View galleryHelicopters hover over the damaged area after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city, central Philippines, …By Manuel Mogato Related Stories
- At least 1,000 killed in Philippine city: Red Cross Reuters
- Super typhoon Haiyan slams into Philippines, at least three dead Reuters
- At least 1,000 killed in Philippine city: Red Cross Reuters
- Philippines typhoon likely killed ‘hundreds’ in one town: govt AFP
- One of world’s strongest storms hits Philippines Associated Press
TACLOBAN, Philippines (Reuters) – One of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall devastated the central Philippines, killing more than 1,000 people in one city alone and 200 in another province, the Red Cross estimated on Saturday, as reports of high casualties began to emerge.A day after Typhoon Haiyan churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, rescue teams struggled to reach far-flung regions, hampered by washed out roads, many choked with debris and fallen trees.The death toll is expected to rise sharply from the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclipsed the whole country and which late on Saturday was heading for Vietnam.Among the hardest hit was coastal Tacloban in central Leyte province, where preliminary estimates suggest more than 1,000 people were killed, said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, as water surges rushed through the city.”An estimated more than 1,000 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban as reported by our Red Cross teams,” she told Reuters. „In Samar, about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing.”She expected a more exact number to emerge after a more precise counting of bodies on the ground in those regions.Witnesses said bodies covered in plastic were lying on the streets. Television footage shows cars piled atop each other.”The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the U.N. Disaster Assessment Coordination Team sent to Tacloban, referring to the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.”This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.”The category 5 „super typhoon” weakened to a category 4 on Saturday, though forecasters said it could strengthen again over the South China Sea en route to Vietnam.Authorities in 15 provinces in Vietnam have started to call back boats and prepare for possible landslides. Nearly 300,000 people were moved to safer areas in two provinces alone – Da Nang and Quang Nam – according to the government’s website.The Philippines has yet to restore communications with officials in Tacloban, a city of about 220,000. A government official estimated at least 100 were killed and more than 100 wounded, but conceded the toll would likely rise sharply.The national disaster agency has yet to confirm the toll but broken power poles, trees, bent tin roofs and splintered houses littered the streets of the city about 580 km (360 miles) southeast of Manila.”IT WAS LIKE A TSUNAMI”-The airport was nearly destroyed as raging seawaters swept through the city, shattering the glass of the airport tower, leveling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.”Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged. Only a few are left standing,” said Major Rey Balido, a spokesman for the national disaster agency.Local television network ABS-CBN showed images of looting in one of the city’s biggest malls, with residents carting away everything from appliances to suitcases and grocery items.Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four meters (13 ft) in the airport.”It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”Across the country, about a million people took shelter in 37 provinces after President Benigno Aquino appealed to those in the typhoon’s path to leave vulnerable areas.”For casualties, we think it will be substantially more,” Aquino told reporters.Officials started evacuating residents from low-lying areas, coastlines and hilly villages as early as three days before the typhoon struck on Friday, officials said. But not all headed the call to evacuate.”I saw those big waves and immediately told my neighbors to flee,” said Floremil Mazo, a villager in southeastern Davao Oriental province.Meteorologists said the impact may not be as strong as feared because the storm was moving so quickly, reducing the risk of flooding and landslides from torrential rain, the biggest causes of typhoon casualties in the Philippines.Ferry services and airports in the central Philippines remained closed, hampering aid deliveries to Tacloban, although the military said three C-130 transport planes managed to land at its airport on Saturday.At least two people were killed on the tourist destination island of Cebu, three in Iloilo province and another three in Coron town in southwestern Palawan province, radio reports said.”I never thought the winds would be that strong that they could destroy my house,” LynLyn Golfan of Cebu said in a television interview while sifting through the debris.By Saturday afternoon, the typhoon was hovering 765 km west of San Jose in southwestern Occidental Mindoro province, packing winds of a maximum 185 kph, with gusts of up to 220 kph.The storm lashed the islands of Leyte and Samar with 275-kph wind gusts and 5-6 meter (15-19 ft) waves on Friday before scouring the northern tip of Cebu province. It weakened slightly as it moved west-northwest near the tourist island of Boracay, later hitting Mindoro island.Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to hit the Philippines this year after Typhoon Usagi in September. An average of 20 typhoons strike every year, and Haiyan was the 24th so far this year.Last year, Typhoon Bopha flattened three towns in southern Mindanao, killing 1,100 people and causing damage of more than $1 billion.(Additional reporting by Rosemarie Francisco, Manuel Mogato and Karen Lema in Manila and Nguyen Phuong Linh in Hanoi; Editing by Jason Szep and Nick Macfie)
FAA ruling on personal devices in flight leaves troubling safety questions By William J. McGee 15 hours ago
In January, NASA updated the 50 most recent events involving passenger PEDs and aircraft malfunctions. Reports of smoke and even fire in aircraft cabins allegedly caused by malfunctioning PEDs are frequent, as are cabin crews arguing with passengers refusing to turn off devices.The scariest reports detail three separate traffic collision avoidance systems automatically responding to “false target” signals and a 767 that experienced multiple malfunctions including loss of engine, flight instruments, and auto flight systems. Among other highlights are misaligned headings, radio static, and the following:
- A portable Garmin GPS allegedly interfered with a 737’s navigation update functionality.
- An A320 reported VHF interference from a cell phone.
- A 757’s fuel gauge “blanked” due to possible PED interference.
- An MD80’s flight management system experienced a misaligned heading.
- A 737 crew experienced erratic localizer signals while approaching a runway and suspected a PalmPilot.
Has public opinion trumped safety here? Christine Negroni, a veteran aviation writer who served on an FAA safety advisory committee, points to what she sees as faulty reasoning. “It’s so weird because it doesn’t matter if you say there are unanswered questions,” she said. “As for the FAA, what could they do? So they’ve yielded to the industry and the public.”Several aviation experts, moreover, have said the FAA’s committee was a stacked deck. The Washington Post publicly questioned why Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Public Policy, chaired the technical subcommittee, noting, “it’s still eyebrow-raising that a company with the most commercial interest in the outcome of a panel’s report would directly oversee the scientific content of that report, as opposed to, say, some independent technical expert, or even someone on the FAA’s staff who might know about such things.”Negroni notes the larger safety issue may be non-compliance with federal aviation regulations, as countless passengers have violated these FAA directives for years. But fighting invisible electromagnetic demons is wearying—recently both Alec Baldwin and New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer cursed out flight attendants for enforcing the ban (ironically enough, Reason.com chided the Democratic senator for his behavior.)So besides being bouncers, security screeners, and human baggage sizers, flight attendants now will be asked to police a complex set of rules for different devices on different aircraft types on different airlines during different phases of flight. An industry insider characterizes the situation bluntly: “The flight attendants have given up on this.” One can imagine a legion of Alec Baldwins freshly affronted that they had, in fact, 10 more minutes left of playing time on a hand-Scrabble game.Meanwhile, one safety expert worries about securing PEDs during take-off and landing, and how they could distract us during an emergency or evacuation. Hopefully it won’t be a crisis caused by a PED in the first place.William J. McGee is a longtime airline safety advocate and author of the book Attention All Passengers. He teaches at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens, N.Y., and served as the lone consumer advocate on the DOT’s Future of Aviation Advisory Committee.
Volcano ruins crops in Indonesia
ReplayPlay VideoIndonesia to rethink Australia cooperationPlay VideoIndonesia quakePlay VideoIndonesia offended by boat policyPlay VideoIndonesia: Bodies found at Russian jet wreckagePlay VideoIndonesia’s Prigen Safari Park welcomes new baby giraffePlay VideoNoon: Indonesia earthquakePlay VideoIndonesia won’t accept asylum boatsPlay VideoIndonesia’s shipwrecks bring riches, headachesPlay VideoIndonesia’s Lion Air Should Review Procedures: Crash ReportPlay VideoIndonesia calls Abbott’s asylum plan ‘offensive’Play VideoIndonesia: 12 bodies found at plane crash siteUnder the volcano in Indonesia Play video .At least six dead as ferry sinks in Thailand Play video .Apple reveals new iPad Air Play video .A protest against violence in Yemen Play video .Rough Cut: Bad Grandpa, Part 3 Play video .
Hurricane? Cyclone? Typhoon? Here’s the differenceBy SETH BORENSTEIN 17 hours agoView galleryIn this image provided by NOAA Friday Nov. 8, 2013 which was taken at 12:30 a.m. EST shows Typhoon Haiyan as it crosses the Philippines. One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded slammed into the Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides, knocking out power in one entire province and cutting communications in the country’s central region of island provinces. Weather officials say that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour, with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall. (AP Photo/NOAA)Related Stories
WASHINGTON (AP) — A powerful typhoon hit the Philippines on Friday and moved out to the South China Sea:HURRICANE? CYCLONE? TYPHOON? They’re all the same, officially tropical cyclones. But they just use distinctive terms for a storm in different parts of the world. Hurricane is used in the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, central and northeast Pacific. They are typhoons in the northwest Pacific. In the Bay of Bengal and the Arabia Sea, they are called cyclones. Tropical cyclone is used in the southwest India Ocean; in the southwestern Pacific and southeastern India Ocean they are severe tropical cyclones.STRENGTH: A storm gets a name and is considered a tropical storm at 39 mph (63 kph). It becomes a hurricane, typhoon, tropical cyclone, or cyclone at 74 mph (119 kph). There are five strength categories, depending on wind speed. The highest category is 5 and that’s above 155 mph (249 kph). Australia has a different system for categorizing storm strength.ROTATION: If they are north of the equator they rotate clockwise. If they are south, they rotate counter-clockwise.SEASON: The Atlantic and central Pacific hurricane seasons are June 1 through Nov. 30. Eastern Pacific: May 15 to Nov. 30; northwestern Pacific season is close to all year, with the most from May to November. The cyclone season in the south Pacific and Australia runs from November to April. The Bay of Bengal has two seasons April to June and September to November.WHERE IS THE BUSIEST PLACE? The northwestern Pacific where Typhoon Haiyan has just hit. A normal year there involves 27 named storms. Haiyan is the 28th named storm and there has already been a 29th. By comparison the Atlantic averages 11 named storms a year and this year there have been 12, none of them causing major problems.WHO DECIDES THE NAMES? The lists are maintained by the World Meteorological Organization; the names are ones that are familiar in each region. Names are taken off the list and replaced to avoid confusion if a hurricane causes a lot of damage or deaths. For example, Katrina was retired after it devastated New Orleans in 2005. The Philippines has its own naming system, so Typhoon Haiyan is also being called Yolanda.HOW DOES EL NINO AFFECT STORMS? During an El Nino — when the central Pacific is warming — there are fewer Atlantic storms. El Ninos shift where storms form, but not the number, for the northwest Pacific and the southwest Pacific. The central Pacific gets more storms during El Nino and the year after. This year has neither an El Nino nor its opposite, a La Nina. It is a neutral year.SOURCES: World Meteorological Organization, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Weather Underground.
Wrecked Japanese nuclear plant to double pay after criticismBy Osamu Tsukimori 22 hours agoView galleryWorkers wearing protective suits and masks work on a crane for a transport container inside the No. 4 …By Osamu Tsukimori Related Stories
- Tepco shouldn’t be in charge of Fukushima shutdown: Japan panel Reuters
- Radioactive water leaks at Fukushima as operator underestimates rainfall Reuters
- Japan OKs fuel removal from pool at nuke plant Associated Press
- Tokyo Electric aims for July restart of nuclear plant: media Reuters
- Tepco can’t yet be trusted to restart world’s biggest nuclear plant: governor Reuters
TOKYO (Reuters) – The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will double the pay of contract workers as part of a revamp of operations at the station, after coming under criticism for its handling of clean-up efforts.Hazard pay for the thousands of workers on short-term contracts will be increased from 10,000 yen ($100) to 20,000 yen a day, Tokyo Electric Power Co said in a statement on Friday.It will also tighten supervision of contractors and improve meals and other conditions at the site where three reactors melted down in March 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami.A Reuters investigation last month found that workers’ pay was being skimmed, some had been hired under false pretences, and some contractors had links to organized crime gangs.Tokyo Electric also faces a shortage of workers for the clean-up, that will take decades and cost more than $150 billion.The revamp of operations comes as the company prepares to start removing spent fuel rods from one of four damaged reactors. The unprecedented operation, which could begin next week, will mark the beginning of full decommissioning efforts.The utility has been heavily criticized by Japan’s nuclear regulator over conditions at the site after workers were contaminated with radiation during often slipshod clean-up operations along with other mishaps.”It is extremely important to secure a workforce,” the president of the company, Naomi Hirose, told a news briefing. „Whether an increase from 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen is adequate is another matter.”The company didn’t give an estimate of the cost of the improvements.The regulator has also told the utility to focus less on trying to get one of its other nuclear plants, indefinitely shut down for safety checks, running again at the expense of clean-up efforts at Fukushima.MASSIVE LIABILITIES—The plan released on Friday also lays out improvements to the management of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water building up, which comes from groundwater mixing with coolant poured over melted uranium rods.The utility, known as Tepco, has floundered since the disaster, struggling to get to grips with it and clear up the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.The 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling at the plant, leading to the reactor meltdowns along with explosions that sent a huge plume of radiation into the air and sea, forcing 160,000 people to evacuate nearby townships.Tepco has lost $27 billion since the disaster at the plant on the coast north of Tokyo and faces massive liabilities as it decommissions the facility, compensates evacuees and pays for decontamination of an area nearly the size of Connecticut.After months of denials, Tepco confirmed in July that contaminated water from the plant was flowing into the Pacific Ocean. It has also found that 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaked from one of hundreds of quickly built storage tanks, among numerous other problems.($1 = 99.0450 yen)(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Dolphin virus outbreak in Atlantic is deadliest everBy Kerry Sheridan 18 hours agoView galleryA mother and juvenile bottlenose dolphin. (AFP Photo/)Washington (AFP) – The deadliest known outbreak of a measles-like virus in bottlenose dolphins has killed a record number of the animals along the US Atlantic coast since July, officials said Friday.A total of 753 bottlenose dolphins have washed up from New York to Florida from July 1 until November 3, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.That is more than 10 times the number of dolphins that would typically turn up dead along East Coast beaches, said Teri Rowles, program coordinator of the NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.”Historic averages for this same time frame, same geographic area is only 74, so you get an idea of the scope,” she told reporters.The death toll is also higher than the more than 740 strandings in the last major Atlantic morbillivirus outbreak in 1987-1988.And they have come in a much shorter time period, leading officials to anticipate this event could get much worse.”It is expected that the confirmed mortalities will be higher,” said Rowles.”If this plays out similar to the ’87-88 die-off, we are less than halfway through that time frame.”The cause of death is morbillivirus, a form of marine mammal measles that is similar to canine distemper and can cause pneumonia, suppressed immune function and brain infections that are usually fatal.There is no evidence that cetacean morbillivirus can cause disease in people.However, sick dolphins can also have bacterial or fungal infections that do pose risks to people, so beach-combers are advised not to approach stranded animals but rather to call a local stranding network for help.The virus spreads among dolphins in close contact.A handful of washed up humpback whales and pygmy sperm whales have also tested positive for morbillivirus, but scientists have not been able to confirm that morbillivirus was the cause of those deaths since the animals were too decomposed by the time tests could be done.Rowles said efforts are underway to try and determine if the virus might have been introduced into wild bottlenose dolphins from another species, like humpback whales or pygmy sperm whales.”There are still a lot of unanswered questions about that,” she told reporters.Among bottlenose dolphins, immunity to the virus has been decreasing, particularly in the younger animals as time has gone by since the last outbreak 25 years ago.”So we know we had a susceptible population, but just being susceptible alone is not how the outbreaks go,” she said.”We are trying to understand where this virus came from and how it got into the population in which it is now circulating.”Recent tests on three other species that have been found stranded — spotted dolphins, harp seals and common dolphins — have all been negative for morbillivirus.In the meantime, the process of dealing with all the dead carcasses has been „overwhelming,” particularly for local recovery teams, said Rowles.The Virginia Aquarium alone has had to pick up and do necropsies on 333 animals in just a few months’ time, said Ann Pabst, co-director of the University of North Carolina Marine Mammal Stranding Program.”You can imagine that it really does become an all-consuming sort of job,” she said.”They have done heroically well in keeping up.”Five percent of the dolphins have been found alive on the beaches, but died soon after, NOAA said. The virus has appeared to infect dolphins of all ages, from young to old.But since the number of dolphins washing up on shore may not represent all of the creatures that are dying, it is difficult to estimate what proportion of the population is sick.And without a way to vaccinate the wild population, there is little that officials can do but collect the carcasses and continue to study them.”Currently there is nothing that can be done to prevent the infection from spreading or to prevent animals that get infected from having severe clinical disease,” said Rowles.