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Live updates: Cyclone Pam arrives in NZ this evening

Published: 10:34AM Sunday March 15, 2015 

The North Island is bracing for Cyclone Pam, with heavy rain and gale-force winds forecast for northern and eastern areas of the island.
MetService has issued a Severe Weather warning for northern and eastern parts of the North Island, where heavy rain and south to southeast gales are expected from this evening (Sunday) through to Tuesday.
5.34pm: Auckland Transport says Gulf Harbour ferry services have been cancelled tomorrow morning due to the expected high winds. Buses will replace the scheduled services. The service from Pine Harbour at 7.20am will also be replaced by a bus leaving at 7.40.
A decision will be made on some other ferry services early tomorrow morning.

Preparation for Cyclone Pam at Mount Maunganui included moving a 19-year-old Pilot Bay piano from its home in one garage to another garage on higher ground along Commons Ave
5.14pm: At least eight people are confirmed dead in Vanuatu after the massive cyclone and the death toll is likely to rise much higher once communications are restored with outlying islands, aid workers say.
Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer in Port Vila, says officials from Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office confirmed to her agency that at least eight people died in and around the capital, Port Vila.
Officials have yet to assess the damage in many of the hard-hit outer islands because communications and power remain cut, she says. Ms Morrison says she has heard reports of entire villages being destroyed in more remote areas.
4.45pm: Health is emerging as a major concern in Vanuatu where power outages have hit the main hospital after Cyclone Pam which is feared to be one of the region's worst natural disasters.

Oxfam Country Director in Port Vila, Colin Collet van Rooyen, says this not only affects patient care but also temperature-sensitive medications and vaccines, which need refrigeration.
Mr Collet van Rooyen says it was one of the problems that came up at a meeting between the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand and Vanuatu's high levels of government at the National Disaster Management Office today.
Water sanitation and hygiene at the shelters as well as the need for temporary mortuary facilities also emerged as major concerns at the meeting, Mr Collet van Rooyen said. Plans around co-ordinated aid and recovery are expected to be announced shortly.
4.11pm: Vanuatu's Government has declared a state of emergency for the cyclone-battered country.
There are six certain deaths in Port Vila and 20 casualties, Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office spokesman Paulo Malatu told news agency AFP.

People scour through debris damaged and flung around in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam
3.57pm: The north-east coast of Auckland and Great Barrier Island will be hit by severe weather this evening and general disruption is expected across the region, Civil Defence says.
Civil Defence Controller Clive Manley says Aucklanders are advised to exercise extreme caution. Areas north of Whangaparaoa and Great Barrier have a good chance of river and stream flooding, strong winds, large swells, waves and coastal erosion, he says.
If possible Aucklanders should reconsider their travel plans and work from home or delay their travel time to avoid expected traffic disruption tomorrow morning, he says.
Surface flooding and slips is likely to make driving difficult from tonight until Tuesday. There may also be local power cuts. People in affected areas should have a battery-powered torch, radio, food, water and other essentials. Light rain has been falling in Auckland since around 3.30pm.
3.38pm: Civil Defence in Bay of Plenty advises sandbags have been made available for collection for residents in areas prone to flooding in Whakatane and Mt Maunganui. Residents can fill the sandbags and block entrances to garages etc which have flooded in the past.
Warnings from BoP Civil Defence remain:
- Between 120-160mm of rain expected over 24 hr period from tonight.
- Of concern are the very high winds that are also forecast.
- Residents are advised to secure properties - especially outdoor furniture and anything else that could blow around.
- Clean out gutters and drains.
- Stay off the roads and avoid unnecessary travel.
- Be sensible.
3.07pm: Save the Children says six people have died in Port Vila, Vanuatu's capital, and many more from the country's remote islands - where shelter is extremely limited - are feared to have lost their lives.
Save the Children's teams on the ground have been visiting evacuation centres and trying to reach villages on the coast to assess the damage.
"We're extremely concerned about communities who live close to the ocean. We still can't access many of them because of the flood waters," says Nichola Krey, Save the Children's Head of Humanitarian Response who's on her way to Vanuatu.
"These communities are very poor and their homes are made from scrap materials. We fear many villages have been swept away in the huge storm swell."

People on a dock view yachts damaged in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam
2.55pm: More than 70 firefighters and 30 appliances and other specialist vehicles are moving into vulnerable North Island coastal areas as Cyclone Pam approaches the country.
Fire Service Deputy National Commander Paul McGill says deploying resources now will provide extra support for local crews and allow personnel to get into position in areas likely to be cut off by flooding.
The Fire Service is moving taskforces to Northland, eastern Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Poverty Bay.
McGill says firefighters will provide as much assistance as possible to local communities. This is likely to include helping people isolated by flooding and slips or stuck in vehicles, pumping out flooded buildings, salvage work and securing damaged buildings.
2.35pm: Australia will provide a "life-saving" package of $A5 million and humanitarian supplies to help Vanuatu. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the commitment follows a request from the Vanuatu government. "This package will include $A5 million that will be provided to Australian NGOs, particularly the Red Cross and to other United Nations partners," she told reporters in Perth.

"We will also be deploying humanitarian supplies to provide support for up to 5,000 people in the form of water, sanitation and shelter." A team of medical experts and urban search and rescue personnel will also be deployed.
1:25pm: The Auckland Fire Service has sent a "taskforce", comprising of 12 firefighters and four vehicles, to Northland.
They’re tasked with helping local volunteer brigades, if needed, when Cyclone Pam hits.

1:04pm: Brent Stewart of Eastland Group says crews and contractors are poised and ready to act should high winds cause power outages in Gisborne.
Crews are also on standby in other neighbouring areas should they need to be brought in and assist.
The possibility of high winds blowing trees down on power lines is the biggest concern at the moment.
Meanwhile, Pak'N'Save in Gisborne has been inundated with residents buying emergency supplies like water, candles and batteries.

Cyclone Pam weather graphic
12.46pm: Up to 90% of housing in Vanuatu's capital is reported to have been seriously damaged by Cyclone Pam, with still no information from the extremely vulnerable outer islands which are home to over 30,000 people.
Oxfam Country Director in Port Vila, Colin Collet van Rooyen said today while six deaths have been confirmed this number is likely to climb once communities across the archipelago are reached.
"This is likely to be one of the worst disasters ever seen in the Pacific," he said.
"Entire communities have been blown away."
Oxfam has a team on the ground and more humanitarian response experts attempting to travel there today.
Mr Collett van Rooyen said immediate priorities in Vanuatu would be to provide shelter, clean water and sanitation to people, especially those left homeless. Temporary toilets, water purification tablets, soap and water containers would all be vital, he said.

11:23am: A plane loaded with nearly 10 tons of food, water and first aid kits has left Auckland for Port Vila.
Hercules flight commander Leigh Foster says the plane will land at Port Vila Airport where the runway is open for military operations only.

10:30am: Civil Defence says Northland appears set to be spared the worst of the remains of Cyclone Pam but officials are still warning of severe gales and heavy rain this afternoon and overnight.
They say motorists should postpone any unnecessary travel from midday today until tomorrow morning.

'Hagupit' now a super-typhoon: JTWC

Posted at 12/04/2014 9:18 AM | Updated as of 12/04/2014 9:43 AM
Graphic warning for typhoon "Hagupit" by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
MANILA – The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) of the US Navy has categorized tropical cyclone ''Hagupit'' into a super typhoon.
The JTWC, in an update issued at 5 a.m. Thursday (Manila time), said Hagupit was maintaining a ''west-northwestward trajectory under the steering influence of the subtropical ridge."
This means that Hagupit was heading towards the Philippines as its upward movement was being blocked by the subtropical ridge, a large belt of high pressure in the northern hemisphere that is referred to as an anti-cyclone system.
The JTWC said as of 2 a.m. Thursday, Hagupit was packing 1-minute sustained winds of 240 kilometers per hour (130 knots) and gusts of 296 kph (160 knots).
The JTWC forecasts Hagupit to pack as much as 296 kph (160 knots) winds by December 7 (Sunday), 2 a.m., when it is nearer the Philippines.
In the JTWC model, Hagupit is seen heading slightly north and towards Luzon, avoiding the Yolanda-hit region of Visayas.
''The system will start to track slightly to the north at this timeframe. Expect favorable sea surface temperatures, along with continually favorable upper-level conditions to allow the system to further intensify,'' it said.
Philippine state weather bureau PAGASA, meanwhile, said Hagupit – which was locally named ''Ruby'' after it entered the Philippine area of responsibility today – was packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kph near the center and gusts of up to 210 kph.
PAGASA said Hagupit was spotted 942 kms east northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur as of 4 a.m. It said Hagupit slowed down, moving west northwest at 25 kph.
The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, meanwhile, has raised a red alert for Hagupit.
It said the typhoon ''can have a high humanitarian impact based on the maximum sustained wind speed and the affected population and their vulnerability."
The GDACS said the population that could be affected by Category 1 (120 kph) wind speeds or higher is 200,000.
Track of typhoon ''Hagupit'' (local name: Ruby) by the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
The JTWC said both models provided by the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) and Global Forecast System (GFS) have been consistently showing Hagupit moving upward due to the weakening of the high pressure system.
The US weather bureau, however, said another model provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMF) shows Hagupit continuing its westward track into central Philippines, indicating that the weakening of the high pressure system may not be pronounced enough to make the weather system re-curve and move towards southern Japan.
Speaking to radio dzMM, PAGASA weather forecaster Samuel Duran said there is no definitive forecast yet on what course the typhoon will take. Nonetheless, he said local government units and residents in high-risk areas must still prepare for a possible evacuation.
Duran said even if Hagupit re-curves towards Japan, rains will still be felt in the eastern section of the country as early as Friday.
As of Wednesday evening, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and PAGASA said more than 44 provinces have been declared as critical areas. These provinces are expected to experience heavy to intense rains and strong winds from 95 to 110 kph.
PAGASA MTSAT image as of 07:01 a.m., 4 December 2014.

New York state declares emergency as blizzards claim five lives

New York has declared a state of emergency after five people died when severe blizzards hit the state.
In the city of Buffalo, people have not been able to get out of their homes because the snow is higher than their roofs.
Nearly five and a half feet has fallen in some places.
"I've been here my whole life and seen lots of snow. It's never stopped me until now," said one local.
County officials confirmed yesterday that there had been four snow storm-related deaths. One of the four people was killed in a traffic accident and the three others died after suffering heart problems, two of whom were believed to have been shoveling heavy snow at the time.
At least another two people are believed to have died in car accidents caused by icy conditions and decreased visibility on the roads in New Hampshire and Michigan over the past week.

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Man admits killing beauty queen ‘in jealous rage’

Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado. Picture: AP
"Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado "  Ph0oto -AP

The gunman who killed Miss Honduras has told police he murdered the beauty queen and her sister in a jealous rage because his girlfriend danced with another man.
The bodies of Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia, 23, were discovered buried near a spa in Santa Barbara where they disappeared a week earlier while celebrating Sofia’s boyfriend’s birthday.
Miss Alvarado was to have flown to London this week to compete in the Miss World pageant — the high point of her reign as Miss Honduras.
Police said her sister’s boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz, confessed to the killing and led investigators to the remote grave site where he and an accomplice buried them in a mountainous area of Santa Barbara, about 380km west of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.
At some point during the night of November 13, a heated argument broke out and Ruiz pulled a gun, firing first at his girlfriend and then at Miss Alvarado as she tried to flee, said national police director General Ramon Sabillon. Miss Alvarado was shot twice in the back.
The alleged accomplice, Aris Maldonado, is in custody and authorities are searching for other suspects.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Hong Kong's 'umbrella revolution' opens wide

Twitter | @HKFS1958
學聯 HKFS on Twitter: "Credits to BBC World News #hkclassboycott"
HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets Tuesday in a growing confrontation with China over the financial hub's future as either an enclave of freedom or another communist-controlled city.

Protest leaders set a Wednesday deadline for a response from the government to their demands for reforms and said they would soon announce new civil disobedience plans.

Some protesters are already labeling the movement "the umbrella revolution" for the umbrellas many are holding to deflect pepper spray and tear gas that was lobbed by police on Sunday night.

That fueled even more protesters to come out in force Monday. Tens of thousands of young demonstrators blocked what are normally some of Hong Kong's busiest streets.

"It's the 'umbrella revolution,'" said Emily Pang, 24, a cricket club receptionist who planned to stay overnight in the streets beside one of many barricades. "I have to protect our Hong Kong," she said.
The protest was sparked by anger over China's refusal to allow the open selection of candidates for Hong Kong's leader, called the chief executive, in the city's first democratic election scheduled for 2017. Instead, a panel will pick two or three candidates to run.

At stake is not just the election but the future of the former British colony as a semiautonomous city and the prospect of the pro-democracy movement spreading to the mainland.

"This is anything but a flash in the pan," said Scott Harold, a political scientist at RAND Corp. Beijing wants to crack down on the protests so that Hong Kong's political freedoms don't "infect" the rest of the country, he said.

Wall Street is also watching the protests nervously, as the world's second-largest economy can make global markets shudder. The Dow initially plunged 170 points early Monday before mostly recovering by day's end.

    Umbrella Men: Hong Kong’s #OccupyCentral goes viral & visual (PHOTOS)
    — ☭rapidnewstweets☠ (@juergen_p) September 29, 2014

China, which has ruled Hong Kong since 1997 as "one country, two systems," has denounced the week-long protest and blocked information about it from reaching the mainland. Instagram was blocked Sunday. Beijing also blocks other globally popular sites, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Chinese state media have offered little coverage of what's happening in Hong Kong other than noting an illegal gathering was out of control and being curtailed by police.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States is closely watching the situation and is calling on authorities to "exercise restraint."

"The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong," Earnest said, adding that people should have "a genuine choice of candidates."

Earthquake 'kills 175' in south-west China

At least 175 people have been killed and some 1,300 injured after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck in south-west China, state media say.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck about 11km (7 miles) north-west of Wenping in Yunnan province at 16:30 local time (08:30 GMT).
A major rescue and relief operation is under way.
State broadcaster CCTV said the earthquake was the strongest to hit the province in 14 years.
The USGS said the quake struck at a depth of about 10km in a remote mountainous area in Yunnan province.
The tremor was also felt in the neighbouring provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan.
Xinhua said about 12,000 homes had collapsed in Ludian, a county of some 439,000 people, north-east of Yunnan province's capital, Kunming.
All of the casualties reported so far are in Qiaojia County of the Zhaotong region, which appeared to be the hardest hit.
Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like "battlefield after bombardment", adding her neighbour's house, a new two-storey building, had collapsed.
The government is sending 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the disaster zone, the report said.
People walk among debris after an earthquake hit Ludian county, Yunnan province People walk among debris after the earthquake in Ludian county
Rescuers work in rubble in Zhaotong, 3 Aug Rescuers work in rubble in Zhaotong
Rescuers carry a child on a stretcher in Ludian county in Zhaotong, in south-west China's Yunnan province Rescuers carry an injured child on a stretcher, also in Zhaotong
A building is damaged in Ludian county, Yunnan province Earthquake damage can be seen on this building in Ludian county
After initial reports of a death toll of 26, Xinhua reported that the number killed had risen sharply, to 150.
The news agency says the epicentre of the earthquake was in Longtoushan in Yunnan's Ludian county.
Chen Guoyong, the head of Longtoushan township, told Xinhua that many houses had fallen and rescuers had been sent to the epicentre.
Many people rushed out of buildings onto the street after the quake hit, electricity supplies were cut and at least one school collapsed, Xinhua reports.
Communications have also been seriously affected.
South-west China lies in an area that is prone to earthquakes.
An earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 killed tens of thousands of people.
And in 1970, a magnitude 7.7 quake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people.

Typhoon Matmo Slams Taiwan, China Next Target

 Storm Tracker Map
Typhoon Matmo is bearing down on Taiwan with landfall to occur Tuesday night local time.
Matmo is approaching the east coast of Taiwan with maximum wind gusts over 160 kph (100 mph).
The heaviest rain thus far has fallen across Lanyu Township, just east of the main island of Taiwan. Rainfall of 250-300 mm (10-12 inches) has been reported. Also wind gusts over 100 mph have pelted the small island for several hours as the eye of the storm passed just to the northeast.
Heavy rain and strong winds will worsen across much of Taiwan through Wednesday morning as the storm crosses the island and then moves into the Formosa Strait (Taiwan Strait) during the day on Wednesday.
Since mountains cover much of the island, heavy rainfall will likely create dangerous and life-threatening mudslides, while flooding will be a major concern across all areas.

Rainfall will average 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) across much of Taiwan, with local amounts in excess of 300 mm (12 inches).
Coastal areas along the northeast and east of Taiwan will likely endure flooding as the strong winds push water inland.
This satellite image of Typhoon Matmo, courtesy of NOAA, was taken Tuesday night, local time.
After Matmo leaves Taiwan, a second landfall is likely on the China coast Wednesday afternoon or evening local time.
Areas from northern Fujian to Zhejiang will be at the greatest risk during this time. Rainfall of 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) is expected along with locally damaging winds.

While Matmo will not make landfall in the Philippines, northern parts of the country will still feel some effects from the storm as it passes by to the northeast.
Heavy rain will target western parts of the Philippines as Matmo enhances a tropical southwesterly flow from the South China Sea leading to a threat for dangerous flooding in parts of Mimaropa, Visayas and Luzon.
Through Wednesday, highly populated areas, such as Manila, can get 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) of rain with isolated total in excess of 200 mm (8 inches) which will lead to the threat for flooding.
Rammasun brought damaging wind and flooding rainfall to this same area less than a week ago.

Matmo will also bring rain and wind to the southern Ryukyu Islands of Japan into Wednesday. However, impacts will be confined to the islands immediately east of Taiwan and will remain to the south and west of Okinawa which was impacted by Typhoon Neoguri early in July.

After pushing into eastern China, Matmo will be pulled northward by a trough, tracking west of Shanghai across the interior of China. This interaction with land will weaken the cyclone to a tropical storm by Thursday.
A northeast turn will eventually take Matmo into the Korean Peninsula later this week where heavy rain and flooding will be major concerns.
Impacts from Matmo will be well to the north of southern China and northern Vietnam, areas that were recently impacted by Rammasun just days ago.

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
July 22, 2014; 7:59 AM

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