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Pyroclastic flows down Tar River and out to sea - prior to June 25

It could have been avoided

(See articles of July 4, 1997 following fatalities from Soufriere Hills volcano) Navigate to 1997 – 4th July

By Bennette Roach

Windy Hill and Streatham, Farrells etc.

In every tragic disaster like this, when people die and especially, where elapsed time is involved, certainly questions must be asked, why did it happen? Could it have been avoided? Can it happen again?

Each day the scientists deliver reports that are carefully written and delivered as we understand, after consensus opinion by those concerned. In themselves they are great and in addition, following a great sense of desire and belief that the public should be more informed and educated, the scientists, not too long ago began appearing sometimes twice a day to give MVO updates and answer a question or two from the announcer on duty at ZJB. In addition to this there have been other programs, some call-in and otherwise.

This is what former head scientist Lloyd Lynch had to say quite some while ago, attempting to initiate a more positive information program: “It is a three-way affair, the public, scientists and the managing authorities. They have to work hand in hand. As far as the public is concerned when it is time to take evasive action, the public will find it hard to do, because it involves the initiation of some kind of action that will lead to further hardship.

“So the public has to be motivated in some way to go in the same direction in which you are going. The thing that will provide the motivation is a clearer understanding of what is happening, so we need to provide the information at all times and make sure that it is not ambiguous. Sometimes even the person who is giving the message is important.”

But something was always lacking, although the scientists were always available for interview, attempts to get discussion with them on radio with other interested parties, were always ignored and their desire as well as others to have some television program that would put more clearly into the minds of the public, the relation of the volcano to the rest of the island, the serious dangers of ignoring the scientists’ explanations and warnings, have always been ignored and given very little priority.

Governor Frank Savage had this to say about the matter. “I do share the concern. I do believe that the MVO has got footage which could have made a greater impact on the community.”

Indeed it was pointed out by the Governor, that one could not force people to move away from the danger areas, and so he made references to criticisms, according to him, “for using language, which locally people thought was insensitive, because I was trying to raise the profile of the danger. The Chief Minister did say that he would consider using more than persuasion to move people.”

The Chief Minister on the other hand said: “It is true that education and information of all kinds help. I think the reason why most people went back into their homes or stayed in their homes, is because they themselves had an inward feeling that it would not occur where they were. Not that they were not aware of the danger. They felt it would not happen again, that it would happen somewhere else.

“I am not saying that if there were more pictures, more presentations, it would not have been better, sure more information would be better.”

On Monday, scientist, Dr. Angus Miller answered my question on the education and information issue saying, “Certainly it would be a great advantage if people can see what happened on Wednesday. I think it really hasn’t sunk in to people what happened and how the face of Montserrat has changed. We’ve been expressing for many months in fact, that we would like to have more routes to get information out, to try and persuade people exactly what’s going on with the volcano, and we will support any effort to improve that service.”

Pyroclastic flows down Tar River and out to sea – prior to June 25

All agree, even the Chief Minister, though to a lesser degree, agreed that more could have been done or the effect would have been different if more explicit attempts were made to convince people of the fatal dangers that existed. So how difficult would if have been, since the footage is available, to show some of this to the people with the scientists explaining and pointing things and places out periodically.

Chief Minister Bertrand Osborne debated that he will agree that not enough may have been done, but not that nothing was done. So, What’s the difference? half good is not good enough.

Could it have been that personalities got in the way? One thing it wasn’t for want of funding like some pretended, that had been taken care of. Could it have been bureaucracy, copyrights or just lack of interest. Or is it just another example of ‘don’t tell them everything’, we’ve told them enough. On two other occasions the CM could not, or would not, address the off-island evacuation plan, could not say he would publish it, or where it was, or whether it even existed other than in someone’s head. On the HMS Liverpool, the captain having called a press conference, gave insights from his end of how some things would go.

We know it was not on the part of the scientists, they did everything else. If it couldn’t get going here, who will doubt Antigua’s willingness to contribute.

There is a saying’ ‘seeing is believing’ and it does make a difference, especially when lives are at stake. Until now, it is true that there have always been warnings about the dangers, but except for National Geographic and some other TV shows, done in a way that suits their American audience. I have seen videos simulating what can happen to villages and towns, but these were private showings and although I suggested these be shown to the general public, we have never been fortunate enough. That is shameful.

There were other reasons people chose to ignore warnings, like refusing to go in shelters, but bearing in mind the suggestions made by scientist Lloyd Lynch, warnings were just not enough.

 

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20 Years June 25, 1997

20 Years June 25, 1997

A long overdue remembrance, emphasising healing and commitment

Memorial Services to remember June 25, 1997 deaths

On this Sunday, June 25, 2017 the Hon. Premier installed a committee to organize a 20th Year Remembrance ceremony of the 19 persons who died during the tragic event of volcanic activity on June 25, 1997. A plaque displaying the names of the victims, will be unveiled at the main service at the Cultural Centre and installed at the National Museum immediately after. (See Invitation to all in this Special Edition and on TMR Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/

Memorial Services and Fundwww.montserratreporter.org – July 16, 1997

Devastation in the village of Harris’

There were two memorial services held last week: one on Sunday afternoon and another on Tuesday afternoon, the day which was set aside as a national day of mourning.

Offices were officially asked to close at two o’clock on Tuesday, in honour of those persons who lost their lives or are still missing, though believed to be dead, in the tragic pyroclastic flows of Wednesday, June 25, 1997. The flows descended on villages from Streatham, Windy Hill, Harris, Farms Bethel, Spanish Pointe through Trants on the northeast and eastern end of the island, completely destroying some of them.

Both services were well attended by government dignitaries and officials, as well as family members of the dead and missing and the public in general.

Plans are being put in place to establish a fund for families of the victims of last week’s pyroclastic flow. This was put in motion with the offering that was taken up at the services.

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Home demolished by the power and volume of the flow

THE VOLCANO and DEATH

Below is the same area two weekes before

Devastation in the village of Harris’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the conditions the British Governor of Montserrat and the local Government never wanted to exist, is that they would ever have to report that lives were lost as a direct result of volcanic activity in Montserrat.

On the night of July 18, 1995, residents not far away from Soufriere Hills could hear what they later described as roaring sounds like those that come from jet planes, and it was soon realised by all that a volcano that lay in waiting at English Crater in Soufriere Hills had come alive.

Soon after from several and continuous radio broadcasts, and interviews from scientists, the Governor and the Chief Minister, his office and the offices of the Emergency Operating Centre (EOC), we were to learn that there has always been this volcano, that there have been activities at approximately 30 – 35 year intervals since the turn of this century; that there has been studies, one as recent as the mid 80s, which suggested that there will be serious activities around this time.

No attention whatever was paid to these facts and so here we were in July, less than a month under two years ago, with an erupting volcano and every resident as ignorant as ever to the dangers that this could pose for Montserrat. Since that time it has been a down hill battle, which may has not yet culminated, but which has now directly claimed the lives of at least 10 people with more almost certain to be confirmed, when the ash becomes cool enough to be cleared in some way.

Home demolished by the power and volume of the flow

June 25, 1997 will be long remembered as the worst day of the volcano (I hope), because lives were lost. And the question that is being asked, “Could this have been avoided?” Amazingly, the homes in Long Ground are still standing untouched but for the September 17 last year’s eruption. It may well be that the Tar River valley is their protection or perhaps it is early yet.

MVO Reports

The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) report for that morning read as follows: The latest earthquake swarm has just reached a peak, with 4 or 5 earthquakes occurring every minute. At the time of highest activity, the hybrid earthquakes could more accurately be described as continuous tremor. There have been several small pyroclastic flows in Mosquito Ghaut in the last hour. Observations of the dome last night showed that the top of Mosquito Ghaut is the only active area of the dome at the moment, as the focus of activity has switched from the eastern side to the north in the last few days.

Further pyroclastic flow activity is expected, and the high level of activity means that these flows could happen at any time and be larger than before. The current area of activity makes Mosquito Ghaut the most likely pathway, but further flows in Gages, Tuitt’s or Tar River are probable as well.”

The following recently became a standard part of the report: Bramble Airport remains operational, but the public are reminded that it is open only for essential travel purposes. The sirens will be tested as usual this afternoon.”

Now following is the evening report following the disaster: “An intense swarm of hybrid earthquakes began at 11 am, and rapidly escalated to repetitive events which merged into continuous tremor after 12:15 p.m. At about 1 p.m. major pyroclastic flow activity began in Mosquito Ghaut, which generated an ash cloud to over 30,000 ft within minutes. The flow traveled into Farms River to Trants Bridge. Down river of Bramble the flows fanned out into Bethel and Spanish Point almost to the sea. On the northern side Farms and Trants villages were affected, and the surge reached to Trants bridge. A total of at least 2 square kilometers of land was covered by the pyroclastic flow and surge.

The lower half of Harris village was also impacted, and an ash surge traveled from the Farrell’s area down to the west at least as far as Dyers, and into the upper reaches of Dyer’s Ghaut. There was no activity in the Gages valley during the afternoon.

During the time of the reported activities above, there were people tending their animals and gardens in the Farrell’s and surrounding areas, some of whom perished; there were people in Harris’ and areas way down to Trants, Bethel and Spanish Pointe, Bramble village etc. who were either visiting their properties or living there. Except for those properties on the perimeter of Mosquito Ghaut in Harris’, individuals were able to avoid the fury of the ash surge from the flow by moving to even higher grounds, but not those in the other areas which were all on lower ground and not far from the ghaut which became more shallow as it nears the sea.

So that just as the report above described, confirmed by the eye witness account of Roy ‘Slim’ Daley from Bramble village who was in Harris’ at the time. He said: “I saw the surges coming back up the hill from the pyroclastic flows, which moved at incredible speed down towards Farms and Trants, breaking over the walls at Brambles and rushing down towards Spanish Pointe through Bethel.”

Fatalities

Soon we were to hear the calls of the authorities for persons to advise them of persons who were known to have been in the areas for one reason another. Both the Governor and the Chief Minister appeared on radio to tell the nation about the rescue efforts that were underway, never admitting then that there might be fatalities following the activities.

But having seen the results of the forerunning pyroclastic flows, I was certain that the persons who I discovered were in their homes or in the area, had met an unfortunate end.

Other than the sketchy and well monitored reports that came from Government Information Unit (GIU) and ZJB, the rest of the local media was reduced to press conferences which were cut short and severely limited by interviewees who gave much too long answers, having been denied views from the helicopter or access to the area other than the rest of the general public was entitled to.

By the end of the following day, the admission of fatalities was announced and the count grew each day from four to ten by Monday. It was on Saturday when the CM came close to saying that there may be more dead who are still difficult to get to because of the still searing hot ash that lay deposited on the ground.

THE DISASTER

Helicopters involved in the search and rescue missions

I was finally afforded a trip to look at the damage done on Wednesday by EMAD, on a helicopter which is one of four helicopters brought in from different sources to aid the ‘search and rescue’ effort.

The trip was not like any I’ve had and did not afford me the opportunity for detail as I rode with David Brandt and 2 others, plus Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) camera man and video cameras. with another from Trinidad. It was only a 20-minute trip, far too short.

However, the devastation is much greater than I imagined. The lands (forest) between Tuitts and Mosquito Ghaut is no more. Although not filled with material the pyroclastic was extremely powerful as it left the volcano and that’s when the surge immediately went over Farrells and down Streatham and accross Windy Hill. The Farrells estate house is completely gone and so is Mandy’s garage on the corner below the grave yard. The flow went through the bottom of Windy Hill and well across and into the ghaut beyond.

Escapee

One eye witness woman who escaped and who eventually went back to collect money she left in a vehicle, found it, but had walked through Water Works, retracing her steps to get to it. She said she had to go reap the carrots, because she was under so much pressure from government to supply vegetables to shelters.

She got the money but the vehicle she had to leave. She described the flow that she saw as like “sweet oil” running down the hill, noting how the flow backed up when the heat seemed to separate from the flow.

Looking down on the Harris’ road Mosquito ghaut is next to it. The surge reached across the road to the Police Station and burnt all those houses including the Church. These were not completely demolished but nevertheless destroyed, from the Morgan’s house down the hill towards farm, then there is one mass of destruction down through Farms, Bethel, Spanish Pointe, Trants.

Since that of course more flows and reports have stated that more damage was done in Harris’. I could see the walls of some of the houses in Farms, Bramble village and Spanish Pointe, but it is obvious that truly there may be about 10 feet of material lying on the lands.

Trants village was completely demolished, hardly recognised any walls standing and it did seem such a vast area.

I saw how the flow over Farrells ran down and into the top of Belham.

I can now report that for Plymouth, we can expect worse to come along, it already looks a disaster. The flows that have been going down Gages and Fort Ghaut seemed to have damaged houses high up on the Gages corner and down the fringes of the ghaut. The Catholic convent and infant school and even the Church are now like the rest of the property in that vicinity are now in line for certain disaster as long as flows continue. At the foot of Gages mountain, the ghauts as I can remember are somewhat shallow, so that serious flows are likely to spread early over to Amersham as it has reportedly done.

I hardly had time for any detail or even good photographs as I was shooting through the helicopter sealed windows. Looking at the photographs, I do not remember where the various scenes are, and I was unable to make notes.

The helicopters are being operated from Geralds and joining them is that from the British navy ship.

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Witness Family and friends are still in thereef_3977854

London Grenfell Tower fire

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 14/06/2017. London, UK. Falling burning debris at the scene of a huge fire at Grenfell tower block in White City, London. The blaze engulfed the 27-storey building with 200 firefighters attending the scene. There were reports of people trapped in the building. Photo credit: Guilhem Baker/LNP

Ragin fire horror at Grenfell Tower: 12 dead and 18 critically ill –Emergency teams are pictured carrying bodies from the building amid reports the blaze began with an exploding fridge.

SKYNews

By Greg Heffer, News Reporter

At least 12 people have died in a huge fire on a West London estate, and officials expect the death toll will continue to rise with residents still missing and 18 people in critical care.

Firefighters were called to the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in North Kensington at 12.54am on Wednesday after the blaze broke out.

It is reported to have been sparked by an exploding fridge.

Witnesses described how they watched people jump out of the high-rise block, while a baby was dropped out of a window and caught on the street below.

‘Fire started after neighbour’s fridge exploded’

Six hospitals across the capital are treating 78 people, with 18 in critical care.

Police warned the number of dead is expected to rise during “a long and complex recovery operation” but it was too early to say whether the death toll would increase considerably. They could not put a number on those missing.

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: “Whilst we may have accessed every floor, that is not the same as a full search of the whole building.

“Sadly I don’t anticipate that there will be further survivors.”

Emergency teams have been seen carrying bodies from the remains of the building.

Image: Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno

:: LIVE: Latest developments from the Grenfell Tower fire

A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Grenfell Tower, built in 1974, contains 120 flats and is thought to have been home to between 400 and 600 people.

Friends and relatives of those missing are using social media to appeal for information about their loved ones.

More than 250 firefighters and 44 fire engines battled the blaze on Wednesday, with some sustaining “minor injuries”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comforts a local resident at St Clement’s Church in West London

A structural engineer assessed the tower’s stability but judged the building was not in danger of collapsing.

Sky News Correspondent Mark White, who is on the Latimer Road side of the tower block, reported the fire has now “for the most part died down” but “every now and again there’s still an eruption of flames from one of the window”.

He added firefighters had been “making their way systematically through flat after flat, room after room” as they search through the debris and collapsed ceilings for those unaccounted for.

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, revealed firefighters have got through “particularly arduous conditions” to reach the top floor of the tower.

Their work is expected to last into Thursday, with drones also being used to search the building.

The inferno affected every floor of the tower block, which is on the Lancaster West Estate, near the Westfield shopping centre.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton described the blaze as an “unprecedented incident”, something she had not seen in her 29 years of service.

She said the cause of the blaze was not yet known and was being investigated.

The fire has led to the closure of London Underground services between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines. The A40 is closed between Marylebone Road and the Northern Roundabout with other local roads and bus services affected.

As the fire ravaged the tower block, loud bangs could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground.

Mahad, who escaped Grenfell Tower, said the blaze began when his neighbour’s fridge exploded.

He told Sky News: “There was no alarm, there was no bell, there was no sense of urgency.

“My neighbour is the one who knocked on our door. He said it was his house where the explosion happened. He said his fridge had exploded.”

Other residents said Muslims who were awake to eat before beginning their daily Ramadan fast raised the alarm when the fire broke out.

A local residents group said its previous warnings about the tower’s safety had fallen on “deaf ears”.

In its blog post dated from November 2016, the group warned “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its single entry and exit point.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, secretary of the all-party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, said the Government has resisted calls to install sprinkler systems in high-rise blocks in the wake of the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy.

Grenfell Tower was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6m – including the installation of new exterior cladding – with the work completed in May last year.

Following the blaze, the Government announced emergency checks are to be carried out on tower blocks refurbished in the same way.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which manages the tower block, said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

It said: “We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations.

“While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents.”

Residents of the tower block have been encouraged to go to the nearby Westway Sports Centre as other relief centres reach capacity.

Sky News Senior Correspondent David Bowden, who is at one of the centres, reported a “very, very tense situation” as families wait to receive news of their loved ones.

He said: “It’s all boiling over and police now are just trying to calm it down.”

The Salvation Army and St Clements Church are urging the public to donate clothes, food and toiletries for those displaced by the fire.

On Wednesday night, dozens gathered for a vigil and to light candles outside Notting Hill Methodist Church, in the shadow of the tower.

Many were moved to tears after a moment of silence. The Rev. Mike Long said: “Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said a “great many questions” would be asked about the fire, which has been declared a “major incident”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested spending cuts to local authorities funding could have contributed to the blaze as he claimed “searching questions” would come from the tragedy.

Prime Minister Theresa May said there will be a “proper investigation”, adding “If there are any lessons to be learned they will be, and action will be taken.”

Visit the site www.themontserratreporter.com or our Facebook page: The Montserrat Reporter for more and up to date

:: Anyone concerned for loved ones can call an emergency hotline on 0800 0961 233.

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tower-firefighters.jpg

Grenfell Tower fire: council officials ‘yet to respond to more than 130 offers to rehouse victims’

 ‘There is no lack of volunteers or of offers to help – just lack of coordination and organisation’

The Independent Online

Kensington and Chelsea Council and the borough’s tenant management organisation have yet to respond to more than 130 offers to rehouse people who were forced to leave their homes after the Grenfell Tower fire, according to a volunteer helping the relief efforts.

Michal Nachmany offered to host six victims and compiled a list of people willing to put up dispossessed families. 

But after submitting the details to both the council and its tenant management organisation, the London School of Economics researcher said that neither had replied to her offers to help those displaced by the fire, which claimed the lives of at least 58 people.  

“I know that the emails were received (verified by phone), but I don’t know if any action has been taken,” Ms Nachmany told The Guardian.

“Hearing that people are still sleeping on the floor, rather than at least spending the first few days with host families is heartbreaking and outrageous. For example, I offered to host six people. 

“Never heard from anyone, and I doubt if any matchmaking was done between the local offers and the people in need. 

“There is no lack of volunteers or of offers to help – just lack of coordination and organisation.”

Ms Nachmany said she has no idea if any of the offers have been sent on to displaced residents in north Kensington – but council officials insist “all residents of Grenfell Tower who have requested help have been placed in hotels”.

 “We are now looking to source interim accommodation for those Grenfell Tower residents and also trying to assist, where possible, elderly and vulnerable residents from surrounding areas who have been unable to return to their homes due to the safety cordon,” they said in a statement. 

“We plan to house residents of Grenfell Tower as locally as we can.  But we may well need help from our close neighbours. We want to rehouse people in a good home as quickly as we can. The Council is committed to looking after the immediate and longer-term housing needs of all those affected by the fire.”

Residents complained two years ago about the refurbishment of the building being done “using cheap materials” and workmanship that “cut corners”, they told The Independent.

They later claimed that Conservative-led council, owner of the building consumed by fire on Wednesday, had done nothing to address their concerns.

Numerous survivors of the inferno have claimed the exterior cladding – said to be a cheaper and more flammable than another available option to the supplier – was linked to the way the fire spread so rapidly up the outside of the tower.

Minutes from an emergency residents’ meeting held on 17 March 2015 show that more than 100 people living in the block produced a long list of issues about the refurbishment.

Problems raised by residents included “grave concerns at standard of works inside a number of residents’ properties”

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sky-news-logo

Huge fire engulfs west London Grenfell Tower block

Families try to find one another as a number of fatalities is confirmed and firefighters try to rescue those who remain trapped.

 
Full story: Huge fire started nearly 12 hours or so ago – engulfs Grenfell Tower block – Sky story
By Sunita Patel-Carstairs and Aubrey Allegretti, News Reporters

At least six people have been killed – and others remain trapped – in a large fire on a west London estate being battled by more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines.

Hundreds of residents in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower have been evacuated from their flats in the burning building, and at least 70 people have been taken to five hospitals in the capital for treatment.

Witnesses described hearing screams, watching people jump out of the high-rise block and a baby being dropped out of a window and caught on the street below.

Fire at a tower block in Latimer Road
Image: Debris fell from the tower as it was engulfed by a huge inferno

Others told of seeing people shouting and waving from the windows for help, and residents shining torches from within as the inferno erupted in the dead of night.

Mahad, who escaped the fire-ravaged block, said the blaze began when his neighbour’s fridge exploded.

He told Sky News: “There was no alarm, there was no bell, there was no sense of urgency.

“My neighbour is the one who knocked on our door. He said it as his house where the explosion happened. He said his fridge had exploded.”

A structural engineer assessed the tower’s stability but judged the building was not in danger of collapsing.

Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy said: “I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days.”

:: LIVE: Fire service chief confirms fatalities

Footage on social media showed the tower block engulfed in fire, with huge flames stretching over several floors.

The fire brigade said the fire had spread throughout the entire building, now covered in plumes of smoke with visible pockets of fire within the charred structure.

Mini explosions could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton described it as an “unprecedented incident”, something she had not seen in her 29 years of service.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known, but is being investigated, she added.

Firefighters have managed to reach the 20th floor as they continue searching for remaining survivors.

Any residents unaccounted for who escaped are being urged to contact the emergency services to reassure concerned loves ones.

Reporting from the scene in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, Sky News producer Dan Cairns said residents had been told that if they received calls for help from people inside, to tell them they needed to try and “self-evacuate”.

He said they had been told “to put a cloth over their mouths and try to get out by themselves”.

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene, said he feared the block could collapse.

He said: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.

“People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they’ve got to help, out to the cordon. I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes – it’s just very distressing.”

Witness Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save a baby by dropping it from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor”.

She said: “The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby.

“Somebody did, a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby.”

London Ambulance said it had sent a “number of resources” to the scene, including its Hazardous Area Response Team, after the fire was first reported at 12.54am.

It also confirmed 20 people are currently in critical care.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is visiting the site, said “a lot of people” were unaccounted for and that of the 120 flats in Grenfell Tower, many had four-bedrooms.

He added that questions needed to be answered in relation to the blaze.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened” by the “tragic loss of life” and has called a cross-party meeting.

Joanna O’Connor, a local resident, told Sky News: “At about 2am I was woken up by screaming, sirens and helicopters. We came outside and were confronted with the building that was completely engulfed in flames.

“It was a real shock and there were hundreds of people lining the streets, we could still hear screaming from the building and people were milling around in shock, crying.

“One of our neighbours, her sister, husband and children were in the building, it was their neighbours’ flat that caught fire. So it’s very close to us, we’ve got neighbours whose families are in that building.”

Celeste Thomas lives across the road from the tower and said residents and families were “trying to find each other” following the evacuation.

She said: “Police have moved everyone back out of direct sight but I can hear cracking and debris falling.”

The tower block – which was refurbished internally and externally last year – is situated on the Lancaster West Estate, between Latimer Road Underground station and Westfield’s White City shopping centre.

Transport for London said there was no service between Hammersmith and Edgware Road on the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines, while the police said the A40 was closed in both directions, owing to the fire.

Nick Paget-Brown, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said several hundred people will have been in the tower when the fire broke out.

He said emergency centres have been set up for evacuated residents, and that the council is “providing as much support as we can”.

“Emergency services have set up a big cordon around the area, it’s quite hard to get accurate information but the council will be doing all it can.”

Grenfell Action Group said its warnings about safety fell on “deaf ears”.

In its blog post dated from November 2016, the group warned “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its one entry and exit and concerns about evacuation procedures.

Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, said the Government has resisted calls to install sprinkler systems in high-rise blocks in the wake of the 2009 Lakanal House tragedy.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who was a firefighter for 20 years, added: “There’s obviously a huge number of questions going to have to be asked about what happened.

“It’s a bit early to start pointing fingers, I would have thought.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the public to donate clothes, food and toiletries at St Clements Church for families displaced by the fire.

:: Anyone concerned for loved ones can call an emergency hotline on 0800 0961 233.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May Reshuffles Cabinet Amid Calls for Her to Step Down

Time
by  Jill Lawless / AP

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks after returning from Buckingham Palace outside 10 Downing Street on June 9, 2017 in London, England © Karwai Tang—Getty Images

(LONDON) – Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed ministers to her shaky government Sunday, as some Conservative colleagues rallied to support her – and others said her days were numbered after last week’s disastrous election.

May is seeking a deal with a Northern Irish party to prop up the Conservative minority government, and lawmakers said the rebuff from voters meant the government would have to abandon planned policies and re-think its strategy for European Union exit talks.

A stream of senior lawmakers entered her office at 10 Downing St. on Sunday afternoon, to learn what roles they had been given in government.

May’s weakened position in the party rules out big changes to the Cabinet lineup. Downing St. has already said that the most senior ministers – including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd – will keep their jobs.

As rumors swirled about plots to oust May, Johnson denied he was planning a leadership challenge. He tweeted that an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper headlined “Boris set to launch bid to be PM as May clings on” was “tripe.”

“I am backing Theresa May. Let’s get on with the job,” he said.

The Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in Thursday’s election – a vote May called in a bid to strengthen her mandate ahead of exit talks with the EU. Instead, she has left Britain’s government ranks in disarray, days before the divorce negotiations are due to start on June 19.

May’s party won 318 seats, 12 fewer than it had before the snap election, and eight short of the 326 needed for an outright majority. Labour surpassed expectations by winning 262.

Former Treasury chief George Osborne – who was fired by May last year – called May a “dead woman walking,” and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to contest another election at any time.

Many senior Conservatives say May should stay, for now, to provide stability. But few believe she can hang on for more than a few months.

“I think her position is, in the long term, untenable,” Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry told Sky News.

But Graham Brady, who chairs the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative lawmakers, said a “self-indulgent” party leadership campaign would only cause more uncertainty.

He acknowledged that the government would be unable to get many of the measures promised in its election platform through Parliament.

May called the election to win explicit backing for her stance on Brexit, which involves leaving the EU’s single market and imposing restrictions on immigration while trying to negotiate free trade deal with the bloc. Some say her failure means the government must now take a more flexible approach to the divorce, potentially softening the exit terms.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who took the party from one Scottish seat to 13, said there would now have to be “consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”

To stay in power, the Conservatives are seeking support from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. May’s office said Saturday principles of an agreement had been reached, but the two sides later clarified that they are still talking.

“We have made good progress but the discussions continue,” DUP leader Arlene Foster said.

Downing Street said it hopes to finalize the deal next week, after Parliament resumes sitting.

The two sides are looking to form a “confidence and supply” arrangement. That means the DUP would back the government on confidence motions and budget votes, but it’s not a coalition government or a broader pact.

The alliance makes some modernizing Conservatives uneasy. The DUP is a socially conservative group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and had links to Protestant paramilitary groups during Ireland’s sectarian “Troubles.”

Conservative lawmaker Nicky Morgan told ITV that she could support a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP, but any closer deal would be “a step too far.”

A deal between the government and the DUP could also unsettle the precarious balance between Northern Ireland’s British loyalist and Irish nationalist parties, whose power-sharing administration in Belfast collapsed earlier this year.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny tweeted Sunday that he had spoken with May “and indicated my concern that nothing should happen to put (the Good Friday Agreement) at risk.”

The 1998 Good Friday agreement set up power sharing in Northern Ireland, largely ending years of sectarian violence.

The British government doesn’t have long to ink a deal. It is due to present its platform for the next session in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on June 19. The speech will be followed by several days of debate and a vote. By tradition, defeat on a Queen’s Speech vote topples the government.

Corbyn said Labour would try to amend the Queen’s Speech to include its own commitments to end austerity and boost public spending. Without the amendments, he said Labour would try to vote down the speech.

“I don’t think Theresa May and this government have any credibility,” Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror, predicting that there could be another election within months.

“I can still be prime minister,” Corbyn said. “This is still on.”

See Corbin “I can still be prime minister.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/jeremy-corbyn-insists-he-can-still-be-pm-and-vows-to-fight-theresa-may-all-the-way-a3562121.html

 

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PM May loses Parliamentary majority in election gamble

PM May loses Parliamentary majority in election gamble

LONDON  Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May gambled in calling a national election, thinking she could cruise to a big win. 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

She appeared early Friday morning looking shaken, chastened and beaten — odd for somebody whose party won more seats than any other, perhaps, but as CBS News’ Mark Phillips reports, the way British politics works, her party’s narrow victory amounted to an effective defeat: She lost her majority in Parliament.

Pressure mounted on her to resign, but she refused — at least for now. Instead,  May visited Queen Elizabeth II and informed her that she would seek to form a coalition government with a much smaller party from Northern Ireland

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Theresa May says she will seek coalition after bruising election

The stunning result throws British politics into chaos and could send Britain’s negotiations to leave the European Union — due to start June 19 — into disarray. The British pound lost more than 2 cents against the dollar in initial trading as results became clear.

Without a majority in Parliament, May’s authority is greatly eroded and her Conservative Party will struggle to push through its vision of a “hard Brexit”; one that would see Britain unbound from the key tenets of the EU which require, among other things, a free flow of goods and people across state borders. May’s vision of Brexit calls for tariffs on EU goods imported into Britain.

In spite of the dramatic losses for the Conservatives, they remained the party with the most votes, and May made it clear she was not abandoning her post. She said she would form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. Cutting a deal with the DUP could allow May to remain in the Prime Minister’s office, albeit with a far weaker mandate.

She insisted, in a statement announcing the effort to form a coaltion with the DUP, that Brexit negotiations would begin as scheduled on June 19 as previously expected.

The Democratic Unionists will only support a Conservative government if Northern Ireland is not granted any unique special status that would keep the region halfway inside the EU, the party’s leader at Westminster has confirmed.

Nigel Dodds, who was re-elected in his North Belfast seat, said the DUP would insist there would be no post-Brexit deal that could decouple Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

It will be one of the DUP’s key preconditions in negotiations with the Tories to help them form a new administration.

With one eye on the Brexit negotiations, which begin within the next 10 to 11 days, Dodds said: “There are special circumstances in Northern Ireland and we will try to make sure these are recognised.

“As regards demands for special status within the European Union, no. Because that would create tariffs and barriers between Northern Ireland and our single biggest market which is the rest of the United Kingdom.

“While we will focus on the special circumstances, geography and certain industries of Northern Ireland, we will be pressing that home very strongly. Special status however within the European Union is a nonsense. Dublin doesn’t support it.

“Brussels doesn’t support it. The member states of the EU would never dream of it because it would open the door to a Pandora’s box of independence movements of all sorts. The only people who mentioned this are Sinn Féin.”

The DUP won 10 of the 18 Northern Ireland seats with Sinn Féin winning seven and the remaining seat in North Down still in the hands of the Independent Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon.

Who will “win” Brexit: the U.K. or Europe?

May vowed to form, “a government that can provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country. This government will guide the country through the crucial Brexit talks that begin in just 10 days and to deliver on the will of the British people by taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union.” 

 

In the end, any coalition government May manages to pull together could be so weak that another national election is called — possibly even this year

Total seats won

Con                 Lab                        LD                         SNP                     DUP       10 (+2)

318                  262                       12                    35                    Others 12

(-13)                 (+32)              (+3)                 (-19)                Green 1 (0)

Ukip 0

Gains and losses

  • Con -13
  • Lab +32
  • SNP -19
  • LD +3
  • UKIP 0
  • Green 0

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Late budget gets DFID  increased support

Late budget gets DFID increased support

Enabling public service increased salary

Premier Donaldson Romeo

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Premier Donaldson Romeo, who also carries the portfolio of Minister of Finance presented an EC$159.52 million fiscal package to the National Assembly while announcing a three to 10.4 per cent wage increase for government employees among other fiscal measures.

The debate on the budget will begin on Wednesday, June 14, and the Finance Minister/Premier told legislators today that the recurrent budget estimate is EC$128.3 million.

That sum represents a 0.97 percent increase over 2016-17 on the expectation that GoM will raise EC$50.38 million locally. Budget Support from DFID (Department for International Development) will contribute EC$78 million, 61 per cent.”

The budget support approved by the United Kingdom government is £22.9 million which is an increase of £2.3 million on last year’s settlement of £20.6 million and will enable all government employees, back pay from April 1, 2017, to previously mentioned increase in addition to increases for certain categories of workers. “This will be at a total cost of $1.54 million,’ the premier said.

Among some incentives aimed at assisting people wishing to return to Montserrat, he revealed this as an effort to further complement the current home construction initiatives, and to assist in getting completed homes to full use and occupancy. The government will, therefore, reduce the import taxes on furnishings and household appliances such as white goods and TVs for every person.

He said Cabinet has approved for a period of two years from the 1st August 2017 the suspension of Import Duty rates on the importation of various goods including furniture, fridges, freezers and dryers, washing machines and cookers among other items.

He said Cabinet has approved the reduction from US$300,000 to US$200,000 for the qualifying property value under the Customs Duties and Consumption Tax (Property Developers) (Homes Built for Sale or Rental) (Exemption) Order.

“The Government of Montserrat is extending the Duty Free concession on the importation of building materials and furnishing, for homes that are to be built for the purpose of for sale or rental for a period of two years from 1st July 2017,” Romeo said, adding “this will lead to an increase in the island’s housing stock and in this case ensure that there are adequate numbers of properties that are available to rent or for sale”.

He told legislators that for 2017/18, the capital programme estimate is EC$31.14 million based on approximately 56 percent funding from DFID, 37 percent from the European Union and 7.15 percent from other funding partners.

He said the major projects in the capital programme include: EC$1.03 million for the completion of the ZJB Building to house the state-owned radio station, with EC$1.2 million to be spent on roads and bridges and EC$0.63 million for geothermal exploration.

“Under the Montserrat Priority Infrastructure Needs Project, we are also using nearly five million dollars to fund five overdue and prioritised projects.”

See more detail from De Ole Dawg – Is 2-month late budget worth the wait?

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5 ways to test your computer’s security – USA TODAY special

USA Today columnist Kim Komando guides you on how to test your computer’s security.

The moment you log onto the internet, your computer starts its game of Russian Roulette. I know that sounds bleak and frightening, but it’s true. Your personal data stored on the hard drive is a magnet for hackers and cyber-criminals, and they will stop at nothing to break into your system.

These attacks are often overt and frightening. Virtual bandits have committed wave after wave of digital crimes. They have extorted untold Bitcoin dollars from regular users desperate to decrypt their files.

Tip in a Tip: Just a few weeks ago, ransomware affected some 200,000 Windows computers all over the world. Learn how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

So how do you know if the security you set up on your computer really works?

Hackers use many different methods to invade your computer, so you’ll want to approach the problem from several angles. Think of it like a rancher leaning on the fence to make sure it’s still sturdy. Here are some ways to keep that fence from falling over.

1. Test your settings

The first tool in your arsenal is Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer. This free tool examines your Windows and Office settings for any potential problems, especially contamination.

First, MBSA will test your user account passwords and let you know if any account has a weak or disabled password, which is easy prey for hackers.

MBSA will also check many of your account settings. Is your computer set up to get automatic updates? Do you have more than one administrator account on the computer? This software will check all of that information for you.

MBSA also has guides to what settings are preferred and why. Just click the “What was scanned” or “Result details” links to read them.

Also, pay attention to your shared folders. MBSA will show you folders set up for sharing. You may have opened up some private folders in the past, so anyone on your network can access files in these folders. Make sure you’re only sharing what you meant to share, and with whom. Learn more about MBSA and download this free tool.

Related:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Keep your browser updated. Only the latest, safest version will help protect you from infections and attacks.

But an up-to-date browser is just the beginning. You need to make sure your browser plug-ins are up to date, as well. Just like an old browser, an outdated plug-in leaves your browser and your computer vulnerable.

Open up the browsers on your computer, even the ones that you don’t use, and go to Mozilla’s Plugin checker. It will show you every plug-in installed on the browser and whether it’s up to date. Even though it’s the same company that makes Firefox, the Plugin checker works for Internet Explorer, Chrome, and other browsers.

If you want to remove any plug-ins or toolbars you find, follow the instructions I provide here.

3. Test your firewall

One of the most fundamental security setups is a firewall. Windows and Mac have decent firewalls built in, and many third-party security programs include them.

A firewall keeps hackers from seeing your computer online when they’re searching for victims. Even if they know where your computer is, the firewall keeps them out.

But they’re not perfect. A wrong port setting can send up a flare, revealing your computer or giving hackers an opportunity to slip past. If you have a virus, it might have changed your settings without you even knowing.

A port test service like PortTest scans your firewall to make sure your computer is invisible. If it can see you, so can the hackers. Click here to test your computer’s firewall.

4. Permanently delete files

Newsflash: Deleting your files doesn’t actually remove them. They can still hang around your hard drive for days or weeks. Anyone who knows what they’re doing can recover them.

That’s why it’s a good idea to permanently delete any sensitive files that you no longer need. Here are step-by-step instructions.

But even then, you don’t want to just dust your hands and assume the files are gone. To confirm they’ve been deleted, fire up a file-recovery program like Recuva and see what it can even find on your system.

If it doesn’t find the files you permanently deleted, you’re in good shape.

5. Check your Facebook settings

Your computer isn’t the only place you store information. Facebook is packed with personal data that a scammer would love to mine.

That’s why they invented the “View As” tool. It shows you what your profile looks like to the public or specific people. If any of your information has the wrong settings, you’ll be able to spot it immediately.

Go to Facebook and open Settings >> Timeline and Tagging. Next, go to “Who can see my things on my Timeline” and click “View As.”

Consider this the “au naturel” setting of Facebook. You’ll see exactly what your profile looks like to strangers. Click through your Timeline, About, Photos, Friends, and other sections, and see whether vulnerable tidbits have slipped through.

Remember, you can edit every single thing in your profile. To the right of each item, you’ll find an icon with an upside-down triangle. Click this to choose who can see the information. It’s a shortcut that will save you a lot of headaches down the line.

There are plenty more settings you can use to change your Facebook privacy. Click here for a full walk-through of Facebook’s privacy settings and how they work.

How else can you keep your computer secure from trespassers? Be sure to listen or download my podcasts, or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

MORE KIM KOMANDO:

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