chemical herbicides have polluted the water sources in the commune.

Residents in these communes use [Kanup 480 SL], a herbicide, imported by the Viet Thang Company in the northern province of Bac Giang. The chemical was offered for sale in the company’s catalog on [5 Nov 2011]. Samples of water, soil from cassava fields, and herbicide packages have been collected for testing.

Preventive medicine centres in the province have warned people not to use the present water source but find an alternative source. Farmers must eat meals before spraying on fields, drink sugar water when experiencing symptoms, and visit a medical centre immediately.”

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012 at 06:22 (06:22 AM) UTC RSOE

15 school students hurt, 1 critically, in bee swarm horror

On the first day of school after 10 days of vacation, more than a dozen students of Class VI in Government High School, Sector 40, were bitten by a swarm of honeybees on Tuesday.

As many as 15 students, including eight girls, were playing kho-kho during their games period when bees attacked them. One of them, Pardeep Kumar, was injured critically and was rushed to Government Multi-speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16 with serious injuries. Schoolteacher Rama Jain, who accompanied the students to hospital, said the incident took place around 12.10pm when students were playing. She said some of the students managed to save themselves after running inside the classrooms.

”The beehive was on a tree and bees attacked the children suddenly,”

Rama said adding that the injured children were rushed to civil dispensary in Sector 40, but were then referred to GMSH-16 in the absence of proper medical staff in the dispensary.

Injured students were rushed at GMSH-16 in police vehicles. Deepa, 13, said, “We were playing kho-kho when a swarm of bees attacked us. Bees stung on both my hands.”

One of the injured girls told TOI that bees attacked them after some boys threw stones toward the beehive. Panic gripped the students after the attack and school management instructed all of them to stay inside the class rooms. The parents of injured students were informed by the school management.

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012 at 03:09 (03:09 AM) UTC RSOE