Friday, December 16, 2011

Wildlife and beach threatened by leaked fuel after cargo ship runs aground off French Atlantic coast - 16th Dec 2011

A cargo ship on the French Atlantic coast became trapped in high winds, causing some of its 220 tons of fuel to leak towards a local beach.

The TK Bremen ran aground 100 meters from Erdeven beach in southern Brittany, northwest France on Friday morning, close to a giant nature reserve of dunes and wildlife.

The 19-member crew of the cargo ship was evacuated by helicopter, according to the local prefecture.

A statement from the prefecture of the Morbihan region said the kilmoetre-long strip of fuel from the TK Bremen was heading towards the beach.

A giant nature preserve of dunes and wildlife runs through Erdevan, one of numerous small towns on the coast that attracts tourists seeking fine wind and air.

The prefecture warned people to stay indoors as rescuers pumped fuel from the hold of the Maltese flagged ship in a bid to empty it. Read More

Japanese tsunami debris washes up on U.S. West Coast nine months after disaster (and there's 100 MILLION more tons on its way) - 16th Dec 2011

Large black floats are the first remnants of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami to begin washing up on the American coastline.

The debris traveled 4,500 miles on Pacific Ocean currents, pushed by wind and water, to reach the beaches of Neah Bay in far northwestern Washington state 280 days after the Japanese disaster.

Some 100 million tons of debris -- from wrecked fishing vessels to household furniture and even body parts -- is bearing down on the West Coast, raising environmental fears about the impact of massive amounts of wreckage clogging beaches.

The debris is even more massive and moving much faster than originally predicted. Initial projections said 5 to 20 million tons of waste would take three years to reach American shores.

Now, scientists say, 100 million tons could be here in just one year.

One float, the size of a 55-gallon drum, was found in Washington two weeks ago, another was reportedly discovered in Vancouver, Canada. Read More

Dancing Man Pushed Off Train - 15th Dec 2011



This dancing Tube passenger was unceremoniously pushed through the doors and onto the platform as the train prepares to pull away from Leytonstone, East London. A video of the hilarious incident which has sparked outrage from viewers has been posted on YouTube. The eight-minute video clip of the dancing man happily ignoring fellow passengers as he boogies to the music playing through his headphones was shot by a fellow passenger seated further along the carriage.

Hail Storm Ravages Brazil destroying Crops - 16th Dec 2011

Image: 2008 Rio Grande do Sul Hail Storm

A hailstorm last night affected several farms in southern Brazil. In the major grapevine region of Brazil, about 80% of the crop was lost in 20 minutes of hail. Fruit farms were also affected, losing the whole production of peach and other seasonal fruits.

Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina states are also the bigger tobacco producers in Brazil, and were hardly damaged. Growers from an important region had done two harvests so far, and more 4 – 5 was up to start in the next following days, but was totally damaged by the hail.

Some soybean and corn crops were also damaged in the west of Santa Catarina state, and north of RS. Those are not such expressive areas, but these regions are also suffering with drought.

Click these links to see coverage of the storm. Link 1. Link 2. Source

Antigua Honeymoon Killers Jailed for Life - 16th Dec 2011

Two men who murdered British honeymoon couple Ben and Catherine Mullany in Antigua have each been given three consecutive life sentences.

Kaniel Martin and Avie Howell were found guilty of shooting the couple in 2008, just two weeks after they had married.

More to follow...

5.0 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 16th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India Region at a depth of 60 km (37.2 miles), the quake hit at 15:47:28 UTC Friday 16th December 2011.
The epicenter was 85 km (52 miles) ESE of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Syria deploys Russian anti-sea missiles on coast, Scuds on Turkish border

Expanded Russian military and diplomatic support for the Assad regime was underscored by the deployment Friday, Dec. 16, of advanced Moscow-supplied Yakhont (SSN-26) shore-to-sea missiles along Syria's Mediterranean shore to fend off a potential Western-Turkish invasion by sea. Last week, Russia airlifted to Syria 3 million face masks against chemical and biological weapons and the Admiral Kutznetsov carrier and strike group was sent on its way to Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus.

Russian naval sources in Moscow stressed that the flotilla is armed with the most advanced weapons against submarines and aerial attack. Upon arrival, the Russian craft will launch a major marine-air maneuver in which Syrian units will take part.

Syria has received from Russia 72 Yakhont missiles able to hit marine targets up to a distance of 300 kilometers - i.e., over the horizon, our military sources report. The missile's radar remains inert, making it hard to detect, until it is close to target. It is then switched on to guide its aim.

Its high speed – 2,000 kmh – enables the Yakhont to strike before its target has time to activate self-defense systems.

Thursday night, in response to the deployment of 21 Syrian Scuds on the Turkish border, including five with chemical warheads, Ankara convened its top military council and declared its armed forces ready for war. Syria also rushed armored reinforcements to the Jordanian border.

debkafile's military and intelligence sources report that the rush of Syrian war moves backed by Russia indicates that both believe a Western-Arab force is on the point of invading Syria. They are keeping an eye especially on Turkey which is suspected of having obtained a NATO marine and air umbrella, including the US Sixth Fleet, for military preparations aimed at ousting Bashar Assad, so repeating the operation against Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. more

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 16th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the Nicobar Islands, India Region at a depth of 46.5 km (28.9 miles), the quake hit at 15:12:45 UTC Friday 16th December 2011.
The epicenter was 87 km (54 miles) ESE of Mohean, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Russian probe will plummet to Earth next month - and no one knows where it will strike - 16th Dec 2011

It’s radioactive, it’s carrying toxic fuel, it’s out of control – and it’s heading straight back to Earth at break-neck speed.

The stricken Russian probe Phobos-Ground was supposed to travel to Phobos, one of Mars’s two moons. However, its thrusters failed and it became stuck in Earth orbit.

Now the $170 million probe is heading back to Earth. It will crash between January 6 and January 19, but it’s not possible to predict where until a few days beforehand.

What’s more, one of the probe’s gauges has a small amount of radioactive Cobalt-57 and it’s carrying seven tons of toxic fuel in the form of nitrogen teroxide and hydrazine.

Experts are playing down the threat this poses, though.

Russia’s space agency says the fuel should burn up upon re-entry and the Cobalt-57 won’t pose any threat of radioactive contamination.

However, several dozen fragments with a total weight of up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) will fall on the Earth’s surface. Read More

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 16th Dec 2011

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck Oaxaca, Mexico at a depth of 18.7 km (11.6 miles), the quake hit at 13:02:24 UTC Friday 16th December 2011.
The epicenter was 177 km (109 miles) SSW of Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Comet Lovejoy survives hellish journey through the Sun – where it's a toasty 1.1millionC - 16th Dec 2011

Astronomers fully expected Comet Lovejoy to meet a fiery death – and with good reason. After all, it was about to fly through the Sun’s atmosphere where temperatures reach a staggering 1.1millionC.

But this week stargazers were astonished when the 660-foot-wide icy rock disappeared around the back side of the sun, coming within 87,000 miles of its surface, and emerged triumphantly out the other side.

This was the comet that lived.

What’s more, Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught the great escape on camera.

After the dramatic event it tweeted: ‘Breaking News! Lovejoy lives! The comet Lovejoy has survived its journey around the sun to reemerge on the other side.’ Read More


Radioactive material which was on its way to Iran seized at Moscow airport - 16th Dec 2011

Radioactive material was found in the luggage of a passenger bound for Iran - at Moscow's Sheremetvevo international airport.

Russia's Federal Customs Service made the discovery, recently but on an unspecified day, after the material triggered an alarm in the airport's radiation control system.

A search of the luggage revealed 18 pieces of radioactive metal packed in individual steel casings.

The service said that tests showed the material was a radioactive isotope which could be obtained only 'as a result of a nuclear reactor's operations'.

Radiation levels in the area were 20 times above normal. An airport customs spokesman said the material had been identified as sodium-22, which can be used in medical equipment, but gave no other details. Read More

Grounded tanker leaks oil off Brittany coast, France - 16th Dec 2011

A cargo ship ran aground and spilled oil into the sea off the coast of France's northwestern region of Brittany early on Friday as a storm battered the region, officials said.

An oil slick was reported to be floating toward the coast between the city of Lorient and the Quiberon peninsula, according to the Brest maritime authorities.

Regional authorities were preparing to deploy equipment to try and contain the slick and to empty the ship of its 180 tons of fuel and 40 tons of diesel, it said.

All 19 members of the ship's crew, which was flying the Maltese flag, were evacuated by helicopter, it said.

The storm has been battering the region of Brittany since Thursday night, with gusts of wind of up to 133 kilometres (83 miles) per hour and waves up to seven metres (yards) high.

The storm has left nearly 200,000 households without electricity and wreacked havoc on train traffic in Brittany and the Pays de la Loire region due to debris falling on tracks, according to regional authorities and the SNCF rail operator. Source

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF AISEN, CHILE - 16th Dec 2011

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck off the Coast of Aisen, Chile at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 12:54:25 UTC Friday 16th December 2011.
The epicenter was 327 km (203 miles) West of Coihaique, Aisen, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Injuries or Damage at this time

Flash flood kills 3 in Southern Philippines - 16th Dec 2011

Philippine disaster officials say at least three people have been killed in a flash flood as a late season tropical storm blew through the southern Mindanao region.

Zamboanga del Norte provincial disaster officer Dennis Tenorio said Friday that an 80-year-old woman drowned in the flooded first floor of her home on the banks of the swollen Dipolog river in Polanco township early Thursday. He says a 30-year-old man and an 8-year-old boy also drowned.

Weather bureau spokeswoman Venus Valdemoro says Tropical Storm Washi made landfall at 2:30 p.m. (06:30 GMT) Friday in Davao Oriental province's Banganga township, about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Manila.

Back-to-back typhoons in September left more than 100 people dead. Source

Race against time for Russian fishing boat after it hits iceberg in Antarctica's Ross Sea - 16th Dec 2011

Crew on board a Russian-flagged fishing boat which hit an iceberg in Antarctica's Ross Sea, are frantically trying to remove water from the vessel and repair a hole in its hull.

It could take several days before other boats reach the 708 deadweight-tonne Sparta, which is in distress after hitting an underwater iceberg.

The 23-year-old Sparta issued a distress call around 3am, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said.

A Hercules aircraft flew over Sparta today to assess ice conditions in the area. The ice was around 1.5 metres thick, RCCNZ said.

"Things are improving, but things are in a very serious situation," Andrey Kulish of San Diego's Sedna Industries Inc said.

Three vessels were heading toward the 23-year-old Sparta, but were having difficulty reaching it as there was heavy sea ice in the area, RCCNZ said.

Kulish believed the collision split a weld in the hull about 1.5 metres below the waterline. It had created a hole which flooded Sparta's biggest hold.

"We are using every pump we have and the water is starting to go down."

The crew was working to redistribute the vessel load and to repair a hole in the hull, RCCNZ said.

The 48m vessel, with 32 crew on board, had a 30cm hole in the side, 1.5 metres below the water line, RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator Ramon Davis said.

The vessel was on a 13 degree lean and was still taking on water.

"So far, the crew has managed to keep up with the ingress of water. They have also attached a tarpaulin on the outside of the hull which is helping slow the rate of water into the hold." Davis said. Read More

Over 1,000 inmates fall ill from food poisoning at Osaka Prison, Japan - 16th Dec 2011

A total of 1,074 inmates received treatment after falling ill from food poisoning at Osaka Prison in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, from Tuesday night through Wednesday, prison and local health officials said Thursday.

As the inmates began complaining of food poisoning symptoms on Tuesday night, the prison reported the matter to the health center on Wednesday morning. The inmates received treatment at the prison.

Osaka Prison holds around 2,500 male inmates and their meals are cooked in the prison's kitchen by about 40 inmates, who undergo monthly sanitary inspections.

The health center suspended the kitchen's operations for three days starting Thursday and the prison is temporarily serving preserved food for emergency use to inmates. Source

Police bust million-dollar meth labs believed to be linked to Hells Angels, Canada - 15th Dec 2011

Police specialists raided large clandestine methamphetamine labs in Vancouver and Surrey Thursday believed to be linked to the Hells Angels biker gang.

And Sgt. Bill Whalen, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said the labs had recently been operational, producing millions of dollars worth of synthetic drugs over just a few months.

Police also raided three residential properties as part of the months-long investigation by CFSEU's Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Enforcement Unit. Two men have been taken into custody and police are searching for three others, Whalen said.

More than 150 police from various forces executed the search warrants simultaneously beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday, including members of the RCMP, Vancouver Police, Municipal and RCMP Emergency Response Teams and the Clandestine Laboratories Unit.

The largest lab was found in East Vancouver in a warehouse at 2659 Lillooet Street where a company named Pharmaceuticals is based. Throughout the day Thursday, firefighters, hazard materials specialists and police remained at the scene just off East Broadway and Lillooet. Half a block was behind police tape. Read More

Metro Vancouver power outage leaves thousands in the dark - 16th Dec 2011

Nearly 7,800 BC Hydro customers were left in the dark because of a power outage in several areas throughout East Vancouver and Burnaby Thursday evening, according to reports.

Power in certain areas failed at approximately 6 p.m., according to BC Hydro.

The cause of the outage is under investigation.

The outage also affected lights, elevators and escalators at Rupert, Renfrew and Commercial-Broadway transit stations. Trains, however were not affected, according to TransLink.

Power was largely restored to affected customers by 10 p.m. Thursday, according to reports. Source

Heavy blizzard strands passengers in Xinjiang, China - 16th Dec 2011

A heavy blizzard hit Maytas fetch, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Thursday night, trapping 27 vehicles and stranding 135 passengers, the local road bureau said.

The blizzard blocked the road as of 7:20 p.m., and visibility in the fetch was less than 2 meters, causing difficulty for traffic.

On receiving emergency calls,the Maytas rescue base has sent snowmobiles, snowploughs and other emergency rescue vehicles for help,according to a watch-keeper at the base.

After two and a half hours of rescue efforts, all the stranded passengers and vehicles are now safe. But the road section of Maytas is still closed for safety reasons. Source