Tuesday, March 2, 2010

360 News Briefs

Massive Problems for Quake-Battered City

CONCEPCIÓN, Chile—Fires raged as night fell across Chile's second-largest city Monday, with an exhausted all-volunteer force of firefighters pushing itself to the limit since a deadly quake struck the Andean nation nearly three days ago.

The thick, acrid stench of smoke blanketed Concepción, an industrial hub of nearly 1 million people. Despite the terror that the many aftershocks might bring more buildings down, few residents were out in the open. Army troops backed by armored military vehicles enforced a curfew from 8 p.m. Monday until noon Tuesday, a show of force designed to stop the rampant looting that gripped the city during the day.

Stores and supermarkets were frequently set ablaze after being ransacked. The firefighters have worked nearly nonstop since the 8.8-magnitude temblor struck. "Since the earthquake, this has been a new and undesirable experience for me," said Concepción fire chief Marcelo Plaza, a chemical engineer by trade. "This is the worst thing I've ever seen."

The 400-strong Concepción force has fought at least 10 major fires since the quake, and undertaken search-and-rescue missions at the more than 50 collapsed buildings. Currently, rescue work has focused on a 15-story building that tipped onto its side. The work was delicate, with rescuers cutting small holes through the jagged metal and twisted concrete in an attempt to find survivors.

So far, 723 are confirmed dead in Chile. But in Concepción, the natural disaster has become accompanied by a widespread breakdown of social order.

Police officers and soldiers seemed overwhelmed earlier in the day, chasing away looters from one area only to have an outbreak somewhere else. Typically, the thieves would return to the location only minutes after police left.

On the Web: U.S. Quake Next?

Hundreds of Family and Friends Remember and Say Goodbye to Teens in Melbourne Train Accident

  • Jennifer Reichert, 15, was interred Friday, February 26th at Fountainhead Memorial Park after a 1:30 p.m. funeral Mass at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Malabar Road in Palm Bay. Reichert was also a member of Our Lady of Grace Youth Group. She is survived by her parents, sister, brother and other relatives.
  • Ciara Lemn, 14, was remembered at a memorial service at 1 p.m. Saturday, February 27th at Calvary Chapel Church on Minton Road in Palm Bay. The family is seeking donations to help pay for Ciara's cremation. Donations can be made at a special account set up at any Suntrust Bank.
  • Wraya Hadley, 14, was remembered during a funeral Thursday, February 25 at Fountainhead Funeral Home in Palm Bay. Flowers surrounded a large photo of Wraya at the front of the room and classmates signed several posterboards with collages of photos. As the service began, a screen dropped down to show slides of Wraya and her family as music from Green Day, Flyleaf and Carrie Underwood played softly in the background.

In the words of one friend after the services, its time for teenagers to realize just how fragile life is. "We tend to think of ourselves as invincible and that this can't happen to us... so young and beautiful and all that was taken away in a second."

Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay had a memorial in the courtyard for the three students killed by a train on the night of Saturday, February 20th.

Power Back On In Much Of Northeast

Many of the more than 1 million Northeastern homes and businesses plunged into the dark by a storm were running on electricity Monday, three days after the hard-hitting combination of snow, rain and hurricane-force winds.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch called restoration efforts "the most rapid" he's ever seen after a storm. On Friday, at the height of the storm, 360,000 residential and business customers were without electricity -- more than half the state. By Monday afternoon, the number was about 40,000.

The number of power outages in New Hampshire was second only to more than 400,000 reported in a massive ice storm in December 2008. Officials said better communication among utilities themselves and with local and state government officials was an important lesson from that storm.

The utility brought in crews from Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere in New England to help, she said.

The weather was mostly calm in New Hampshire on Monday, but blustery weather temporarily increased some outages in Maine and slowed restoration efforts. By afternoon, the number was back down to about 10,000 for Central Maine Power, the state's largest utility, only about 1,000 fewer than what had been reported 12 hours earlier.

The weather played a role in a search-and-rescue operation at Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain ski resort after four snowboarders left the ski area's boundaries. More than 5 feet of snow that fell since Wednesday made it tough for both rescuers and snowboarders who spent the night on the mountain. Eventually, all four snowboarders were located.

Authorities in Massachusetts and Vermont said they had restored power to nearly all customers. New York state had the number of outages down to about 43,000 on Monday afternoon but said some of the hardest-hit areas wouldn't have power back until Tuesday or Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, in the South, snow, freezing rain and cold temperatures are heading for Georgia. There is a winter storm warning for areas north of I-20 into the north Georgia mountains. In addition, a winter weather advisory is issued for areas south of Atlanta. Snow, freezing rain and cold temperatures could make the Tuesday morning rush hour a mess.

The weather will move through Atlanta by the first part of the afternoon and by 5 p.m. everything will be gone.

GM To Recall 1.3M Compacts For Steering Problem

General Motors Co. said Monday it will recall 1.3 million Chevrolet and Pontiac compact cars sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to fix power steering motors that can fail.

The recall affects 2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2007 to 2010 Pontiac G5s, 2005 and 2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada and 2005 and 2006 Pontiac G4s sold in Mexico.

The automaker said the vehicles are still safe to drive and never lose their steering, but it may be harder to steer them when traveling under 15 mph.

AP; FloridaToday; Reuters; WSB.

No comments: