Mexico looks for landslide victims, chopperView gallery MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN 34 minutes ago SocietyMexico CityMexicoAcapulco ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Mexican soldiers dug through tons of mud and dirt Friday in the continuing search for landslide victims, as authorities looked for a federal police helicopter that went missing while carrying out relief operations on the flood-stricken Pacific coast.An army captain who was not authorized to be quoted by name said military and civilian authorities are still looking for the chopper, a day after it was reported missing. The officer had no further information on how many people were aboard the craft, or where it was when it was last heard from.Search efforts continued in the remote mountain village of La Pintada, north of Acapulco, where 68 people were reported missing following Monday’s landslide. Two bodies have been recovered.Federal police have been helping move emergency supplies and aid victims of massive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Manuel.Survivors of the landslide at a shelter in Acapulco recounted that Monday was a holiday, and rain fell all day because of the tropical storm off the coast, so far more people than usual stayed home, napping under warm blankets or cooking for the Independence Day celebration in La Pintada’s little cobblestone square.View gallery.”Residents of Mochitlan haul supplies up a hill on the outskirts of Chilpancingo, Mexico, Wednesday, …Suddenly, the earth trembled, and a tidal wave of dirt, rocks and trees exploded off the hill above the village, sweeping through the center of town, burying families in their homes and sweeping wooden houses into the bed of the swollen river that winds past La Pintada on its way to the Pacific.”Everyone who could ran into the coffee fields. It smothered the homes and sent them into the river. Half the homes in town were smothered and buried,” said Marta Alvarez, a 22-year-old homemaker who was cooking with her 2-year-old son, two brothers and her parents when the landslide erupted.La Pintada was the scene of the single greatest tragedy in the twin paths of destruction wreaked by Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid, which simultaneously pounded both of Mexico’s coasts over the weekend, spawning huge floods and landslides across hundreds of miles of coastal and inland areas.Manuel later gained hurricane force and rolled into the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday morning before weakening over land. By Thursday night it had degenerated into an area of low pressure over the western Sierra Madre mountains, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.Three people were reported dead in Sinaloa: a fisherman swept from his boat, a small boy who fell into a ditch and a young man whose vehicle was swept away in a rain-swollen stream.View gallery.”A man uses a makeshift zip line to cross a river after a bridge collapsed under the force of the rai …The death toll from the weekend storms stood at 97 but was certain to rise because the figure doesn’t include the missing in La Pintada, where several entire families were wiped out by the landslide when it plowed almost directly through the center of the village.A handful of people lost everyone they loved, suddenly finding themselves the only living members of their families. As neighbors began the process of recovery Thursday, the sole survivors stared blankly into space, virtually unable to move, as if pinned in place by crushing grief.All the main arteries to Acapulco remained closed Thursday, including the Highway of the Sun, a major four-lane expressway that links Acapulco to Mexico City. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he was cancelling a trip to New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly because of the emergency.Officials promised to re-open the highway by Friday.Federal officials set up donation centers for storm aid Thursday, but they faced stiff questioning about why, instead of warning people more energetically about the oncoming storms, they focused on Independence celebrations and a military parade that kept dozens of aircraft and emergency vehicles in Mexico City, instead of the states where they were most needed.View gallery.”A woman cleans shoes after her home was affected by flooding during Tropical Storm Manuel in Chilpan …Cargo ships were contracted to supply food to Acapulco by sea but many of the city’s main tourist areas were surreally normal, with shortages of lettuce and tomatoes the only evidence of the disaster that struck over the weekend.The situation was far worse in the city’s poorer neighborhoods and an air base on the outskirts of Acapulco, where hundreds of stranded tourists remained lined up for a third day Thursday to get seats on military aircraft were slowly ferrying people out of the resort.Mexican officials said that more than 15,237 people had been flown out of the city on more than 100 flights by Thursday evening, out of the 40,000 to 60,000 tourists estimated to be stranded in the city.___Associated Press writers Martin Duran in Culiacan, E. Eduardo Castillo, Adriana Gomez Licon and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.View gallery.”Residents use a makeshift zip line to cross after a bridge collapsed under the force of the rains ca …____Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
Mexico scours for dozens missing amid floods as storms abateView galleryTomas Bravo 1 hour ago By Tomas Bravo LA PINTADA, Mexico (Reuters) – Rescuers cleared mud from shattered houses on Friday, searching for dozens of people missing after a mudslide flattened their village in southwest Mexico as some of the most destructive storms to hit the country in decades abated.They also scoured for a rescue helicopter that vanished on Thursday in the storm-battered state of Guerrero with at least 10 people aboard.Dozens of homes in La Pintada, a village about 60 miles from the beach resort of Acapulco, were swallowed up by a mudslide touched off by heavy rain and flooding at the weekend that has killed at least 100 people across Mexico and forced thousands of people to abandon their homes. The government said close to 300 people living around La Pintada had been rescued but 68 were still missing late on Thursday. Around 20 bodies have been recovered from the shattered village.Two Tropical Storms Lash Mexico; 21 KilledPlay video.”A Black Hawk helicopter, with two pilots and at least eight people rescued from villages outside Acapulco on board, lost contact with authorities on Thursday, Manuel Mondragon, the government’s national security commissioner, told local media.Acapulco has suffered some of the worst of the flooding that began when two tropical storms, Ingrid and Manuel, bore down on Mexico from the Pacific and the Atlantic, cutting a trail of destruction that has affected more than a million people.Even as Manuel disintegrated after moving north on Thursday, heavy rain continued in Guerrero and Michoacan states overnight, causing river levels to rise and flooding more towns and villages. Ingrid dissipated earlier this week.Around 40,000 tourists were stranded in Acapulco, though a significant portion of them have now been flown out.President Enrique Pena Nieto said the storms had inflicted the worst widespread flooding damage in Mexico in recorded history, and he canceled a planned trip to the United Nations in New York next week to oversee relief efforts.Streets turned into cascades of mud, homes were ruined and cars silted up with floodwaters as the government struggled to reach remote villages left helpless by the storms.The damage the storms wrought could hamper the Mexican economy’s recovery from a soft patch in the second quarter, economists said.Acapulco was hit by looting this week as communication breakdowns put a squeeze on supplies while crocodiles escaped lagoons in the port of Tampico. More than 50,000 people have had to be evacuated from their homes.(Additional reporting by Liz Diaz; Writing by Dave Graham and Elinor Comlay; Editing by Simon Gardner and Mohammad Zargham)
AP PHOTOS: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938View gallery LYNNE TUOHY LYNNE TUOHY 4 hours ago PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — It slammed into land and rapidly moved north, destroying buildings, altering coastlines, ripping apart forests and shocking a population that had never experienced a hurricane.About 700 people died 75 years ago when the storm known variously as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 or the Long Island Express began plowing up the Northeast coastline at 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 21, 1938.A weather station in Massachusetts recorded sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts as high as 186 mph — a major storm by modern standards that dwarfs the land wind speeds recorded in storms Irene and Sandy, which also devastated parts of the Northeast in recent years.”It was the strongest, the most devastating, the deadliest and the costliest for the region and still is,” says Lourdes Aviles, a Plymouth State University meteorology professor in Plymouth, N.H., who this month published the book „Taken by Storm, 1938: A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane.”The hurricane was the death knell for many mills and factories that had barely survived the Great Depression. It stripped 4 million bushels of apples from orchards, killed livestock and felled millions of trees, according to Aviles’ research. Bridges and dams were destroyed, and rail travel was halted for weeks.View gallery.”In this photo taken Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 in Plymouth, N.H. Plymouth State University meteorology …The hurricane’s death toll varies from 500 to 800, depending on the source. Aviles adopts the Works Progress Administration’s count of 682. Tidal surges as high as 26 feet were recorded, and Rhode Island suffered the most casualties.The storm was notable not only for the death and destruction it spawned, but also the forward speed that gave it one of its nicknames. It hit Long Island, N.Y., and southern Connecticut moving at an amazing 47 mph, according to the National Weather Service.Despite the recent woes brought by Sandy and Irene, any similar storm in the future will beset a population that has no appreciation of what a true hurricane is, Aviles says.”No matter what storm you think about in the last century,” she says, „nothing here compares with 1938.”___View gallery.”In this photo from the collection of the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, shows flood water …Online:National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov/okx/1938HurricaneHome
View galleryThe American Electric Power Company’s cooling tower at their Mountaineer plant is shown in New Haven, By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Friday announced first-ever regulations setting strict limits on the amount of carbon pollution that can be generated by any new U.S. power plant, which quickly sparked a backlash from supporters of the coal industry and are certain to face legal challenges.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited guidelines would make it near impossible to build coal plants without using technology to capture carbon emissions that foes say is unproven and uneconomic.The rules, a revision of a previous attempt by the EPA to create emissions standards for fossil fuel plants, are the first step in President Barack Obama’s climate change package, announced in June.The revised rule contained a few surprises after the agency held extensive discussions with industry and environmental groups, raising concerns by industry that the EPA’s new restrictions on existing power plants, due to be unveiled next year, will be tough.But the regulations announced on Friday cover only new plants. Under the proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh.New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh but would be given „operational flexibility” to achieve those levels, the agency said.The most efficient coal plants currently in operation emit at a rate of at least 1,800 pounds of CO2 per MWh.In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Friday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy discussed the rationale behind the new rules, and defended Obama’s climate plan, which opponents say amounts to a „war on coal.””There needs to be a certain pathway forward for coal to be successful,” she said, adding that „setting fair Clean Air Act standards does not cause the sky to fall.”Still, stocks of coal mining companies such as Alpha Natural Resources Inc, Peabody Energy Corp and Arch Coal Inc fell on Friday and are down more than 25 percent for the year to date.”Today’s announcement … is direct evidence that this Administration is trying to hold the coal industry to impossible standards,” said Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from the coal-producing state of West Virginia.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 3 million businesses, said the EPA’s strategies „will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources.”In her first major speech since being confirmed to the EPA’s top job in July, McCarthy described her commitment to cleaner air in sometimes emotional terms, focused on the impact of pollution on public health.”It’s not just the elderly who suffer from air pollution. So do children – especially children in lower income and urban communities,” she said. „If your child doesn’t need an inhaler, then you are one very lucky parent.”UNPROVEN TECHNOLOGY? -Under the new rules, any new coal plant built in the United States would need to install technology to capture its carbon waste, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).That technology, which aims to prevent the release of large volumes of carbon into the atmosphere, is controversial because it is currently not yet operational on a commercial scale, an issue likely to be central to legal challenges to the EPA.By giving coal plants seven years, rather than the 30 years proposed in 2012, to achieve an emissions rate below 1,100 lbs per MWh, the EPA is showing that it has full confidence in the nascent CCS technology.”We now have enough information and confidence to say that a CCS option with coal meets the test of being the best system of emission reduction,” David Doniger, policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Program, told Reuters.The EPA previously issued a version of the rule last year but made changes to address potential legal weaknesses and to factor in more than 2 million public comments.The EPA will launch a fresh public comment period after Friday’s announcement.It is due to issue a proposal to address emissions from existing power plants – which account for nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – by June 2014.McCarthy, the EPA boss, said on Friday that people should not look at the proposal for new plants and then assume that the future rule for the existing fleet will be similar.(Editing by Ros Krasny, Eric Beech, Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis)
Mexico mudslide search to resume with scores missingView gallery Leticia Pineda 58 minutes ago Rescuers on Friday were to resume the grim task of digging out a Mexican village buried by a landslide, with scores of people still missing in the mountain of mud.Police and soldiers pulled two bodies Thursday from the debris that buried the southwestern village of La Pintada, after storms lashed the country and killed almost 100 people nationwide.Enormous mounds of sodden earth became dislodged after Hurricane Manuel pounded the northwest state of Sinaloa, bringing torrential rains to the already flood-stricken nation before degenerating hours later.Luis Felipe Puente, the national civil protection coordinator, said the death toll from days of floods and landslides had jumped to 97 from 81, with 65 of the victims registered in the southwestern state of Guerrero.Guerrero was the hardest-hit state from the dual onslaught of Manuel and sister storm Ingrid on the east coast this week that drenched most of Mexico, damaging bridges, roads and tens of thousands of homes.View gallery.”Map locating the areas worst affected by severe weather in Mexico. (AFP Photo/)The storms flooded half of Acapulco, including the airport terminal, while landslides blocked the only roads linking the city to the capital. Thousands of angry, stranded tourists held a protest, demanding swifter airlifts.West of the city, in the mountains of Guerrero, some 100 rescuers toiled in the mud to look for victims of an epic mudslide that swamped half of La Pintada and left 68 people missing in the coffee-growing hamlet.Wearing surgical masks, they removed pieces of broken homes and chopped up collapsed trees with machetes. The village church vanished; only its broken steeple was left, toppled on a mess of mud, with its cross broken.Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said soldiers had found two bodies so far. The municipality’s mayor has said that 15 corpses were found by villagers in recent days.”The rescue work has begun. It’s very complicated, it won’t be easy, it won’t be just a few days,” Osorio Chong said after visiting the village.View gallery.”Residents of El Zapotillo evacuate their homes because of flooding in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, …Mud cascaded down a hill and covered much of the village, burying homes, the school and church before ending its mad descent in a river.”People were in the church asking God to stop the rain,” said Roberto Catalan, a 56-year-old farmer. „The earth had been bubbling. When we heard a bang, we ran out.”Jose Minos Romero, 12, said he was playing soccer with 10 other children and was only saved „because my mother called me,” but „my friends died.”The mudslide swamped the village on Monday as many people were having lunch during independence day celebrations. News of the tragedy only emerged two days later, after a survivor radioed a neighboring village.The search for bodies was delayed several hours due to fears that water gushing from the mountain could trigger a new landslide in the village.View gallery.”Soldiers search through debris in La Pintada, Guerrero state, southern Mexico on September 19, 2013 …But troops finally arrived by helicopter or foot after a seven-hour hike on a winding mountain road covered by mud and rocks.Police helicopters evacuated more than 330 people to Acapulco on Wednesday, and authorities said up to 30 survivors had decided to stay back until victims were found.Local media said authorities lost contact with a helicopter after it dropped off a group of survivors, but said it may have simply landed due to bad weather and was unable to radio its base. A police spokesman refused to comment.The storms that swept across the nation have damaged 35,000 homes and forced the evacuation of 50,000 people, officials said.Human rights groups accused the government of neglecting mountain communities, but officials said some remote communities cannot be reached by land or air.While rescuers looked for bodies in La Pintada, authorities hoped to re-open part of the highways around Acapulco on Friday, giving desperate and exhausted visitors a new way out after being trapped for almost a week.Some 12,000 of 40,000 tourists have been flown to Mexico City in special military and commercial flights from an air force base and the civilian airport.But some 5,000 frustrated tourists sheltered at the convention center blocked an avenue for half an hour in protest against the slow pace of the airlift.
Indonesia volcano By AP
View gallery6 photos STRINGER/INDONESIA September 17, 2013 6:32 AM More than 15,000 residents have fled a volcano that rumbled to life less than a week ago in Indonesia and local airlines have been warned to avoid flying near the mountain as thick ash continues to spew from its crater, an official said on Sept. 19. (AP) More than 15,000 residents have fled a volcano that rumbled to life less than a week ago in Indonesia and local airlines have been warned to avoid flying near the mountain as thick ash continues to spew from its crater, an official said on Sept. 19. (AP)
View gallery Super Typhoon Usagi — one of the strongest storms of the year — barrelled towards Hong Kong and southern China on Friday, prompting warnings of fierce winds and torrential rains.Packing gusts of up to 205 kilometres (130 miles) per hour, the storm is projected to roar between the Philippines and Taiwan before smashing into the southern Chinese coast later in the weekend.At 0600 GMT Friday it was centred 1,120 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong, officials in the Chinese territory said.”It is the strongest typhoon in the west Pacific region this year,” a weather forecaster at the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau told AFP.Philippine authorities evacuated some 240 people in the northern agricultural province of Tarlac, while ferries were restricted to their ports, stranding travellers.A signal four alert was issued for the Batanes island group in the extreme north of the country, warning large trees could be uprooted, plantations flattened and power and communications infrastructure knocked out.Emergency relief services were also put on heightened alert, with the Red Cross already stockpiling first aid kits and food packs in some areas.View gallery.”Graphic showing the forecast track of Typhoon Usagi heading towards southern Taiwan and Hong Kong on …”Damage to affected communities can be very heavy,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said. „The situation is potentially very destructive to communities. All travel and outdoor activities should be cancelled.”The country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Usagi would cause intense rainfall of 10-20 millimetres per hour within a 700-kilometre range.Hong Kong officials warned of worsening weather in the southern Chinese territory.”Weather will deteriorate significantly with strengthening winds and rough seas,” the Hong Kong observatory said. Its tropical cyclone track map showed the storm would hit the city after 8:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Sunday.The typhoon is expected to be downgraded to „severe” by the time it makes landfall in the territory, according to the observatory — still enough to stop metro and ferry services and curtail air travel.Typhoon Usagi is set to brush the southern tip of Taiwan on Saturday morning, expected to bring fierce winds and torrential rains, possibly leading to landslides.Taiwan’s defence ministry deployed more than 1,600 soldiers in „high risk” areas prone to flooding and landslides while placing 24,000 others on standby.View gallery.”A worker helps to remove tourist boats in Hsintien in New Taipei City as they secure the area before …The island’s weather bureau issued a warning to the residents of Taitung, Kaohsiung and the Pingtung areas to take special precautions, as television news footage showed people surfing on waves whipped up by Usagi.Authorities in the southern city of Kaohsiung deflated an 18-metre-tall (60 feet) yellow duck, a slightly larger version of the one that recently captivated people in Hong Kong, a day after it arrived in the city, drawing tens of thousands of visitors.And workers in New Taipei City removed tourist boats and a floating bridge from the Hsintien river in anticipation of the storm.Mainland Chinese weather authorities have issued a „yellow” alert, state media reported, the third-highest on its four-tier warning system, according to the official official Xinhua news agency.Disaster officials urged local authorities to prepare for emergencies while telling people to be wary of landslides, falling stones and floods.China’s State Oceanic Administration expects Usagi to hit the coast on Sunday evening.Typhoon Utor, which struck last month, killed eight people in the Philippines and left tens of thousands displaced and whole towns badly damaged when it raked across the north of the main island of Luzon.Utor, which also led to deaths in China, forced the closure of financial markets, schools and businesses in Hong Kong, disrupting hundreds of flights and also caused the sinking of a 190-metre-long cargo ship to the city, but all 21 crew were rescued.A super typhoon is the most intense tropical cyclone, with a maximum sustained wind speed reaching 185 km/h or above.
Colorado flooding triggers oil spills, shutdowns
Teams use satellite maps to find flood’s missingView gallery P. SOLOMON BANDA and MATT VOLZ 23 hours agoLONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — Search teams working their way down the list of those still unaccounted for in Colorado’s devastating flooding on Thursday were using satellite images to map out where houses once stood before the disaster washed them away.The number of people reported unaccounted for plunged from a high of 1,200 to about 200 as rescuers reach stranded victims, and electricity and phone services are restored to ravaged areas, allowing residents to contact family, friends or authorities.Meanwhile, authorities have resigned themselves to the fact that some people plan to stay in their cut off communities, even though winter in the foothills isn’t far off. They’ve been warned that ambulances and deputies won’t be able to reach them. Larimer County sheriff Justin Smith said he’s still encouraging people to leave but nevertheless he’s been impressed with the residents of one area who’ve already started rebuilding their access road using shovels, pick axes and ATVs.In a sign of things to come, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park — a key supply route to the town of Estes Park — was temporarily closed because of snow overnight. The high-elevation road normally closes in October for the winter but the park is working to keep it open as long as possible this year.Business owners were allowed back into the heavily damaged town of Lyons to assess the damage on Wednesday, and homeowners under mandatory evacuations were expected to follow Thursday.View gallery.”Danger is spray-painted on a damaged section of Old Highway 34 in Loveland, Colo., on Wednesday, Sep …Also Wednesday, Jamestown residents were allowed home.Jennifer Hillmann, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office north of Boulder, said Wednesday that widespread airlifts have given way to „pinpoint” rescues and door-to-door searches.Urban search-and-rescue teams with dogs and medical supplies began picking through homes, vehicles and debris piles for victims.”We’re having a lot of people who are holed up and they don’t want to leave the area,” Hillmann said. But she added that „we’re getting a lot more people calling in and saying, ‘hey, here’s where I’m at. I’m safe.'”Search crews also are documenting the damage they find, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.View gallery.”This photo shows a flooded field near Loveland, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. As floodwaters …It is part of responders ending the „high-octane” emergency response to the widespread flooding that began last week „and moving into the long and arduous task ahead,” he said.Ten helicopters were still flying rescue missions, down from a high of about two dozen.Many homeowners ignored the evacuation orders to stay with their homes, and they waved off rescue helicopters flying overhead.Hillmann said search crews were showing some of them photos of how broad the destruction is in hopes they will leave, noting that some mountain communities could start getting snow soon.”Although it might be OK where you are now, up the canyon and down the canyon are completely washed out,” she said.View gallery.”This photo shows flood damage to Old Highway 34 in Loveland, Colo., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Th …___Associated Press writer Thomas Peipert contributed to this report. Volz reported from Denver.