DISASTERS UPDATE DISASTERS UPDATE Buildinga Disaster Free India DISASTERS

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DISASTERS UPDATE
www.nidm.net                      Issue No.904                         Date: 14.12.07
                              TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS
National

North India in the grip of cold wave
NDTV Correspondent
Friday, December 14, 2007 ( New Delhi)
North India is reeling under cold w ave w ith the temperatures dipping every day.

                                           This w eek's snow fall in Shimla has brought
                                           dow n temperatures in Delhi and the adjoining
                                           states.

                                           The minimum in the capital is hovering around
                                           10 degrees w hereas in Amritsar, the mercury
                                           has gone dow n to 5.6 degrees.

                                           Even though it hasn't snow ed in Shimla in 48
                                           hours, the Met Department has forecast more
                                           snowfall in hilly areas.

Flight services affected

The effects of the cold w ave started to make itself felt in the capital early this morning,
when domestic flights w ere delayed since runw ay visibility w as dow n to 125 metres.

Thick fog in the morning disrupted several flights in and out of the capital due to poor
runw ay visibility.

Airport officials said that a large number of flights headed for Mumbai, Bangalore,
Kolkata, Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Jammu w ere delayed.

Some international flights had to be div erted from Delhi.

This morning, the runaw ay visibility dropped to 125 m forcing the authorities to initiate
the advanced Category three or Cat three landing system.

But later, seven early morning flights that had been stuck for a couple of hours, took off
for their destinations.

The backlog of flights has been being cleared. International flights are also on track

Air Deccan said its flights in and out of Delhi w ere delayed by at least three hours.
Uttarakhand in cold wave grip
Staff Correspondent, The Hindu, Online edition of India's National New spaper, Friday,
Dec 14, 2007

DEHRA DUN: Rain and snow fall continued in the higher areas of Uttarakhand on
Thursday pulling dow n the temperatures further w ith the State Metrological Centre
director, Anand Sharma, saying that the situation should improve in the next 24 hours.

One man w as killed due to intense cold in Dhanaulti area near Mussoorie. The victim
was said to be insane and moving about in the chill for the last tw o days.

Social w orkers have urged the Government to provide for bonfires in all tow ns to keep
the poor and the homeless w arm. The w orst hit are the labourers w ho come here from
distant places.

At le ast 5 persons trappe d as building collapses in Mumbai
14 Dec 2007, 1320 hrs IST , PTI
MUMBAI: A four-storied building collapsed in suburban Borivali on Friday, trapping five
to six persons, police said.

The build ing is situated in Shimpoli area of the north-w est suburb, they said adding,
three persons were taken out of the rubble and admitted to the Bhagw ati Hospital here.

Rescue teams have been rushed to the spot.

International

Climate talks near end amid row
BBC News, Friday, 14 December 2007, 05:22 GMT
World clim ate talks in Bali have gone into their
scheduled last day amid fierce disagreement over
targets for cutting greenhouse gas em issions.

EU minis ters have w arned they w ill boycott a US-led
climate summit next month unless the Bush
administration backs firm targets for emissions cuts.

The US favours allow ing governments to set voluntary
targets.                                                  If global temperatures rise,
                                                          billions w ill face water
Indonesia is reported to be trying to broker a            shortages
compromise that w ould remove firm targets from the final text.

For mer US vice-president Al Gore has criticised the US approach.

He w on loud applause from delegates as he said: " My ow n country, the United States, is
principally responsible for obstructing progress in Bali."


                                             2
Don' give up'
'  t

But the Nobel Peace Prize laureate als o urged delegates not to give up.

"You can decide to move forw ard and do the difficult w ork that needs to be done," he
said.

Officials say agreement has been reached on many                  If they get this text
is sues. Disagreement centres on pollution by                  through the conference
industrialised countries.                                                               t
                                                               then the next treaty won' be
                                                                                   s
                                                               worth the paper it' written
On one side are the European Union states and their            on
allies.
                                                            John Sauven, Greenpeace
They w ant industrialised countries to agree to cuts of 25%-40% in greenhouse gas
emissions - w hich mainly come from burning fossil fuels - from 1990 levels by 2020. The
target w ould not apply to developing countries.

"We continue to insist on including a reference to an indicativ e emissions reduction
range for developed countries for 2020," the EU's Environment Commissioner Stavros
Dimas said in a statement.

On the other side are the US, Canada and Japan. The US in particular, w hich has not
ratified the Kyoto agreement, says any numerical agreement w ould prejudge the
outcome of future talks.

The environmental group Greenpeace has accused the US of trying to kill off the
international fight against climate change.

"If they get this text through the conference then the next treaty w on't be worth the paper
it's w ritten on because it w ill giv e a free pass to any nation that w ants to keep polluting,"
Greenpeace's UK executive dir ector John Sauven told the BBC.

Meaningless talks

The US is the w orld's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and most parties recognise
that climate change talks w ithout it w ould be meaningless.

In September the US hosted the inaugural summit of the " major economies" or "big
emitters" group, w hich brings together 16 of the leading greenhouse gas producing
countries.

The US is due to host a second summit next month in Honolulu.

The BBC's envir onment analyst Roger Harrabin, reporting from Bali, says the European
threat to boycott the conference pushes President Bush into a corner.




                                                3
Either he agrees to negotiate big cuts, or he has to explain to an increasingly concerned
American public w hy Europe is boycotting a meeting w hich the president himself has
invented and championed, our correspondent says.

Climate change : U.S. proposal discards U.N. frame work
Priscilla Jebaraj, The Hindu, Online edition of India's National Newspaper, Friday, Dec
14, 2007

NUSA DUA, BALI: The United States w orsened the deadlock in the ongoing global
climate change talks here on Thursday night, putting forw ard a proposal that seems to
completely discard the international U.N. framew ork, in favour of separate national- level
efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions w ithout any binding international
commitment.

“It is their national position. But it is one thing to have a national position and another to
impose it on the w orld ... w ithout even mentioning the Convention framew ork,” said a
senior member of the Indian delegation at the U.N. Framew ork Convention on Climate
Change conference, which is trying to construct a Bali road map to launch negotiations
to create a post-2012 global climate agreement by the end of 2009.

The first commit ment period of the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol, w hich the U.S. had not
ratified, w ould end in 2012. The new U.S. text calls for “domestic mit igation actions” and
“national emission limitation and reduction objectives, taking into account national
circumstances.”

The Group of 77 developing countries and China rejected the U.S. plan and put forw ard
their ow n proposal. A senior member of the Indian delegation said the G-77 proposal
offered their suggestions on how to engage the U.S. w ithout diluting the agreement.

Greenpeace International’s Shane Rattenbury accused the U.S. of trying to make it
impossible to reach an agreement in Bali. “This proposal w ould throw aw ay 12 years of
progress. It’s a made-in-the-USA plan for a climate catastrophe, undoing any
commitments to cutting greenhouse gases.”

A group of Ministers from about 40 of the most influential nations w as closeted in an all-
night meeting on Thursday in an effort to break the deadlock. The conference w ould end
on Friday.

Even as the Ministers deliberated, the star campaigner and Nobel Laureate Al Gore
urged delegates to forge an ambitious deal w ithout his country. “I am not an official and I
am not bound by diplomatic niceties. So I am going to speak an inconvenient truth: My
ow n country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in
Bali,” Mr. Gore said to loud applause.

Anticipating a change in the U.S. government by 2009, Mr. Gore called on delegates to
“negotiate around this enor mous obstacle, this elephant in the room,” rather than issuing
a vague, uncommitted road map in an effort to include the U.S.




                                               4
“You can feel anger and frustration and direct it at the United States of America. Or, you
can make a second choice, you can decide to move forw ard and do all of the difficult
work that needs to be done and save a large open blank space in your document and
put a footnote by it,” he suggested.

Ear lier, the European Union threatened to boycott the U.S.-hosted meeting of major
emitters, to be held in Haw aii next month, unless a deal w as reached here.

Caribbe an storm death toll rise s
BBC News,Thursday, 13 December 2007, 20:49 GMT
The toll in the Caribbean from Tropical Storm Olga, a rare Decem ber cyclone, has
risen to 25 confirmed deaths, officials say.




                  Parts of Santiago were destroyed by huge w aves

Hardest-hit w as the Dominican Republic, w here 22 people w ere killed by floods and
landslides.

The majority died in the northern city of Santiago, after officials, fearing a collapse of a
dam, released w ater in the already swollen Yaque River. Tw o people died in the
neighbouring Haiti and one in Puerto Rico.

The storm slammed into the region on Tuesday - 10 days after the offic ial end of the
Atlantic hurricane season.

Olga later w eakened to a tropic al depressing as it moved w est tow ard Cuba, the US
National Hurricane Center said.

Anger in Santiago

In the Dominican Republic, at least 17 people w ere killed and a number w ere still
missing after the Yaque River burst its banks in of
Santiago, officials said.
                                                               They (officials) warned
It happened after local officials ordered the release of    us but there w as no time...
billions of gallons of w ater from the near-capacity        everybody w as sleeping.
Tavera Dam, sending huge w aves crashing into parts of They must beg our
the country's second-largest city.                          forgiveness for w hat has
                                                            happened
Furious residents later said officials had w arned them
just minutes before the w ater was released.                Sonia Duran Maldonado
                                                            Santiago resident



                                              5
"They w arned us but there w as no time... everybody w as sleeping," Sonia Duran
Maldonado told the Associated Press new s agency.

"They must beg our forgiveness for what has
happened," she added.

Five more people w ere killed in other parts of the
Dominican Republic, and some 7,000 houses w ere
damaged. Tw o people died and a number of houses
were destroyed in Haiti, w hich shares the island of
Hispaniola w ith the Dominican Republic.

In Puerto Rico, one man w as killed by a rain-triggered
landslide, officials said.                                   In pictures: Storm Olga

The storm also left tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans w ithout pow er or w ater.

Olga spared south-w estern areas of the Dominican Republic hit by Tropical Stor m Noel
six w eeks ago, w here dozens of people w ere killed.

It w as only the 10th named storm to develop after the offic ial end of the Atlantic
hurricane season since records began in 1851.

De adly storm hits Northeast with snow
By PAT EA TON- ROBB, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 40 minutes ago, Dec 14, 2007
COLUMBIA, Conn. - A w intry storm responsible for deaths in the Midw est blasted the
Northeast on Thursday, dumping snow and sleet and clogging some of the nation's most
heavily traveled highw ays.
Snow fall in the region ranged from 2 inches to just over a foot in some places. The
heaviest snow fall w as along the Connecticut-Massachusetts-Rhode Island state lines
and eastw ard, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Thompson. Thirteen
inches w as reported at Whitman, Mass.
Schools, businesses and government agencies in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New
York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut closed early.




   AP Photo: Stranded motorists wait for a tow truck along Interstate 84 in East
                        Hartford, Conn., Thursday,...

The resulting exodus choked highw ays and streets. Authorities reported hundreds of
mostly minor accidents throughout the region. Some vehicles w ere stranded along
roadw ays, preventing plow s from getting through.




                                              6
Susan Randolph of Bolton, Conn., said it took her an hour to make her normal 20-minute
commute from her job at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

"A lot of drivers seem to have forgotten their snow driving skills," she said.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell's vehicle got stuck in the mess, craw ling along the
highw ay at 5-10 mph for tw o hours from Suffield to Hartford in w hat should have been a
30-minute drive.

"Stay home," she advised. "Go home, prop your feet up, w atch the new s."

While the traffic craw led along the interstates, it also slow ed at Northeast airports.

There w ere delays up to three hours for arriving flights at New ark Liberty International
Airport in New Jersey, w here more than 200 flights had been canceled by late afternoon,
officials said.
Elsew here, Boston's Logan International reported more than 100 flights canceled, as did
Bradley International near Hartford. No major problems w ere reported at New York's
airports; some airlines allow ed passengers to reschedule their flights for free.

The storm has been blamed for at least 36 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents, since it
developed last w eekend.

A 23-year-old w oman died Thursday morning w hen her pickup truck skidded and flipped
over on a snowy highw ay in Waverly, N.Y., 74 miles southw est of Syracuse. Police said
Jessica Rose Nash w as partially ejected despite w earing a seat belt.

Crew s worked to restore pow er to hundreds of thousands of people left in the dark in the
storm's ice-coated w ake.

In Oklahoma, about 330,000 homes and businesses still w ere w ithout power Thursday,
officials said. In Missouri, about 64,000 people w ere w ithout electricity, including roughly
32,000 in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas, state officials said.

Sunshine and milder temperatures on Thursday helped cleanup efforts in much of the
Plains, but another w inter storm approaching from the w est could dump heavy snow on
parts of Oklahoma on Friday.

In St. Joseph in northw est Missouri, Martha Shockey and her husband, Rick, have been
without electricity at their house since Tuesday morning.

They have been keeping the burners on their gas stove to keep w arn, except w hen they
go out for food and propane, Shockey said on Thursday.

"The only thing you can do is grin and bear it and cope w ith it and figure that it's got to
get better," she said.

As the Midw est continued to emerge from the darkness, hundreds of snow plow
operators in the Northeast w ere having a tough time getting out of traffic jams.




                                               7
"How can you plow and put mater ial dow n, w hen the trucks are stuck in traffic?" said
Doug Harris at Connecticut's transportation department storm center.

Rell asked tractor-trailer drivers to get off highw ays for at least tw o hours to give plow s
room to w ork.

State police said portions of several highw ays had to be closed for a time in part
because motoris ts abandoned their vehicles in the travel lanes.

Along the shoreline in Milford, Conn., sleet and hail turned the roads to sheets of ice.

Ken Johnson, w ho w as stopped at a Milford gas station, w as hoping for even more
snow . The 50-year-old arborist said he relies on snow plow ing for his income in the
winter.

"I'm w aiting for the people to start calling," he said. " I like the summertime; money grow s
on trees for me. God, let it snow more."

In Albany, N.Y., snow y roads slow ed traffic to a craw l. "People are crazy. ... They're still
shopping," said Kay McIntyre, shoveling a sidew alk in suburban Colonie as cars inched
into a nearby mall parking lot.
In Rhode Island, tw o dozen school districts closed early, as did companies and state
agencies in Providence. The w orkers' exodus and the snow choked streets in the capital
city.

"Traffic is at a standstill," Providence Police Sgt. Paul Zienow icz said. "It's one big traffic
ja m."

Al Gore lays blame for Bali stale mate on U.S.
By Gerard Wynn Thu Dec 13, 9:51 AM ET
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore drew cheers at
190-nation talks by saying the United States w as the main block to launching
negotiations in Bali on a new global cli mate treaty.




Reuters Photo: Nobel Laureate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks at
                             the side event of...




                                               8
Efforts to start tw o-year negotiations on a pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol flagged on
Thursday, the penultimate day of the December 3-14 talks, after the European Union
accused the United States of lacking ambition.

"I am going to speak an inconvenient truth," Gore told an audience of several hundred,
playing on the name of his Oscar-w inning documentary.

And in low tones he added: "My ow n country the United States is principally responsible
for obstructing progress in Bali," spurring rapturous applause and cheers.

Arriving fresh from Oslo, w here he had collected the Nobel Peace Prize, Gore urged
governments to forge a "new path" tow ards a global climate change agreement in spite
of w hat he described as an obstructive United States.
"I don't know how you can navigate around this enormous elephant in the room w hich
I've been undiplomatic enough to name. But I'm asking you to do it," he said. Gore w as
defeated by President George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race.

Other agreements in Bali could also help developing countries adapt to damage from
climate change, curb their rising emissions of greenhouse gases and mark a step
tow ards protecting tropical forests.

Rajendra Pachauri, w ho collected the Nobel Pr ize on behalf of a U.N. panel of climate
scientists that shared the aw ard w ith Gore, vaulted onto the podium to shake Gore's
hand.

EU- U.S. SPLIT

Ear lier on Thursday, the EU accused the United States of climate inaction, saying the
rest of the w orld w as still w aiting for U.S. leadership, and threatened to boycott a U.S.-
hosted climate meet of major economies next month.

The Bali talks are split over the guidelines for starting tw o years of formal negotiations on
a deal to succeed Kyoto. The EU w ants a firm guideline of cuts of 25-40 percent in
greenhouse gases by 2020 below 1990 levels , w hile the United States, Japan and
Canada say figures w ould prejudge the outcome.

Gore stole the show in Bali after tw o days of lengthy ministerial speeches w hich had
waxed on familiar themes about the urgency of action to slow global w arming and the
need for cooperation. In a speech familiar to view ers of his film "An Inconvenient Truth"
and to a global climate change lecture tour, Gore puzzled over a lack of urgency to fight
climate change at Bali.

"There's no precedent in history, culture for the radically new relationship betw een
humanity and the planet," he said, citing new evidence this week that the North Pole
may be ice-free in summer as soon as 2012.

Gore counted one year and 40 days to the day the United States w ould have a new
president to succeed George W. Bush. He predicted that a successor w ho w ould do
more to act on global w arming seriously. Gore has repeatedly said he has no plans to
run.



                                               9
Citie s to turn out the lights for climate change : WWF
Thu Dec 13, 9:12 PM ET

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AFP) - Major cities around the w orld w ill plunge into darkness
for an hour in March 2008 to mark their commitment to battling climate change,
conservation group WWF said Friday.




WWF Photo: Major cities around the world w ill plunge into darkness for an hour in
                                      March 2008...
Toronto, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen and Chicago and many other cities in Asia,
Europe and North America w ill sw itch off the lights on March 29 for the so-called Earth
Hour, the group announced.

James Leape, head of WWF International, hailed the "unique global event" as a
demonstration of the w orld's commitment to fighting global w arming, w hich climate
scientists say is one of the planet's gravest long-term problems.

"During Earth Hour, governments, businesses, community leaders and indiv iduals w ill be
turning out their lights and sw itching on their support for actions that can help make a
difference in the most significant challenge facing the w orld today," Leape said in a
statement.

The announcement came as the w orld's envir onment ministers and senior delegates
thrashed out the details on a new climate change road map in Bali, Indonesia as talks
entered 11th-hour haggles w ith key issues unresolved.
"While w e expect the government leaders here in Bali to make courageous decisions
that are needed to save our planet, Earth Hour reminds us that each of us can be part of
the solution to climate change," Leape said.
Environmental delegates from more than 180 countries have until the end of Friday to
agree a framew ork for tackling global w arming past 2012, w hen pledges under the
climate change-tackling treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, expire.

This w ill be the second Earth Hour organised by WWF, after Sydney plunged into the
dark in March this year, w ith more than 2.2- million people taking part. Sydney's landmark
Opera House and Harbour Bridge w ere among the buildings dimming the lights.

The idea behind the init iative is to raise aw areness of climate change and promote
energy efficiency.




                                            10
"Now it is time to take Earth Hour to the rest of the w orld," said Sydney's Lord Mayor
Clover Moore.

Coral reefs threatene d by rising CO2 leve ls: study
Thu Dec 13, 2:35 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The survival of the w orld's coral reefs w ill be seriously
threatened by 2050 if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the acidity of
ocean w aters continue to rise at the present rate, said a study publis hed Thursday.

High acidity dissolves minerals in the w ater that speed up calcific ation of corals leading
to their premature death, w arned researchers of the Washington-based Carnegie
Institution in their study in Science magazine.

Unless emissions of CO2 -- global w arming's main contributor -- are stabilized and
reduced, 98 percent of coral reef habitats w ill be immersed in excessively acid w aters,
said oceanographers and study co-authors Ken Caldeira and Long Cao.




                                                                           s
  AFP/File Photo: A diver exam ines a coral reef. The survival of the world' coral
                                   reefs will...

Their estimates are based on computer models of the ocean w ater's changing chemical
composition w ith rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere -- from pre-industrial 280 parts per
million (ppm) to the current 380 ppm, all the w ay up to 500 ppm.

Carbon dioxide emissions are on the rise chiefly due to human activities, above all from
the massive burning of fossil fuels, scientists said.

"About a third of the carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans,
which helps slow greenhouse w arming, but is a major pollutant of the oceans," said
Caldeira.

The absorbed CO2 produces carbonic acid that dissolve certain minerals, especially
argonite, w hich is used by corals to grow their skeletons, he said.

If atmospheric CO2 stabilizes at 550 ppm, said Cao, "no existing coral reef w ill remain in
such an environment."

According to Bob Steneck of the University of Maine and another co-author of the paper,
around one billion people in Asia depend on coral reef fisheries.




                                             11
                                                                      f
"Corals are feeling the effects of our actions and it is now or never i w e w ant to
safeguard these marine creatures and the livelihoods that depend on them," he added.

The authors w ill also present their study Thursday before the Americ an Geophysical
Union, in San Francisco, California.

Arctic ice me lting at record rate : scientists
Agence France-Presse
Washington, December 14, 2007
The arctic ice cap melted at an unprecedented rate in mid-2007, losing an area of ice the
size of the state of Alaska, US scientists said at a conference this week.

"The average rate of loss of sea ice every summer year to year up to 2006 w as equal to
an area the size of West Virginia," or about 62,800 square kilometers (24,250 square
miles), said Michael Steele, the senior oceanographer at the University of Washington in
Seattle.

How ever the decrease in ice betw een 2006 and 2007 "w as almost equivalent to the area
of Alaska," or some 1.7 million kilometers (more than 663,000 square miles), Steele told
AFP in a telephone interview .

"It w as a huge retreat," said Steele, one of the researchers who discussed the subject at
the annual A merican Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco, California.

The arctic ice cap currently covers around 4.13 million square kilometers, its smallest
surface in modern times, said another conference speaker, Wieslaw Maslow ski, an
oceanographer at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif ornia.

The Arctic Ocean could thus be completely ice-free during the three summer months by
2013, Maslow ski said at the conference.

Steele refused to make the same prediction, but did say that the Arctic Ocean has never
been as hot during the summer months.

"The ocean w armed up at temperatures never seen before ... it w as five degrees Celsius
warmer than average," said Steele. " It's very large."

In arctic areas usually covered by ice "the temperature w as maybe tw o or three degrees
warmer than the average." And in Alaska the temperature w as unusually high -- betw een
12 and 13 degrees Centigrade. "We never saw that before," he said.

Steele based his research on records over the past 100 years as well as measurements
taken w ith instruments in the fie ld. More recently he has also used data from NASA
satellites.

Other scientists at the AGU conference said the Arctic Ocean's heating w as self-
sustained, w ith w armer w ater from the Atlantic and Pacific heading north and
accelerating the melting of the ice caps.




                                            12
Global w arming due to greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans "is basically
responsible for the ice getting thinner and thinner," said Steele.

"And w hen it gets thinner, the ice becomes more vulnerable to w ind that can blow it
aw ay from Alaska and eastern Siberia. It's also more vulnerable to the unusual summer
time melting -- if you have thick ice that melts a little bit, it's still there, (but) w hen it's thin
it melts completely aw ay."

"It's just a fact that the ice is going aw ay and the ocean can absorb the sunlight," Steele
said. With less ice to reflect the sunlight, the ocean absorbs the sun's heat, w arms up
and furthers the melting process.

"I don't know what the future holds, but most arctic scientists think that is not getting
much better," he said.

                                                                                          Compiled by
                                                                                          AD Kaushik




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