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Posts Tagged ‘Fires’

High alert as N.Korea fires artillery on South

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:50 am

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing one person and triggering an exchange of fire as southern armed forces went on their highest state of alert.

In what appeared to be one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 war, South Korea’s government convened in an underground war room and air force jets were reportedly scrambled to the Yellow Sea island.

South Korean marines are seen during a drill on Yeonpyeong island in the disputed Yellow Sea. AFP

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.

Some 50 North Korean shells landed on the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong near the tense Yellow Sea border, damaging dozens of houses and sending plumes of thick smoke into the air, YTN television reported.

One South Korean Marine — part of a contingent based permanently on Yeonpyeong island — was killed, the military said.

The military said 13 Marines were injured and YTN said two civilians were also hurt.

“A North Korean artillery unit staged an illegal firing provocation at 2:34 pm (0534 GMT) and South Korean troops fired back immediately in self-defence,” a ministry spokesman told AFP.

“A Class-A military alert issued for battle situations has been imposed immediately,” the spokesman said.

One island resident, Lee Jong-Sik, told YTN: “At least 10 houses are burning. I can’t see clearly for the smoke. The hillsides are also on fire.

“We were told by loudspeakers to flee our homes.”

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by United Nations forces after the inconclusive war six decades ago, but north of the sea border declared by Pyongyang.

The Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and last November.

Tensions have been acute since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which Seoul says was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack. Pyongyang has angrily rejected the charge.

In late October, North and South Korean troops exchanged fire across their Cold War border, coinciding with a state of high alert for the South’s military in the buildup to the G20 summit of world leaders in Seoul earlier this month.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak convened an emergency security meeting in response to the latest incident, a presidential spokesman said.

“He is now in an underground war room to discuss possible responses with ministers of related agencies and national security advisers,” the spokesman told AFP.

Lee urged the officials to “handle it (the situation) well to prevent further escalation”, the spokesman said.

The firing comes after Kim Jong-Un, the little-known youngest son of Kim Jong-Il, was officially recognised as number two in North Korea’s political system, clouding outsiders’ view of its military and nuclear intentions.

The new crisis erupted as a US special envoy headed to China Tuesday to seek its help in curbing North Korea’s new nuclear project, revealed to US experts who described a sophisticated programme to enrich uranium.

Stephen Bosworth has also visited South Korea and Japan this week to discuss the disclosure, which US officials say would allow the isolated North to build new atomic bombs.

Bosworth, speaking in Tokyo, ruled out a resumption of stalled six-nation talks — aimed at disarming the North of nuclear weaponry in return for aid and other concessions — while work continues on the enrichment programme.

China chairs the talks and is also the North’s sole major ally and economic prop. It has come under pressure to play a leading role in resolving the latest nuclear dispute.

China appealed for the six-party talks to resume after the new revelations, and expressed concern over Tuesday’s cross-border firing.

“We have taken note of the relevant report and we express concern over the situation,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

“We hope the relevant parties do more to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” he said. Russia also warned against an escalation of tensions on the peninsula.

Source: SGGP

US aid arrives as Russia says no nuclear risk from fires

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

The first planeloads of US aid for the Russian wildfire tragedy arrived in Moscow on Saturday as officials said a fire raging close to a top nuclear facility did not risk causing an atomic catastrophe.

Officials said that nationwide the area alight with fires was almost a quarter that of a week ago, although there appeared to be little progress in reducing the size of the blaze close to Russia’s main nuclear research centre in Sarov.

Two US Air Force C-130 planes carrying aid for Russia touched down early Saturday at a Moscow airport, followed by a charter flight from California ordered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, state television and the foreign ministry said.

Two additional C-130 flights were expected in the “next days”, the Russian foreign ministry said. Another charter was also due in the coming week.

A Russian man attempts to put out a blaze some 155 kms south of Moscow in Shatura on August 13.

“We will always remember this gesture, this arm that was extended to us at a very difficult time,” the deputy head of the international department of the Russian emergencies ministry, Valery Shuikov, said at the Vnukovo airport.

According to the US State Department, the total value of the support from Russia’s Cold War-era ex-foe is around 4.5 million dollars.

The emergencies ministry said there were still 480 fires in Russia covering an area of 56,000 hectares (138,500 acres), a quarter of the area of almost 200,000 hectares (495,000 acres) reported at the peak of the crisis and down around 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) from Friday.

“At the current moment the situation with the wildfires has improved considerably,” said Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu in a statement on the ministry’s website.

“The weather has not helped us. Everything has been done by the emergency services, the interior ministry, the defence ministry and volunteers.”

Along with Sarov, fires have also raged close to another research centre in the town of Snezhensk and the Mayak nuclear reprocessing site, both in the Urals, but the authorities appear to have controlled those fires.

“There are no threats from the forest fires to potentially dangerous sites. Potentially dangerous sites are reliably protected,” said Shoigu.

The head of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, told reporters that the fire that has been menacing the Sarov centre, 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of Moscow, for the past two weeks does not risk causing a nuclear disaster.

“We can say today for sure that there is no nuclear risk, no radioactive threat and that there is not even an ecological threat on Sarov territory,” Kiriyenko told Russian media.

“We pushed back an attack from the west side two weeks ago. Now the fire is coming from the east… and it continues to burn. Nevertheless, the situation on the eastern side has ceased to be critical,” he said.

Kiriyenko said radioactive and explosive materials had been removed a second time from the Sarov centre because of the threat of the flames, which approached the perimetre of the installation on Friday before being brought turned back.

The Mordovia region emergencies ministry said the fire in a neighbouring nature reserve that threatens Sarov, a town still closed to foreigners as in Soviet times, covers 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) and is still not under control.

Thousands of firefighters have been sent to the reserve to put out the flames.

Kiriyenko said that if the winds shift the Sarov centre could come under threat once again from the fires in the nature reserve.

“Until (the fires are) put out there, Sarov remains at risk,” he said.

The fires have been sparked by the worst heatwave in Russia’s history, which destroyed one-quarter of its crops and last week blanketed Moscow in a toxic smog that has raised major concern for public health.

There have also been fears the fires could stir up particles on land in western Russia still contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster but officials have said radiation is normal throughout the country.

Source: SGGP

Russia forest fires spread in record heatwave

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

Russian firefighters battled the flames of spreading forest fires that have already killed 34 people and devastated villages, but officials claimed some success in controlling the disaster.

The emergency situations ministry said it deployed hundreds of thousands of workers to fight the blazes, along with 2,000 members of the armed forces, as the situation worsened early Sunday due to temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and strong winds.

More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, the ministry said.

But later in the day, ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova announced that the situation had “improved considerably” in the last few hours.

“During the day today, fires flared up at 320 sites, and 210 have been put out,” she said on Rossia 24 television.

 A Russian man watches forest fires burn in Beloomut late on August 1, 2010.

She also said the total area engulfed by the wildfires had been reduced by 7,000 hectares to about 128,000 hectares (316,000 acres).

Still, with blistering temperatures forecast over the next few days as the country faces one of its worst heatwaves, the ministry has warned of an “extreme risk” of more forest fires.

Two more bodies were discovered Sunday in a burnt-out village in the Nizhny Novgorod region, the emergency ministry’s regional branch said, raising the official death toll to 30.

In the Voronezh region, one of those worst-hit, almost 600 people have been left homeless, Russian television reported, showing residents evacuated to a hotel and volunteers bringing bags of clothes.

“There has never been a fire like this,” fireman Maxim Korolyov told AFP in the village of Maslovka, where all but five of the 150 houses burnt down on Friday. “It’s the first time I have had to fight a fire of this size.

Elderly resident Vera Sakharova complained that firefighters had come too late. “We did not have any help,” she told AFP. “We had to do everything ourselves.”

Sceptical of promises of state help, Sakharova predicted: “They have given us nothing, and they won’t give us anything.”

“I don’t know what we are going to do after this,” she added.

At least 1,875 houses have been destroyed in fires, leaving more than 2,000 people homeless, the regional development ministry said Sunday.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised on television on Saturday that all the houses would be rebuilt by October, after allocating five billion rubles (165 million dollars).

The strongman leader on Friday visited a village in the worst affected Nizhny Novgorod region. In a televised encounter, tearful residents confronted Putin, who promised to rebuild their homes and embraced one of the women.

However, a video posted on YouTube showed Putin being heckled by a crowd of shouting residents.

“You aren’t doing anything, everything is burning,” one woman can be heard shouting in the footage, which has been viewed more than 30,000 times but was not shown on state television.

“Our administration is working very badly, it needs to be convicted,” another woman shouts, as Putin is shown turning and walking away.

On Saturday Putin admitted the situation was “extremely tense” and berated officials for their tardy response, saying: “Not everything was done in a timely way, but now is not the time to squabble.”

Putin is set to meet with the governors of the affected regions in Moscow on Monday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking from Sochi on Saturday, called the situation a “natural disaster of the kind that probably only happens every 30 or 40 years.”

Medvedev did not visit the scene, but is in constant contact with regional governors, his press service told the ITAR-TASS news agency on Sunday.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, on Sunday held a service in the Nizhny Novgorod region and called for believers to pray for rain, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Source: SGGP

Death toll climbs as Russia forest fires spread

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

MOSCOW (AFP) – Firefighters on Sunday fought an uphill battle against spreading forest fires that have already killed 30 people, destroyed thousands of homes and mobilised hundreds of thousands of emergency workers.

The emergency ministry said Sunday that forest fires had engulfed more than 114,000 hectares across Russia. It mobilised almost 240,000 emergency workers to fight the blazes, along with 2,000 members of the armed forces.

Fires in the sparsely populated Far Eastern region grew three times in size over the last 24 hours, with the remote Kamchatka peninsula being hardest hit, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported Sunday, citing the region’s forestry department.

Grass burns in the village of Beloomut caught in a deep smoke. AFP

The emergency situations ministry gave a death toll of 28 on Saturday, including seven in the Moscow region.

Two more bodies were found Sunday in a burnt-out village in the Nizhny Novgorod region, the regional emergency ministry said, raising the official death toll to 30.

Nizhny Novgorod emergency services said Sunday that the firefighters had managed to stop fires spreading further overnight.

In the Voronezh region, one of those worst-hit, almost 600 people have been left homeless, Russian television reported, showing residents evacuated to a hotel and bags of clothes brought by volunteers.

Local resident Galina Shibanova told of escaping from her home, where she lived with seven members of her family, and moving to a cramped hotel with 148 other residents.

“It was impossible to go out into the street,” Shibanova said in an interview on television. “There was a lot of smoke and the children were choking. We covered their mouths with cloths and handkerchiefs and quickly put them in the car.”

“There has never been a fire like this,” fireman Maxim Korolyov told AFP in the village of Maslovka, where all but five of the 150 houses burnt down on Friday. “It’s the first time that I have had to fight a fire of this size.

An elderly resident, Vera Sakharova, complained that firefighters had come too late. “We did not have any help,” she said. “We had to do everything ourselves.”

Sceptical of promises of state help, Sakharova predicted: “They have given us nothing, and they won’t give us anything.”

“I don’t know what we are going to do after this,” she said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday visited a village in the Nizhny Novgorod region where more than 300 houses burnt down, leaving more than 500 homeless. Angry residents confronted the strongman leader, who promised to rebuild their homes and embraced one tearful woman.

Putin said on television on Saturday that 1,257 houses had burned down across Russia and promised that they would all be rebuilt by October, after allocating a total of five billion roubles (165 million dollars).

Speaking via video link with regional governors, Putin called the situation “extremely tense” and berated officials for their tardy response, saying: “Not everything was done in a timely way, but now is not the time to squabbling.”

In an earlier broadcast from Sochi Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the situation a “natural disaster of the kind that probably only happens every 30 or 40 years.”

The fires unleashed by one of Russia’s worst heatwave have devastated the regions in the centre and the Volga river basin, to the east and southeast of Moscow.

Temperatures were forecast to hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next few days in affected regions, with the emergency ministry warning of an “extreme risk” of more forest fires.

Source: SGGP

Mekong Delta fires under control

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

Firefighters have stamped out a bush fire that engulfed 60 hectares of jungle in Dong Thap Province’s U Minh Ha Forest.

Firefighters extinguish fire in U Minh Ha Forest, which has suffered from the biggest fire this dry season.(Photo:VNA)

Since the dry season began in December, 18 fires have broken out in U Minh Ha, destroying 100 hectares of forest. The most recent was extinguished May 4.

According to the forest management team, the main cause was that people commonly burn bees’ nests in the forest to cultivate honey.

Forests in the Mekong Delta are facing a heightened risk of fires due to hot weather and tinder-dry conditions, said the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecast.

Forest management has ordered local authorities to cooperate with forest watch teams, police and local residents who have been put on duty in high-risk areas.

Residents have also been forbidden to light fires in the forest.

In related news, it rained in many areas of the Mekong Delta on May 4, helping to refresh paddies and pushing seawater from the fields.

The heavy rain saved tens thousands of hectares of the summer-spring rice crop and supplied water to thirsty residents in Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Hau Giang and Bac Lieu provinces.

Experts said that the rain meant that seawater would not penetrate Hau Giang Province until the middle of May.

The Tien Giang Province People’s Committee plans to open a drainage system to supply water to rice fields as well as to supply water for production by May 15.

Source: SGGP

Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Eight provinces at high risk of forest fires

QĐND – Monday, May 03, 2010, 20:46 (GMT+7)


Many areas in the central highlands and southern regions have suffered severe droughts that could lead to forest fires breaking out.

These areas are mainly in the eight provinces of Kon Tum, An Giang, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Quang Ngai, Quang Nam and Ca Mau.

The National Steering Committee for the Prevention of Forest Fires has urged People’s Committees at all levels to introduce tough measures to prevent forest fire and ensure rescue services.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

Multiple forest fires break out across Vietnam

In Politics-Society on March 8, 2010 at 2:37 am

Multiple forest fires break out across Vietnam

QĐND – Friday, March 05, 2010, 21:14 (GMT+7)

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests nationwide are subject to the highest fire alert during this prolonged period of dry weather, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported on March 4.

According to satellite pictures, there were approximately 176 ongoing fires and forest fires on the afternoon of March 4. The highest alert level is now applied in 19 provinces and cities, including Ca Mau, An Giang, Dong Nai, Kien Giang, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Nghe An, Quang Ngai, Hoa Binh, Cao Bang, Lang Son and Yen Bai, reported Ha Cong Tuan, head of the ministry’s Forest Management Department.

The fire in Ta Xua nature reserve, Son La Province, has not been stamped out and may spread to neighboring forests in Yen Bai province.

U Minh Ha National Park demonstrates the seriousness of these fire risks. More than 36,000 ha of forests in the park were at their highest fire alerts after two small fires took place in recent days due to slash and burn farming, claimed Le Van Hai, deputy head of the Ca Mau Forest Management Department.

The ministry urged preventive measures to combat forest fires by entrusting more people to patrol the forests regularly, providing more modern fire prevention equipment and planning to combat fires when they break out.

The Vietnam Environment and Hydrometeorology Science Institute said that the El Nino weather was forecast to last through May, so high temperatures and droughts will continue.

Source: VNN

Source: QDND

PM requests drastic measures against forest fires

In Politics-Society on March 8, 2010 at 2:35 am

PM requests drastic measures against forest fires

QĐND – Saturday, March 06, 2010, 20:34 (GMT+7)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked ministries, branches and localities to take drastic measures to prevent forest fires and their spread to protect forest resources and the natural environment.

A PM dispatch to ministries, branches and localities on March said the prolonged dry spell has impacted many localities, especially the northern mountain, central, Central Highlands and Mekong Delta regions, resulting in major fires in several areas.

The PM asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Steering Committee for Forest Protection, Fire Prevention and Control are to take responsibility for arranging fire watches to spot blazes and extinguish them promptly to prevent their expansion to primeval forests and natural preserves.

The National Committee for Search and Rescue and the Defence Ministry were asked to provide more forces to help the northern mountainous province of Son La to extinguish fires in the Ta Sua wildlife reserve and in areas bordering Son La and Yen Bai provinces.

The steering committee for forest protection, fire prevention and control will cooperate with the Defence Ministry to provide emergency care and rescue and to ensure communications for fire fighters in Son La and Lai Chau provinces as well as other large-scale fire areas.

Local authorities at all levels will take responsibility in helping to raise people’s awareness on forest protection and fire prevention and control and ask them not to burn land for cultivation in dry season, which is said to be the main reason for forest fires.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications group under the Ministry of Information and Communications has been asked to ensure communications for the direction of the implementation of fire prevention and control in Son La, Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Provinces on “red alert” for forest fires

In Politics-Society on March 3, 2010 at 3:35 am

Provinces on “red alert” for forest fires

QĐND – Tuesday, March 02, 2010, 22:27 (GMT+7)

Prolonged dry spell has already raised forest fire risks to extremely high levels in 34 provinces throughout the country, officials have said.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Forest Management Department lifted the fire risk to Level 5 – the highest – in 13 provinces that have seen little rainfall, high temperatures and low humidity during the past days.

Twenty-one other provinces have also been warned about the high risk of forest fires, at Level 4, the department said.

The department on March 1 detected dozens of fires across the country and asked local forest managers to examine whether they were forest blazes or residents’ slash-and-burn farming.

Also on March 1, the steering committee for forest protection, fire prevention and control dispatched an urgent note to People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities to instruct their forest management branches to keep a close watch on fire-prone forests and stamp out any blaze to curb its wide spread.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

Iran test fires short-range missiles

In World on September 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Iran said it successfully test fired short-range missiles during drills Sunday by the elite Revolutionary Guard, a show of force days after the U.S. and its allies condemned Tehran over a newly revealed underground nuclear facility that was being constructed secretly.

English-language Press TV reported that the solid-fuel Fateh-110, Tondar-69 and Zelzal missiles were test fired, but did not give specifics on range or other details. Both are short-range, surface-to-surface missiles.

Gen. Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, told reporters Iran tested for the first time a multiple missile launcher. Press TV showed pictures of at least two missiles being fired simultaneously and said they were from the latest drill.

Salami said the missile tests and military drills were meant to show Iran’s strong resolve to defend its national values. The Revolutionary Guard controls Iran’s missile program.

The tests came two days after Western intelligence officials and diplomats disclosed that Iran had been secretly developing a previously unknown underground uranium enrichment facility. The site in the arid mountains near the holy city of Qom is believed to be inside a heavily guarded, underground facility belonging to the Revolutionary Guard, according to a document sent by President Barack Obama’s administration to lawmakers.

After strong condemnations from the U.S. and its allies, and a demand to open the site to international scrutiny, Iran said Saturday it will allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine the site.

Nuclear experts said the details that have emerged about the site and the fact it was being developed secretly are strong indications that Iran’s nuclear program is not only for peaceful purposes, as the country has long maintained.

Iran has had the solid-fuel Fateh missile, with a range of 120 miles (193 kilometers), for several years. It also has the solid-fueled, Chinese-made CSS 8, also called the Tondar 69, according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a private group that seeks to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Tondar has a range of about 93 miles (150 kilometers.)

Iran has previously tested the Zelzal missile, versions of which have a range of 130-185 miles (210-200 kilometers.

Source: SGGP