Torrential rains in Madeira, a Portuguese island have caused heavy flooding and deadly mudslides, with twenty five people declared dead, according to a government minister.
The island, a favorite amongst tourists is also reported to have sixty three injured in the rains that have turned to cause fatalities, and they are currently being treated in hospital, stated Lusa, a state news agency. Officials are yet to confirm if any of the casualties are tourists.
Interior Minister Rui Pereira stated that the number of casualties stood at twenty five, as per reports from the national civil protection service. A duty office of the national civil protection service stated that they have been overwhelmed with calls from people requesting help following the flooding and mudslides.
Strong, gushing streams of water and mud were shown invading Funchal’s streets, the capital of Madeira – so powerful that it dragged and overturned cars in its wake.
Jose Socrates, Madeira’s Prime Minister spoke of his ‘profound shock’ regarding the size of the natural disaster, while promising to ensure that aid would be provided for everyone affected.
Minister Pereira also stated that they were considering the option of declaring a state of emergency in Lisbon. The decision is not yet known.
The airport in Funchal has been closed, with the capital’s mayor insisting that all residents stay indoors.
Doctors and council workers and other volunteers have been called in by authorities to provide assistance.
The severe flooding and powerful mudslides have destroyed homes, while electricity and phone lines have been destroyed. While rescue efforts are ongoing, strong winds topping 100 kmph seem to be taking its toll, while most roads are blocked and water levels high.
According to the weathermen, the worst of the storm is said to be over.
Eight people were killed and thirty-three wounded when a bomb exploded at a restaurant in Pune, located along the western coast of India.
Officials from the Maharashtra state said that the explosion took place at a restaurant called ‘The German Bakery’ in Koregaon Park. The restaurant is very popular amongst tourists and is quite close to the famed Osho Ashram.
News reports indicate that among the dead are four foreign women – their nationality is yet unknown.
The explosion took place around 1900 hrs in India, one of the busier times of the restaurant, which is located down North Main Road.
Vinod Dhale, one of the workers at the restaurant speaking to the Reuters news agency said, “We heard a big noise and we all rushed out. The impact was so much that there were tiny body parts everywhere.”
Meanwhile, Rajendra Sonawane, a senior police official told BBC that the bomb had been in an abandoned bag which apparently contained an improvised explosive device (IED). Anti-terror squad officers are currently at the scene.
Initial news reports of the explosion stated that it was caused by an exploding gas cylinder.
However, although officials are yet to confirm if the explosion was caused by a bomb, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that this incident was ‘most probably a terror attack’.
State Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal said Mumbai and the Maharashtra state has been put on high alert.
Shops located close to the restaurant were also badly damaged in the blast, while the site of the explosion was said to be splattered with blood and severed limbs.
The last major terror attack in India took place in Mumbai in November 2008, which recorded 166 fatalities.
Karbala experienced two very powerful explosions on February 5 2010, which killed over forty Shi’ite pilgrims. The attack in the holy city in Iraq is the latest in several similar bombings, which took place during the week.
The explosions were targeted at scores of Shi’ites during a pilgrimage, which took place in Karbala.
The third in a set of organized attacks, this one could be counted as the third biggest terror upheaval against Shi’ite pilgrims in a week. On Wednesday, February 3 2010, a suicide bombing in the very same city killed close to 25 Shi’ite pilgrims. The Monday of that week saw a female suicide bomber blow herself up in the midst of a mass of pilgrims, killing around 40 and leaving many more wounded.
The crowds of Shi’ite pilgrims on Friday were heavily concentrated with witnesses commenting that even a small explosion could easily have killed or wounded quite a number of them. Pilgrims fleeing the first bomb explosion, had unfortunately been caught when the second bomb went off, said other witnesses.
Close to 10 million pilgrims hailing from Kuwait, Iran, Bahrain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are present in Karbala for the pilgrimage, according to Iraqi authorities. The pilgrimage is being held to mark the fortieth day following the slaying of Hussein who was Prophet Mohammed’s grandson.
While the Iraqi government is taking steps to assist all those wounded in the explosions, the country’s Health Minister Salah al Hasnawi stated that government ambulances would be deployed to transport the wounded back to their homes, while emergency rescue teams seem to be leading all assistance schemes.
Amaleddin al Hir, the provincial governor blamed the twin explosions on “elements of al Qaeda” that were “abetted by Baathists” from the Saddam Hussein regime.
Security has been upped on all routes from Baghdad to Karbala with numerous checkpoints set up as well.
Xinhua news agency reports stated that an earthquake at 5:32am hit villages in the Sichuan province of China on Sunday, 31 January 2010, leaving one person dead and 15 others injured. The earthquake damaged thousands of homes as well.
The epicenter of the earthquake was between Chongqing and Chengdu and caused the collapse of close to 100 houses. The United States Geological Survey records indicated that the earthquake registered a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale, and was centered at a depth of 18.6 kilometers.
Officials from the Sichuan Provincial Earthquake Administration said that the casualties were from three villages in Moxi town located close to Suining city in Eastern Sichuan.
Xinhua reports stated that 4,700 houses were damaged by the quake in Tongnan County, located next to Suining, while losses were estimated at close to 30 million Yuan, which is around $4.5 million.
Around 40 tents and 1,500 cotton-padded quilts were sent across to the disaster-hit area by the Chongqing civil affairs authority. The Sichuan Provincial Seismological Bureau said that a 30-member team was in Moxi assisting with the disaster.
Suining’s population stands at 3.8 million people and is not an earthquake-prone area, with records of only three minor tremors measuring around 2.0 over the past two decades. Sichuan Province however, is still rebuilding from the 8.0 earthquake, which hit in 2008 and killed around 70,000 people. Known as the Wenchuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan earthquake, it was felt in countries close by and even as far off as Shanghai and Beijing.