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US: One dead, tens of thousands flee as fires rage in California | US & Canada News

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A firefighting pilot was killed in a helicopter crash as crews worked in blistering heat on Wednesday to tackle fires started by lightning strikes across northern California in the United States, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Nearly 11,000 lightning strikes were documented during a 72-hour stretch this week in the heaviest spate of thunderstorms to hit California in over a decade, igniting 367 individual fires. Almost two dozen of them have grown into major conflagrations, authorities said.

Ash and smoke filled the air in the city of San Francisco, which was surrounded by wildfires burning to the north, east and south. Will Powers, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), said thousands of residents were under mandatory evacuation orders in an area north of San Francisco, collectively dubbed the LNU Lightning Complex.

The fire had consumed nearly 20,234 hectares (50,000 acres) on Wednesday night, and jumped across the main Interstate 80 highway earlier in the day, briefly blocking traffic in both directions.

In Vacaville, a city of about 100,000 people between San Francisco and Sacramento, police and firefighters went door-to-door before dawn in a frantic scramble to warn residents to evacuate as flames bore down on the area.

At least 50 structures were destroyed, including some homes, while 50 were damaged.

Wearing a singed nightgown, Diane Bustos said her husband abandoned their car as it caught fire and then blew up on the west side of Vacaville early on Wednesday. She lost both her shoes while she and her family ran for their lives.

“I made it, God saved me,” Bustos told local television station KPIX.

Firefighters extinguish spot fires as the LNU Lightning Complex fire burns through the area in Fairfield, California [Justin Sullivan/ Getty via AFP]

US - HENNESSEY - FIRE - BURNS - IN - NAPA - COUNTY

A firefighting aircraft drops retardant ahead of the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in Napa [Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via AFP]

Karen Hansen evacuated her Vacaville home late on Tuesday as the flames rushed towards their small farm, packing up her smaller animals but unable to bring along two beloved horses.

“The whole sky was red-orange and it was coming over the hill there and it was massive. I’ve never seen anything like it and it only took a few minutes to get here,” she told The Associated Press news agency.

They returned on Wednesday to find the house and barn destroyed, but Hansen was thrilled to see that her horses had survived. “I’m not upset about the house. I’m just happy that my horses and animals are alive and my daughter,” she said.

There were social media accounts of people trapped in the blaze, but CalFire’s Powers said authorities had no reports of missing people.

In central California, a pilot died when a helicopter on an early morning water-dropping mission in Fresno County, about 160 miles (258 km) south of San Francisco, crashed. 

The Fresno County Sheriff’s search-and-rescue team was summoned shortly after 11am to recover the pilot’s body, but it had not reached the crash site because it was in the fire zone, said department spokesman Tony Botti.

“They’re trying to methodically and safely get them in and hopefully not get exposed to the fire,” he said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said “we are experiencing fires the like of which we haven’t seen in many, many years”, adding he had requested 375 fire engines from out of state to assist in battling the blazes.

He declared a statewide fire emergency on Tuesday.

Fanned by “red-flag” high winds, the fires are racing through vegetation parched by a record-breaking heatwave that began last Friday. Meteorologists have said the extreme heat and lightning storms were both linked to the same atmospheric weather pattern – an enormous high-pressure area hovering over the US’s southwest.

The largest group of fires, called the SCU Lightning Complex, had scorched at least 34,400 hectares (85,000) acres some 32km (20 miles) east of Palo Alto, while a third cluster, the CZU August Lightning Complex, grew to more than 4,046 hectares (10,000 acres) and forced evacuations around 21km (13 miles)  south of Palo Alto.

The last time California experienced dry lightning storms of such devastating proportions was in 2008, according to CalFire.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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