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Heatwaves are new normal as 50C hits US and China – UN



(picture BBC)

The extreme temperatures sweeping the globe this week are the new normal in a world warmed by climate change, the UN weather agency says.

Temperatures went over 50C (122F) in parts of the US and China on Sunday. The World Meteorological Organisation warned that the heatwave in Europe could continue into August.

Millions around the world are under heat advisories as officials warn of danger to life from the hot temperatures.  Night-time in Europe and the US is not expected to bring widespread relief as temperatures stay above 30C in places including Arizona or southern Spain.

Large areas of the world saw up close again on Monday what life is like living under extreme temperatures.Death Valley in California hit 53.9C (128F ) on Sunday. The hottest-ever temperature reliably recorded on Earth was 56.7C (134F).

China provisionally broke its record for all-time highest temperature on Sunday when it recorded 52.2C (126F) in its western Xinjiang region, according to the UK Met Office.

Temperatures in southern Spain on Monday peaked at 46C (115F). The heat is expected to intensify in Italy where 46C (115F) is forecast in Sardinia. Eastern Europe is also predicted to get hotter.

Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves longer, more intense and more frequent.

“The extreme weather – an increasingly frequent occurrence in our warming climate – is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies,” said World Meterological Organisation MO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas.

“We have to step up efforts to help society adapt to what is unfortunately becoming the new normal,” he added. It underscores the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible, he suggested.


Foreign News

State of emergency declared in New York City over flash flooding




Residents escape the rising floodwaters in New York City

A state of emergency has been declared in New York City as strong storms bring flash flooding.

Many of the city’s subway systems, streets and highways have flooded, while at least one terminal at LaGuardia Airport closed on Friday.

Up to five inches (12.7cm) of rain fell in some areas overnight, and up to seven more inches (17.8cm) are due, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has said. “This is a dangerous, life-threatening storm,” she added. “I am declaring a state of emergency across New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley due to the extreme rainfall we’re seeing throughout the region,” she said on X, formerly known as Twitter and urged people to take steps to stay safe and “never attempt to travel on flooded roads”.

No deaths or critical injuries have been reported.

A state of emergency was also declared in the New Jersey town of Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from New York City.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams, warned people it was a time for “heightened alertness and extreme caution” as the state of emergency was put in place. “Some of our subways are flooded and it is extremely difficult to move around the city,” he told a press briefing.

Authorities have so far conducted at least six rescues of residents trapped in flooded basements, according to officials.

Pictures and video footage showed people wading through water reaching up to their knees, as streets and subways were hit by heavy rain. Several videos posted to social media appeared to show water pouring from the ceiling and walls of subway stations and onto inundated platforms. Much of the flooding has so far centred on the borough of Brooklyn.

More than 2.5 inches of rain was reported in one hour in Brooklyn Navy Yard. In a virtual briefing, New York’s chief climate officer Rohit Aggarwala said that the city’s sewage system was only designed to handle 1.75 inches an hour. “It’s no surprise that parts of Brooklyn have borne the brunt of this,” he said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) advised people to stay home if they did not need to travel.

Terminal A at La Guardia Airport is currently closed because of flooding, authorities said. Passengers were advised to check with their airline before travelling.

The New York Police Department also announced multiple road closures and said the National Guard had been deployed. Elsewhere, traffic hit a standstill as water rose above cars’ tires along a stretch of the FDR Drive – a major road along the east side of Manhattan.

And in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, workers waded through knee-high water as they tried to unclog a drain as cardboard and other debris floated by.

There had been no storm-related deaths or critical injuries as of midday (1600 GMT), city officials said.

Flood warnings and advisories from the weather service are currently in place for some 18 million people in the New York metropolitan area and in other major cities along the East Coast.

New York City has had nearly 14 inches of rain so far this month, making it the wettest September since 1882, according to National Weather Service data.


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Foreign News

Women found in lorry in France face deportation




[File pic] Border Force has a variety of measures to check lorries but not all are searched

Four of six women rescued from the back of a lorry in France on Wednesday must leave the country within 30 days, a French public prosecutor said.

The four Vietnamese and two Iraqi women were found by police after getting into the lorry, which they believed was heading for the UK. One of the women spoke from inside the vehicle to a BBC journalist, who then contacted French police. It is unclear which of the four women are to be deported.

The other two have been authorised to stay in France pending asylum requests, a statement from the prosecutor said. The women got into the lorry thinking the Irish-registered vehicle would likely transport them to England, Laetitia Francart, public prosecutor at the judicial court of Villefranche-sur-Saône said.

In fact, the lorry was delivering a shipment of bananas to Dunkirk and would then be heading to Italy. When the women – thought to be migrants – noticed that the direction of the lorry had changed by checking their phone locations, they started to panic.

Struggling to breathe, one of the women managed to contact a BBC journalist and told them about their situation. Khue Luu was then able to alert French authorities.

Meanwhile, the driver of the lorry had also grown to suspect that there might be people inside the trailer, having heard what sounded like voices. The driver then stopped in a lay-by and called the police, the prosecutor said.

French authorities eventually matched up the reports to the lorry, and upon investigating the vehicle found the six women inside the refrigerated trailer. The temperature was 6C (42F) when it was opened, the prosecutor said, but all the women were reported to be in good health.

While the driver was initially arrested upon the discovery of the women inside, the prosecutor said  he was not under suspicion of any crime.


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Foreign News

South Africa floods: At least 11 people die after Western Cape deluge




Rivers overflowed sweeping away parts of some major roads (pic BBC)

At least 11 people have been killed after heavy rain and winds hit South Africa’s Western Cape province, including Cape Town, over the weekend leaving a trail of destruction.

Authorities warn that the death toll may rise as the floodwater subsides.

The destructive weather flooded homes, tore off roofs, destroyed crops and damaged roads and other infrastructure. Rescue teams are still searching for people who are feared trapped in their partially submerged homes.

Eight of the 11 people who died were electrocuted in an informal settlement when waters swamped illegal connections to the power lines.

Seventy-two primary school pupils and 10 adults were trapped in a resort in the town of Oudtshoorn after the nearby Le Roux River overflowed. They were rescued on Wednesday morning, after the water had subsided. About 200 farm workers remain stranded in areas that were cut off by flooding. Efforts are being made to rescue them.

More than 80 roads were closed and at least 15,000 homes were cut off from the power grid, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said. Rail services in parts of both the Western and Eastern Cape provinces have been suspended.

The floods also badly affected the area’s farmland, including its famous vineyards, with the impact on harvests expected to be severe.

City of Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has signed a major incident declaration appealing for additional resources and relief measures to deal with the aftermath of the rainfall. The city has also closed the popular Steenbras Nature Reserve and Gorge hiking route to assess the impact of the floods.

Anton Bredell, a provincial cabinet minister in charge of environmental affairs, said that helicopters were searching for some people who had been trapped. “We expect the worst there,” he said.

The damaging rains, which ended on Monday, came a week after larger than normal spring tides hit the area. Climate change has been blamed for some recent weather-related incidents in South Africa.

In 2022, flooding in KwaZulu-Natal led to the deaths of more than 430 people, while the coastal city of Gqeberha almost ran out of water last year.


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