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   SYDNEY (AP) — Scores of Australians have evacuated their homes in mountains west of Sydney as intensifying winds fanned wildfires that have ravaged the region for days.

   The winds were showering communities with embers Wednesday, and all schools were closed in anticipation of worsening fire conditions in the Blue Mountains. The region lost more than 200 homes to blazes last week.

   Springwood resident Rae Tebbutt said the atmosphere was tense in the village that was one of the worst-hit last week.

   Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says 71 blazes are burning in New South Wales state around Sydney, including 29 burning out of control.

Published in National News

   DALBADI, Pakistan (AP) — Survivors built makeshift shelters with sticks and bedsheets after their mud houses were flattened in an earthquake that killed 348 people in southwestern Pakistan and pushed a new island up out of the Arabian Sea.

   While waiting for help to reach remote villages, hungry people dug through the rubble to find food. And the country's poorest province struggled with a dearth of medical supplies, hospitals and other aid.

   Tuesday's quake flattened wide swathes of Awaran district, where it was centered, leaving much of the population homeless.

   Almost all of the 300 mud-brick homes in the village of Dalbadi were destroyed. Noor Ahmad said he was working when the quake struck and rushed home to find his house leveled and his wife and son dead.

   "I'm broken," he said. "I have lost my family."

   The spokesman for the Baluchistan provincial government, Jan Mohammad Bulaidi, said Thursday that the death toll had climbed to 348 and that another 552 people had been injured.

   Doctors in the village treated some of the injured, but due to a scarcity of medicine and staff, they were mostly seen comforting residents.

   The remoteness of the area and the lack of infrastructure hampered relief efforts. Awaran district is one of the poorest in the country's most impoverished province.

   Just getting to victims was challenging in a region with almost no roads where many people use four-wheel-drive vehicles and camels to traverse the rough terrain.

   "We need more tents, more medicine and more food," said Bulaidi.

   Associated Press images from the village of Kaich showed the devastation. Houses made mostly of mud and handmade bricks had collapsed. Walls and roofs caved in, and people's possessions were scattered on the ground. A few goats roamed through the ruins.

   The Pakistani military said it had rushed almost 1,000 troops to the area overnight and was sending helicopters as well. A convoy of 60 Pakistani army trucks left the port city of Karachi early Wednesday with supplies.

   Pakistani forces have evacuated more than 170 people from various villages around Awaran to the district hospital, the military said. Others were evacuated to Karachi.

   One survivor interviewed in his Karachi hospital bed said he was sleeping when the quake struck.

   "I don't know who brought me from Awaran to here in Karachi, but I feel back pain and severe pain in my whole body," he said.

   Jan said he didn't know what happened to the man's family. He was trying to contact relatives.

   Local officials said they were sending doctors, food and 1,000 tents for people who had nowhere to sleep. The efforts were complicated by strong aftershocks.

   Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest province but also the least populated. Medical facilities are few and often poorly stocked with supplies and qualified personnel. Awaran district has about 300,000 residents spread out over 29,000 square kilometers (11,197 square miles).

   The local economy consists mostly of smuggling fuel from Iran or harvesting dates.

   The area where the quake struck is at the center of an insurgency that Baluch separatists have been waging against the Pakistani government for years. The separatists regularly attack Pakistani troops and symbols of the state, such as infrastructure projects.

   It's also prone to earthquakes. A magnitude 7.8 quake centered just across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.

   Tuesday's shaking was so violent it drove up mud and earth from the seafloor to create an island off the Pakistani coast.

   A Pakistani Navy team reached the island by midday Wednesday. Navy geologist Mohammed Danish told the country's Geo Television that the mass was a little wider than a tennis court and slightly shorter than a football field.

   The director of the National Seismic Monitoring Center confirmed that the mass was created by the quake and said scientists were trying to determine how it happened. Zahid Rafi said such masses are sometimes created by the movement of gases locked in the earth that push mud to the surface.

   "That big shock beneath the earth causes a lot of disturbance," he said.

   He said these types of islands can remain for a long time or eventually subside back into the ocean, depending on their makeup.

   He warned residents not to visit the island because it was emitting dangerous gases.

   But dozens of people went anyway, including the deputy commissioner of Gwadar district, Tufail Baloch.

   Water bubbled along the edges of the island. The land was stable but the air smelled of gas that caught fire when people lit cigarettes, Baloch said.

   Dead fish floated on the water's surface while residents visited the island and took stones as souvenirs, he added.

   Similar land masses appeared off Pakistan's coast following quakes in 1999 and 2010, said Muhammed Arshad, a hydrographer with the navy. They eventually disappeared into the sea during the rainy season.

   ___

   Santana reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Adil Jawad in Karachi contributed to this report.

Published in National News
Thursday, 12 September 2013 05:45

1 dead as flash flooding hits parts of Colorado

   BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Authorities say heavy rains have caused flash flooding in Boulder County that has closed streets, prompted evacuations, and left one person dead.

   The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for Boulder County and northwest Jefferson County, while a mandatory evacuation was in effect for the tiny community of Jamestown and the Fourmile area.

   The Denver Post reports that the National Weather Service said that county officials reported some homes had collapsed in the Jamestown area.

   Boulder Emergency Management spokeswoman Gabrielle Boerkircher says one person was killed when a structure collapsed in Jamestown.

   She says they don't yet have other details because rescuers haven't been able to reach the scene.

   Boekircher says about 400 students at the University of Colorado were evacuated and the campus was shutting down Thursday because of the flooding.

   The Weather Service posted flash flood warnings for Boulder County and for parts of Broomfield, Adams, Weld, Larimer, and El Paso counties.

   The Post says that mudslides and rockslides it several areas.

Published in National News
Thursday, 05 September 2013 02:42

Study: Most states lack disaster plans for kids

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, most states still don't require four basic safety plans to protect children in school and child care from disasters, aid group Save the Children said in a report released Wednesday.

   The group faulted 28 states and the District of Columbia for failing to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission in the wake of Katrina. The lack of such plans could endanger children's lives and make it harder for them to be reunited with their families, the study said.

   The states were: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

   "Every workday, 68 million children are separated from their parents," Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's president and CEO, said in a statement with the group's annual disaster report card. "We owe it to these children to protect them before the next disaster strikes."

   After Katrina exposed problems in the nation's disaster preparedness, the presidentially appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster issued final recommendations in 2010 .calling on the states to require K-12 schools to have comprehensive disaster preparedness plans and child care centers to have disaster plans for evacuation, family reunification and special needs students.

   Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan do not require any of the four recommended plans, the study found, while D.C. and the remaining states each require one or more of them.

   The number of states meeting all four standards has increased from four to 22 since 2008, the report said. The group praised New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska and Utah for taking steps over the past year to meet all four standards.

   Save the Children said it found gaps in emergency preparedness during a year when school shootings devastated Newtown, Conn., Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the East Coast and tornadoes ravaged Oklahoma.

   Miles said such disasters "should be a wake-up call, but too many states won't budge."

   A spokeswoman for the National Governors Association declined comment on the report, referring questions to the various states.

Published in National News

   A heat wave is taking hold of the metro-area and reminding us that it's August in St. Louis.  

   The National Weather Services has issued a heat advisory for the St. Louis area from noon Tuesday until 7:00 Saturday evening.  

   Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid and upper 90's, with heat indices around 100 over the next several days.  There will be little relief at night, especially in the urban heat island of St. Louis.  

   At least a few schools are closing early today as a precaution.  They include the Legacy Christian Academy in Caseyville which will close at noon and St. John the Baptist in Villa Ridge which plans to close at 11:30.  Also, all schools in the Bunker Hill District are closing at 2 p.m. today.

   And the extreme heat is forcing some high school football teams to change game times this weekend. Hazelwood School District officials rescheduled games for Hazelwood Centrals and Hazelwood East. Both games have been moved from 1 PM to 10 AM. 

   Extra precaution is warranted, especially for those spending time outside.  OSHA recommends drinking extra water and taking frequent breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.  

   For information about cooling centers, call the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 from any land line phone.  Or call 1-800-427-4626. 

Published in Around Town

   A heat wave is taking hold of the metro-area and reminding us that it's August in St. Louis.  

   The National Weather Services has issued a heat advisory for the St. Louis area from noon Tuesday until 7:00 Saturday evening.  

   Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid and upper 90's, with heat indices around 100 over the next several days.  There will be little relief at night, especially in the urban heat island of St. Louis.  

   At least a few schools are closing early today as a precaution.  They include the Legacy Christian Academy in Caseyville which will close at noon and St. John the Baptist in Villa Ridge which plans to close at 11:30.  Also, all schools in the Bunker Hill District are closing at 2 p.m. today.

   And the extreme heat is forcing some high school football teams to change game times this weekend. Hazelwood School District officials rescheduled games for Hazelwood Centrals and Hazelwood East. Both games have been moved from 1 PM to 10 AM. 

   Extra precaution is warranted, especially for those spending time outside.  OSHA recommends drinking extra water and taking frequent breaks in the shade or in air conditioning.  

   For information about cooling centers, call the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 from any land line phone.  Or call 1-800-427-4626. 

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:30

21 killed in northwest China flash flood

   BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state media say a flash flood swept through a construction site and killed at least 21 workers in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai. Three workers are still missing.

   The official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that rescuers are searching for those missing from Tuesday's disaster in Wulan county, and that seven injured people had been sent to hospitals. The remote region lies amid high mountains, 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) west of Beijing.

   Elsewhere in China, heavy flooding in the extreme south and northeast has left more than 200 dead or missing in recent days.

   Flooding and landslides in southern China have been chiefly caused by rains brought by last week's Typhoon Utor. Another storm was bearing down on Taiwan and expected to arrive on mainland China sometime Thursday.

Published in National News

   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Strong earthquakes shook central New Zealand on Friday, damaging homes, destroying a bridge and sending office workers scrambling for cover in the capital. No serious injuries have been reported.

   A magnitude-6.5 temblor struck just after 2:30 p.m. near the small South Island town of Seddon, and at least six aftershocks were 5.0 magnitude or stronger.

   Several homes near the epicenter were severely damaged, with chimneys collapsing and roofs caving in, said police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn. She said a bridge was severely damaged on the main highway near Seddon, and that rocks and debris had fallen onto the road. Police closed a section of the highway.

   Some buildings in Wellington, the capital, were evacuated, and items were knocked off shelves in places.

   Police said a number of people were freed from Wellington elevators that stopped working. The initial temblor also forced the nation's stock exchange to close for more than an hour.

   Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said there was no major damage to the city's infrastructure or office buildings. She said highways had become clogged as people left the city.

   "We think this is business as usual," she said, "but it is going to take a little while for people to get home tonight."

   The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the initial temblor was 94 kilometers (58 miles) west of Wellington at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).

   A quake of similar strength in the same area three weeks ago broke water mains, smashed windows and downed power lines.

   Caroline Little, a seismologist with New Zealand quake monitoring agency GeoNet, said the series of quakes since July had followed an unusual pattern.

   "Normally you get a big quake and then the aftershocks get smaller in magnitude," she said.

   Little said the July quake was on a fault line near Seddon that had not previously been mapped. She said it was too early to determine if Friday's quakes were on that same fault.

   A different fault line runs through Wellington, and many in the city fear a major disaster if it were to become active.

   New Zealand is part of the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" that has regular seismic activity. A severe earthquake in the city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city's downtown.

   Local authorities issued no tsunami warnings after Friday's quakes.

Published in National News
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 04:39

Hurricane Henriette moves west over Pacific

   MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Henriette (hen-ree-EHT') is moving west-northwest in the Pacific far from land.

   Hurricane Henriette's maximum sustained winds late Tuesday night are near 90 mph (150 kph) with additional strengthening possible into the night, followed by gradual weakening on Wednesday.

   The hurricane is centered about 1485 miles (2390 kilometers) east of the Hawaiian islands and is moving west-northwest near 10 mph (17 kph). It was projected to follow a path that takes it well south of Hawaii.

   Also in the Pacific, the National Hurricane Center in Miami says Gil is now a tropical depression, with maximum sustained winds near 35 mph (56 kph). Gil is centered about 1,185 miles (1907 kilometers) east-southeast of Honolulu, Hawaii and is moving west near 9 mph (15 kph).

Published in National News

Westbound I-44 is closed for 14 miles between mile markers 172 - 186 between Rolla and Waynesville due to flooding. 

Floodwaters from the Gasconade River have closed all lanes of Interstate 44 from mile marker 172 to mile marker 186 near Jerome in Phelps County.

Motorists and commercial motor carriers traveling eastbound on I-44 are asked to exit at mile marker 69 and take Route 360 to Route 60 at Springfield to Route 63 at Cabool to get back on to I-44 at Rolla. Travelers westbound on I-44 should take Route 63 at Rolla to Route 60 at Cabool to Route 360 to get back on to I-44 west of Springfield. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation has put up barriers at the closures, as well as signs to mark the detours. 

“We will continue to monitor these areas until the floodwaters recede,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester. 

Drivers are encouraged to check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map, located at www.modot.org, or call the department’s toll free number, 1-888-ASK-MODOT, to get updated information on road conditions. 

Motorists should take extra care in their travels during this time and never attempt to get around roadway barricades or drive across flooded roadways. MoDOT also recommends allowing extra travel time if detours are necessary. 

An evacuation order is in effect in Waynesville near Fort Leonard Wood where a young boy was swept away by flood waters and killed yesterday and a woman, believed to be his mother, remains missing. 

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in  central and southern Missouri where more heavy rain fell overnight and more than 100 homeowners watched in vain as water inundated their homes. The area already swamped by flash flooding yesterday (Tuesday) is again under a flash flood watch until 10 a.m.  

 In the KTRS listening area that includes St. Francois, St. Genevieve and Washington Counties in Missouri, and Randolph County in Illinois.  The National Weather Service reports that the heaviest rainfall is again just northeast of the Waynesville and Fort Leonard Wood areas, but Farmington, Eldin, Rolla and Ironton are also being inundated.

  
Published in Local News
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