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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rare Oct snow in US plunges 2.7m into darkness

State College, Pennsylvania: A snowstorm with a ferocity more familiar in February than October socked the US Northeast over the weekend, knocking out power to 2.7 million, snarling air and highway travel and dumping more than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow in a few spots. Officials warned it could be days before many see electricity restored. 
    The combination of heavy, wet snow, leaf-laden trees and frigid, gusting winds brought down limbs and power lines. At least three deaths were 
blamed on the weather, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York. 
    The 750,000 who lost power in Connecticut broke a record for the state that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the state in August. People could be without electricity for as long as a week, Gov Dannel P Malloy said on Sunday. The storm worsened as it moved north, and communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals 
topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday. 
    Along the coast and in such cities as Boston, relatively warm water temperatures helped keep snowfall totals much lower. Washington received a trace of snow, tying a 1925 record for the date. NYC's Central Park set a record for both the date and the month of October with 1.3 inches of snow. Some inland towns got more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow. West Milford, New Jersey, saw 19 inches by early Sunday. AP

EARLY WINTER: A snow-covered street in New York on Saturday

5K kids sexually abused in ’10

1,408 Children Killed In Country Last Yr: Govt Report

New Delhi: As many as 5,484 children were sexually assaulted and 1,408 others killed in different parts of the country last year, according to a government report. 
    Giving a gloomy picture of treatment of children in the country, the latest National Crime Records Bureau data also says that 10,670 children were kidnapped or abducted during the year in various states and Union Territories. 
    Uttar Pradesh topped the list of child murders with 315 cases. In Madhya Pradesh the highest number of children faced sexual assault with the number of cases standing at 1,182 for the same period. 
    Maharastra had 211 cases of child murders with another 200 such cases in Bihar and 124 victims in Madhya Pradesh, the NCRB data reveals. In the 
last year, Maharashtra had 747 cases of child sexual assault, Uttar Pradesh had 451 and Andhra Pradesh recorded 446 such cases. Similarly, Chattisgarh recorded 382 such cases with Rajasthan close at its heels with 369 such incidents reported. 
    In Delhi, 29 children were 
murdered and 304 others were raped in 2010. 
    The national capital has reported the highest number of kidnapping of children in the country— 2,982, followed by Bihar (1,359), Uttar Pradesh (1,225), Maharashtra (749), Rajasthan (706), Andhra Pradesh (581) and Gujarat (565). AGENCIES

HIGH-TECH VIGIL Police stations to get live CCTV feed

Mumbai: The short-staffed, overburdened police force will soon have a high-tech system to help it maintain vigil. A control room will monitor a network of 5,000 CCTV surveillance cameras covering major locations in the city, and the home department plans to connect footage from the high-tech devices with police stations. 

    "The idea of linking the camera footage is to ensure that besides the control room, local police stations too have real-time visuals of any incident. Linking footage will help the police react faster to any incident as they will not have to wait for a description and details about a crime from the regional or main control room," additional chief secretary (home) Umesh Chandra Sarangi told TOI. 
    Post-26/11, the state government, to revamp vigilance and strengthen security in the metropolis, had decided to install a network of CCTV cameras. 
    Way before 2008, Pydhonie police station's experiment of monitoring crowded streets in its jurisdiction had worked well, and the home department claimed 
that the crime rate (especially cases of eve-teasing and pickpocketing) had reduced after installation of the CCTV cameras in the area. 
    A senior Indian Police Service (IPS) official said there was an advantage of having a techdriven system to maintain law and order. "The home department's idea will not put much of a financial burden on the government. The department has to use its existing infrastructure and link cameras installed for security to police stations. The use of technology and connecting cameras to police stations will reduce pressure on the force and help control crime," the official added.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

India at ‘Extreme’ Risk from Climate Change

Kolkata tops global climate change risk rating; Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi listed as 'high risk' areas

A third of humanity, mostly in Africa and South Asia, face the biggest risks from climate change but rich nations in northern Europe will be least exposed, according to a report released on Wednesday. 
Bangladesh, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are among 30 countries with "extreme" exposure to climate shift, according to a ranking of 193 nations by Maplecroft, a British firm specialising in risk analysis. 
Five Southeast Asian nations — Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia — are also in the highest cat
egory, partly because of the rising seas and increasing severe tropical storms. 
Maplecroft's tool, the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), looks at exposure to extreme weather events such as drought, cyclones, wildfires and storm surges, which translate into water stress, loss of crops and land lost to the sea. 
How vulnerable a society is to these events is also measured, along with a country's potential to adapt to future climate change-related hazards. 
Of 30 nations identified in the new report as at "extreme" risk from climate change, two-thirds are in Africa and all are developing countries. Africa is especially exposed to drought, severe flooding and wildfires, the report says. 
"Many countries there are particularly vulnerable to even relatively low exposure to climate events," said Charlie Beldon, coauthor of the study. 
Weak economies, inadequate healthcare and corrupt governance also leave little margin for absorbing climate impacts. 
At the other end of the spectrum, Iceland, 
Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Estonia top the list of nations deemed to be least at risk. With the exception of Israel and oil-rich Qatar and Bahrain, the 20 least vulnerable countries are in northern and central Europe. China and the US, the world's No1 and No2 carbon emitters — are in the "medium" and "low" risk categories, respectively. In a parallel analysis of major cities at risk, Maplecroft pointed to Dhaka, Addis Ababa, Manila, Kolkata and the Bangladesh city of Chittagong as being most exposed. 
Three other Indian metropolitan areas — Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi — were listed as being at "high" risk. 
"Vulnerability to climate change has the potential to undermine future development, particularly in India," Beldon observed. 
Recent studies — reviewed in a special report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due out next month — point to strengthening evidence of links between global warming and extreme weather events.

THAT SINKING FEELING A devotee washes his clothes after a ritual dip in the polluted waters of Yamuna in New Delhi — REUTERS

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thundershowers, strong winds claim at least 2 lives, injure 18

100 Hutments Destroyed, Youngest Victim 2 Years Old

    The bout of thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds, which continued for the second consecutive day, has taken its toll on the city. In the last 24 hours, lightning and freak accidents have claimed the lives of at least two people—one in Bhiwandi and another in Kandivli—and injured 18 people. There were reports of two others deaths, one in Bhiwandi, though it was not confirmed. In Kandivli (E) an auto driver died but it wasn't confirmed if it was due to the weather. 
    The youngest victim was a twoyear-old boy, Rudrapratap Vishwakarma, who died when a tree—uprooted by strong winds—crashed into his house at Shivaji Nagar locality near Kamath Ghar in Bhiwandi late Thursday evening. Around 100 hutments at Shivaji Nagar were destroyed during Thursday's unprecedented storm and 18 residents including Rudrapratap's parents were injured. With no access to food, water or electricity, locals at Shivaji Nagar say the authorities have done little to help them. "The fire brigade and police officials reached the spot 30 minutes after the storm ravaged our houses. We had to transport the injured to hospitals," said a local, Bhagwan Thakur. At least three of the 14 injured are critical, said local police officials.
    Israel Shaikh (28), was struck by lightning at Kandivli (E) on Wednesday night. Shaikh, who was mason, lived in a shanty with his family. He was fixing the roof of his hutment when he was struck by lightning. In a separate incident on Wednesday evening, autorickshaw driver, Triloknath Upadhyaya (55), collapsed on the road near
Thakur College, Kandivli (E). "Whether it was a lightning strike can be determined after an autopsy," said the police. 
    Archives show that heavy rain in the second week of October is an unusual phenomenon for Mumbai, but officials said that thunderstorms at this time of the month are common. "There are always thunder activities that take place during the transition period be
tween two seasons," said a weather official. Past monsoon trends show that Mumbai usually records heavy rain in the first week of October. The one-day rainfall, recorded between Wednesday and Thursday, was the highest the city received in the second week of October since a decade. 
    From June to September 2011, Colaba recorded 2878 mm—128.63% of the average and Santa Cruz 3154.8 mm—120.27% of the average. In the monsoon of 2010, the city had the highest total rainfall in the last two decades. "The rainfall this year has been good. The rains of 2010 can't be expected every year; the intensity the monoon entails is different every year," said a weather official. 
    With inputs from Nitasha Natu 

Stormy Weather In October Wednesday | Colaba received 38.8 mm rain, and Santa Cruz 71 mm Thursday | Colaba recorded 1.1 mm rain, and Santa Cruz recorded 14. 2 mm. Rain was accompanied by strong winds of 20 knots Today's forecast |Occasional spells of rain and thundershowers in the city and suburbs 

Monsoon 2011 
From June to September 2011, Colaba recorded 2,879 mm rain and Santa Cruz 3,155 mm 
    Rainfall data of the last 50 years shows that 2011—despite getting more rainfall than the annual average—has been a drier year than 2010. 
    Mumbai received the maximum amount of rain 57 years ago: In 1954, the city received 3,482 mm rain

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: (top) The sun loses the battle to storm clouds on Thursday evening. (above) An uprooted tree crashed into a house at Shivaji Nagar

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