Tag Archives: Hurricane

China quake survivors spend second night in freezing cold

Battling bitingly cold weather and a lack of oxygen, rescue workers clawed with their bare hands through the rubble of homes and schools toppled by the 6.9 magnitude quake that hit Yushu county in Qinghai province on Wednesday.

Officials said medical teams and supplies such as tents and quilts were on their way to the zone, where doctors set up makeshift hospitals to treat victims of the deadliest quake in China in two years.

But thousands spent another night without shelter in freezing temperatures after the quake destroyed almost all the mudbrick and wooden houses in Jiegu, the local capital, and flattened schools.

“I lost my husband and I lost my house,” Gandan, a Jiegu resident, told AFP, her son and daughter at her side. All three were living in a tent with other people, with one bowl of barley to share.

“We don’t know what to do, we have no food,” she said, standing by the tent a stone’s throw from her collapsed mud and brick house.

China quake devastates stunned town

The number who perished rose to 760, including dozens of children, while 11,477 were injured, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting rescue coordinators.

The death toll is expected to rise further, with 243 still buried, and local officials say they were short of medical supplies and large digging equipment.

“The rescue job in this disaster zone faces many difficulties,” said Miao Chonggang, of the China Earthquake Administration, which is coordinating more than 7,000 rescuers.

President Hu Jintao cut short a Latin American tour and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao postponed a trip to Southeast Asia.

Hu told a news conference in Brasilia the quake was “a huge calamity which resulted in big losses of human life”.

Chinese president calls quake ‘huge calamity’

Wen on Thursday visited the quake zone, an underdeveloped area of the Tibetan plateau known as the “Roof of the World”.

“The top priority is to save people. We will never give up even if there is only a slim hope,” Wen told a meeting at the quake-relief headquarters in Yushu, according to Xinhua.

Soldiers, police and firefighters used shovels, iron bars and bare hands to dig through the mangled piles of concrete and rubble from 15,000 toppled homes.

Foreign governments offered help as international aid officials warned that the priorities would be providing shelter, medical aid, food and water and ensuring sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of Internet users have been showing their solidarity with the quake victims by posting virtual flowers in online “mourning halls” and donating to appeals, Xinhua said.

Jiegu lies around 800 kilometres (500 miles) by road from the provincial capital Xining, about 4,000 metres above sea level, meaning rescue workers from outside the region struggled to cope with the lack of oxygen.

The government said electricity and phone links had been restored to dozens of towns but the difficult terrain, including deep canyons, and the bitter cold and remoteness of the area were hampering rescue efforts.

Dazed survivors told harrowing stories of loved ones crushed under their homes.

“There are 10 people in my family and only four of us escaped. One of my relatives died. All the others are buried under the rubble,” Samdrup Gyatso, 17, told Xinhua after his two-storey home crumbled.

Facts on China quake zone

Among the dead were at least 66 pupils and 10 teachers, Xinhua said, quoting local authorities, as grieving parents waited for news near the ruins of the schools, where discarded school books and clothes lay.

Xinhua said a baby boy had been born in a tent near the epicentre shortly after the quake.

“It must be the first life that came to the world after the disaster,” Huang Changmei, a doctor, told the agency.

“The baby brought hope to the ruined place.”

The devastation was reminiscent of the huge quake in May 2008 in Sichuan province, where thousands of children were among 87,000 deaths when their shoddily-constructed schools collapsed.

Schoolbooks strewn in China quake rubble as children perish

Xu Mei, of the education ministry, denied a media report that around 200 children had been buried in the ruins of a primary school in Wednesday’s quake.

In Beijing, Zou Ming, the head of the government’s disaster relief department, said nearly 40,000 tents, 120,000 articles of clothing, 120,000 quilts and food were being dispatched.

Hurricane Jimena kills one in northern Mexico

www.reuters.com

Hurricane Jimena kills one in northern Mexico

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CIUDAD CONSTITUCION, Mexico  – Hurricane Jimena killed an elderly man who drowned when floodwater surged into his home in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, the first casualty of the weakening storm, officials said.

Neighbors found the 74-year-old man’s body on Thursday in his home in the small town of Mulege on the peninsula’s east coast, close to where Jimena, now graded a tropical storm, passed as it churned into the Sea of Cortes.

“He was alone in his house and he drowned,” Mulege Mayor Jose Manuel Murillo told Reuters, explaining that torrential rains caused a nearby small river to burst its banks.

Jimena formed quickly over the weekend and swelled into a treacherous Category 4 hurricane off Mexico’s Pacific coast, pummeling the luxury resort area of Los Cabos with high winds and driving rain.

It weakened to Category 1 level as it hit land on Wednesday but was strong enough to smash flimsy buildings, tear fishing boats from moorings, snap branches and flood desert towns like Ciudad Constitucion on the peninsula’s Pacific side.

By Thursday afternoon Jimena was moving slowly across the Sea of Cortes with moderate winds of around 40 mph and was forecast to peter out to a depression by Friday.

Towns like Mulege were without power and drinking water.

Jimena was the second eastern Pacific storm to strike Mexico this season after Andres swept a fisherman to his death near Acapulco in June.

Much of Baja California is mountainous desert, dotted with small towns. Those tourists that venture out of sun-drenched Los Cabos tend to be hikers or campers interested in seeing whales, cave paintings or vineyards.

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Dangerous hurricane heads for Mexico resort

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Dangerous hurricane heads for Mexico resort

LOS CABOS, Mexico  – Hurricane Jimena grew into a highly dangerous storm as it raced toward Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Monday, scaring tourists, prompting residents to sandbag homes and disrupting a top-level finance conference.

Jimena’s winds strengthened to nearly 155 mph (250 kph), almost reaching the threshold of a deadly Category 5 storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Category 5 hurricanes are the top of the Saffir-Simpson intensity scale and can be devastating if they hit land.

“I’ve never seen a storm this big in the 23 years I have lived here,” said local resident Caterina Acevedo in Los Cabos, a lively resort area at the tip of the peninsula.

“This one is really scary … but when I tried to leave there were no seats on the planes,” she added.

Much of Baja California is sparsely populated desert and mountains that are popular with nature lovers, surfers, sport fishermen and retirees. Los Cabos, which is more built up, attracts tourists to its golf courses, resorts and beaches.

Mexico, a major oil producer, has no oil installations in the Pacific. But ports in the area have started closing due to Jimena, which formed and built up quickly last weekend.

Economy officials from dozens of countries were due to meet in Los Cabos on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss tax havens, but the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development moved the talks to Mexico’s capital as the storm threat grew.

The meeting was “transferred to Mexico City because of the threat of severe damage posed by Hurricane Jimena,” the Paris-based group said in a statement. Jimena was located about 245 miles (390 km) south of Cabo San Lucas and moving northwest, roughly parallel to the Mexican coastline, at 9 mph (15 kph). Hurricane force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from its center.

The Hurricane Center forecast it would hit the Los Cabos area on Tuesday and move inland on Wednesday, dumping 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain on southern Baja California. Los Cabos, normally bathed in brilliant sun from dawn to dusk, was overcast and drizzly on Monday.

The port of Cabo San Lucas was shut and a line of trailers formed as yachts, water taxis and glass-bottomed tourist boats were removed from the water for safety reasons.

Colleen Johnson, 55, who had just moved down from Canada, stocked up on water, batteries and canned food as she prepared to take shelter. “We’re a little leery but I think we are doing everything right,” she said at a Wal-Mart store that had run out of rain ponchos.

Civil protection authorities opened emergency shelters in schools for the area’s poorest residents, many of whom live in plywood shacks, but few seemed keen to leave and empty city buses waited for voluntary evacuees.

Mexico issued a hurricane warning for the area. The Hurricane Center predicted significant coastal flooding and said: “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.” Many tourists said they preferred to cut short their vacation than spend two days in a storm shelter.

“I don’t want to get stuck here,” said Neil Freese, 29, from San Francisco, as he hurried to the airport.

Jimena is the second hurricane of the 2009 eastern Pacific season to brush close to Mexico after Andres pounded the coast in June and swept a fisherman to his death in Acapulco.

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