MONCHIQUE (Portugal): Wildfires which have blazed along a smoldering stretch of Portugal’s Algarve for a week died down today, but fears remained that winds could reignite the flames.
“It’s calmer and we do not have active flames any more, and that gives us some peace of mind,” said Rui Andre, the mayor of Monchique near where the fire broke out last Friday. However, he warned against “giving up” in case the fire is once again stoked up by the flames.
Hundreds of firefighters have been battling to control the blaze that has menaced the popular tourist region in southern Portugal for a week as sweltering temperatures and strong winds encouraged the ferocious fires.
Dozens of people were injured and a blackened trail of seared forest, charred homes and incinerated cars was left in the wake of the wildfires.
Aircraft scooped water from the sea to drop on to the creeping blaze earlier Thursday, as firefighters continued to douse the flames, which have consumed some 23,000 hectares (52,000 acres) of forest in the region — one of Europe’s top tourism destinations.
National civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar earlier warned of the “risk of reactivation” from the wind “along a perimeter that now exceeds 100 kilometres”.
The fires have left 36 people injured, one seriously, with 19 of those hurt firefighters, according to Gaspar.
On Thursday more than a thousand firefighters and soldiers were tackling the blazes in the affected zone, which is planted with pines and highly-flammable eucalyptus trees and scored by difficult to reach valleys and ravines.
Fire crews and police conducted an urgent evacuation overnight of homes around the historic town of Silves.
A slight respite Thursday afternoon enabled local people to leave the schools, gymnasiums and reception centres where they had taken refuge and venture back to their homes.
Dark clouds of smoke and soot from the wildfires had billowed above popular holiday beaches in the region earlier Thursday, but gusts of wind cleared the skies later in the day.
Landslides hit western Indonesia!
JAKARTA: Rescuers have discovered eight bodies and have been searching for missing persons after landslides hit North Sumatra province of western Indonesia, head of provincial disaster management agency Riadil Lubis said today.
Heavy downpours triggered soils in a hill slid down and hit four houses in Holado village of Toba Samosir district, Lubis told Xinhua via telephone from the province. “The soil buried and brought the houses downward into a ravine,” he said. A total of eight corpses, who had been buried by the soils, have been pulled by the rescuers, and search for two missing villagers is being undertaken now, involving soldiers, police, search and rescue personnel, and disaster management agency as well as volunteers.
“The focus of the search operation is to find the missing persons in the area of the ravine. Some small heavy equipment, which can reach and operate at the site, will be deployed into the spot,” said Lubis. A total of five people survived the natural disaster and sustained injuries, he said. Indonesia is frequently stricken by landslides and floods during heavy rains.
Mention of ‘fossil fuels’ cut from videos at UN climate talks
KATOWICE: Videos produced by environmental groups to be shown to thousands of participants in a major UN climate summit were banned by organizers for mentioning fossil fuels, in a move campaigners say amounts to censorship.
AFP has obtained emails sent by the United Nations to NGOs asking them to remove frames referring to “dirty energy” and “pipelines”, claiming that they breached the UN climate convention’s rules of participation.
The COP24 climate talks, which wrapped up Friday in Poland, brought together more than 20,000 officials, ministers, activists and business representatives from across the world.
Among those accredited to observe the process were a host of pressure groups whose goals vary enormously.
Green campaigners complain that so-called “business-interest NGOs” — known as BINGOs – representing big energy firms are allowed to participate with very little oversight.
They allege these groups use their industry connections to influence national negotiators in the process of hammering out a global plan to limit temperature rises and avert runaway planetary warming.
Environmental NGOs prepared a series of short films that were destined to be shown on large screens near the entrance to the sprawling COP24 complex in the Polish mining city of Katowice.
But after submitting the films for what they thought would be a pro-forma review, the UN objected to several frames mentioning fossil fuel-related activity.
In one email the UN liaison body asked for a shot containing the words “dirty energy” to be removed. It also asked that the phrases “prohibit the participation of fossil fuel corporations” and “why are politicians still approving pipelines, coal plants and fracking” be cut.
The climate convention prohibits “activity derisory to the UN, any of their member states, organizations or any individual or criticism that would go against basic rules of decorum”.
But campaigners say their videos did not contravene these guidelines, as no specific country or company was named.
“The videos are otherwise of excellent quality and it would be a shame to exclude these high-quality videos on the basis of one or two short frames,” the UN emailed.
The COP24 takes place against the backdrop of the direst environmental warnings.
In October, a landmark report by a UN body of experts, the IPCC, highlighted for the first time the need to drastically cut fossil fuel use in order to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.
Exponents of coal and oil have long argued the world can continue using carbon-producing fuels as long as the emissions they produce can be sucked back out of the atmosphere.
The IPCC suggested the science showed otherwise.
“While we’re being silenced, the same coal, oil and gas companies responsible for the crisis are allowed to plaster the halls with their logos and propaganda,” Pascoe Sabido, researcher and campaigner at the Corporate Europe Observatory, told AFP.
“How can these negotiations help us keep fossil fuels in the ground like the IPCC recommends if we’re not even allowed to mention dirty energy or gas pipelines?”
A UN spokesman told AFP the organization had used “our best judgment to ensure that the videos displayed at this particular site are suitable”.
COP24 host Poland has come in for criticism for enlisting several state-run coal and energy firms to sponsor the talks.
Another group was last week prevented from handing out fliers listing coal company sponsors.
Eilidh Robb, a volunteer with the UK Youth Climate Coalition said COP24 organizers were cracking down on any mention of fossil fuels.
“There seems to be a real fear coming from the Polish presidency of naming both countries or corporations even though they are accredited to be here,” she told Media.
Supreme Court orders removal of Bill Boards
KARACHI: According to sources Supreme Court has ordered the removal of billboards from the roads all over Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that, it was NewsPakistan.tv that has run an extensive campaign against the oversized billboards in Karachi.
According to details Supreme Court (SC), Friday dismissed review petition, filed by some aggrieved parties and directed the government to remove billboards from Lahore city including Defense Housing Authority within a three-month period. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the review petition and directed authorities concerned to remove billboards within the stipulated time, otherwise, adverse action would be taken. Senior lawyer Latif Khosa pleaded the court that billboards enhance the beauty of the city. On this, the chief justice said billboards were not placed on bridges in rest of the world, quoting an example of one of his acquaintances who died due to billboard collapse. Imanullah Mirani, counsel for a company, pointed out that billboard business was adding Rs36 billion to the national exchequer and appealed the apex court to continue this business as this sector was generating revenue in billions for the government. The chief justice said billboards should be made for specific places. They were not placed on bridges as they could fall down on vehicles and may cause causalities, he added.