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July 15, 2011

Indonesian volcano eruption prompts thousands to evacuate

Indonesian volcano eruption prompts thousands to evacuate

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Friday, July 15, 2011

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Mount Lokon erupting in Indonesia
Image: Henrik Hansson.

Mount Lokon, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, has erupted for the first time since 1991. The volcano has erupted at least three times in the space of two days.

In the immediate aftermath of the eruption, no casualties have been reported. However, 4,400 have been evacuated from the surrounding area as a result of the incident with 28,000 evacuations being recommended in total by a disaster and vulcanology relief centre, aimed at those residing within a three-and-a-half kilometre (two mile) radius of the landmark, which was created last weekend. As well as this, the centre has increased the volcano status to its peak level. According to Darwis Sitinjak, a representative of an agency involved with disasters, rescuers – assisted by police officers and soldiers – were evacuating around five hundred inhabitants of the slopes of the mountain, Sitinjak told radio station El Shinta.

Lokon, in Sulawesi, a province located in the north of the country, commenced experiencing a volcanic eruption at approximately 1530 UTC Thursday. According to National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, “[t]he eruption has set ablaze the forests around the crater”. Kristianto, a volcanologist working for the government of Indonesia, has reported “no mass panic because the community has already been warned of the situation” and the evacuation of residents is ongoing, Kristianto said to Agence France-Presse. On Wednesday, two thousand other people departed from the area.

Out of the 129 volcanoes located in Indonesia, Mount Lokon is considered to be amongst the most active, standing at a peak of 1,580 metres (5,184 feet). Rocks, lava, smoke, ash and sand were thrown at a height of 1,500 metres (4,800 feet), according to Kristianto. On Friday, Lokon erupted again at around 1700 UTC on Thursday before erupting for a third time at approximately 1810 UTC the same day.



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Euro reaches new lows

Euro reaches new lows – Wikinews, the free news source

Euro reaches new lows

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Economy and business
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On Tuesday, the Euro fell to a new record low in relation to the Swiss Franc, and to multi-month lows against the U.S. Dollar and Japanese yen; all considered by investors to be safe currencies during times of economic turmoil.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that recent comments from the newly installed head of the International Monetary Fund, France’s Christine Lagarde, resulted in a sell-off of the Euro. At a roundtable discussion in Washington, Lagarde noted that the IMF had not yet reached discussion of terms and conditions of a second Greek bailout plan. In fact, a representative from the IMF is currently meeting with Eurozone policymakers to draft such a new proposal. The yield differential between Italian bonds and German bonds has spread to more than 300 basis points, something not seen in over a decade and evidence of investors’ concern.

Adding to the Euro’s woes is the upcoming release of the bank stress tests on Friday. The European Bankers Association said that they expect the data release to shed new light on the Eurozone’s banking situation. Representatives of several of the Eurozone’s governments, including Germany, have requested that the association consider releasing fewer specific details for fear that investor panic will ensue. The inadequacy of the capitalization rates has been an issue with the European Central Bank, whose president recently called upon Eurozone banks to make every effort to put their balance sheets in order.

For the time being at least, an unsubstantiated rumor reported by the Wall Street Journal states that the Eurozone’s central banks’ purchase of periphery debt has helped to quell the downward momentum of the Euro.



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Drought stricken Somalia nears famine

Drought stricken Somalia nears famine – Wikinews, the free news source

Drought stricken Somalia nears famine

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Drought
Image: Dl91m.

The African Union made a plea on Tuesday for the international community to come to the aid of Somalia. This is a country where one in three, (ten million people) is suffering from a severe drought, a situation complicated by warring rebel factions. In 2009, UNICEF discontinued air deliveries to areas controlled by the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab due to militant threats.

Last week al-Shabab said it would welcome the presence of humanitarian groups, provided aid groups did not have a “hidden agenda”.

On Wednesday, the United Nations airlifted supplies to a part of the country controlled by al-Shabab, flying five metric tons of medicines, food and water supplies to Baidoa, a rebel-held town, 155 miles south of Mogadishu. Maulid Warfa, UNICEF emergency officer, in an interview with state-run Radio Mogadishu, said a very critical humanitarian crisis exists in rural communities where people have lost their livestock and farms after the worst drought in six decades. The aid is to help them and their children who are extremely malnourished.

Cquote1.svg [Somalia’s crisis is] the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world. Cquote2.svg

UNICEF

When Warfa, was asked about the arrest of two aid workers by al Shabaab, one with UNICEF, Warfa did not confirm or deny it. Instead he emphasized the desperate need of Somalians for assistance.

Although some feared a new Kenyan camp would result in more Somalis fleeing to Kenya, Kenya has announced in will open a new refuge camp near the Somalian border within ten days which will hold 80,000. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said, “Although we consider our own security, we can’t turn away the refugees.”

Cquote1.svg We are no longer talking about a humanitarian crisis or a humanitarian emergency. We are seeing this as a humanitarian catastrophe. Cquote2.svg

—Jens Oppermann, the country director of Action Against Hunger

In a nearby refugee camp in Kenya where 370,000 people are squeezed into a space set up for 90,000 people, conditions are desperate aid workers said.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali in an interview with the BBC said a refugee camp has opened in Mogadishu, but that the government had “meagre” resources to help drought victims. “We are appealing to the international community to take the matter seriously and to act quickly to save as many lives as we can,” he told the BBC.

On Thursday, UNICEF said Somalia’s drought and refugee crisis is “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world.”

On Friday, Jens Oppermann, the country director of Action Against Hunger (Action Contre La Faim, ACF), told AFP: “We are no longer talking about a humanitarian crisis or a humanitarian emergency. We are seeing this as a humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is the second consecutive year the summer rains have not come, and according to the BBC, the current drought threatens the lives of at least four million in Somalia.



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