Friday, April 29, 2011

Rescue efforts transition to recovery in hard-hit Alabama

Hopes of finding trapped survivors dwindled Friday evening in Alabama, the epicenter of storms that obliterated neighborhoods and towns and claimed scores of lives across the South. Gov. Robert Bentley, speaking in Birmingham, said the long road to recovery will now begin. "We've gotten past the rescue stage," Bentley said. "We have begun the recovery stage."

Earlier Friday, President Barack Obama toured rubble-strewn neighborhoods in Tuscaloosa, declaring the devastation brought by a series of powerful storms and tornadoes was beyond anything he had ever seen. The storms killed at least 326 people in six states and left entire neighborhoods in ruins. Obama promised expedited federal aid to states affected by the tornadoes.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

U.S. violent storms killed more than 250 lives

Tornadoes caused huge disaster across the southern U.S and killing more than 250 people. Reports state that this particular tornado is likely to be the deadliest outbreak in the US since 1974 when 307 were killed. Alabama took the heaviest losses in that event as well, with 77 casualties. More than 250 tornadoes touched down across the South between April 25 and 27 which has been reported by weather channel.

The worst- hit areas are Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. States of emergency have been declared in those areas and governors called out the National Guard to help with rescue and cleanup operations. A few days before Northern Arkansas and St. Louis, Missouri, were also affected with southern Missouri also dealing with significant flooding after a breached levee.

The storms also were destructive in the Griffin/Barnesville area. One couple who attended the Griffin First Church of the Nazarene was killed and their family members were injured and hospitalized with some undergoing surgery Thursday morning. In Alabama, the 90,000-strong city of Tuscaloosa was hit hardest, with at least 37 people killed, including some students, authorities said.

A nuclear plant in Alabama lost power because of the severe weather. The agency said in a statement that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is monitoring the situation at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant after the site lost offsite power early Wednesday evening due to severe storms that damaged power lines in the area. The disastrous storms have caused widespread power shortage, with approximately one million customers without electricity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Indonesia Earthquakes Kill 3, Cause Panic

A series of powerful earthquakes rattled Indonesia on Wednesday, killing three people, triggering landslides and demolishing dozens of homes. A tsunami warning sent panicked residents fleeing buildings to high ground. The 7.0 magnitude quake was centered 18 miles beneath the ocean floor and 125 miles off the northern coast of Papua province, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was accompanied by a series of strong aftershocks, the highest measuring 6.4.

More than 20 houses collapsed in Serui, a town in Yapen district, sparking fires in at least seven places, said police spokesman Lt. Col. Wachjono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Two bodies were pulled from beneath the rubble. "Police and rescuers are still searching for other victims in remote areas," he said. Hundreds of people ran out of their homes, said Yan Pieter Yarangga, a resident from the town of Biak. Fearing a tsunami, people fled beaches and some raced for high ground. "I ran too, I was afraid there would be a second quake," he said.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Japan launches massive search for missing tsunami victims

Some 25,000 Japanese troops are fanning out on the wreckage-strewn northeastern coast Monday in a massive search for thousands of bodies still missing from last month's earthquake and tsunami. Backed by dozens of boats and aircraft, the soldiers are scouring the region for remains swept to sea or buried under masses of rubble.

The operation is the third intensive military search for bodies since the disaster that killed up to 26,000 people. Some 12,000 remain missing and are believed dead. Monday's search is an all-out effort to recover any remains for their families. The soldiers are combing through the rubble and navy boats and divers are searching the waters up to 12 miles (20 kilometers) off the coast.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Japan approves $45bn quake Budget

JAPAN says it will extend an evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, while announcing a $A45 billion reconstruction budget for areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. It is the first special Budget approved by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's cabinet since the March 11 twin disasters in northeast Japan.

The Budget, announced today, will cover restoration work such as clearing massive amounts of rubble and building temporary housing for thousands of homeless people. The Government says it is also planning to widen the evacuation zone around the nuclear plant, which has been leaking radiation since being severely damaged by the magnitude 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami.

The Government said today, six weeks after the country's worst post-war disaster, it would extend the evacuation zone to areas beyond the 20-kilometre no-go zone where radiation levels had been rising.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chopper crashes in Arunachal, 17 feared dead

Seventeen persons were feared killed when a Pawans Hans helicopter with 23 people on board caught fire and crashed into a gorge while landing in Tawang town in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday. Tawang District Commissioner G Padu said 17 of those on board were 'presumed dead', while six were rescued. The helicopter, which had taken off from Guwahati at 1315 hrs, crashed near the helipad on a hilltop in Tawang town falling from a height of 15 metre into the gorge, Pawan Hans sources said. The helicopter had 18 passengers on board, including two children. The five-member crew included Captain Barun Gupta and Captain Tiwari.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Robots report high radiation levels in damaged reactors

Remote-controlled robots and workers controlling them have recorded high levels of radiation inside and around two reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, safety officials said Monday.

The U.S.-built robot probes measured radiation doses as high as 57 millisieverts inside the housing for reactor No. 3 and up to 49 millisieverts inside the No. 1 reactor building, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported. Levels found between the double doors of the airlocks of the reactor buildings were much higher -- 270 millisieverts in the case of reactor No. 1 and 170 millsieverts in No. 3, the agency said.

By comparison, the average resident of an industrialized country receives a dose of about 3 millisieverts per year. Emergency standards for plant workers battling the month-old nuclear disaster limit their annual exposure to 250 millisieverts, while a CT scan produces just under 7 and a chest X-ray delivers a one-time dose of about .05 millisieverts.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Strong quake shakes buildings in Japan’s capital

A strong earthquake of magnitude 5.8 hit central Japan on Saturday morning, according to the US Geological Survey. The quake, which shook buildings in Tokyo, struck at 11:19 am (0219 GMT), 83 kilometres (52 miles) north of the capital and at a depth of 20 kilometres, the USGS said.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the tremor did not disrupt the emergency crews who are working around the clock to cool crippled reactors at a nuclear plant hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami last month. That earthquake - the biggest ever recorded in Japan -- struck on March 11, triggering a huge tsunami and leaving 13,591 people dead, with another 14,497 still unaccounted for.

Tens of thousands of people lost their homes, while many others were forced to evacuate after a series of explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant sent radiation spewing into the air.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mohandas Pai, Infosys Technologies' HR director resigns from board

Infosys' director incharge, Human Resource and Administration, Mohandas Pai resigned on Friday from the board of the company with effect from June 11, 2011. Infosys' board of directors will meet on April 30 to finalise plans for the company's leadership as chairman NR Narayan Murthy retires in August 2011.

Former Microsoft India head, Ravi Venkatesan was appointed as additional director on the board. In the middle of its biggest management transition ever since Infosys was founded, the company is aiming for a larger share of revenue from retail, banking and healthcare customers by shifting the roles of leaders handling multiple business units.

Pai had been in a finance role as Chief Financial Officer of Infosys since 1994, and later took responsibility for the critical functions of human resources and education. He is also a well-known public face and has been part of various committees such as the Kelkar committee for reforming direct taxes and is currently on the SEBI board.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Japan nuclear disaster tops scale

Japan's prime minister vowed to wind down the month-long crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant "at all costs" Tuesday after his government officially designated the situation there a Chernobyl-level nuclear accident.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he wants the plant's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, to produce a timetable for bringing the disaster to an end, "and they will be doing that soon." And a day after his government warned that thousands more people would need to be evacuated from the surrounding region, he pledged to provide jobs, housing and education for those uprooted by the accident.

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Fresh nuclear fears hit Asian shares

Asian shares slid on Tuesday as Japanese stocks were hit by renewed concerns over Japan’s nuclear crisis while an IMF report on the global economy sent commodity prices lower, affecting resource stocks in the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific index fell 0.6 per cent, the most in a week, after Japan raised its assessment of the Fukushima nuclear accident to the most serious level on a seven-step international scale, equivalent to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Tokyo expanded the evacuation zone in the north-eastern part of the country after powerful aftershocks sparked renewed anxiety one month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 13,000 people and caused widespread damage. The Nikkei 225 average was trading 1.1 per cent lower and Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the crippled Fukushima plant, tumbled 6.8 per cent. Sony was off 2.5 per cent and Toyota Motor was down 1.5 per cent. Tohoku Electric Power dropped 2.6 per cent after power was cut in some areas following the magnitude 7.1 aftershock on Monday.

In Sydney, materials and energy producers lost ground amid concerns that higher oil prices might dampen economic growth. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.6 per cent. Alumina fell 2.5 per cent and BHP Billiton retreated 1.2 per cent after recent gains while Fortescue Metals lost 1.3 per cent. But Westpac Banking advanced 1 per cent after the Australian Financial Review reported that the bank was planning to bid for British asset manager Henderson Group.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Magnitude 6.6-quake jolts Japan coast

Fires burned in northeastern Japan Monday evening after a powerful earthquake rattled the region, sending a landslide into Iwaki City, authorities said. A preliminary estimate put the quake's magnitude at 7.1, which was later lowered to 6.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A series of smaller quakes continued to shake the region. Residents in Tokyo also felt the jolts. A tsunami warning issued by Japan's Meteorological Agency was later canceled.

Monday's initial quake was centered about 164 kilometers (101 miles) northeast of Tokyo, or about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Workers at the plant were asked to evacuate for a time, but later returned to resume their efforts to cool the troubled nuclear facility. The Tohoku Electric Power Company said 220,000 households and businesses in Fukushima were without power after Monday's quake, which came a month after a deadly magnitude-9 quake and tsunami devastated the island nation.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Japan set to extend nuclear evacuation zone

Japan plans to extend the evacuation zone around its crippled nuclear plant because of high radiation levels, local media reported Monday, with engineers no closer to regaining control of six reactors hit by a giant tsunami one month ago. Concern at Japan's inability contain its nuclear crisis, caused by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is mounting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan's ruling party suffering embarrassing losses in local elections Sunday and neighboring China and South Korea voicing criticism. Engineers at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo said Sunday they were no closer to restoring the plant's cooling system which is critical if overheated fuel rods are to be cooled and the six reactors brought under control. They are hoping to stop pumping radioactive water into the ocean Monday, days later than planned.

Four weeks after the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl quarter of a century ago, the government was moving to extend a 20 km evacuation zone due to high levels of radiation, the Asahi newspaper reported. The government has so far refused to widen the zone, despite being urged to by the International Atomic Energy Agency and countries like the United States and Australia advising its citizens to stay 80 kms away from the plant.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

South Korea schools shut over radioactive rain

Many South Korean schools have cancelled classes as officials scrambled to quell fears that rain contained radioactive material from Japan's stricken nuclear plant. More than 130 primary schools and kindergartens in Gyeonggi province surrounding the capital Seoul cancelled or cut classes today after rain began falling on orders from the provincial education office. An office spokesman called it part of "preemptive measures for the safety of students". The office had told schools on Wednesday to cancel or shorten classes due to "growing anxiety among students and parents over conflicting claims on the safety of radiation exposure". Schools in remote areas, where students have a long walk to class, were particularly encouraged to cancel activities. At schools which stayed open, teachers were advised to suspend outdoor activities.

Complaints from parents mounted on the website of Seoul city's education office, which refused to cancel classes and called for a calm response to the fears. "Please order class cancellation. I'm worried to death about my kid and can't sleep," said one posting. Education authorities in North Chungcheong province south of Gyeonggi postponed football, baseball and other sporting events. Concern grew in the nation closest to Japan after the weather agency said on Monday that radioactive material from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may be carried to the peninsula by south-easterly winds. The amount of radioactive material contained in the rainfall is too tiny to pose any health threat, the prime minister's office said today, calling for education offices to refrain from "making parents nervous".

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Air Force to cut 22 general officer jobs

The Air Force will lose 22 general officer billets and will have eight of its top scientist positions downgraded as part of wide-ranging cuts by the Pentagon aimed at shrinking the size of the military budget. A 48-page memo written by Defense Secretary Robert Gates provides further detail in his drive to free up $178 billion over the next five years.In the memo, dated March 14 but not yet publicly released, Gates lists an array of cost-cutting measures — from reforming the intelligence budget to slashing 1,000 contractors over two years from the Missile Defense Agency. The Air Force issued a statement declaring its support for “efficiency efforts.”

“This review was part of a comprehensive review of Service, [Office of Secretary of Defense], Defense Agencies, and Combatant Command staffs,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Vician said. “It built upon previous initiatives, and demonstrates commitment to proper stewardship of the mission and resources entrusted to the Air Force. A reduction or elimination doesn’t signify less emphasis on the affected organization’s mission or importance to the Air Force.”

Monday, April 04, 2011

U.S. to stop using strike aircraft as fighting in Libya rages on

The use of U.S. strike aircraft in Libya is set to expire Monday as uncertainty lingers about whether Western allies will arm opposition members trying to oust Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Over the weekend, fierce destruction permeated the city of Misrata, which has been choked off by pro-Gadhafi forces surrounding the city. "We need a lot of help in Misrata. There's so much death there," said Mustafa Abdul Hamali, a 46-year-old taxi driver who lost half of a leg. "I was driving in my car with my wife, and my car just blew up. I don't know what happened." Khalid Moteridi, a 32-year-old businessman-turned-rebel fighter, said the situation in Libya's third-largest city has turned dire.

"It¹s a tragedy by all means," he said. "No electricity, no food, no water. We¹re trapped from all sides by the Gadhafi forces." A doctor in Misrata told CNN government forces shelled a clinic, leaving one dead and 15 injured on Sunday. Last week, a hospital official said 398 people have been killed since the Libyan conflict began last month. He feared there were more deaths that his hospital didn't know about. Some rebels from Misrata got a bit of a reprieve Sunday, when a Turkish hospital ship picked up more than 300 of the wounded fighters. Their injuries included amputated limbs, broken bones and shrapnel wounds.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

6.7-magnitude quake strikes off Indonesia

Indonesia-Apr 4: Hundreds of residents fled an Indonesian port town for higher ground today when an earthquake struck south of Java with a magnitude estimated by US seismologists at 6.7. The epicentre in the Indian Ocean was 24 km miles deep, the US Geological Survey said, after initially estimating it at 10 km underground, and 277 kilometres south of the Javanese coast. Indonesian seismologists put the magnitude at 7.1 and issued a tsunami warning, saying the tremor had the potential to cause a killer wave and asking recipients of its public alert SMS to warn others of the danger. The warning was later cancelled. When the quake struck hundreds of residents in the seaport town of Cilacap fled inland and to higher ground by motorbike, car and on foot, an AFP reporter said. "They were all panicking and shouting ''quake, quake''," the reporter said. Suharjono, the technical head of Indonesia''s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said shaking from the tremor had been felt in Pangandaran and Cilacap districts in Java. "This quake roused people from their sleep," he said. "We have not received any reports of damage or casualties so far." The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had said that there was no risk of a widespread destructive wave, but there was a "very small possibility of a local tsunami". The earthquake epicentre was 241 km from the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island, and seismologists said the tremor was felt there, but no tsunami warning alert was issued for Australia. "We had reports from there that they felt it," Geoscience Australia seismologist David Jepson told AFP, adding that it was described as a "moderate type quake".