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Indonesia says avoid coast near volcano, fearing new tsunami

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The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:06PM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:07PM EST

Indonesian authorities urged people to avoid the coast in areas where a tsunami killed at least 430 people over the weekend in a fresh warning issued on the anniversary of the catastrophic 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami.

   The big waves that followed an eruption on a volcanic island hit communities along the Sunda Strait on Saturday night. The eruption of Anak Krakatau, or “Child of Krakatoa,” is believed to have set off a large landslide on the volcano, apparently on its slope and underwater, displacing water that slammed into Java and Sumatra islands.

   Indonesia’s Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency asked people late Tuesday to stay at least 500 metres (1,640 feet) and up to 1 kilometre (less than a mile) from the coastline along the strait, which lies between the two islands.

   The agency was monitoring Anak Krakatau’s eruptions as stormy weather and high surf continued to plague the area, said agency head Dwikorita Karnawati.

   “All these conditions could potentially cause landslides at the cliffs of the crater into the sea, and we fear that that could trigger a tsunami,” Karnawati said at a news conference. She asked that communities remain vigilant and not to panic.

   The warning was reiterated by the country’s disaster agency on Wednesday.

   The tsunami struck without warning, taking people by surprise even in a country familiar with seismic disaster. No big earthquake shook the ground beforehand, and it hit at night on a holiday weekend while people were enjoying concerts and other beach and resort activities.

   It was a sharp contrast to the disaster that struck 14 years ago off the northwestern tip of Sumatra island. An enormous magnitude 9.1 earthquake rocked the area the morning after Christmas, creating gigantic waves that surged far inland and swallowed everything in their path. The wall of water killed some 230,000 people in a dozen countries, more than half in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

   The devastation was vast, and the disaster was among the worst in recent history. Saturday’s event, coupled with an earthquake and tsunami in September on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island that killed at least 2,100 people, triggered flashbacks for some who survived the 2004 tragedy.

   “When it happens, I always remember what we have been through,” said Qurnaty, 54, who lost her home and several family members to the 2004 waves in the hard-hit provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

   Qurnaty, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, prayed with surviving family members at a mass grave there on Wednesday’s anniversary. “Every time I see them (on TV), I feel really, really sad. All we can do from here is to pray for them,” she said.

   Though recovery was slow, some victims of the latest tsunami said they remember the resilience of the Acehnese people, which gives them hope that they too can rebuild their homes and their lives.

   “I am scared. I am traumatized by the tsunami that I only knew before from the news,” said Kusmiati, who also uses one name. “Now I know how horrifying a tsunami is.”

   Her face was still bruised and her legs swollen after she and her husband managed to survive being hit and dragged under by the waves after fleeing a beach villa in Carita, where they were working.

   Beaches were largely empty in the area, which is typically crammed with tourists, and police patrolled on motorbikes, warning people to stay away from the coast. Some residents defied the warning, returning to what was left of their homes to begin cleaning up as heavy rain fell and waves pounded the shore.

   “I am still afraid that the tsunami will return, so when dark comes, I stay at a temporary shelter on the hill,” said Rohayati, who worked to salvage what was left of her battered house, 300 metres (985 feet) from the sea. “I hope the government can provide a tsunami warning, like a siren, for people living in coastal areas so we can be alerted of a potential tsunami and have time to save ourselves.”

   The country’s system of tsunami detection buoys — deployed after the 2004 disaster — has not worked since 2012, with some units being stolen or vandalized.

   Karnawati, of the meteorology agency, said that because the tsunami was caused by volcanic activity, it would not have been picked up by the system’s seafloor sensors, which monitor movement from conventional earthquakes responsible for most of Indonesia’s tsunamis.

   Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency, said Wednesday that the volcanic activity is believed to have triggered an underwater landslide and that a large chunk of Anak Krakatau’s southwest slope collapsed. This movement displaced a large volume of water, creating waves that raced toward the shore.

   Residents of Sumur village, which has been slow to receive aid due to roads being cut off, remained stunned by how quickly the tsunami hit. The beach, located just a few kilometres (miles) from the tourist island of Umang near Java’s western tip, is popular for snorkeling and other water activities. The tsunami decimated the area, ripping houses from their foundations and bulldozing concrete buildings.

   Scientists have said the waves were recorded in several places at about 1 metre (3.3 feet) high, but Sumur residents insisted they towered more than 3 metres (10 feet), possibly as high as 5 metres (16 feet), which Sutopo also confirmed in some areas.

   More than 21,000 people have been displaced from their homes and heavy equipment is urgently needed in the Sumur subdistrict near Ujung Kulon National Park to help get aid flowing and reach people who may be injured or trapped, said Nugroho.

   He said the death toll was 430, with more than 1,400 people injured and at least 159 missing.

   Anak Krakatau formed in the early 20th century near the site of the cataclysmic 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, which killed more than 30,000 people. It has been erupting since June and did so again 24 minutes before the tsunami, according to the geophysics agency.

The Canadian Press 

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Dreessen: Ottawa has to shed its image as a town that doesn’t like fun

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Ottawa has long held a reputation as a place that fun forgot. People who live here know that there is a lot to love about the city: its history, the Rideau Canal, proximity to parks and rivers, excellent clubs, museums and galleries all make Ottawa a great place.

More spontaneous fun things are harder to come by. We’ve created a process that makes it hard for small businesses to thrive and where the process is more important than the outcome.

In 2016, a local artist planned to give away free T-shirts celebrating Ottawa 2017 on Sparks Street, until the local Business Improvement Association (BIA) asked him to move, squashing a fun event to bring people together.

In 2017, business proposals to the NCC executive committee made a business case to open cafés at Remic Rapids, Confederation Park and Patterson Creek. In the summer of 2020, two opened; the Patterson Creek location, opposed by neighbours, has yet to see the light of day, though the NCC website indicates it may happen in 2021.

In each case, the cafés are only open for a few brief summer months. Despite the fact that Ottawa celebrates itself as a winter city, we can’t, somehow, imagine how people might want to enjoy a café in the spring or fall, or during winter months while skiing along the river or skating along the canal. Keeping public washrooms open, serving takeout and, yes, using patio heaters, could make these cafés fun additions to our city for most of the year.

More recently, Jerk on Wheels, a food truck with excellent Caribbean chicken and two locations, has run intro trouble. The one on Merivale Road continues, but the Bank Street location in Old Ottawa South has to close. According to social media posts from the owners, despite the business having all permissions in place, local restaurant franchises of Dairy Queen and Tim Hortons have objected to its presence.

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Ottawa businesses frustrated with slower pace of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen plan compared to other provinces

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OTTAWA — As Canada plots its roadmap to reopening, each province is choosing their own path to reopen the economy and lift the COVID-19 restrictions.

Some are moving towards loosened restrictions at a faster pace than Ontario, which is frustrating for business owners who say they are ready to receive customers safely.

Patio season is upon the city, and at Banditos Restaurant on Bank Street, owner Matt Loudon is staging the large outdoor dining area to prepare for the summer rush. But the patio will have to remain closed until at least June 14, when it is expected Ontario will move into Step One of the three-step Roadmap to Reopen plan

“I hope they push it up a little bit,” says Loudon. “It’s beyond frustrating all the other provinces are opening up before us, we’ve been locked down longer than anybody else.”

Loudon, who owns two restaurants, says their outdoor seating has always been safe and that they have invested in added measures like sanitization stations and personal protective equipment for the staff. Indoor dining will continue to remain off limits in Ontario until Step Three. When patios do open, tables will be limited to four people. 

Unlike British Columbia’s four-pronged approach that began May 25. Residents in the province are now allowed to dine both inside and out, with a maximum of six per table, not restricted to one household.

Quebec will enter into its first step Friday, where outdoor dining will be available for two adults and their children, who can be from separate addresses per table. This applies to red and orange zones in the province. The curfew will also be lifted. 

In Gatineau, hair salons opened their doors to customers last week. Ten minutes away at Salon Bliss in Ottawa, all owner Sarah Cross can do is hope she can reopen sometime in July.

“Most people think that government funding covers all the bills but it’s far from it,” says Cross. Her upscale salon has nine chairs and over the course of the pandemic, in order to comply with regulations and keep staff and patrons, safe, only three chairs can now be filled. She says the hardest part is that the rules constantly change and vary in each region, adding it doesn’t make sense how one is better than the other.

“Our livelihood is dependent on what the decisions are made and if they were aligned with one belief system then I think they would have the trust of the public to follow these protocols.”

Many Ontario business owners say it’s not only a matter of necessity they open, but can do so safely. Infectious disease physician Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti agrees, and says the province needs to expedite its timeline.

“Especially with the fact that we are in the post vaccine era,” says Chakrabarti.

“It’s important for us to remember that we have been following this case count very closely for the last year and certainly we’ve had some experiences with opening things, especially with the second and third waves we have to remember that as we go forward now vaccines are a huge difference maker to the situation. Cases may go up but that doesn’t mean the most important thing will go up which is hospitalizations.”

Chakrabarti says while people will still get infected with COVID-19, with the reduced risk of hospitalization in large numbers there is no reason to restrict the community. He says while it’s not time for packed stadiums, it’s also not time for lockdowns and Ontario should re-think its strategy.

“We have to faith in the vaccines. We have seen in the other parts of the world like Israel, the U.K.,and the U.S. our neighbours to the south,” says Chakrabarti. “They are very safe and effective and our ticket out of this pandemic. We really should be taking that.”

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$2.9 million tax break for Ottawa Porsche dealership receives the green ligh

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OTTAWA — Ottawa city council has given the green light to a $2.9 million tax break for a new Porsche dealership in Vanier.

Council voted 15 to 9 to approve a grant under the Community Improvement Plan initiative to build a Porsche dealership at the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.  The project by Mrak Holdings Inc., a.k.a. Mark Motors of Ottawa, would be built at 458 Montreal Road.

Under the Community Improvement Plan approved by Council, business owners can apply for a grant equal to 75 per cent of the municipal tax increase attributable to the redevelopment. A report says the goal of the Montreal Road Community Improvement Plan is to “stimulate business investment, urban renewal and property upgrades in the area.”

Coun. Catherine McKenney was one of nine councillors who opposed the tax break for the Porsche dealership.

“I agree with the Community Improvement Plan, but I know and what people see here is that this application does not meet the criteria,” said McKenney about the CIP proposal for the Porsche dealership.

“A car dealership, no matter whether it’s Honda, or a Porsche or a Volkswagen, it does not first off belong on a traditional main street. This does not the meet the criteria of a CIP, it will do nothing for urban renewal.”

Approximately 70 people gathered at the site of the proposed Porsche dealership Tuesday evening to oppose the tax grant.

Coun. Diane Deans told Council she doubted any councillors who supported the Community Improvement Plan when it was developed in 2019 thought it would support a luxury car dealership.

“I don’t think it fits. I don’t think a clear case has been made that this incentive is required for the Mark Motors project to move forward at all,” said Deans. “I don’t believe there’s a clear community benefit.”

Coun. Riley Brockington, Deans, Jeff Leiper, Carol Anne Meehan, Rick Chiarelli, Theresa Kavanagh, Keith Egli, McKenney and Shawn Menard voted against the tax break for the Porsche dealership.

“It will lead to a $17 million investment on Montreal Road, it will create about 20 jobs in that neigthborhood,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

Watson noted auto dealerships were not excluded from the Community Improvement Plan when approved by committee and Council.

A motion introduced by Watson was approved to use property tax revenue generated by the redevelopment for affordable housing.

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