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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“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.”
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
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.
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
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.