Tropical Storm Chantal weakens to tropical wave
View gallery DAVID McFADDEN 1 hour agoNatureDominican RepublicHaiti KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Tropical Storm Chantal was downgraded Wednesday to a tropical wave as its scattered clouds drifted quickly westward toward Jamaica. But heavy rains from the weakened system continued to drench parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and force the evacuation of thousands from flood-prone areas.One storm-related death was reported in the Dominican Republic: a firefighter swept away by floodwaters.What was once a fast-moving storm began degenerating late Wednesday afternoon about 230 miles (370 kilometers) east-southeast of the Jamaican capital of Kingston. Its remnants still packed maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), but a reconnaissance plane found that Chantal lacked the closed circulation necessary to be classified as a storm.The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the wave was expected to spread over Jamaica and eastern Cuba into Thursday. It was projected to move over or near the Florida peninsula by Friday, where heavy wind shear is expected to keep it from reforming as a storm.Jamaica’s Meteorological Service said „the main threat at this time is for outbreaks of heavy showers and thunderstorms,” starting over eastern parishes. It warned that flash flooding was possible and called for mariners to stay alert..”View galleryWomen stand outside their home on a flooded street in the Cristo Redentor, or Christ Redeemer neighb …As a storm earlier Wednesday, Chantal’s center skirted the southern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola. But its heavy rains still posed a threat to some of the region’s most vulnerable people, many of whom live in flimsy homes of plywood and corrugated steel.The only reported fatality was that of Juan Ramon Rodriguez, a 26-year-old Dominican firefighter, in the community of Maimon, about 50 miles (85 kilometers) north of the capital of Santo Domingo. Rodriguez was trying to clear a storm drain when rushing waters carried him away, said Luis Luna, director of the country’s civil defense agency.Dominican authorities were evacuating thousands of people from communities considered at high risk for flooding as rivers near the capital and along the southern coast reached dangerously high levels from the heavy rains. Authorities said more than 6,500 people had been evacuated by Wednesday night.”We’re not in the clear yet,” said Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the Emergency Operations Center.Even remnants of Chantal could create problems for the rural southern peninsula of Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic. Tropical systems can trigger flooding and landslides on Hispaniola, and severe deforestation and makeshift housing make Haiti especially vulnerable..”View galleryResidents watch from their homes as floodwaters run down a street in the Cristo Redentor, or Christ …Haitian officials urged people to move away from ravines, secure important records and stock up on food and water.Farmers in southern Haiti, where mountainside crops are particularly vulnerable to strong winds, feared the worst as heavy rain fell. „I’m scared for the people,” farmer Jean-Marc Tata said by telephone of his neighbors in Mapou, a village near the southeastern coast.All tropical storm warnings were cancelled late Wednesday afternoon. But people in Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas were urged to monitor the wave’s progress.American Airlines canceled flights to Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean, and cruise lines made numerous changes to their itineraries.Chantal raced through the eastern Caribbean early Tuesday, with officials in Dominica reporting that heavy winds ripped the roofs off over 15 homes and toppled power lines. No injuries were reported there or anywhere else in the small islands of the Eastern Caribbean..”View galleryA fisherman carrying a bucket of fish walks home after a day’s work under cloudy skies caused by Tro …Overnight, the storm passed south of Puerto Rico, leaving about 7,000 people in the U.S. territory without power and more than 2,500 people without water. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla ordered public employees back to work on Wednesday.In northeast Jamaica, Fredericus Enneking took it easy as gray clouds began swirling overhead and the breeze picked up at his eco-resort on a one-acre seaside property.”You can feel something is in the air,” said the Holland-born Enneking, who uses the Rastafarian name of „Free-I.” Of course, you can never know what Mother Nature will do, but I am waiting for the storms later in the season. They are typically the ones that do the damage.”__Associated Press writers Trenton Daniel and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.
Deadly Quebec train crash to be fertile ground for lawsuits By Randall Palmer and Casey Sullivan | Reuters – 24 minutes ago
Asiana crash evacuation delayed by 90 seconds SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As soon as Asiana Flight 214 came to a stop after a crash landing that tore off the tail and sent the Boeing 777 spinning down the runway at San Francisco International Airport, the lead flight attendant asked pilots if she should begin evacuating passengers. The answer: No.With dust swirling in the cabin, the hundreds on board stayed in their seats. It wasn’t until 90 seconds later, when a flight attendant noticed fire on the outside of the plane, that emergency slides were deployed and passengers began streaming out of the plane.Two of the plane’s eight slides malfunctioned, however, opening inside the cabin and pinning two flight attendants underneath. Meantime, the fire that started when fuel leaked onto a hot engine started spreading and flight attendants and the flight crew battled the flames as firefighters and rescuers arrived.National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman recounted the sequence of events at a news conference Wednesday. She said it was pieced together based on interviews with six of the 12 flight attendants.
Asiana passengers initially told not to evacuate after crash By Gerry Shih SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Passengers aboard the Asiana Airlines plane that crashed in San Francisco were initially told not to evacuate the aircraft after it skidded to a halt on the runway, a federal safety official said on Wednesday.But a flight attendant saw fire outside the plane, and the call to exit was made, 90 seconds after the crash, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman at a San Francisco press conference. The first emergency response vehicles arrived 30 seconds later.The Saturday crash of the Boeing 777 killed two and injured more than 180.In her fourth media briefing on the accident, Hersman said three flight attendants and their seats were ejected from the plane after it hit a seawall in front of the runway and lost its tail section. Two other flight attendants were temporarily pinned inside the cabin when two different evacuation chutes deployed inside the aircraft.Hersman noted that an immediate evacuation is not always the standard procedure or the correct decision for pilots to make. „The pilots indicated that they were working with aircraft control,” she said. „We don’t know what the pilots were thinking but I can tell you that in previous accidents there have been crews that don’t evacuate. They wait for other crews to come,” she said.Safety rules require that it be possible to evacuate all passengers from a plane in a 90-second period.According to interviews with six of the 12 flight attendants on board, there was at first no fire inside the plane, Hersman said. But as the evacuation proceeded fire began to break out in the interior and was fought by flight attendants with fire extinguishers even as emergency personnel began to arrive.Six flight attendants remain hospitalized and have not yet been interviewed. Asiana Airlines briefly introduced the other six flight attendants at a separate press event. The attendants have been praised as heroes who pushed for the evacuation and helped passengers out of the smoking plane.Hersman also said that one of the pilots reported being blinded by a flash of light when the plane was 500 feet off the ground as it approached the airport. She offered no theory as to what might have caused such a flash.Hersman said further analysis of the plane’s auto-pilot system and automated throttle control were necessary to understand what the pilots did in the final moments of flight.The pilot in charge of the plane told the NTSB that he was relying on the throttle control to keep the plane at its proper speed and failed to recognize that the aircraft had slowed dramatically as it approached the runway, Hersman had said on Tuesday. The slow speed was a key cause of the crash.Hersman again stressed that even if an electronic control system had malfunctioned, the pilots should still have been able to land the plane safely.”There are two pilots in the cockpit for a reason,” she said, and they are responsible for monitoring all aspects of flight, including critical variables like air speed.The role of increasingly sophisticated electronic control systems on passenger jets – and whether they may be breeding complacency among pilots – was already the subject of fierce debate in the aviation community, and the issue is likely to gain new urgency in the wake of the Asiana crash.(Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke and Sarah McBride in San Francisco; and Angela Moon in New York. Writing by Jonathan Weber. Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)
U.S. airline pilots to need more flight time to qualify By Reuters – 8 hours agoPlay VideoRole of aircraft automation eyed in San Francisco plane crash13 News-WVEC Hampton Roads Videos 1:25View PhotoWASHINGTON (AP) — The crash landing of a South Korean airliner in San Francisco …(Reuters) – The United States will increase the flight experience required of pilots on U.S. airlines, a long-awaited move not related to the crash last weekend of an Asiana Airlines plane in San Francisco.The new rules, which will take effect later this week or next week once they are published in the Federal Register, stem in part from a plane crash near Buffalo in 2009 that killed 50 people, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday.First officers, or co-pilots, will now need Airline Transport Pilot certificates to take control of U.S. commercial jetliners or cargo planes. The certificates are earned with 1,500 hours of total flight time. Previously, a co-pilot needed only a commercial certificate, requiring 250 hours.Captains would still need at least 1,500 hours of flight time but now 1,000 hours would have to be logged as a co-pilot on a commercial carrier. Previously, those hours could be earned in flight school or military training.Bob Coffman, an American Airlines captain who is also chairman of its pilots union’s government affairs committee, said the additional requirement of the ATP certificate would ensure that co-pilots have a variety of flying experiences.”In this day … where we are more and more dependent on having two competent pilots at the controls, it does not make much sense for one of the pilots to be significantly less qualified than the other pilot,” Coffman said.The new regulations stem in part from a crash in February 2009 in which a Bombardier DHC-8-400 plunged into a snow-covered neighborhood as it neared Buffalo, New York, killing 49 people on board and one person on the ground. The crash of the Colgan Air flight, operating as Continental Connection flight 3407, raised questions about pilot training.In that accident, investigators said, the pilot failed to respond appropriately to a „stick-shaker” warning of a potential stall from low air speed – similar conditions to those under investigation in the Saturday crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco, which killed two people and injured more than 180.The new FAA rules would not apply to the pilots of the Asiana flight, however, since they are not pilots for a U.S. airline.FAA spokesman Les Dorr said there was no link between the pilot qualification rules and Saturday’s Asiana plane crash in San Francisco.”This ruling has been in the works for a couple of years now,” Dorr said.The FAA has drawn criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board for taking years to develop the rules.”The NTSB notes that human factors concerns associated with low airspeed do not require more than 6 years of study for a solution to be implemented,” the NTSB said in a 2010 report on the Colgan accident.Rep. Rick Larsen, the ranking member on the House aviation subcommittee, said the long period in adopting the rules was a concern. „It’s fair to be somewhat critical of the FAA for taking a long time to get these rules up running,” he said.(Reporting by Ros Krasny and Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington, Karen Jacobs in Atlanta, Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill)
Floods soak western China While some regions in China suffered from bouts of heavy and destructive rainfall, the western part of the country was hit by flooding. The floods triggered a landslide in the region, which destroyed a memorial to a 2008 earthquake.previousnextnextPhoto By REUTERS TV/REUTERS17 hours ago PHOTOS OF THE DAY 1 – 3 of 6 A building collapses amid floodwaters caused by torrential rain in Deyang City, Shifang County, Sichuan Province, July 9, 2013 in this still image taken from video. Floods caused by heavy rains swept away houses and bridges in China’s southwest Sichuan Province, state media reported. Video shot on July 9, 2013. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV (CHINA – Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO …
19-foot python breaks into Australian charity store, leaving smelly surprise By The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 17 hours ago
CAIRNS, Australia – Australian police were mystified by a chaotic crime scene including a hole in the ceiling and a smelly pool of vomit-like liquid — until they found the culprit was a 5.7-meter (19-foot) python.The massive snake weighing in at 17 kilograms (37 pounds) was captured a day after a suspected burglary was reported at a charity store in Queensland in northeastern Australia.”Its head was the size of a small dog,” Police Sgt. Don Auld said Wednesday.Before they found the python, investigators’ working theory was that a human burglar with an appetite for destruction — and a serious illness — had gone on a rampage inside the St. Vincent de Paul store in the small town of Ingham.”We thought a person had fallen through the ceiling because the roof panel was cut in half,” Auld said. „When they’ve hit the floor, they’ve vomited and then staggered and fallen over. That’s what we thought anyway.”Police now suspect the python entered the store through the roof, which was damaged in a cyclone two years ago.The animal then plummeted through the ceiling, knocking over dishes, clothes and other items, before relieving itself on the floor. It somehow managed to hide from officials until staff spotted it lying alongside a wall the next day.A local snake catcher was called in to capture the reptile, which has been relocated to nearby wetlands.