Arctic Circle oil spill prompts Putin to declare state of emergency #OilSpill #ArcticCircle #StateOfEmergency
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle.
The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.
The power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.
The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence, as there was reportedly a two-day delay in informing the Moscow authorities about the spill.
Ground subsidence beneath the fuel storage tanks is believed to have caused the spill. Arctic permafrost has been melting in exceptionally warm weather for this time of year.
President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident on Sunday.
Russian Minister for Emergencies Yevgeny Zinichev told Mr Putin that the Norilsk plant had spent two days trying to contain the spill, before alerting his ministry.
The leaked oil drifted some 12km (7.5 miles) from the accident site, turning long stretches of the Ambarnaya river crimson red.
In a televised video conference on Wednesday, Mr Putin criticised the head of the company over its response.
“Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?” he asked the subsidiary’s chief, Sergei Lipin. “Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?”
The region’s governor, Alexander Uss, had earlier told President Putin that he became aware of the oil spill on Sunday after “alarming information appeared in social media”.
The spill has contaminated a 350 sq km (135 sq mile) area, state media report.
In a statement, Norilsk Nickel said the incident had been reported in a “timely and proper” way.
The state of emergency means extra forces are going to the area to assist with the clean-up operation.
The accident is believed to be the second largest in modern Russian history in terms of volume, an expert from the World Wildlife Fund, Alexei Knizhnikov, told the AFP news agency.
What can be done?
The incident has prompted stark warnings from environmental groups, who say the scale of the spill and geography of the river mean it will be difficult to clean up.
Greenpeace has compared it to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.
Oleg Mitvol, former deputy head of Russia’s environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, said there had “never been such an accident in the Arctic zone”.
He said the clean-up could cost 100bn roubles (£1.2bn; $1.5bn) and take between five and 10 years.
Courtesy of BBC News
Floods Batken Region, Kyrgyzstan, May 2020. Photo: Kyrgyzstan Ministry of Emergency Situations
The Ministry of Emergency Situations in Kyrgyzstan reported flash flooding and mudflows in parts of Leilek district in Batken Region in the south of the country on 02 May 2020.
Flooding came after a period of heavy rain. Houses and roads have been severely damaged. A state of emergency was declared for Isfana and other areas. Images on Social Media showed torrents of muddy water and debris flowing through streets of Isfana.
Isfana is about 135km south of Syrdarya in Uzbekistan, where recent heavy rainfall caused a reservoir dam to break, forcing 70,000 people to evacuate their homes.
Courtesy of floodlist.com
Coronavirus: Trump declares national emergency in US over COVID-19 #COVID19 #coronavirus #USA #pandemic #emergency
US President Donald Trump has declared the coronavirus outbreak is a national emergency.
The move is set to free up tens of billions of federal dollars to try to combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
More than 30 people in America have died after contracting COVID-19 and there have been over 1,200 infections in the pandemic.
It comes as the speaker in House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced the Democrat-controlled House would approve a coronavirus aid package.
The plan would provide free coronavirus testing and two weeks of paid sick and family leave for those affected by the disease, Ms Pelosi said.
But Mr Trump has not yet publicly backed the package, making its outcome uncertain in Congress.
Ms Pelosi does not need support from the Republicans to pass legislation in the Democrat-majority House.
But it would probably not get far in the Republican-controlled Senate without bipartisan support.
The House aid package builds on an emergency $8.3bn measure approved last week.
Ms Pelosi promised a third coronavirus package will follow soon.
Courtesy of Sky News
The Spanish government is to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus epidemic, paving the way for drastic containment measures after the number of confirmed cases in the country passed 4,200 and the death toll rose to 120, Sam Jones reports from Madrid.
In an urgent appearance on Friday afternoon, the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said the cabinet would convene on Saturday to declare an emergency by activating article 116 of the constitution.
Its provisions allow the government to limit the movement of people and vehicles in specified places, to temporarily requisition goods, to take over factories and businesses, to ration the consumption of basic items, and to issue the necessary orders to ensure the provision of services.
The article has not been used since 2010, when it was enacted in response to an air traffic controllers’ strike. The state of emergency will initially apply for two weeks, but can be extended with parliamentary approval.
Spain is the European country most affected by the outbreak after Italy, which has confirmed 15,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.
The decision came after the government of neighbouring Portugal also enacted a state of alert as the number of cases in the country reached 78, explaining the situation was now “a fight for our survival and for the protection of Portuguese lives”.
As well as ordering the closure of schools and universities, it said the number of customers allowed in bars and restaurants would be reduced.
The Madrid authorities have not ruled out a lockdown of the capital, the mayor said on Friday morning, as the number of cases in the region reached 2,000.
José Luia Martínez-Almeida told Antena 3 TV that he had not discarded the idea of locking down the city, saying it would be “irresponsible” not to look at every possible scenario.
He added: “We can’t say that it’s going to happen immediately, nor can we say we’ve ruled it out.”
The mayor also suspended licenses for terraces and seating areas outside bars and cafés in the capital, urging owners to shut them down before it became mandatory.
The mayor said “stricter measures would be needed” to halt the spread of the virus, adding that children’s play areas in parks would be closed from Friday.
Hours earlier, authorities in the Basque country had activated a civil protection plan, which allows the regional government to order the confinement of people to stop the spread of the disease.
“We need to use all containment and prevention measures as the situation is serious. We’re not over the worst yet,” the Basque president, Iñigo Urkullu, said on Friday morning.
The Basque country has confirmed 346 cases of the coronavirus, and here have been 11 deaths.
On Thursday night, the regional government of Catalonia ordered around 70,000 people in four municipalities in the Barcelona region to remain in their homes for a fortnight after a steep increase in Coronavirus cases in the area.
Igualada, Vilanova del Camí, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Òdena have been placed in lockdown after the number of cases linked to a hospital in Igualada rose to 58 on Thursday.
“No one is allowed out of these affected areas,” the regional government said on Thursday evening.
“Only emergency personnel and vehicles bringing fuel and food supplies will be allowed to move around the area.”
The move comes almost a week after neighbourhoods in a small town in the northern region of La Rioja were placed in lockdown after a cluster of cases was traced to a funeral in the nearby Basque Country.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is now warning against all but essential travel to the regions that the Spanish Ministry of Health have designated as areas of community transmission of coronavirus.
They are Madrid and La Rioja, and the municipalities of La Bastida and Vitoria (both in the Basque Country) and Miranda de Ebro (in Castilla y León).
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Bulgaria declares a state of emergency over coronavirus #COVID19 #coronavirus #Bulgaria #pandemic #quarantine #emergency
Restrictions will be in force until April 13 to contain the spread of coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases in the Balkan country more than tripled to 23 in one day.
Bulgaria confirmed its first death of a patient due to the virus on Wednesday, and on Thursday the number of confirmed cases jumped to 23 from seven.
The state of emergency, which parliament voted for unanimously, will allow for travel bans to and from countries with large coronavirus outbreaks, the closing of schools and universities, and will permit police to intervene when the imposed isolation of infected people is not observed.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov appealed to Bulgarians to follow the rules and threatened one-year prison terms for those who fail to observe quarantine.
“We want this state of emergency for one month,” he told parliament.
“We need it for those who violate quarantine.”
The capital Sofia, home to two million of the country’s seven million people, will keep all schools, cinemas, gyms and clubs closed for a week.
Under the state of emergency rules local governments will decide on closures in their areas.
Courtesy of Sky News
Coronavirus: New York City declares state of emergency #COVID19 #coronavirus #NewYork #USA #pandemic #quarantine #emergency
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio declared a state of emergency Thursday in the city, saying he anticipated that New York could see as many as 1,000 cases next week. He said that the emergency order allows for the city to take certain actions, but that none of them had been activated, including closing down public transportation, AP reports.
New York City officials moved swiftly Thursday to address a false text message spreading on social media claiming that the police department was planning to put containment actions in place this weekend to address the spread of the coronavirus, including a shutdown of Metro-North rail lines and limited subway service.
De Blasio called the claims “wrong” and “off base” during an afternoon news conference discussing the decision to declare the state of emergency. He speculated the information leaked from scenario planning and said it was not from plans being put in place.
De Blasio said a total shutdown would be unrealistic for a variety of reasons, including that it would make it impossible for people like health care workers to get around.
Later he tweeted, “NO, there is NO TRUTH to rumors about Manhattan being quarantined. Whoever is spreading this misinformation, PLEASE STOP NOW!”
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Coronavirus: Hungary declares state of emergency #COVID19 #coronavirus #Hungary #emergency #quarantine #pandemic
Hungary has declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, closing universities and banning large gatherings, Index.hu reports.
It says outdoor events of more than 500 people and indoor events of more than 100 people have been banned. This includes cinemas and theatres but not workplaces and shopping malls, it reports.
There is also a ban on school trips abroad. The country has announced 13 confirmed cases so far.
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Coronavirus: California declares state of emergency #COVID19 #coronavirus #California #USA #emergency #quarantine #epidemic
California governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus in the state, which now has has 53 confirmed cases.
Earlier on Wednesday, health officials announced the first California death from the virus, an elderly person with underlying health conditions. It was the first coronavirus fatality in the United States outside of Washington state, where 10 have died.
Courtesy of theguardian.com
Tens of thousands are without power and some people homeless after the freak weather moved through the state.
Tornadoes have killed at least 22 people and destroyed dozens of buildings in Tennessee – including causing severe damage in downtown Nashville.
The twisters toppled power lines and trees and ripped off roofs, causing gridlock on the streets of the famous musical city.
Police and fire crews were dealing with about 40 building collapses, said Metro Nashville police.
Severe storms were also whipped up by the tornadoes as they moved across the southeastern US state after midnight.
“A tornado skipped across the county,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper on a visit to an emergency shelter.
“You do have people at the hospital and frankly there have been fatalities.”
A video posted online from east Nashville appeared to showed the tornado moving quickly across the city accompanied by lightning.
One tornado reportedly stayed on the ground into Hermitage, 20 miles (16km) east of Nashville, with buildings, bridge and roads damaged.
“Our community has been impacted significantly,” the Mount Juliet Police Department tweeted.
“We continue to search for injured. Stay home if you can.”
Country singer Carrie Underwood was one of those affected and said her husband and children had to shelter in their safe room as the tornado hit.
Hangars were destroyed at Nashville’s John C Tune Airport, with a spokesman saying it had “sustained significant damage”.
Schools, courts and rail lines were also closed – and some polling stations were damaged just hours before crucial Super Tuesday voting.
Dozens of people in the city were seen carrying their belongings through the streets after the tornado barrelled through the city.
The local Red Cross has opened a shelter for people made homeless.
Nashville Electric said 44,000 people had lost power after four substations were damaged.
Courtesy of Sky News