19 dead in Madaripur road mishap: Probe committee blames reckless driving amid rain, operating unfit vehicle for the accident
The four-member committee, formed to investigate the road accident that left 19 dead and 20 others injured in Madaripur’s Shibchar upazila on March 19, mainly blamed the reckless driving and an unfit vehicle for the accident. The committee, led by Additional District Magistrate Pallab Kumar Hazra, submitted its report with a 14-point recommendation to Deputy Commissioner Kamal Uddin Biswas on Wednesday noon. The report also said that though the driver had a licence of running a medium-scale vehicle, he was running a heavy vehicle amid rain. Read more: Bus falls into ditch in Madaripur: Death toll now 19 Pallab Kumar said Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRAT), Gopalganj deferred registration of the Emad Paribahan’s bus due to desperate driving on November 17 past year and the vehicle’s lifetime expired on January 18 this year but it had been running on the roads violating rules. He said they submitted the probe report with the 14-point recommendation to ward off any unexpected accident further. The recommendations included ensuring licences of drivers and valid documents of all vehicles before operating the vehicles on the highways, using seatbelts by drivers and passengers when the vehicles move on the highways, building the vehicles’ interior with soft objects, constructing guard rail on the both sides of expressways and keeping updated database of all vehicles running on the highways. Another member of the probe committee, Moniruzzaman, an additional superintendent of the district police, said the number of sophisticated equipment of patrolling vehicles and manpower of the law enforcing agencies will have to be increased to keep vigilance on the vehicles on the expressways. He also suggested installing CCTV cameras, trackers and online monitoring systems to lessen the road mishaps. Moreover, the speed of vehicles will have to be kept under control at night, dawn and during adverse weather, he said. Earlier on March 19, at least 19 people were killed and 20 others were injured as a Dhaka-bound bus of Emad Paribahan from Khulna fell into a roadside ditch in Madaripur’s Shibchar upazila. Later, the district administration formed a four-member committee to investigate the incident.
Rains likely in parts of country in 24 hours
The weather department has predicted light to moderate rain or thunder showers in parts of the country in 24 hours, starting from 9 am today (March 22, 2023). “Light to moderate rain or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind is likely to occur at a few places over Chattogram, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions and at one or two places Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dhaka, Khulna and Barishal divisions with moderately heavy falls at places over the country,” said the Met office bulletin. Also read: More rains likely to drench Bangladesh Day temperature may rise slightly and night temperature may remain nearly unchanged over the country, it said. The lowest temperature in the country was recorded at 16.3 degrees Celsius in Tetulia of Panchagarh district while the highest temperature was recorded at 32.6 degrees Celsius in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar district. The weather office recorded the highest 82 mm rainfall in Feni. Read More: UN science report to provide stark climate warning
Despite rain, Dhaka’s air still ‘unhealthy’
Dhaka's air quality continued to be in the 'unhealthy' zone this morning (March 20, 2023). With an air quality index (AQI) score of 133 at 9 am, Dhaka ranked 15 in the list of cities worldwide with the worst air quality. An AQI between 101 and 150 is considered 'unhealthy', particularly for sensitive groups. Iraq’s Baghdad, Pakistan's Lahore and South Korea's Incheon occupied the first three spots in the list, with AQI scores of 259, 257 and 194, respectively. Read More: River pollution: Artists take to unique protest in Habiganj An AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be 'very unhealthy', while a reading of 301+ is considered 'hazardous', posing serious health risks to residents. In Bangladesh, the AQI is based on five criteria pollutants -- Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2 and Ozone. Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution issues. Its air quality usually turns unhealthy in winter and improves during the monsoon. Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide. Read More: Govt committed to doing all it can to defeat pollution: Environment Minister As per the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.
Dhaka commuters suffer amid heavy traffic gridlock after light rain
Commuters in Dhaka remained stuck for hours in unusual traffic jam on Sunday morning after light rain lashed the capital. Commuters who usually use Abdullahpur-Khilkhet and Airport-Mohakhali roads are the worst sufferers . Students and office-goers suffered immensely due to traffic chaos at several points in Dhaka, including Tongi, Uttara, Airport, Mohakhali, Bijoy Sarani and Bangla Motor areas. Vehicles were seen stranded for hours on these roads in the morning. Also Read: Light morning rain brings some relief for Dhaka Apart from the rain, VVIP movement and construction work of a foot over bridge in front of Jamuna Future Park in the city caused the traffic gridlock, a senior traffic officer (north division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told UNB preferring anonymity. He said they are working to ease the traffic movement . Shakawat Hossain Shipon, a private service holder, said he went out of his Gazipur residence to go to Noakhali in the early morning but could not reach Abdullahpur bus stand even after around two and a half hours. “I don’t know when I will be able to reach home as vehicles remained stranded on the road for hours,” he said. Like him, many commuters suffered immensely on gridlocked roads today.
More rain, thundershowers likely in parts of the country
As Dhaka got an early morning splash of rain today, which should help with the excessive dust, the Met Office predicted more rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty wind in different parts of the country today. "Rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind are likely to occur at one or two places over Mymensingh, Dhaka, Khulna, Barishal, Chattogram and Sylhet divisions," said a bulletin of Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). Weather may remain mainly dry with temporary partly cloudy skies elsewhere over the country. Day and night temperatures may fall slightly over the country. Country’s lowest temperature was recorded at 16 degrees C in Tetulia of Panchagarh district, while the highest temperature was recorded at 35.3 degrees C in Rangamati district. Also read: Khulna records 146 mm rainfall in 24 hrs, highest in 6 yrs Meanwhile, trough of westerly low lies over India's West Bengal and adjoining areas. Seasonal low lies over the south Bay.
Snow, rain slam California as Michigan suffers without power
Heavy snow and rain pounded California and other parts of the West on Friday in the nation's latest winter storm, while tens of thousands of people in Michigan suffered in freezing temperatures days after one of the worst ice storms in decades caused widespread power outages. The winter storms have blacked out nearly 1 million homes and businesses from coast to coast, closed major roads, caused pileups on highways and snarled air travel. More than 1,200 flights were canceled and more than 17,000 were delayed Friday across the U.S., according to FlightAware.com. The National Weather Service warned of a “cold and dangerous winter storm” that would last through Saturday in California. Blizzard warnings were posted in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California mountain ranges, where as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of snow was expected. Temperatures could drop far below normal in the region, posing a special risk to homeless people. “Simply put, this will be a historic event for the amount of snow over the higher peaks and lower elevation snow,” according to the regional weather office. Interstate 5, the West Coast’s major north-south highway, was closed south of the Oregon border as snow fell to the floor of the Sacramento Valley and in a high mountain pass north of Los Angeles, where blizzard warnings were in effect. Avalanche warnings were posted in some areas, and flash flood warnings were issued for Los Angeles and nearby coastal areas until Friday night. In Michigan, hundreds of thousands of people remained without power Friday after a storm earlier this week coated power lines, utility poles and branches with ice as thick as three-quarters of an inch. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Friday for more accountability on restoration efforts by the state’s two largest utilities. Also read: Police say 3 dead, 4 hurt in latest California shooting Annemarie Rogers had been without power for a day and a half in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. She sent two kids to stay with relatives and put extra blankets on the bed to try to keep warm. “It’s kind of miserable,” she said. “We do have a gas fireplace that’s keeping us warm in one room. There’s some heat generating from the furnace, but with no electricity to the blower it’s not circulating well." At one point, more than 820,000 customers in Michigan were in the dark. By Friday, that was down to under 600,000, most in the state's populous southeastern corner around Detroit. But promises of power restoration by Sunday, when low temperatures were expected to climb back above zero (minus 18 Celsius), were of little consolation. “That’s four days without power in such weather," said Apurva Gokhale, of Walled Lake, Michigan. "It’s unthinkable.” Tom Rankin said he and his wife were unable to reach his 100-year-old mother-in-law Friday morning by phone. The couple drove to her home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, to find her in bed “with a whole lot of blankets,” Rankin said, adding they helped her to their car, planning to ride out the outage at another relative’s home. “We’ve not had an ice storm in the last 50 years that has impacted our infrastructure like this,” said Trevor Lauer, president of Detroit-based DTE Electric. At least three people have died in the storms. A Michigan firefighter died Wednesday after coming in contact with a downed power line, while in Rochester, Minnesota, a pedestrian died after being hit by a city-operated snowplow. Authorities in Portland, Oregon said a person died of hyperthermia. Much of Portland was shut down with icy roads not expected to thaw until Saturday after the city’s second-heaviest snowfall on record this week — nearly 11 inches. Tim Varner sat huddled with blankets in a Portland storefront doorway that shielded him from some of the wind, ice and snow. Local officials opened six overnight shelters but the 57-year-old, who has been homeless for two decades, said it was too hard to push a shopping cart containing his belongings to get to one. “It’s impossible,” he said. “The snow gets built up on the wheels of your cart, and then you find slippery spots and can’t get no traction. So you’re stuck.” Not all were dismayed by the winter weather. In the San Francisco Bay Area, hundreds of people drove up to 2,500-foot (760-meter) Mount Tamalpais to play in the snow — a rarity in the area. San Francisco resident Shankar Krishnan woke up at 4 a.m. and headed out hoping to see snow for the first time in a long time. “It feels awesome. It’s like the trees are all frosty,. There’s snow on the ground. There’s snow coming down from the sky," Krishnan said. "It’s beautiful out here.” In Southern California, authorities warned that rainfall could cause debris flow in some areas burned by wildfires in recent years. In the flash flood warning area, between three and six inches (eight and 15 centimeters) of rain had fallen by Friday afternoon with another two to four inches (five and 10 centimeters) expected. Evacuation warnings were issued in Ventura County for four areas considered unstable after being hit hard by storms last month. To the north, snow piled up across Santa Cruz County as roads closed and motorists were forced to abandon their cars. Parts of Interstate 80 in California and Wyoming closed, including about a 70-mile (112-kilometer) stretch over the top of the Sierra Nevada linking California and Nevada. Some schools in Nevada and northern Arizona were closed, and a Major League Soccer season-opening game in Southern California was postponed. The storm has added to major precipitation from December and January “atmospheric rivers” that improved California’s drought outlook, but authorities who allocate water to farms, cities and industries remain cautious because of a recent history of abrupt changes in hydrologic conditions. The weather service said temperatures could drop far below normal in the region, posing a special risk to homeless people.
Heavy rains leave 36 dead in Brazil
Heavy rain caused flooding and landslides that have killed 36 people in Brazil’s north Sao Paulo state, officials said Sunday, and the fatalities could rise. Sao Paulo state government said in a statement that 35 died in the city of Sao Sebastiao and a 7-year-old girl was killed in neighboring Ubatuba. The cities of Sao Sebastiao, Ubatuba, Ilhabela and Bertioga, some of the hardest hit and now under state of calamity, canceled their Carnival festivities as rescue teams struggle to find missing, injured and feared dead in the rubble. “Our rescue teams are not managing to get to several locations; it is a chaotic situation,” said Felipe Augusto, the mayor of Sao Sebastiao. Later, he added there are dozens of people missing and that 50 houses collapsed in the city due to the landslides. Augusto posted on social media several videos of widespread destruction in his city, including one of baby being rescued by locals lined up on a flooded street. Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Twitter he will visit the region Monday. Sao Paulo state government said in a statement that precipitation in the region has surpassed 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) in one day, one of the highest amounts ever in Brazil in such a short period. Also Read: Bolsonaro says he may return to Brazil in the coming weeks Bertioga alone had 687 millimeters during that period, the state government said. Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas said in a statement he requested support from the army, which sent two airplanes and rescue teams to the region. TV footage showed houses flooded with only the roof visible. Residents are using small boats to carry items and people to higher positions. A road that connects Rio de Janeiro to the port city of Santos was blocked by landslides and floodwaters. The northern coast of Sao Paulo state is a frequent Carnival destination for wealthy tourists who prefer to stay away from massive street parties in big cities.
Steady rains set off mudslides that kill at least 36 in Peru
Landslides triggered by steady rains swept mud, water and rocks into several villages in southern Peru, killing at least 36 people, authorities said Monday. Wilson Gutierrez, a civil defense official in the Mariano Nicolás Valcárcel municipality in Camana province, told local radio RPP that 36 bodies had been recovered in a remote sector called Miski. Among the dead were five people who were riding in a van that was pushed into a river by a surge of mud. Local officials appealed for heavy machinery to be sent in to clear debris blocking three kilometers (nearly two miles) of an important road. Civil defense officials said an estimated 630 homes were unusable after the landslides, which also hit bridges, irrigation canals and roads. Constant rains are frequent in February in Peru and often cause deadly landslides.
3 dead, 1 missing as rain pounds New Zealand’s largest city
Authorities said Saturday that three people had died and at least one was missing after record levels of rainfall pounded New Zealand's largest city, causing widespread disruption. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins flew to Auckland on a military plane after a state of emergency was declared in the region. “Our priority is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, that they're housed and that they have access to the essential services that they need,” Hipkins said. He said the city was in for a big cleanup and that people should remain indoors if possible. He said a break in the weather could prove temporary, with more heavy rain forecast. “This is an unprecedented event in recent memory," Hipkins said. Friday was the wettest day ever recorded in Auckland, according to weather agencies, as the amount of rain that would typically fall over the entire summer hit in a single day. On Friday evening, more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain fell in just three hours in some places. The rain closed highways and poured into homes. Hundreds of people were stranded at Auckland Airport overnight after the airport stopped all flights and parts of the terminal were flooded. Police said they found one man's body in a flooded culvert and another in a flooded carpark. They said fire and emergency crews found a third body after a landslide brought down a house in the suburb of Remuera. One person remained missing after being swept away by floodwaters, police said. Hipkins said power had been restored to most places, although about 3,500 homes remained without electricity. Video posted online showed chest-deep water in some places. Lawmaker Ricardo Menéndez posted a video of water surging into houses. “We’ve just had to evacuate our home as the water was already rising rapidly and coming in aggressively,” he tweeted. Fire and Emergency New Zealand said crews had responded to more than 700 incidents across the region and staff had taken more than 2,000 emergency calls. “We had every available career and volunteer crew on the road responding to the most serious events,” said district manager Brad Mosby. Mosby said crews had rescued 126 people who were trapped in houses or cars, or who had been involved in vehicle crashes. Air New Zealand said it resumed domestic flights in and out of Auckland on Saturday afternoon, but wasn't yet sure when international flights would resume. “The flooding has had a huge impact our Auckland operations," said David Morgan, the airline's chief operational integrity and safety officer. “We’re working on getting customers to their final destinations and getting our crew and aircraft back in the right place. It might take a few days to get everything back on track.” In a series of updates on Twitter, Auckland Airport said people were able to leave the airport early Saturday for their homes or accommodation after hundreds spent the night in the terminal. “It’s been a long and challenging night at Auckland Airport, we thank everyone for ongoing patience,” the airport wrote. “Unfortunately, due to earlier flooding in the baggage hall, we are currently unable to return checked luggage to you,” the airport wrote. “Your airline will make arrangements for its return at a later time.” The storm also caused an Elton John concert to be canceled just before it was due to start Friday night. A second concert by John that was planned at the stadium on Saturday night was also canceled. About 40,000 people were expected to attend each concert at Mt Smart Stadium. Thousands were already at the venue Friday night when organizers decided to cancel not long before John was due to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Many concertgoers who had braved the conditions were frustrated the decision hadn't been made hours earlier. Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown defended criticism that his office did not communicate the seriousness of the situation well and held off on declaring an emergency until about 9:30 p.m. Friday. He said the timing of the emergency declaration was guided by experts. “We will review everything that took place,” Brown said. “We've got to make sure we had the coordination, and the consultation with the public, correct.”
Evacuations ordered as California braces for rain, floods
As a huge storm approached California on Wednesday, officials began ordering evacuations in a high-risk coastal area where mudslides killed 23 people in 2018, while residents elsewhere in the state scrambled to find sandbags, and braced themselves for flooding and power outages. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to allow for a quick response and to aid in cleanup from another powerful storm just days earlier. Dozens of flights were cancelled at the San Francisco International Airport, and South San Francisco schools preemptively cancelled Thursday classes. As the storm intensified, state officials warned residents in Northern California to stay off the roads. The first evacuations were ordered for those living in the burn scar areas of three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County, where heavy rain is expected overnight, and could cause widespread flooding and unleash debris flows in several areas. Among them is the tony town of Montecito, home to many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. “We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years,” said Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Officials asked drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary — and to stay informed by signing up for updates from emergency officials about downed trees and power lines, and flooding. In Northern California, a 25-mile (40-kilometer) stretch of Highway 101 was closed between the towns of Trinidad and Orick due to several downed trees. Before the storm arrives late Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said people should evacuate the areas impacted by the Alisal Fire last year, the Cave Fire in 2019 and the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017, one of the largest in California history. On Jan. 9, 2018, massive torrents carrying huge boulders, mud and debris roared down coastal mountains, and through the town of Montecito to the shoreline, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes. Among those killed were two children whose bodies were never found. Read more: 48 deaths reported in US from massive storm Montecito Fire Department Chief Kevin Taylor said Wednesday that homes near waterways are at the greatest risk. “What we’re talking about here is a lot of water coming off the top of the hills, coming down into the creeks and streams and as it comes down, it gains momentum and that’s what the initial danger is,” he said. Storms in the last 30 days have produced between 8 to 13 inches of rain, soaking coastal hills in Santa Barbara County. The current storm is projected to drop up to 10 inches of rain in the area, Taylor said. “This cumulative rain ... is what causes our risk,” he said. The storm, set to be in full force in Northern California by Wednesday evening, is one of three so-called atmospheric river storms in the last week to reach the drought-stricken state. Because the states' major reservoirs are at a record low from a dry three-year period, they have plenty of room to fill with more water from the impending storm, officials said. Still, trees are already stressed from years of limited rain. Now that the grounds are suddenly saturated and winds are heavy, trees are more likely to fall. That could cause widespread power outages or create flood hazards, said Karla Nemeth, director of the state’s Department of Water Resources. “We are in the middle of a flood emergency and also in the middle of a drought emergency,” she said during an emergency briefing. The storm comes days after a New Year’s Eve downpour led to the evacuations of people in rural Northern California communities and the rescue of several motorists from flooded roads. A few levees south of Sacramento were damaged. In the San Francisco Bay Area, 8,500 sandbags distributed by officials weren’t enough to reach demand Wednesday as forecasters warned of imminent flooding. The South San Francisco Unified School District announced classes for its 8,000 students would be canceled Thursday “out of an abundance of caution.” Heavy downpours accompanied by winds with gusts of up to 60 mph (96 kph) were expected later Wednesday and through Thursday, making driving conditions difficult, the National Weather Service said. In Southern California, the storm was expected to peak in intensity overnight, with Santa Barbara and Ventura counties likely to see the most rain, forecasters said. Read more: Wild winter storm envelops US, snarling Christmas travel Aaron Johnson, Pacific Gas & Electric regional vice president for the Bay Area, said the company has more than 3,000 employees working in crews of three to five people to assess damages to their equipment and restore power as soon as possible. Robert O’Neill, an insurance broker who lives and works just south of San Francisco, said he lined up to get sandbags for his garage and for a co-worker’s home to prepare for the storm. As president of Town & Country Insurance Services, he gave employees the option of working from home Wednesday, which many did, he said. He plans to leave the office early and head home where he has go-bags packed with clothes, medicine, electronic chargers and important papers. He has sleeping bags and three days’ worth of water, nuts and protein bars. “We’re in a big city, so we wouldn’t be too stranded too long, but you never know,” he said. The storms in California still aren’t enough to officially end the drought, now entering its fourth year. The U.S. Drought Monitor showed that most of the state is in severe to extreme drought. Elsewhere, in the Midwest, ice and heavy snow has taken a toll this week, closing down schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin — and causing a jet to go off an icy taxiway after landing in a snowstorm in Minneapolis. No passengers were injured, Delta airlines said. To the south, a possible tornado damaged homes, downed trees and flipped a vehicle on its side in Montgomery, Alabama, early Wednesday. Christina Thornton, director of the Montgomery Emergency Management Agency, said radar indicated a possible, but unconfirmed, tornado. The storm had extremely high winds and moved through the area before dawn, she said. Staff from the National Weather Service's Chicago office planned to survey storm damage on Wednesday following at least six tornados, the largest number of rare January tornadoes recorded in the state since 1989.