Friday 25 November 2016

Natural disasters worldwide - 11/24/2016

Major fires in Israel
PM says arsonists who caused wildfires around country are terrorists and will be treated as such

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the arsonists who set many of the wildfires which have broken out across the country are terrorists.

"Every fire caused by arson, or incitement to commit arson, is terrorism for all intents and purposes, and we will bring them to justice." the Prime Minister said in a press conference Thursday.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said: "It's already pretty clear that some of the fires are the result of arson. As the prime minister said, this is terror by arsonists."

Erdan confirmed that several arrests have been made, but "at the moment the police are not interested in divulging further information."

Netanyahu also spoke of the efforts by Israel and other countries to help fight the fires.

"Firefighting planes from Israel and around the world are the critical component [in fighting fires]. That's why we have built the fire air squadron, and it is doing an excellent job. Countries are joining hands. But we need more help from abroad. Russia, Greece, Italy Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey have already answered the call. By midnight two additional planes Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent will be here."

Palestinians offer Israel assistance to the firefighters

A major 7.0 quake has hit where a hurricane is hitting the area.

Tremor hits off the coast of El Salvador, and was also felt in Nicaragua, which is being lashed by a hurricane.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Central America has shaken the region, just as a hurricane barreled into the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

There were no immediate reports of any damage from Thursday's quake, which occurred around 120km off the coast of El Salvador at a depth of 33km, according to the US Geological Survey.

Earlier reports had put the quake's magnitute at 7.2.

A tsunami alert issued by El Salvador was later lifted. 

In El Salvador, the eartquake could be felt in the regions of Chalatenango, San Salvador, Cabanas and San Miguel.

El Salvador sits along the major seismic zone known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a series of faults marked by 450 active volcanoes over 40,000m.

Over the last two weeks, earthquakes with magnitudes over 7.0 have hit Japan and New Zealand, both of which are also near the Ring of Fire.

Shaking was also felt in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, and as far as the Costa Rican capital San Jose.

The earthquake struck one hour after a powerful hurricane packing winds of 175 kilometres per hour made landfall on Nicaragua's other coast.

The heavy rains hurricane Otto was offloading were likely to cause dangerous flooding and mud slides, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency due to the quake and the storm.

"It is certainly a difficult day today for countries in Central America," Al Jazeera David Mercer, reporting from the neighbouring Guatemala, said, adding that the quake was also felt there. 

But Mercer said that countries on the path of the hurricane has been preparing for days for landfall, and authorities are hoping that the casualties will be limited.

Hurricane Otto kills three people in Panama


  • Blazes have burnt 12,000 hectares, including five protected natural areas
  • Endangered species under threat from fires that ‘took us by surprise’

Peru has declared a state of emergency in seven districts in the north of the country where forest fires have killed two, injured four and burnt nearly 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of land, including five protected natural areas.

Wildfires have spread to 11 regions across the country, according to Peru’s civil defence institute, in what scientists say may be the worst drought in more than a decade.

Green light for convoy to leave Kaikōura

25 November, 2016

People waiting to drive out of Kaikōura have been given permission to start their journey via the inland route.

Civil Defence in Kaikōura is aiming to allow people to drive themselves out of the quake-hit town on the emergency access route, which for the past few weeks has been open only to military convoys.

Vehicles are leaving Kaikōura via the inland route after being given the green light by Civil Defence.Vehicles are leaving Kaikōura via the inland route after being given the green light by Civil Defence. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

About 100 drivers have confirmed to Civil Defence they want to leave by road.
Nelson couple David and Barbara Collin made sure to get to the checkpoint, where drivers were congregating, early.

"We thought that if there was a massive queue they might get to the stage where they said there was too many," said Mr Collin.

"We're quite keen to leave now - we've been here plenty long enough."

Civil Defence wants to get as many people as possible out between 1pm and 3pm and hopes to widen the scope beyond just 4WD vehicles.

Contractors have been keeping a close eye on about four slips which could give way because of rain overnight and again block the road, Civil Defence group controller Neville Riley said this morning.

Yellow chits allowing people to stock up with 40 litres of fuel are being issued from the emergency centre in the town.

Dozens of holidaymakers from overseas and other parts of the South Island have been pressuring officials to open the route for them, or allow them to follow an army convoy. The coastal road, State Highway 1, has been cut since the 7.8 magnitude quake on 14 November.

Tourists in campervans have had to choose whether to stay with their vehicles or find another way out, such as footing the bill for a helicopter ride to Christchurch.
Gary and Janine Smith have registered with Civil Defence to drive out in their 4WD but will have to leave their motorhome - a 10m converted bus - in Kaikōura.
They've been in the town since the day before the 14 November earthquake.

Peopel wait in their vehicles in Kaikoura in the hopes Civil Defence will lead them out of the quake-hit town today.Peopel wait in their vehicles in Kaikoura in the hopes Civil Defence will lead them out of the quake-hit town today. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Smith told Morning Report he was hopeful of getting out this afternoon, but not counting on it.

"I think it wouldn't take much to pull the pin on [allowing people to drive out]. Another small earthquake or if the rain gets any worse I think they would pull the pin sooner rather than later."

About 50 motorists were waiting at the inland route checkpoint on Friday afternoon,About 50 vehicles were lined up by the checkpoint by 1pm. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Yesterday, another army convoy arrived in Kaikōura - the fourth, and biggest, so far.

Thirty-two trucks and 60 defence staff brought in more portaloos, generators and food supplies.

Mt Lyford residents have been able to use part of the Kaikōura inland road without an escort since a civil defence decision on Wednesday to allow them uncontrolled access to the route.

no captionThe inland route Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

There is still major disruption in Lower Hutt where I live

Demolition begins as Wgtn businesses struggle to pay staff

25 November, 2016

Wellington businesses are becoming frustrated by a lack of financial assistance as buildings remain closed, staunching incomes for workers and employers alike
Demolition begins on 61 Molesworth Street in Wellington's CBD, starting with the car park building next door. Demolition begins on 61 Molesworth Street in Wellington's CBD, starting with the car park building next door. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Sale

As demolition begins on the damaged building at 61 Molesworth St, Wellington businesses are feeling the sting with no access to the wage subsidy offered for Kaikōura.

Shonagh MacLeod of Thorndon's Word of Mouth cafe and catering business, which is behind a cordon, said she and her staff were under considerable financial pressure.

"As soon as we were locked out, basically our cafe income stopped," she said.

"We can't afford to pay anyone, we've paid holiday pay as we were advised to do.
"But until we can open the doors again, it's no money for the staff."

Construction vehicles at work on demolishing 61 Molesworth Street in central Wellington after it was damaged in the Kaikōura earthquake.Construction vehicles get to work demolishing 61 Molesworth Street. Photo: RNZ / Aaron Sale

She contacted the government's quake helpline to ask about financial assistance with the wage bill for her fifteen workers, but was initially told to apply for the Kaikōura aid package.

"The word came back that we couldn't apply, because we were in Wellington, but if we had staff that were desperate for money they could go into WINZ (Work and Income) and apply for an emergency benefit.

"One of my girls did go in but then was told that she couldn't apply, and I had to apply on her behalf under the earthquake package.
"So, it has been quite frustrating."

Tony Freeman, who operates a bookshop in the same building, said that even if the government agreed to extend the package, it probably would not help him.

"Basically we are a family business, and the two of us run it in the main with some other family stepping in.

"It will depend entirely how the thing is worded but at this stage I can't see it being any help to us, if I understand it to be associated strictly to wages."
Gerard Hehir of the Unite Union said the package may not help workers employed on casual contracts either.

RNZ understands the ministry is waiting for further information from the council, including the number of businesses affected before giving advice to its minister about whether to approve the package.

'About 7000' EQC claims

The Earthquake Commission has already received about 7000 claims from last week's Kaikōura quake.

The commission said the geographical spread of claims was wide, from Auckland to Invercargill.

It received 470,000 claims from the Christchurch quakes of 2010 and 2011.
But the agency's chief executive, Ian Simpson, said the latest quake will yield a much smaller number because the epicentre was far less populated.

Mr Simpson said 7000 claims had come in so far, but it was too early to estimate the total number as people had until 14 February to make one.

Queensland weather: Bushfires near 

Rockhampton and Brisbane contained, 

warning for Fernvale downgraded

A firefighting aircraft drops water onto a bushfire at Nankin, near Rockhampton.

A watch and act warning for residents of Fernvale, north-west of Ipswich, has been downgraded as aircraft and fire crews worked through the night to contain the large grassfire burning in the area.

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