Damour, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — Wildfires spread through parts of Lebanon on Tuesday after forcing some residents to flee their homes in the middle of the night, while others were stuck inside as the flames reached villages south of Beirut, authorities said.
A heat wave in the region coupled with strong winds intensified the fires that began a day earlier in mostly pine forests around the country and three provinces in neighboring Syria. There were no reports of fatalities from the fires — among the worst to hit Lebanon in years.
Fire crews were overwhelmed by the flames in the Mount Lebanon region early Tuesday, forcing the Interior Ministry to send riot police with engines equipped with water cannons to help. Two small aircraft were sent from the nearby Mediterranean island of Cyprus to help put out the flames.
"Your planes are now fighting fires in Lebanon as we speak here," Lebanon's Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab said during a visit to Cyprus.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said if the fires turn out to be intentional those behind it "will pay a price." Hariri added that an investigation will be opened to know what caused the fires.
In Damour, a coastal village south of Beirut, more than a dozen charred cars w on the side of a road. Most of the homes nearby escaped the damage.
The state has been widely criticized by residents because Lebanon bought three aircraft several years ago to be used in extinguishing fires but they have been parked at Beirut's airport with no money to maintain them.
As the fires raged overnight, a correspondent burst into tears while live on TV, saying she could hear people scream for help inside their homes but no one could reach them.
Interior Minister Raya El Hassan said Greece would send two aircraft in response to a request from Lebanon, adding that Jordan has also expressed readiness to send assistance to Beirut.
In neighboring Syria, fires spread in the coastal provinces of Latakia and Tartus, as well as the central province of Homs, but authorities there brought all the fires under control.
Hartford, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — The weather was calm and clear at the time of a deadly B-17 crash at a Connecticut airport, and tests on the airplane's fuel did not turn up any sign of debris or contamination, federal investigators said Tuesday.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board appeared to rule out some factors in the crash that killed seven people but did not shed light on the possible cause.
The World War II-era bomber crashed and burned after experiencing mechanical trouble on takeoff from Bradley International Airport the morning of Oct. 2. The plane was carrying 13 people, and five passengers and the two pilots were among those killed.
According to the report, one of the pilots asked to return shortly after takeoff because of a "rough mag" in one of the engines. The tower controller asked about the plane's progress toward the runway, and the pilot said they were "getting there." There was no further communication from the plane.
The airplane struck approach lights about 1,000 feet from the runway and contacted the ground 500 feet short of the runway. It then veered off the runway before colliding with vehicles and a tank of deicing fluid, according to the report.
The engine in which the pilot reported a problem and other parts of the wreckage were recovered for further examination, the NTSB said.
The retired, civilian-registered plane was associated with the Collings Foundation, an educational group that brought its Wings of Freedom vintage aircraft display to the airport. The vintage bomber was used to take history buffs and aircraft enthusiasts on short flights.
A third member of the flight crew and four passengers were seriously injured in the crash. Another passenger and one person on the ground suffered minor injuries.
Kuwait City, Oct. 15 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Kuwait Fire Service Directorate (KFSD) established on Tuesday a maintenance workshop for old fire vehicles and equipment with an aim to save pubic expense.
The workshop was inaugurated by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Khalid Al Saleh and KFSD Director-General Khalid Al-Makrad.
At the opening ceremony of the workshop, Khalid Al-Makrad said there are new vehicles and pumps expected to arrive within two weeks as part of the KFSD's preparedness plan for the upcoming rainy season.
He praised the efforts of fire department's officers and firemen, saying the government will allocate a land to establish a 40,000-square-meter special club for firefighters in recognition of their role and efforts.
Juba, Oct. 15 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called for joint efforts to prevent the worsening levels of malnutrition in South Sudan, where an estimated 1.3 million children will suffer acute malnutrition in 2020.
Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said they need a multi-sectoral approach that involves the government to help prevent malnutrition which is putting the future of the country at risk as it emerges from the five years conflict.
"Every child in need of treatment for malnutrition is a failure, a failure in preventing the suffering," Ayoya told journalists in Juba during the launch of the latest state of the world's children's report.
The UNICEF official disclosed that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children in South Sudan has increased from 13 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019, which is above the 15 percent emergency threshold.
Ayoya added that a paradigm shift was needed to help tackle malnutrition by shifting from focusing on treatment to prioritizing prevention.
"Preventing malnutrition is an essential part of realizing every child's right to health. Young children can suffer lifelong consequences and in worst case die if malnutrition is not addressed timely during the crucial years in life," said Ayoya.
The report says that in 2018 at least 1 in 3 children under five globally were either stunted, wasted or overweight, reflecting poor growth hence putting them at risk of increased infections, weak learning skills, low immunity and, in many cases, death.
It also reveals that 340 million children globally suffered from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as iron and iodine, further undermining their growth.
"UNICEF calls on the government of South Sudan to produce a multi-sectoral strategic plan for nutrition with joint targets, pooled resources, multi-sectoral coordination, an accountability framework and joint monitoring and evaluation system," added Ayoya.
He also urged donors to support prevention activities as well as treatment of malnutrition and advocate for an enabling environment for a multi-sectoral nutrition strategy.
Andrea Suley, UNICEF deputy representative South Sudan, revealed the urgent need to prevent malaria, which remains one of the biggest contributors of malnutrition in the youngest nation.
"Tackling malnutrition also requires addressing underlying causes such as malaria which is often the start of a journey into malnutrition," added Suley.
Berlin, Oct. 15 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The so-called EEG reallocation charge, a levy for the expansion of renewable energy in Germany, would increase by 5.5 percent in 2020, the four German transmission network operators announced on Tuesday.
The four transmission network operators are 50 Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW.
The EEG levy, which added on top of end consumers' electricity bill in Germany, would be increased to 6.756 euro cents (0.074 U.S. dollars) per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity in 2020. Currently, the EEG levy is amounting to 6.405 euro cents per kWh.
One of the reasons for the EEG levy to rise was the development of the overall "account balance" of Germany's renewable energy transition, according to the four operators.
Although the balance of the EEG had recorded a surplus of 2.2 billion euros at the end of September, the account balance had been 40 percent lower than in the previous year, which "led to a rise" in the EEG levy for 2020, they said.
The German government is planning to reduce the EEG levy by 0.25 euro cents per kWh in 2021, according to a governmental climate action plan.
Reductions to the German EEG levy would be financed with the "income from the planned national CO2 pricing," Ralf Wissen, managing partner at r2b energy consulting, told Xinhua.
The development of the EEG levy in the coming years would "depend largely on wholesale electricity prices", because EEG subsidies paid to operators of renewable energy plants in Germany were "unlikely to change much," Wissen said.
Besides the EEG levy, charges for the use of electricity grids in Germany are expected to increase as well in 2020. According to the German price comparison company Check24, the usage fees for electricity networks would increase by around 9 percent next year.