G7 leaders vow to help Brazil fight fires, repair damage
Brazil Amazon Fires
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven nations said Sunday they are preparing to help Brazil battle fires burning across the Amazon region and repair the damage as tens of thousands of soldiers got ready to join the fight against blazes that have caused global alarm.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the summit leaders were nearing an agreement on how to support Brazil and said the agreement would involve both technical and financial mechanisms „so that we can help them in the most effective way possible.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country and others will talk with Brazil about reforestation in the Amazon once fires there have been extinguished.
„Of course (this is) Brazilian territory, but we have a question here of the rainforests that is really a global question,” she said. „The lung of our whole Earth is affected, and so we must find common solutions.”
Pope Francis also added his voice to the chorus of concern over the fires in Brazil, which borders his homeland of Argentina, and urged people to pray so that „they are controlled as quickly as possible.” He told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square that „we’re all worried” about the Amazon fires. He warned that that green „lung of forest is vital for our planet.”
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted that he had talked by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Israel would send a specialized plane to help in the firefighting operation.
On Friday, the president announced 44,000 soldiers would be sent to help battle the fires that are scattered across Brazil’s’s share of the vast Amazon, an overall region 10 times the size of Texas that is seen as a global bulwark against climate change. Only a few hundred troops had been sent so far.
The country’s satellite monitoring agency has recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year — with more than half of those coming this month alone. Experts say most of the fires are set by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland. But the same monitoring agency has reported a sharp increase in deforestation this year as well.
Brazil’s federal police agency announced Sunday it would investigate reports that farmers in the state of Para, one of those most affected by the blazes, had called for „a day of fire” to ignite fires Aug. 10.
Local news media said the group organized over WhatsApp to show support for Bolsonaro’s efforts to loosen environmental regulations.
Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who oversees the police, said on Twitter that Bolsonaro „asked for a rigorous investigation” and said „the criminal fires will be severely punished.”
People demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian cities Sunday demanding Bolsonaro’s administration do more to protect the Amazon. One boy in Rio held up a poster saying „Bol$onaro is burning our future,” while people chanted: „Bolsonaro out! Amazon stays!”
Critics have accused Bolsonaro’s pro-development policies of encouraging farmers and ranchers to increase efforts to strip away the forest, though the president has issued repeated pledges recently to protect the area, and backed that up by sending in soldiers and other federal forces.
Merkel noted that Bolsonaro is putting „significant forces” into the effort to save the rainforest.
But Bolsonaro has had a tense relationship with foreign governments — including Germany’s — and non-governmental groups that he accuses of meddling in his country’s management of the Amazon. He last week floated the idea, without evidence, that non-governmental groups were setting fires to embarrass him.
Macron’s office on Friday complained that the Brazilian leader „had lied to him” about environmental commitments.
Asked if he would speak with Macron, Bolsonaro said Saturday, „If he calls me, I will answer. I am being extremely well-mannered with him even though he called me ‘a liar.'”
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Sunday he would welcome aid in fighting his own country’s wildfires, which have scorched about 3,475 square miles (900,000 hectares). Most of the damage has been in the forests of the Chiquitanía region over the past two weeks, but fires also have burned in Bolivia’s Amazon region. Morales said at a news conference that he had accepted offers of assistance from the leaders of Spain, Chile and Paraguay.
Associated Press journalists Frances D’Emilio in Rome, Sylvie Corbet and Lori Hinnant in Biarritz, France, and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.
Bolivia president does about-face and will now accept aid to put out wildfires
By Daniel Ramos and Monica Machicao
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) – Bolivian President Evo Morales did an about-face on Sunday and said he was now open to international aid to fight the blazes that have engulfed rural villages and doubled in size since Thursday.
Morales is also suspending his campaign for re-election for at least a week, just two months from election day, to focus on the wildfires.
The blazes burn unabated across vast swaths of hilly tropical forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. At least 1 million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials said.
„There have been offers of aid,” Morales told reporters on a tour of some of the impacted areas. „They are welcome, be they from international groups, people or presidents.”
Morales’ government had been slow to accept the aid, initially saying it would use its own resources to fight the fires, but pleas from villagers and officials of Santa Cruz province led to an about-face. Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Chile and Spain have all offered support.
„I’ve instructed the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Relations to see how they can be of help to put out these fires,” Morales said.
Television footage showed out-of-control flames and opaque clouds of smoke engulfing villages, scorching savannah and farm fields dotted with wavering palm trees and ripping across hillsides.
Bolivia late last week contracted a Boeing 747 „Supertanker” from the United States to help with the fire-fighting, and has mobilized more than 2,000 firefighters, as well as small aircraft and helicopters. But the area affected by wildfire has nonetheless nearly doubled since Thursday.
Political rivals accused Morales of a slow response. Some have said his rural development policies have contributing to the problem, as farmers set the forest alight to clear land for pasture and settlement.
Thousands of wildfires are also decimating the neighboring Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, prompting global outrage.
The Amazon basin’s vast forests are widely seen by scientists as a buffer against climate change.
Bolivia’s portion of the Amazon, while not as extensive, remains heavily forested. The Andean nation is one of the poorest in the western hemisphere but one of the richest in biodiversity.
(Reporting by Daniel Ramos and Monica Machicao, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing Lisa Shumaker)
Tropical Storm Dorian headed westward Sunday through the Caribbean, and the National Hurricane Center warns it will intensify into a full-blown hurricane over the next few days.
The Hurricane Center said, “It should be stressed that Dorian is likely to be a difficult cyclone to forecast due to the marginal environment it is embedded within and its small size.”
Though forecasters said it was too early to predict if the storm would affect the U.S., the country has known the tragedies and the great costs of hurricanes and distressing storms all too well.
Here’s a look at what it took to repair some of the worst damage that’s come to our shores.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma affected residents of Cape Verde, Leeward Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and the Southeastern U.S. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Department of Commerce lists this hurricane as the fifth most costly storm in U.S. history with over $50 billion in damages. More than 134 people died as a result of the storm.
New York and areas surrounding the Big Apple recoiled from the widespread wreckage of Hurricane Sandy. Part of New York City went dark after the storm and trains went down.
The city is still repairing damages from the October 2012 disaster that killed 147 people. NOAA reports it as the fourth most expensive storm with $71 billion in damage.
As the first blow in the existential destruction to Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria claimed more than 2,975 lives in September 2017, according to a George Washington University survey commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, although reports of the actual death toll greatly differed in the wake of the storm.
The Geroge Washington University study makes Maria the deadliest storm on this top five list. Maria cost $90 billion in infrastructure damage, per NOAA, even leaving parts of the territory without potable water and in darkness for months.
In the years after the destruction, the Puerto Rican government has been plagued with corruption and the territory has struggled to revive itself. In the wake of the contentious corruption allegations, FEMA announced increased oversight for relief funds, reinstating the manual drawdown process.
This storm ravaged the Southern U.S. in 2017, costing the area a whopping $127 billion, according to NOAA. The country rallied around residents of Texas who were affected by the storm. At least 68 people died from the tropical cyclone and 36 in Houston’s Harris County alone, the most since 1919.
Arguably the most infamous hurricane to tear through continental America in modern history, Katrina divided a nation over the alleged misallocation of FEMA resources and the highly-debated federal mismanagement of the crisis, which lead Kanye West to utter his famous line about former president George Bush, saying he „doesn’t care about black people,” during a telethon. With damages around $161 billion, the August 2005 hurricane tops the list as the costliest on record in the U.S., per NOAA.
More than 1,500 people died in the storm’s aftermath, according to the National Weather Service.
MIAMI (AP) — Forecasters say the fourth tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is maintaining its strength as it moves toward the Windward Islands.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday that Tropical Storm Dorian could intensify to near hurricane strength over the eastern Caribbean Sea by Tuesday.
As of 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, Dorian’s center was located about 335 miles (540 kilometers) east-southeast of Barbados and was moving west at 14 mph (23 kph). Maximum sustained winds are at 50 mph (85 kph).
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch was issued for Grenada and Martinique.
Forecasters say Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Virgin Islands should monitor Dorian’s progress.
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A powerful tropical storm swept across southern Taiwan, triggering landslides and flooding and leaving at least one dead before it hit southern China on Sunday morning, officials said.
A 17-year-old died and two children were injured in another landslide in the northern Philippines on Saturday, authorities reported.
In Taiwan, an 18-year-old motorcycle rider died shortly before midnight in Tainan city after hitting a fallen tree, a disaster response official said. The number of injured across Taiwan has reached nine.
Tropical Storm Bailu brought heavy rain and winds up to 118 kilometers (73 miles) per hour as it crossed the southern half of the island.
Fourteen tourists were among those trapped after the landslide in Hualien county. About 450 people were evacuated around the island and 12,000 households were without power late Saturday afternoon.
The storm made a second landfall in China’s Fujian province on Sunday with maximum winds weakening to 90 kmh (55 mph), the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Tropical storms and typhoons, which gather strength from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, hit Taiwan, China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam from June through November each year.
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The fourth tropical storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season formed Saturday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical Storm Dorian is 635 miles east-southeast of Barbados. Maximum sustained winds were clocked at 40 mph. It was moving west at 14 mph and is expected to continue this motion Saturday night. A turn toward the west-northwest is forecast Sunday through Tuesday.
Dorian could strengthen into a hurricane Tuesday, the NHC said.
Dennis Feltgen of the hurricane center said that it’s too early to tell exactly what path the storm will take. Residents of the central and northern Lesser Antilles should monitor the storm’s progress.
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Tropical Storm Dorian forms in the Atlantic east-southeast of Barbados
Seven people, including two children, died when a sightseeing helicopter and an ultralight aircraft crashed in mid-air over Majorca.
The helicopter had three adults and two children on board, all of whom were killed.
According to the Balearic Islands government it was believed they were all German.
However, a local report suggested one of them may have been Italian.
Two men in the ultralight, who were local to Majorca, also died.
An ultralight is a form of small aircraft with only one or two seats.
Both aircraft were in private use, according to the Diario de Mallorca newspaper.
Emergency services were called to the crash at 1.35pm local time, and the mid-air collision happened over the Inca Hospital, in the municipality of Inca, in the north of the island
Wreckage from both aircraft was strewn across parts of the town and rural areas.
Photographs circulated on social media showed one section landed on fire on what appeared to be a garden wall.
A tail section from one of the aircraft came down on a road, and another section crashed into a farm field.
Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s caretaker prime minister, sent his sympathies to the families of the dead.
He wrote on Twitter: „My solidarity and love for the families of the victims that lost their lives in this tragic accident,”
The Balearic islands government said an investigation into the cause of the tragedy had been launched.
More than nine million holidaymakers visit Majorca annually. Of those, more than two million are British.
As many as 500 cruise ships now dock in Palma each year, depositing up to 22,000 passengers a day.
Thousands of British Airways passengers faced Bank Holiday chaos as they spent hours on the phone trying to rebook cancelled flights in the wake of the pilot strike.
The pilots are on 9, 10 and 27 September, but the airline also told customers with tickets booked on other days that their flights were cancelled.
However, it later admitted that these emails were sent in error, after many passengers had already rebooked flights at their own expense.
As so many passengers were affected, the phone lines were jammed all day, with customers spending up to four hours on the phone during the hottest Bank Holiday August weekend on record.
Some said they had tried to call the airline up to 200 times – and received no reply.
The BBC’s North America editor, Jon Sopel, was caught up in the chaos. He tweeted: „Dear British Airways.
„This morning you wrote saying our flight was cancelled from Washington, and that we needed to rebook. We rebooked. Now you’ve written to say our flight is not cancelled after all. So what the ….. are we meant to do now? Thanks”.
BA said it received nearly 40,000 calls in the first 24 hours and had put on 70 extra members of staff to deal with the chaos.
Ellie Kormis, from Surrey, spent almost £2,000 rebooking the flights for her family holiday to Greece – only to be told her original flights hadn’t been cancelled.
She told the BBC: „You’re left in a situation where you can’t speak to anyone – and you fear you’ll either lose your holiday or be left out of pocket.”
The chaos happened on Sunday, on the centenary of the business, and frustrated customers who visited the Twitter page of the company were greeted with a screen full of animated balloons.
Travel expert Simon Calder said: „British Airways: on the airline’s 100th birthday, thousands of prospective passengers are stressed, upset and out-of-pocket as a result of BA’s botched communication about the impending pilots’ strike.”
Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said the issue had caused „a lot of confusion and anxiety”.
„It is vital that the airline ensures that any customer who was initially informed that their flight was cancelled and has booked an alternative flight is not left out of pocket,” he said.
A British Airways spokesperson told The Telegraph that all those who had rebooked flights after the email error are eligible for a refund.
She added that customers should keep all records and receipts handy for the refund process.
BA has told passengers that they can request a full refund, rebook the flight for another time in the next 355 days, or use the value of the fare to fly to a different destination.
Rival airline Virgin Atlantic attempted to get some business out of the chaos, and wrote on social media: „Has British Airways cancelled your flight on the 9, 10 or 27th September due to their pilot strike? We’d love to help keep your travel plans on track.”
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said on Friday the strikes were a „last resort” born out of „enormous frustration” with airline management.
Balpa said more strike dates could yet be announced, adding that they were „a last resort and with enormous frustration at the way the business is now being run”.
Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5 per cent over three years, which the airline put forward in July.