Pakistan: Floods Spread Into Populous Punjab Region

Pakistan’s prime minister has demanded his cabinet speed up relief to 3.2 million people hit by the worst floods in 80 years as devastation spread when floodwaters surged into the south of the country.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, prime minister, told his cabinet to speed up relief work and try and estimate the financial scale of the damage.

Continuing heavy rain in the northwest triggered more flood warnings and some 15,000 houses were destroyed in the south as rivers carried the floodwaters into Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Survivors were facing starvation after four-fifths of food stocks had been washed away, the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned.

DEC launches Pakistan floods appeal

Punjab is Pakistan’s most populous area and contains nearly three fifths of the nation’s people. It is also holds swathes of farmland, earning it a reputation as the country’s breadbasket.

Flood waters receded in the worst hit northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but the area remained devastated by landslides and flash floods from last week’s record monsoon that dumped a foot of rain in 36 hours.

In southern Punjab more than 130,000 people were evacuated by the army, but fears for further casualties grew as many were stranded when they ignored flood warnings.

At least 1.1 million acres of crops have been destroyed in the Punjab agricultural heartland alone the National Disaster Management Authority said.

Read morePakistan: Floods Spread Into Populous Punjab Region

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection: Pollution Makes 25 Percent Of Water Totally Unusable

‘Made in China!’


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Fishermen load bags of dead fish onto a forklift at the Mian Hua Tan reservoir in Yongding county, Fujian province, July 13, 2010. Credit: Reuters/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) – Almost a quarter of China’s surface water remains so polluted that it is unfit even for industrial use, while less than half of total supplies are drinkable, data from the environment watchdog showed on Monday.

Inspectors from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection tested water samples from the country’s major rivers and lakes in the first half of the year and declared just 49.3 percent to be safe for drinking, up from 48 percent last year, the ministry said in a notice posted on its website (www.mep.gov.cn).

China classifies its water supplies using six grades, with the first three grades considered safe for drinking and bathing.

Another 26.4 percent was said to be categories IV and V — fit only for use in industry and agriculture — leaving a total of 24.3 percent in category VI and unfit for any purpose.

Read moreChina’s Ministry of Environmental Protection: Pollution Makes 25 Percent Of Water Totally Unusable

China: Garbage Islands Threaten Three Gorges Dam

Update:

Giant rubbish islands threaten China’s dams and bridges (Guardian):

Rivers choked with islands of debris after recent floods, threatening to block floodgates of dams and topple bridges.

Vast floating islands of rubbish and debris, accumulated after torrential rains and flooding, are threatening to topple a bridge and jam two big dams in China, state media reported on Wednesday.

One layer of garbage covering 15,000sq m – had lodged under a bridge in the north-eastern city of Baishan in Jilin province and was blocking water flow, the China Daily reported.

Officials fear a fresh wave of flooding, if crews fail to clear the debris, could bring down the bridge. If the island is washed downstream, it could block floodgates at the Yunfeng dam, now operating at full capacity.

Emergency services were scrambling to clean up the waterway, near the border with North Korea, but fear it could take days.

“We have collected 40 trucks of the trash, but the remaining trash might fill another 200 trucks,” the official Xinhua agency quoted police officer Wang Yong as saying.


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A worker clears floating garbage washed down by recent torrential rain on the Yangtze River in Wuhu, Anhui province, August 2, 2010.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Thousands of tons of garbage washed down by recent torrential rain are threatening to jam the locks of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, and is in places so thick people can stand on it, state media said on Monday.

Chen Lei, a senior official at the China Three Gorges Corporation, told the China Daily that 3,000 tons of rubbish was being collected at the dam every day, but there was still not enough manpower to clean it all up.

“The large amount of waste in the dam area could jam the miter gate of the Three Gorges Dam,” Chen said, referring to the gates of the locks which allow shipping to pass through the Yangtze River.

The river is a crucial commercial artery for the upstream city of Chongqing and other areas in China’s less-developed western interior provinces.

Pictures showed a huge swathe of the waters by the dam crammed full of debris, with cranes brought in to fish out a tangled mess, including shoes, bottles, branches and Styrofoam.

Some 50,000 square meters of water (more than half a million square feet) had been covered by trash washed down since the start of the rainy season in July, the report said. The trash is around 60 centimeters (two feet) deep, and in some parts so compacted people can walk on it, the Hubei Daily added.

“Such a large amount of debris could damage the propellers and bottoms of passing boats,” Chen said, “The decaying garbage could also harm the scenery and the water quality.”

Read moreChina: Garbage Islands Threaten Three Gorges Dam

Pakistan: Floods threaten third-largest dam

Update:

Mass evacuations as flood threatens to destroy dam (Independent):

Rising water levels were last night threatening one of Pakistan’s largest dams, forcing the authorities to evacuate more people even as raging floods surged south into the country’s heartland, destroying communities and ruining livelihoods. Officials in the country’s north-west said unprecedented flooding had caused the water level at Warsak Dam near Peshawar to soar, already prompting the voluntary evacuation of some of the city’s residents and forcing the authorities to draw up plans to move those who sought to stay. “If needed, forced evacuation will be started,” said Adnan Khan of the Disaster Management Authority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Even while waters recede in some parts of the north-west, it is far from clear that the country’s misery is over. Aid agencies estimate more than 3.2m people have now been affected by the nation’s most severe floods in recent history and the water that has caused such chaos is now reportedly moving south, sweeping into Punjab province.


Residents evacuated from outskirts of Peshawar as aid agencies warn disease could become biggest killer in floods

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Floods in Pakistan destroyed houses in a village near Charsadda. (AFP/Getty Images)

Further rainfall and rising water levels threatened Pakistan’s third-largest dam as relief officials warned that disease could become the biggest killer in the country’s most destructive floods in more than 30 years.

Officials asked residents in the northern outskirts of Peshawar, in north-west Pakistan, to leave their homes as water levels rose at the Warsak dam. “If needed, forced evacuation will be started,” said Adnan Khan, a spokesman for the disaster management authority of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province.

River gorges flowing from the north-west began to flood villages in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province and home to many of its biggest farms. About 3,000 people were marooned in the Kot Addu area of southern Punjab after the water breached a flood bank, forcing the army to evacuate people using boats and helicopters.

The sudden surge surprised Fateh Mohammad and his family. “We just ran away with our children, leaving behind everything. All our possessions are drowned in the water. We have nothing,” he told Reuters.

Abdul Sami Malik, of Unicef, said: “What we have heard from Punjab is that 50,000 people have already been displaced and 200,000 people are being evacuated from Sindh.”

Read morePakistan: Floods threaten third-largest dam

Pakistan Floods Wash Whole Villages Away, Death Toll Rises To 1,100

See also: UN: Deadly Floods Affect 1 Million Pakistanis


Access blocked to areas in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa as authorities try to rescue 27,000 people trapped after heavy rains


Pakistan floods strand thousands

The death toll from flooding in north-west Pakistan rose to 1,100 today as rescue workers struggled to save more than 27,000 people still trapped by the water.

The rescue effort was aided by a slackening of the monsoon rains that caused the worst flooding in decades in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province. But as the waters started to recede, authorities began to understand the full scale of the disaster.

“Aerial monitoring is being conducted, and it has shown that whole villages have washed away, animals have drowned and grain storages have washed away,” said Latifur Rehman, a spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority. “The destruction is massive.”

Read morePakistan Floods Wash Whole Villages Away, Death Toll Rises To 1,100

The Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) At Earth

Earlier this morning, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) witnessed a complex magnetic eruption on the sun. The joint NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) — a mission sitting at the L1 point between the Earth and the sun — also spotted a large coronal mass ejection (CME) blasting in the direction of Earth.

It is thought that the SDO and SOHO observations are connected, making this a global magnetic disturbance affecting the whole of the Earth-facing side of the sun.

The eruption happened at around 0855 UT (3:55 am EST), when the SDO detected a C3-class solar flare originating from a cluster of sunspots (called sunspot 1092). This isn’t a large flare, but right at the same time, a filament located about 100,000 kilometers from the flare also erupted.

A “filament” is a long magnetic structure rising high above the surface of the sun filled with cool plasma. Because it is cooler than the sun’s chromosphere, when in the direct line of sight between the Earth and sun, it appears as a dark ribbon snaking across the sun’s disk. If a filament is spotted on the limb of the sun (i.e. on the side), it appears as a bright prominence arcing high into the sun’s atmosphere.

Judging by the timing, the flare and the filament erupted at the same time, suggesting they are connected via long-range magnetic field lines. The resulting shockwave emanating away from the flare site may have had a role to play in accelerating the filament when it hit the filament’s eruption zone.

Watch the video of the eruption as seen by the SDO:

C3events_strip

This sequence of events led to a huge magnetic bubble of plasma being blasted into space. As the eruption was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the CME is heading right for us — see the SOHO video of the CME. We can expect its arrival on Aug. 3.

Skywatchers will be on high alert that day as when that CME intermingles with the Earth’s magnetosphere, we can expect some intense aurorae around polar regions.

Far from being a frightening event, this morning’s complex solar eruption — including a flare, shockwave, filament eruption and CME — is a testament to the technological ingenuity of the solar scientists and engineers who have designed the powerful solar missions that continually monitor our tumultuous star. Now we know a CME is coming, we can prepare for its arrival.

Read moreThe Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) At Earth

Peru Declares State Of Emergency Amid Freezing Temperatures, Hundreds Of Children Die

Hundreds die from extreme cold in remote mountain villages also struggling with severe poverty

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A doctor checks a child in Lima, where temperatures have also plunged and a vaccination project is now under way. (Reuters)

Peru has declared a state of emergency after hundreds of children died from freezing conditions that have seen temperatures across much of the South American country plummet to a 50-year low. In 16 of Peru’s 25 regions, temperatures have fallen below -24C.

Reports from the country say 409 people, most of them children, have already died from the cold, with temperatures predicted to fall further in coming weeks.

Worst hit are Peru’s poorest and most isolated communities, which are already living on the edge of survival in remote Andean mountain villages more than 3,000 metres above sea level.

Although those living at such high-altitude would expect temperatures to drop below zero at this time of year, NGOs and government officials say many are unable to withstand the extreme cold which they are now experiencing.

“Over the past three or four years we have seen temperatures during the winter months get lower, and people are unable to survive this,” said Silvia Noble, from Plan Peru, an NGO. “This cold weather is now extending into areas that never saw these low temperatures before and children and elderly people are especially at risk as they are not physically strong enough to last month after month of sub-zero conditions.”

Read morePeru Declares State Of Emergency Amid Freezing Temperatures, Hundreds Of Children Die

Scientists: Evidence Of Gulf Oil And Dispersant Mix Making Its Way Into The Foodchain

Every poison you pour into the oceans will make its way into the food chain. It takes no rocket science to know that.

It also takes no genius to know that huge amounts of Corexit will accumulate if you look at the ingredients, …

The Growing Health Crisis in the Gulf of Mexico:

Corexit also contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, cyanide, and other heavy metals. Dispersing oil with it increases toxicity 11-fold ….

… which make Corexit lethal stuff:

EPA Whistleblower On Gulf Health Risk Cover-Up: ‘People Who Work Near Corexit Are Hemorrhaging Internally.’:

People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do.EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic-it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.


*BREAKING* Tulane researchers indicate COREXIT now in blue crab larvae from Florida to Texas; Bio-accumulation fears (VIDEO)

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Harriet Perry, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory: Yellow oil droplets can been seen in a post-larval blue crab.

report today from Fox 8 in New Orleans reveals that the “orange blobs found lodged in the bodies of tiny blue crab larvae collected from marshes that stretch from Texas to Florida” appear to contain Corexit, according to preliminary results from researchers at Tulane University.

The report says BP’s dispersant “may do more harm than the oil itself.”

University of New Orleans’ Martin O’Connell, Ph.D said,No one really knows” if Corexit will bio-accumulate. “If you’re a small fish and you eat 1,000 of these small crab larvae and all of them have oil or Corexit droplets in them they could get into the fish — that little fish could be eaten and so on and so on.”

Pondering the future of the Gulf, O’Connell said, “I think they should be more concerned that we might be losing whole cohorts of these animals when they’re very small, and we won’t see the impact in the adults but three or four years from now.”

Florida toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer, who has been hired on behalf of sickened fishermen and cleanup workers, says “some of these chemicals are in great excess — of risk-based lethal levels — that the current hydrocarbon levels are capable of sterilizing our fisheries and estuary production zones.”

The Fox 8 report concludes, “Since so many fish and crabs feed on crab larvae, some scientists fear the oil and dispersant droplets threaten to kill critical areas in the Gulf of Mexico food web.”

Please read the full report here: http://www.fox8live.com/news/local/story/Blobs-in-crab-larvae-characteristic-of-dispersant/IJoKO4b-W0GsfjK1L_SkAQ.cspx

July 31st, 2010 at 04:05 AM

Source: Florida Oil Spill Law


Scientists Find Evidence That Oil And Dispersant Mix Is Making Its Way Into The Foodchain

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Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.

Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them “in almost all” of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. — more than 300 miles of coastline — said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

And now, a team of researchers from Tulane University using infrared spectrometry to determine the chemical makeup of the blobs has detected the signature for Corexit, the dispersant BP used so widely in the Deepwater Horizon

“It does appear that there is a Corexit sort of fingerprint in the blob samples that we ran,” Erin Gray, a Tulane biologist, told the Huffington Post Thursday. Two independent tests are being run to confirm those findings, “so don’t say that we’re 100 percent sure yet,” Gray said.

“The chemistry test is still not completely conclusive,” said Tulane biology professor Caz Taylor, the team’s leader. “But that seems the most likely thing.”

Read moreScientists: Evidence Of Gulf Oil And Dispersant Mix Making Its Way Into The Foodchain

UN: Deadly Floods Affect 1 Million Pakistanis


PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Rescuers trying to reach thousands of Pakistani flood victims were hampered by deluged roads and damaged bridges Saturday, though there were signs that waters were receding in parts of the country.

Floods killed more than 430 people in one week, left some 400,000 people stranded in far-flung villages and severely damaged the nation’s already-weak infrastructure. The U.N. estimated Saturday that some 1 million people were affected, though it didn’t specify exactly what that meant.

In the northwest, the hardest-hit region, it was the worst flooding since 1929. People clung to fences and each other as water gushed over their heads, TV footage showed. Scores of men, women and children sat on roofs.

“There are very bad conditions,” said Amjad Ali, a rescue worker in the Nowshera area. “They have no water, no food.”

Read moreUN: Deadly Floods Affect 1 Million Pakistanis

Giant South Dakota Hailstone Breaks U.S. Records

VIVIAN, S.D. (AP) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a giant hailstone that fell in central South Dakota has broken U.S. records, even though the man who found it says it melted somewhat while waiting to be evaluated.

The NOAA’s National Climate Extremes Committee says the hailstone found in the town of Vivian on July 23 measures 8 inches in diameter and weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces. The committee says the South Dakota ice chunk breaks records set by hailstones discovered in Nebraska and Kansas.

Read moreGiant South Dakota Hailstone Breaks U.S. Records