Typhoon veers from Hong Kong, hits southern China HONG KONG (AP) — The year’s most powerful typhoon slammed into southern China on Sunday evening, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, shutting down shipping and putting a nuclear power plant on alert after pummeling parts of the Philippines and Taiwan with heavy rains and fierce winds.Typhoon Usagi veered away from Hong Kong at the last minute and made landfall northeast of the former British colony. Forecasters had warned earlier that it posed a „severe threat” to the southern Chinese city.Usagi — Japanese for rabbit — was classified as a severe typhoon, packing sustained winds of 175 kilometers (109 miles) per hour, with gusts of up to 213 kph (132 mph).The storm was downgraded from a super typhoon on Saturday — with its sustained winds falling below 241 kilometers (150 miles) per hour — as it passed through the Luzon Strait separating the Philippines and Taiwan, likely sparing residents in both places from the most destructive winds near its eye.In the Philippines, Usagi left at least two people dead and two others missing, while in Taiwan nine people were hurt by falling trees on Kinmen island off China’s coast.View gallery.”Tourists from mainland China brave strong wind near the waterfront in Hong Kong Sunday, Sept. 22, 20 …The typhoon landed near the city of Shanwei in the Chinese province of Guangdong, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northeast of Hong Kong, and was moving west-northwest at 22 kph (14 mph), the Hong Kong Observatory said. It was expected to skirt about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Hong Kong overnight.Ferry services between Hong Kong and nearby Macau and outlying islands were suspended as the observatory raised the No. 8 storm warning signal, the third highest on a five-point scale. It reported winds as strong as 68 kph (42 mph) and warned that a storm surge and heavy rains could cause flooding in low-lying areas.Police in Shanwei ordered more than 8,000 fishing boats to return to port and more than 1,200 residents were taken to temporary shelters, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.The typhoon wreaked havoc on airport schedules in Hong Kong, nearby Macau and mainland China, upsetting travel plans for many passengers who were returning home at the end of the three-day mid-autumn festival long weekend.Hong Kong International Airport said 370 arriving and departing flights were canceled and another 64 delayed. Two of Hong Kong’s biggest airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair, canceled flights to and from the city’s airport starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, with plans to resume operations Monday if conditions permit.View gallery.”A tourist from mainland China braves strong wind near the waterfront in Hong Kong Sunday, Sept. 22, …Beijing-based Air China scrubbed 148 flights to and from Hong Kong, Macau and five nearby mainland cities. China Southern Airlines, based in Guangzhou, canceled all flights to and from Hong Kong and three mainland airports, Xinhua said.Fujian province suspended shipping between mainland China and Taiwan, the news agency said.Authorities in Guangdong initiated an emergency response plan for the Daya Bay nuclear power station northeast of Hong Kong as Usagi approached, ordering four of six reactors to operate at a reduced load, Xinhua said.In Taiwan, more than 3,300 people were evacuated from flood-prone areas and mountainous regions. The storm also caused a landslide that buried a rail line on Taiwan’s southeast coast, but rail services were restored by Sunday morning.Another landslide late Saturday in the southeastern hot springs resort village of Chihpen sent mud and rocks crashing through the ground floor of a resort spa, forcing the evacuation of frightened guests. The Chihpen River breached its levies upriver, turning the village’s main street into a rock-strewn stream, flooding homes and damaging vehicles.View gallery.”A woman braves strong wind near the waterfront in Hong Kong Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. The year’s most …In the Philippines, a 50-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman drowned when a passenger boat capsized in rough waters off northeastern Aurora province, the Office of Civil Defense said Saturday. Two other people were missing in the incident, while the remaining nine passengers and crew were rescued.The typhoon set off landslides, flooded parts of six Philippine provinces and affected nearly 20,000 people, but disaster-response officials did not immediately report additional casualties.___Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
Highways reopening after Colo. flood repairsView gallery IVAN MORENO 7 hours agoDENVER (AP) — After days of cleanup and repairs, transportation officials have reopened several state highways in the aftermath of powerful floods that ripped bridges and roads in northern Colorado, severely restricting travel in populated areas.With more roads open, the number of people needing emergency shelters is decreasing and state officials hope there will be less congestion.”Priority number one is opening up these roads right now, but doing it safely,” state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Amy Ford said Saturday. „We have been working super hard to make that happen.”CDOT opened six state highways in northern Colorado on Saturday. Another two were open Friday.”I think for a lot of people it’s not returning to normal, per se, but it’s starting to get there with some of these roads being reopened,” Ford said.View gallery.”A guardrail hangs away from a closed canyon road, where some local residents are allowed to drive wi …Officials also planned to select emergency contractors soon to begin immediate work on mountain corridors where passage is now limited.Key highways that have reopened include Colorado 119 between County Line and Interstate 25 in Longmont, and Colorado 72 to Colorado 7 in Estes Park. Officials are trying to reopen a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 in Loveland soon, Ford said.The American Red Cross says 250 people were in shelters Saturday. More than a 1,000 were in shelters at the height of the disaster last week. The number of people unaccounted for was 60 and decreasing. Seven people have died and three others are missing and presumed dead.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has distributed $12.3 million in aid, with most going to housing needs like temporary rentals and repairs.Meanwhile, state oil and gas inspectors continued monitoring for more spills in flooded oilfields. Another spill of 3,100 gallons was reported Saturday near Milliken, bringing the known volume of oil released since massive flooding began last week along Colorado’s Front Range to an estimated 25,000 gallons or about 600 barrels.View gallery.”National Guard soldiers man a checkpoint on a closed canyon road, which is washed out in places by r …State officials will continue surveying the damage at oilfields in the coming days and were tracking 12 locations were other spills could have happened.Most of the oil releases reported to date came from tanks operated by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Co. At least four of the releases reported by the company were in Weld County and spilled oil into the South Platte River or a tributary, according to information submitted to regulators.Other companies might have suffered similar problems since flooding began last week, but they have not yet been able to assess their damage.In other developments:— Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon in Boulder for two flooding victims, 19-year-olds Wesley Quinlan and Wiyanna Nelson.View gallery.”A guardrail hangs away from a closed canyon road, which links Boulder with the mountain town of Nede …— The Red Cross is delivering 17 truckloads of provisions to those impacted by the floods, everything from cleaning and hygiene supplies and sleeping bags.— The Colorado National Guard is helping CDOT in building access trails around impassible sites along U.S. Highway 36. More than 200 national guard civil engineers are helping with the effort.___Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin in Denver and Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this story.
Arctic ice melt slows down: NASA
View galleryThis picture made available by NASA shows an area of the Arctic sea ice pack roughly northeast of the New Siberian Islands, captured by multiple orbits of the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite on September 13, 2013. (AFP Photo/)17 hours ago WASHINGTON (AFP) – Arctic sea ice melted less this summer and continued to cover a greater expanse than last year’s record minimum, NASA data shows.Following unusually cold summer temperatures in the northernmost latitudes, the US space agency said Friday that the sea ice extent shrunk to 1.97 million square miles (5.10 million square kilometers).The analysis was based on September 13 data by NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder.On September 16, 2012, Arctic sea ice shrunk to its smallest surface ever recorded by satellite at 1.32 million square miles, about half the size of the average minimum in the previous two decades.Over the long term, Arctic sea ice surface has dropped 12 percent per decade since the end of the 1970s, a decline that accelerated after 2007, according to the NSIDC.”I was expecting that this year would be higher than last year,” said Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.”There is always a tendency to have an uptick after an extreme low; in our satellite data, the Arctic sea ice has never set record low minimums in consecutive years.”But the remaining Arctic sea ice cover is much thinner overall compared to the previous decades by as much as 50 percent. Scientists say thinner seasonal ice is replacing older, thicker ice as it melts away.”Thinner ice melts completely at a faster rate than thicker ice does, so if the average thickness of Arctic sea ice goes down, it’s more likely that the extent of the summer ice will go down as well,” said Goddard senior scientist Joey Comiso.”At the rate we’re observing this decline, it’s very likely that the Arctic’s summer sea ice will completely disappear within this century.”
Roads in northern Colorado reopen as floods recedeView gallery IVAN MORENO 20 hours ago DENVER (AP) — More highways in northern Colorado that were cut off because of destructive flooding last week are being reopened, helping reduce the number of people in need of emergency shelters and, transportation officials hope, reducing traffic congestion in heavily populated areas along the Front Range.”I think for a lot of people it’s not returning to normal, per se, but it’s starting to get there with some of these roads being reopened,” said Amy Ford, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation.The American Red Cross said fewer people are using their shelters now that they have access to their homes with some of the roads reopened. At the height of the disaster, more than 1,000 people were in shelters, compared to the 250 people in shelters Saturday, said Carmela Burke, a Red Cross volunteer.Still, the Red Cross planned to deliver 17 truckloads of supplies to flood victims this weekend, she said.The Federal Emergency Management Agency is continuing to increase aid to those in flood-ravaged areas. So far, FEMA has distributed $12.3 million in aid, with the vast majority going to helping people find temporary rentals or making house repairs, said FEMA spokesman Jerry DeFelice.View gallery.”Rowen Roberson carries clothes from his flooded garage in Longmont, Colorado September 16, 2013. Sev …On Friday, transportation officials reopened Colorado 119 between County Line and Interstate 25 in Longmont. Colorado 72 to Colorado 7 in Estes Park is also open, and officials are trying to reopen a stretch of U.S. Highway 34 in Loveland soon, Ford said.Meanwhile, Coloradans watched for more spills in flooded oilfields as crews waited for the waters to recede so they could begin cleanup operations.Four new spills were discovered Friday, including 2,400 gallons of oil from a toppled storage tank and almost 900 gallons from an unspecified source. Oil spilled from two other damaged tanks but authorities did not know how much. Another spill of 3,100 gallons was reported Saturday near Milliken, bringing the known volume of oil released since massive flooding began last week along Colorado’s Front Range to an estimated 25,000 gallons or about 600 barrels.Most of the oil releases reported to date came from tanks operated by Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Co. At least four of the releases reported by the company were in Weld County and spilled oil into the South Platte River or a tributary, according to information submitted to regulators.Other companies might have suffered similar problems since flooding began last week, but they have not yet been able to assess their damage.View gallery.”(Photo © Keagan Rowley) Flooding in Boulder on Thursday.An aerial survey of the flood area on Thursday revealed up to two dozen overturned oil storage tanks, state regulators said. Releases from those tanks could not be immediately confirmed.Authorities in Weld County have said their concern over spilled oil is eclipsed by much greater volumes of sewage and other contaminants washing into local waterways.In other developments:— The number of people unaccounted for dropped to around 60 thanks to door-to-door searches and restored communications. Seven people have died and three others are missing and presumed dead.— Gov. John Hickenlooper approved another $20 million in emergency flood funding, bringing the total to $26 million, and expanded the disaster zone to include a total of 17 counties.View gallery.”A tractors sits partially submerged in a farm field after flooding along the South Platte River in W …— Schools are making arrangements for students in flooded towns to head back to class. Students in Lyons will attend school in nearby Longmont starting next week while students in another mountain town may have a teacher sent to them.___Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin in Denver and Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., contributed to this story.
Woman injured by falling tree
Woman, 76, trapped by falling tree in Berks County Play video .13 injured in Back of the Yards shooting near 51st, … Play video .Palm tree falls and injures woman in Central Baker … Play video .Man Describes Harrowing Rescue from Colorado Flood Play video .Falling Tree Branch Narrowly Misses Davis Family At … Play video .13 hrs ago 0:51 WGN – Chicago A woman was injured by a falling tree in the Gresham neighborhood, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
View gallery23 photos CHANCE CHAN 6 hours agoHong Kong was bracing on Sunday for this year’s most powerful typhoon, with government meteorologists warning of severe flooding created by a double whammy of powerful winds and exceptionally high tides.Typhoon Usagi, the strongest storm to hit the Western Pacific this year, is expected to hit the Asian financial center late on Sunday and early on Monday. (Reuters)
Super typhoon cuts power, unleashes landslides in northern PhilippinesView gallery
Luxury river cruise opens up mysteries of MyanmarView gallery ATT SIKKEMA September 21, 2013 5:23 AM MANDALAY, Myanmar (AP) — After closing its doors to the West for half a century, Myanmar has reopened, inviting all to come and discover its treasures, ancient palaces of kings long gone, legends and mysteries told in stone. And the world is expected to come.These are the early days, perhaps the best, and with ill-equipped roads and railways, there is no better way to explore than by river. Public ferries crisscross through glistening green paddies; old teak fishing boats can be rented by the day.And now, there is the luxury riverboat cruise. In late July, the Orcaella made its maiden voyage on a 1,600-kilometer (994-mile) journey deep into Myanmar’s interior, almost to the border of India. It is operated by the Orient Express, the group that runs luxury hotels, trains and boats globally.It’s not a handsome ship from the outside. As the cruise’s first 30 travelers board in Mandalay, it seems squat and square and a bit worn out. But once we step over the gangplank and enter the roomy lounge, our impression changes completely. Totally remodeled from the hull up and gracefully furnished, it is a space where all of us immediately felt relaxed.Over the next 12 days we will tour sights rarely seen by foreign tourists: villages left back in time, gilded pagodas filled with Buddhist statues, thousands of them long neglected.View gallery.”In this Sept. 16, 2013 photo, villagers transport merchandises in a river close to Buthidaung in Rak …My cabin is spacious, with hardwood floors, fresh flowers and a walk-in closet. Best of all are the glass sliding doors facing the wide river, where one can lie in bed and watch the world glide by.We travel first for six hours along the mighty Irrawaddy River, more than 400 meters (yards) wide. The shores are almost level with the land, the brush low with a few large trees.Every hut or fishing boat we pass generates loud greetings. Groups of children wave and call. Water taxis carry passengers from one riverside village to the next, and huge, heavy boats laden with teak head downstream.When we reach the confluence with the Chindwin River, we meet our first obstacle. The captain slows our 25-cabin ship to a near-standstill and struggles to navigate around a small whirlpool. The shifting sandbanks make it difficult to read the riverbed.Eventually we pass, continuing north on the Chindwin along the melted waters of the Himalayas. We slice through sandstone cliffs and patches of forest, but this is rare. For long stretches, sometimes days at a time, the view is more monotonous than I would have imagined.View gallery.”In this Sept. 11, 2013 photo, Buddhist monks and villagers watch television during a ferry boat jour …The first village of a decent size we come across is Monywa, where the people appear as fascinated by us as we are by them. As we walk down their dusty roads, we must look like clumsy giants. Their own bodies look so delicate, women walking gracefully even when carrying baskets of bricks on their heads.The small, beautiful children stare in wonder. A teenage traveler snaps pictures of a little girl from the village and her 4-year-old older brother, then gives the boy a turn at the camera.Every day, we stop to visit one or more of the many pagodas, old and new. We have seen golden Buddhas towering over us, and a traditional ceremony for young, freshly shaven monks.After a few days, we reach Sittaung, a few kilometers (miles) from the Indian border.It has 35 very solid, large teak houses, all without doors and elevated on stilts. Green rice paddies are on either side. The river is only a few meters away and floods a frequent occurrence.View gallery.”In this Aug. 15, 2013 photo, ancient temples stand at sunrise in Bagan, central Myanmar. After closi …An old, frail woman stood by the gate, leaning with both hands on her cane, her eyes fixed upon us. She was prepared for our arrival, dressed in her finest blouse and longyi, a traditional wrap-around sarong tied firmly in a knot at the waist.I will not forget her, and our conversation in friendly gestures. I don’t think she’ll forget me, wondering, most probably, why a woman of 86 years would travel so far to see her.Her rugged village is full of welcoming smiles, along with disdainful looks from yellow dogs and water buffalo when we expected them to move.Here we turn around. It took eight days to get here, but we will return in less than half the time, heading with the current toward our home harbor and the temples of Bagan, the first kingdom of Myanmar, also known as Burma.On our final night on the ship, elephant dancers — men in a full-sized pachyderm costume — are brought in from a nearby village.View gallery.”
Strong storms move through Houston area
Some strong storms moving through the Houston area caused some problems on the roadways
Strong storms move through Houston area.More than 6,200 flee as Indonesian volcano eruptsView galleryBINSAR BAKKARA September 16, 2013 10:17 Am MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) — More than 6,200 people were evacuated from their villages following the eruption of Mount Sinabung in western Indonesia, an official said Monday.The 2,600-meter (8,530-feet) volcano in North Sumatra province erupted early Sunday after being dormant for three years, sending thick ash into the sky with small rocks pelting neighboring villages.National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said a total of 6.259 people have been evacuated as of Monday afternoon, and were being sheltered in eight locations. No damage was reported.The official Antara news agency reported that five people were hospitalized in Kabanjahe, the capital of Karo District. It quoted Jhonson Tarigan, a spokesman of the local disaster mitigation agency, as saying the five were having difficulty breathing after inhaling volcanic ash.Most of the displaced were from six villages within 3 kilometers (several miles) of the mountain in Karo district, Nugroho said.Local authorities prepared 2,000 blankets and distributed masks to displaced people. They also have set up a health command post, Nugroho said. He added there was an urgent need for cooking ware, food for babies and medicine.On Monday, gray smoke still billowed from the peak of North Sumatra’s tallest volcano, carrying ash eastward. Authorities asked residents to remain alert for other potential eruptions.Mount Sinabung’s last eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because they had failed to monitor the volcano, which had remained quiet for four centuries.There are more than 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation. It is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called „Ring of Fire” — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.
Slide victims recovered as Mexico storm toll risesEDUARDO VERDUGO 15 hours ago SocietyMexicoMexico City LA PINTADA, Mexico (AP) — Rescuers fighting tons of slippery, wet mud at the site of this week’s worst storm disaster unearthed the bodies of two women Saturday, possibly among the 68 people missing in a massive landslide that buried half of the remote coffee-growing town of La Pintada.Houses were filled to their roofs with dirt and vehicles were tossed on their sides when the hillside collapsed Monday afternoon after several days of rain brought by Tropical Storm Manuel, which along with Hurricane Ingrid gave Mexico a one-two punch last weekend.”As of today, there is little hope now that we will find anyone alive,” said President Enrique Pena Nieto after touring the devastation, adding that the landslide covered at least 40 homes.Pena Nieto told storm survivors that La Pintada, a town of 800, would be relocated and rebuilt in a safer location as officials responded to a wave of criticism that negligence and corruption were to blame for the vast devastation caused by two relatively weak storm systems.”I will come to inaugurate a new La Pintada,” he said. „That’s a promise I’m making today to this community, which has undergone such a misfortune.”View gallery.”Soldiers search through mud and rubble for bodies, victims of a landslide in the town of La Pintada, …Authorities on Saturday also found the wreckage of a Federal Police helicopter that was working on the La Pintada rescue when it went missing nearby on Thursday. All aboard died, five federal police, according to local media. Security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said he could not confirm the number on board.All week in Mexico City, editorials and public commentary said the government had made natural disasters worse because of poor planning, lack of a prevention strategy and corruption.”Governments aren’t responsible for the occurrence of severe weather, but they are for the prevention of the effects,” wrote Mexico’s nonprofit Center of Investigation for Development in an online editorial criticizing a federal program to improve infrastructure and relocate communities out of dangerous flood zones. „The National Water Program had good intentions but its execution was at best poor.”Ingrid and Manuel simultaneously pounded both of Mexico’s coasts, killing at least 101 people, not including the helicopter crash victims or the 68 missing. Interior Secretary Miguel Osorio Chong told Mexican media the death toll could go as high as 200 in the coming days, nearing that of Hurricane Paulina, which hit Guerrero state in 1997 and caused one of Mexico’s worst storm disasters.Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre publicly confirmed that corruption and political dealings allowed housing to be built in dangerous areas where permits should have been rejected.View gallery.”Soldiers remove the body of a woman who was recovered from the site of a landslide in La Pintada, Me …”The responsibility falls on authorities,” Osorio Chong said in a press conference earlier in the week. „In some cases (the building) was in irregular zones, but they still gave the authorization.”Both the federal and Guerrero state administrations are new and cited cases in the past, though Osorio Chong said that going forward, he is sure that Aguirre and the mayor of Acapulco will not allow flooded-out victims to return to high-risk areas.In a meeting with hotel owners in Acapulco, Pena Nieto told the resort city that the reconstruction phase has begun, and that the government will help address the hoteliers’ concerns, including improving the main thoroughfare from Mexico City, the Highway of the Sun, which was closed by slides and damage in the storm, cutting off access for days.The highway reopened Friday, albeit with many detours skirting stretches damaged by flooding and landslides. As of Saturday, all of the thousands of stranded tourists had been able to leave Acapulco.Pena Nieto said he would visit the northern state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where Manuel hit with hurricane force Thursday morning.View gallery.”Soldiers stand on the rooftop of a building engulfed with dirt and mud at the site of a landslide in …Three people were reported dead in Sinaloa. Flood waters hat reached waist-deep in some places in Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital, including the city zoo.Some 24 animals perished in the hurricane, according to Mexico’s federal prosecutor for animal protection, including goats, sheep and a scimitar oryx, an antelope from Saharan Africa that is now extinct in the wild. The giraffe cages were flooded and the storm damaged the reptile exhibit.Zoo director Diego Garcia Herredia said the animals had shelter, but that stress from the storm may have prevented some from seeking protection.The storms affected 24 of Mexico’s 31 states and 371 municipalities, which are the equivalent of counties. More than 58,000 people were evacuated, with 43,000 taken to shelters. Nearly 1,000 donation centers have been set up around the country, with nearly 700 tons of aid arriving so far. Nearly 800,000 people lost power across the country, though the Federal Electricity Commission said 94 percent of service had been restored as of Saturday morning.Seventy-two key highways were damaged.View gallery.”Soldiers remove the body of a woman who was recovered from the site of a landslide in La Pintada, Me …The investigations center, known as CIDAC for its initials in Spanish, said Mexico had not been hit by two simultaneous storms since 1958.The editorial said that while rescue efforts and aid are indeed humanitarian, they also provide good images for opportunistic politicians.Prevention „like that in developed countries, designed to avoid the negative impact of natural events on people, doesn’t seem to sell advertising or create grateful constituents,” read the editorial._____________Associated Press writers Katherine Corcoran in Mexico City and Martin Duran in Culiacan contributed to this report.