Thursday, 31 May 2012

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 31 May 2012 16h00 SAST

Eastern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. 1. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Plettenberg Bay and Port Edward moderating overnight.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: (SAWDOS: NO detail provided by the SAWS.)

Northern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. 1. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected along the coast moderating overnight.

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. 1. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected is expected along the coast moderating overnight.

All other Provinces - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Images: 31 May 2012 15h01 SAST



Images: NOAA18 - Nic Cronje, Nelspruit (Click on images for larger view.)

Russia Crashed Superjet’s Flight Data Recorder Found in Indonesia


The parametric flight data recorder of Russia’s crashed Superjet 100 has been found near the plane's crash site in Indonesia, a spokesman for Indonesian rescuers said on Thursday.

“The device appears to be in good condition. It is orange and has not burned,” the spokesman said.

Superjet owner Sukhoi Civil Aircraft confirmed the discovery.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ-100) passenger jet slammed into the side of Indonesia’s Mount Salak near Jakarta shortly after takeoff on a demonstration flight on May 9. All 45 people on board were killed.

The cockpit voice recorder was found earlier.

The Sukhoi Superjet is the first commercial plane designed and built in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago. It is considered by many in the industry to be Russia's last hope for maintaining a commercial aircraft manufacturing capability.

- RIA Novosti

Qatar fire victim: 'Help me, I'm going to die'

Frantic as the flames spread in a mall fire that killed 19 people in Qatar, Filipino nursery teacher Julie Ann Soco made one final call on her cellphone. "Help me, help me, I'm going to die," she pleaded with her aunt in the Philippines.

There was nothing the aunt could do.

Luzviminda Soco told The Associated Press on Thursday that she did not understand what the problem was and asked her niece to stop crying. The line was cut shortly after. Neither she nor Julie Ann's mother, a caregiver in Egypt, was able to reach her again.

Julie Ann Soco, 25, and two other Filipino teachers were among the dead in Monday's fire at the Gulf nation's biggest mall. Thirteen children at the nursery where Soco worked also were killed.

Qatar has issued arrest orders for the owner of a fire-ravaged mall and four others as investigations widened into possible safety lapses during a blaze.

The official Qatar News Agency said Attorney General Ali bin Feitais al-Marri also ordered the detention of the owner of the child care facility where the children and four workers died. The others facing arrest are mall officials, including the director of security.

Soco's aunt said her niece had planned to come home for a vacation in October, when she would have worked in Doha for two years.

She wanted to have a blessing in December for a newly built home for her family that she had helped finance, and to have a reunion with aunts and cousins she had regularly sent money to.

The nursery teacher was an only child. Her mother, a single parent, has been working in Egypt for more than five years. Luzvuminda helped raise Soco in their hometown in southern Cotabato city.

"It really pains her mother that they had not seen each other for many years, and now they will be together but her daughter is already a corpse," said her aunt in a telephone interview.

Soco's mother is scheduled to return to Cotabato next week, when Julie Ann's body is also expected from Qatar for a burial, the aunt said.

"She was a very good child. We had no problem with her," her aunt said, her voice cracking.

Soco and the other Filipino victims were among about 260,000 Filipinos workers in Qatar. They are part of a legion of 10 million Filipinos working abroad to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home. The money they sent back helps their families make ends meet, taking care of monthly bills, housing, schools for children - and more.

They fuel domestic spending that's a lifeline of the Philippine economy and accounts for 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

- Sowetan

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 31 May 2012 04h00 SAST

Eastern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Plettenberg Bay and Port Edward, reaching 6m west of Port Alfred.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Port Edward and Durban.

Northern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected.

All other Provinces - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 31 May 2012 07h00 SAST


Image: Eumetsat (Click on image for larger view.)

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation: 31 May 2012 - 1 June 2012


Image: U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Click on image for larger view.

Hondsdolheid: Vrou (52) dalk tweede sterfgeval

’n Vrou in haar 50’s van KwaZulu-Natal wat die naweek dood is, is vermoedelik die tweede onlangse noodlottige geval van hondsdolheid in KwaZulu-Natal.

Jeffrey Zikhali, woordvoerder van die provinsie se departement van landbou, het gister gesê die 52-jarige vrou van Ngonyameni, naby Emadwaleni, buite Durban is Vrydag dood nadat sy die vorige dag in die hospitaal opgeneem is met simptome van hondsdolheid.

Volgens Zikhali het sy soos ’n hond gegrom, haarself gebyt, gekwyl en opgegooi.

“Hondsdolheid is by haar gediagnoseer nadat dit aan die lig gekom het sy is twee maande gelede deur die bure se hond aan haar regterarm gebyt.

“Sy is op 24 Maart gebyt, maar het ongelukkig nie dokter, kliniek of hospitaal toe gegaan vir mediese behandeling nie.”

Zikhali het gesê die betrokke hond leef egter nog en is gesond.

“Die vrou het verlede Donderdag (24 Mei) die gesonde wond begin krap en gekla dat dit pyn.

“Al die familielede is aangeraai om hospitaal toe te gaan vir ná-blootstellingbehandeling.”

Volgens hom het die familie ingestem vir ’n lykskouing op die oorledene.

Sinethemba Hlongwane (8) van eMaswazini in Bergville is die naweek begrawe nadat hy dalk ook aan dié siekte dood is.

Hy is op Goeie Vrydag (6 April) deur sy eie hond gebyt.

Graeme Anderson (29), die boer van Underberg by wie hondsdolheid gediagnoseer is, is steeds in ’n kritieke toestand in die Pietermaritzburgse Mediclinic se waakeenheid nadat hy drie weke gelede in dié hospitaal opgeneem is.

“Ons smeek die gemeenskap om hul honde en katte te laat toets vir hondsdolheid. Die departement doen ’n grootskaalse inentingsprogram in die provinsie,” het Zikhali gesê.

- Beeld

George besighede in puin gelê


Drie besighede is verlede Donderdagoggend in ‘n brand by die George-sakepark verwoes.

GEORGE NUUS - Verskeie besighede is verlede Donderdag dakloos gelaat nadat 'n brand by die George-sakepark in die nywerheidsgebied uitgebreek het. Die gebou word besit deur Business Partners Limited.

Duisende motorbande van Palm Tyres is in die brand, wat voor 01:00 ontstaan het, verwoes.

Neels Barnard van die George-brandweer sê hulle is omstreeks 00:50 na die toneel ontbied nadat 'n sekuriteitswag die brand binne die gebou opgemerk het.

"Kort ná ons aankoms het die brand vinnig versprei na 'n stoor waar motorbande gestoor was. Dit was moeilik om die brandende bande te blus omdat dit aanhou smeul het. Die brand het daarna bietjie handuit geruk en kon ons dit eers teen 04:30 weer onder beheer kry," het Barnard gesê.

Hulle het ook die hulp van Eden-brandweer ingeroep en brandweermanne was tot voor 14:00 op die toneel.

Barnard het die brandweermanne geloof vir hul dapper optrede en goeie werk.

Die sakepark in Luvenstraat, is langs Afrox in Albertstraat geleë. Afrox personeellede het voor 01:40 hul gaskanne met water afgespuit as veiligheidsmaatreël om dit teen die hitte van die vlamme langsaan te beskerm.

Mnr. PJ Botha van Palm Tyres sê ongeveer 22 000 splinternuwe motorbande wat in hul vier gehuurde store gehou was, het in die slag gebly. 'n Skoenfabriek en houtwerkplek, Eden Timber het ook heeltemal afgebrand.

Corene Marx, assistent-bemarkingsbestuurder van Business Partners, sê die sekuriteitswag het die rook by Eden Timbers, wat ook 'n perseel in die sakepark huur sien uitkom.

"By nadere ondersoek het hy gevind dat 'n brand aan die binnekant van die perseel versprei het. Daar was 'n ontploffing toe die brand na store van 'n bande-onderneming en 'n skoenfabriek versprei het," het Marx gesê.

Drie ondernemings is deur die brand in puin gelê en vyf huurders het waterskade by hul ondernemings opgedoen. Sewe ondernemings het geen skade gehad nie.

Forensiese ondersoekers was Vrydag op die toneel om die oorsaak van die brand vas te stel. Hulle sal eersdaags 'n verslag oor hulle bevindinge aan Business Partners oorhandig. Volgens Marx sal hulle met herstelwerk begin sodra die ondersoek voltooi is.

* Several businesses in the George Business Park were destroyed in a fire last Thursday morning.

ARTIKEL EN FOTO: LIZETTE DA SILVA, GEORGE HERALD-JOERNALIS

‘George Forest poses threat’

This overgrown area is supposed to be a fire break.


GEORGE NEWS - The forests that form the northern edge of George have become a source of threats to residents living along this border, according to a Denneoord resident, Alec Poynton.

He warns residents that they should be vigilant as these forests pose not only a huge fire threat, but are also a security threat. This situation, he says, is a result of negligence by the authorities who have failed to maintain the forests properly.
Firebreaks in the forests are non-existent, alien vegetation has been allowed to take over and there has been no pruning of pine trees in the plantation - these are all factors that have created a serious potential fire hazard for the adjacent neighbourhoods. Indigenous trees are also ringbarked illegally by herbalists.

There is no access control and the permit system has fallen away completely, allowing criminals to use the forests as a hide-away. They make fires there illegally that could be fatal. Poynton says he has also found evidence of drug use.

He has been pleading with the authorities for the past four years to reinstitute proper maintenance, but to no avail. "The situation has now reached crisis proportions. We are entering berg wind conditions this time of year."

In the area where he lives at the edge of the forest in Denneoord, people have been plagued by housebreaking. He has had three break-ins and theft at his home in the past year and found remnants of goods stolen from his home, at a spot in the forest where someone lives.

"The forests provide perfect cover for criminals who monitor residents' movements."
He says the state properties that are posing these risks are the Witfontein Pine Plantation and Outeniqua Nature Reserve.
According to his information, the Witfontein plantation is owned by the national Pu-blic Works Department and ma-naged by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The indigenous forest is on municipal property and is managed under the auspices of Cape Nature.

However, Outeniqua Nature Reserve Manager Othusitsi Mabi says all the forests bordering George are the responsibility of DAFF. Although he has been receiving complaints about the security situation in the forests, there is nothing Cape Nature can do. "If DAFF hands over the property to us or provides funding, we will manage the forests like we do our own reserve. We patrol our trails and I advise people to rather come to the Witfontein entrance of the reserve, where they can obtain permits and sign out again. They can walk among pristine fynbos."

Mabi said the fact that there is no fencing between the reserve and DAFF's plantation, makes the ma-nagement of the reserve more difficult.

The George Herald is awaiting response from the Director General of DAFF, Mr L Zita.

The municipality says it needs DAFF's permission to enter the area with the aim to act on some of the complaints. There have been negotiations with the department and the municipality is awaiting a permit.

* Die woude aan die voet van die Outeniquaberge is deesdae 'n ernstige brandgevaar vir nabygeleë woonbuurte en 'n broeipot vir misdadigers, sê 'n inwoner van Denneoord. Dit word veroorsaak deurdat owerhede nalaat om enige onderhoud aan die plantasies en inheemse wThe forests that form the nor-
thern edge of George have become a source of threats to residents living along this border, according to a Denneoord resident, Alec Poynton.

He warns residents that they should be vigilant as these forests pose not only a huge fire threat, but are also a security threat. This situation, he says, is a result of negligence by the authorities who have failed to maintain the forests properly.
Firebreaks in the forests are non-existent, alien vegetation has been allowed to take over and there has been no pruning of pine trees in the plantation - these are all factors that have created a serious potential fire hazard for the adjacent neighbourhoods. Indigenous trees are also ringbarked illegally by herbalists.

There is no access control and the permit system has fallen away completely, allowing criminals to use the forests as a hide-away. They make fires there illegally that could be fatal. Poynton says he has also found evidence of drug use.

He has been pleading with the authorities for the past four years to reinstitute proper maintenance, but to no avail. "The situation has now reached crisis proportions. We are entering berg wind conditions this time of year."

In the area where he lives at the edge of the forest in Denneoord, people have been plagued by housebreaking. He has had three break-ins and theft at his home in the past year and found remnants of goods stolen from his home, at a spot in the forest where someone lives.

"The forests provide perfect cover for criminals who monitor residents' movements."
He says the state properties that are posing these risks are the Witfontein Pine Plantation and Outeniqua Nature Reserve.
According to his information, the Witfontein plantation is owned by the national Pu-blic Works Department and ma-naged by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The indigenous forest is on municipal property and is managed under the auspices of Cape Nature.

However, Outeniqua Nature Reserve Manager Othusitsi Mabi says all the forests bordering George are the responsibility of DAFF. Although he has been receiving complaints about the security situation in the forests, there is nothing Cape Nature can do. "If DAFF hands over the property to us or provides funding, we will manage the forests like we do our own reserve. We patrol our trails and I advise people to rather come to the Witfontein entrance of the reserve, where they can obtain permits and sign out again. They can walk among pristine fynbos."

Mabi said the fact that there is no fencing between the reserve and DAFF's plantation, makes the ma-nagement of the reserve more difficult.

The George Herald is awaiting response from the Director General of DAFF, Mr L Zita.

The municipality says it needs DAFF's permission to enter the area with the aim to act on some of the complaints. There have been negotiations with the department and the municipality is awaiting a permit.

* Die woude aan die voet van die Outeniquaberge is deesdae 'n ernstige brandgevaar vir nabygeleë woonbuurte en 'n broeipot vir misdadigers, sê 'n inwoner van Denneoord. Dit word veroorsaak deurdat owerhede nalaat om enige onderhoud aan die plantasies en inheemse woude te doen.

- George Herald

SpaceX Dragon ship aims for Earth


The American SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule returns to Earth on Thursday having spent a week attached to the International Space Station.

The unmanned vehicle will fall through the atmosphere to make a splashdown in the Pacific off the California coast.

Dragon made history last Friday by becoming the first privately produced craft to visit the orbiting platform.

The mission has been a demonstration of the freight service SpaceX intends to run to the station.

It has a $1.6bn contract with the US space agency (Nasa) waiting to be triggered on the successful recovery of Dragon from the ocean.

"It's a very challenging phase of flight. Only a few countries have done this before so we're not taking this lightly," said SpaceX mission director John Coulurlis ahead of the re-entry.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) closed the hatch on Dragon on Wednesday after filling it with 660kg (1,450lb) of experiments and failed equipment that need to come back to Earth.

The crew have to unberth the cargo ship from the platform using its big robotic arm before releasing it to fly free.

Dragon must then fire its thrusters several times to take itself down and away from the station. A final burn will put it on a course for re-entry into the atmosphere.

SpaceX has organised a range of ships, planes and ground stations to track the descent of the capsule, which will be slowed in the final minutes by three big parachutes.

Dragon is projected to hit the water at 15:44 GMT (11:44 EDT; 16:44 BST).

"Our splashdown zone is about 490 nautical miles south-west of Los Angeles," explained Coulurlis.

"The recovery boats - it's a fleet of three vessels with supporting fast boats that go out to safe the spacecraft.

"It will take about two to three days to return to port. We'll then go direct to our facility in Texas for cargo unloading and further spacecraft inspection."

SpaceX - Space Exploration Technologies Corporation - has been engaged by Nasa to fulfil a logistics role at the station just as soon as it has proved its systems. The current mission was designed to see it complete a final set of performance milestones.

Nasa has another such arrangement with Orbital Sciences Corporation of Virginia, although its freighter, known as Cygnus, is still several months from making its maiden flight.

The agency hopes that by contracting out the carriage of freight it will save money which can then be re-invested in more daring activities beyond the station, at destinations such as asteroids and Mars.

The commercial cargo approach will be followed later this decade by crew transport services.

SpaceX wants this business as well, and is developing the safety and life-support equipment that would allow Dragon to double up as an astronaut taxi.

Dragon reaches the station: 'Looks like we got us a dragon by the tail'

-BBC

Parliamentarians look at Gauteng radioactive and toxic waste


Image by: Puxley Makgatho

It is unclear who is responsible for managing health-threatening radioactive and toxic mining waste outside Witwatersrand mine properties, MPs heard on Wednesday.

"My plea is someone must regulate it," Federation for a Sustainable Environment CEO Mariette Liefferink told members of Parliament's environmental affairs portfolio committee.

Earlier, she had asked MPs -- who were hearing inputs on the National Waste Management Strategy -- to urgently classify abandoned mining waste, as well as mining waste outside mine properties, as "priority" waste.

In a presentation, tabled at the hearing, she said waste from gold mines constituted "the largest single source of waste and pollution in South Africa".

The Witwatersrand mining basin's 270 tailings dams, most of them unlined and without vegetation, were a source of extensive dust as well as soil and water (both surface and groundwater) pollution, Liefferink said.

According to reports, communities living in close proximity to these are exposed to a toxic mix of radioactive uranium, arsenic and heavy metals, present in the air, soil and water.

The chemical, radiological and physical threat these pollutants pose has been described as a "time bomb", and a potentially bigger threat to the region than acid mine drainage.

The National Environmental Management Waste Act, aimed at protecting health and the environment, excludes radioactive waste and mining "residue deposits and residue stockpiles" from its ambit.

It states that these are regulated in terms of the National Nuclear Regulator Act (NNRA) and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), among others.

Liefferink said the problem was that the NNRA and MPRDA applied only to waste actually on a mine property, and not that outside it.

"The MPRDA requires a mine to have an environmental management programme report, which becomes legally binding. But it is argued that is only applicable to the mine site.

"If there is any spillage, or migration, of radioactive and toxic waste, that is not regulated under the MPRDA."

Neither was it regulated in terms of the NNRA, which also only regulated this waste when it was on mine property.

"Whatever residue... is outside the [mine's] area [of operation], that is not regulated. At the moment, it falls outside the mandate of all these organs of state," Liefferink said.

Called to pronounce on whether it was responsible for the management of such pollution, the department of environmental affairs indicated it was not.

Senior manager Nolwazi Cobbinah said the definition of so-called residue stockpiles in the MPRDA covered all mining waste identified as suitable for "potential" re-use.

"As far as we are concerned... that definition covers the types of waste that Mariette [Liefferink] was referring to," she said.

Cobbinah said this constrained the department from acting.

The National Environmental Management Waste Act, which governed the department's actions, also specifically excluded radioactive waste, she said.

Democratic Alliance MP Gareth Morgan, who had called for the department to say where it stood on the matter, said he had a problem with the situation because waste moved from mine sites, both through the air and through water.

"It might be the case we have a very serious drafting problem... I see a problem here," he said.

Committee chairman Johnny de Lange said the department's officials were looking into the matter, together with their mineral resources counterparts.

Liefferink called for co-operative agreements.

"My plea is someone must regulate it. If it is not the department of water and environmental affairs, at least there must be co-operative agreements entered into," she said.

De Lange said he was grateful he did not live in Gauteng.

"Thank God I live in the Cape. I definitely don't want to live in Gauteng, anywhere where these things are happening," he said.

Speaking to Sapa after making inputs at the committee hearing, Angela Andrews of the Legal Resources Centre said the department was looking at the MPRDA definition and interpreting the "potential re-use" wording the legislation contained as meaning it had no jurisdiction.

"[But] it's simple -- if [the waste] doesn't have a potential for re-use, it falls under the [National Environmental Management] Waste Act and should be managed. The problem is, waste with no potential re-use is not being managed.

"There is no loophole. It's clear it [the pollution] must be managed. There's no ambiguity," Andrews said.

- Times Live

Survivor pulled from rubble 12 hours after Italy earthquake


A 65-year-old woman was pulled out alive after lying for 12 hours in the rubble of her kitchen in an Italian town hit by Tuesday's deadly earthquake.

Firefighters told Sky TG24 TV that a piece of furniture, which had toppled over during the 5.8 magnitude quake that left 16 dead and 14,000 people homeless in the Emilia Romagna region north of Bologna, saved the woman from being crushed by the wreckage. She was taken to a hospital for treatment Wednesday.

The building in the town of Cavezzo had been damaged in a first quake, on May 20, and had been vacant since. The woman had just gone back inside it Tuesday morning to retrieve some clothes when the latest temblor knocked down the building, firefighters said.

By late Tuesday, the death toll throughout the region stood at 16, with one person missing: a worker at the machinery factory in the small town of San Felice Sul Panaro. Some 350 people also were injured.

Originally government officials had put the death toll at 17, and there was no immediate explanation for the lowered toll.

Factories, barns and churches fell, dealing a second blow to a region where thousands remained homeless from the May 20 temblor, much stronger in intensity, at 6.0 magnitude.

The two quakes struck one of the most productive regions in Italy at a particularly crucial moment, as the country faces enormous pressure to grow its economy to stave off the continent's debt crisis. Italy's economic growth has been stagnant for at least a decade, and the national economy is forecast to contract by 1.2 percent this year.

The area encompassing the cities of Modena, Mantua and Bologna is prized for its super car production, churning out Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis; its world-famous Parmesan cheese, and less well-known but critical to the economy: machinery companies.

After the second earthquake, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti pledged that the government would do everything possible to restore normal life to the area, which he said was "so important, so productive for Italy," the BBC reported.

Government troops had been deployed to the quake-struck areas, and a cabinet meeting would planned for later on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

The country's main business association warned on Wednesday that the earthquakes would have a prolonged impact on the region.

"The earthquakes in May, which had very serious effects on people's lives, will also have prolonged consequences for some of the most important industrial regions in Italy and for an area with strong manufacturing activity," business lobby Confindustria said in an economic report.

"This can only worsen an already very difficult situation," it said.

- Reuters/AP/MSNBC

Poor rains in Somalia but famine unlikely - UN

A displaced woman prepares tea outside a makeshift shelter at a camp in the Hodan district of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar


NAIROBI (AlertNet) - Somalia’s main rainy season has been below average, initial findings show, but the country is unlikely to slip back into famine this year, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

In 2011, Somalia was hit by famine caused by several consecutive failed rainy seasons, conflict and a ban on agencies delivering food aid in rebel-held territory. The famine ended in January, thanks to better rains, a bumper harvest and increased humanitarian assistance.

The number of Somalis in urgent need of aid has fallen from four million at the peak of the crisis to 2.5 million today.

“We don’t have a very great, promising harvest in the coming season because of rainfall performance. However we don’t have total failure as it was last year,” said Tamara Nanitashvili, food security technical manager for the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in Somalia, which is managed by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The long rains, which began in April, started a couple of weeks late in some parts of the country and rainfall distribution has been erratic, hampering crop growth.

“The mitigating factor is (that) the previous season’s harvest, which was collected in January, was good. There is still (food) stock availability among the population,” Nanitashvili said.

Cereal prices are 40 to 70 percent lower nationwide than at the peak of the famine last year. In the south, which was hardest hit, they have fallen by 200 percent.

Livestock are healthy and fetching good prices. Exports in the first three months of this year were 42 percent higher than in the same period last year.

ONE IN FIVE CHILDREN MALNOURISHED

Despite the improvements, Somalia is still in crisis, with 320,000 children under five suffering malnutrition, or 22 percent of this age group. This figure is still far above the World Health Organization’s crisis threshold of 15 percent.

But the number of under fives suffering from severe acute malnutrition - which leads to death without therapeutic feeding - has halved from the peak of the famine to 98,000.

These gains could easily be reversed with the return of drought conditions, as the majority of Somalis are farmers and livestock herders, or if conflict worsens in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

Uncertainty remains because of the ongoing war, which disrupts trade and pushes up food prices. During last year’s famine, many people simply could not afford the limited cereals that were on the market.

The south of the country is at the epicentre of the ongoing crisis, and home to 73 percent of the 2.5 million people still in need.

It is largely under the control of al Shabaab Islamic militants, who have been fighting a five-year campaign to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government.

In the south, al Shabaab is being squeezed by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops, which have launched incursions inside Somalia in support of the beleaguered government.

The United Nations classifies the capital, Mogadishu, and the southern port city of Kismayo as being in a food emergency phase, one category below famine, because of the conflict.

Kismayo is the remaining stronghold of al Shabaab after the insurgents retreated from the capital last August. Kenyan forces have said they plan to take the port city from the rebels.

Last week, African Union troops seized Afgoye , a rebel stronghold and strategic junction town, 30km outside Mogadishu.

NO QUICK RECOVERY

Even in a good year, Somalia does not grow enough of its staple crops, maize and sorghum, to feed its people. It relies on food aid and commercial trade to fill the gap.

Al Shabaab banned the distribution of food aid in its areas in 2010, which has provided about 40 percent of Somalia’s cereals over the last decade, Nanitashvili said.

Many of the most vulnerable families are cattle farmers who lost virtually all their animals during the drought. Without them, parents are unable to give their children milk, which is critical for staving off malnutrition.

“They cannot recover all their herds in one or two seasons,” said Nanitashvili. “They still struggle to get access to food.”

- AlertNet

New Plettenberg Bay NSRI station open

PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 14 in Plettenberg Bay has been serving the community since July 1971.

From modest beginnings (12 crew operating from a wooden shack on Central Beach), the new station, equipped with a range of rescue and support facilities, was officially opened on Saturday, May 26.

NSRI is a voluntary organisation whose efforts are made possible by the dedicated people who are called to save lives. Since 1971, NSRI Station 14 - Plett has been involved in 758 rescue operations, 156 lives have been saved and 1532 people, 581 boats and two aircraft have been assisted.

The construction of the new facility was made possible by Italtile Limited. The Italtile Group donated R2.67-million rand to the NSRI "in acknowledgement of the vital contribution this organisation makes to South Africa".

- Knysna/Plett Herald

New smartphone can detect radiation


Softbank Corp's new smartphone "Pantone" series, made by Sharp Corp, which measures radiation levels in microsieverts per hour. KYODO/REUTERS

Cellphone operator Softbank yesterday unveiled a smartphone that can measure radiation as consumers in Japan clamoured for reassurance following last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The latest model in the firm's Pantone series has a sensor that enables users to see at the touch of a button how much radiation they are being exposed to.

The phone, on general sale from July, can keep a record of exposure in every location it has been to.

- Times Live

Minister's daughter held over mall fire

Doha - Police in Qatar have arrested five people, including a government minister's daughter, in connection with a shopping mall fire this week that killed 19 people, including 13 children, the state news agency QNA said on Wednesday.

The Gulf Arab state's attorney-general ordered the detention of the upscale Villagio Mall's owner as well as Imran al-Kuwari, daughter of the culture minister and owner of Gympanzee nursery where the children and four teachers perished on Monday.

The others arrested were mall officials, including the shopping centre's chief manager and the head of security, QNA said. It was not immediately clear what charges would be filed.

At a public vigil held on Tuesday, Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari told reporters that his daughter was "the saddest person on earth".

Qatar has been investigating the blaze because of reports that security staff at the mall reacted slowly and in a chaotic fashion. Several people at the complex said that fire alarms did not go off or rang only faintly.

The blaze erupted in the nursery on the first floor of the mall in a hallway accessible only via a small passage with no emergency fire exit. Dense smoke and extreme heat created a "death trap" in the corridor as the staircase collapsed, said the interior minister.

Among the dead were two-year-old triplets from New Zealand. Two South Africans also died.

- Reuters/News24

Death toll from Italy earthquake rises


Medolla, Italy (CNN) -- The death toll from a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in northern Italy rose to 17 after the discovery of another body, officials said Wednesday, as questions were asked about why factory buildings collapsed.

The latest body was found in the rubble of the collapsed factory in the area of Medolla, Italy's civil protection agency said.

The prosecutor's office in the province of Modena, where the quake was centered, opened an investigation Wednesday into the cause of death of the quake victims, many of whom were factory workers.

Investigators will examine how the factories were built and why they couldn't withstand an earthquake of Tuesday's magnitude.

Modena's chief prosecutor, Vito Zincani, told CNN that as modern buildings, they should have remained standing.

Most of the modern structures in the area were not damaged, he said, so the fact that some factories collapsed "shows an anomaly that needs investigation."

The earthquake, which forced thousands of people from their homes, came nine days after a 6.0-magnitude quake struck the same region, killing seven people.

Tuesday's quake, which struck at about 9 a .m. local when many people had begun work, was followed by dozens of aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded one of 5.6 magnitude.

Italian ministers met Wednesday morning and decided on several measures to be taken in the aftermath of the quake.

The government declared a state of emergency in the quake area and set June 4 as a national day of mourning, according to a press statement. An extra two-cent tax will also be added to gasoline to help finance the recovery effort, it said.

Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano, Prime Minister Mario Monti and the speakers of both Italian houses of parliament on the earthquake met later Wednesday at the presidential palace in Rome to discuss the disaster.

The towns of Mirandola and Cavezzo, northwest of the city of Bologna, were closest to the epicenter, civil protection authorities said.

Witnesses reported on Twitter that Cavezzo was about 70% destroyed. Pictures purportedly from the town, as well as a video stream from Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, show damaged and destroyed buildings.

Churches and historic structures were among the affected buildings.

In the small town of Novi di Modena, a 65-year-old priest died inside his church as he tried to save its statue of the Madonna.

Construction workers who were out surveying the damage in Medolla were emotional as they spoke of their experiences a day earlier.

Mohmammed Mouhalhal told CNN he was at work when the earthquake struck. He and his fellow construction workers now fear for their jobs and their safety, he said.

He said no one could sleep Tuesday night and they stayed outside for fear of further quakes.

Some 50 tremors were felt in the area overnight.

Italian authorities are still assessing the economic impact of the earthquakes on the region, which lies in northern Italy, the heartland of the country's manufacturing industry.

Leaders of agricultural and industrial organizations, speaking to Italian media, have estimated the cost of the disaster at nearly one billion euros.

The Italian daily newspaper Repubblica puts the damage to the biomedical industry in Medolla alone at about €600 million ($751 million).

Many cheese makers are also among those affected.

Stefano Berni, president of the consortium that makes Grana Padano, a hard cheese similar to Parmesan, told CNN that some 350,000 whole cheeses, each weighing 40 kilograms (88 pounds), had been shaken to the ground. No more than 40% of those are likely to be salvageable, he said, leading to estimated losses of €70 million ($88 million).

About 600 cheese producers located in the area north of the earthquake epicenter have suffered damage to their production centers and warehouses, he said. About 50,000 families, including the milk producers and cheese makers, work for the industry.

Other factories and warehouses that have not been damaged by the quake will still suffer losses because they have had to halt production for safety checks.

Geophysicist Antonio Piersanti, of the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Corriere della Sera that it was possible more earthquakes could follow in the coming weeks.

The last significant earthquake in this area was in 1571. It was followed by about four years of aftershocks.

- CNN

Fire in New Mexico


By May 30, 2012, a wildfire burning in Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico had burned more of the landscape than any other fire in the state’s history.
According to figures released by the U.S. Forest Service, the Whitewater-Baldy fire had burned 170,272 acres (266 square miles), surpassing a fire that burned 156,293 acres (244 square miles) near Los Alamos in 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the fire around 4:00 p.m. local time (20:00 Universal Time) on May 29, 2012.
Lightning started the Whitewater-Baldy fire on May 16, and more than a thousand firefighters have battled the blaze since then. The area’s extremely rugged terrain and strong winds have hampered progress, while a mixture of timber, mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, pinon, and grass all burned. Officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation for Mogollon, a small community near the edge of the fire.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Adam Voiland.
Instrument: 
Aqua - MODIS - NASA

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 30 May 2012 16h00 SAST

Eastern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Plettenberg Bay and Port Edward, reaching 6m west of Port Alfred.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Port Edward and Durban.

Northern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected.

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 31/05/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected, reaching 6m south of Cape Point.

All other Provinces - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 30 May 2012 16h00 SAST


Image: Eumetsat (Click on image for larger view.)

Cape Town this Morning: 30 May 2012


This is what Cape Town looks like this morning. Obs Jakes ZS1TP




Earthquake in Swaziland on Wednesday, 30 May, 2012 at 08:26 (08:26 AM) UTC.

THE tremor that hit Swaziland on Sunday night went as far as South Africa, as it was felt in some parts of the neighbouring country. According to Allafrica.com the earth shake in Swaziland resulted in earth tremors being felt in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The tremor was reported to have taken place at around 9pm on Sunday night. It measured four on the Richter scale. It is said residents in Newcastle, Ladysmith, Dundee, Mkuze, Piet Retief, and Pongola felt the tremor. Aftershocks were also reportedly felt in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. Residents are quoted saying that their houses and windows started suddenly rattling at 9pm. It only lasted a few seconds.
The Sunday tremor that was experienced throughout the country was only natural. Director of Geology Simon Mhlanga said it was not an earthquake but a tremor which was something minor. The epicentre of the tremor was at Maguga dam which might be due to the water load on the rocks. He said preliminary reports from the South Africa Council for Geo-Science showed that the tremor occurred at latitude of -26.075, longitude 31.248 at a magnitude of 4.0 on Richter scale. The adjusting of rocks was bound to happen as the rocks around and in the dam had been strained over time due to the water load. Maguga dam’s capacity is at 332 000 000m3 which amounts to 332 million tonnes. The geology department could not have been able to detect the tremor. By Swaziland standards it was big as it usually hit below 3.0. The director said anything that was beyond 6.0 on the Richter scale was fully fledged earthquake that could have devastating effects. He said Swaziland did not have a history of earthquakes but tremors were likely but will not be on a regular basis. Swaziland is seated on stable kaapvaal craton of the continent so earthquakes were unlikely.

- RSOE Edis

Epidemic Hazard in South Africa on Wednesday, 30 May, 2012 at 14:33 (02:33 PM) UTC.

A possible outbreak of meningitis in the North West is being investigated, the provincial health department says. "Outbreak response teams had been sent to Majakaneng village, near Brits, following a confirmed meningitis death at a local school," spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said in a statement. He said two more children with suspected meningitis died in the last month in the village. "Interviews conducted by the response teams indicated the deceased children showed signs and symptoms of meningitis." This could not be confirmed because the children died before visiting a health facility, he said. Lekgethwane said meningitis was a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. "The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord." He said meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differed, depending on the cause. "Symptoms can appear in any order, but the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, vomiting and headache, and feeling unwell -- just like many mild illnesses," said Lekgethwane.

- RSOE Edis

SKA to unlock dark secrets

Cape Town - The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is unlikely to win a Nobel prize, but will give deeper understanding to phenomena such as dark matter and how the universe started.

Vishnu Vejjala, research chair in theoretical particle cosmology at the University of the Witwatersrand, said the $2bn SKA was simply too large a project to win Nobel prizes.

"Large experiments these days are disadvantaged when it comes to winning Nobel prizes. You have thousands of people working on one project. The Nobel is usually awarded to teams of three people at most.

"The sheer size of this project will make it very difficult to award a Nobel prize."

The measure of success for the SKA, which would be the world's most powerful radio telescope, would be the way it resolved outstanding problems in physics - like how galaxies were formed and secrets around "dark matter", Vejjala said.

Benefit

Other projects and satellite missions are collecting similar data to what the SKA will collect, but the real benefit of the telescope will be the scale of information it picks up.

"The SKA lets us collect large amounts of data on a wide scale at different radio wavelengths. It is able to see things in greater detail. The sheer amount of data you are collecting is a positive."

An organisation such as Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) would benefit from SKA in the complementary projects it had with the telescope.

One of these is Nasa's Wmap project, which maps cosmic microwave backgrounds.

"If SKA can produce new data Nasa will go ahead with new experiments such as the Wmap project," he said.

University of KwaZulu-Natal astronomer Caroline Zunckel, who is a co-participant in the MeerKAT telescope project, said SKA had the potential to discover something "very exciting".

"The SKA, being considerably more powerful, will certainly deliver exciting results," she said.

Turning point

One of the key discoveries the project could make is in "dark energy". Dark energy, which makes up most of the universe, does not produce light, is not tangible in any way and behaves in the opposite way to normal matter.

"Dark energy is the entity that is causing the universe to expand in an accelerated fashion," she said.

"We have yet to establish the exact physics behind it, but the SKA could make some real progress... [on] dark energy."

The SKA will also study the formation of planets outside our solar system and would scan for radio signals from extra-terrestrial life.

The SKA site advisory committee said on Friday the project would be split between South Africa and Australia. Justin Jonas, associate director for science and engineering at the SKA, said the project marked a turning point in Africa as a destination for science and engineering.

South Africa will construct two of the three SKA receiver components. The SKA would be 50 times more sensitive than the most powerful existing radio telescopes.

It will have about 3 000 receiving dishes across South and east Africa.

South Africa's main site will be outside Carnarvon in the Karoo. Australia's core site will be the Mileura station, about 100km west of Meekathara in western Australia.

- SAPA/News24

Massive West Africa hunger in 2012

Geneva - UN officials say they expect 18 million people in West Africa will go hungry this year, including three million young children whose lives or health will be at risk.

W David Gressly, the UN's regional humanitarian co-ordinator for nine countries in the arid Sahel region of Africa, says during 2012 the lives of at least 1 million children under 5 will be threatened and another 2 million under 5 will suffer health problems due to malnutrition.

Gressly told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva the third such hunger crisis in the Sahel since 2005 is made worse because people have not had time to recover from the two "previous shocks" caused by drought and failed harvests.

He and other UN officials said political instability in some areas adds to the problem.

- AP/News24

Fire dept defends billing for all call-outs

Pretoria - The Tshwane fire brigade has defended its practice of issuing invoices for every fire or accident it attends.

"It is not new for the fire brigade services to issue invoices for accidents as well as other types of incidents," Tshwane fire safety deputy chief Steve Combrink said on Tuesday.

"This has been in the approved council report on tariffs for some time now."

Beeld reported that the Tshwane fire brigade had started issuing invoices for every call-out, whereas in the past they were only issued for house fires.

A source was quoted as saying that even if somebody died in an accident, the deceased's next of kin would receive an invoice.

According to the report, it's claimed that the invoices range between R375 and R1 900.

The source said that it makes no difference if it is an accident, a veldfire, or a cat which was rescued from a tree - people will pay.

Combrink said: "Should people be involved in vehicle accidents or fires and they need our assistance, even if another person phoned, then yes, they will be invoiced."

This was to cover service delivery costs.

Combrink said the city was not the only one issuing invoices for call-outs.

"It is not as if we are now suddenly starting to issue invoices... we have been doing this for a few years already."

He said if a fire broke out at a vacant space, the person who called the fire brigade would not be invoiced.

- SAPA/News24

Boomtak val kind dood by skool

Johannesburg – ‘n Sewejarige skoolseun het Dinsdag gesterf nadat ‘n boomtak op hom geval het by ‘n laerskool in Chaka’s Head aan die noordkus van KwaZulu-Natal, het paramedici gesê.

Hy het vermoedelik onder die boom gestaan toe die tak op hom geval het van ‘n hoogte van 10 meter af, het Chris Botha, woordvoerder van Netcare 911, gesê. Hy het dit as ‘n “fratsongeluk” beskryf.

Die seun het gesterf voordat paramedici gearriveer het, het hy gesê.

- SAPA/Nuus24

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 30 May 2012 04h00 SAST

Eastern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 29/05/2012 to 01/06/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Plettenberg Bay and Port Edward, reaching 6m west of Port Alfred. Moderating from Thursday

Northern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 30/05/2012 to 01/06/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected on Wednesday, persisting into Thursday.

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 29/05/2012 to 01/06/2012. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected, reaching 6m south of Cape Point. Moderating from Thursday.

All other Provinces - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts.
Detail: No Alerts.

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 30 May 2012 06h00 SAST


Image: Eumetsat (Click on image for larger view.)

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation: 29 - 31 May 2012


Image: U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Click on image for larger view.

SKA may scupper fracking plans

Johannesburg - South Africa's winning the rights to host the bulk of the world's biggest radio telescope looks set to clash with plans to use the high-pressure pumping method fracking, which can cause earth tremors, to extract gas from its vast shale deposits.

Last week, South Africa won the rights to locate about 70% of the "Square Kilometre Array" (SKA), a $2bn project capable of detecting signs of extraterrestrial life in the far reaches of the universe.

The project will bring the construction of more than a thousand highly sensitive receptors spread across hundreds of kilometres of arid terrain in the Northern Cape province.

The area is subject to an astronomy law that prohibits activity interfering with star gazing, which could include hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" - where drillers blast large amounts of sand and water laced with chemicals deep underground to free natural gas and oil from shale deposits.

"There is no decision by government on that [fracking]. We must understand the science before any licence is given, but I will use the astronomy advantage act if necessary," Science Minister Naledi Pandor told a news conference last week.

The Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act of 2007, meant to bolster South Africa's bid for the array, gives the Science Ministry a mandate to cut down trees, re-route air flights, silence radio signals and prohibit anything that harms astronomy in the region.

The area is home to gas reserves now being investigated by energy company Royal Dutch Shell and petrochemical group Sasol.

According to an initial study commissioned by the US energy information administration, South Africa has 485 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, most of which are located in the Karoo Basin.

The amount is the fifth largest of 32 countries included in the study and is pitched as a long-term solution for the energy problems of Africa's largest economy.

Moratorium

"The SKA will be situated in our licence application area," Janine Nel, a spokesperson for Shell South Africa Upstream, said.

"We will comply with legislation in this regard and ensure that any future exploration activities we may undertake respect these regulations."

Environmentalists and other critics say fracking, which has made available major new unconventional sources of gas and transformed the US energy sector, can cause earth tremors and contaminate water. The process is banned in several countries.

Independent energy industry analyst Chris Yelland said South Africa is committed to the telescope project and it is up to scientists and engineers to see if fracking can co-exist with it.

"No one can give a definitive answer at this point on whether it is possible," Yelland told Reuters.

About a year ago, South Africa imposed a fracking moratorium on oil and gas exploration licences in the semi-arid region to gain time to examine the concerns of environmentalists who say the process would ruin the area and to study the potential gains.

Energy Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

The telescope project will take years to build and the government appears in no rush to see how it will apply its astronomy law on mining and fracking.

When completed in 2024, the telescope will be made up of 3 000 dishes, each 15m wide, together with many more antennae, that together will give a receiver surface area of a square kilometre.

The bulk of the project will be in South Africa and partner African countries. Australia and New Zealand also won the rights to host a smaller portion of the project.

Scanning the sky 10 000 times faster and with 50 times the sensitivity of any other telescope, it will be able to see 10 times further into the universe and detect signals that are 10 times older.

- Reuters

Perd met laaigraaf uit swembad gered


Prince, ’n bruin merrieperd wat Vrydag in ’n swembad op ’n plaas naby Hoekwil geval het, is gered deur haar met behulp van ’n laaigraaf uit die water te lig. Foto: DBV

GEORGE. – Die Dierebeskermingsvereniging (DBV) en die brandweer moes Vrydag ’n ongewone reddingspoging uitvoer toe ’n perd in ’n swembad beland het en nie kon uitkom nie.

Prince, ’n bruin merrieperd wat per ongeluk in dié swembad beland het, is uiteindelik met behulp van ’n laaigraaf uit die water gelig.

Die voorval het Vrydag op ’n plaas naby Hoekwil in die rigting van Karatara gebeur.

Dit is nie seker presies hoe Prince in die swembad beland het nie. Sy behoort aan Petra Buse, wat ten tyde van die voorval nie op die plaas was nie.

Die voorman en plaaswerkers het probeer om die perd uit die swembad te lok, maar verniet. Die DBV is omstreeks 10:30 gekontak om te kom help.

Sr.insp. Salome Botha van die Tuinroete DBV het die brandweer gevra om met die reddingspoging te help. “Ek het die eienaar aangesê om solank die swembad se water te laat uitloop.”

Volgens inligting was die perd toe reeds vyf uur lank in die swembad vasgekeer.

By die DBV-personeel se aankoms was twee brandweermanne, Johan Troskie en Badnoll Grootboom, reeds op die toneel.

Prince se kop was nooit onder die water nie. Sy was borshoogte in die water en het na die swembad se vlak kant beweeg.

“Die perd het gebewe van die koue,” het Botha vertel. “Almal het in die swembad gespring en begin om die water met emmers uit te gooi.”

Die DBV se veearts, dr. Elke Schwellnus, het die perd op ’n drup gesit en met komberse toegegooi.

“Ons het probeer om ’n ‘oprit’ teen die swembad se trappe aanmekaar te slaan sodat Prince kon uitloop, maar sy was te swak en kon skaars staan,” het Botha vertel.

Hulle moes toe ’n ander plan maak.

’n Buurman het intussen een van sy werkers gestuur om sy laaigraaf te gaan haal. Volgens Botha was die enigste uitweg om die perd met behulp van die laaigraaf uit die swembad te lig. “’n Wit sponsmatras is om haar maag vasgebind. Stewige bande is toe om die matras gedraai en aan die laaigraaf gehaak.”

Ná ’n drie uur lange reddingspoging is die perd na veiligheid gehys.

Die redding is bemoeilik omdat Prince gesukkel het om te staan weens koue en skok. Die perd het geen beserings opgedoen nie omdat die swembad met die invalslag vol water was.

- Volksblad

Greenpeace slams government over nuclear

Cape Town - Environmental organisation Greenpeace has demanded that the government halts all discussions aimed at expanding nuclear power production in South Africa.

"Greenpeace Africa activists blockaded the premises of the IDC where the conference on 'Nuclear power's future for Africa' was taking place," the organisation told News24.

Police forcibly removed the activists from the premises of the Industrial Development Corporation in Sandton.

The government is exploring nuclear power expansion to meet South Africa's expanding demand for electricity and despite policy aimed at boosting renewable energy, officials from Eskom have said that nuclear and coal power plants provided base load critical to energy demand in the country.

That argument has come under from environmentalists.

"If you have a combination and a proper mix of energy with solar and wind, you don't have to get stuck on having a large base load," Ferrial Adam anti nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace Africa told News24.

Fabrication

"There's a push by the nuclear industry to enter the South. There aren't even that many new entrants in the market, so when they talk about this nuclear renaissance, it's bullshit," Muna Lakhani, Cape Town branch co-ordinator for Earthlife Africa said recently.

He also rejected the base load argument, saying that South Africa's energy crisis was a fabrication as domestic users only accounted for less than a fifth of the country's consumption.

In SA, domestic users account for around 17% of consumption, while industry takes up 37.7% and mining 15%, according to the government gazette on electricity pricing policy of 2008.

Greenpeace has been on the offensive against the expansion of nuclear power production as well as the continued build programme of the Kusile coal-fired power plant.

"Minister [Dipuo] Peters' support to expand nuclear power in Africa is extremely irresponsible given the socio-economic challenges prevalent on the continent," said Adam.

Germany recently reached a renewable energy milestone when it was announced that solar power plants in that country produced a world record 22 gigawatts (GW) of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.

Germany has been mothballing nuclear power stations following the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster in Japan.

Target

"Nuclear energy is expensive and prone to construction delays. In a developed country like Finland, the delays have resulted in costs increasing by almost 100%, from €3.2bn to €6bn. France, a country that is one of the strongest proponents of nuclear energy, has had to delay the construction of its reactor being built in Flamanville," Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace argues that SA should accelerate the push toward renewable energy and delegates at the Wind Power Africa Conference & Renewable Energy Exhibition in Cape Town have made calls for wind energy investment.

"We don't really have a choice because we need, desperately, in this country new generation and we need it quickly. Wind is the only one you can put a lot of megawatts down in a very short time," said Hermann Oelsner, president of Africa Wind Energy Association.

Greenpeace asked the government to aim for a more ambitious target than the current one of 42% renewable energy by 2030.

"By 2030, 50% of South Africa's electricity should come from renewables - not only would this help in averting catastrophic climate change, but it could also create 150 000 direct jobs over the next 20 years," said Adam.

- News24

Tswane brandweer vra voortaan geld

Wanneer ’n brandweerwa sy neus by ’n brandweerstasie in Tshwane uitsteek, gaan jy voortaan daarvoor betaal.

Selfs al het jy nie die brandweer gebel nie of die brandweer het niks op ’n toneel gedoen nie, sal jy ’n rekening kry.

Ná wat verneem word, wissel rekeninge tussen R375 en R1 900. In die verlede het die brandweer slegs vir huisbrande rekeninge uitgereik.

Die brandweer het glo sowat ’n maand gelede begin rekeninge uitstuur vir elke toneel waarheen hulle ontbied word.

Nomasonto Ndlovu, Tshwane se strategiese uitvoerende direkteur vir kommunikasie, het bevestig rekeninge moet gegee word in elke geval waar die brandweer na ’n toneel ontbied of waar hulp benodig word om ’n humanitêre diens te lewer.

Volgens Ndlovu is dit ingevolge tariewe wat die Tshwane-metroraad goedgekeur het.

Sy kon nie sê waarom dié stelsel in werking gestel is kort voordat die nuwe geldjaar op 1 Julie begin nie.

Brandweerbeamptes het aan Beeld gesê die nuwe rekeningstelsel is “belaglik”.

“As daardie voertuig se enjin start, gaan jy ’n rekening kry,” het ’n beampte gesê.

“Vir enigiets wat ons voortaan doen, gaan mense betaal. Maak nie saak of dit ’n ongeluk of ’n grasbrand is of ’n kat wat uit ’n boom gehaal word nie.

“Wanneer twee voertuie bots en ’n derde party bel die brandweer, sal die mense wat in die botsing betrokke was almal ’n rekening kry.

Al het hulle nie gebel nie en het die brandweer net tot op die toneel gery en niks gedoen nie omdat hul hulp nie nodig was nie.

“Selfs wanneer iemand dood is in ’n ongeluk, sal naasbestaandes ’n rekening ontvang.”

Luidens ’n interne e-pos van Malose F. Malepe, waarnemende assistent-brandweerhoof, word van beamptes verwag om inkomste te genereer deur rekeninge te stuur vir voorvalle waarheen hulle ontplooi word.

Dié besluit is verlede jaar op ’n departementele vergadering geneem.

Die rekening moet ’n uitroeptarief vir personeel, die aanwending van hulpmiddels en die gebruik van toerusting insluit.

Jan en alleman sal moet betaal

Vir elke geval waar toerusting gebruik is of uit ’n sluitkas gehaal is.

Op ongelukstonele moet rekeninge aan alle voertuie wat betrokke was, gegee word.

Alle spesiale dienste.

Grasbrande, behalwe as dit op die Tshwane-metro se eiendom is soos op ’n sypaadjie.

Tydens vloede moet alle huise waar die brandweer se hulp benodig was en hul toerusting gebruik is, ’n rekening ontvang. As die brandweer uitgeroep is, maar hulle kon niks doen nie, moet ’n uitroeptarief gevra word.

Tydens voetgangerongelukke moet die betrokke voertuig­bestuurder ’n rekening ontvang.

Met voorvalle buite die stadsgrense moet 50% ekstra by die rekening gevoeg word. Daar moet ook eers by die inbeller seker gemaak word of hy die rekening gaan betaal.

- Beeld

Veld fires 'flame' Zimbabwe's economy

Over the years, Zimbabwe has experienced the scourge of veld fires destroying property worth thousands of dollars. Last year about in 714 000 hectares of land was 'chewed' by veld fires and according to the Meteorological Office , the season were the risk of veld fires are high is once again upon us. Environment activists said threat not only the environment is destroyed by veld fires but the entire economic.

Henry Madhiri, an environment activist said the country is loosing a lot of revenue through veld fires.

“Apart from the forests which are ‘chewed’ by the fires, sectors such as tourism and agriculture are also affected. Tourism thrives on wild animals and these animals are killed by veld fires and in some cases crops ready for harvest is destructed,” said Madhiri.

Veld Fires emanating from newly resettled farmers last year destroyed a total of 1 694.3 hectares of timber in Manicaland.

The statistics released by the Timber Producers Federation (TPF) cited Chimanimani and Nyanga districts as the most affected areas.

The TPF statistics show that between July and November last year , 257 forest fires were reported and destroyed 9 586 hectares of timber which constitutes 12 per cent of Zimbabwe's pine population.

Pine is grown on a 25-year rotation and the area affected by the fires was equivalent to what would normally be harvested in a three year period.

Fires emanating from neighbouring newly resettled areas destroyed a total of 1 694.3 hectares, with honey hunters and human negligence also contributing to the veld fires.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema said it is unfortunate that environmental degradation has weakened the natural resource base on which human activity ultimately depends.

Minister Nhema said the government’s restocking program has been grossly undermined by the veld fires which over the past years have been destroying the grass lands.

In Zimbabwe veld fires is a single significant threat to national economic recovery plans as they are destroying not only pastures necessary for the restocking exercise, but also foreign currency
generating plantations.

Food security may be compromised as the past few years have seen fires burning wheat farms, maize fields among other valuables.

“The country’s turnaround strategy is rooted in our natural resources but unfortunately this natural capital is under threat from veld fires hence my plea with all of you to fight this monster,” Nhema said.

He bemoaned how veld fires have been at the centre of resources and property destruction.

According to the Minister at least 1 152 413 hectares of land were affected by veld fires countrywide of which 2 907.7 ha were plantation areas.

He also noted that infrastructure worth over US$ 227 214 was gutted down by fires countrywide.
“As a nation we cannot afford the continued loss of life and valuables resulting from avoidable human error,” Nhema said.

Chief Zvimba said uncontrolled fires that led to loss of at least four lives in the province had led to the disruption of traditional rituals at sacred places such as Nyakasikana.

"There has been a lot of destruction caused by fires and as traditional leaders we are worried when these fires disturb our traditional rites at places such as Nyakasikana and more should be
done to achieve zero cases of fires in the country," he said.


Despite the importance of forests and woodlands to the economy, there has been a general increase of uncontrolled fires in the whole country, with Manicaland being one of the worst affected.

Launching the 2012 National Fire Week at a press briefing in Harare, Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema said his ministry has this year noted with concern that the country does not have enough livestock feed hence the need for communities to
stop veld fires that are destroying grazing land.

He said traditional chiefs will prosecute individuals who start fires that are undermining the country’s ongoing government cattle restocking programme.

“Systematic ecological and localized environmental degradation is becoming highly prominent as a result of uncontrolled fires.”

“This lowers the natural resilience of ecosystems to disaster impact and delays recovery. Veld fires also destroy grazing land,” he said.

ZERO Regional Environment Organisation Acting Director, Sheppard Zvigadza and Environment Africa Country Director, Barnabas Mawire said the problem of veld fires require collaborative effort and the adoption of necessary fire preventive measures by communities.

A number of fire outbreaks have already been recorded this season alone with one farmer in Mashonaland central losing a combine harvester, farm equipment and his tons of maize crop.

- AfricaNews

NSRI: Two call outs for Simon’s Town:

Sunday 27th May 2012. 2 incidents:

Incident 1: Yacht with rudder loss safely towed to Port:

Terry McMann and his girlfriend on board his yacht Libertas requested assistance after they lost rudder control 1.5 nautical miles east of Roman Rock lighthouse in False Bay.

Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simon’s Town station commander said that the duty crew launched Spirit of Safmarine III and Eddie Beaumont II and the yacht was towed to False Bay Yacht Club.

Libertad is brought into False Bay Yacht Club by Spirit of Safmarine III. Picture Chops Craig/NSRI.

Incident 2: Yacht guided home:

Then at 17h00 NSRI Simon’s Town duty crew were placed on alert after yacht club members at False Bay Yacht Club said that they had dropped three fellow members off in Gordons Bay earlier in the day, and that they planned to sail their 26 foot sailing boat Kayo back to Simon’s Town. They departed at 10h00 and estimated arrival time in Simon’s Town for 17h00 but they had not arrived in as scheduled and attempts to contact them had failed.

Darren Zimmerman said that the 3 sailors, skipper Sean Poole with crew Graham Heslop and Gareth Meggs are all in their early 20′s.

When still no contact had been made with the yacht by 18h00, fearing that the 3 men were in trouble, NSRI Simon’s Town prepared to launch our sea rescue craft and NSRI Gordons Bay duty crew and the EMS Skymed helicopter were activated.

NSRI Strandfontein was also placed on alert.

Sea Rescue Coast Watchers were alerted along the False Bay Coast to act as spotters from elevated positions but no sign of the yacht could be seen.

Following a brief search AMS helicopter, Skymed, found the yacht near to Seal Island. It appeared to be sailing along fine, and the rescue helicopter ‘buzzed’ them a few times. They then realizing that a search had been launched for them and the men turned on their cellphones. They reported that all was in order, they weren’t in any difficulty, and that they were heading towards Simon’s Town expecting to arrive in an hour.

At 19h00, after sunset, the men called to say that they were approaching Simon’s Town but needed directions as they were unsure of the approach into Simon’s Town harbour. Spirit of Safmarine III was launched and they were guided to the False Bay Yacht Club under escort.

- NSRI

Climate Climate change affects migratory birds in Uganda

Changes in the climate globally have affected the movement of both migratory and resident species of birds, Nature Uganda has said. "We used to see strange birds perched up on that tree. But nowadays we chance on one after a long time," Ssonko, a nature lover says while pointing at the seemingly old tree.

He says some of the “strange birds” had tags on their legs. “I don’t know what has happened these days,” he adds.

Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather.

Uganda is home to over 1000 species of birds. Birding.com says there are over 10,000 species in the world.

The programmes manager at Nature Uganda Michael Opige says they have noted that there is delayed arrival of migratory birds, which they can attribute to climate change.

Opige says they used to carry out studies of monitoring programmes targeting both resident and migratory species twice a year.

He adds that they used to conduct monitoring programmes for migratory birds from December to around February. For resident species, the monitoring used to be done from June to August.

“What we have noted is that the birds which used to come between December and February somehow have delayed now. And we believe that these delayed arrivals are due to the climate change and we can only take note of that.” Opige says.

Opige adds that apart from that kind of monitoring programme, Nature Uganda is going to carry out a specific four year climate change study to establish how climate change is going to affect biodiversity along the Albertine Rift.

“We are going to develop a model out of this and see how the changes are happening along the altitudes. This will take four years and we are still into the first year. We shall come up with concrete evidence.”

Nature Uganda has set up many sites, across the country to monitor both the resident and migratory birds.

The official says they have started doing preliminary analysis on this and the results indicate both a decline and improvement of some bird species: resident and migratory.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, scientists established declines of up to 90% in some bird populations, “as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others.”

Nature Uganda was established over 100 years ago. It is an affiliate of Birdlife International.

According to the World Conservation Society, the Albertine Rift (the West of the East African Rift) is one of the most biodiverse regions of the African continent.

The Rift covers parts of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It runs from Lake Albert to Lake Tanganyika.

- AfricaNews

Qatar detains five over mall fire

Image: A witness in the shopping complex said that he saw green smoke, and soon after that it turned black and very heavy [Al Jazeera]

Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Merri, Qatar’s attorney general, has ordered the detaining of five people associated with the fire at a major shopping mall and entertainment complex in the capital Doha that killed 19 people, including 13 children.

The owners of the Villagio mall and a children's nursery inside it were being detained, state-owned Qatar News Agency said on Tuesday. The mall manager, the assistant manager and the assistant director of security were also being detained as part of the investigation, it said.

Earlier in the day, several hundred people attended a vigil at a park adjacent to the mall. Other memorials were planned at the The Pearl, a property development and on Wednesday at Doha's main church as authorities continued to investigate the cause of the fire.

Children trapped

Monday's incident, in which many of those killed were unable to escape from the nursery, has raised questions about building safety in the Gulf Arab state.

"We're here to support the New Zealand community," Paul Hendra, a New Zealander attending the vigil, told Al Jazeera, referring to one New Zealand family which lost triplets in the fire.

Asked about safety issues, he added: "Of course this is a bit of a worry. The laws don't seem to be adhered to. The laws are there but It's enforcement that is the big problem,"

Another attendee, Michelle Dailley, from the United Kingdom said that most people were still "focused on the tragedy. But I think down the road there will be a lot of concerns about safety".

Initial reports said the fire broke out at or near the Gympanzee child care centre, trapping children and their teachers as the staircase leading to the first-floor nursery had collapsed, possibly due to the heat of the fire.

Dense smoke inside the mall combined with flames and fierce temperatures made reaching the trapped children very difficult, a civil defence representative told a news conference.

"The first report of fire at Villaggio was received by the operations centre at 11:02am (08:02 GMT)," Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, state minister for the interior, said, adding that police and civil defence reached the site within minutes, according to the QNA state news agency.

He said it became clear that 20 children were at the nursery and "all efforts were concentrated on evacuating those kids", adding firefighters had to break through the roof to gain access after a staircase collapsed.

"We tried to get to the children area but the extremely high heat stood in our way," Brigadier Hamad al-Duhaimi of the Qatari civil defence said.

The children were from Spain, Japan, South Africa, China, the Philippines and New Zealand. A Spanish diplomatic source in Madrid said that four of the dead children were Spanish.

Yamina Benguigui, the minister in charge of French expatriates, announced in Paris that a French child died, but declined to give any further details.

"It is with great sorrow that I confirm that a French child aged three is among the victims," she said in a statement.

Many expatriates live in Qatar, a gas- and oil-rich Gulf Arab state.

Four teachers and two civil defence officials were among the dead, the interior ministry said.

Another 17 people were injured, including four children, according to authorities. Most of those hurt were rescuers responding to the blaze.

"There don't seem to have been any fire alarms or sprinklers at the mall," a relative of a two-year-old child who died in the fire said, speaking by phone from Doha's Hamad Hospital.

Lack of urgency

Al Jazeera's Tarek Bazley was in the shopping centre with his two children when the fire broke out, but they escaped unharmed.

"The volume of smoke coming out of it, it looked like you had 30 steam trains all pumping their smoke out above it," he said.

But he said there was a lack of urgency from officials in the mall when alarms went off and complained of a "complete lack of planning, a complete lack of co-ordination in terms of removing people from this area."

Local website Doha News posted a note from South African Maryam Charles saying that her daughter, Shameega Charles, 29, who was a teacher at the nursery, "perished in the blaze".

It also said that an 18-month-old South African was among the dead, in addition to a Moroccan firefighter.

In Manila, a foreign department spokesman said three Philippine teachers who worked at the nursery died of smoke inhalation.

"Did this nursery meet the conditions to get a licence?" said Al-Watan daily, addressing its question to the ministry of social affairs.

"We await answers over how it was allowed that kids of such age could be at a place not sufficiently equipped."

Saleh al-Kawari, editor-in-chief of Al-Raya daily, said in an editorial that alleged negligence of safety standards amounted to "premeditated murder", calling the accident "a real catastrophe".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies

Epidemic in Uganda on Tuesday, 29 May, 2012 at 10:21 (10:21 AM) UTC.

Two people have been confirmed dead and 56 others admitted atNebbi hospital following the fresh outbreak of cholera disease in Nebbi district. The death of the two unidentfied victims and 56 patients who are admitted at Nebbi hospital brings to 17 the number of victims killed and more than 1,150 infected with cholera after the first case was reported in the district in March this year according to health official in the district. Kitts Obima, the Nebbi district health Educator said that the district is alarmed by the persistance outbreak of the disease arguing that cholera is persisting due to relaxity on the side of the community to have sanitary facilites at home and thier poor habits to responds on the cholera symptoms. When New Vision visited Nebbi hospital to ascertain the number of people infetced in the lastest outbreak in Nebbi Town concil on Monday (May, 28,2012) many of the victims mostly youths and children were seen lying with drip on thier connected to thier body at Nebbi hospital isolation ward.

Obima called on leaders in the district to enforce the use of sanitary facilities and educate the communities to avoid eating cold food , “According to public food act, food is purpose to be eaten indoor place but people still eat food in open places which exposes them at high risks of contracting cholera” he said. Cholera is an infection in the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse, watery diarrhea and vomiting. Its transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Obima said that the first case of cholera was reported in Akworo sub-county the district on March 2012. He explained that the worst hit sub-county has been Akworo, Panyimur, Parombo Pakwach sub-county which recorded a total of 15 death and the latest being Nebbi Town Council with over 56 cases reportedly admitted at Nebbi hospital Obima, however,said that drugs that district is still using the previous stocks which were delivered by the ministry and other humantarian organisation in the first outbreak.

He added that, the cholera sample have been taken to central public health’s laboratory for test for rapid responds. Mean while to avoid the further spread of the disease, local council leaders have banned the selling of food itmes at the road sides. In Nebbi Town council James Chombe Mucek , the Nebbi town council LC.3 chaiperson said that the council have temporaly suspended selling of food items in the street and open restaurant. He said the move was aimed to control the disease from futher spread by eating cold food. He also said that the council have formed cholera task force who would move door to door to check sanitary facilities like toilets, washing facilities in order to to combat the cholera the disease.

- RSOE Edis

Italy quake: Search for survivors in Emilia Romagna


Rescuers in northern Italy are continuing to comb through the rubble for more survivors after a strong earthquake killed at least 16 people.

About 350 people were injured after the magnitude 5.8 quake hit the Emilia Romagna region - the second deadly tremor in just over a week.

A woman was pulled out alive in the evening in Cavezzo, but officials say at least one more person is missing.

The quake on 20 May killed seven people and left thousands homeless.

The 6.0 magnitude tremor also caused significant damage to Emilia Romagna's cultural heritage, destroying churches and historic buildings.

The number of people made homeless has now gone up from 6,000 to 14,000 after the two quakes, the Italian government says.

The woman who was saved in Cavezzo reportedly spent 12 hours in the rubble in her kitchen. The 65-year-old managed to survive because a piece of furniture had toppled over, preventing her from being crushed by the wreckage.

She was taken to hospital.

Prime Minister Mario Monti said earlier his government would do everything possible to restore normal life to the area, which was "so special, so important, so productive for Italy".

Government troops are now deployed in the affected areas, and an emergency cabinet meeting will be held on Wednesday.

Tuesday's quake struck 40km (25 miles) north of Bologna at a depth of 9.6km (six miles) at about 09:03 local time (07:03 GMT).

Thousands of residents ran out of buildings after the tremor, which was felt as far away as Venice and the Austrian border.

The towns of Mirandola, Medolla and Cavezzo were closest to the epicentre, but the northern cities of Milan and Bologna were shaken too.

Among the dead were four people in Mirandola, including two who were in a factory that collapsed. Three people also died in San Felice, and two in Cavezzo.

In Mirandola, the San Francesco church collapsed, leaving only its facade standing.

Three people were killed at a factory that had only been cleared for re-entry on Monday, following the earlier quake, the Corriere della Sera news website says.

A parish priest in the town of Rovereto di Novi is reported to have been killed by a falling beam when he went back into his church to save a Madonna statue.

"It's a disaster, I've never seen anything like it," Cavezzo Mayor Stefano Draghetti was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Christopher Gilbert, a Londoner living in Modena, told the BBC that he had felt "a rolling earthquake lasting around 15 seconds".

Chris Brewerton, living in Mantua, about 58km north of Modena, told the BBC: "The chair starts shaking and there's a feeling of waves below me.

"I rush out into the garden; the shutters and garage door are banging, the ground below me swaying."

There have been several aftershocks since, including a large one at about midday which sent people out into the streets in cities up to 100km away, the BBC's Mark Duff reports from northern Italy.

In Pisa, offices were evacuated as a precautionary measure while there were moments of panic in Venice, where a statue fell to the ground.

Pictures from the worst-affected areas show factories and office blocks reduced to rubble.

Calls to emergency services have overloaded the telephone network in some areas, causing a system blackout. Train services have been halted in some parts of northern Italy.

Emilia Romagna - one of Italy's most agriculturally productive areas famous for many delicacies - has been struggling to recover from the previous quake.

Reports say that Tuesday's tremor dealt a blow to the region's world-famous balsamic vinegar industry - after the previous quake nine days ago hit Parmesan production.

A friendly match between Italy and Luxembourg ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships, due to be played in the northern city of Parma on Tuesday, has been called off.

In 2009, an earthquake in L'Aquila, central Italy, killed nearly 300 people.

- BBC