Wildfires

Wildfires – Spain

Spain on Sunday deployed three water-dropping planes to battle wildfires raging in remote regions in northern and central Spain amid unseasonably warm weather, the government said.

The agriculture ministry said two amphibious water-scooping aircraft were sent to help dowse fires in the northern region of Cantabria and another plane was dispatched to the central region of Castile and Leon.

The regional government of Cantabria said firefighters were battling 25 blazes while the government of the neighboring region of Asturias in northwestern Spain said 16 wildfires were burning in its boundaries.

A helicopter battling a fire in Asturias crashed on Wednesday, killing the pilot and sole occupant of the aircraft.

Forest fires are unusual in December in Spain but low rainfall and a warm autumn have left much of the country vulnerable to blazes.

Wildfires have destroyed more than 54,000 hectares (13,300 acres) of agricultural and forest land in Spain this year, exceeding the area burned over the previous two years combined, most of it in major summer fires, according to agriculture ministry figures.

Disease

Diphtheria deaths mount in Punjab, India

The number of fatalities has risen from 18 to 34 from the serious toxigenic disease in the latest outbreak. The large outbreak of the vaccine preventable disease is due to a lack of diphtheria anti-toxin (DAT) in the country. About 1 out of 10 people who gets diphtheria will die.

Dengue Fever Outbreak: Hawaii – Update

Right on Christmas day, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) reported the latest numbers behind an ongoing outbreak of the mosquito-borne dengue fever: 181 cases since September, with 7 potential cases currently capable of further spreading the virus. These cases, all situated on the Big Island of Hawaii, are especially worrying due to the fact that the local mosquito population is primarily causing them, though some have occurred among travellers from countries where dengue is already endemic.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Dodecanese Islands, Greece.

5.2 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Coquimbo, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Coquimbo, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Texas, USA – Eight people have died in a tornado that hit Garland, Texas, raising the death toll to 26 in a week of storms in several US states. Five people in cars were blown off a motorway in Garland, near Dallas. Another three bodies were found in nearby towns. Two people were found dead at a petrol station in Copeville, and a third was killed in Blue Ridge.

Britain – Heavy rain has caused flooding in northern England, leading to evacuations of thousands in Lancashire and Yorkshire. At least 2,200 homes have been evacuated in York, with six severe flood warnings in the area. The Met Office has issued hundreds of flood alerts and warnings – more than 30 of them severe. The River Irwell and River Roch have both overflowed, causing flooding in Salford, Manchester city centre and Rochdale. Houses have been evacuated in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, and in Ribchester and Whalley, Lancashire.

 

Uk flood map

 

South America – Update – The widespread floods have forced nearly 140,000 people from their homes in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil following days of torrential rains that drenched a region where the countries border each other. Paraguay is the hardest hit with at least 100,000 evacuating according to the National Emergency Department. Argentina’s state-run news agency Telam reports that 20,000 people suffered the same fate in that nation, while Uruguay’s National Emergency System says some 9,000 were displaced by rivers that overflowed their banks. The civil defense department in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul says at least 7,000 people had to leave their homes.

Wildfires

Wildfires – California

Fire crews have stopped the spread of a wind-whipped wildfire along the Southern California coast, reopened a scenic highway and lifted an evacuation order for dozens of homes.

The 1,238-acre blaze in the steep foothills northwest of Ventura was 60 percent contained by nightfall Saturday and no homes burned, fire officials said at a news conference.

About 600 firefighters from various agencies, aided by water-dropping helicopters, fought the blaze during the day. About 400 were expected remain on the line overnight.

The fire began late Friday night and winds gusting to 50 mph pushed the flames down hills and over roads and railroad tracks, showering sparks on homes in coastal communities, fire officials said. About 50 homes in the Solimar Beach community were placed under mandatory evacuation orders and about 30 nearby homes were placed under voluntary evacuation.

Disease

Malaria in Kenya

Kerio Valley town, Marakwet East constituency has once more recorded a high number of malaria infections, with hospitals complaining about overcrowding due to the outbreak.

More than 100 people have undergone laboratory tests with results indicating that they had been infected with malaria.

There are not enough medical personnel and drugs to address the outbreak of the disease. The local hospital only has a total of 27 beds.(sic) Local officials have asked the Government to speedily assist with the outbreak.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.

At least 12 people have been injured and hospitalized in eastern Nangarhar province. So far there were no reports casualties or serious property damage in Kabul.

5.4 Earthquake hits the west Chile rise.

5.0 Earthquake hits San Juan, Argentina.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Myanmar – Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a landslide struck a remote jade mining region in northern Myanmar, the second such incident in a month. According to rescuers, one body was pulled from the rubble and at least 30 people were missing. A Nov. 21 landslide in the same region killed more than 100 people. The area is home to some of the world’s highest-quality jade.

Britain – Almost 150 flood warnings have been issued as up to 120mm of rain is set to fall in the north of England – worsening situation in areas already saturated by winter storms. Troops were called in to assist in Cumbria as rain from Storm Eva started to drench northern Britain.

Alabama, USA – Several people were trapped underneath rubble late Friday as another tornado touched down in north-central Alabama in the latest wave of severe weather that’s hammered the South during Christmas week.

Global Warming

Russia warming ‘2.5 times quicker’ than global average

Russia is warming more than twice as fast as the average for the rest of the world, the environment ministry said Friday, sounding an alarm on the rise in floods and wildfires nationwide.

A government report on environmental protection said temperatures in Russia had warmed by 0.42 degrees Celsius per decade since 1976, or 2.5 times quicker than the global warming trend of 0.17 degrees.

“Climate change leads to growth of dangerous meteorological phenomena,” the ministry said in a comment to the report published Friday.

There were 569 such phenomena in Russia in 2014, “the most since monitoring began,” the ministry said, specifically mentioning last year’s ravaging floods and this year’s “water deficit” east of Lake Baikal, which led to a “catastrophic rise in fires.”

Fires around Lake Baikal, including the nearby Irkutsk and Buryatia regions, tore through hundreds of square miles in the pristine area, with locals and campers forced to dig ditches as state media at one point offered the theory that fires were fuelled by “self-igniting air” caused by ozone anomalies.

Climate change has contributed to unprecedented loss of water in the Baikal itself, dropping to minimal water levels allowed by the government several times this year, including this week.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia – Christmas Day bushfires

More than 100 homes burned down in a leading Australia tourist area as Christmas Day bushfires remained out of control and dangerous on Saturday, with officials predicting more blazes to come in the hot southern summer.

While around 150 firefighters battled the flames along parts of Victoria state’s picturesque Great Ocean Road, teams moved in to assess damage from fires that had lit up the night sky along the coast on Christmas evening.

A spokeswoman for the state’s emergency services said 85 homes had been confirmed burned in the community of Wye River and another 18 in nearby Separation Creek, for a total of 103 in the two townships located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of Melbourne.

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s biggest tourist draws with its spectacular scenery and bizarre rock formations just offshore in the Southern Ocean. It remained mostly closed to traffic on Saturday during what is typically one of its busiest times of the year.

Although an evacuation alert was lifted for the popular tourist town of Lorne and rain overnight had helped the firefighting operation, officials said the fires were far from out.

The fires started with a lightning strike on Dec. 19 and, fanned by winds, have already burned more than 2,000 hectares.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Babar, Indonesia.

5.4 Earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

5.2 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

USA – Tornadoes brought Christmas Eve havoc to the southern US killing at least 14 people and damaging or destroying dozens of homes. In Benton County, Mississippi, four people – including a married couple and two neighbours on the same street – were confirmed dead and their homes destroyed. Unseasonably warm weather on Wednesday helped spawn twisters from Arkansas to Michigan. The line of spring-like storms continued marching east on Christmas Eve, dumping torrential rain that flooded roads in Alabama and caused a mudslide in the mountains of Georgia. Authorities confirmed seven deaths in Mississippi, including a seven-year-old boy who was in a car that was hit by a storm. Six more died in Tennessee. One person was killed in Arkansas. Dozens more were injured, some seriously.

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Argentina – At least 7,000 people have been evacuated in north-eastern Argentina as heavy rains cause rivers to swell. Those living close to the Uruguay River in Entre Rios province are reported to be among the worst affected. The mayor of the town of Concordia, on the border with Uruguay, was quoted as saying a quarter of the town was underwater. Thousands of people have also been affected by the rains in neighbouring Paraguay and Uruguay. The provinces of Formosa, Chaco and Santa Fe are also reported to be badly affected.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Scores of houses and buildings are feared lost in Victoria’s Great Ocean Rd fire as emergency crews focus on saving lives.

The Country Fire Authority believes between 53 and 60 houses have been lost by the fire threatening to smother much of the Otway Ranges about 200km south west of Melbourne.

The full impact of the fires will not be known until tomorrow with the blaze to burn for days.

The worst affected towns are Separation Creek and Wye River. The fate of Kennett River was unclear tonight.

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Disease

Swine Flu Outbreak in Israel

One woman has died of swine flu and another ten people have been hospitalized with the disease. Four of them are on artificial respiration.

The Health Ministry added that some of the sick have other conditions which make them more susceptible to flu complications. These include heart disease, diabetes, Down’s Syndrome and pregnancy.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits the Bouvet Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.