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People watch a television news screen showing a map of the epicenter of an earthquake in North Korea, at a railway station in Seoul on September 23, 2017

3.5-magnitude quake rattles N Korea near nuclear test site

Jamaica Observer:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

People watch a television news screen showing a map of the epicenter of an earthquake in North Korea, at a railway station in Seoul on September 23, 2017

People watch a television news screen showing a map of the epicenter of an earthquake in North Korea, at a railway station in Seoul on September 23, 2017.

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake which hit North Korea near the country’s nuclear test site Saturday was likely an aftershock from the hermit state’s missile test on September 3, a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts said.

Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), tweeted the quake was “unlikely Man-made! Similar to ‘collapse’ event 8.5 mins after DPRK6”, a reference to the second tremor that followed the September 3 test.

“The most probable hypothesis at present is that this is a consequence of the previous event, which was of a significant magnitude and may still have repercussions in a fracture zone,” Zerbo told AFP.

The China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC), which initially spoke of a “suspected explosion,” also said it believed Saturday’s tremor was not the result of a fresh test, Xinhua news agency reported after the China Earthquake Administration, of which CENC is a part, studied infrasonic data of the latest quake.

The CENC said the epicentre was at 41.36 degrees north latitude and 129.06 degrees east latitude, similar to another quake on September 3 after the North Korean nuclear test that day. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted the Korea Meteorological Agency (KMA) as saying “there is no possibility that this could be an artificial quake.”

The quake came after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s regime, as international alarm mounts over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck around 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from the North’s nuclear test site, where earlier this month Pyongyang detonated its sixth and largest device, which it claimed was a hydrogen bomb capable of being launched on a missile. “This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests. We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to five kilometres by the seismologist,” USGS said in a statement.

The North’s last test, on September 3, was the country’s most powerful detonation, triggering a much stronger 6.3-magnitude quake that was felt across the border in China.

– Aftershock of former test? –

A second tremor soon after that test was possibly caused by a “cave-in”, CENC said at the time. The test prompted global condemnation, leading the United Nations Security Council to unanimously adopt new sanctions that include restrictions on oil shipments.

A UN-backed monitoring group said analysts were investigating Saturday’s quake.

The strength of the quake was much lower than the tremors registered during any of North Korea’s previous nuclear tests, including its first detonation in 2006, which triggered a 4.1-magnitude quake.

Social media users in China said they “felt nothing” when Saturday’s quake hit, while Russia’s weather forecasting service said radiation levels were normal following the tremor, according to a report by the Interfax news agency.

– War of words –

The quake came at the end of a week that saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly to warn that Washington would “totally destroy” the North if America or its allies were threatened.

The North, which says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against the threat of a US invasion, responded on Friday with a rare personal rebuke from Kim, who called Trump “mentally deranged” and threatened the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history”.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans gathered in Pyongyang Saturday to applaud the regime’s stance, their fists clenched as speakers repeated Kim’s denigration of Trump as a “dotard”.

Such set-piece rallies, organised by the authorities, are a regular feature of political life in Pyongyang, and analysts say Kim is exploiting Trump’s angry commentary to reinforce his leadership.

Ri Il Ung, a 24-year-old university student who attended the rally, said: “Trump is a warmonger and a backstreet gangster.”

“It’s quite ridiculous that such a person could become a politician,” he said.

Washington announced tougher restrictions Friday aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, building on tough new UN sanctions aimed at choking Pyongyang of cash.

Russia and China have both appealed for an end to the escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.

But on the fringes of the UN meeting this week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho upped the tensions further, telling reporters Pyongyang might now consider detonating a hydrogen bomb outside its territory.

Monitoring groups estimate that the nuclear test conducted in North Korea earlier this month had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are thermonuclear weapons far more powerful than ordinary fission-based atomic bombs, and use a nuclear blast to generate the intense temperatures required for fusion to take place.

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Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories

Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories

Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories


Credit: Igor Zh./Shutterstock

Old doomsday predictions never die. They just get recycled.

Just six years after radio preacher Harold Camping promised the apocalypse, and five years after the end of the Mayan calendar was supposed to extinguish life on Earth as we know it, new doomsday predictions have arrived. This time, they come via YouTube and a man named David Meade, who claims that the first spiritual sign of the apocalypse will arrive tomorrow (Sept. 23).

Meade’s theories meld biblical prophecy with astronomy. He claims that on Sept. 23, there will be a rare alignment of the sun in the constellation Virgo — with the moon just to the east — with nine stars and three planets (Mercury, Venus and Mars) clustering around the constellation’s head, like a crown. This is supposed to be the sign foretold in the beginning of Revelation 12, which reads, in the New International Version of the Bible: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” [Doomsdays: Top 9 Real Ways the World Could End]

The date, Sept. 23, is 33 days after the total solar eclipse that crossed the United States in August. That number is meaningful to Meade because Jesus Christ is said to have been 33 when he died.

This astronomical sign, Meade said, is evidence that the end is near. In October, he said, the mysterious Planet X will pass close to Earth, which will mark the beginning of seven years of Tribulation — a period of time that some say will be full of hardships before the second coming of Christ — followed by the rapture of true believers to heaven and a millennium of peace. [Oops! 11 Failed Doomsday Predictions]

Meade’s theories echo a lot of ideas that have been floating around conspiracy and doomsday circles for years. Planet X, sometimes known as Nibiru, was supposed to have crashed into Earth during the Mayan apocalypse of 2012 or maybe in 2011, or was it 2003? The problem with this idea is that a rogue planet hurtling toward Earth just doesn’t exist. The hysteria over the mythical planet got so pitched in 2011 that NASA scientist David Morrison made a YouTube video to explain that Nibiru isn’t real, and that if a giant planetary object were zooming through the solar system, it would be easily visible from Earth and easily detectable from gravitational changes in the orbits of planets in our solar system. (Confusing matters, there is a possible “Planet X” beyond Pluto, but astronomers have not proved its existence yet. If it exists, it orbits far at the outskirts of the solar system. “Planet X” is what scientists call possible planets that have yet to be identified.)

Eclipses, too, have long been associated with the end. According to the writings of 16th-century Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, Aztecs made human sacrifices during a total solar eclipse, fearing that if they did not, the darkness would never lift. “It was thus said: ‘If the eclipse of the sun is complete, it will be dark forever! The demons of darkness will come down. They will eat men,'” de Sahagún wrote.

The Vikings, too, felt they had to do something to prevent perpetual darkness — in their mythology, a wolf named Skoll was eating the sun, and they had to make noise to scare the monstrous beast away, lest the sun vanish forever.

Total eclipses, though, are visible from someplace on Earth roughly every 18 months. The alignment of the sun in Virgo is not particularly rare, either — it happens once a year, every September. Earth’s view of the sun’s relationship to the stars simply changes as it moves through its yearly orbit. That’s why astrologers developed the concept of the 12-month zodiac.

Nor are the other stellar alignments around Virgo on the 23rd that unusual, according to EarthSky. The moon passes through every constellation of the zodiac throughout the month, so it’s regularly just east of Virgo. The crown of 12 stars upon Virgo’s head on the 23rd is an arbitrary designation, according to EarthSky, because there are more than nine stars in the constellation Leo, which is supposed to make up the stellar portion of the crown. [Monsters of the Night Sky: Strange Constellations to See in Fall]

What’s more, this exact arrangement of stars and planets has happened before, EarthSky found. In the past 1,000 years alone, it occurred in 1827, 1483, 1293 and 1056.    

Repetition doesn’t appear to faze Meade. When asked by Live Science whether the failed Planet X predictions of recent years gave him any pause in his own prognostications, he responded by email, “There’s never been a year like 2017. Read my book.”  

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that failed doomsday predictions don’t do much to forestall future “prophets.” Nineteenth-century preacher William Miller, founder of the group that would eventually become the Seventh-day Adventists, predicted doomsday in 1843, then in 1844, and died five years later, still thinking the end was nigh. Camping, who took out billboards to advertise the supposed coming apocalypse in 2011, had previously promised the end of the world in 1994. (Camping died in 2013.) In one famous 1954 case, a woman named Dorothy Martin convinced her followers that although the end of the world was coming, a UFO would drop by to save them. When nothing happened on the appointed date, Martin and her followers decided not that they’d been wrong, but that their faith had saved the world from doom. A psychologist who had infiltrated the group wrote about their reaction in the book “When Prophecy Fails” (Harper-Torchbooks, 1956).

“The real tragedy of this kind of thinking is that many people do take it seriously,” said Allen Kerkeslager, a comparative religion professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Sometimes a mythical apocalypse really does become the end of the world, at least for believers. Between A.D. 66 and 73, the Jews of Judea revolted against their Roman occupiers, Kerkeslager said, bolstered by prophecies that promised that their struggle was part of a great End Times battle and that God would rescue them at the last minute. God did not, and tens of thousands died.

“There are so many past cases showing that no amount of contrary evidence or failed prophecies will ever deter some of the people who believe that the Bible has codes about an apocalyptic end that will leave their own group triumphant,” Kerkeslager told Live Science in an email. “For such people, there is no need to negotiate or compromise in delicate international political crises and arms races, no need to work out peaceful resolutions with countries deemed somehow part of an ‘axis of evil,’ and no need for concern with environmental problems such as the impact of human-caused climate change on a planet that is going to be destroyed and recreated anyway. So all of this does have very real and very dangerous negative social implications.”

For most people, it’s easy to dismiss Meade, and certainly the idea that the world will enter its last throes tomorrow has no more to back it up than the umpteen failed predictions that came before it. But apocalyptic thinking is everywhere, said Robert Joustra, a political scientist at Redeemer University College in Ontario and co-author of the book “How to Survive the Apocalypse:Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World” ( Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2016).

Postapocalyptic shows like “The Walking Dead” or “The Leftovers” are a secular way of dealing with the same questions that the Book of Revelation would have been written to answer, Joustra said: What is the point of all this suffering? What is the meaning of life? How should we live now, in the midst of all our struggles?

The symbolism in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation would have had a very different meaning to the early, badly persecuted Christians who read it compared to people of the 21st century, Joustra said. They would have taken certain numbers, like 7, to represent perfection and completion, not as an invitation to start pulling out the calculator to predict the date of the rapture. For them, Revelation would have offered a measure of comfort, promising that their suffering under Roman rule would eventually amount to victory and eternal peace.

A more individualistic approach to the apocalypse dominates today’s pop culture, Joustra said. Ever since the invention of the atomic bomb, he said, mainstream apocalypse narratives have shifted from something that God will do to something humans will cause. The question then becomes what sort of person an individual will be once you strip away laws, institutions and social mores, he said. [Doom and Gloom: 10 Post-Apocalyptic Worlds]

It’s a concept that would have flummoxed the ancients, Joustra said. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotlebelieved that humans were defined by their relationships, institutions and communities. Stripping those things away and then asking what was left would be almost nonsensical, Joustra said.  

“It’s a much more individualistic way of thinking about human nature and the apocalypse that I think is different from anything else in human history,” he said.

Original article on Live Science

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EU disburses EC$806,000 in humanitarian aid to Dominica

TRINIDAD-POLITICS- Rowley disappointed in response to invitation extended to Dominicans

PORT OF SPAIN,Trinidad, Sep. 22, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has expressed disappointment at negative comments following an invitation extended to displaced Dominicans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Rowley, who was a guest on the local television station – TV6, on Friday morning, said he was disappointed with reports of some saying  that humanitarian gesture was a means of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), securing votes in upcoming elections.

DominicaHowever, the Prime Minister told the host of  TV6’s morning edition, that  he would not dignify that claim with a response.

Asked if he expected political backlash over his decision to ease immigration restrictions and allow Dominicans into the country, Rowley said: “No I don’t. It is my view and I believe genuinely that the vast majority of people in T&T are decent and caring people. And from that standpoint I don’t expect that, that would cause any political calamity for me and the PNM.”

Rowley said the decision is a response to a specific natural disaster for a specific period of time and for Dominicans, “to return from whence they came.”

He however added, that under the United Nations charter to which the twin island republic is a signatory, if people arrive in the country without a place to stay, they would then become wards of the State.

“There is a United Nations charter where we are signatories where such person can be viewed as a refugee and you are duty-bound not to turn them back. They will become a ward of the State…if Dominican refugees come here in any significant number we in Trinidad and Tobago have the ability to treat with it because it would be a situation we had not planned for before, the circumstances would require we put our best foot forward. But I don’t expect an overwhelming number of people to do that,” Rowley said.

During Thursday’s post cabinet press briefing, the Prime Minister said his administration will wave the immigration requirements for residents  of Dominica for a period of six months as the CARICOM member state rebuilds.

He also said places could be made available in schools across the twin island republic for Dominican children to continue their education.

“In situations like these, whatever we have available to us, we the people have always been generous are and willing to share…..for the next six months, TT will open our doors, our homes, our pots and I daresay out schools to the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica,”Rowley then said.

He said those Dominicans taking up the offer must be able to clearly identify friends or family who will be able to accommodate them.

The Prime minister  said arrangements will be made for  any citizen who has accommodation and is willing to help provide shelter .

He stressed that Dominicans who choose to come to the country, will not be classified as refugees.

From Roseau to Loubiere, a reflection of the fury of a hurricane

September 22, 2017

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sept 22, CMC – When I lived in Dominica, nearly two decades ago, it would take me at least 15 minutes to walk from the capital, Roseau, to Loubiere in the south.

On Friday, it took me nearly two hours. I had no choice. Transportation was impossible given the widespread disaster that Hurricane Maria brought to this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that was just emerging from the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika two years ago.

Maria 4
My home in Loubiere (CMC Photo)

Unofficially, the death toll from Monday’s storm that, in the words of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit “brutalised” the island, is as high as 60, depending on who you meet. But, so far, the official death toll is 28.

The figures vary because the authorities have not been able to visit some of the villages that were hit by the storm with winds in excess of 180 miles per hour. As I joined in the exodus of people making the daily walk to Loubiere and other villages such as Point Michel, Grand Bay, Bagatelle, Petite Savanne and Soufriere among others, the talk centered on many people who were killed on Monday night and have since been buried.

“There were at least 14 people that died in the storm in Point Michel,” said Vincent john, while Thomas Kentish, the former Windward Islands cricketer, described the hurricane and the aftermath as “brutal.

“It is brutal, boy Peter, it is brutal,” he said.

Another of the walkers, John Vincent, said “I am even afraid to mention the word, Maria. It is terrifying.

“In fact the wind was so strong it was actually communicating, saying something we could not understand. But it was so powerful that it was actually saying ‘get out” it was hollering and, clearly I understood what we went through”.

His remarks about the wind reminded me of an earlier conversation with Chris Rolle, who when I lived here, used to be a transcendental meditation (TM) follower.

“I was whistling, it was singing, it was, I can’t say, but it was not normal,” he said, recalling how he sat in his home, a stone throw from the official residence of President Charles Savarin.

Maria 2
Roman Catholic Church in Newtown

“I was doing nothing and just wondering, what next,” he added.

On the way to Loubiere, we are passed by some people, armed with suitcases, others pushing wheelbarrows with goods surely that were not bought from any of the stores.

It’s like an organised system. Young men armed with cutlasses make their way into the capital and even where some businesses have survived the onslaught of the hurricane, seem to think it is their duty to loot. They also did not confine their activities to businesses.

“They take our fridge, our computers, like it is theirs,” one woman bemoaned, while others were resigned to the fact that their homes would be “looted” because “you could stay on the road and see right through the house”.

As we walk towards our destination, we come across a writing on a piece of wall.

“Jesus is coming soon. Satan the dog is doomed. Mystery Babylon is doomed. To god be the glory”.

The Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, one of the villages that divide Roseau and Loubiere, is providing much more than spiritual help to the battered residents.

In front of the church, several clothes lines have appeared, as the residents take advantage of a river nearby that has changed course and made the once main road, its new path to flow.

Children run happily in the yard, oblivious to the pain and suffering that the hurricane brought upon their parents, who have also found shelter in the ground floor of the church.

Maria 3
Anchorage Hotel

The road to Loubiere has changed dramatically. Now you have to climb hills and mountains of debris and mud, galvanise, some with rusty nails still protruding, streams and rivers, which until Monday were not part of the network.

Dominica used to be green with envy. The rolling hillsides underscored the “nature isle” tag that had been placed on the island. The flora and fauna were sights to behold.

“Dominica is a desert, from green to brown in just eight hours. Transformed from lush greenery to desert brown, “said Jano Jacob, a local writer, adding “the rivers vomited wood and mud, left in basins since Erika two years ago.

“We went through a nuclear hurricane, “he added.

The hotels along the route have also suffered, and it is not likely that they will be receiving guests in any hurry. The destruction, as in other parts of the country, according to reports, is indeed intense.

Despite, the company, the walk is extremely tiring but at least I am entering the village of Loubiere, but just before I do, a friend tells me to prepare myself for the worse.

I looked to the left for divine intervention. The Roman Catholic Church, which on many Sundays brought nearly the entire village together in prayer, stood like a shell as water from the nearby river meandered across its new found route, with big boulders as its only stumbling block, albeit for mere seconds.

He was indeed right. After going through the mud and rivers to reach my home in Loubiere, where in the past, I sat in the verandah and watched the junction as traffic and people crossed each other like an international airport, each going about their respective businesses. I was stunned.

While the structure stood there, it had no windows, the roof had disappeared and my room was no longer visible.

A 32-seater bus that belonged to the Voice of Life radio station, a good half a mile away was parked neatly among the rocks that the river had brought down from the interior. My Aunt, Lucy Alexander, a retired public servant and her two daughters, who had to be rescued from the house, are now in a shelter.

“But there is hope, by the grace of God we have life, pray for us,” she said in a Whatsapp message to her daughter in the United States.

And as I started the journey back to the capital, Roseau, I reflected on the situation in other parts of the country, where efforts are now underway to try and reach villages cut off by a rampaging Hurricane Maria.

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Nordic region

Nordic countries pledge funds to assist CARICOM states affected by hurricanes


GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sep. 22, CMC  – The five countries of the Nordic region have indicated that they will render assistance through the United Nations (UN), to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states that were affected by recent hurricanes.

Nordic region
The revelation came during a meeting on Thursday with CARICOM Foreign Affairs Ministers and representatives from the Nordic region.

The countries in the Nordic region are Iceland, Finland, Denmark , Norway, and Sweden.

“I think they are offering about US$1 million through that body (the UN) and also immediately mentioned $100,000 Swiss francs to Antigua and Barbuda”, said Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.

Climate change was also a feature of the discussions between the regional blocs.

“There was a wide-ranging and extensive discussion on the impact of hurricanes, what we need to do, questions of mitigation as well as of prevention”, Greenidge said.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria brought severe destruction to the CARICOM states they passed through.

The island of Barbuda was rendered practically uninhabitable after the rage of Hurricane Irma, while Dominica was recently severely affected by Hurricane Maria.

Meanwhile, the Nordic countries sought support for their candidacy to various positions within the UN.

Denmark requested CARICOM’s support in its candidacy bid to join the Human Rights Council while Sweden thanked the Ministers for their support last year in assisting the country to join the Security Council.

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Hurricane Maria kills three in Haiti

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Sep. 22, CMC – Three people were killed on Thursday as  heavy rains stemming from the close passage of the powerful Hurricane Maria, lashed sections of Haiti.

The police report that early Thursday, a 45 year old man drowned as he attempted to cross the Grand Ravine river and two people in the district of Cornillon were killed by lightning.

imagesThe authorities reported that just over 33 shelters were opened in the Artibonite department in the western end of the country as flooding was reported in some areas.

As a precaution, the authorities announced that schools located in departments of North, North-East and North-West would be closed on Friday.

On Friday morning Hurricane Maria was approaching the Turks and Caicos islands as a Category three storm.

The Miami based national Hurricane Centre said  on the forecast track, Maria’s eye will move near or just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Friday.

The government of  The Bahamas has now issued a tropical storm warning for the country, while a hurricane warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the south eastern Bahamas.

A Tropical storm warning is in effect for sections of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and the central Bahamas.

The storm has already carved a destructive path across the Caribbean, killing at least 13 people in Puerto Rico, 15 in Dominica, where 20 are still missing and two on the French island of Guadeloupe.

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Hurricane releif aid from across the region and the world

Barbados Defence Force and fire service to assist hurricane battered Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 19, CMC –  A team of firemen from the Barbados Fire Service left the island on Tuesday for Dominica to render much needed assistance to the country that was devastated by Hurricane Maria late Monday.

Chief Fire Officer, Errol Maynard, confirmed that four teams were mobilised following an emergency meeting at the Bridgetown Fire Station on Tuesday morning and the teams will be rotated in the island over the next six weeks.

CDEMA He noted that all off duty personnel have beencalled into action to maintain numbers locally.

Maynard said the first team would include a commanding officer and six fire officers who were emergency management technicians and rescue personnel, to provide assistance to the country in those areas.

In addition, a four-man team is expected to be deployed to render assistance in Tortola  in the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

The rescue effort was being coordinated through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

Meanwhile, the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) is deploying a contingent to assist the Commonwealth of Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

This disclosure has come from the BDF’s Public Relations Officer, Captain Maria Moore, who said humanitarian assistance and disaster relief would be provided to the island.

The BDF contingent is expected to be deployed within the next 12 hours aboard the HMBS Leonard C. Banfield.

Captain Moore added that Barbadians could also provide support to Dominicans by donating bottle water, medical/first aid supplies, canned foods, baby items and general hygiene products to the BDF at St. Ann’s Fort, Garrison, St. Michael, or the Barbados Coast Guard .

She said  the items will be taken when the Coast Guard vessel sets sail with BDF and Barbados Fire Service contingents.

As part of the BDF’s mandate, support is provided to the Regional Security System, Member States, CDEMA, CARICOM and the wider region.

Meanwhile, CDEMA’s Executive Director, Ronald Jackson on Tuesday said  Barbados will be the hub for the Dominica disaster response.

During a media briefing he disclosed that  members of the Rapid Assessment team, search and rescue personnel and a communications kit will depart for Dominica on Tuesday evening along with a CDEMA team .

He added that  units will also  be deployed from St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is expected that the Coast Guard vessel will arrive by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning and it will also be taking supplies from Barbados to Dominica, which, Jackson said, had depleted its own reserves while assisting sister islands affected by Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

“Dominica, through their own solidarity with some of the affected states, would have deployed a lot of their emergency relief items to the British Virgin Islands so they are currently without adequate relief supplies,” he explained, saying that Dominica has an immediate need for supplies to begin its national response to the disaster.

Jackson said based on the geography of Dominica, the rescue and relief operations will be “extremely complex”.

He said while communication on what is happening on the ground is still very sketchy, disaster officials are anticipating a series of landslides and rockfalls all over Dominica which, he said, will make access to very difficult via road or foot.

CDEMA was, however, able to confirm, through amateur radio contact with Dominica in the early afternoon, severe damage to Marigot on the northeastern side of island. .

According to Jackson, the entire population of Dominica, some 69 – 70,000 people, would face direct or indirect impacts from the hurricane, in terms of shelter, access or relief distribution.

Late Monday  Dominica’s  Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, who had earlier reported that he had to be “rescued’ from his own residence,  said in a Whatsapp message relayed by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan that the world must know of the devastation to the island.

Skerrit, who had earlier reported that he had to be “rescued’ from his own residence,  said in a Whatsapp message relayed by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan that the world must know of the devastation to the island.

World Council of Credit Unions activates Caribbean Relief Fund


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 20, CMC – The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has activated a Caribbean Relief Fund to support credit unions that have been affected by Hurricane Irma that recently devastated sections of the Caribbean .

World Council of Credit UnionsAccording to the WOCCU, there are more than 10,000 active credit union members in Anguilla, Barbuda, Tortoal and St. Kitts Nevis – countries that felt the wrath of Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.

Unofficial estimates from the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions, a member of the World Council, indicate that approximately US$1.9 billion may be required for reconstruction in the affected countries.

“It is through these difficult times that out global community comes together to show its strength and reach beyond borders to help those in need,” said Brian Branch, the president and chief executive to WOCCU.

The WOCCU is raising funds through the Worldwide  Foundation of Credit Unions, its official gift receiving and grant making arm.

In addition to the Caribbean region, the foundation is raising funds to provide relief for those impacted by storms in the United States.

Over the past four years, the foundation has devlivered approximately US$1 million in aid to credit union organisations affected by natural disasters in the Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, Malawi and Columbia.

Caribbean mobilizes to help Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sep. 20, CMC – Member states within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are preparing to offer assistance to Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria late Monday.

According CARICOM Chairman, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada, the situation is a challenging one.

Dominica “It is clear that we have a tremendous challenge on our hands, in the Caribbean region as a whole,” said Mitchell who was responding to the effects of Hurricane Maria in Dominica, said he spoke to his colleague Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit late Monday, during the passage of the hurricane.

Mitchell who was speaking to journalists on Wednesday pleaded with Grenadians to reach out to Dominicans “we, in Grenada must recognize that we have a tremendous responsibility to help out our brothers and sisters in Dominica and all other affected countries. This is about us, the region.”

Mitchell recently returned from the Turks and Caicos and several Islands in the Bahamas that were affected by Hurricane Irma last week.

And in St. Lucia following a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, acting Prime Minister Lenard Montoute said plans were already underway to make St Lucia an operational base for the relief effort to Dominica.

“Right now our thoughts are with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the people of Dominica. Preliminary information is that we have widespread devastation in Dominica,” said Minister Montoute. “From our understanding they are facing a very critical situation and our prayers are with them, as our sister and neighbour. We have to respond and do what we can to assist our brothers and sisters in Dominica.”

He also said that communication has been made with the French and Venezuelan authorities in terms of assistance.

“St Lucia will be used as the base for relief efforts into Dominica because, as you can well appreciate, the airports are not operational; neither are the sea ports. Reconnaissance flights will have to be made to ascertain the actual situation on the ground and for immediate preparation to be made for the landing of helicopters and other aircrafts. We are looking at what assistance we can give immediately and that may entail medical assistance and sending medical personnel and people with expertise in search and rescue. We are hoping that by this evening an assessment of the situation would have been made and we can get a better appreciation of the kind of assistance that is immediately required,” Mitchell said.

With St Lucia being used as an operational base for the humanitarian effort, the Government has agreed in conjunction with the St Lucia Air and Sea Port Authority to waive fees and facilitate the use of warehouse facilities for receipt and distribution.

Meanwhile, the political leader of the  main opposition St. Lucia Labour Party Philip J. Pierre says the party has initiated a “help Dominica” drive and the party has opened its headquarters in order to receive donations.

Seven people have so far been confirmed dead as a result of Hurricane Maria’s direct hit on Dominica on Monday night., but there are fears that death toll could rise as officials get into communities that have not yet been reached.

Much of the island’s housing stock were either damaged or destroyed by Maria’s 160 mile-per-hour winds, according to Hartley Henry, principal advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

St Lucia is coordinating with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission on the response efforts.

British Government helping Guyana to distribute hurricane supplies

GEOGETOWN, Guyana, Sep. 21, CMC  – The British Government is working with Guyana in an effort to get supplies to countries in the region that have been devastated by hurricanes.

On Thursday, Minister of State Joe Harmon said the British Government through the local High Commission has indicated that it will make a C-130 military aircraft available to take supplies from Guyana to Antigua and Barbuda.

C-130 HerculesHarmon told reporters that at least 10 containers will be dispatched initially with supplies .

He said the supplies will be taken to Antigua  from where they will be distributed by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

According to Harmon, the government has also committed to sending medical and other emergency personnel to the islands.

He added that prior to Britain’s help, the private sector was considering hiring a 300 tonne capacity vessel to take the supplies.

GAICO, a privately-owned company, has already paid US$12,000 to transport one container of supplies to Antigua.

The supplies will be distributed to St Maarten, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Dominica that were all affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

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Prime Minister says Dominica needs “all the help the world can give”, left dazed

ST. JOHN’S , Antigua, Sep. 21, CMC – The Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit has issued an urgent appeal for the island, following the passage of Hurricane Maria earlier this week.

Skerrit in an emotional interview on ABS television on Thursday said the entire nation  has been impacted by the powerful storm and at least 15 people are dead and 20 others are missing .

“The entire east, the extreme south, the inner communities…the rain forest areas where the indigenous people reside…there are significant challenges,” he said.

2017-09-20-PHOTO-00000146Skerrit, who also lost the roof his home during the storm, said the “logistics of getting supplies will be critical” and he has authorised and approved a distribution strategy.

“The most immediate needs are tarpaulins, water,  and food supplies…..every village I’ve been to, they are in need of water and more water and baby supplies.”

However the Prime Minister said the resilience of Dominicans is evident even in the midst of crisis and the “community spirit is kicking in”.

“People are on the move, clearing the streets to create access to buildings. Some of them are still in shelters….. there are also many who have no place to sleep at night.”

Concerning telecommunications, the Prime Minister said experts from both Digicel and Flow have been working feverishly to restore services as there is limited cellular coverage.

Skerrit said the road to recovery will be a long one.

“It is going to be a very long a difficult journey, but I am confident that if we remain united as a people we can bounce back. It will take us sometime but as for myself I am completely committed to the country in doing what I can to  assist in raising the necessary finances and making contacts.

The Prime Minister said he will be travelling to New York on Friday to address the United Nations general Assembly.

Skerritii“I originally had no intentions of going …. But I will speak to the international community, to have meetings with UN Secretary General, to outline Dominica’s situation . So we will not leave any stone unturned. We have all been impacted and we can only make life better.”

In making reference to the health sector, the Prime Minister said patients in need of critical care at the hospital – that lost its roof, must be airlifted.

“The hospital is being run on an archaic system…..the dialysis machines are down, the ICU has been destroyed by the hurricane. That is one of our major concerns.Any country that can assist us with airlifting patients to Martinique. One patient who has to receive dialysis everyday walked over 21 miles and I met him at the hospital….another patient, if he doesn’t get airlifted, he will expire.”

Skerrit also pointed to the  need for access to resources to build more resilient countries.

“We have been playing our part but the extent of the resources required to put in the mitigation systems is beyond us…..”

In a message to  Dominicans in the Diaspora, Skerrit said the country needs them.

“If there has ever been a time that Dominica needed its people the most, it is now…..I am here to speak on behalf of the 72-thousand people who call Dominica home – everyone of us need you.”

Dominicans dazed by destruction of Hurricane Maria

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sept 21, CMC – Martin Dell is unapologetic when it comes to begging after Hurricane Maria.

“Man we need all the help we can. Man I have been crying for days, I have been looting food. I have no choice it is a hard time, not even water,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) Thursday as he and others watch as several people began looting a shop in the heart of the capital.

One other person, who did not want to be identified said that Hurricane Maria, which tore into the island as a Category 5 Storm on Monday night, has left behind, not only destroyed houses, broken bridges, uprooted trees, torn roofs, but also broken lives.

“Everything gone in Dominica I tell you. My house gone, everything go, my bank book, my car. My brother I have a child, a boy, I have to think about him,” he says, insisting that Dominica is “indeed broken”.

The hurricane tore into the island just as it was recovering from the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika that killed at least 30 people and left hundreds of millions of dollars in damages two years ago.

Maria 1
Storm damage in Roseau (CMC Photo)

From the air, the country looks like a total war zone. As the British Military helicopter hoovers over the capital on its way down to Windsor Park Stadium that was built a few years ago with tremendous funding from overseas donors, the magnitude of the damage become real.

The hills are no longer lush green, but brown and the trees that once bent gently in the afternoon breeze, are no more. Instead, tree stumps shoot out, as if begging for forgiveness. The authorities have not yet been able to make their way to other parts of the capital and on Thursday efforts were underway to try to get the road leading from the Douglas Charles airport to the capital, re-opened.

“The disaster is total,” said Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin la Rocque, a Dominican, who was among several officials on board the helicopter coming to have a first hand view of the damage caused by Maria when it hit the islands with winds of over 180 miles per hour (mph).

“I have seen some other aerial pictures taken by the Regional Security System (RSS) and not a single village, not a single area has been spared, “ La Rocque said, acknowledging too that his house did not escape the fury of the storm.

“There is not a community that has not been affected in Dominica,” he told CMC, while the executive director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), Ronald Jackson, who was also on the helicopter noted “it certainly confirming the widespread devastation.

“A lot of people have lost their roofs. We have not been getting in much supplies to help the people,” he said, adding “it is only now that you are on the ground you will understand how challenging the reconstruction will be.

“It is one of the most powerful storms to hit the Caribbean and obviously the challenges presented by the terrain of Dominica makes it that even more devastating,” Jackson said.

The former secretary general of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), Kertist Augustus, who wanted to assure his former regional and international colleagues that he had survived the storm and that the ghost of Hurricane David has again come to haunt Dominicans.

“I am more concerned as to what is happening to the membership of the Waterfront and Allied Workers Union (WAWU). We have heard about deaths but we cannot confirm whether they are associated in any way with the membership of the union”.

“But for everyone I want them to stay as strong as possible. Once you have life, you will be able to get back to where you were,” he said, hoping there will be assistance from the regional and international affiliates.

Augustus, who like several other Dominicans were carrying buckets of water to deal with the situation caused by the storm, said that it is indeed going to be difficult, because ‘some of us remember what transpired with David in 1979. Maria in 2017, is 10, 20 30 times worse and we would have to get together with the people of the country, the leadership of the country and all interested people in the country to formulate a strategy to carry us forward”.

Most, if not all of the hotels on the island, are either severely damaged or destroyed.

Marvin James, the general manager of the Fort Young Hotel that overlooked the harbour, told CMC “we have lost quite a bit of our rooms.

‘We have 51 guests on the property from all nationalities. They are still here waiting for word to get out of the country. For us that’s the main objective so that we can begin the recovery project,” she added.

The nearby Garraway Hotel did not fare any better and so too many of the Churches in the capital, including the Anglican Church that was destroyed when David struck in 1979 and the Roman Catholic Church that was being rehabilitated under a multi-million dollar project.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, whose home also failed to withstand the fury of Maria, has gone to neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda to deliver a message through the media there to the diaspora and is due to travel to the United States to address the United Nationals General Assembly (UNGA) along with his partner leader from Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Gaston Browne on international assistance to rebuild their countries.

The state-owned DBS radio, which was knocked out during the storm, has resumed broadcasting, albeit with the coverage confined mainly to the capital.

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Earth-stricken Mexico not forgotten – OECS sympathies following earthquake

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Sep 21, CMC —The Commission of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has conveyed deepest regrets to the Government and people of Mexico on the tragic loss of life and devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Mexico City on Tuesday –  the second to strike the country within the past two weeks.

OOECSThe Commission in a statement noted that it is saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life and damage to physical infrastructure caused by the earthquake.

“The people of the OECS region share the pain and suffering of the bereaved families and all others affected by this catastrophe, and join their Governments in extending to the Government and people of Mexico deepest condolences in this difficult period.”

“Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this dreadful disaster.”

Rescuers are still searching for survivors of  powerful 7.1-magnitude quake that killed more than 200 people.

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Prime Minister of Dominica declares state of emergency, BVI gives all clear

This was Wednesday

ROSEAU, Dominica, Sep. 20, CMC  – A state of emergency has been declared in Dominica following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

In a statement on Wednesday,  Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the Commonwealth of Dominica is still isolated with no means of communications and and transportation connections to the neghbouring islands.

2017-09-20-PHOTO-00000148Skerrit said the French government is sending a helicopter to the devasted  country to provide assistance and facilitate the evaluation of the situation .

The Prime Minister said with recovery now underway he has declared a state of emergency and a curfew from 4pm to 8pm daily.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, seven persons have been confirmed dead .

“It’s difficult to determine the level of fatalities but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane. That figure, the Prime Minister fears, will rise as he wades his way into the rural communities today – Wednesday,” said Hartley Henry , the Prime Minister’s principal advisor.

On Tuesday the executive director of the Barbados baed Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)  Ronald Jackson said that based on historical knowledge of Dominica and the fact that the eye of storm swept across the island from southeast to northwest, there would be “billions of dollars” in damage, with virtually every one of the estimated 70,000 population directly or indirectly impacted.

Meanwhile Governor gives all clear to essential and emergency workers

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Sep. 20, CMC – Governor of the British Virgin Islands, Augustus Jaspert on Wednesday gave an all-clear signal for essential and emergency workers to resume operations following the close passage of Hurricane Maria .

However, he urged everyone else to stay indoors, adding that debris and damage caused by Maria pose some amount of risk to residents.

PROD-DESTRUCTION-IN-BRITISH-VIRGIN-ISLANDS“The Premier and I, in consultation with the Director of The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) are satisfied that the immediate serious threat posed by Hurricane Maria to the territory is over.”

“Therefore, I am now giving the all-clear to emergency and essential workers only to help conduct the rapid assessment and to ensure that we are able to clear roadways. This means that only critical agencies should be on the roads – all other persons must still stay off the roads. There are still risks from debris and damage from Maria,” he said.

The Governor added that although Maria continues to move away from the BVI, squalls, rain and high surf will continue to affect the territory throughout the day until the hurricane moves away fully.

According to Jaspert, following assessment of the damage caused by Maria, the Government will re-establish plans to continue with the recovery efforts.

“I urge all persons of the BVI, to please adhere to the instructions being given and to ensure full cooperation. The curfew remains in place for all people apart from emergency responders. Please continue to remain indoors and allow us adequate time to complete the assessments and initiate the necessary immediate response. I will advise you later in the day when the public all-clear is given,” he said.

He offered sympathies to Dominica and the US Virgin Islands which were badly affected by Hurricane Maria and noted that he fully supports the call by the Governor of Puerto Rico to ensure individuals are fully prepared for the approaching Hurricane.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria  knocked out power to the entire island of Puerto Rico.

Head of the Diaster Management Agency, Abner Gómez said the hurricane had damaged “everything in its path”.

Maria weakened to a category three storm with winds of 115 mph (185km/h) as it moved across the island.

The National Hurricane Centre at 2:00 pm (local time) said Maria had moved offshore the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico and was moving toward the northwest near 12 miles per hour.

It said the center will then pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night  and Thursday and then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas Thursday night and Friday.

Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to remain a dangerous major hurricane through Friday.

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Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria

US ‘stands in solidarity’ with Dominica, Caribbean on ravages of Hurricane Irma

WASHINGTON, Sep. 21, CMC – The United States on Wednesday said that it “stands in solidarity with the people of Dominica and all those across the Caribbean region” affected by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria“The United States stands ready to work with you and our international partners to provide immediate disaster relief,” said US Department of States spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement.

“We are in the process of coordinating the best possible package of assistance,” she added. “The recent natural disasters underscore our interconnectedness and the importance of strong partnership with the Caribbean.”

Nauert said the Department of State has an ongoing Task Force working to determine the extent of the damages, to coordinate evacuation efforts, and to provide assistance to US citizens in the affected countries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Caribbean region,” she said.

Hurricane Maria,  the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, ravaged the island on Wednesday, knocking out all electricity, deluging towns with flashfloods and mudslides and compounding the already considerable pain of residents.

DominicaLess than two weeks ago, another powerful storm –  Hurricane Irma  dealt the island “a glancing blow,” killing at least three people and leaving nearly 70 percent of households without power.

Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico at 6 a.m (local time) on Wednesday, as a Category 4 hurricane, took out the island’s entire power grid, and only added to the woes of a commonwealth that has been groaning under the weight of an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis.

Hurricane Maria also slammed into Dominica late Tuesday.

The storm has devastated infrastructure and led to seven deaths.

NY sends police, fire fighters to help Caribbean with Hurricane Maria recovery


NEW YORK – New York City will be helping the victims of Hurricane Maria across the Caribbean by sending 27 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York  (FDNY) to assist in the recovery efforts.

fdny-harvey-rescueAccording to Mayor Bill de Blasio , 27 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) left for  Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the region assist in the recovery efforts.

The members of the NYPD and FDNY, including medics and disaster relief professionals make up the city’s Urban Search and Rescue team.

There are 28 Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue teams strategically located throughout the United States, which can also be deployed to the region within six hours of activation.

Meantime,  Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda is expected to focus the world’s attention on climate change and its effects on the Caribbean when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly Thursday evening.

Before departing Antigua on Wednesday, Browne said his primary objective is to speak about the devastation of the sister isle of Barbuda, which was ravaged by Hurricane Irma and to rally the support of the international community for the island.

“I will also be speaking to the issue of Climate Change,” Browne said. “We recognize that in some quarters they are arguing against the issue of climate change.

“We are the ones who are suffering the consequences of climate change here in the Caribbean,” he added. “I want to ensure that I am one of the major advocates on the issue of climate change.”

Browne said his intention is to work with individuals, such as former US Vice President Al Gore and others, to become “more integrally involved” in advancing the arguments in favor of climate change,” according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017