News Photos: New Year kicks off with winter storm across Oklahoma, Texas
The wintry weather caused widespread travel disruptions across the region, contributing to accidents on major highways during the Wednesday evening commute and through much of Thursday.Winter storms delivers ice, snow to south-central USAP Photo/Garret FischerFirst, at vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui voluptatum.
Planet Labs Inc have released images taken from its Dove and Skysat platforms that show how the island volcano has been completely reshaped.A large section of the western side has completely vanished, while the island itself has changed shape dramatically.Smoke pours out of the volcano at the start of 2019 (Planet Labs Inc) A crater that was situated one top of the 340m-high volcano has now broken open completely, forming a small bay.Some 170 million cubic metres – more than two-thirds of Anak Krakatau’s volume – is now missing, presumed to have fallen into the sea in a massive landslide that produced the tsunami.
The eruption of the island volcano in December sent a 20 metre-high wall of water inland, damaging hotels and houses, resulting in the deaths of around 430 people.
Thousands more people remain displaced.
Anak Krakatau is an island formed from previous blasts from Krakatoa.
The tsunami came less than three months after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck central Sulawesi, causing widespread damage and killing 2,256 people.
More than 70,000 homes were said to have been damaged, while communications, water and electricity infrastructure was also severely impaired.
Last month’s killer tsunami has dealt a serious blow to plans to pump billions of dollars into Tanjung Lesung
Picture-postcard Tanjung Lesung was a cornerstone of Indonesia’s bid to supercharge its tourism industry, boasting palm-fringed beaches, a towering volcano in the middle of turquoise waters and a rainforest sanctuary for endangered Javan rhinos.
But the beachside town now lies in ruins, pummelled by a deadly tsunami that has raised fresh questions about disaster preparedness and the future of a multi-billion-dollar push to replicate Bali’s success across the Southeast Asian archipelago.
The shattered community was hosting a pop concert when the waves crashed ashore last month, at night and without warning.
Several members of the Indonesian band Seventeen and more than 100 others at the Tanjung Lesung Beach Hotel were killed — about a quarter of those who died in the volcano-triggered tsunami.
A clutch of other area hotels was also devastated, with beachside cottages flattened and debris — chairs, tables and the band’s audio equipment — scattered everywhere.
Tourism minister Arief Yahya, who ordered that the town be rebuilt in six months, brushed aside concerns sparked by the tsunami — which was triggered by a sudden eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano.
„Disasters can happen anywhere in Indonesia,” he told AFP during a recent visit there.
„We need to have (tsunami) early warning systems, especially in tourist destinations. We’re going to make that happen.”
But some are less convinced, especially since disaster monitors became aware of the killer waves after they had already smashed into the coastline along western Java and southern Sumatra.
– Blockbuster Bali –
„It’s going to be even more difficult to promote (the area), especially now that buildings are destroyed and the volcano is more active,” said Tedjo Iskandar, a Jakarta-based travel analyst.
About 42 percent of Indonesia’s 14 million foreign tourists headed to the popular resort island of Bali last year, giving a $17 billion boost to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
The government picked Tanjung Lesung and nine other locations as part of its „10 New Balis” strategy, a plan unveiled in 2016 with an eye to courting Chinese, Singaporean and other investors as its pushes to hit 20 million tourists annually.
The list includes ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples, tropical islands near Jakarta, the Mount Bromo volcano in eastern Java, and a national park that is home to Komodo dragons — the world’s biggest lizard.
But the killer tsunami has dealt a blow to plans to pump some $4 billion into Tanjung Lesung.
And it is not the only spot in the government’s tourism plan to suffer a disaster — natural or man-made — that could scare away tourists.
Lombok, next to Bali, was rocked by earthquakes in the summer that killed more than 500 and sparked a mass exodus of foreigners from the tropical paradise.
That was weeks after Lake Toba on Sumatra island — also on the „New Bali” list — was the scene of a ferry accident that left almost 200 people missing or dead.
– Caught off guard –
In May, Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya was hit by suicide bombings carried about by Islamist extremists, while Bali was rocked as the Mount Agung blew its top at the end of 2017.
The volcano is 75 kilometres (45 miles) away from tourist areas and the eruption posed little danger to visitors, but it still left hundreds of thousands stranded as flights were cancelled.
Indonesia’s upbeat tourism numbers plunged in the second half of 2018 after the Lombok quakes, a quake-tsunami disaster on Sulawesi island that killed thousands, and a Lion Air plane crash in October which killed all 189 people on board.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth, straddling the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
And the frequent disasters it has suffered recently have highlighted the country’s woeful state of preparedness.
Early warning systems in the city of Palu on Sulawesi — and elsewhere — had not been working since 2012 because of budget shortfalls and bureaucratic bungling.
In the latest disaster in the Sunda Strait, Indonesian monitors initially said there was no tsunami threat at all. They were later forced to issue a correction and an apology, pointing to a lack of early warning systems for the high death toll.
Jakarta’s tourism push may still have a chance, but only if it gets serious about safety, said I Ketut Ardana, head of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies’ Bali office.
„The (government) needs to better inform locals and tourists so they’re prepared when a disaster strikes,” he said.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Two more bodies have been found in the wreckage of a crashed train on a Danish bridge, raising the death toll to eight in Denmark’s deadliest train accident in 30 years, police said Thursday.
Police say three women and five men were killed in the Wednesday morning accident, and four of them have been identified. Sixteen others were injured.
All of the dead and injured were on a high-speed passenger train traveling on the Storebaelt system of bridges and a tunnel that link the central Danish islands of Zealand and Funen.
Authorities are investigating if cargo fell off a freight train and smashed into the passenger train as the two traveled in opposition directions on the bridge.
The Danish Accident Investigation Board has also said that strong gusts Wednesday could be a factor. At the time of the accident, the 18-kilometer (11.2-mile) Storebaelt link was closed to road traffic because of high winds but trains could still drive across.
Police said in a statement Thursday that the latest bodies were only found after the wreckage was pulled away from the crash site to a remote area near the town of Nyborg on Funen island. They said the damage to the passenger train „was so extensive it has hard to properly get into the most damaged area” while it was still on the bridge but added they are certain no more bodies are inside.
Divers also searched the seabed under the bridge overnight, looking for train wreckage and for more clues to explain the deadly accident.
Aerial TV footage and photos showed the front side of the passenger train ripped open. One container seemed to be missing from a flat wagon on the cargo train and a freight tarpaulin was torn into pieces.
Lars Braemhoej, a senior police official, has said investigators believe one possible cause of the „considerable damage” on the passenger train was getting hit by cargo that detached from the freight train. Still he said authorities „do not know precisely what caused the accident.”
Since the wrecked passenger train was pulled away from the bridge, rail crossings over the Storebaelt link resumed Thursday from west to east. Train crossings in the other direction were expected to restart later in the day.
6 people killed in train accident on Denmark’s Great Belt Bridge originally appeared on abcnews.go.com
Six people have died and 16 more were injured in Denmark after debris detached from a cargo train and hit a passenger express train on the Great Belt Bridge, authorities said Wednesday.
The trains were on parallel tracks but traveling in opposite directions, Deutsche Bahn, the cargo train operator, told ABC News.
The accident took place around 7:35 a.m. local time. The area was experiencing high winds and powerful waves caused by Storm Alfrida.
There were 131 passengers and three crew members on board the train.
The Great Belt Bridge connects the western island of Funen with the island of Zealand to the east. The bridge has now reopened for road traffic in both directions but remains closed to trains, police said in a tweet. Commuters have been advised to not slow down or take any pictures or video of the accident site in order to “have respect for the dead and injured.”
The Denmark Accident Investigation unit and Funen police have launched a joint investigation into the accident. The express commuter train departed from Aarhus at 5:19 a.m. local time and was headed for Copenhagen.
The cargo train involved in the incident was shipping goods for the beer company Carlsberg. Kasper Elbjorn, a spokesman for Carlsberg, told ABC News the company would be doing “everything to help.”
“Deutsche Bahn Cargo, the shipper of our goods has unfortunately confirmed to us that cargo train carrying our goods was involved in the accident,” Elbjorn said. “We are deeply concerned about the accident. Our compassion goes to all involved.”
Jan Wildau, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn Cargo Scandinavia, told ABC News that it would be fully cooperating with the investigation. The cargo train had been traveling to the Carlsberg Brewery in Frederecia, he said. The train had received the green light to cross the bridge from Banedanmark, the company in charge of train traffic control, he added.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said his thoughts were with the victims and their families and he thanked the authorities for their response to the accident.
“The morning’s tragic accident on the Great Belt Bridge with many fatalities and wounded has shaken us all together,” Rasmussen said in a statement. „Ordinary Danes on their way to work or home from Christmas holidays have broken their lives.”
The prime minister of neighboring Sweden also expressed his condolences for the victims.
“Terrible train accident on Great Belt Bridge in Denmark as a result of the Storm Alfrida,” Stefan Löfven said in a tweet. “Our thoughts are with the injured and with the families and relatives of the dead. I have also said this in the morning to my fellow prime Minister, Mr Lars Løkke Rasmussen.”
Nasa has revealed the first photo of the distant world of Ultima Thule, the most distant object that humanity has ever explored. The tiny, icy object resembles a snowman in the photo, which is just the first of a whole host of data that the space agency hopes to receive back from its New Horizons spacecraft.
The picture came after flight controllers said they had had success in the high-risk, middle-of-the-night encounter at the mysterious body known as Ultima Thule on the frozen fringes of our solar system, about four billion miles away in a dark and frigid region of space known as the Kuiper Belt.
Now they will work to download and look through all of the data sent back over that long distance, a process that could take years.
„That image is so 2018… Meet Ultima Thule!” said lead investigator Alan Stern, doing little to hide his joy as he revealed a new sharper image of the cosmic body, taken at a distance as close as 17,000 miles with a resolution of 140 metres per pixel.
„That bowling pin is gone – it’s a snowman if anything at all,” Dr Stern said during a Nasa briefing.
„What this spacecraft and this team accomplished is unprecedented.”
Ultima Thule’s surface reflects light about as much as „garden variety dirt,” he said, as the sun’s rays are 1,600 times fainter there than on Earth.
The body is roughly 19 miles long and completes its own rotation in about 15 hours. Nasa dubbed the larger lobe Ultima, and the other, which is about three times smaller, Thule.
„This is the first object that we can clearly tell was born this way” Stern said, instead of evolving as a sort of „bi-lobe.”
„This really puts the nail on the coffin now. We know that this is how these kinds of objects in many cases form.”
Around 4.5 billion years ago a cloud of frozen pebbles began to join forces, gradually forming two bodies – Ultima and Thule.
Slowing turning, they eventually touched at each other at what mission geology manager Jeff Moore called an „extremely slow speed” – maybe just one to a few miles per hour.
If such a meeting occurred between two cars in a parking lot, he said, no driver would bother writing it up. The lobes, according to Moore, are really just „resting on each other.”
„New Horizons is like a time machine, taking us back to the birth of the solar system,” Moore said. „We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time.”
Carly Howett, another researcher of the mission, noted that „we can definitely say that Ultima Thule is red,” perhaps due to irradiation of ice.
The close approach came a half-hour into the new year, and three years after New Horizons’ unprecedented swing past Pluto.
China Becomes First Country To Land A Spacecraft On The Far Side Of The Moon
China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the country’s state-run media announced Thursday, a milestone that solidifies Beijing’s ambitions to become a world leader in space exploration.
The probe, dubbed the Chang’e-4, touched down at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time, landing on the moon’s dark side, which forever faces away from the Earth. It’s the first lunar landing since 2013, when the Chinese Space Agency sent another craft to the moon, the Chang’e-3, becoming the third nation to send a vehicle to the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Chang’e-4, which is carrying a rover that will explore the far side, has already sent images back to Earth. China sent a separate satellite into space in May to serve as a communications relay with the rover because being on the dark side of the moon prevents a direct signal from being sent back to Earth.
Other missions have taken photos of the moon’s far side, but the images below are the first taken from the surface.
China has announced bold plans for its space program and plans to send another probe, the Chang’e-5, to the moon next year. That craft would be the first to bring moon samples back to Earth since 1976.
The New York Times also noted that China could soon be the only nation to have a space station in orbit. President Donald Trump has considered ending fundingfor the International Space Station by 2025 even as he touts America’s new Space Force. That would leave China’s Tiangong-2 as the only such structure in existence.
The United States remains the only country to send humans to the moon, but Trump has said he wants to send Americans back to the lunar surface in the future.
Typically, Cathay Pacific would charge around $16,000 for first-class or business-class tickets from Vietnam to New York. However, a few lucky customers will be flying in style for just under $700 due to the airline’s error.
The Hong Kong-based carrier accidentally sold first- and business-class seats for Vietnam-New York flights in August for $675, a major discount from the usual cost for the same route, the Guardian reported.
Despite the costly error, the airline says it will honor the tickets sold at the discounted price. On Wednesday, Cathay Pacific tweeted, “Happy 2019 all, and to those who bought our good – VERY good surprise ‘special’ on New Year’s Day, yes – we made a mistake but we look forward to welcoming you on board with your ticket issued. Hope this will make your 2019 ‘special’ too!”
According to the BBC, the sale was reported by travel bloggers on New Year’s Eve but was later pulled by the airline.
The cheap flights were due to a computer glitch and have been blamed on a person who entered the wrong fares into the system, the South China Morning Post reports. As a result, several thousand tickets were copped at unbeatable prices.