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A statewide emergency has been declared in California as wildfires, whipped up by fierce winds, continue to sweep through the area.

Tens of thousands of homes are under threat from the wildfires and some 180,000 people in the north have been ordered to leave their homes and roads around Santa Rosa were packed with cars as people tried to flee.

Another million people are expected to lose their supplies in the hours ahead.

The evacuation order encompasses a huge area of Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa.

The biggest blackouts in California’s history have already left a million people without electricity.

Power companies are trying to stop damaged cables from triggering new fires.

Sonoma has been ravaged by the Kincade Fire, which has burned through at least 30,000 acres of land.

Image source Wikipedia

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Fears about the extent of the wildfires led PG&E to initiate a precautionary blackout expected to be the largest in state history.

PG&E said the power cuts would affect 940,000 households and businesses across 36 counties in northern California – hitting an estimated two million people.

In a statement, PG&E warned customers that they could be affected by a mass blackout, citing forecasts of potential extreme weather.

The warning came as the gas and electricity company faced scrutiny over its possible role in the fires.

The Kincade Fire in northern California began seven minutes after a nearby power line was damaged, but PG&E has not yet confirmed if the power glitch started the blaze.

PG&E is already seeking bankruptcy protection as it faces lawsuits over last year’s Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. The deadliest wildfire in the state’s history was sparked by ageing equipment owned by PG&E. It spawned billions of dollars in liability claims against the company.

In a video posted to Twitter on October 26, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the power cuts were “infuriating everyone, and rightfully so”.

“We are going to do our best to get through these high wind events… and get these lights back on and do everything in our power to make sure PG&E’s never in a position where they’re doing this to us again,” he said.

The Kincade Fire was about 10% contained as of October 27.

According to the state fire department, the fire was burning in remote, steep terrain, making access difficult.

Image source Wikimedia

At least 98 people died and some 10,000 have been evacuated on the Indonesian island of Lombok following a powerful 6.9 magnitude quake on August 5.

At least another 236 people have been injured.

Witnesses spoke of chaos and terror, with thousands of buildings damaged, and power and communication lines cut.

Boats have been sent to evacuate more than 1,000 tourists from the nearby Gili islands.

Rescuers said the priority was to provide shelter for residents too scared to return to their homes.

They said the impact was far bigger than another quake that hit Lombok last week killing 16 people.

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged the speedy evacuation of casualties, calling for more flights to be sent to the affected areas.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency, said that the northern area of Lombok had suffered massive damage.

Three C-130 Hercules aircraft and two helicopters have been deployed to deliver tents and medical aid, but the earthquake has brought down roads and bridges, making areas difficult to reach.

Electricity supply in the worst-affected areas has been cut off and telecommunication networks are not working.

One official said 80% of north Lombok had suffered damage.

The main city of Mataram was also badly affected, with medical staff struggling to cope with the injured at the damaged hospitals.

Situated off the north-west of Lombok and popular with backpackers and divers, they were badly hit, with a number of hotels damaged.

Video and still images showed hundreds of tourists flocking to the beach to be evacuated.

There have been reports of deaths on the islands but these have not been confirmed.

Hundreds of tourists have been taken off by boat, but hundreds still remain.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake has hit the south-western Peru’s Pacific coast killing at least one person and injuring at least 65, as buildings collapsed.

The tremor struck at 04:18 local time, at a depth of 22 miles, 25 miles south-west of Acari.

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said rescue teams were on their way to verify the extent of the damage.

The areas affected are mainly rural and blocked roads are slowing down aid.

Early reports that 17 people were missing at a collapsed mine were later discounted.

Image source Wikimedia

Peru 7-magnitude earthquake strikes near Lima

6.3 earthquake hit the central coastline of Peru

According the US Geological Survey, the area between the South America and Nazca plates, where the tremor occurred, is prone to earthquakes, with 13 above magnitude 6.5 occurring over the past century.

The regions of Arequipa, Ica and Ayacucho have been affected.

According to officials, falling rock crushed a man to death in the town of Yauca, in Arequipa.

Arequipa Governor Yamila Osorio said adobe houses had collapsed in some areas and landslides were blocking some roads. Power cuts were also reported.

President Pedro Pbalo Kuczynski said he was heading for Acari and Chala to assess the damage and needs of local people.

At least 335 people have been killed and thousands more injured after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake has shaken the northern border region between Iran and Iraq on November 12.

The majority of those who died were in Iran’s western Kermanshah province. Nearly 4,000 were said to be injured.

Seven people died in Iraq, where people fled into the streets in Baghdad.

Mosques in the capital have been broadcasting prayers through loudspeakers.

One Iranian aid agency said 70,000 people needed shelter after the quake, one of the largest this year.

Iranian state news agency Irna quoted an emergency official as saying 3,950 were injured in Iran alone.

Most of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 10 miles from the border, Iran’s emergency services chief, Pir Hossein Koolivand was quoted as saying on Iranian state TV channel Irinn.

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Sarpol-e Zahab’s main hospital was severely damaged, leaving it struggling to treat hundreds of wounded, state TV reported.

Many homes in the mountainous area are made of mud bricks and are at risk of collapse in a significant earthquake like the one that struck on November 12.

Damage was reported in at least eight villages, the head of Iran’s Red Crescent Organization, Morteza Salim, told the channel.

“Some other villages have suffered power cuts and their telecommunications system has also been disturbed,” he said.

Rescue teams were being hampered by landslides, Pir Hossein Koolivand said.

On the Iraqi side, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 47 miles east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the Kurdistan Region.

“The situation there is very critical,” Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed told Reuters.

The Iraqi ministry of health said 321 people had been wounded in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake hit at 21:18 local time, about 19 miles southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran.

The strike occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 14.4 miles, and tremors were felt in Turkey, Israel and Kuwait.

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Hurricane Nicole has hit Bermuda, tearing roofs from buildings and uprooting trees, before moving out into the Atlantic Ocean.

It had weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 3 storm, but still had maximum sustained winds of more than 125mph.

Teams are out clearing roads and repairing buildings and power lines.

Image source National Hurricane Center

Image source National Hurricane Center

Last week Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of Haiti, killing hundreds of people.

Bermuda’s PM Michael Dunkley told Reuters: “At this point, there is no indication of any loss of life or serious injuries.”

“Nicole is now racing away,” said James Dodgson, deputy director at the Bermuda Weather Service.

“There has been a bit of sunshine trying to poke through.”

Although the impact of Hurricane Nicole was less than feared, there has been some damage to the island’s infrastructure, daily newspaper The Royal Gazette reported.

Some walls and roads had collapsed, it said, and some boats had been smashed.

Schools and government offices in Bermuda were closed on October 13 and airlines canceled flights as Hurricane Nicole approached.

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Hurricane Matthew has strengthened into a Category 4 on October 1, with winds reaching up to 145mph, making its way towards Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, forecasters say.

Matthew is the strongest Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean since Felix back in 2007.

According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to hit Haiti and Jamaica on October 3.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Haiti has begun evacuating residents from high-risk areas.

Residents have been frantically stocking up on emergency supplies.

Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness has urged citizens to make all preparations before it is too late.

However, he told Reuters that Jamaica was prepared for the category 4 hurricane.

In Jamaica, the powerful storm is expected to bring up to 25 inches of rain, which could trigger life-threatening landslides and floods, according to forecasters.

In the capital Kingston, supermarkets were crowded with people looking for canned foods, water and flashlights.

Officials have warned the high winds could batter the country’s main tourist areas including Montego Bay in the north.

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, residents from outlying islands have been evacuated, and officials have banned boating.

The hurricane is expected to cause up to 40 inches of rain in Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Cuba on October 4, potentially hitting the colonial city of Santiago de Cuba and the US Navy base of Guantanamo Bay.

A mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel, including about 700 family members of military personnel, was underway at the base and everyone remaining there was being told to take shelter, the Navy said in a statement.

There are about 5,500 people living on the base, including 61 men held at the detention centre.

Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to Santiago to supervise preparations.

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North Korea is facing a humanitarian disaster after tens of thousands of people were displaced by flooding, the UN and the International Red Cross have warned.

According to the aid agencies, the North Korean government has reported 133 deaths with nearly 400 people missing and homes and crops destroyed.

Rescue teams have been unable to reach some of the worst-hit areas.Foreigners detained in North Korea

North Korea already has chronic food shortages and is heavily dependent on foreign aid to feed its population.

The United Nations has allocated $8 million in 2016 for humanitarian aid in North Korea.

The flooding, triggered by the recent Typhoon Lionrock, comes as North Korea faces global anger for conducting its fifth nuclear test last week.

September 9 detonation, believed to be the North’s biggest test so far, is expected to lead to a tightening of sanctions.

According to the UN, the worst flooding is along the Tumen River, which borders China. Many areas in Musan and Yonsa counties are entirely cut off.

The UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said 140,000 people are “in urgent need of assistance”.

Murat Sahin, a UN official in North Korea, said the scale was of the disaster was “beyond anything experienced by local officials”.

According to North Korean state media, people are experiencing “great suffering” in the region.

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A state of natural disaster is to be declared in France’s areas worst hit by flooding in recent days, President Francois Hollande says.

The measure frees up funds, with some towns in central France suffering their severest floods in decades.

In the French capital, the Seine continues to rise, prompting the closure of a metro line running through the city centre.

Heavy rains across Europe have left at least 10 people dead, most of them in Germany.France flooding 2016

More downpours are forecast right through the weekend across a band of central Europe from France to Ukraine, with as much as 2in of rain falling in some parts in just a few hours.

After a day of respite on June 1 in central France, the region is braced for a further rise in already exceptionally high river levels.

The Loiret department, south of Paris, is on red alert, with seven others one level lower.

Nearly 10,000 homes are without electricity.

France’s PM Manuel Valls visited the stricken town of Nemours on June 1.

Nemours Mayor Valerie Lacroute said 3,000 people had been evacuated from the town center.

The town’s Loing river, a tributary of the Seine, now has levels not seen since the devastating floods of 1910.

“The center of town is totally under water. All the businesses have been destroyed,” said Mayor Valerie Lacroute.

Six weeks’ worth of rain has fallen in three days in the Loiret department.

President Barack Obama has visited the tornado-ravaged town of Moore in Oklahoma to comfort its victims saying that they “are not alone”.

Surveying the devastation, Barack Obama said it was “hard to comprehend”, adding: “Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you.”

The president visited the site of the school where seven children died.

The tornado ravaged the Oklahoma City suburb last Monday, killing 24 people and destroying some 1,200 homes.

About 33,000 people were affected and the damage has been estimated at $2 billion.

Some 377 people were also injured in the tornado, which was ranked an EF5 – at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale.

Barack Obama, alongside Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, said: “This is a strong community with strong character. There’s no doubt they will bounce back. But they need help.”

Standing on a block surrounded by debris, Barack Obama said: “Obviously the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend.”

Barack Obama has visited the tornado-ravaged town of Moore in Oklahoma to comfort its victims

Barack Obama has visited the tornado-ravaged town of Moore in Oklahoma to comfort its victims

“Whenever I come to an area that has been devastated by some natural disaster like this, I want to make sure that everyone understands that I am speaking on behalf of the entire country,” the president said.

In the past year Barack Obama has consoled the families of victims of Superstorm Sandy, the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings.

He said: “Everywhere, fellow Americans are praying with you, they’re thinking about you and they want to help. And I’m just a messenger here letting you know that you are not alone.”

Barack Obama’s first stop was the Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven of the 10 children who died lost their lives.

In front of the wreckage and surveying piles of rubble and upturned cars, he told one school official: “I know this is tough.”

Three makeshift American flags flew in the wind, attached to parts of the debris.

Caleb Sloan, 24, who lost his home, told Reuters: “[The president] has no choice but to live by his word. I hope and pray and think he will keep his promises.”

Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration that quickens federal aid.

Some 450 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel are in Moore, with some $3.4 million in payments so far approved for 4,200 applicants for disaster assistance.

Governor Mary Fallin said: “We’re resilient. There’s already a big path of debris that’s been moved around. People are gathering their stuff.

“It’s been truly remarkable to see how our people have responded and how strong they are.”

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Philippine officials say that at least 16 people have died in severe floods in the capital, Manila.

More than 80,000 people are in emergency shelters, as torrential rain left low-lying areas under water.

Soldiers and rescuers are using rubber boats to reach people stranded in their homes, but some are refusing to leave amid fears of looting.

The flooding – neck-deep in some parts of the city – forced the closure of offices and schools around the city.

More than half the amount of rain normally seen in August has fallen in the capital in 24 hours, reports say.

In the worst reported incident of casualties, nine members of one family died after a landslide hit shanty houses in Manila’s Quezon City.

At least 16 people have died in severe floods in Philippine capital, Manila

At least 16 people have died in severe floods in Philippine capital, Manila

Others died from drowning and electrocution, according to the country’s disaster response agency. A state of calamity has been issued in at least four areas, it added.

“We’re still on a rescue mode,” said Benito Ramos, head of the country’s disaster response agency.

“Floods are receding in many areas but people are still trapped on their roofs.”

President Benigno Aquino called for the public’s co-operation, warning that the government did not have “infinite capabilities” to deal with the natural disaster.

People are said to be stranded in homes all over the city.

Soldiers, police and volunteers are trying to reach them by boat, but some people are refusing to leave, scared their possessions will be taken by looters.

“The flooding has impacted everyone here. Even if your house did not flood – and ours didn’t – the streets flooded badly and so much of Manila has been impassable and people have been stranded,” said Julie Green, an Australian currently living in Manila.

“All businesses have been closed except for 7-11s and some sari-sari [convenience] stores. Everyone’s stocks are getting quite low now so you have to wake up early and battle the rains to get some food.

“It rained hard again all last night, but it seems now that the rains might have abated. People are starting to come out again.”

Officials have warned that more rain is expected, however, and are urging people to consider their safety first.

Manila and the northern Philippines have been hit by severe weather since Typhoon Saola struck just over a week ago, killing more than 50 people.

The government is better prepared this time than when typhoons hit the country previously – tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, says our correspondent.

Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines in September 2009, causing flooding that killed more than 400 people and Typhoon Nestat and Nalgae struck two years later, leaving more than 100 dead.

The current rain and floods are said to be the worst to hit the country since 2009. However, the state weather bureau has said that weather conditions may get better later this week.

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A Japanese parliamentary panel has said in a report the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “a profoundly man-made disaster”.

The disaster “could and should have been foreseen and prevented” and its effects “mitigated by a more effective human response”, it said.

The report catalogued serious deficiencies in both the government and plant operator Tepco’s response.

It also blamed cultural conventions and a reluctance to question authority.

The six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was badly damaged after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems to reactors, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactivity.

Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from an exclusion zone around the plant as workers battled to bring reactors under control. Tepco declared the reactors stable in December 2011.

Members of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission were appointed to examine the handling of the crisis and make recommendations.

The investigation included 900 hours of hearings and interviews with more than 1,000 people.

A Japanese parliamentary panel has said in a report the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was "a profoundly man-made disaster

A Japanese parliamentary panel has said in a report the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant was "a profoundly man-made disaster

In the panel’s final report, its chairman said a multitude of errors and willful negligence had left the plant unprepared for the earthquake and tsunami.

“Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster,” it said.

“It was a profoundly man-made disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”

After six months of investigation, the panel concluded that the disaster “was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco” founded in the failure of regulatory systems.

It said that the situation at the plant worsened in the aftermath of the earthquake because government agencies “did not function correctly”, with key roles left ambiguous.

It also highlighted communication failures between Tepco and the office of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose visit to the site in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake “diverted” staff.

The report said regulators should “go through an essential transformation process” to ensure nuclear safety in Japan.

“Japan’s regulators need to shed the insular attitude of ignoring international safety standards and transform themselves into a globally trusted entity,” it said.

The report made several recommendations including:

• Permanent parliamentary monitoring of the nuclear regulatory body

• Reforming the crisis management system, with more government responsibility for public welfare

• Reforming nuclear energy laws to meet global safety standards

• Monitoring nuclear operators and developing a system for independent investigative bodies

All of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down in the wake of the disaster. But on Sunday the first reactor was restarted in the town of Ohi in Fukui prefecture.

The restart sparked large protests in Tokyo but Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda urged support for the move, saying a return to nuclear power was essential for the economy.

The government is continuing to assess whether other nuclear plants are safe to be restarted.