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  • Tropical Storm DOMINIC forecast and strike probability
    Monday, January 26, 2009
    Tropical Storm DOMINIC is forecast to strike land to the following likelihood(s) at the given lead time(s):
    Yellow Alert Country(s) or Province(s)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 30% currently
    probability for TS is 70% currently
    Yellow Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    Onslow (21.7 S, 115.0 E)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 30% within 12 hours
    probability for TS is 70% within 12 hours

    Note that
    Yellow Alert (Elevated) is CAT 1 or above to between 10% and 30% probability, or TS to above 50% probability.
    CAT 1 means Tropical Cyclone strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained.
    TS means Tropical Storm strength winds of at least 39 mph, 63 km/h or 34 knots 1-min sustained.

    For graphical forecast information and further details please visit

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by UCL, Aon Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

    Storm Alert issued at 26 Jan, 2009 18:00 GMT
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:44 PM  
    Madagascar cyclone death toll at 9
    Friday, January 23, 2009
    ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar: The toll from the cyclone that struck the west coast of Madagascar earlier this week has risen to nine, disaster officials said Friday.

    The officials also said Cyclone Fanele left 4,000 people homeless.

    Fanele hit Morondava in western Madagascar on Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and winds of up to 130 miles per hour (210 kph). It uprooted giant trees, flattened homes and left large areas flooded. Waterlogged roads were strewn with branches, boulders, coconuts and rubbish.

    The water supply was restored Friday to Morondava, a regional hub and home to about 30,000 people, said Dia Styvanley Soa of the National Office for Disasters Preparedness. But the town, littered with fallen power lines, was still without electricity.

    About 80 percent of Morondava's buildings were damaged. The local hospital had its roof blown off.

    Madagascar lies off the southern coast of Africa in the storm-prone Indian Ocean. Last year cyclones killed more than 100.

    In Morondava on Thursday, Michel Randriatsialonina said the force and noise of the storm was so overwhelming, he did not at first notice a felled tree had bisected his house. He and his family took shelter in a nearby school.

    "It was like in a war," he said with a laugh. "We all trembled."

    Teacher Celestine Aubierge looked blankly at wooden slats and rubble where her home had stood.

    Police patrols were stepped up, particularly at night. Morondava's police chief, Celestin Ramilison, said looting had not presented a problem.

    Majestic baobab trees in the region were crumpled on the ground. The region is famous for its baobabs, which can live to be 1,000 years old.

    A less powerful cyclone skirted Madagascar's eastern coast on Monday, killing one person and leaving 27 injured and 992 homeless.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:56 PM  
    Two tropical cyclones in South-West Indian Ocean
    Tuesday, January 20, 2009
    Moderate tropical storm Eric and severe tropical storm Fanele have developed in the South-West Indian Ocean around Madagascar. At 1200UTC today, Eric was located at 19.1S, 49.3E and Fanele at 21.8S, 41.0E. It is forecast that, while Eric will move southward, Fanele will remain quasi-stationary, with no further intensification. RSMC La Reunion Tropical Cyclone Centre is watching the systems and providing guidance to the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the area.

    For further information about severe weather, storm surge and related disaster preparedness advisories, please consult the National Weather Service of the countries concerned.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:04 PM  
    Australia state declares massive monsoon disaster
    CANBERRA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Australia's tropical Queensland state on Thursday declared a flood disaster over an area the size of France and Germany after recent monsoon storms.

    Thirty Queensland communities covering 969,000 square km (374,000 sq miles) were declared disaster zones by the state's emergency services minister, Neil Roberts, including many outback and rural communities.

    Queensland residents affected by storms would be able to apply for government assistance payments if they were "unable to recover via their own means", Roberts said.

    Eight major rivers remain in flood after monsoonal rains and a cyclone moved across the state, cutting roads and forcing many small communities to rely on air drops of food and fresh water.

    The floods are eventually expected to move inland, helping fill lakes and relieving a long-running drought in parts of Australia's desert interior and tropical north.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:57 PM  
    Antarctic ice shelf set to collapse due to warming
    By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

    WILKINS ICE SHELF, Antarctica (Reuters) - A huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent.

    "We've come to the Wilkins Ice Shelf to see its final death throes," David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told Reuters after the first -- and probably last -- plane landed near the narrowest part of the ice.

    The flat-topped shelf has an area of thousands of square kilometers, jutting 20 meters (65 ft) out of the sea off the Antarctic Peninsula.

    But it is held together only by an ever-thinning 40-km (25-mile) strip of ice that has eroded to an hour-glass shape just 500 meters wide at its narrowest.

    In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide.

    "It really could go at any minute," Vaughan said on slushy snow in bright sunshine beside a red Twin Otter plane that landed on skis. He added that the ice bridge could linger weeks or months.

    The Wilkins once covered 16,000 sq km (6,000 sq miles). It has lost a third of its area but is still about the size of Jamaica or the U.S. state of Connecticut. Once the strip breaks up, the sea is likely to sweep away much of the remaining ice.

    Icebergs the shape and size of shopping malls already dot the sea around the shelf as it disintegrates. Seals bask in the southern hemisphere summer sunshine on icebergs by expanses of open water.

    A year ago, BAS said the Wilkins was "hanging by a thread" after an aerial survey. "Miraculously we've come back a summer later and it's still here. If it was hanging by a thread last year, it's hanging by a filament this year," Vaughan said.

    Nine other shelves have receded or collapsed around the Antarctic peninsula in the past 50 years, often abruptly like the Larsen A in 1995 or the Larsen B in 2002. The trend is widely blamed on climate change caused by heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels.


    "This ice shelf and the nine other shelves that we have seen with a similar trajectory are a consequence of warming," Vaughan said.

    In total, about 25,000 sq km of ice shelves have been lost, changing maps of Antarctica. Ocean sediments indicate that some shelves had been in place for at least 10,000 years.

    Vaughan stuck a GPS monitoring station on a long metal pole into the Wilkins ice on behalf of Dutch scientists. It will track ice movements via satellite.

    The shelf is named after Australian George Hubert Wilkins, an early Antarctic aviator who is set to join an exclusive club of people who have a part of the globe named after them that later vanishes.

    Loss of ice shelves does not raise sea levels significantly because the ice is floating and already mostly submerged by the ocean. But the big worry is that their loss will allow ice sheets on land to move faster, adding extra water to the seas.

    Wilkins has almost no pent-up glaciers behind it. But ice shelves further south hold back vast volumes of ice. "When those are removed the glaciers will flow faster," Vaughan said.

    Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed by about 3 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) since 1950, the fastest rise in the southern hemisphere. There is little sign of warming elsewhere in Antarctica.

    BAS scientists and two Reuters reporters stayed about an hour on the shelf at a point about 2 km wide.

    "It's very unlikely that our presence here is enough to initiate any cracks," Vaughan said. "But it is likely to happen fairly soon, weeks to months, and I don't want to be here when it does."

    The U.N. Climate Panel, of which Vaughan is a senior member, projected in 2007 that world sea levels were likely to rise by between 18 and 59 cm (7 and 23 inches) this century.

    But it did not factor in any possible acceleration of ice loss from Antarctica. Even a small change in the rate could affect sea levels, and Antarctica's ice sheets contain enough water in total to raise world sea levels by 57 meters.

    About 190 nations have agreed to work out a new U.N. treaty by the end of 2009 to slow global warming, reining in emissions from burning fossil fuels in power plants, cars and factories.

    (Editing by Andrew Roche)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:36 PM  
    Tropical Cyclone FANELE forecast and strike probability F2
    Tropical Cyclone FANELE is forecast to strike land to the following likelihood(s) at the given lead time(s):
    Red Alert Country(s) or Province(s)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 40% in about 24 hours
    probability for TS is 80% within 12 hours
    Red Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    (20.3 S, 44.3 E)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 35% in about 24 hours
    probability for TS is 75% within 12 hours

    Yellow Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    Maintirano (18.0 S, 44.1 E)
    probability for TS is 55% within 12 hours

    Note that
    Red Alert (Severe) is CAT 1 or above to between 31% and 100% probability.
    Yellow Alert (Elevated) is CAT 1 or above to between 10% and 30% probability, or TS to above 50% probability.
    CAT 1 means Tropical Cyclone strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained.
    TS means Tropical Storm strength winds of at least 39 mph, 63 km/h or 34 knots 1-min sustained.

    For graphical forecast information and further details please visit

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by UCL, Aon Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.

    Storm Alert issued at 20 Jan, 2009 6:00 GMT
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 1:51 PM  
    Tropical Cyclone FANELE forecast and strike probability
    Tropical Cyclone FANELE is forecast to strike land to the following likelihood(s) at the given lead time(s):

    Red Alert Country(s) or Province(s)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 40% in about 24 hours
    probability for TS is 75% in about 24 hours
    Red Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    Morombe (21.8 S, 43.4 E)
    probability for CAT 1 or above is 40% in about 24 hours
    probability for TS is 75% in about 24 hours

    Yellow Alert City(s) and Town(s)
    (23.4 S, 43.7 E)
    probability for TS is 60% in about 36 hours

    Note that
    Red Alert (Severe) is CAT 1 or above to between 31% and 100% probability.
    Yellow Alert (Elevated) is CAT 1 or above to between 10% and 30% probability, or TS to above 50% probability.
    CAT 1 means Tropical Cyclone strength winds of at least 74 mph, 119 km/h or 64 knots 1-min sustained.
    TS means Tropical Storm strength winds of at least 39 mph, 63 km/h or 34 knots 1-min sustained.

    For graphical forecast information and further details please visit

    This alert is provided by Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by UCL, Aon Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance, Crawford & Company and Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre. TSR acknowledges the support of the UK Met Office.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 7:06 AM  
    Mozambique floods kill 19; worse may lie ahead
    Thursday, January 15, 2009
    MAPUTO, Mozambique - Authorities in Mozambique say torrential rains have killed 19 people in the past few days and worse flooding may lie ahead.

    Jose Domingos, a disaster management official, says most of the victims died trying to cross a raging river in the central province of Manica. He says hundreds have been given shelter in emergency centers and roads in the area are impassable.

    Mozambican television showed pictures Monday of people trying to cross the Mweri river with their belongings and domestic animals.

    Four more people have been killed and 1,000 displaced in the coastal region of Inhambane in the past two weeks.

    Authorities fear that, as the rainy season in the southern African nation continues, the flooding will worsen.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:31 PM  
    Philippine floods and slides kill 20
    MANILA: Floods and landslides caused by almost a week of unseasonal heavy rains have killed 20 people and displaced 300,000 in the eastern and southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.

    Wide areas on the southern island of Mindanao and in the eastern part of the archipelago from the Bicol region to Samar and Leyte islands were inundated, said Glenn Rabonza, head of the government's disaster agency.

    "We're experiencing an unusual heavy downpour brought by the tail-end of the cold front," Rabonza told reporters, adding many areas have been submerged under 4-6 feet (1.2-2 metres) of floodwaters.

    Rabonza said about 20 people had drowned in swollen rivers or been buried in landslides while 63,000 families or slightly more than 300,000 people had to leave their homes because of the freak weather conditions.

    Local officials and church leaders on Mindanao, the hardest hit area, appealed to the president and non-government agencies to send food, potable water and blankets to more than 115,000 people displaced.

    "We don't have enough food despite donations coming in from private groups and individuals," said Constantino Jaraula, mayor of the southern port city of Cagayan de Oro, adding the supply may last only four days.

    "Every hour the number of affected families increases. We're appealing for help."

    Landslides and flash floods are common across the Philippines during the monsoon months between May and October. Officials said they were surprised by the heavy and continuous rains at this time of the year.

    (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jerry Norton)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:28 PM  
    Fiji PM to blame for poor aid: Qarase
    Fiji's self-appointed prime minister is to blame for the small aid donations given by Australia and New Zealand following devastating tropical storms, the country's former leader Laisenia Qarase says.

    Qarase, who was ousted as leader in Frank Bainimarama's bloodless coup two years ago, said it was "terribly sad" to watch Fijians who have lost everything in the floods be punished because of their country's poor relationship with its neighbours.

    Eleven people have died, including several village children, since the tropical storm began lashing the coast last Friday.

    Almost 10,000 people have been displaced, while more than 300 businesses have been destroyed in the tourist town of Nadi alone.

    Stranded tourists, many Australians and New Zealanders, have had to endure a week of torrential rain during their summer break.

    But while disgruntled tourists have had much to cope with, the country's economy has been hit by losses to the tourist industry, Fiji's biggest earner.

    Cane sugar crops, which earn Fiji $A250 million annually, have been severely damaged.

    Australia has given $150,000 to help rebuild the country, while has New Zealand offered $100,000.

    Qarase said the nominal amounts were "sad for our people but unsurprising".

    "Unless we get a democratically-elected government we can't expect to be receiving much aid," he told AAP.

    "It's as simple as that. Bainimarama can only blame himself for it."

    He said the relief effort was being hindered by newly-installed workers who did not have the experience of those used by past governments.

    "They don't know how to handle this at all, which just adds to the chaos, the ineffectiveness of this mess, and the people are the ones losing."

    Another former leader, Sitiveni Rabuka, who himself led two coups in 1987, was also unsympathetic towards Bainimarama government.

    "Obviously I'm not in a position to criticise (Bainimarama) too much, but we've been through this before with coups," Mr Rabuka said.

    "We are making the same mistakes again and the people are the losers."

    Meanwhile, locals in the hardest hit towns of Nadi, Labasa and Ba started cleaning up on Thursday during a storm reprieve.

    Fiji's weather bureau predicts more wind and rain in days to come but says the tropical depression is very unlikely to develop into a cyclone.

    The damages bill stands at $32 million, with the western region, that is most popular with tourists, hardest hit, the National Disaster Management Office estimated.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:18 PM  
    Flood warning remains
    The Nadi Weather office says while the weather system is improving, the flash flood warning still remains for low lying areas.

    Nadi weather office director Rajendra Prasad said there is an active rain ban sitting north of Labasa, Vanua Levu, which will bring rain for the region.

    For Viti Levu, Mr Prasad said the rain activity is scattered with narrow rain bands and a southwest trough of low pressure that will move over the island.

    "Areas will experience afternoon showers and for the next two weeks we expect it to be rather quiet but by the end of the month and early February there a forecast of flaring of the South Pacific Convergence Zone bringing in another episode of heavy rain and possibly a cyclone for the group," he said.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:15 PM  
    Villages flood, fishermen spooked as storm nears
    Wednesday, January 14, 2009
    Two villages flooded, displacing 241 families, when a dam broke in Demak regency, Central Java, on Tuesday, and hundreds of fishermen were landlocked in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, as tropical storm Charlotte continued to churn up havoc on its way up from Australia.

    The families in the two villages in Karangawen district evacuated when their homes became inundated with flood water 40 centimeters to 1 meter in height after the Cabean River dam overflowed.

    No fatalities were reported, but losses from damaged property and ruined crops were estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of rupiah.

    Mahmud Mugiono, a resident of one of the villages, said the river backed up by the dam had swelled by 25 meters, eventually breaching the dam in five places.

    The flood also disrupted the northern railway line linking Semarang, Central Java, and Surabaya, East Java. Parts of the railway tracks had shifted in a section 21 kilometers east of Semarang. trains were delayed for two hours. The traffic was diverted to the central route through Gambringan, Gundih and Brumbung stations," said Warsono, a spokesman for state railway operator PT KAI's Semarang Operational Region.

    Repair work had begun by early Tuesday. diversion only caused a slight altercation," said Dedi Kusmadjadi, the section head for roads, rail tracks and bridges in the region.

    "But the problem is the alternative route *which the trains are being diverted to* has a slower speed limit of 40 kilometers per hour compared to 60 kilometers per hour for the main northern route."

    Fishermen in Kupang, meanwhile, chose not to risk leaving port amid reports tropical storm Charlotte, which is on a north-west vector heading from Australia, would pass by the coast, where waves were already reported to be up to 3 meters in height. do not want to take any risks because our vessels are not equipped with proper navigational devices," Andi Nurlali, a fisherman, said.

    "It is better to stay in port than be smashed by big waves."

    Head of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency's Lasiana station in Kupang, Purwanto, said that the storm was currently passing through Carpentaria Bay, Australia. "The impact will be slight in East Nusa Tenggara, but not in Flores," he said. State-owned Indonesian Ferry crossing company continued plowing its routes, according to Arnoldus Yansen, the company's operational manager for Kupang.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 4:02 PM  
    Heavy rain hammering Fiji's mainland
    Fiji is bracing for another day of heavy rain and widespread flooding as a tropical storm continues to hammer the swamped west and north coasts.

    Thousands of locals and hundreds of stranded tourists are being forced to endure torrential rain and flooding that has already claimed 10 lives.

    Riverbanks have burst for a second time since the tropical storm began lashing the coast last Friday.

    Five days on, it shows no signs of abating, with houses being flooded and businesses destroyed in the main street of the popular tourist town of Nadi, on the biggest island of Viti Levu.

    "It's a wasteland out there," said one store owner, Vijen Doundai, whose home supplies store in downtown Nadi was flooded, wrecking everything from lounge suites to lawn mowers.

    "There are usually tourists and local people everywhere but now it's a disaster zone and there is not one thing left we can sell."

    Ten people, including at least four local children, have died in flooding and landslides caused by the storm.

    More than 9,000 are sleeping in emergency shelters set up in schools and churches.

    One family spent the night huddled under a tarpaulin on the roof of their flooded home, caring for a baby girl and a frail elderly woman.

    "We were praying because the water kept coming up and it was very hard for the older ones," local woman Sanjeshni Lata said.

    Fiji's controversial self-appointed prime minister, military leader Frank Bainimarama, toured the worst affected areas, including rural areas home to the country's main food industries, sugar cane and dairy.

    "These farms are the backbone of our country, so what is happening is very sad," said the head of Fiji's Disaster Management Office, who estimates the damages bill is about $20 million so far.

    Tourism is the country's other major economic support and it is also likely to take a battering from the storm. Tourists who risked the wet season warning to holiday in summer have been "highly inconvenienced", he said.

    "We know it has been difficult for them but we ask them please, don't leave with a bad feeling. We need them to come back and I think they will. Just maybe not in the wet season next time."

    Brisbane woman Jane Bullock is not so sure. The mother of two and her partner have endured five days of rain on the tourist island of Denarau, and say the Australian government, airlines and local hotels have not done enough to ease frustrations or get them home.

    "It's left a nasty taste in our mouths to be honest," she said.

    "It's a shame to say but we won't be back."

    Others are more resigned, saying they were making the most of the weather by "relaxing, reading and trying not to go stir crazy".

    The Meteorological Service predicts more heavy rain, gale force winds and river flooding on Thursday.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 3:59 PM  
    Madagascar officials expect severe storms
    Tuesday, January 13, 2009
    ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar: A warmer than average southern hemisphere summer could mean fiercer storms for cyclone-prone Madagascar this year, the island nation's forecaster said Tuesday, and emergency teams practiced their response in drills.

    The chief forecaster at the Meteorology Department, Newsman de Priscofe Ndinizara, told The Associated Press temperatures have been between 2.7 and 3.6 F (1.5 and 2 C) above the seasonal average since mid-December.

    "This is unusual and is likely to have a concrete impact upon cyclones' intensity this season, though not upon their frequency," Ndinizara said.

    Madagascar lies off the African continent in the main storm path of the Indian Ocean basin. It normally has three or four major cyclones each year. Fame, Ivan and Jokwe killed more than 100 in Madagascar in 2008 and affected a further 300,000.

    An emergency flood relief drill began in the Malagasy capital in preparation for the coming rainy season. About 100 people took part in the exercise, which involved moving residents to tents to familiarize them with an evacuation and, officials hope, make them comfortable enough to agree to leave their homes should the need arise.

    "Floods follow inevitably after a cyclone," said Col. Charles Rambolarson, director of operations at Madagascar's National Office for Natural Disasters Preparedness.

    Antananarivo sits 4,000 feet (roughly 1,300 meters) above sea level. Cyclones tend to quickly lose force on a journey inland, but bring hard rain to the highlands around the capital. Last year, 20,000 people were displaced on the low-lying plains around the city.

    "I have had to leave my house three years in a row," said Jean Victor Ramantoanina, a tool maker who took part in Tuesday's exercise.

    Under a new plan put in place this year, regional officials will have more authority to order evacuations and take other emergency response steps. In the past, they have had to await orders from central headquarters.

    Relief packages of tents, water pumps and rice stocks have been distributed in advance, and training for local officials has included how to locate sites suitable for the construction of emergency relief camps and how to best identify those most in need.

    "It means we're saving time, and lives," said Dia Styvanley Soa of the disaster preparedness office.

    Tropical Storm Dongo — the fourth of the season — dissipated a safe 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) to the east of Madagascar early Tuesday, according to forecasters.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:14 PM  
    Flood-stricken Fiji braces for more rain
    Wellington - The flood-stricken Pacific island state of Fiji braced Tuesday for more torrential rains as another tropical depression was forecast to arrive later in the day, according to reports from the capital Suva. A state of emergency has already been declared over wide areas of the main island Viti Levu, where three towns, including Nadi, site of the country's international airport, are under water and a night-time curfew is in place to prevent looting.

    The official death toll has been updated to three, with four people listed as missing.

    More than 9,000 people already forced to leave their flood-hit homes remained in evacuation centres, and hundreds of foreign tourists weretrapped with roads and bridges washed out by four days of monsoon-like rains.

    It is reported to be the worst flood in living memory to hit the island state of about 930,000 people.

    With power and other utilities, including the public water supply, disrupted in many areas, health authorities have warned of a possible outbreak of typhoid, dengue fever and diarrhoea.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:11 PM  
    Australian tourists told to stay in storm-ravaged Fiji
    THOUSANDS of tourists, many of them Australians, have been warned to stay put in storm-ravaged Fiji as rising rivers threaten to burst their banks, triggering more flash flooding.

    Officials say a "major depression" is headed for the main island of Viti Levu, following four days of torrential rain triggered by tropical storms typical in the South Pacific's wet season.

    At least six people are dead and 6000 have been displaced from their homes so far.

    Fiji's Meteorological Service director Rajendra Prasad says it is the most severe big wet in decades.

    "This is the type of rain that comes once in a hundred years," Mr Prasad said.

    "This is very full on, incredibly extreme. We need to take extreme care now."

    Heavy rains and flooding are forecast for the entire country over the next two days, accompanied by winds of up to 100km/h.

    "We have rivers threatening to spill their banks, and we don't expect the waters to recede for days, and in fact they will probably still rise," he said.

    Fiji's Disaster Management Officer head Pajiliai Dobui issued a warning today urging tourists and locals to stop stay put.

    "Stay where you are, and take extra care. That's what we're telling everyone," Mr Dobui said.

    Hundreds of Australians are among tourists sheltering in resorts and emergency centres in the travellers hub of Nadi and on outlying islands cut off by heavy seas.

    Many are waiting for flights out of Nadi International Airport, which remains open but with schedule delays and poor access by road.

    Sydney holidaymaker Michaela Hughes said her family was "fed up and tired".

    "It's a ruined holiday. We just want to be home," she said.

    The Fijian dairy and sugar industries have taken a battering from the storms, with several villages swamped and power and water supplies cut in some areas.

    The start of the Fijian school year has been delayed by at least two weeks.

    Australia has offered $150,000 for flood relief, following an announcement of $100,000 aid by the New Zealand Government.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:10 PM  
    More storms predicted for drenched north
    Residents on Magnetic Island have battened down the hatches amid gale forces winds which are continuing to ravage the north Queensland coast.

    "We are drenched, branches are down everywhere, the high tides are flooding roadways and the beachfront ... we are cut off," Magnetic Island resident Barbara Gibbs told

    Ms Gibbs said the island had been battered by "cyclonic winds" since Sunday evening and conditions had worsened in the past 24 hours, cutting ferry services to the island.

    "I am currently watching trees bend over to the ground in my back yard," she said. "It's really quite terrifying. We're stranded here."

    Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Gordon Banks said wind gusts reaching 100kmh in the region were a result of a very active monsoon trough, not cyclone activity.

    "North-east winds through the monsoon trough converge with the south-east trade winds to create such conditions," Mr Banks said.

    The strongest wind gusts were recorded north of Magnetic Island at Lucinda Beach, while gusts reached speeds of 87kmh on Hamilton Island and 75kmh in Townsville.

    On the mainland, the State Emergency Service (SES) has received nearly 400 calls for assistance in the past 24 hours.

    Ex-tropical cyclone Charlotte, which was recategorised as a tropical low yesterday, dumped more than 300 millimetres of rain on areas near Cairns overnight.

    Cape Tribulation received 436mm in the 24 hours to 7am, while Cairns Airport received 301mm.

    Flood waters receded a little this morning, but more storms are expected this afternoon, the bureau said.

    Wayne Hepple, area director for Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) told 353 calls for assistance were received since 6am yesterday, when heavy rain combined with a king tide to create floods in central Cairns, Edge Hill, Bungalow and Trinity Beach.

    "Overnight (5pm to 4am), SES received 80 calls for assistance ... including 17 calls in Townsville and 18 in Cairns," Mr Hepple said.

    "The jobs included sandbagging assistance and temporary roof repairs. A number of sandbagging jobs were also reported in the Hinchinbrook area and one was carried out in Charters Towers."

    Ex-Tropical Cyclone Charlotte is currently sitting over Georgetown, in north-central Queensland, and is expected to weaken further during the day, although heavy rain is expected to hit the north tropical coast and Tablelands south of Cairns, the Herbert-Burdekin and the central coast north of Sarina.

    Flood warnings remain current for the Diamantina, Georgina, Burke, Nicholson, Cloncurry, Albert, Leichhardt, Flinders Rivers and Eyre Creek regions.

    EMQ executive director Frank Pagano advised north Queensland residents not to cross flooded roads.

    "Motorists are urged to heed the warning and avoid driving through floodwaters. Even shallow quick flowing water is strong enough to sweep the driver and their vehicle into a river," Mr Pagano said.

    "It's also important not to swim, walk or ride through floodwaters. Being a good swimmer isn't enough to survive fast flowing flood water currents, and debris submerged under the water has the potential to cause injury. There's also the chance that the waters could be contaminated.

    "People are also encouraged to stay away from stormwater drains, and tidal areas during times of heightened storm activity."

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:04 PM  
    Search for Indonesian ferry survivors fruitless

    MAJENE, Indonesia (AP) — Rescue teams returned empty-handed Tuesday from intense search missions in choppy central Indonesian seas, where more than 230 people are missing after a ferry capsized in a cyclone over the weekend.

    Hopes were briefly lifted when survivors told authorities they had seen dozens of passengers clinging to a fishing platform. But a police patrol scoured the area for six hours and found nothing, said Lt. Col. Zakarya Rahman, who headed the operation.

    Air and sea patrols resumed at sunrise, two days after the 700-ton (635-metric ton) Teratai Prima disappeared with at least 250 passengers and 17 crew onboard.

    So far, at least 34 people, including the captain, have been rescued and one body recovered. It has been more than a day since a survivor was found and the chance that anyone is still alive is slim, authorities said.

    Many of the survivors floated in the tropical water for more than a day clinging to debris, some keeping up their energy by eating a floating cargo of bananas from the ship, officials said.

    An investigation has been started to determine why the captain apparently ignored warnings not to cross the Makassar Strait because of tropical Cyclone Charlotte, Transport Minister Jusman Syafi'i Djamal said earlier Tuesday.

    The government will compensate families $2,400, or roughly two times an average annual salary in impoverished Indonesia, for each victim of the accident.

    The Teratai Prima, which radioed that it was in trouble just before dawn Sunday, capsized about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of western Sulawesi. It was headed for Samarinda on the Indonesian side of Borneo.

    Boats are a major form of transportation in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands. Poor enforcement of safety regulations and overcrowding causes accidents that claim hundreds of lives each year.

    In December 2006, a crowded Indonesian ferry broke apart and sank in the Java Sea during a violent storm, killing more than 400 people.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 9:03 PM  
    Indonesian ferry survivors give dramatic accounts of cyclone disaster
    Monday, January 12, 2009
    Survivors of the Indonesian ferry disaster in which 245 people are still missing told today of their terror as the ship suddenly rolled over, throwing them into the sea in pitch darkness.

    Only 18 passengers and four crew have been rescued, most of whom had to swim for hours buffeted by high waves and wind. One man clung to a bunch of bananas, while another, who was hanging on to a piece of wood, lost his nine-year-old son when they were hit by a big wave.

    Most of the passengers were sleeping when the Teratai Prima was struck by 20ft waves whipped up by tropical cyclone Charlotte that suddenly capsized the 700-tonne vessel.

    A search by two naval ships, a search aircraft and helicopters for the remaining passengers has been hampered by driving rain and heavy seas. Indonesian officials conceded hopes were growing dim.

    Indonesia's transport minister, Jusman Syafii Djamal, said that the captain, Sabir, who uses one name and was among the survivors picked up by a fishing boat, was under investigation for putting to sea despite a storm warning issued by the meteorological office.

    The Teratai Prima sank at 4am on Sunday about 30 miles off the port of Majene as it made an overnight journey from Pare-Pare on the island of Sulawesi to Samarinda on Indonesia Borneo.

    Survivor Yulianus Mangande, 29, told how he had been asleep but was awoken by the noise of the ship listing and had little time to react before it went over.

    "I felt that the ferry was listing to the left," he said. "Then it suddenly turned upside down. I had to swim in the dark in heavy seas until the morning."

    Rudi Alvian, 17, recounted his miraculous survival thanks to a bunch of bananas that served as a life buoy until he was pulled from the water.

    "I was below deck," he said. "A bunch of bananas belonging to other passengers helped me float until I found a lifeboat. We were travelling in bad weather from the time we started to sail."

    Another survivor, Daeng Gassing, 35, explained how he had clung to a log for two hours before scrambling into a life-raft. He pulled five others aboard, but lost his father-in-law and son.

    "People were screaming help, help," he said, sobbing as relatives comforted him. "I grabbed my son on my back and swam to a piece of wood, but my son disappeared after being hit by a huge wave."

    Djamal said the 10-year-old vessel had been inspected last month and found to be in good condition, and there were no indications the ferry was overloaded.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 8:16 PM  
    Cyclone Charlotte downgraded to a low
    TROPICAL Cyclone Charlotte has been downgraded to a tropical low as it loses intensity over Queensland's Gulf Country.

    Queensland's first cyclone of the season made land about 4am (AEST) today near the mouth of the Gilbert River, 305km north-west of Georgetown.

    It weakened to a tropical low about 10am (AEST) but was continuing to bring heavy rain and winds to parts of north Queensland.

    Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Ben Annells said heavy falls of between 100mm to 200mm had fallen in the Gulf Country and north tropical coast.

    Mr Ansell said ex tropical cyclone Charlotte was expected to weaken while it moved south-east, and then south-west, over the southern Cape York area.

    Meanwhile, a monsoon trough is responsible for falls of between 200mm to 400mm around Cairns early today.

    Around 100 homes in Cairns and Port Douglas were flooded and scores of roads closed due to heavy rain.

    Cairns Mayor Val Schier said there did not appear to be much damage, although volunteers were busy sandbagging ahead of a possible second deluge tomorrow.

    Cairns experienced a 2.6m king tide about 10.20am (AEST) today.

    A 2.3m tide is expected at 10pm (AEST) tonight and another 3m tide on tomorrow morning.

    “I just looked outside my window and there was a person actually rowing a boat up the street immediately outside the council chambers,” Ms Schier said.

    “So the king tide that came in this morning coupled with torrential rain has made for huge flooding.”

    She said emergency services were watching the weather to gauge when floodwaters were likely to recede.

    Tomorrow’s king tide could bring more flooding, she said.

    Ms Schier asked residents not to drive through floodwaters, which could trap motorists, or push water into homes.

    Yorkeys Knob resident Simone Roseler said flooding was widespread across the city, while her suburb, about 15km north of Cairns's CBD, was cut off by water.

    “This morning our street was like one big, flowing river and we were scared our car was going to float away,” Ms Roseler said.

    “And the canefields look like lakes.”

    Heavy rain was expected to move south from Cairns to Townsville in the next few days.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:55 PM  
    Bad weather hampers search after ferry sinks
    PAREPARE, Indonesia (AP) -- The search for people missing after an Indonesian ferry accident is being hampered by large waves and driving rain.

    Officials and witnesses say many passengers were sleeping when the 700-ton ferry sank in a tropical storm off Sulawesi island. About 250 people are feared dead.

    One survivor says he tried to keep hold of his 9-year-old son and his father-in-law -- but a big wave hit him and they were gone.

    The man says he heard other people screaming for help.

    The 21 survivors include the ferry captain, who is being investigated for allegedly ignoring warnings about the dangerous conditions kicked up by the storm.

    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:53 PM  
    Gulf braces for storm
    Kowanyama and Karumba residents safeguarded food and medical supplies yesterday as they braced for an onslaught from tropical cyclone Charlotte.

    Residents in the northwest Queensland towns shut up shop and prepared for the worst as weather bureau reports flowed in warning of Charlotte's strong winds of up to 130km/h.

    The weather bureau said the cyclone was likely to cross the coast between Kowanyama and Karumba today by 5am.

    Yvonne Tunney, from Ash's Holiday Units, said huge tides had already hit the small town of about 600 people but she said the biggest worry of locals was being trapped by flooding. The town does not have a doctor.

    Her fears came as the state continued to be inundated with rain as reports of tourists being stranded at Croydon and Georgetown flowed in.

    Emergency services were on standby for sandbagging across the gulf and western regions as roads remained closed.

    "Everyone is looking at the weather bureau site every 5-10 minutes," Ms Tunney said. "The airstrip has been closed since last week.

    "At the moment, the road is still open to Normanton but we'll be concerned if it closes."

    More than 300mm of rain has fallen in the town since January 1. Ray Atherinos, from Gulf Country Caravan Park, said he hoped any destructive winds from the cyclone tracked north of Karumba.

    "And we've only had three hours of sunlight since the beginning of the year," he said.

    Rey Colagong, from Kowanyama Guest House, said the town's residents had braced themselves for tough conditions and said the store was inundated with people buying last minute supplies at noon.

    "Mostly they are buying canned foods and hot foods also," the store attendant told The Cairns Post yesterday afternoon.

    "People are just buying what they need and there is rain but there is no wind yet."
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:49 PM  
    Tropical Storm Brings Gales, Rain to North Queensland
    Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A tropical storm crossing Australia's far northeast is bringing gales and damaging waves and triggered flood warnings in parts of Queensland, where mining operations were already disrupted last week by rain.

    The storm, which was downgraded from a tropical cyclone, may cause unusually high tides and is expected to bring further heavy rainfall and flooding in the southeast of the Gulf of Carpentaria and parts of Cape York Peninsula, the Bureau of Meteorology said. On Jan. 10, a Queensland emergency helicopter delivered supplies to areas isolated by flooding, including a fuel drop at a mine site near Mt. Isa.

    Australia's north, the location of copper, alumina, lead and zinc plants, may have a ``slightly more active'' than average cyclone season this year, the Bureau said in October. About a third of Queensland has been declared a natural disaster area after a week of flooding in the state's northwest, the Australian reported today.

    ``An active monsoon trough lies over the North Tropical Coast district near Cairns and is expected to move south,'' the Bureau said on its Web site. It issued flood warnings for coastal rivers and streams between Cairns and Townsville and said ``damaging'' wind gusts of as much as 90 kilometers (56 miles) an hour are likely.

    Port Reopens

    The Port of Karumba, in the southeast corner of the Gulf of Carpentaria, was re-opened at midday local time, after being closed at midnight because of the cyclone, formerly Tropical Cyclone Charlotte. Shipping has returned to normal, a spokeswoman at the Vessel Traffic Service Centre in Cairns said by phone today.

    Zinc concentrate from OZ Minerals Ltd.'s Century mine is exported through Karumba. The port handled 997,477 metric tons of zinc in the 12 months ended June 30 last year, according to its Web site.

    Mining and production is continuing at the Century mine, said Matthew Foran, a spokesman for Melbourne-based OZ Minerals. Ore is being stockpiled until the roads from the mine to the port are reopened, he said.

    BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Cannington silver and lead mine, the world's largest, is unaffected, said Samantha Evans, a spokeswoman in Melbourne.

    There are no reports yet of damage from the storm, said Lisa Martin, a spokeswoman for Queensland Sate Emergency Services.

    ``It's basically just flash flooding and a few sand-bagging jobs that are coming in,'' Martin said by telephone. ``We're really just monitoring the situation to see how much rain does fall in the area.''

    Damages Bill

    At 10 a.m. local time today, the storm was 70 kilometers southeast of Gilbert River Mouth and 145 kilometers north- northwest of Croydon, moving east-southeast at 11 kilometers an hour.

    The storm isn't expected to re-strengthen to cyclone intensity within the next two days, according to the Bureau. In an average year, two or three cyclones form in Australia's northern region, although as many as five have developed in a single season since records began, according to the bureau.

    The damages bill so far from stock losses and roads cut off by flooding is estimated to be A$21.5 million ($15 million) and is expected to rise, the Australian reported, without citing anyone.

    Rain falls earlier this month closed a rail line in Queensland and forced Xstrata Plc, the world's fourth-largest copper producer, to halt pit operations at the Ernest Henry copper and gold mine near Cloncurry. Zug, Switzerland-based Xstrata said Jan. 8 it restarted open-pit mining at the site.

    Last January, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. stopped work at its Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory due to Tropical Cyclone Helen. Tropical Cyclone Monica closed uranium and alumina output in April 2006.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:48 PM  
    Floods in Fiji kill 8; thousands seek shelter
    SUVA, Fiji (AP) — Authorities rushed on Monday to deliver clean drinking water and other supplies to thousands of villagers who fled flooding from tropical storms that have killed at least eight people on this Pacific island nation.

    The government declared a state of emergency in the western districts that were the hardest hit and are also home to most of the country's international resorts. There have been no reports of tourists in trouble.

    Fiji's largest airport in Nadi, on the main island of Viti Levu, remained open but the city was flooded and some tourists were being turned back to their points of origin.

    Tourists still at resorts were advised by the National Disaster Office to hunker down in preparation for more rough weather.

    "We'd planned this holiday for a year, but it's just turned into absolute hell," Jane Bullock, an Australian tourist, told the Australian Associated Press news agency by telephone from the Sheraton resort on Denarau Island. "It's scary stuff, and there's more than a mild panic setting in."

    Floodwaters were slowly subsiding Monday in some of the worst hit villages, the government said, but forecasters predicted more heavy rain later this week.

    "There's another depression heading toward Fiji within the next two days and that will bring an additional threat," Aisea Qumihajelo, the acting chief of disaster management, told The Associated Press on Monday.

    Four days of torrential rains have flooded the towns of Nadi, Ba, Sigatoka and Labasa and many rural villages on Viti Levu, he said. Sugar cane crops have been washed out, roads severed and bridges submerged by surging floodwaters.

    Authorities said six people drowned in floodwaters and two were killed in a landslide.

    More than 6,000 people have been forced into emergency shelters in schools and other public buildings.

    The military ruler, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, declared an emergency in parts of Veti Levu, allowing authorities to impose night curfews to deter looting.

    New Zealand announced $59,000 (NZ$100,000) in funding to assist relief efforts by the Fiji Red Cross.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:45 PM  
    Storm-hit Fiji declares state of emergency
    SUVA (Reuters) - Fiji declared a state of emergency and curfews after severe storms and flooding struck the Pacific island nation, killing eight people and forcing thousands to evacuate homes, officials said on Monday.

    The floodwaters hit over the weekend along the west coast of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu and although they were receding on Monday, some areas remained inaccessible.

    "I had just finished eating and heard shouts outside, next thing I know I was thrown out of our house and buried in mud and rubble," said landslide survivor Verenaisi Rokobale, 24.

    Rokobale told the Fiji Times website that she only survived the Sunday landslide in her town of Lololo because a passerby saw her hand sticking out from the mud and debris.

    Weather officials warned the South Pacific nation that another low depression, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, was heading toward the Fiji island group.

    "Widespread flooding, including severe flooding of major rivers and streams, is expected on Wednesday and Thursday," Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad said in a weather briefing.

    Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who declared a state of emergency at the weekend, said the government was doing all it could to help people affected by the worst deluge to hit the islands in a decade.

    "(My) heart goes out to those people who have suffered losses," Bainimarama said.

    Under the state of emergency, curfews were imposed in Ba, Nadi and Sigatoka towns.

    "It is basically to safeguard lives and property. We want to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the flood hit areas," Minister of Defense and National Security Ratu Epeli told the Fijilive website on Monday.


    Rescue teams plucked people to safety from rooftops as floodwaters, up to 3 meters (10 ft) deep, struck some areas.

    "It was really frightening. We watched as the doors of our homes were forced open by the water," Vetaia Dokonivalu in the town of Ba told local media. "We saw our belongings being swept out of the houses."

    A total of 6,060 people have sought refuge at 114 evacuation centers, said the National Disaster Management Office, confirming the number of displaced which was earlier reported to be 9,000.

    "We are providing meals to those in the centers we have on our list. For those who come after that, we give them biscuits, milk and other dry stock," said Joeli Rokovada, commissioner of Fiji's western district.

    Health officials warned floodwater victims to be wary of diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid.

    "People need to collect as much rainwater as possible and drink as much of this as possible. The other option is to boil the water," said health official Dr Isimeli Tukana.

    "Watch out for food from supermarkets especially from the towns of Ba, Nadi, Sigatoka and Rakiraki. Our health inspectors will be doing their rounds as soon as the water goes down," Tukana said.

    Hundreds of foreign tourists had been stranded in resorts, with flights disrupted in some airports and roads shut.

    "A lot of the restaurants are shut. They've run out of food," New Zealand tourist Nigel Lagdon told TVNZ television.

    The flooding washed away bridges and roads and swamped the business districts of several towns.

    The flooding covers Fiji's main sugarcane-producing region.

    The Fiji Retailers Association said the floods had caused millions of dollars of damages to the business community.

    "Retailers have reported more than 90 percent damage and loss in stock in Ba and Nadi. There are quite a few who have a total write off of all the assets," said association president Himmat Lodhia.

    (Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Sugita Katyal)
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:41 PM  
    Misery in Haiti is expected to worsen
    A perfect storm of hurricanes, politics, donor fatigue and a global financial meltdown creates a bad prognosis for Haiti's future.

    PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Hundreds were killed and tens of thousands left homeless in 2008 when hurricane rains washed their homes away. Joblessness deepened. Malnutrition magnified. Farms failed.

    Haiti's misery is expected to deepen this year as its crippled economy and the global financial crisis collide with donor fatigue and increasing frustrations about the lack of social and economic progress.

    ''There is Haiti fatigue, or rather Haiti impatience that after three to four years, very little has been accomplished and all of those natural catastrophes have compounded the problem,'' said Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia politics professor and Haiti expert. ``2009 is going to be a very difficult year in Haiti.''

    The gloomy prognosis is widespread here and comes amid a global financial meltdown that has largely detracted world attention from the storms' devastation, the worst humanitarian disaster to hit Haiti in 100 years.

    The grim outlook also comes as the focus shifts to constitutional reform and pending legislative elections. If not handled delicately, both could create a political storm with ramifications far worse than last year's hurricanes and food riots combined, analysts and diplomats say.

    Since the creation of Haiti's 1987 Constitution, the country has gone through several major political crises, most of them prompted by contested elections.

    President René Préval, who is scheduled to give a State of the Nation address before Parliament on Monday, accuses donors of not doing enough to help Haiti crawl its way out of misery, and has called for fewer U.N. tanks and more tractors. Foreign diplomats, meanwhile, say Préval and Haiti's lackluster parliament lack focus and a sense of urgency.

    ''The international community may be tired of Haiti, but if there is no money, you will have more people coming to'' South Florida, said Alix Loriston, former U.N. World Food Program coordinator in Gonaives.

    The epicenter of the disaster, Gonaives, still lacks a clear road map for its future. There is talk of reconstruction, but the absence of a government plan about what to do -- and money to either rebuild or relocate the historical city -- has left Gonaives' 300,000 residents with few options. Many remain in shelters and on rooftops, while others have had no other choice but to return to their mud-encased homes.

    The storms struck just as Haiti was beginning to show signs of progress after years of instability. Inflation was in the single digits, and 7,500 new jobs were injected into its stagnant job market after the U.S. Congress approved a textile trade bill.

    Then came the fuel and food crisis, followed by a nearly five-month political impasse, the international economic meltdown followed by the storms. In a span of three weeks, Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike pounded the country, killing nearly 800, washing away livestock and millions in rice, corn and plantain crops.

    The economy shrunk by 15 percent, and overnight, Haiti's misery and suffering went from chronic to acute.

    ''Haiti is at a tipping point that can go either way,'' World Bank President Robert Zoellick said during a three-day visit after the storms. ``We have to deal with the immediate needs to deal with the social instabilities. But there is also a chance to build. So we need to work with donors to take advantage of the good parts and make sure we ameliorate the terrible difficulties people have suffered.''

    But donors have been lukewarm. Less donor support this year means Haiti is running a $100 million budget deficit, officials say. And after months of emergency food distributions, WFP is preparing to end the servings because a U.N. emergency aid appeal to help stave off starvation and get cash in Haitians' pockets has not raised the $108 million envisioned.

    Haiti has been ''the site of too many feel-good projects draped in national flags,'' Zoellick said in a speech about the dangers of aid fatigue and the need for new approaches on development assistance. ``Too many sterile debates about which comes first -- security or development.''

    Haiti supporters, however, blast the World Bank and other lenders for not moving more swiftly to cancel Haiti's $1.7 billon external debt.

    Some blame the problem on too many Haiti funding appeals. Others say the problem isn't money but a government that lacks leadership and clear priorities.

    ''President Préval has a really tough challenge on his hands . . . trying to rebuild a democratic state that had largely collapsed under Aristide and do it within the context set by [MINUSTAH, the U.N. Stabilization Mission] in a country which historically is proudly nationalistic and shirks at this kind of intervention,'' Thomas Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, told The Miami Herald.

    Shannon doesn't believe there is Haiti fatigue and dismisses criticism by some foreign diplomats here that the U.S. government, Haiti's largest single donor, is not doing enough to help the recovery.

    ''There is a lot going on and it's not that Haiti has slipped off anybody's screen. People are overwhelmed right now by the financial crisis,'' Shannon said. ``With that said, it's too convenient to say things aren't moving as fast as they should be because we aren't as involved as we should be.''

    Shannon said the U.S. government recognizes ``how important Haiti is, we understand the devastating impact of the hurricanes and how it has affected Haiti.''

    But some question the U.S. commitment. After halting deportations to Haiti for more than three months, the Bush administration resumed them last month. A week later, it denied Préval's request to allow undocumented Haitians living here to remain temporarily until their storm-ravaged homeland recovers.

    Meanwhile, concerns about the increased misery have donors pushing for another conference to raise much-needed funds for Haiti. But there is disagreement on the framework, or the time frame.

    ''There is no sufficiently clear signal from the government. We are ready to go and try and mobilize more people who can mobilize more resources,'' said Joel Boutroue, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti. ``They want to achieve concrete actions. We can't treat the donors conference like an auction either, lists of projects that you want to buy or not.''

    Haitian Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Jean-Max Bellerive says officials are tired of donors pledging money without coordinating with the government. By getting them to commit to projects, Haitian officials can better hold donors accountable.

    ''Surely we need money, but we need better money,'' he said.

    Sometimes, the government has no idea of a program's existence. Of the 3,000 nongovernment organization's (NGOs) operating in Haiti, only 400 are registered with his office, he said.

    ''We don't have any problems with the NGOs, but I've always said we need to know what they are doing and with what money and where,'' says Bellerive, currently working on a law requiring more accountability by NGOs and donors.

    Donors say Haiti, by its own track record, doesn't have the capacity or people power to effectively administer programs. Without NGOs, they say, Haiti would be unable to adequately respond to the crisis.

    Haiti supporters respond that after Hurricane Ike, the government dipped into its meager coffers and poured $200 million into the recovery effort to clear roads and replant crops.

    ''The government is trying to do its best, but the question of coordination between the government and donors is key,'' said a diplomat who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. ``When you consider the ups and down that this country faces, at some point, the sympathy for Haiti may be vanishing.''

    Fatton agrees that the Haitian government needs to have a clearer plan and to improve communications with its partners. But he says the international community shares blame for Haiti's crumbling state, and calls its policies toward Haiti ``reckless.''

    ''What both actors have done is to confront one crisis after another without having a clear idea of how to resolve any of the crises,'' he said. ``There is a problem of leadership but there is also the problem of not having enough resources.''
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 6:35 PM  
    Cyclone Charlotte forms off north Queensland coast
    Sunday, January 11, 2009
    RESIDENTS in Queensland's far north have been warned to prepare for damaging tides and winds as the first cyclone of the season moves towards coastal communities.

    Tropical Cyclone Charlotte developed today and was about 60km north northeast of Mornington Island and 275km west southwest of Pormpuraaw about 9am (AEST) in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

    The Bureau of Meteorology said the category 1 cyclone was moving east and strengthening, bringing wind gusts of up to 95km/h.

    Forecaster Tony Auden, from the Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane said Charlotte was expected to cross the coast between the remote communities of Kowanyama and Karumba between 4am and 5am (AEST) tomorrow.

    It is expected to intensify into a strong category 1 cyclone or weak category 2 cyclone before crossing the coast.

    Mr Auden said Charlotte was expected to cause damaging winds and tides throughout the Cape York and Gulf areas.

    Tides at Weipa and Aurukun in Cape York were already about a metre above the high water mark and expected to rise further.

    The Bureau has issued a cyclone warning is current for coastal communities between Aurukun in Cape York and the Northern Territory/Queensland border.

    Mr Auden said Charlotte was not likely to cause significant damage but warned residents in the area to be careful.

    "While being a threat, it doesn't seem to be too seriously considered, caution is needed closer to water but it shouldn't be armageddon," he said.

    Charlotte is also expected to bring heavy rain throughout Queensland's north, including Cairns on the eastern coast, while flooding is expected in the southeast Gulf Country.

    Acting Premier Paul Lucas said authorities were on standby to respond to damage following the cyclone.

    But before it hit, residents had to batten down their homes to try and limit any damage and prevent injury.

    An Emergency Management Queensland spokeswoman said residents should prepare now making an emergency kit with a first-aid kit, torch, battery operated radio, spare batteries, matches, waterproof bags, spare clothing, valuables, canned food and water.

    Residents should also board windows, have timber and tools at hand for emergency repairs and fuel their cars, she said.
    posted by Moderator Image Hosted by Londen time 10:02 PM  
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    The tropical cyclone data presented at this site are intended to convey only general information on current storms and must not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to the protection of property: the data may not be accurate. If you are in the path of a storm you should be listening to official information sources. These data have no official status and should not be used for emergency response decision-making under any circumstances