Evacuees fleeing Canary Islands wildfire rise to 8,000

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019   •   684

(Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

Around 8,000 people have been evacuated as firefighters battle an out-of-control wildfire in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, regional authorities said on Monday (August 19).

The blaze, which began on Saturday (August 17) near the town of Tejeda, is advancing on several fronts, propelled by a combination of high temperatures, strong winds and low humidity.

So far, the fire is affecting the mountainous central part of the island rather than coastal areas busy with tourists in the summer months.

A spokeswoman for emergency services in the region told Reuters the fire was very serious and remained out of control.

Sixteen planes and helicopters, as well as more than 700 firefighters, are currently working to contain flames as high as 50 meters, authorities said.

More than 3,400 hectares have burned so far and the fire is moving aggressively towards the northwestern Tamadaba natural park, home to some of the island’s oldest pine forests.

The regional president of Gran Canaria said it was impossible to use airborne means to extinguish the fire in areas where the flames were 50 meters high.

Some 400 firefighters spent the night battling the fire’s flanks, hoping to choke it off as it moved towards more populated areas.

The blaze marks the second time that Tejeda has been evacuated this month due to wildfire. (Reuters)

(Production: Borja Suarez, Catherine Macdonald)

No Filipinos affected so far by US forest fires — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday (September 14) confirmed that no Filipinos have so far been reported affected by the recent forest fire incidents across the West Coast in the United States.

The DFA wishes to refer the public to the advisories released by Philippine foreign service posts with jurisdiction over affected areas for up-to-date information and necessary assistance.

Specifically, these offices are the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco.

Local authorities are still struggling to control the raging wildfires in California, Oregon, Washington State and other areas in the West Coast.

The situation is made worse by varying wind directions and very low humidity. 

The raging wildfires across California, Oregon and Washington have already charred millions of acres of land and killed more than 30 people so far.

Authorities fear the death toll will increase as dozens more remain unaccounted for.

Spain imposes second local coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The northwestern Spanish region of Galicia imposed restrictions on about 70,000 people on Sunday (July 5) following a COVID-19 outbreak, a day after Catalonia also introduced a local lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

People living in La Marina along Spain’s northern coast in the province of Lugo will not be able to leave the area from midnight on Monday (July 6) until Friday (July 10), two days before regional elections in Galicia on July 12.

In the town of Foz in La Marina, an unidentified caravan driver said that the best part of the caravans parked by the sea left early in the morning when they read about the lockdown.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, speaking at a local political rally in Bilbao on Sunday, urged people not to lower their guard, but called for calm as “the early detection of these outbreaks shows the health system is much better prepared” than in March.

The regional government said people will be allowed to move around La Marina, but only those who need to travel for work will be allowed to leave or enter the area.

Regional Health minister Jesus Vazquez Almuina told a news conference on Sunday that the biggest outbreaks were linked to several bars in the area. Regional health authorities said there were now 258 cases in Galicia, of which 117 were in Lugo.

Capacity in bars and restaurants will be reduced to 50% and people will have to wear a face mask even if outdoors on beaches or at swimming pools, the authorities said.

Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Sunday that the ministry was following the situations in Galicia and Catalonia very closely.

“Social distancing and lockdown measures were the key to flattening the curve. Now they are needed again to stop the outbreaks,” he said in tweet.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths according to health ministry data, making it one of Europe’s worst-affected countries. (Reuters)

(Production: Silvio Castellanos, Jessica Jones)

Brazil overtakes Spain, Italy in COVID-19 confirmed cases

UNTV News   •   May 18, 2020

Brazil’s confirmed COVID-19 cases had exceeded 230,000 as of Saturday local time, surpassing the numbers in Spain and Italy and making the country’s outbreak the fourth largest in the world, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

According to the latest epidemiological data, the virus has infected 233,142 people and left 15,633 dead. The number of confirmed cases in Brazil has jumped to the fourth in the world, following the United States, Russia and the UK.

Brazil saw 14,919 new confirmed cases and 816 additional deaths on Saturday.

According to a statement issued by the Vice President office, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao and his wife undertook COVID-19 tests on Saturday after a household help who had close contact with them was tested positive. The couple are under quarantine at home now.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro strongly supported the resumption of business activities and ending large-scale isolation as soon as possible during an interview Saturday.

The president said the isolation measures taken by the governors and mayors of different states will bring more chaos, hunger and poverty, and a total of 380 million people without formal jobs have lost everything in the outbreak. He is worried that it will be difficult to recover the economy and social order.

However, as the epidemic is almost out of control in Brazil, most of the country’s states and municipalities decided to further strengthen the isolation measures to ensure the safety of people. (Reuters)

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