Magalia, Nov 15 (AP/UNB) — Cool weather helped fire crews gain ground Thursday against the nation's deadliest wildfire in a century, as the search went on for more bodies in the ashes of Paradise and surrounding communities. At least 56 people were killed, with 130 others missing a week after the flames swept through.
The nearly 220-square-mile (570-square-kilometer) blaze was 40 percent contained, the state fire agency said, and firefighters succeeded in slowing the flames' advance toward populated areas.
More than 450 searchers were assigned to look for remains in Paradise, which was all but destroyed, and outlying areas such as Magalia, a forested Northern California town of about 11,000. Many of the missing were elderly and from Magalia.
"If this town does recover, it's going to take many, many years," said Johnny Pohmagevich, an 18-year Magalia resident who lives up the road from many burned homes.
Police drove around town, searching for those still in their homes and checking if they needed food and water.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Wednesday night that 130 people were on the missing list.
At the other end of the state, crews continued to battle wildfires in Southern California, including a blaze of more than 153 square miles (396 square kilometers) that destroyed over 500 structures in Malibu and nearby communities. At least three deaths were reported.
Officials in Northern California put the number of homes lost there at nearly 8,800, and the sheriff said the task of recovering remains had become so vast that his office brought in 287 more searchers Wednesday, including National Guard troops. The searchers used 22 cadaver dogs.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined California Gov. Jerry Brown on a visit to Paradise on Wednesday, saying it was the worst fire devastation he had ever seen.
"Now is not the time to point fingers," Zinke said. "There are lots of reasons these catastrophic fires are happening." He cited higher temperatures, dead trees and the poor forest management.
The governor said officials would need to learn how to better prevent fires from becoming so deadly .
It will take years to rebuild, if people decide that's what should be done, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point," he said.
While most of Paradise was wiped out, in Magalia a sharp dividing line marked those who survived and those who did not.
"Magalia has so many trees. I honestly can't believe it just didn't get leveled," said Sheri Palade, an area real estate agent.
Tom Driver, the office manager and elder at Magalia Community Church, said he heard the church made it through the blaze, though he did not know whether his home did.
"I've been able to account for all of the congregation," said Driver, who is staying with family in Oakland. "They're all over the place, but they got out in pretty good time."
Kim Bonini, one of those who got out safely Nov. 8, left after hearing someone on a bullhorn two blocks over urging people to leave. The power in her home had gone out that morning, leaving her with only her car radio.
"My cell didn't work, my house phone didn't work, nothing. Nothing except for me crawling into my car," Bonini said from her daughter's home in Chico. "If I wouldn't have heard them two blocks down, I wouldn't have known I had to evacuate."
Brussels, Nov 15 (AP/UNB) — European Union chief Donald Tusk has called for a summit of leaders to take place on Nov. 25 so they can endorse a draft Brexit deal that has been reached with the British government.
Following an early Thursday meeting, Tusk heaped praise on the EU's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, who had "achieved the two most important objectives" — limiting the damage caused by Britain's impending departure and maintaining the interests of the other 27 countries that will remain in the bloc after Brexit.
While British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to win support within her fractured party as well as Parliament, the EU has held the line behind Barnier during the negotiations.
Colombo, Nov 15 (AP/UNB) — Rival lawmakers exchanged blows in Sri Lanka's Parliament on Thursday as disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa claimed the speaker had no authority to remove him from office by voice vote.
The fighting in the chamber came a day after it passed a no-confidence vote against Rajapaksa's government. When Parliament re-convened, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said the country had no government and there was no prime minister — either Rajapaksa or his rival whose ousting in late October by the president started the crisis.
Rajapaksa disagreed, saying "a vote should have been taken. Such important motions should not be passed by a voice vote." He added that Jayasuriya has no power to remove or appoint the prime minister and Cabinet members.
He accused the speaker of being partial and representing the position of his party, the United National Party, which is led by ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Rajapaksa also called for fresh elections, suggesting that it was the best way to resolve the crisis.
Clashes erupted after the opposition asked for a vote on Rajapaksa's statement, with lawmakers supporting him gathering in the middle of the house while some ran toward the speaker shouting slogans condemning his behavior.
More than three dozen lawmakers fought and some who fell on the floor were kicked by rivals. Some of the lawmakers supporting Rajapaksa threw water bottles, books and trash cans at the speaker. Lawmakers opposed to Rajapaksa surrounded Jayasuriya to protect him. The ensuing commotion went on for about half an hour before Jayasuriya adjourned the house.
Sri Lanka has been in a crisis since Oct. 26, when President Maithripala Sirisena suddenly fired Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Rajapaksa. The former president is considered a hero by some of the ethnic Sinhalese majority for ending a long civil war by crushing Tamil Tiger rebels. However, his time in power was marred by allegations of wartime atrocities, corruption and nepotism.
Sirisena had also suspended Parliament, apparently to allow Rajapaksa time to gather support among lawmakers. But Wickremesinghe insisted his firing was unconstitutional. He refused to vacate his official residence and demanded that Parliament be summoned to prove he still has support.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court suspended Sirisena's order to dissolve Parliament and hold new elections until next month.
Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday that the no-confidence vote proves that Rajapaksa's administration does not enjoy the support of Parliament and is illegal.
Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe has repeatedly denied.
Jakarta, Nov 15 (AP/UNB) — An Indonesian woman whose fiance died on a Lion Air flight that plunged into the sea was photographed in her wedding dress and professed her love for him on the day they were to have been married.
Intan Syari's fiance, Dr. Rio Nanda Pratama, was among 189 people who were killed when the Boeing 737 crashed Oct. 29 shortly after taking off from Jakarta.
Syari and Pratama, both 26, had planned to get married Sunday. Pratama, who had attended a seminar in Jakarta, was on his way home to Pangkal Pinang for the wedding.
Syari said Pratama had joked before leaving that if he was late in returning, Syari should take photos in her wedding gown and send them to him.
"We were just joking at that time," Syari told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "He asked me to still wear my wedding gown that he chose for me on our wedding day, put on beautiful makeup and hold a white rose bouquet, take good photos and send them to him."
She said Pratama was her "first love" and they started dating 13 years ago.
On Sunday, she went ahead and took photos in the white wedding gown with a white satin head covering and a white rose bouquet in her hand, surrounded by relatives and friends.
"Although I actually feel grief that I cannot describe, I have to smile for you," Syari wrote on Instagram. "I should not be sad, I have to stay strong as you always say to me, I love you, Rio Nanda Pratama."
Investigators say sensors that help prevent planes from stalling were replaced on the Lion Air plane the day before its fatal flight and may have compounded other problems with the aircraft.
Body parts are still being recovered and searchers are continuing to hunt for the cockpit voice recorder.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
Magalia, Nov 15 (AP/UNB) — As the scope of a deadly Northern California wildfire set in, the sheriff said more than 450 people had now been assigned to comb through the charred remains in search for more bodies. The blaze has killed at least 56 people and authorities say 130 are unaccounted for.
Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.
The one major roadway that runs through the mostly residential town is dotted with gas stations, a pizza shop, a hair salon and Chinese restaurant and convenience stores. There is no Main Street or town center. Resident Johnny Pohmagevich says a Rite Aid on the main road is as much of a center as the town has.
"When I say downtown I mean Paradise," said Pohmagevich, who opted to stay in Magalia even as fire closed in.
Pohmagevich, an 18-year Magalia resident who works at Timber Ridge Real Estate and lives just up the road from many burned homes, said he stayed to protect his employer's property from looters and to prepare some cabins and mobile homes so business tenants can live if they come back.
"If this town does recover, it's going to take many, many years," he said.
A week after the deadly Camp Fire struck, police teams drive around Magalia searching for those still in their homes, checking if they need any food and water. Crews from Pacific Gas & Electric are also in the area. With the death toll at 56, it is the deadliest wildfire in a century . There were also three fatalities from separate blazes in Southern California.
As officials raised the loss of homes to nearly 8,800 Wednesday, Sheriff Kory Honea said the task of recovering remains had become so vast that his office brought in another 287 searchers Wednesday, including National Guard troops, bringing the total number of searchers to 461 plus 22 cadaver dogs. He said a rapid-DNA assessment system was expected to be in place soon to speed up identifications of the dead, though officials have tentatively identified 47 of the 56.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined California Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday on a visit to the nearby leveled town of Paradise, telling reporters it was the worst fire devastation he had ever seen.
"Now is not the time to point fingers," Zinke said. "There are lots of reasons these catastrophic fires are happening." He cited warmer temperatures, dead trees and the poor forest management.
Brown, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump's policies, said he spoke with Trump, who pledged federal assistance.
"This is so devastating that I don't really have the words to describe it," Brown said, saying officials would need to learn how to better prevent fires from becoming so deadly .
It will take years to rebuild, if people decide that's what should be done, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point," Long said.
While most of the town of Paradise was wiped out, in Magalia, a sharp dividing line marks those that survived and those that did not.
"Magalia has so many trees. I honestly can't believe it just didn't get leveled," said Sheri Palade, an area real estate agent.
For some, the areas left untouched offered a ray of hope.
Tom Driver, the office manager and elder at Magalia Community Church, said he had heard the church survived the blaze, though he did not know the status of his own home.
"I've been able to account for all of the congregation," said Driver, who is staying with family in Oakland. "They're all over the place but they got out in pretty good time."
Driver said many residents of Magalia work at the university in Chico or out of their homes. When the blaze spread into Paradise, residents there drove down and faced horrendous traffic. Driver said he and some others in Magalia were able to escape north on a winding narrow road that put them ahead of the fire, not behind it.
Kim Bonini heard someone on a bullhorn two blocks over on Thursday urging people to leave. The power in her home had gone out that morning, leaving her only with her car radio to tell her if she needed to leave.
"My cell didn't work, my house phone didn't work, nothing. Nothing except for me crawling into my car," Bonini said from her daughter's home in Chico on Wednesday. "If I wouldn't have heard them two blocks down I wouldn't have known I had to evacuate."
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but it broke out around the time and place that a utility reported equipment trouble.