China says 30 killed fighting mountain forest fire
In this aerial photo released by Xinhua News Agency, smoke can be seen from a forest fire in Yalongjiang township of Muli County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province on Monday, April 1, 2019. The fire high in the mountains of western China’s Sichuan province has killed over two dozen firefighters and others, the government said Monday. (Lin Jiping/Xinhua via AP)BEIJING (AP) — A fire high in the mountains of western China’s Sichuan province has killed 30 firefighters and others, the government said Monday.The deaths occurred after a change of wind Sunday as the firefighters were battling the blaze in a rugged area at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management and the military. Among the dead were 27 firefighters and three local residents recruited to help fight the blaze, the ministry said.Nearly 700 people were battling the fire in Sichuan’s Muli county that erupted on Saturday, but contact was lost Sunday with the 30. Two helicopters carrying medical staff and military personnel were dispatched to help in the search.China has been battling forest fires in recent weeks in various parts of the vast country, including on the outskirts of Beijing, fed by dry weather and high winds across many northern areas.The death toll among the firefighters appeared to be the worst since 2015, when an explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and other first responders. That blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.Scores of workers have also died in recent industrial accidents, including 85 in a pair of explosions last month.
A 3.1-magnitude earthquake occurred in the Northridge area at 3:52 a.m., according to USGS.
Sydney (AFP) – Australia continued a string of „hottest ever” months in March, the government said Monday, as global warming emerges as the hot button issue in national elections just weeks away.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said the country had experienced the warmest March on record, with mean maximum and minimum temperatures above average for nearly all of the vast continent nation.
BOM said the national mean temperature was 2.13 degrees centigrade (3.83 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term average for the month of March.
It was the fourth month in a row of record heat in the country, and January was Australia’s hottest month ever, with mean temperatures across the continent exceeding 30 degrees Celsius for the first time.
There was some relief for regions suffering from prolonged drought, however, as two tropical cyclones that struck northern and western Australia in March bought badly needed rains.
„Unfortunately, the rain needed to reduce significant rainfall deficiencies in drought-affected areas is substantial and will require above average rainfall over a prolonged period to completely remove deficits at longer timescales,” BOM said.
Meteorologists say weather patterns over the Indian and Pacific oceans have contributed to the higher temperatures, but that long-term climate change trends were also involved.
The problem of climate change has emerged as a key issue in national elections due to be held by mid-May.
The conservative coalition government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been reluctant to back steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions blamed for contributing to global warming for fear this would hurt the country’s huge coal industry and undermine economic growth.
The main opposition Labor Party, which leads the conservatives in opinion polls, on Monday unveiled a raft of proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including through promotion of renewable energy sources and electric motor vehicles.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A wall of rocks and sandbags on Monday protected scenic Clarksville, Missouri, from the surging Mississippi River as spring flooding swamped fields, threatened homes and temporarily shut down a bridge connecting Missouri and Illinois.
Heavy rain over much of the Midwest on Saturday caused another spike in water levels along the river and its tributaries, especially in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
So far, Mississippi River flood damage is far less severe than March flooding along the Missouri River in Nebraska, southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri, where hundreds of homes were damaged. Still, several Mississippi River communities were battling to stay dry.
Clarksville, a 440-resident community 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of St. Louis is known for its antique shops and artist galleries operating out of 19th century brick storefronts. The town sits square along the Mississippi, unprotected by a levee largely because town leadership doesn’t want to obstruct the view of the river, and has been through many floods.
As they’ve done so many times before, Clarksville residents and other volunteers built a makeshift wall around downtown, though this time, they started with a 6-foot layer of rocks as the base, with sandbags on top of the rocks. The river was expected to crest Monday about 9 feet (2.7 meters) above flood stage, making it the seventh-worst recorded flood in Clarksville. A downtown park on the other side of the makeshift levee was under water, and several homes beyond the rock and sandbag protection also were threatened.
In nearby Louisiana, Missouri, the flood briefly forced closure of the Champ Clark Bridge that connects Missouri and Illinois because water was lapping near the Illinois entrance to the bridge Sunday night. The closure created a hardship for commuters because the next nearest river crossing is at Hannibal, Missouri, 27 miles (43 kilometers) to the north.
But by Monday morning the river had crested, the bridge deck was clear, and the Louisiana bridge was reopened, Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jessie Decker said.
Precautionary sandbags were added to the top of a levee at Foley, a tiny town about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of St. Louis. Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Jim Sharp said the river was expected to get close to the top of the levee and volunteers have been walking the levee to make sure it’s holding.
„We haven’t had anything over the top,” Sharp said. „We haven’t had a breach. We haven’t had a failure anywhere.”
The river was causing other problems, too. In St. Louis, the route for the upcoming Go St. Louis marathon and half-marathon had to be changed. The two runs combined are expected to draw about 15,000 participants on Sunday, and the original finish line was along the Mississippi near the Gateway Arch. That road is underwater, so the run will end elsewhere in downtown.
The severe flooding from last month in northwest Missouri may have claimed a life. The Platte County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a 61-year-old man’s body was found Friday near an overturned boat in a flooded area not far from Bean Lake. The victim’s name has not been released.
Authorities in several flooded areas where water was receding warned that danger still exists. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, an intoxicated man was rescued from the Big Sioux River late Friday after police heard him yelling for help. Rescue crews used a ladder to get down a 12-foot retaining wall and a rope to pull the man to safety. He was treated for exposure.
A Nepali family sits in front of their damaged home in the southern Bara district after a freak storm wreaked devastation in the region
Bara (Nepal) (AFP) – A freak storm tore down houses and overturned cars and trucks as it swept across southern Nepal killing at least 27 people and leaving more than 600 injured, officials said Monday as a major rescue operation gathered pace.
High winds battered the rural district of Bara and adjoining areas late Sunday. Five children were among the dead, the home ministry said, as rescuers battled to get relief supplies to the region and evacuate injured.
The winds were so fierce that they overturned a bus carrying passengers, witnesses said. Houses, trees and electricity pylons were all toppled in the storm.
Whole villages have been flattened and families were left mourning the death of relatives killed by trees and the debris, an AFP photographer in the stricken region said. Overturned cars blocked some roads.
Injured victims flocked to local hospitals who were unable to cope, with some people were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment.
„People who went back into their houses for shelter were crushed,” said Jay Prakash Das, a Bara resident.
„We rushed out to help. A man had died right next to our building under a tree. People had fractured bones and many had head injuries,” Das added.
– Hot and cold –
„I’ve never seen anything like this. The winds took away everything, my home and my family,” Ram Babu Patel, 45, whose wife was killed in the storm, told AFP.
„I was at home getting ready for dinner when the storm hit — it was unbelievable. We have nothing left.”
Prakash Tharu, a volunteer in Bara district, said the devastation caused by the storm had left „a desperate need for food and relief.”
Rescuers struggled to reach many settlements blocked by fallen trees and electricity poles.
„Security bodies including the army have been working intensely since Sunday night on rescues and relief,” said Rajesh Poudel, Bara’s district chief.
Every year hundreds die in landslides and floods during Nepal’s monsoon season, but storms causing such high casualties in spring are rare.
The disaster comes as Nepal nears the fourth anniversary of a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and left millions homeless.
Nepal’s difficult terrain and limited infrastructure often leaves emergency workers struggling to reach far-flung areas.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli expressed his condolences and said that the government would do its best for treatment of the injured.
The provincial government has announced free treatment and a financial assistance of 300,000 rupees ($2,710) for families of the dead.