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Powerful Storm Lashes Ireland, Killing at Least 3 People

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Ophelia Storm

One of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the northeastern Atlantic bore down on Ireland on Monday, unleashing strong winds and rain that killed at least three people and visited destruction on an island with little experience of such powerful storms.

The national weather service, Met Eireann, issued its first red alert for severe weather for the entire country Sunday night, warning of “violent and destructive gusts” and of “potential loss of life.”

By Monday afternoon, at least three people had been killed, officials said. One was a motorist in her 20s who died when a tree crashed through her windshield near the town of Aglish in County Waterford. A passenger, a woman in her 50s, was also injured.

The second fatality was a man in his 30s who died in what officials described as a chain-saw accident while removing a fallen tree near Cahir in County Tipperary. The third was a man who was hit by a falling tree while driving in the village of Ravensdale north of Dundalk near the border with Northern Ireland, the police said.

The storm, the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia, also left hundreds of thousands without power across the island. Strong winds ripped the roofs off buildings in Ireland’s largest cities, Dublin and Cork, and pushed seawater over coastal defenses in the western city of Galway.

The national police force, An Garda Siochana, said Monday afternoon that the storm would “bring further violent and destructive winds” and flooding that would endanger life and property throughout the night.

“This is a national red alert,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at a news conference on Monday. “It applies to all cities, all counties and all areas.”

Mr. Varadkar said the last time a storm this powerful had hit Ireland was in 1961 when Hurricane Debbie left 11 people dead.

Winds reached 176 kilometers, or 109 miles, an hour at Fastnet Rock, the country’s most southerly point, the weather service said Monday morning. And the storm’s impact was felt as far away as London, where the sky turned a smoky shade of orange from dust from Sahara sandstorms and wildfires in Portugal and Spain carried north by Ophelia’s powerful winds.

Ophelia, classified as a Category 3 hurricane over the weekend, was downgraded on Monday to a post-tropical cyclone by the National Hurricane Center in the United States.

Nevertheless, Met Eireann said it was the most powerful storm ever recorded this far east in the Atlantic. It was the 10th hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic storm season.

The storm churned north across Ireland on Monday and was expected to move toward Britain late Monday or early Tuesday, according to Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, which called the storm “ex-Hurricane Ophelia.”

Ophelia’s impact was already being felt in Britain. Schools were closed in Pembrokeshire in southwestern Wales, and flood warnings and alerts were issued for the northwestern and southwestern coasts of England.

It also tried to inject some humor into the situation, sharing a cartoon that depicted the island blowing off the map. “Gusty winds can move us all in mysterious ways,” it said.

Although Monday was nominally a working day, the country’s main business association, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, or Ibec, encouraged its members to allow employees to work from home if possible.

“Given the current red status weather warning and widespread issuing of public safety alerts, Ibec encourages all businesses to minimize the movement of employees tomorrow,” the group said in a statement on Sunday. “Safety should be of the utmost priority.”

Mr. Varadkar told reporters he was concerned that “people may believe that the storm isn’t going to be as bad as predicted.”

“There is a possibility that we are going to be here tomorrow relieved that the damage was less than we thought, but we can’t operate on that basis,” he said. “So I don’t want anyone to think that this is anything other than a national emergency and a red alert in all counties, all cities, all areas.”

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Disaster

Tourists raise over $11,000 for Guatemala volcano victims

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Gautemala Volcano Eruption

Guatemala City, June 16: Tourists from a Japanese cruise ship that docked in Guatemala this week have raised more than $11,000 for those affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano in the Central American country.

The ship, Asuka II, arrived in Puerto Quetzal on the country’s Pacific coast on June 11 and at the initiative of the crew and the passengers, the funds were raised, reports Efe news.

The passengers and crew made a gesture of “fraternity and solidarity” with the people of Guatemala in the face of the tragedy and natural disaster caused by the eruption of the volcano, the Japanese embassy here said in a statement on Friday.

The Fuego volcano suffered its biggest eruption in recent years on June 3, leaving 110 dead and almost 200 missing, in addition to causing significant material damage.

On Friday, the volcano produced seven explosions per hour and small pyroclastic flows.

Guatemala’s National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology said that the volcano, located some 50 km west of the capital, has been producing between five and seven moderate explosions per hour and has belched out ash clouds rising 4,700 metres into the air.

IANS

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Himachal Pradesh: Earthquake of magnitude 4.5 strikes Chamba

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breaking

New Delhi, June 14: An earthquake of magnitude 4.5 on the Richter Scale hit Himachal Pradesh on Thursday. The quake was reported at Chamba region.

WeForNews

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Guatemala volcano eruption toll reaches 114

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Gautemala Volcano Eruption

Guatemala City, June 12:  The death toll from the eruption of the Fuego volcano in Guatemala on June 3 has increased to 114 after another four bodies were found, according to authorities.

Conred national disaster coordinator brigades, firefighters, army troops and international experts – aided by surviving local residents – on Monday entered so-called “Ground Zero” in the community of San Miguel Los Lotes, in Escuintla province, which was buried under volcanic ash and devastated by pyroclastic flows, reports Efe news.

Using picks and other tools, along with some heavy machinery, recovery brigades found the four bodies in the ruins of the village and under the tonnes of volcanic material.

The victims appeared to be members of a family.

The area reeks of sulfer and recent rains have hardened the pyroclastic flows of volcanic material that have moved down the mountain’s slopes.

Authorities say there is zero possibility of finding any survivors in the devastated areas.

Conred said that because of rainy conditions, search operations were suspended on Monday but will resume on Tuesday.

Insivumeh also reported that volcanic activity within the mountain continues, including frequent and abundant emanations of ash and gas and up to nine explosions per hour, activity that is causing repeated avalanches of fine ash and other material along the southeastern flank.

Health Minister Carlos Soto said that the more than 4,000 people being housed in shelters are being attended to by private organisations such as the Rotary Club.

According to volcanologists, eruption records of Fuego, one of the country’s most active volcanoes, dates back to 1542.

IANS

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