Tuesday, 31 July 2012

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


Eastern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Snowfalls, very cold and heavy swell
Detail: Valid: 31-07-2012:  Snowfalls are expected over the western high ground. Valid: 01-08-2012:  1. Heavy swell in excess of 4.0m are expected between Cape Point and Port Elizabeth. 2. Very cold conditions are expected over the high ground of the Eastern Cape. 3. Snowfalls are expected over the high lying areas of the Eastern Cape. WATCH:  Gale force south-westerly winds are expected between Port Elizabeth and East London in the morning.

Free State Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Very cold
Detail: Valid: 01-08-2012:  Very cold conditions can be expected over the southern parts.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Very Cold
Detail: Valid: 1-08-2012: Very cold conditions are expected over the south-western parts.

Northern Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Very cold conditions
Detail: Valid: 01-08-2012: Very cold conditions are expected over the southern high ground of the Northern Cape

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Snowfalls, very cold and heavy swells.
Detail: Valid: 31-7-2012:  1.Heavy swell in excess of 4.0m are expected between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas. 2. Snowfalls are expected over the southern mountains of the Western. Valid 01-08-2012:  1. Heavy swell in excess of 4.0m are expected between Cape Point and Port Elizabeth. 2. Very cold conditions are expected over the high ground of the Western Cape. 3. Snowfalls are expected over the southern mountains of the Western Cape Province.

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

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 31 July 2012 17h00 SAST


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

Weather Observation: Mossel Bay (31 July 2012 16h20 SAST)


Image: This image was taken facing south.  Large water based clouds moving eastwards along the coast - SAWDOS (Click on image for larger view.)

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will be establishing a Joint Operations Centre (JOC)

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will be establishing a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) from 3pm this afternoon following a warning by the South African Weather Service of persistent rain this afternoon and tomorrow.

Even though approximately 60mm of rain is expected today and tomorrow, the JOC - consisting of Disaster Management, Fire and Emergency, South African Police Services (SAPS), Infrastructure and Engineering, Human Settlements and Communications - will be on alert. Due to saturated soil conditions even low rainfall could lead to flash floods.

Recent flash floods resulted in the distribution of thousands of blankets, mattresses and other relief supplies. We would therefore like to appeal to residents in lower lying areas and areas prone to flooding to keep these supplies dry for use if the need arise to relocate them to Community Halls. This will also enable the municipality to prioritize individuals or families who are in desperate need of help.

Motorists are requested to keep safe following distances and adhere to the rules of the road as treacherous conditions could lead to an increase in accidents.

Like Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality on facebook and follow us on twitter @NMBmunicipality.

Residents can contact 0800 20 50 50 for assistance and in life threatening situations please contact 041 585 1555.

Thank you.

KUPIDO BARON
MEDIA MANAGEMENT OFFICER

Eskom’s flexitime plan ‘won’t work’

SA companies have been called upon to introduce flexitime, but Cape businesses believe it simply won’t work.

Eskom chief executive Brian Dames reported on Monday it was considering offering special rates to companies operating between 10pm and 4am.

“Between five o’clock and around 7.30 in the evening every night we use as much electricity as most of our neighbouring countries combined just in those few hours. In some cases it’s in excess of 3 000MW,” Dames said.

“We think as a country we should consider changing our working hours. We may offer companies special fees and rates to use electricity from about 10 at night to four o’clock in the morning.”

But the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday the idea was a non-starter.

“We support any initiative to help try to smooth out the grid, but flexitime is proving to be unfeasible,” said the chamber’s Michael Bagraim.

“It is a good idea. However, we have done a survey at the Cape Chamber. Many businesses are saying it’s impossible – we’ve had some very negative feedback. First of all it’s the Labour Relations Act – you have to get agreement from employees, trade unions, workplace forums, bargaining councils, etcetera. It’s a massive consultative process. Because of the complexity of our labour laws, this is one instance in which the enormous burden of our labour laws backfires. They act as a handbrake for the betterment of institutions such as Eskom.”

Bagraim said any potential savings from cheaper electricity on offer during the night were countered by higher wage and transport costs employers would have to pay.

“There’s one other big problem – to have flexitime is all very well, but you also have to have a number of companies doing it. It’s all very well opening at 4am, when there’s no-one else open to speak to,” Bagraim said.

Meanwhile Dames said there had been a steady decline in electricity usage for the first half of this year, compared with 2011.

“Year on year, we have seen a negative electricity growth of 3 percent.”

Dames said SA had not had enforced power shutdowns caused by a shortage of electricity since April 2008.

Cape Argus/IOL

Passasiers vrees vir hul lewe op SAL-vlug

KAAPSTAD. – Passasiers aan boord van ’n vliegtuig van die Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens (SAL) het gister ’n “vreesaanjaende” vlug beleef toe die druk in die kajuit verminder het.

Van die passasiers aan boord van vlug SA326, wat van Kaapstad na die O.R. Tambo-lughawe onderweg was, het gesê dit was die mees vreesaanjaende vlug wat hulle nog ervaar het.

Die Boeing 737-800 het gister om 10:50 van die Kaapstadse Internasionale Lughawe opgestyg en in die middel van die vlug probleme ondervind. Volgens die passasiers het die lugmaskers en reddingsbaadjies outomaties ontplooi en het die vliegtuig baie naby aan die grond gevlieg.

Paul Kalenga, ’n lektor van Botswana, het op sy Facebook-blad geskryf: “Ons was nou baie na aan die dood op ’n SAL-vlug na Johannesburg. Ongelooflik dat ons dit vrygespring het.”

’n Ander passasier het op Twitter geskryf: “Die mees vreesaanjaende vlug van my lewe. Knap gedaan, die kaptein en bemanning, wat ons veilig laat land het.”

Die SAL het die voorval by navraag bevestig.

- Volksblad

SEA RESCUE – DURBAN – Tuesday, 31st July, 2012. Boat capsizes – German tourists rescued


At 10h20 on the morning of Tuesday, 31st July, our NSRI Durban volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a 7 meter rigid inflatable charter boat capsized off-shore of Oasis Beach opposite of the Sun Coast Casino.

Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew responded and eThekwini Municipal lifeguards, ambulances and paramedic response vehicles from Netcare 911 ambulance services and a Medix private ambulance responded.

On NSRI's arrival on-scene it was confirmed that all 12 people, (11 passengers and 1 skipper), of the capsized boat were accounted for and safe on the beach. The 11 passengers were being treated by paramedics, some for various injuries ranging from bumps and bruises and shock, and some for suspected near drowning symptoms.

It has been confirmed by the eThekwini Municipal lifeguards that when they arrived on-scene they were faced with one person already on the beach and a boat capsized in the surf, about 50 meters off-shore, with a mass of people (casualties) in lifejackets bobbing in the surf around the boat and some of these people (casualties) attempting to swim towards shore through the surf. At that stage it was unknown how many people had been on the boat when it capsized.

The 3 eThekwini Municipal lifeguards, Manager Jayce Govender and lifeguards Manzi Siphiwe and Kuben Patter, launched into the surf using Malibu rescue boards and on their arrival at the boat, about between 30 meters and 50 meters off-shore in the surf-line, they began the task of rescuing the casualties and in some cases dragging the casualties by their life-jackets through the surf to bring them to the beach to safety.

"The skipper of the capsized boat, Ben van Rensburg, was also helping to drag casualties and the boat towards shore.

The skipper confirmed to lifeguards that he could not be certain if all of the passengers were accounted for and the alarm level was raised when one of the casualties, who had by now been brought onto the beach, could not find his girlfriend amongst the rescued passengers.

The lifeguards, fearing that there may still be people trapped under the boat, which was by now near to being beached, and knowing that if people were still trapped under the boat they could be injured if the boat beached, they dragged the boat into deeper water and then dived under the boat where they first found one casualty, bringing that casualty to the surface and then on further investigation they found a second casualty and also brought that casualty to the surface.

Jayce Govender, eTheweni Municipal Lifeguards manager said that both of these casualties, who were freed from under the boat, a male and a female, were brought to the safety of the beach by the lifeguards and it was then confirmed that all of the people that had been on the boat when it had capsized were accounted for and all safely ashore.

It is believed that an air pocket between the pontoons of the boat and the hull of the boat was used by the two trapped passengers to breath.

Once all casualty crew were ashore the lifeguards then began to medically triage the patients and shortly thereafter the first of the paramedics arrived on-scene to continue with medical treatment of the casualties.

Chris Botha, of Netcare 911 ambulance services, confirmed that while none of the casualties sustained serious injury some of the 11 passengers sustained bumps and bruises and some were treated as a precautionary measure for suspected near drowning symptoms and although most of the passengers were suffering from shock they were all in stable conditions and transported to hospital by the Netcare 911 ambulances and by the Medix ambulance for further evaluation and for observations and for treatment for shock.

The skipper of the casualty boat was not injured and was not transported to hospital.

Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander said that NSRI are praising the gallant efforts of the lifeguards in this rescue operation. NSRI Durban volunteers have assisted the skipper to recover the boat which is a charter boat belonging to Isle of Capri.

It is believed that the 11 passengers, 7 males and 4 females, from the capsized boat are German tourists (this has not as yet been able to be confirmed). The skipper is from Durban. All were wearing life-jackets. Sea conditions were calm.

SAMSA (The South African Maritime Safety Authority) has been informed and will begin an investigation into the accident.

While it is suspected that the boat was capsized by a wave the exact cause will be investigated by SAMSA.


-ENDS-


Released by:


Craig Lambinon
Sea Rescue Communications

3.8M Earthquake confirmed in Bloemfontein (30 July 2012 10h30 SAST)


It is confirmed that the Southern Free State and Bloemfontein was rocked by an earthquake last night. The SAWDOS received an SMS message at 11h00 last night from an observer that a tremor was felt in Bloemfontein at around 10h30 SAST.

The Council for Geosciences confirmed that the earth tremor registered 3.8M on the Richter-scale. The epicenter was in the Edenburg area.

People said they felt the ground shake in areas including Edenburg and Reddersburg in the Free State as well as Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape. Earth tremors in the Southern Free State is rare but not uncommon.

More information, maps and comments on the SAWDOS Facebook Group available HERE.

Mossel Bay: Fires blaze over weekend


MOSSEL BAY NEWS FLASH - One man died, another was seriously injured and one man was left homeless in three separate domestic fires over the weekend.

On Saturday 28 July neighbours in Fischer Street, Asla Park were woken up by smoke and flames.
A man was seriously injured when his house caught fire.

Sources say the man could not afford to pay his outstanding electricity bill and therefore made use of a candle. It is believed that the candle fell over while the man was sleeping.
He is currently being treated in the Mossel Bay Provincial Hospital.

On Sunday 29 July one house and one shack burned down.

The 65-year old pensioner who lived in the shack in Gqunu Street, KwaNonqaba died in the fire.
Shortly after this a house took fire when the stove suddenly engulfed in flames as a resident of the house was cooking. No one was injured but they lost everything in the fire.

- Mossel Bay Advertiser

SAWDOS - Request for Media Interviews relating to the withdrawal of the SA Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011

I received several requests from the International and Local media for personal interviews regarding the withdrawal of the  SA Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011. However it is simply impossible to grant personal interviews to every media outlet that requested an interview.

I have indicated before that as a result of wide spread interest and to be transparent the SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service (SAWDOS) has decide to issue press releases instead of personal interviews.


SAWDOS MEDIA STATEMENT


WITHDRAWAL OF SA WEATHER SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL -  SEVERE WEATHER AND AIR POLLUTION-RELATED WARNING


31 JULY 2012

Business Day reports that the Department of Environmental Affairs has quietly withdrawn its proposed amendments to the SA Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011.  Notice of the bill's withdrawal was given, without reasons, in a June 15 parliamentary notice.  There were no media or public announcements, but there is no obligation on a minister to make any public announcement when withdrawing a bill.

From the onset it was clear that this bill was a poorly drafted bill and unconstitutional.  This highly controversial bill sought to introduce fines of up to five years imprisonment or a fine of five million rand while repeat offenders could be jailed for up to ten years or pay a fine of ten million rand if weather and air pollution related information are issued without the SA Weather Service's permission; the supply of false or misleading weather information; and the supply of information that "detrimentally effects or is likely to detrimentally affect the weather service". It further sought that the SA Weather Service not be held liable for any damage, loss or injury caused by any act performed or omitted in good faith, in the course of exercising a power or performing a function assigned by or under this Act.

The above is just a few basic examples of the highly controversial and poorly drafted bill.

The SAWDOS expressed it's opinion regarding this bill on several occasions in the media. The SAWDOS's submission to the port folio committee is available HERE.

With regards to the withdrawal of the bill, the SAWDOS would like to make the following comments:

1. This country cannot afford to waste time and money on poor quality legislation. Most concerning and not mentioned anywhere is the fact the tax-payers money is wasted by this poorly drafted bill. The time wasted by the port folio committee, it's personnel and all those who submitted submissions, those who addressed the port folio committee at their own cost and all others involved wasted valuable time and money on debating this draconian bill. It really reflect the incompetence by those responsible for the drafting of the bill.

2. One would think that the Minister or a delegated official would announce the withdrawal of the amendment bill publically due to the vast public interest in the bill. It now seems that the quiet way out was chosen. The Department declined an invitation to comment. It would have been appropriate to at least release  a press statement to inform those concerned.

3. Although this bill is withdrawn it is not the end of the road. New legislation can be expected in future. Hopefully new legislation won't be draconian and at least worth the time and money spend on debating it. Time will tell if this will be the case.

4. The SAWDOS indicated in the past that it will continue to issue weather and disaster warnings, advisories and watches when threats are observed. The SAWDOS is of the opinion that it is the duty of citizens in this country to alert others if their is a life threatening situation developing or taking place in an area. One cannot waste time to first seek permission to issue such warnings, advisories or watches. By the time and if permission is granted many would have died in waiting for an answer. The SAWDOS have more than enough experience in not receiving answers from the SA Weather Service. Click HERE for more information.

5. I trust that Parliament will investigate the waste of the tax-payer money relating to this absurd legislation. The designated officials have to take responsibility for their actions and the waste of tax-payers money. Unfortunately SAWDOS is of the opinion that nothing will come of it and that it would just die a quiet death as was the case with the SA Weather Service Amendment Bill, 2011.

6. Finally: The SAWDOS would like to thank all those, but especially the media who contributed to "reverse" this draconian legislation. I am convinced that we all strive to make South Africa a safer place and to keep the public informed with regard to weather and disaster threats.

- END -

Johan Terblanche
Founder: SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service
Mossel Bay
31 July 2012

Dit gons oor die ‘aardbewing’ in Bloemfontein

SOSIALE netwerke het gisteraand laat gegons nadat Bloemfontein iets ervaar het wat soos ’n ligte aardskudding gevoel het.

Talle inwoners in en om die stad het gisteraand byna onmiddellik laat weet dat hulle trillings gevoel het.

Dele waar die skudding gevoel is, sluit in: Westdene, Langenhovenpark, Bainsvlei, Universitas, Pellissier, Fichardtpark, Ooseinde, Dan Pienaar, Gardeniapark, Pentagonpark, Navalsig, Fleurdal, Bayswater en Fase6.

Omliggende dele waar inwoners ook die kort skudding gevoel het, sluit in: Edenburg, Reddersburg, Aliwal-Noord en Fauresmith.

“Dis nie die eerste keer nie! ’n Mens dink snaakse goed as jou ruite so ratel...” het Tim Taylor op Volksblad se Facebook-blad geskryf.

“Navalsig het dit ook gevoel! Die huis se dak het tot begin kreun, ek het oor die radio gehoor dat mense in Bainsvlei dit ook gevoel het,” het Marcel De Beer geskryf.

“Albei kar-alarms het afgegaan,” het Justin van Wyk laat weet.

Frans Sebastiaan het met Twitter laat weet: “@volksbladnuus ek is in Jacobsdal en die vensters het ook geskud? Het gedink die wind waai net sterk, maar geen wind buite.”

Jacques Joubert van Bloemfontein het op Twitter gesê “@volksbladnuus (Is dit die) Stormers wat terug aarde toe gekom het?”

- Volkblad


Lesers sê oor die 'aardbewing'

http://www.volksblad.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Dit-gons-oor-die-aardbewing-in-Bloemfontein-20120730

Earth Tremor felt in the Bloemfontein Area???

The SAWDOS received an SMS early this morning of an earth tremor in the Bloemfontein area. Did you feel the tremor?

Send us your reports and observations:

TWITTER: @sawdos1

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/groups/374316165928426/

EMAIL: SAWDOS 


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


Eastern Cape Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Gale force winds, Very cold conditions and heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31-7-2012 to 01-08-2012 WATCHES: 1. Gale force south-westerly winds are expected between Cape St. Francis and Port Alfred on Tuesday afternoon. 2. Heavy swell with wave height in excess of 4m can be expected west of Cape St Francis on Wednesday. 3. Very cold conditions are expected over the interior Wednesday and Thursday.

Free State Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very cold
Detail: Valid: 01-08-2012 Very cold conditions can be expected over the southern parts of the province on Wednesday.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very Cold
Detail: Valid: 1-08-2012 Very cold conditions are expected over the western high ground on Wednesday.

Northern Cape Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very cold, wet and windy conditions.
Detail: Valid: 31-07-2012 to 02-08-2012 1. Very cold conditions are expected over the southwestern high ground from Tuesday till Thursday.

Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Very cold, wet and windy conditions, Heavy swells.
Detail: Valid: 31-7-2012 to 02-08-2012 1. Very cold, wet and windy conditions can be expected over the high ground today. 2. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas on Tuesday and spreading to Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday. 3. Very cold conditions are expected over the high ground on Wednesday and Thursday.

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

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 31 July 2012 07h00 SAST


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

GFS Medium Range Forecasts of Vertical Velocity and Precipitation: 31 July 2012 - 1 August 2012


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

State cans penalising Weather Info Bill

The Department of Environmental Affairs has quietly withdrawn its proposed amendments to South Africa’s weather service legislation after they had drawn sharp criticism.

SUE BLAINE
Published: 2012/07/31 07:11:16 AM

THE Department of Environmental Affairs has quietly withdrawn its proposed amendments to SA’s weather service legislation after they had drawn sharp criticism, especially that they were unconstitutional.

The South African Weather Service Amendment Bill in January joined several other pieces of legislation criticised for poor drafting.

"We’re rather in the dark (over the bill’s withdrawal) … (and) our bigger concern is the scrutiny, by members of Parliament, of draft law. It does not appear to be what it should be," Johan Kruger, director of the FW de Klerk Foundation’s Centre for Constitutional Rights, said yesterday.

Notice of the bill’s withdrawal was given, without reasons, in a June 15 parliamentary notice. There were no media or public announcements, but there is no obligation on a minister to make any public announcement when withdrawing a bill.

The bill sought to introduce penalties for issuing weather or air pollution-related information without the weather service’s permission; the supply of false or misleading weather information; and the supply of information that "detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect the weather service".

Department of Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise did not respond to queries yesterday.

National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu in May expressed concern over the "poor quality" of legislation emerging from the parliamentary process, much of which had to be returned to the National Assembly.

"The poor quality of legislation is often the consequence of inadequate scrutiny.…. As the subject matter of legislation becomes more sophisticated and highly technical, our parliament and members must become more professional," Mr Sisulu said in his budget vote address.

Democratic Alliance water and environmental affairs spokesman Gareth Morgan said the weather service bill "was certainly a highly controversial and poorly drafted bill, but the committee had set about redrafting it into an acceptable form".

"The minister will now have to redraft the bill and resubmit it to Parliament. I trust she will take into account the submissions ."

Mr Kruger said if the withdrawal led to a better drafted bill, this would "certainly be welcomed".

This sentiment was echoed by Melissa Fourie, director of the Centre for Environmental Rights : " We … welcome any attempt to improve the bill to be better aligned with the Air Quality Act and to recognise the important supportive role civil society plays in monitoring air quality."

The FW de Klerk Foundation made a submission to the parliamentary committee on water and environmental affairs in which it called for the scrapping of the penalty-inducing clause, because the constitution guaranteed freedom of expression.

However, aspects of the bill, such as air quality and climate change reporting mechanisms, were important if SA was to meet its international undertakings on gas emissions linked to the overall rise in global temperatures, Mr Morgan said.

- BusinessDay

'SA safe from Ebola'

South Africans need not be worried about contracting the Ebola virus after a new outbreak of the disease in Uganda.

The SA National Institute for Communicable Diseases said the risk of South Africans being infected was "extremely low".

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has placed a ban on physical contact in the country after the virus was reported in the capital, Kampala, for the first time.

The institute's spokesman, Professor Lucile Blumberg, said yesterday: "There is no travel restriction. It is unlikely that patients from the Kibaale district, Uganda, who are very sick, will find their way here. One does need direct contact with infected patients to become ill."

It was reported yesterday that Museveni said the Ministry of Health in Uganda was tracing all people who have had contact with the victims, adding that 14 people had died since the virus surfaced in western Uganda three weeks ago.

Two cases have since been reported in the capital, with one victim reported dead in Kampala's Mulago Hospital.

Museveni called on people not to bury those who has died from Ebola-like symptoms. "Instead, call health workers because they know how to do it," he said.

Seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago Hospital are said to be in quarantine after the virus was identified there.

SAA said last night that it was monitoring the situation in Kampala with the help of stakeholders such as the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

''As such, our operations to our Uganda destination, ie Entebbe, will continue as per the norm . . . in the meantime we would like to encourage travellers to take the necessary general health precautions to avoid contracting the disease.''

Stephen Bayaruhanga, health secretary of the affected Kibaale district, said yesterday that possible cases of Ebola, at first concentrated in a single village, are now being reported in other villages. But many people suspected to have contracted Ebola are unwilling to be taken to hospital, he said, because they are terrified of contracting the disease if Ebola is not what they have.

- Times Live

Driller Admits Lapses in New Zealand Mine Disaster

An Australian drilling company has pleaded guilty to three health-and-safety violations for its involvement in a 2010 coal mine disaster in New Zealand that killed 29 miners.

VLI Drilling pleaded guilty Tuesday in a New Zealand court to charges that it failed to keep its workers safe at the Pike River coal mine. The company faces a maximum fine of 750,000 New Zealand dollars ($607,000).

VLI, which was a contractor at the mine, employed two of the miners who died in a series of methane-fueled explosions.

Pike River Coal Ltd., which ran the mine, elected Tuesday not to contest nine charges. A court is scheduled in October to determine the bankrupt company's culpability.

Pike River's former CEO Peter Whittall faces 12 criminal charges, which he's vowed to fight.

- ABC News

China plans moon probe

China will attempt to land an exploratory craft on the moon for the first time next year, state media reports.

China's third lunar probe will blast off in the second half of 2013, the state Xinhua news agency reported late Monday. Other reports said it would land and transmit back a survey of the moon's surface.

If successful, the landing would be China's first on the lunar surface and mark a new milestone in its space development. It is part of a project to orbit, land on and return from the moon, Xinhua said.

China said in its last white paper on space it was working towards landing a man on the moon, although it has not given a time frame.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

It kicked off in 1999 with the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou-1.

Two years later, Shenzhou-2 lifted off carrying small animals, and in 2003, China sent its first man into space. Since then, it has completed a space walk in 2008 and an unmanned docking between a module and rocket last year.

Most recently, a 13-day voyage of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft became China's longest-ever space mission and was notable for including the nation's first woman astronaut among its three-member crew.

The crew also achieved China's first manual docking with an orbital module, the Tiangong-1, a highly complex manoeuvre first conducted by the Americans in the 1960s and essential to building a permanent manned space station.

Next year's planned lunar probe launch will follow the Chang'e 1 in 2007 and Chang'e 2 in 2010, both named for the Chinese goddess of the moon.

Xinhua quoted the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence as saying the project was proceeding smoothly.

- Times Live

Boy dies alone in shack fire

Johannesburg - A 6-year-old boy died in a fire at the Ivory Park informal settlement in Kimberley, paramedics said on Tuesday.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said the boy had been left sleeping alone in a shack when it caught fire on Monday.

"Paramedics arrived at the scene to find that the shack had been razed to the ground by the blaze and the boy's charred remains were found within."

The cause of the fire was not known.

- SAPA/News24

Uganda's Yoweri Museveni warns of Ebola threat

Image: Up to 90% of those who contract Ebola die from the virus

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called on people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly Ebola virus spread to the capital, Kampala.

Fourteen people have died, including one in Kampala, since the outbreak began in western Uganda three weeks ago, he said in a special broadcast.

Ebola is one of the most virulent diseases in the world.

It is spread by close personal contact and kills up to 90% of those who become infected.

Mr Museveni said health officials were trying to trace everyone who had had contact with victims so that they could be quarantined.

People should avoid shaking hands, kissing or having sex to prevent the disease from spreading, he added.

Mr Museveni said relatives and friends should not bury anyone who is suspected to have died of Ebola.

"Instead call health workers because they know how to do it," he said.
Shocked

Mr Museveni said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital - the main referral hospital in Kampala - were in quarantine after "at least one or two cases" were taken there.

One victim - a health worker who had been transferred to the capital - later died.

"I wish you good luck, and may God rest the souls of those who died in eternal peace," Mr Museveni said as he ended his address to the nation.

The BBC's Ignatius Bahizi in Kampala says that some people have not yet heard about the latest outbreak of Ebola and are shocked when they find out.

At a bus station in the city centre, our correspondent saw officials warning passengers about the virus and telling them to avoid physical contact.

The first victim of the latest outbreak was a pregnant woman in Kibaale district, about 170km (100 miles) west of Kampala.

It then spread at a funeral, Mr Museveni said.

Uganda has seen three major outbreaks over the past 12 years.

The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.

There is no vaccine for the virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, headache, vomiting and kidney problems.

- BBC

US Crops keep shrinking in historic drought

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Dry and hot weather in the U.S. Midwest for the next week or two will further erode crop conditions, trimming this year's corn and soybean crop production, an agricultural meteorologist forecast Monday.

"It looks like a continued trend of below-average precipitation in the Midwest for the next week to 10 days," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Temperatures this week will warm into the upper 80s to low 90s degrees Fahrenheit, with only a few light showers in the east on Monday and some rainfall later in the week, he said.

"There are no widespread soaking rains in sight. Thursday and Friday there could be scattered showers, and by the weekend from 0.30 to 0.80 inch with coverage of about 75 to 80 percent," Dee said. "There won't be as much stress as recently, but crops will continue to deteriorate."

There were mixed signals for the weather early next week, with some weather models showing some rain but others indicating that the dryness would continue.

Rains brought some relief from drought in the northern and eastern Midwest, but overall crops will continue to suffer from the worst drought in more than 50 years, especially in the central and southern Corn Belt.

A lessened U.S. harvest was raising worries about the ability of the world's largest food exporter to meet the needs of food processors, livestock producers and ethanol makers. The lack of rain was also drying up waterways and slowing river shipments of commodities to export ports on the Gulf of Mexico.

Corn and soybean conditions have been on a rapid skid this summer, falling to their worst conditions since the last U.S. drought of 1988. Crop specialists expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report another drop in conditions in its weekly crop report released later on Monday.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Monday said recent rains had scaled down the driest areas to about 40 percent of the Midwest soybeans for much of this week.

But "the return of drier conditions to the central and southwestern belt will allow concerns to quickly return to at least half of the belt," CWG said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures were up more than 20 cents per bushel, or 2.69 percent, and soybeans up 35 cents, or 2 percent, on Monday as investors bought on fears of a crop shortfall in the U.S. this year.

- Reuters

Shot chimp who mauled American student returns home

A male chimpanzee who was shot in South Africa while mauling an American student has returned to the sanctuary where the attack happened, the primate centre said Monday.

The 16-year-old ape, named Nikki, was reunited with another male involved in the attack last month at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden after undergoing several operations for an abdomen wound at the Johannesburg Zoo.

"He is in a reintroduction process with the rest of the group," Chimpanzee Eden manager Eugene Cussons told AFP.

Cussons shot Nikki while trying to break up the attack on Andrew Oberle, 26, at the northeastern sanctuary for abused and orphaned chimps.

The masters student in anthropology and primatology at the University of Texas at San Antonio lost an ear, several fingers and toes and a testicle. He is recovering in a Johannesburg hospital, local media reported.

The two chimps were found to have attacked Oberle as they felt he threatened their territory after he entered a restricted zone while taking tourists on a visit of the facility.

Nikki was sedated and trucked to Bombela city 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Johannesburg on Saturday, where he was united with the other male, Amadeus.

The two will spend some time in quarantine to get used to one another before rejoining the other chimps at the centre.

Chimp Eden will remain closed for several months during the rehabilitation.

"We need to ensure the group returns to normal dynamics before we allow tourists back in," said Cussons.

Chimp Eden gained fame through an Animal Planet TV series called "Escape to Chimp Eden".

The sanctuary currently keeps 33 chimps, which do not naturally occur in South Africa, in three large camps.

- Times Live

Apollo Moon flags still standing, images show


This image from the LROC camera shows the Apollo 16 flag - and its shadow - today

Images taken by a Nasa spacecraft show that the American flags planted in the Moon's soil by Apollo astronauts are mostly still standing.

The photos from Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO) show the flags are still casting shadows - except the one planted during the Apollo 11 landing.

This matches Buzz Aldrin's account of the flag being knocked over by engine exhaust as Apollo 11 lifted off.

LRO was designed to produce the most detailed maps yet of the lunar surface.

Each of the Apollo missions planted an American flag in the soil at their landing sites.

Scientists had previously examined photos of the Apollo landing sites for the flags, and had seen what looked like shadows cast by them on the lunar surface. But this was not considered conclusive.

Now, researchers have studied photos of the landing sites taken at different points during the day (and under different illuminations) and have observed shadows circling the points where the flags are thought to be.

Prof Mark Robinson, the chief scientist for the spacecraft's camera instrument, LROC, said in a blog entry: "From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11."

He added: "The most convincing way to see that the flags are still there, is to view a time series of LROC images taken at different times of day, and watch the shadow circle the flag."

"Personally I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did. What they look like is another question (badly faded?)"

LRO began its mission in lunar orbit in September 2009, to identify mineral and other resources on the Moon as well as scout promising landing sites for future missions.

- BBC

Mosselbaai: Projek Winterhoop gee hoop

MOSSELBAAI NUUS - Die ACVV neem elke jaar deel aan Projek Winterhoop wat 'n landswye veldtog is wat PEN en Metro Evangeliese Sorg in samewerking met verskeie kerke, welsynsorganisasies, RSG Radio en KykNet aanbied om die nood in ons land gedurende wintertyd aan te spreek en te verlig.

Vanjaar se tema is "Warm harte met hande".

ACVV Mosselbaai Maatskaplike Dienste doen 'n beroep op u om betrokke te raak deur klere, komberse, kos en toiletware in te samel en beskikbaar te stel sodat hulle dit aan behoeftige mense in die wintertyd kan versprei. "Kom vat saam met ons hande en maak koue harte warm hierdie winter."

Vir navrae kontak Esthe of Magda by 044 691 1039, of indien u goedere wil skenk, kan u dit by die ACVV-kantore in Montagustraat 116 (Hoek van Montagu- en Wassungstraat) op Mosselbaai aflewer.

- Mossel Bay Advertiser

Tropical storm slams Philippines

MANILA, Philippines: A tropical storm dumped torrents of rain as it swept past the Philippines, knocking out power, churning seas and causing at least three deaths Monday.

The wild weather whipped up by Tropical Storm Saola as it roared off the country's northeast was compounded by a separate low-pressure area that lashed the capital overnight with tornado-like winds and a powerful thunderstorm.

Many parts of Manila and outlying provinces were without power and low-lying areas were flooded.

Saola strengthened later Monday into a typhoon with sustained winds of 74 mph and gusts of 93 mph. The howler was expected to blow toward Taiwan on Thursday, according to Manila's weather bureau.

Benito Ramos of the Office of Civil Defense said three people had died in the storm and another six were missing. One of the men who died had an asthma attack while he and about 100 other people were being rescued from a ferry that ran aground, caught fire then sank in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.

In Manila, two barges that drifted off a pier smashed into wooden shanties on stilts in the city's Tondo slum, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.

Coast guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.

"We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled," Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.

"When we came back, everything was destroyed," said Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.

More than 28,600 people were battered by the flooding and pounding rain in the capital and seven provinces, half of whom fled from their inundated homes into government evacuation centers and houses of relatives, according to the government's disaster-response agency.

Saola is the seventh of 20 storms and typhoons expected to hit the Philippines this year. Saola is the name of a rare mammal found in Vietnam and Laos.

- USA Today

Typhoon Saola


Saola formed as a tropical depression over the western Pacific Ocean on July 28, 2012, and strengthened to a tropical storm the same day, Unisys Weather reported. By July 30, Saola was a typhoon, and the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) reported that the storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 knots (120 kilometers per hour) with gusts up to 80 knots (150 kilometers per hour).
The JTWC forecast that, within 48 hours, Saola would pack sustained winds of 105 knots and gusts up to 130 knots (equivalent of 195 and 240 kilometers per hour). The projected storm track showed Saola moving toward the northwest, past the island of Taiwan and toward southeastern China.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this natural-color image of Typhoon Saola on July 30, 2012. The center of the storm was located southeast of Taiwan and east-northeast of the northern Philippine Islands.
Saloa had already caused damage in the Philippines by July 30, news reports said, including flooding and widespread power losses.
  1. References

  2. BBC. (2012, July 30) Tropical storm Saola causes flooding in Philippines. Accessed July 30, 2012.
  3. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. (2012, July 30) Typhoon 10W (Saola) Warning. [Online] URL: http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/warnings/wp1012web.txt. Accessed July 30, 2012.
  4. Unisys Weather. (2012, July 30) Saola Tracking Information. Accessed July 30, 2012.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.
Instrument: 
Terra - MODIS - NASA

Dust Storm in Argentina


Dust plumes blew northward from Argentina’s Laguna Mar Chiquita in late July 2012. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on July 29.
Dry conditions plagued the region in June and July. Laguna Mar Chiquita straddles the border between the states of Santiago del Estero in the north, and Cordoba in the south. Merco Press reported that Cordoba was one of the states contending with reduced crop yields following drought conditions in late June 2012. Below-average precipitation continued in July, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service.
Laguna Mar Chiquita is a shallow lake that expands and shrinks, depending on available water. At its peak, the lake covers roughly 5,770 square kilometers (2,230 square miles), but it can shrink to about 1,960 square kilometers (760 square miles) during periods of extended drought. When the water level drops, winds can pick up the fine sediments around the lake perimeter and create dust storms. The dust plumes in this storm extended for hundreds of kilometers (visible in the large image).
  1. References

  2. Foreign Agricultural Service. Southern South America 05/01/12 – 07/20/12. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Accessed July 30, 2012.
  3. Global Nature Fund. (2012, July 30). Mar Chiquita. Accessed July 30, 2012.
  4. Merco Press. (2012, June 21) Drought hit Argentina soy beans and corn crops. Accessed July 30, 2012.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Michon Scott.
Instrument: 
Aqua - MODIS - NASA

Monday, 30 July 2012

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


Eastern Cape Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Gale force winds, very cold conditions and heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31-7-2012 to 01-08-2012 WATCHES: 1. Gale force south-westerly winds are expected between Cape St. Francis and Port Alfred on Tuesday afternoon. 2. Heavy swell with wave height in excess of 4m can be expected west of Cape St Francis on Wednesday. 3. Very cold conditions are expected over the interior Wednesday and Thursday.

Free State Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very cold
Detail: Valid: 01-08-2012  Very cold conditions can be expected over the southern parts of the province on Wednesday.

Kwazulu Natal Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very Cold
Detail: Valid: 1-08-2012 1. Very cold conditions are expected over the western high ground on Wednesday.

Northern Cape Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Very cold
Detail: Valid: 01-8-2012 to 02-08-2012 1. Very cold conditions are expected over the high ground on Wednesday and Thursday.


Western Cape Province - Warning: Take action
Subject: Cold, wet and windy conditions, very cold conditions and heavy swell.
Detail: Valid: 31-7-2012 to 02-08-2012 1. Cold, wet and windy conditions can be expected over the high ground Tuesday. 2. Heavy swell in excess of 4m is expected between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas on Tuesday and spreading to Plettenberg Bay on Wednesday. 3. Very cold conditions are expected over the high ground on Wednesday and Thursday.

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

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 30 July 2012 16h00 SAST


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

Six more possible Ebola cases in Uganda

A Ugandan health official says six more patients suspected to have Ebola have been hospitalised.

This comes mere days after investigators confirmed an outbreak of the highly infectious disease in a remote corner of western Uganda.

Stephen Bayaruhanga, health secretary of the affected Kibaale district, said Monday that possible cases of Ebola, at first concentrated in a single village, are now being reported in more villages.

But many sick people with suspected Ebola are unwilling to be taken to the hospital, he said, because they are terrified of contracting the disease if Ebola is not what they have.

If the six new cases are confirmed as Ebola, it would bring to 26 the number of Ugandans infected with the virus this month. At least 14 people have died.

The rare haemorrhagic disease, named after a small river in DR Congo, killed 37 people in western Uganda in 2007 and claimed the lives of at least 170 people in the north of the country in 2000.

The Centres for Disease Control has a Q&A on Ebola.

Interim Infection Control Recommendations for Care of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Filovirus (Ebola, Marburg) Haemorrhagic Fever


This document provides a summary of infection control recommendations when providing direct and non-direct care to patients with suspected or confirmed Filovirus haemorrhagic fever (HF), including Ebola or Marburg haemorrhagic fevers. These recommendations are interim and will be updated when additional information becomes available.

Download document

Important Notice: SAWDOS



IMPORTANT: The S.A. Weather and Disaster Observation Service provides a weather and disaster observation (Weather and Disaster Watching/Spotting) service  in South Africa and not a weather prediction or disaster management service. Do not use the information on this web-page to predict weather or disasters.

The SAWDOS is not responsible for, nor do we endorse the opinions, accuracy, or comments of re-posted articles from other sites, unless specifically so indicated in our post. Often we may refer to articles which are diametrically opposed to our vision and mission, in order to provoke additional thought and further education.

Johan Terblanche
Founder: SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service
Mossel Bay



"SAWDOS - A SERVICE BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE"

Cold-front, low and possible snow 31 July 2012 - 01 August 2012


The latest model runs (GFS and NOGAPS up to 00Z on Sun 29th) have wobbled slightly, but continue to show modest amounts of rain, together with extremely cold upper air, over the southern Cape on Tues 31st and Wed 1st.

Strong winds are possible in places along the Eastern Cape coast on Wed 1st, as the low intensifies and pressure gradients are enhanced by the following high pressure cell.

The site snow-forecast.com shows the freezing level below 1200m along many of the coastal mountain ranges, with widespread (but light) snow likely, though not reaching as far as the Drakensberg: www.snow-forecast.com/maps/dynamic/southafrica


Edit: Due to problems with the NCEP custom GFS server, the only freezing-level charts currently available for this event are those on the snow-forecast.com site. For interest I am posting the GFS chart of the 850 hPa temperature (1500m elevation) at 06Z on Wed 1st, which shows the very cold air over the southern Cape coast, and parts of the interior of SA:


Compiled by Gordon Richardson - Stormchasing SA

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


Eastern Cape Province - Watch: Be prepared
Subject: Gale force winds, Snowfalls, Very cold conditions, Heavy falls
Detail: Valid: 31/7/2012-01/08/2012 WATCHES: 1. Gale force south-westerly winds are expected between Cape St. Francis and Port Alfred on Tuesday afternoon. 2. Snowfalls are expected in places over the high ground on Wednesday. ADVISORIES: 1. Very cold conditions are expected over the interior Wednesday but bitterly cold on the high ground. 2. Heavy falls of rain(> or 50mm within 24hr) is expected in places along the south coast and adjacent interior on Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday afternoon.

Western Cape Province - Advisory: Be aware
Subject: Cold, wet and windy conditions
Detail: Valid: 31/7/2012 ADVISORIES: 1. Cold, wet and windy conditions are expected on the southern high ground.

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

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 30 July 2012 06h00 SAST


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

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


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

Ebola virus and Marburg virus

Ebola virus and Marburg virus are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers — illnesses marked by severe bleeding (hemorrhage), organ failure and, in many cases, death. Both Ebola virus and Marburg virus are native to Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades.

Ebola virus and Marburg virus live in animal hosts, and humans can contract the viruses from infected animals. After the initial transmission, the viruses can spread from person to person through contact with body fluids or contaminated needles.

No drug has been approved to treat Ebola virus or Marburg virus. People diagnosed with Ebola or Marburg virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications. Scientists are coming closer to developing vaccines for these deadly diseases.

- CNN

Severe flooding hits North Korea, kills 88

North Koreans work to repair a road between Munchon city and Chonnae county, which was damaged by a heavy rain on July 20, 2012. REUTERS/KCNA

SEOUL, July 28 (Reuters) - Severe flooding across North Korea has killed 88 people and left tens of thousands homeless, state media reported late on Saturday, threatening to make the poverty-stricken country's already chronic food shortage still worse.

The floods caused by torrential rains and a typhoon this month caused "big human and material losses", North Korea's official KCNA news agency said, stranding nearly 63,000 people.

Since the mid-1990s, North Korea's farm sector has often been devastated by both floods and drought.

Even before the rain and typhoon this summer, the country's dysfunctional food distribution system, very high inflation and foreign sanctions imposed because of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes had contributed to what appears to be severe hunger in the North.

But in April, after a North Korean rocket launch failed, the isolated state abandoned an agreement with the United States, after Washington suspended 240,000 tonnes of food aid it had promised to the North as part of the deal.

Talk that North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong-un, plans to reform the broken economy is helping drive rice prices higher, at a time when most families can no longer rely on paychecks from moribund state-run enterprises.

Kim, who is in his late 20s, took over as head of the dynasty last December on the death of his father, whose rule took North Korea deeper into isolation, abject poverty and large-scale political repression.

The young ruler, dropping his father's reclusive leadership style, surprisingly confirmed this week that he was married and gave the thumbs up to a performance featuring show tunes and Mickey Mouse.

He is also gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after purging Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.

A recent United Nations report classified 7.2 million of the 24 million population as "chronic poor" and said one in three children were stunted due to poor nutrition. (Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Tim Pearce)

- AlertNet

Ugandan officials, international experts tackle Ebola outbreak that's left 14 dead

(CNN) -- Ugandan authorities did not initially detect an Ebola outbreak because patients weren't showing typical symptoms of the lethal virus, the nation's health minister told CNN on Sunday.

Patients had fevers and were vomiting, but did not show other typical symptoms like hemorrhaging, Health Minister Dr. Christine Ondoa said.

A team made up of personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ugandan health ministry and the World Health Organization early Monday were in Kibaale, a district in the midwestern part of the landlocked central African nation, WHO said in a statement.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, also is involved in setting up an "isolation center" at Kibaale's hospital.

National health authorities say the outbreak has infected at least 20 people, of whom 14 have died. Nine of the deaths were from a single household in the village of Nyanswiga, according to WHO.

A medic who was treating victims is among the dead, Ondoa said.

Officials are trying to determine the extent of the outbreak, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said Sunday. The Atlanta-based organization was sending about five people to join a group of CDC staffers who are permanently based in Uganda, according to the spokesman.

"These outbreaks have a tendency to stamp themselves out, if you will, if we can get in and ... stop the chain of transmission," he said.

Ondoa described the Ebola-Sudan strain detected as "mild" compared to other types of Ebola, noting that victims' lives can be saved with intervention.

The cases have emerged in Kibaale, where a national task force had been mobilized in an effort to combat the outbreak.

As of early Monday in Uganda, two people with the virus remained hospitalized in stable condition, said WHO. One was a 38-year-old woman who'd attended to her sister, the medic who died, and another was a 30-year-old woman who participated in the burial of one of the other victims.

The Ebola virus is considered a highly infectious disease spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, with symptoms that include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, measles-like rash, red eyes and at times bleeding from body openings.

Health officials urged the public to report suspected cases and avoid contact with anyone who has contracted the virus and to disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person by using protective gloves and masks.

Officials also advised against eating dead animals, especially monkeys, and to avoid public gatherings in the affected district.

Given these precautions, WHO said in its statement that it would not recommend any travel restrictions to Uganda because of the Ebola outbreak.

- CNN

India train fire kills 25 in Andhra Pradesh

At least 25 people have been killed in a fire on a passenger train travelling in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, officials say.

One coach of the Tamil Nadu Express travelling to Chennai from Delhi caught fire early on Monday. The cause of the fire is still not clear.

Officials said the death toll could rise further as there were 72 passengers in the affected coach.

The incident happened as the train was passing through Nellore station.

Nellore is located 500km (310 miles) south of Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh.

B Sridhar, head of the Nellore district administration, told the BBC that 22 passengers travelling in the coach had been injured and taken to local hospitals.

He said an electrical short circuit could have led to the fire, and that most of the passengers were asleep when the incident happened at 04:20 local time.

The affected coach was completely gutted and rescue teams had to break in using special equipment.

Accidents are common on the state-owned Indian railways, an immense network connecting every corner of the country.

It operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries some 18 million passengers every day.

- BBC

Three killed in Joburg shack fires

The emergency service's Rogers Mamaila said officials attended to shack fires in Germiston and Alberton, as well as a blaze at a hostel in Boksburg.

Mamaila said while one of the fires was caused by a paraffin stove, the cause of the other two is still not yet known.

“A man lost his life when his shack caught fire and the other incident happened in Vosloorus.”

Meanwhile, a faulty gas heater caused a fire at Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa's Rretoria home but no one was injured.

Mayoral spokesperson Pieter de Necker said the blaze resulted in minor damages and that no foul play is suspected.

He said Ramokgopa was at home when the fire broke out on Sunday morning.

“Security personnel noticed a smoke coming from one of the rooms. They went to investigate and quickly managed to extinguish the fire.”

- EWN

Mining threatens holiday town

Johannesburg - The tourism industry in a coastal town in KwaZulu-Natal is under threat after a mining licence was awarded to an international company, the Sunday Times reported.

About 2 800ha of forestry and farming land outside Mtunzini would be affected by the mine, according to the newspaper.

Local company Exxaro had entered into a joint venture with Australian company New Tronox to develop the Fairbreeze mine, worth R2.4bn.

Fairbreeze intended to mine 625ha of dunes for heavy metals such as titanium and zircon.

Mtunzini residents intended appealing against the provincial department of environmental affairs' decision to grant a mining licence, The Sunday Times reported.

Barbara Chedzey, who chairs a committee representing the residents, reportedly said she was not surprised by the decision, "given the political pressure for jobs".

The town depends on eco-tourism for much of its revenue.

New Tronox spokesperson Trevor Arran was quoted as saying: "All legal and regulatory processes were followed in authorising the Fairbreeze mine."

- FIN24

SEA RESCUE: Hermanus, Port Edward and Jeffrey's Bay

UPDATE: SEA RESCUE HERMANUS – Sunday, 29th July, 2012: Amputated finger not able to be reattached:

Doctors have confirmed that the amputated finger of fisherman Donville Adams, 34, from Woleseley, Western Cape, has not been able to be reattached.

The wound on his hand will continue to be cleaned and dressed until it has healed.

See original media release below.


SEA RESCUE – SOUTHBROOM – Saturday, 28th July, 2012. Juvenile Humpback Whale found deceased on rocks:

Alan Stilwell, NSRI Port Edward duty controller, said:

"At 09h45 on the morning of Saturday, 28th July, NSRI Port Edward volunteer sea rescue duty crew responded to Southbroom, KZN – South Coast, where a whale was reported to be trapped on rocks.

"On arrival on-scene our NSRI Port Edward volunteers and members of the Natal Sharks Board found a juvenile humpback whale deceased on the rocks on the shore.

"At high tide the whale carcass was able to be moved in the water, by the volunteers, to the beach and the City Cleansing Department are tasked with removing the carcass.

"Samples of the whale have been taken for analysis by the Natal Sharks Board and the cause of death is unknown to NSRI."


SEA RESCUE – JEFFREY'S BAY – Saturday, 28th July, 2012. Stroke victim casualty evacuated off Chokka boat:

Marc May, NSRI St Francis Bay station commander, said:

"At midday, Saturday, 28th July, NSRI St Francis Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from the Chokka fishing boat Sea Shells, reporting a crew member onboard suffering a suspected stroke, (CVA - Cerebro Vascular Accident).

"Our NSRI St Francis Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of St Francis II accompanied by a 24/7 ambulance services paramedic and responded to rendezvous with the vessel 5 nautical miles off-shore of Jeffrey's Bay in rough sea conditions experienced during the operation with seas between 3 and 5 meter swells.

"On arrival on-scene the 24/7 paramedic was put aboard Sea Shells and the patient was stabilized and then transferred onto our sea rescue boat and brought to the St Francis Bay harbour and the 53 year old local male has been transported to hospital by a 24/7 ambulance in a serious but stable condition."

-ENDS-


Craig Lambinon
Sea Rescue Communications

Nangar National Park, Australia



Located in New South Wales, Australia’s Nangar National Park rises from the surrounding plain. Although the western portion of the park features gentle slopes and wide valleys, the park’s northern reaches are filled with peaks, cliffs, and gorges in a zone of deeply folded and faulted ancient rocks. A long, winding line of cliffs marks the park’s northern margin, where Mount Nangar soars to 770 meters (2,530 feet) above sea level.

This landscape has been a boon to native vegetation mostly because the rugged land was too much trouble for farmers and ranchers to clear. So while the low-lying landscape around the park has been cultivated for agriculture, native vegetation has persisted inside the park—resembling a giant hoof print of dark green.
From the perspective of a satellite, the seasons appear to bring greater changes to the surrounding rectangular farm plots than to the park. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured the top image on April 28, 2012 (in the Southern Hemisphere autumn), and the bottom image on September 7, 2010 (spring).

For more than a decade, a drought parched southeastern Australia. But by September 2010, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) reported cool temperatures and plentiful rains—following several months of above-average rainfall—that eased the drought in New South Wales. As a result, fresh green vegetation carpeted the region.

On average, precipitation amounts are roughly equal in April and September in Nangar National Park, between 40 and 50 millimeters (1.6 and 2.0 inches). Temperatures are slightly higher in April: 25 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to September’s 20 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). The BOM reported that in April 2012, however, rainfall was below average and temperatures were above average. The BOM viewed the April 2012 weather as a return to drier conditions after the departure of La Niña. The different appearance of the fields around Nangar National Park likely resulted both from harvest season and the warmer, drier conditions.

Inside the park, green persists across the seasons. Park vegetation is a mixture of trees and shrubs, the understory providing a profusion of color when plants are in flower. Biologists have classified the park vegetation as dry sclerophyll forest. Plants in these ecosystems are well adapted to low soil fertility and sparse rainfall.
  1. References

  2. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology. Monthly Weather Review Archive. Accessed July 10, 2012.
  3. Forest Education Foundation. (2010) Dry sclerophyll forest. Accessed July 10, 2012.
  4. New South Wales Education and Communities. (2011) Dry sclerophyll. Accessed July 10, 2012.
  5. New South Wales Environment and Heritage. Nangar National Park. Accessed July 10, 2012.
  6. New South Wales Environment and Heritage. (2011, February 27) Building the NSW park system. Accessed July 10, 2012.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Caption by Michon Scott.
Instrument: 
EO-1 - ALI - NASA

Sunday, 29 July 2012

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 29 July 2012 16h00 SAST


All Provinces in South Africa - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts
Detail: No Alerts

- SAWS

SAWDOS - It is quite interesting to note that the SAWS issued no warnings nor advisories on their web-site but yet several radio stations carry warnings/advisories for the 30 July - 1 August 2012. 

SA Weather Satellite Image: 29 July 2012 16h00 SAST


Image: SAT24 (Click on image for larger view.)

SEA RESCUE – HERMANUS – Sunday, 29th July, 2012. Fisherman suffers amputation of finger


Gideon Loubser, NSRI Hermanus duty controller, said:

"At 09h15 NSRI Hermanus volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following a request for medical assistance from the long line fishing trawler ZANDELI reporting that their 34 year old crewman, who is from Woolsley, near to Ceres in the Western Cape, had suffered complete amputation of his left index finger from an ice chopping knife while chopping ice blocks, at fishing grounds off-shore of Hermanus.

"Our NSRI Hermanus volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Hunters Gold Rescuer and responded to rendezvous with the vessel which was heading towards Hermanus from fishing grounds.
"An EMR private ambulance services ambulance was activated to stand-by at our sea rescue base.

"On arrival on-scene, 4 nautical miles off-shore of Danger Point, our NSRI medics stabilized the patient and he was transferred onto our sea rescue craft and brought to our sea rescue station in Hermanus harbour, accompanied by his amputated finger which was wrapped in sterile gauze and was being kept on ice.

"The patient has been transported to hospital by an EMR private ambulance in a stable condition and surgeons are investigating the possibility of reattaching the finger.

"The amputation is on the Proximal Phalange of the left index finger."

-ENDS-


Released by:


Craig Lambinon
Sea Rescue Communications

One person dead in Hout Bay shack fire.

CAPE TOWN - A shack fire in Hout Bay has left one person dead.

One shack burnt down in the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Disaster Management's Wilfred Solomons-Johannes says details are sketchy at this stage.

“The cause of the fire is still unclear and the identity of the person remains unknown.”

Police have opened an inquest docket.

- EWN

Moderate Quake Shakes Central Myanmar

A moderate earthquake has shaken central Myanmar near the Indian border.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a magnitude of 5.7 and struck at a depth of 68.4 kilometers (42.5 miles). Myanmar's meteorological and seismic agency put the magnitude at 5.8.

An official from the Myanmar agency says no casualties or damage have been reported. The quake occurred Sunday at 8:51 a.m. local time.

The official says the quake's epicenter was about 215 kilometers (135 miles) northwest of Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city. He says it was felt in Hakha, the capital of northwestern Chin state. He spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release information.

The area affected is not densely populated. It falls within an earthquake belt where tremors are fairly common but usually not destructive.

- ABC News

Death not a deterrent for illegal miners

The man slips the plastic pouch of gems into his mouth, an illicit haul from the sandy deposits scattered among the mountains of South Africa's diamond coast.

"It's my safe," he explains, sliding the stash back along the inside of his cheek.

The group of diggers are waiting for the cover of darkness to make another raid on a disused mine, opposite their make-shift camp, where 10 miners died in an avalanche three months ago.

Illegal miners in South Africa are ready to risk death to chase a share of the mineral riches that shaped the continent's biggest economy.

In sparsely populated Namaqualand, where the famed gem deposits run along the icy Atlantic Ocean to the Namibian border, diamond giant De Beers was once the top employer, providing 3 000 jobs and building two towns with recreation halls, a golf course and schools, to house its staff.

But its mines were halted in 2008 and the company's Namaqualand operations are in the final stages of a R225 million sell-off after years of retrenchments.

The slowdown has emptied out the private mining towns, but has lured growing numbers of diggers from the area's other small settlements into the abandoned fields.

"I can say that more than 60% of the active workforce are involved in the informal diamond trade," said Andy Pienaar, of the social outreach office in Komaggas, one of the few small villages in the mining area.

"There was sort of a blessing from the community that 'people, you may go'" dig, he added.

"It was about survival. It was about sustaining and we're not talking about high life standards, we're talking about just basically survival."

Komaggas has little sign of gem wealth along dirt roads that wind past humble homes where many residents survive on government welfare payments.

But one local buyer, who also digs with a team who share the profits, estimates that he has made about R400 000 since he started digging three years ago.

"It changed my life completely. I don't even mind about looking for a job now because I was running around Cape Town, Johannesburg, looking for a job – there's no need now, I've got a job now," he told AFP.

"I'm not a rich man but I can support my family each and every month."

With some of the world's richest mineral reserves, mining and its knock-on industries contributed nearly 20% of GDP in 2010. Illegal mining losses represent a tiny fraction of that, but were still estimated at R5 billion four years ago.

Among the most popular targets for illegal miners are the gold industry's disused mine shafts.

But such shafts see regular fatalities from working in unsafe conditions. In Namaqualand, the diggers went underground, into the sandy layers usually mined in open pits, which eventually turned into a graveyard when the tunnels collapsed.

"It's having quite a big impact on us as a business, but one of the biggest concerns we face around illegal mining is the safety issue associated with illegal diamond mining," said De Beers spokesman Innocent Mabusela.

"We would like to see tougher penalties," he added.

The Namaqualand diggers are only fined R300 for trespassing if caught in the mines.

‘You can be murdered’

Diamond output is slowing – to nearly nine million carts in 2010 from more than 15 million five years earlier – but the country's deposits which produced famed rocks such as the giant Cullinan diamond are still yielding.

Two years ago, South African gems brought in the fourth highest values in the world: 15% of the $12 billion worldwide production.

There is talk of "millions" being made in a boom in the area from January until the May accident, with the fatal Bontekoe site drawing hundreds of miners who used to queue to get into an underground cave and tunnels.

"It's very difficult and dangerous, you can be murdered in the process," said a female buyer who only wanted to be known as Risa.

"If somebody knows you've got diamonds, they might follow you and try to get them. If you resist, they can kill you to get them," she said.

Despite South Africa's diamond trade regulations, a rock can be easily sold on the black market.

But beyond the profits, the locals also feel a strong sense of entitlement to the land that predates the arrival of white prospectors in the late 1920s.

South Africa's apartheid past handed control of the country's resources to whites and only 8.9% of mines had shifted ownership by 2009.

"De Beers occupies our land and should give it back to us," said Pienaar.

"We do not want to be slaves on our own land any more. We don't just want to be workers, we want to be owners. We want to be part of the decision making process."

The community plans to lodge a claim to the land and there is also bitterness that the shine of gems has not reached Komaggas.

"Nothing has happened here," said William Cloete, who runs a licensed mine next to Bontekoe.

"All our diamonds, the billions, are out of our land.... But we're sitting with nothing – an empty town with nothing."

-Times Live

Moderate Quake Shakes Central Myanmar

A moderate earthquake has shaken central Myanmar near the Indian border.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake had a magnitude of 5.7 and struck at a depth of 68.4 kilometers (42.5 miles). Myanmar's meteorological and seismic agency put the magnitude at 5.8.

An official from the Myanmar agency says no casualties or damage have been reported. The quake occurred Sunday at 8:51 a.m. local time.

The official says the quake's epicenter was about 215 kilometers (135 miles) northwest of Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city. He says it was felt in Hakha, the capital of northwestern Chin state. He spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release information.

The area affected is not densely populated. It falls within an earthquake belt where tremors are fairly common but usually not destructive.

- ABC News

Doctor drowns in Cape Town

Cape Town - The body of a doctor has washed up on the Bloubergstrand beach, in Cape Town, Western Cape police said on Sunday.

Warrant Officer November Filander said the body of Waldo Fernandez, 48, was found by a passerby at around 07:30 on Saturday.

He said Fernandez's identity document was found in his pocket.

"The case is being treated as a drowning."

The Weekend Argus reported on Sunday that the doctor's BMW had been found, with nothing missing, at a nearby shopping centre in Sunset Beach.

Stepson Steven Vermaak told the newspaper that Fernandez had loved swimming for exercise and that he was a good swimmer.

"The police said they suspect he walked into the sea and the current took him and he drowned, then his body got washed up on the Marine Drive side [of the sea]," he said.

"We're still waiting for an autopsy to tell us exactly what happened, but I don't think he would commit suicide."

- SAPA/News24

SA National Severe Weather Warnings: 29 July 2012 04h00 SAST


All Provinces in South Africa - No warnings nor advisories in effect
Subject: No Alerts
Detail: No Alerts

- SAWS

SA Weather Satellite Image: 29 July 2012 09h00 SAST


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

Images: Weather and Disaster Observation - Maitland River Mouth transformed 28.07.12.











Images: Facebook - Jennifer Anne Church Joubert (Click on images for larger view.)