As the inferno and thick black smoke raced through the car at about 3:45 a.m., panicked passengers broke the windows and many saved themselves by jumping from the train.Sixty-seven passengers were in the carriage when the fire broke out about 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the small town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state, said a spokesman for the railways, C.S. Gupta.The train was brought to a halt and the burning coach was delinked from the rest of the cars to prevent the fire from spreading, Gupta said.The fire spread to a second coach, but the blaze was put out before it caused much damage, Gupta said.Firefighters put out the blaze and retrieved at least 26 bodies, including two children, said a railway official at the site of the fire. More than a dozen people were brought to hospitals with injuries sustained when they jumped from the coaches, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.View galleryHospital staff and volunteers carry a charred body of a passenger near the site of a train accident …Firefighters had to force the doors open and make their way through the smoke-filled coach to reach the dead, the official said.Many bodies were found near the jammed doors, he said.Medical teams carried out autopsies to identify the bodies, many of which were charred beyond recognition.The train was traveling from Bangalore to Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra.Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said preliminary reports from the site indicated that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. An investigation was underway.Accidents are common on India’s railroad network, one of the world’s largest, with some 18 million passengers daily. Most collisions and fires are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.___George reported from New Delhi.View galleryPolice officers stand by the bodies of passengers killed in a train accident at Kothacheruvu, about …View galleryIndian police officers cover their faces with masks as they note details of charred bodies of passen …View galleryAn elderly woman watches hospital staff and volunteers carry charred bodies of passengers near the s …
2013’s Wild, Unforgettable Weather: A Roundup
Precisely 100 days after they were arrested on a Greenpeace ship, they flew from Saint Petersburg to Paris and then took a Eurostar train to London.Anthony Perrett, Phil Ball, Iain Rogers, Alex Harris and video journalist Kieron Bryan smiled as they posed for a scrum of photographers before emotional family reunions in the arrivals hall of St Pancras station.Perrett said it was „good to be back” and he was „looking forward to spending some time in the woods” in his native Wales.He said conditions in the prison in the Arctic Circle city of Murmansk, where the group of 30 activists were first held, were „a real challenge” and admitted he had experienced „quite a few dark moments”.Perrett said there had been deep snow and they were held in their cells for 23 hours a day, sharing a toilet between three people.View galleryJournalist Kieron Bryan (L), who was detained in Russia with greenpeace activists, laughs with his m …They were later moved to a more comfortable prison in Saint Petersburg before being released from custody after two months. They were allowed to leave Russia after the Kremlin-backed amnesty was issued.He said it was „completely preposterous” that the group had initially been charged with piracy, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years under Russian law.Bryan said he had „no regrets” about travelling to the Arctic but admitted he may think differently when considering future work.He said it was no coincidence the Greenpeace activists had been released the same week as punk band Pussy Riot and ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, especially with just weeks to go until the start of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.”It’s a big human rights issue and I hope Sochi coming up will allow the world’s media to shine a light a little bit closer and we will keep talking about it,” he said.View galleryBritish Greenpeace activist Anthony Perrett shows his passport with a Russian transit visa outside o …”I think it was a political game we got caught up in.”The Greenpeace activists had been on board the Dutch-flagged ship Arctic Sunrise, targeting an offshore oil rig owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom when they were seized in September by Russian security forces who winched down from a helicopter.Nine of the so-called Arctic 30 charged in the probe have now left Russia after the first, Dmitri Litvinov, a Swedish-American, left Saint Petersburg for Helsinki on Thursday.Alexandre Paul of Canada flew out of Russia on Friday with the five Britons.Two Dutch activists, Faiza Oulahsen and Mannes Ubels, arrived back at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport around 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) from Russia, a Greenpeace spokeswoman confirmed.View galleryA member of the so called Arctic 30, videographer Kieron Bryan from the UK, shows his passport with …‘I won’t stop Arctic protests now’-Alex Harris, the Greenpeace communications officer on the ship, said she thought the Russian government had granted the amnesty to avoid global criticism.”I think it was the easy way out for Russia, to get rid of us before the Olympics began and before there’s a big PR pressure from Greenpeace and the rest of the world,” she told journalists.The activist said she too had experienced appalling conditions in the Murmansk prison including finding a leech on her toothbrush.The arrest of the Arctic 30 — who hail from 18 different countries — risked becoming another bone of contention in increasingly tense relations between Russia and the West.Russia’s Federal Migration Service said all the 26 foreigners will have been given exit visas by the end of Friday. The other four activists are Russians.Peter Willcox, the veteran captain of the Arctic Sunrise, was also expected to leave Russia on Friday. He was captain of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship when it was bombed by the French secret service in port in New Zealand in 1985.Earlier, Dutch activist Oulahsen, 26, told AFP before leaving Russia on Friday she also had „no regrets” over the protest and it had made her „even more dedicated” to save the Arctic.But even as the Greenpeace activists left Russia, Gazprom announced on Friday it had begun oil production at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig that was the focus of their actions.Two jailed members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were freed on Monday after benefitting from the same amnesty.
The Most Important Climate Change Stories of 2013 By RL Miller | Takepart.com 20 hours ago Takepart.comGlobal warming was hot news this year—literally.Be it the slow creep of the fossil fuel divestment program across America, so-called climate hawks flexing their muscles at the polls in November, or President Obama dragging his feet on a Keystone XL pipeline decision, climate change stories at times dominated the news cycle in 2013, the seventh hottest year since record keeping began in 1850. Here are the 8 biggest climate stories of the past 12 months.1. The IPCC Sounded the Alarm; the World Hit the Snooze Button-In September the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its fifth major report on climate change, drawing ever-stronger connections between our burning of fossil fuels and our warming world.“It is extremely likely [95 percent probability] that human activity was the dominant cause of climate change observed since the 1950s,” the group concluded.In response, world leaders largely yawned.We’re putting this story at the top to remind you that it happened.2. One Man Went Hungry, but World Leaders Didn’t Listen-In October, just days after Typhoon Haiyan’s storm surge killed 6,000 and left millions homeless in the Philippines, Yeb Saño, the head of the country’s delegation to COP 19, kicked off the two-week climate change conference with a memorable, heartfelt plea.“I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves,” Saño said in a video that went viral. “We can take drastic actions now to prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.”(While scientists cannot conclusively link climate change to any single weather event, because typhoons and hurricanes convert warm seawater into wind energy, it is likely that a warming world will create bigger and stronger storms in years to come.)He continued his critique, saying, “We cannot solve climate change when we seek to spew more emissions…. By failing to meet the objectives of the convention, we have ratified to meet our own doom.”Saño then announced he was beginning a hunger strike, pledging not to eat “until a meaningful outcome is in sight.” In addition to emissions cuts, he sought the implementation of a Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries, such as the Philippines, adapt to climate change.Did Saño’s nearly two-week-long strike—during which he only drank water and reportedly lost a pound and a half—yield any results?The convention ended with no emissions reduction agreement between countries, and while the Green Climate Fund opened its headquarters in early December, it is vastly underfunded, with just $40 million of a $100 billion target goal in hand. Many wealthy nations have not paid up as pledged.3. U.S. Solar Grows Up Before Our Eyes-For solar watchers, 2013 was an exceptionally sunny year.In January the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group of investor-owned utilities, published a little-discussed paper that essentially predicted the death spiral of the U.S. electricity grid. Why? Because it simply keeps getting cheaper for Americans to install solar panels on the roofs of their homes.Utilities are fighting back with plans to penalize free riders who install solar panels, but they’ve lost in Georgia and battled to a draw in Arizona.Combined with utility-scale projects, the U.S. gained a total of 930 megawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity, a 35 percent gain from the previous year. The cherry on top of all this sunny news is that the world’s largest solar plant is scheduled to open in the California desert before the first of the year.4. Obama (Finally) Acts–After staying largely mum on the issue during the 2012 presidential election, President Obama delivered a major speech on climate change in June at Georgetown University. In laying out a second-term plan to limit carbon pollution that contributes to global warming, he told students he refused to „condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”Knowing there was (and is) almost zero appetite in Congress for tackling climate change, Obama pledged to go it alone through powers afforded him by executive order.In September Obama’s EPA released its draft rules to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants and set up a climate change adaptation task force. In early December he ordered federal agencies to lead by example and get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.Critics, including famed environmentalist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, point to his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy: calling for expanded Arctic offshore drilling, defending fracking, and expanding coal development on public lands.5. Divestment Goes National-Over the past year, the grassroots fossil fuel divestment movement gained considerable momentum, sweeping across more than 400 U.S. college campuses, where student groups passed resolutions calling for their schools’ trustees to sell holdings in oil, gas, and coal firms.Still, the divestment strategy—which helped end South African apartheid in 1994—has mostly been met with resistance by major American colleges, including Harvard University, which wrote that the school is “an academic institution,” not “a political actor.”6. Climate Hawks Spend Big, Win Big, in the Political Arena-Across the U.S., greens poured millions of dollars into 2013’s off-year elections to influence such issues as coal exports and natural gas fracking.In most cases, they won.The state of Washington featured one of the most important races for environmental groups. The Washington Conservation Voters Action Fund raised more than $670,000, funneling it into a county council election to support officials perceived as opposed to a $600 million coal export terminal in the region. Environmental groups outspent the coal industry 4–1, helping elect council members sympathetic to their campaign to stop coal exports.California billionaire and climate hawk Tom Steyer poured $8 million into the Virginia gubernatorial race in support of eventual winner Terry McAuliffe. The League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club also put more than $2 million into the race, helping McAuliffe defeat vociferous climate denier Ken Cuccinelli.7. Wither Thy Hurricane?-Given that 2013 was the seventh-hottest year since record keeping began in 1850, it baffled experts that this year’s Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which ended Nov. 30, was the sixth-least active since 1950. Of the 13 named storms that formed in the Atlantic in 2013, only two became hurricanes. And only Tropical Storm Andrea made landfall in the U.S.Atmospheric scientists say it will be months before they understand what happened, but early indication points to a weakened African jet stream—a key factor in the formation of Atlantic hurricanes—as the cause. Typically, the jet stream moves west across the Atlantic Ocean at 20 to 25 mph; this year’s averaged only 8 mph.8. The Pipeline Story That Wasn’t-The Keystone XL pipeline approval saga entered its fifth year in much the same state as it spent its fourth: protests outside Obama events, accusations of corruption and cronyism in the State Department, and no decision yet from the president.If approved, the pipeline will carry diluted bitumen from Canadian tar sands fields through six U.S. states to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.Its proponents, including the Canadian government and most congressional Republicans, say the oil will get here regardless of whether it’s shipped by pipeline or by rail, that the pipeline will create thousands of temporary construction jobs, and that it will lower American gasoline prices.Environmentalists have evidence to counter each of those points and want to keep the tar sands in the ground. Their argument is relatively straightforward: “Emissions from developing the tar sand—through mining or steam heating out of the ground followed by upgrading for shipment—are more harmful than those that come from extracting the most conventional crude oil.”
Ice storm: from Maine to Midwest, more than 100,000 still without power Monday’s ice storm still has the upper Midwest and northern New England reeling, with crews expected to work into the weekend to restore power. Then, another storm could arrive.
Christmas Day temperatures fell to minus-24 degrees F in upper Michigan, according to the National Weather Service, with ice covering power lines and tree branches. The state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, reported Thursday that 89,250 customers are without power, which represents nearly 20 percent of the company’s entire consumer base. During the storm’s peak early Monday, more than 500,000 customers from the Midwest to Maine were without power.The mass outages in Michigan are the largest for Christmas week in the company’s 126-year history. Workers from as far away as Georgia and North Carolina are en route to Flint, Mich., which was hit hardest by the storm. To date, 17 people in the United States have died as a result of the storm, with an additional 10 in Canada.RECOMMENDED: Are you scientifically literate? Take our quizAccording to the Flint Journal, some families spent Christmas morning in area hotels. Jill Ghantous and her young children moved from their Swartz Creek, Mich., home to a Wingate by Wyndham hotel late Tuesday. Along with purchasing a small tree for the room, the family hung a sign on the window to let Santa know they relocated, and they hung their stockings on the dresser.“I guess we can kind of pull Christmas out of nothing. You just get resourceful and try to make it the best you can,” Ms. Ghantous said.After hitting Michigan, the frigid air moved west into northern New England and Canada. In Maine, about 123,000 Central Maine Power Company customers lost power earlier this week; by Thursday, about 30,000 households remained in the dark. The company says it aims to restore all power by Thursday evening but warns that it may not be possible.Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service says that its 101,000 outages in the eastern part of the state are the largest number since 1998. By late Wednesday, about 17,000 of its customers remained without power.While temperatures in Maine will rise Friday to freezing, or slightly above, according to the National Weather Service, that will not be enough to melt the ice. Also complicating recovery is a storm expected Thursday evening that will bring 3 to 6 inches of accumulation across the eastern part of the state, according to AccuWeather.“We’ve had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine and the ice isn’t going anyplace. They’re very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice,” Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency, told the Associated Press Thursday.The storm also hit neighboring states. Heavy ice cut power to 900 Vermont households Wednesday; about 700 remain without power Thursday, according to the Vermont Electric Cooperative, which does not expect full restoration until the weekend.“My heart goes out to the families who are struggling to get by without electricity. This storm has been frustrating for all involved,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement Wednesday.With recovery efforts in all areas affected by the ice storm expected to wrap up by Saturday, a second wave of winter weather is expected Sunday night and Monday. AccuWeather forecasts snow showers and heavy winds through Michigan late Sunday while a separate storm moving up the eastern seaboard is expected to dump heavy snow in eastern Maine.
Fire on Express Train in India Kills At Least 26
Aijaz Rahi, Nirmala George Published: Dec 28, 2013, 8:46 AM EST Associated PressA crowd gathers to watch hospital staff and volunteers carry charred bodies of passengers near the site of a train accident at Kothacheruvu, about 155 kilometers (96 miles) north of Bangalore, India, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)KOTHACHERUVU, India — A fire engulfed a coach of an express train in southern India on Saturday, killing at least 26 passengers, many of whom became trapped and suffocated after the doors failed to open, officials said.As the inferno and thick black smoke raced through the car at about 3:45 a.m., panicked passengers broke the windows and many saved themselves by jumping from the train.Sixty-seven passengers were in the carriage when the fire broke out about 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the small town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state, said a spokesman for the railways, C.S. Gupta.(MORE: Bad Weather Blamed for 2 Deaths in Spain)The train was brought to a halt and the burning coach was delinked from the rest of the cars to prevent the fire from spreading, Gupta said.
The fire spread to a second coach, but the blaze was put out before it caused much damage, Gupta said.
Firefighters put out the blaze and retrieved at least 26 bodies, including two children, said a railway official at the site of the fire. More than a dozen people were brought to hospitals with injuries sustained when they jumped from the coaches, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.Firefighters had to force the doors open and make their way through the smoke-filled coach to reach the dead, the official said.Many bodies were found near the jammed doors, he said.Medical teams carried out autopsies to identify the bodies, many of which were charred beyond recognition.The train was traveling from Bangalore to Nanded in the western state of Maharashtra.Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said preliminary reports from the site indicated that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. An investigation was underway.Accidents are common on India’s railroad network, one of the world’s largest, with some 18 million passengers daily. Most collisions and fires are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.MORE FROM WEATHER.COM: Brazil Flooding, Mudslides Turn Deadly1 / 13Aerial view of Santa Leopoldina municipality, flooded after heavy rains, in Espirito Santo state, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Vitor Jubino-A Gazeta)
Arctic Blast Closes Out 2013 in the Midwest, Including Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee
By Chrissy Warrilow Published: Dec 28, 2013, 7:12 AM EST weather.comWho Will See Snow This Weekend?Who Will See Snow This Weekend?Arctic Blast Headed for MidwestWeekly Planner
Hold onto your New Years’ party hats and button up your coats: Another Arctic blast is invading the central and eastern U.S., just in time to ring in 2014.Saturday and SundayCurrent Temperatures
- New York City: Temperatures in the middle or upper 20s
- Boston: Near 20 degrees
- Chicago: Single digits, light snow possible
- Minneapolis/St. Paul: Single digits below zero
(WATCH: How to Avoid Frostbite)It’s Winter, But Is This Normal?NOAA-Through the first 25 days of December, temperatures have been much below average in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.The image to the right illustrates the departure from average temperature through the first 25 days of December across the United States.Many of the same areas that will have to endure this latest Arctic blast have already dealt with a frigid December. Monthly average temperatures have been 5 to 10 degrees below average in a large part of the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains.According to the National Weather Service in Duluth, Minn., December 2013 currently ranks as a top five coldest in International Falls.
Winter Weather Live Updates: Arctic Blast and a Coastal Storm
Published: Dec 28, 2013, 7:09 AM EST weather.com
Who Will See Snow This Weekend?Who Will See Snow This Weekend?Who Will See Snow this Weekend?Who Made Secret Patterns?This weekend, we’ll be tracking a new blast of Arctic air in the Midwest and a developing coastal storm.Current Wind Chills