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Powerful Storm Lashes Ireland, Killing at Least 3 People



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.”


Mount Sinabung volcano erupts, spewing a 5,000-metre ash into sky



Jakarta, Feb 19: The Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island erupted on Monday, spewing columns of ash as high as five km into the sky. 

Head of National Volcanology Agency Kasbani stated the hot ash slides were 4.9 km to the southeast of the crater and 3.5 km to the east.

“This is the highest eruption for this year,” he told Xinhua news agency.

However, Kasbani said the ash from the volcano does not disturb flights.

“The ash does not head to Medan city and compounds of Kualanamu international airport,” he further added.

Mount Sinabung volcano had been quiet for four centuries before erupting in 2010. The volcano had also erupted in 2014 and 2016.


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Major 7.5 magnitude earthquake hits Mexico



Mexico eathquake
People react after an earthquake shook buildings in Mexico City, Mexico on February 16, 2018. (PC- Reuters)

Mexico City, Feb 17: A powerful earthquake shook southern Mexico on Saturday as people fled out of buildings in capital Mexico City when the ground was shaking.

According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was measured 7.5 on the Richter scale 4 km south of Pinotepa de Don Luis with the epicenter at a depth of 10 km, Xinhua reported.

Strong tremors were felt in Mexico City and quake alarms were triggered in the city.

In a major street near the capital’s Chinatown, the traffic was temporarily halted as crowds of people are gathering outside, checking updates about the earthquake through cellphones.


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Six people confirmed dead in 6.5-magnitude Taiwan earthquake

A power outage affected 1,900 households and 40,000 households are without water, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center.




A strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted waters near Taiwan’s east coast on Tuesday night, killing at least six people and injuring over 200.

The death toll stood at six as of 8:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday with at least 258 others injured in the strong, 6.5-magnitude earthquake, Taiwan’s emergency operation center said in a statement.

The statement said 67 people were still unaccounted for.

The head of Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital said that six injured tourists from the Chinese mainland are being treated in the hospital, one of whom suffered a severe foot injury while the other is in critical condition.

Local media said that a 45-year-old woman from the Chinese mainland, who was seriously injured in the earthquake, died at 9:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday. However, authorities have yet to confirm the news.

After the earthquake, Director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Zhijun had a telephone conversation with the head of Hualien, promising to provide emergency assistance and rescue teams.

An emergency response mechanism has also been initiated by the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC), the earthquake struck waters near Hualien County at around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday at a depth of 11 kilometers.

Photos and videos circulating on social media show collapsed buildings, tilted structures and damaged roads and bridges.

Local media said four buildings including the Marshal Hotel, Yun Tsui building and two residential buildings were among the damaged structures.

The earthquake was followed by a series of aftershocks including several measuring over 5-magnitude.

VCG Photo

A power outage affected 1,900 households and 40,000 households are without water, according to Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operation Center.

About 40 roads have been damaged and two bridges, including Qixing Tan, sealed off.

Train service to the city center is still available in Hualien but at a slower speed, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Source : CGTN

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