Emergency officials ordered an additional 20,000 people to evacuate their homes in Kelowna, British Columbia, on Friday as a wildfire moved closer to the prosperous vacation city. \nThe additional evacuation meant that 30,000 people, or nearly one-third of Kelowna's population, had been ordered from their homes, said Bruce Smith, a local emergency operations official. \nMassive flames could be seen near the western Canadian city, as the 17,000-hectare fire raged, casting an eerie orange glow into the sky. \n"I've lived here all my life, and I can't believe this," said Debbie Curylo, 44, who was watching the fires from a distance, saying they had spread to an area where her two sisters live. \n"It's all up to God now." \nWinds picked up late in the day, pushing the fire past containment lines that crews had struggled to build for several days. A similar situation happened on Thursday evening, prompting the first evacuations. \nA thick pall of smoke had hung over the city of 96,000 throughout Friday, shrouding the mountains. Blackened pine needles and bits of ash floated down like gray snow flurries. \nNo deaths or injuries were reported, but 15 homes were damaged or destroyed by the flames. Witnesses told local media that they had seen additional homes being destroyed by the flames. \nMany of those who fled were told they had only minutes to leave by police who went from door to door as danger mounted. \nThe fire outside Kelowna, in the Okanagan region about 300km east of Vancouver, began on Aug. 16 with a lightning strike in the mountains. \nThe region is home to Western Canada's wine industry, and the fire has forced the closure of at least one winery. \nEven before the evacuations in Kelowna, as many as 2,000 people in the southern interior of Canada's westernmost province were forced from their homes by several large forest fires. \nThe mountainous area has had scant rainfall this summer, creating one of the most devastating fire seasons in decades. \nAfter viewing the blaze by air, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell said it "seemed endless." \nSince April 1, more than 1,600 sq2 of forest have burned in British Columbia, which has declared a state of emergency. More than 800 fires were burning across the province. \nResidents have been warned to stay out of forests and off wilderness roads and campsites in the southern half of the province, which is Canada's third largest and roughly the size of France and Germany combined. \nDry conditions have forced most southern timber companies to withdraw logging crews, and workers will not be able to return until there is significant rain -- a factor that has driven lumber prices up on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
SECRET AGREEMENT: China is paying for construction at Ream Naval Base, where dredging would be needed if larger military ships were to dock there, AMTI said Dredgers have been spotted off Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where China is funding construction work and deeper port facilities would be necessary for the docking of larger military ships, a US think tank said on Friday. The US, which has sought to push back against Beijing’s extensive territorial claims and military expansion in the South China Sea, reiterated its “serious concerns” about China’s construction and military presence at Ream. “These developments threaten US and partner interests, regional security and Cambodia’s sovereignty,” a US Department of State spokesperson said. The report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said the
France is to relax some COVID-19 restrictions from early next month in a bet that an outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 would recede thanks to faster inoculations and plans to shut the unvaccinated out of most social activities. The French government is to lift the obligation to work from home at least three days a week from Feb. 2, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday. It would also remove a requirement to wear a mask outdoors, and scrap attendance limits for sports arenas and cultural venues, Castex said. Infections with the Delta variant are “clearly receding,” while the
‘PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE’: Authorities asked anyone who bought a hamster after Dec. 22 to hand it over after hamsters at a shop tested positive for the Delta variant Hong Kong’s government yesterday faced outrage over its decision to cull hundreds of small animals after hamsters in a store tested positive for COVID-19. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a staunch “zero COVID” policy, stamping out the merest trace of the virus with contact tracing, mass testing, strict quarantines and prolonged social distancing rules. Its latest measures target hamsters and other small mammals — including chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs, which authorities on Tuesday said would be culled as a “precautionary measure.” The drastic move came after hamsters sold at the Little Boss pet shop tested positive for the Delta variant of
A huge designer property in Beijing and millions of dollars hidden in seafood boxes — a state television series on China’s anti-graft campaign is captivating viewers and lifting the lid on officials brought down on graft charges. A staggering number of Chinese Communist Party cadres have been caught up in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) anti-corruption drive in the past few years, which critics say has also served as a way to remove political enemies since he came to power in 2013. The ongoing five-part series aired by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) shows televised confessions by officials accused of corruption,