Friday, March 20, 2015

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Celestial Convergence - Supermoon Solar Eclipse Thrills Sky Gazers!

March 20, 2015 - SPACE
-  People across Europe and other parts of the world gazed with awe skywards on Friday to see a rare type of solar eclipse, which has coincided with other celestial events such as the spring equinox and a supermoon.

Only those in parts of the Artic and the north of Europe were lucky enough to witness the eclipse in its totality. But millions were able to see a partial eclipse in other parts of Europe, North Africa and West Asia.

The rare coincidence of the solar eclipse and the vernal equinox is not expected to occur until the year 2034. The supermoon is a phenomenon, which sees the moon’s position closer to Earth than usual.

However, some viewers of the rare celestial show were disappointed as clouds obscured the sky over Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands.

"It was overcast, there was rain and wind. You could see nothing. It was a disappointment for everybody," Gabor Lantos, a Hungarian tourist, told Reuters. "Some tourists were so irritated, they argued with tour operators, demanding their money back."

Others were more thrilled despite the cloudy weather.

"It was worth coming here from Australia, probably not as good as the 2012 eclipse we saw in Cairns, but still worth coming," said Australian visitor Michael Tonks. Street lights came on automatically as the sky blackened.

Astronomers and onlookers also gathered on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago to watch the eclipse: the sun became almost completely obscured there. "We couldn't ask for more. It was stunning," Ronny Brunvoll, head of the Visit Svalbard organization told Reuters.

WATCH: Supermoon solar eclipse thrills sky gazers.

The event gave scientists a rare opportunity to carry out tests of the solar atmosphere, the corona, the temperature of which is about twice as hot as the sun.

People started booking hotel accommodation at the archipelago in 2008 to see the supermoon eclipse, forcing some tourists to stay in tents despite running the risk of a surprise rendezvous with polar bears.

In places like London and Paris, observers didn’t get much of a sense of darkness, and Patrick Rocher of the IMCCE astronomy institute in France explained that it’s because the sun “still brightens up (the sky) a lot even at 20 percent,” as cited by AFP.

What’s more, clouds covered a big part of Northern Europe, so only a few spots experienced the event in full, one being Berlin.

In Moscow, where the weather was clear, people took to the streets to watch the partial eclipse and could later see the footage of the full eclipse on a big screen in the city center, as well as in the metro by connecting to the system’s WiFi. - RT.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Train Derails In Uttar Pradesh, Northern India - At Least 6 People Dead And Over 40 Injured!

March 20, 2015 - INDIA
- Six people were killed and 40 others injured when three coaches of a train derailed in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. The injured people have been admitted to nearby hospitals.

Conflicting reports suggest there are more fatalities from the derailment than officially stated.

Several people are also feared trapped in the wreckage, and rescue workers, along with villagers, have been trying to locate and rescue them.

The Janta express train 1422 was traveling from Dehradun to Varanasi. “One engine and two coaches have been derailed,” according to Chief PR officer Neeraj Sharma, as quoted by IBN media outlet.

Two lakh rupees (about $3,000) would be provided to the families of those killed, while 50,000 rupees (about $800) would be given to relatives of those injured in the derailment, according to a statement from the office of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The cause of the derailment remains unknown, but authorities suspect that the brakes of the engine failed, International Business Times reported.

One of the carriages involved in the accident was apparently empty, resulting in a lower death toll.

India's railroad network is one of the world's largest and carries more than 23 million passengers each day. - RT.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

March 20, 2015 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

Mexico – Floods in Michoacan and Guerrero After 2 Days of Rain

 Two days of constant heavy rain in south-west Mexico has resulted in flooding in parts of Michoacán and Guerrero states.


The heavy rain first began to fall on 15 March 2015. In Michoacán, the worst affected areas are the state capital, Morelia, and the municipalities of Zamora, Apatzingán, Tancítaro and Uruapan.

In Morelia, the Rio Grande overflowed, forcing some residents in the districts of Jacarandas, Primo Tapia, Carlos Salazar and Tres Puentes to evacuate. Flooding has affected as many as 32 districts (colonias) in the city, according to local media.

Morelia suffered from severe flooding in 2013.

Floods in Morelia, Mexico, 2013. Photo: Government of Michoacán

Elsewhere in the state, 30 families were evacuated and floods have destroyed as many as 20 houses in Apatzingán.


In Guerrero state, around 90 homes have been damaged by floods in Atoyac de Alvarez and San Jerónimo. Acapulco has also seen heavy rain and strong winds, although no major flooding has been reported in the city.

Flood damaged roads in Ometepec, Mexico. Photo: Efrain Montero

Acapulco suffered from major floods in September 2013
, when parts of the city were under 1 metre of water and thousands of tourists were stranded after the airport was flooded. At least six people died in floods in the state in October 2014, when as many as 4,000 people were forced frm their homes.

20,000 affected by flooding in Boca do Acre, Brazil

Flooded school in Boca do Acre in Amazonas State, Brazil, March 2015. Photo: Seduc – Amazonas

More than 20,000 people have been affected by flooding caused by the swollen Purus River in Boca do Acre in Amazonas State, Brazil.

Defesa Civil Amazonas (Amazonas state civil defense) have distributed more than 36 tons of humanitarian aid to flood victims, which includes food, medicine, bedding, mosquito nets, drinking water, and water filters.

"We ... are working on the needs of the population and municipal deficiencies caused by this natural disaster," said the Secretary of Defesa Civil Amazonas, Colonel Roberto Rocha.

At least 70 families have been forced from their homes and are being housed in emergency tents. Authorities say that 8 out of the 9 local districts have been affected. Defesa Civil Amazonas reported that the city's water treatment plant has been damaged in the floods. Maize and banana crops have also been flooded.

WATCH: Floods in Boca do Acre.

Boca do Acre is a small municipality of around 30,000 people, located at the meeting point of the Purus and Acre rivers.

Earlier this month, high levels of the Acre River caused severe flooding in several locations in Acre state - in particular the city of Rio Branco where the river reached record levels - and later parts of Amazonas state.

Amazonas State

WMO report that 100mm of rain fell in 24 hours in São Gabriel da Cachoeira in Amazonas state. Heavy rain has been falling across the region over the last 4 days.

More heavy rainfall could mean increased levels of the Purus and Juruá rivers further affecting parts of Amazonas state. Some of these areas suffered from flooding earlier this month. Defesa Civil Amazonas say that Itamarati, Guajará, Ipixuna, Eirunepé, Envira (Juruá river) and além de Canutama, Tapauá, Carauari, Pauiní, Humaitá (Purus river) are all in "emergency situations" (Situação de Emergência).

Mexico Floods – Marabasco River Overflows in Colima and Jalisco

The severe weather that caused flooding in Michoacán and Guerrero has also caused problems in neighbouring states in southern Mexico, increasing river levels in Colima and Jalisco and causing further flooding. Heavy rainfall, hail storms and strong winds have affected southern and western Mexico since 13 March 2015.

Colima and Jalisco States

The Marabasco river, which runs along the border of Colima and Jalisco states, has overflowed causing floods in the municipalities of Manzanillo (Colima) and Cihuatlán (Jalisco).

Manzanillo saw over 97 mm of rain fall in 6 hours on 16 March, according to Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil (UEPC).

Colima state congress is urging the federal government to declare a state of emergency for the area to offer the affected region access to emergency finance.

Mexican media are also reporting local anger at the federal government and Comisión Nacional del Agua (National Water Commission / Conagua) for lack of flood defences along the Marabasco river.


As reported yesterday, in the state of Michoacán, the worst affected areas are the capital, Morelia, and also Zamora and Apatzingán.

Governor Jara Salvador Guerrero said around 3,000 people have been affected. In Morelia, where 400 homes have been damaged, some streets were in flood water up to 70 cm deep. Around 400 homes were also damaged in Zamora and around 50 in Apatzingán. The municipality of Múgica has also been affected.

Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación / SAGARPA) have reported that initial estimates show that around 12,000 hectares of crops have been damaged across 19 municipalities in the state, leaving producers facing heavy losses.

UN Relocates 50,000 Refugees in Ethiopia to Avoid Flood Risk

Floods in refugee camp at Bentiu, August 2014. Photo: UN Photo / Flickr

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, announced on 17 March 2015 that it will begin relocating more than 50,000 South Sudanese refugees from flood-prone areas of western Ethiopia to avoid flood risks posed by the start of the rainy season.

The refugees are being moved from the Leitchuor and Nip Nip refugee camps in the Gambella region. UNHCR say that the move has been prompted by floods last year when both camps were severely hit by flooding in August 2014 after heavy rainfall caused the Baro River to overflow.

Refugees will be taken by bus for a 300-kilometre-long journey, which takes about eight hours, to new camps at either Pugnido or Jewi.

“Our plan is to relocate all willing refugees in a safe and dignified manner,” said Angele Djohossou, head of the UNHCR sub-office in Gambella, adding that the strategy also includes the development of projects aimed at ensuring peaceful co-existence between refugees who opt to remain and the host community.

Bentiu Refugee Camp, South Sudan

The refugee camp in Bentiu, South Sudan, is also regularly hit by severe floods, causing further misery for the camps 50,000 residents, as well as increasing the risk of water-borne diseases. Bentiu flooded in June last year after 2 days of heavy rain in the area. The camp is in a low-lying area, making it vulnerable to flooding, although residents are reluctant to leave the safety of the camp for higher ground.

Floods Displace 4,000 in West Java, Indonesia

Floods in Indonesia. Low income households along riverbanks are prone to floods. Photo: Farhana Asnap / World Bank

BNPD, the disaster management agency in Indonesia, said yesterday that an embankment on the Cimanuk river had been breached, forcing around 4,000 people from their homes. The embankment failure occurred in the village of Pilangsari village, Indramayu, West Java province.

Around 1,000 houses and 100 hectares of rice fields were under flood water that, at one point, was up to 3 metres deep in places. BNPD say that at least 15,000 people have been affected overall across several districts of Indramayu.

The embamkment was built in 2012, according to local media. BNPD say that levels of the Cimanuk had increased after heavy rain in catchment areas of Garut and Majalengka. River levels increased to a point where, according to local media, a 150 metre stretch of the embankment was damaged and the river overflowed.

Indramayu lies about 200 km east of Jakarta. The flooding has blocked one of the area’s major coastal roads at Jatibarang, disrupting traffic heading to and from the capital.

Local authorities, military and police personnel and volunteers carried out evacuations and are working to distribute food and blankets to those displaced.

In their most recent report of March 17, 2015 7:28 pm (local time), BNPD say that the floods have started to recede.

Heavy rain has been falling in the region generally over the last few days. WMO say that Ketapang, West Kalimantan saw 281.2 mm of rain in 24 hours between 16 and 17 March 2015. In Sintang, Kalimantan, 81 mm of rain fell in the same period. In East Java, Surabaya saw 51.1 mm of rain in 24 hours to 16 March, 2015.

- Floodlist.