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Indonesia tsunami: Rescuers use drones as dozens still missing | News

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Rescuers in Indonesia used drones and sniffer dogs on Tuesday to search for survivors along the devastated west coast of Java hit by a tsunami that killed at least 429 people.

Military and volunteer teams used drones to assess the extent of the damage along the coast, but torrential rains hampered rescue efforts.

Food, water, blankets, and medical aid are trickling into remote areas via inland roads choked with traffic.

Thousands of people are staying in tents and temporary shelters like mosques or schools, with dozens sleeping on the floor or in crowded public facilities.

Ayub, a 20-year-old fisherman sleeping with his family in a tent provided by the military, said conditions in camps were not ideal due to the rain, but that they had enough food.

“Everything is destroyed…My boat, motorcycle, house – all of it,” he told Reuters news agency. “The most important thing is we’re alive.”






Indonesians call for better response to tsunami disaster

Other residents of the same emergency camp, like Tarini, a mother of four, told Reuters their families had been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“I’m sad for my children,” she said. “We want things to return to how they were, but we are afraid to return.”

At the nearby seaside town of Carita, which suffered some of the worst losses, local congregations held tearful Christmas vigils for victims.

While many churchgoers have fled the area for fear of further disasters, some like Nikson Sihombing came from temporary evacuation centres.

“We usually celebrate with joy and festivities, but with the tsunami, we can only pray humbly and not celebrate much for this year’s Christmas,” he said.

Devastating waves

Thick ash clouds continued to spew from Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island where a crater collapse at high tide on Saturday sent waves smashing into coastal areas on both sides of the Sunda Strait between the islands of Sumatra and Java.

At least 154 people are still missing. More than 1,400 people were injured and thousands of residents had to move to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.






How a volcanic eruption could have sparked Indonesia tsunami

Rescuers used heavy machinery, sniffer dogs and special cameras to detect and dig bodies out of mud and wreckage along a 100km stretch of Java’s west coast and officials said the search area would be expanded further south, following the discovery of washed away bodies.

“There are several locations that we previously thought were not affected,” said Yusuf Latif, spokesman for the national search and rescue agency.

“But now we are reaching more remote areas…and in fact there are many victims there,” he added.

Authorities said rescuers were working around the clock to reach six villages, currently inaccessible by road and where waves from the tsunami were believed to be as high as five metres.

The meteorological and geophysics agency, BMKG, is asking residents to stay away from the shoreline by as much as 1km, due to the risk of extreme weather on Wednesday and waves up to two metres high.

BMKG head Dwikorita Karnawati said on Tuesday the agency is worried about the rough weather making the volcano’s crater more fragile.

Experts warn that a second disaster remains possible.






As Indonesia volcano rumbles, survivors fear more ruinous waves

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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