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Climate Change

Australia sweats through heatwave, bushfire risk rated ‘extreme’

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(Last Updated On: February 4, 2024)

Large swaths of Australia on Sunday sweltered through a heatwave as authorities warned of elevated bushfire risk in an already high-risk fire season during an El Nino weather pattern.

The nation’s weather forecaster had heatwave alerts in place for Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia, warning temperatures in some parts of the country could hit the low 40s Celsius, Reuters reported.

An El Nino is a climate pattern in which unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures are associated with phenomena such as cyclones, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves.

The high in the west of Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, was forecast at 39 C, almost 10 degrees above the February mean, forecaster data showed.

Hot and dry conditions combined with gusty winds prompted the forecaster to issue “extreme fire danger” warnings for parts of Victoria and South Australia states.

Sunday’s hot weather – the latest in a string of heatwaves to scorch Australia – comes after the country’s east was hit last month by damaging floods.

Climate Change

Russia voices support for Afghanistan’s participation at COP29

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2024)

A Russian official has said that Afghanistan’s representatives should have presence in international climate change meetings including this year’s COP29 U.N. climate summit that will be held in Azerbaijan’s Baku.

Ruslan Edelgeriyev, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change of the Russian Federation, said this as he met with Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul on Saturday.

The meeting focused on bilateral relations between IEA and the Russian Federation, economic cooperation, cooperation in the area of climate change and ways to upgrade diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Stressing on enhanced bilateral relations, Muttaqi said that further progress can be made in several areas by upgrading diplomatic relations, adding that despite Afghanistan not being a greenhouse gas emitter, it remains vulnerable to hazardous effects of climate change.

Urging Russia to cooperate in providing training to the staff of the relevant bodies in environment protection and forestation, Muttaqi requested Russian support in ensuring the participation of Afghan representatives in international forums on environmental protection.

Exchanging views on upgrading bilateral diplomatic relations, Edelgeriyev pledged to duly reflect developments in Afghanistan to the Russian president, according to the statement.

He emphasized that Afghanistan’s representatives should participate in international climate change meetings, highlighting that Russia will support participation of the Afghan delegation in COP29 to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

He also stressed on the commencement of the work of the bilateral trade commission between Afghanistan and Russia.

The Russian official separately met also with Acting Industry and Commerce Minister Nooruddin Azizi, where they discussed expansion of trade relations.

This comes as a two-day international conference on climate change began in Nangarhar province on Saturday.

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Climate Change

Philippine landslide death toll climbs to 37

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2024)

The number of people killed by a landslide in the southern Philippines has risen to 37, an official said on Sunday, as rescue workers continued to dig through mud even as hope of finding more survivors dimmed.

The landslide struck on Tuesday night outside a gold mine in Maco town in the province of Davao de Oro, burying homes and vehicles ferrying employees to the site operated by Apex Mining, Reuters reported.

Edward Macapili, an official of Davao de Oro province, said 37 people had died from the landslide, in the latest update after two more bodies were found on Sunday.

However, the tally of missing people was revised down to 63 from 77, while there were 32 injured. Officials did not immediately cite a reason for the revision.

Macapili said over 300 people were involved in the rescue, but operations were being hampered by heavy rain, thick mud and the threat of further landslides. Rescue work resumed on Sunday morning, Macapili said.

Asked if there were still survivors, Macapili said it was already “unlikely”, but the search would continue.

“The rescue team is doing its best, even if it’s very difficult,” Macapili said by phone.

Torrential rains have battered Davao de Oro in recent weeks, triggering floods and landslides.

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Climate Change

Pacific storm douses California, flooding roads, in first of one-two punch

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2024)

The first in a one-two punch of atmospheric river storms soaked Southern California with drenching rains on Thursday, triggering scattered flooding and rush-hour road closures in a precursor to a larger, wetter blast expected to sweep ashore over the weekend.

The city of Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles, was one of the hardest-hit areas, with rainwater flooding a stretch of freeway and adjacent streets beneath a railroad bridge, leaving several vehicles submerged up to their roofs, Reuters reported.

At least one motorist, Franklin Capitulo, 54, a hotel employee who was driving home from work, had to be rescued after his car stalled in the middle of an inundated roadway, leaving him trapped in his vehicle as water steadily rose around him.

“I ran into this water, but I didn’t expect it was that deep already,” said Capitulo, recounting that he grew panicky and called his brother for help, and was ultimately pulled through a window by firefighters who arrived at the scene.

Flooding, mud flows and rock slides forced the closure of numerous other roads across the region, including a busy tunnel passage that connects Pacific Coast Highway with a freeway in Santa Monica and a major freeway on-ramp in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.

The California Highway Patrol reported at least 50 spinouts and crashes in central Los Angeles Thursday morning, and firefighters rescued a man trapped in an Orange County flood-control channel, according to the Los Angeles City News Service.

A flash-flood warning was posted for Los Angeles County and flood advisories were issued for San Diego and Orange counties. But the storm’s center passed through the region fairly swiftly, minimizing flood threats, the National Weather Service reported.

The storm first blew into Oregon and Northern California on Wednesday and spread south, blasting the San Francisco Bay area with intense rains and strong, gusty winds. Heavy snow fell in the higher-elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada range.

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