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Disaster

Category 5 hurricane Maria hits Dominica island

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Washington, Sep 19: The “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 hurricane Maria, the strongest storm on record to make landfall in Dominica, is battering the Caribbean island, and is on course directly hit Puerto Rico, the first time in 85 years, the media reported.

A statement from the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that its record-topping winds reached 160 miles per hour when it made landfall at 9.15 p.m. on Monday night, reports CNN.

It was so powerful that it tore the roof off the residence of the country’s leader.

“My roof is gone,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook. “I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”

Later, he said: “I have been rescued.”

After Dominica, Maria will move towards Puerto Rico as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a warning has been issued”, CNN quoted the NHC as saying.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello has declared a state of emergency ahead of the landfall expected on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration for the American territory for federal assistance to augment the island nation’s storm-response initiatives.

Puerto Rico housing authorities said there are 450 shelters able to take in 62,714 evacuees, and up to 125,428 in an emergency situation.

If Maria strikes the island as forecast, it will be “more dangerous than Hugo and Georges”, the Centre said.

Hurricane Hugo killed five people in Puerto Rico in 1989, and Hurricane Georges caused more than $1.7 billion in damage to the island in 1998.

The storm will affect parts of the Leeward Islands and the British and US Virgin Islands for next couple of days.

Maria comes after the catastrophic hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25 resulting in massive floods and deaths of 83 people.

Harvey was followed by Irma, the most intense storm in the Atlantic. It hit the Caribbean islands on August 30, leaving a trail of destruction through Puerto Rico, Cuba and Florida and killed 82 people.

IANS

Disaster

Super Typhoon Mangkhut lands on south China coast

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Super Typhoon ‘Mangkhut

Beijing, Sep 17 : Super Typhoon Mangkhut landed at 5 p.m. on Sunday on the coast of Jiangmen City, south China’s Guangdong Province, packing winds up to 162 km per hour, according to the provincial meteorological station.

More than 2.52 million people have been relocated, and over 48,000 fishing boats called back to port in the province as of 6 p.m. on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Work has been suspended at more than 29,000 construction sites and 640 tourist spots were closed.

All flights were cancelled in airports of Guangzhou and Shenzhen and will be resumed starting 8 a.m. on Monday. All high-speed train services and some normal-speed rail services have been suspended in Guangdong and Hainan provinces.

According to the National Meteorological Center, Mangkhut has entered Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, moving northwestward at a speed of 30 km per hour as of 11 p.m on Sunday.

About 228,000 people have been relocated in the region, and 98 flights were cancelled in Nanning, the region’s capital city, as of 7 p.m. on Sunday. All rail services between Guangxi and Guangdong were suspended on Sunday.

In the region’s coastal cities of Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, over 8,000 fishing boats have returned to port, and schools will close on Monday.

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Analysis

Planet sending a clear message to act now: UN Environment’s Eric Solheim

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United Nations Environment head Erik Solheim

San Francisco, Sep 12 : The planet is sending a clear message — to act and that too within a short time-frame or lose the ability to turn things around, says United Nations Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim.

“Typhoons and floods are not new, but we are seeing a broader pattern of more severe and more frequent extreme weather events,” Solheim told IANS in an interview here.

His concerns came ahead of the three-day Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) that began on Wednesday with the participation of 4,000 plus business and political leaders, investors, citizens and government representatives from all over the world in this California city.

“That’s (natural calamities) what the scientists predicted, and it’s what we’re seeing play out now right in front of our eyes. Our planet is sending us a clear message. We have to act, and we’re a short time-frame to do so before we lose the ability to turn things around.”

He was replying to a question on his thoughts for the people of Kerala in India and Osaka in Japan that have been recently affected by floods and a typhoon.

Solheim, who is also attending the summit, which aims to “take ambition to the next level” and persuade the world’s Presidents and Prime Ministers to go further and faster to reduce emissions, said: “The bottom line is that we need to step up the ambition and create a momentum.”

On India playing a leading role in driving down global emissions, he said “absolutely”.

“I think Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has shown incredible leadership in driving the shift to renewables and steering India towards being a greener, cleaner economy. The innovation that we’re seeing, not just in terms of renewables deployment but also the wider shift to a more circular economic model, is really encouraging.”

From India, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra is one of the Global Climate Action Summit’s Co-Chairs.

In a plenary on September 13, he will provide an update on how many companies that have adopted Science-Based Targets — aligning their pollution reduction plans with the Paris agreement.

Solheim saw business value in companies adopting science-based climate targets.

“We’re seeing more and more examples of businesses wanting to do this, and dozens of global giants on that path.

“For me it’s important for two reasons: Firstly, companies are showing how sustainability can be a core part of business, rather than an on-the-side CSR (corporate social responsibility) exercise. They’re moving beyond PR (public relations),” he said.

“Secondly, the companies doing this are seeing strong support from shareholders and investors. They’re seeing that these targets are also about efficiency and innovation. That makes a business less exposed to environmental risk, which is good for business.”

One recent example he has seen is the company IKEA, which is aiming to be climate positive by 2030 and this requires an 80 per cent cut in emissions, the UN Environment head said: “It’s a sound move as the company will have a head start in making the transition to a low carbon economy.”

“In India I was also really impressed when I visited the Infosys campus in Hyderabad. They have clear targets on waste, cooling, power consumption and overall efficiency, which make them not only commendable from the environmental perspective, but also a compelling investment.”

Favouring electric vehicles that will play a role in decarbonising of the economy, Solheim said: “We have to see the introduction of electric vehicles as part of the wider change we need to see in transport. That includes more public transport or transport-sharing solutions.”

He said the developed countries need to look at the shift not as a constraint or an obligation, but as an opportunity for greater energy security, a more inclusive economy and the lower healthcare burden that comes from tackling the causes of pollution.

“India isn’t making the change because it wants to shoulder the burden of climate action, but because it makes perfect sense from an economic perspective. That’s how more countries need to see it,” he said.

(Vishal Gulati is in San Francisco at the invitation of the Climate Trends to cover the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). He can be contacted at [email protected])

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Cities

Moderate intensity quake hits Jammu Kashmir

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Earthquake
Representative Image

Srinagar, Sep 12: An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale occurred in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, a disaster management department official said. No damage to life or property has been reported.

The moderate intensity quake was felt at 5.15 a.m. and the epicentre was located 199 km north of Kargil town in the Ladakh region, he said.

A major quake measuring 7.6 had killed over 40,000 people on both sides of the Line of Control on October 8, 2005.

IANS

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