News in English

Thousands more evacuated and 40 dead from ‘unwieldy beast’ California fires

Thousands more Californians evacuated their homes on Saturday as fierce wildfires spread due to constantly shifting winds, and officials expected the official death toll of 40 from the week of fires to rise with hundreds of people still missing.

Sixteen major wildfires, some encompassing several smaller merged blazes, have consumed nearly 214,000 acres, roughly 334 square miles, an area larger than New York City.

The 35 confirmed fatalities – including 19 in Sonoma County – make this the deadliest fire event in California history. Some 100,000 people have been forced from their homes, including another 3,000 evacuated from the city of Santa Rosa, about 80 km north of San Francisco, and another 250 from nearby Sonoma city.

“It’s an unwieldy beast right now,” fire information officer Dennis Rein said at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the main staging area for the so-called Nuns Fire in Sonoma County, a wine-producing region.

More than 10,000 firefighters are battling the fires, which have destroyed 5,700 buildings and thrown California’s wine-producing industry, and related tourism, into disarray, damaging or destroying at least a dozen Napa Valley wineries.

Ground crews gained on the wildfires on Friday but drier weather and fast-changing winds complicated efforts on Saturday, sparking a new large wildfire in Lake County, officials said.

The Nuns Fire, which had killed at least one person, was only 10 percent contained with winds threatening more residential areas, Cal Fire spokesman Antonio Negrete said.

But the more deadly Tubbs Fire, which killed at least 17 people in Sonoma County, was 44 percent contained, which officials considered a victory.

“It’s cautious optimism but it’s optimism,” Negrete said of the Tubbs Fire.

Cal Fire had estimated the fires would be contained by October 20 but may need to revise that date because of the winds that kicked up, Rein said.

“It’ll set us back a planning cycle. Everything is very dynamic,” Rein said.

The Nuns Fire forced evacuations north of Highway 12, which runs west-to-east from Santa Rosa inland.

“Unfortunately, due to the wind conditions and the type of topography and fuels, those winds and topography are causing that fire to be very erratic, going in several different directions. The winds constantly change direction in that area,” Scott McLean, a fire captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), told CNN.

The Nuns burned some 300 acres near Sonoma, damaging some buildings on the outskirts of the city, McLean said.

Numerous ground-based strike teams barreled down Highway 12 toward the fire early Saturday and 20 of the 70 helicopters available throughout the state were concentrated on the Nuns Fire, McLean said.

Air tankers from one air base dropped a record 1.2 million liters of retardant on the fire on Friday, he said.

Whole neighborhoods of Santa Rosa have been reduced to landscapes of gray ash, smoldering debris and burned-out vehicles.

Some victims were asleep when flames engulfed their homes, and many survivors had only minutes to flee.

The fires’ death toll surpassed the 29 deaths from the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles.

With 235 people still missing on Saturday in Sonoma County alone, and rubble from thousands of incinerated dwellings yet to be searched, authorities have said the number of fatalities from the North Bay fires would likely climb.

The picturesque town of Calistoga, at the northern end of Napa Valley, faced one of the biggest remaining hazards. Its 5,000-plus residents were ordered from their homes on Wednesday night as a fierce blaze dubbed the Tubbs Fire crept to within 3.2 km of city limits.

The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in history in the United States, with nearly 8.6 million acres burned, just behind 2012, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

UN hosts dinner ahead of Cyprus talks on Wednesday 

A dinner hosted by the UN is underway in Crans Montana ahead of Wednesday’s resumption of the Cyprus conference.


It was to take place in the presence of Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman who will arrive however …

UK Foreign Office supports Cyprus’ EEZ sovereign rights

The UK recognises the Republic of Cyprus’ sovereign rights to exploit mineral reserves in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), states a Foreign Office letter addressed to the President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK Peter Droussiotis.

The …

Woman, 80, punches robber in mouth

The woman was walking her dog in Whitstable, Kent, when she was grabbed in an alleyway by a man dressed in black and wearing a hooded top. She fought off her attacker by punching him in the mouth. Kent Police …

Thalassaemia Award

A NEW prestigious award worth US $1m has been established for individuals who make a significant contribution to the field of thalassaemia – the Sheikh Sultan International Thalassaemia Award.

According to the Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF), the son of the …

Akis Keanthous funeral

Schools closed early in a mark of respect Wednesday as former Education Minister Akis Kleanthous was laid to rest.
Kleanthous died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 47, Monday.
The senior Diko figure had been campaigning for …

Cyprus FM – EU Council – Middle East

FOREIGN MINISTER – EU COUNCIL – MIDDLE EAST   Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has urged the EU to engage in a dialogue with Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain to assist their smooth transition to democracy through a process which will remain…

Christofias – Cyprus issue

PRESIDENT CHRISTOFIAS – CYPRUS ISSUE   The Greek Cypriot side will not stop trying to reach a solution to the Cyprus issue at the negotiating table, abiding by UN resolutions, the principles of international and European law and the High Level…

Cyprus – Commerce

COMMERCE MINISTER – TECHNOLOGY   Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Antonis Paschalides has said that “realizing the importance of developing new products and services, has introduced various schemes for the technological upgrading of existing industrial plants and machinery, the promotion…

Cocaine found in man’s stomach at Larnaca Airport

TWO Dutch nationals, a 62-year-old man and a woman, 53, were yesterday remanded in custody for six days after they were caught trying to smuggle through customs, 470 grammes of cocaine hidden inside the man’s body, Larnaca police said.

The …