Some 30,000 people were evacuated after a wildfire broke out in California and engulfed houses and public buildings such as churches and schools in the town of Paradise.
The blaze named “Camp Fire” has burnt more than 8,000 hectares in less than 24 hours since it began on Thursday morning and continues to grow because of the dryness of the terrain and strong winds in the area, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Calfire).
No casualties have been reported yet but there are several people missing while some people have suffered serious burns, reports Efe news.
Evacuation orders were given on Thursday in the small towns of Pulga, Magalia and Concow in Butte County, as well as in the town of Paradise, with a population of about 26,000, and in the rural areas of Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley.
In the early hours of Friday, local authorities issued evacuation orders for parts of Chico, which has a population of 90,000, as flames were moving towards the city.
The area is about 140 km from state capital Sacramento and about 280 km from the San Francisco Bay area, where the smoke from the fire is visible.
The fire spread rapidly through very dry terrain, helped by strong winds of up to 80 km per hour.
Acting Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, requested the federal government for a presidential emergency declaration for physical and financial resources for the affected area.
Serious fires in California are increasingly frequent and violent, as evidenced by the fact that four of the five most destructive fires in the state’s history have occurred in the past six years, according to official records dating back to 1932.
In September, firefighters finally contained the Mendocino Complex fire, active since July and considered the largest in California’s history. (IANS)
This flamboyant nine-metre-long dhow, made from 10 tonnes of plastic waste collected from Kenyan beaches and roadsides, sailed more than 500 km from the idyllic island of Lamu to Zanzibar this year with a message to eliminate single-use plastics.
And it also reminds the global policy-makers the urgency to address and lessen the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.
The Flipflopi dhow was positioned right at the entrance of the conference venue in the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi where over 4,700 delegates from 170 countries gathered for the week-long UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.
“Marine plastic litter pollution is already affecting more than 800 marine species through ingestion, entanglement and habitat change,” UN Environment’s coral reef unit head Jerker Tamelander said.
“Waste continues to leak from land and coral reefs are at the receiving end. They also trap a lot of fishing gear as well as plastic lost from aquaculture. With the impacts of climate change on coral reef ecosystems already significant, the additional threat of plastics must be taken seriously.”
The majority of marine litter – between 60-80 per cent – is composed of plastic.
Only nine per cent of the nine billion tonnes of plastic the world has so far produced has been recycled.
The overwhelming majority of plastics – comprising drinking bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, lids and straws – are designed to be thrown away after a single use, ultimately ending up in landfills and polluting the environment.
“The first leg of the journey is over, but the journey continues,” Kenyan entrepreneur and Flipflopi project leader Dipesh Pabari told reporters here.
“When you are on the boat and you come to know that it’s made from your toothbrushes and Pet bottles. You will ask how and that is the real story,” he said.
Coming from a family of carpenters and dhow builders in Lamu, an island off the North Coast of Kenya, Ali Skanda is intimately familiar with what goes into building a dhow – a sailboat that has been used in East Africa for more than a thousand years.
On its maiden 500-km-long sojourn, supported by the UN Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, the Flipflopi stopped at towns and cities to sensitize the communities on ways to cut down use of single-use plastics.
A report, Plastics and Shallow Water Coral Reefs, released at this UN Environment Assembly, which focus on innovative solutions for environmental challenges, identifies a number of knowledge gaps that must be addressed to strengthen the scientific evidence base for action on marine plastics that impact coral reefs.
Inspired by 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, activist Rebecca Freitag, 26, a UN delegate for sustainable development from Germany, told IANS that the youth should be given participation in environment talks as they comprised 25 per cent of the global population.
Before coming to the UN summit, she collected the plastic waste from roadsides of Kenya, which introduced the world’s toughest laws on single-use plastic bags two years ago, and got her dress stitched to spotlight solutions for the growing impact of plastics on the world’s marine environment.
The Flipflopi is now ready for a voyage next month for a greater political and social awareness of the issue of plastic pollution.
“Now we want to build a 20-m long boat that is capable of sailing to South Africa and beyond,” Pabari said.
For this, $1.5 million is required.
The Flipflopi team has had to pioneer new techniques to craft the dhow’s various components.