TIME Japan

Recovery of Bodies Under Way at Japanese Volcano

Japan Volcano
Rescue workers carry a climber recovered from Mount Ontake into an ambulance in Kiso, in central Japan, on Sept. 28, 2014 Kyodo News—AP

At least 31 people are believed to have died

(TOKYO)— Military and other rescue workers began airlifting more than two dozen bodies from the ash-blanketed peak of a Japanese volcano on Monday morning, as family members of the missing waited at a nearby elementary school.

At least 31 people are believed to have died. Four victims were flown down Sunday, and rescuers returned to 3,067-meter (10,062-foot) Mt. Ontake on Monday morning to recover the remaining 27.

Scenes broadcast live on Japanese TV station TBS showed soldiers carrying yellow body bags one-by-one to a camouflage military helicopter that had landed in a relatively wide-open area of the now bleak landscape, its rotors still spinning.

The first bodies were flown to a nearby athletic field, its green grass and surrounding forested hills contrasting with Mt. Ontake’s ash-gray peak in the background, a reduced plume still emerging from its crater.

There, they were transferred to white police vans, while two dozen officers struggled to hold up long blue tarps under the spinning rotors, blocking the view from the media.

The four brought down Sunday have been confirmed dead, said Takehiko Furukoshi, a Nagano prefecture crisis-management official.

The 27 others are listed as having heart and lung failure, the customary way for Japanese authorities to describe a body until police doctors can examine it.

Saturday’s eruption was the first fatal one in modern times at Mount Ontake, a popular climbing destination 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Tokyo on the main Japanese island of Honshu. A similar eruption occurred in 1979, but no one died.

Japanese media reported that some of the bodies were found in a lodge near the summit and that others were buried in ash up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) deep. Police said only two of the four confirmed dead had been identified. Both were men, ages 23 and 45.

Mount Ontake erupted shortly before noon at perhaps the worst possible time, with at least 250 people taking advantage of a beautiful fall Saturday to go for a hike. The blast spewed large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky, blotted out the midday sun and blanketed the surrounding area in ash.

Hundreds were initially trapped on the slopes, though most made their way down by Saturday night.

About 40 people who were stranded overnight came down on Sunday. Many were injured, and some had to be rescued by helicopters or carried down on stretchers. By nightfall, all the injured had been brought down, officials said.

Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency tallied 37 injured people and said it was trying to update the number still missing.

Furukoshi said rescuers gave priority to helping the survivors come down, leaving behind those who were obviously without hope.

Survivors told Japanese media that they were pelted by rocks. One man said he and others went into the basement of a lodge, fearing that the rocks would penetrate the roof. He covered himself with a futon, a thin Japanese mattress, for protection.

“Even small eruptions can cause major damage if people are around, as they get hit by rocks that come flying,” Nagoya University volcanologist Koshun Yamaoka said at a news conference Sunday.

Volcanoes can also kill by spewing toxic gases and lung-choking ash.

Shinichi Shimohara, who works at a shrine at the foot of the mountain, said he was on his way up Saturday morning when he heard a loud noise that sounded like strong winds followed by “thunder” as the volcano erupted.

TIME India

Floods Have Killed 73 in India’s Northeast

People use cycle rickshaws to commute through a flooded road after heavy rains in Guwahati
People use rickshaws to commute through a flooded road after heavy rains in the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati on Sept. 23, 2014 Utpal Baruah—Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes

Around 73 people have been killed in India’s northeast, after flash floods and landslides hit two states in the region.

A senior government official in Meghalaya told the Associated Press on Wednesday that 35 bodies had been recovered over the past two days with 15 people still missing. Police in neighboring Assam said the floods had claimed 38 lives there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes in both states mere weeks after flash floods in Kashmir killed over 400 people, about half of them in Pakistan. Local news channel NDTV reported that the army and disaster-response forces have been evacuating people, with authorities setting up 162 relief camps in the worst-affected areas.

The Assam-Meghalaya floods have so far not seen the kind of backlash against alleged government inaction that marked the Kashmir floods.

“We are taking all relief and rescue measures in the flood-hit districts,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

TIME India

Kashmir Floods Hampered Emergency Services, Says Chief Minister

Jammu And Kashmir Flood
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah arrives at the airport to inspect the rescue and relief operations following flooding on September 9, 2014 in Srinagar, India. Nitin Kanotra —Hindustan Times / Getty Images

State leader cites lack of communication lines and submerging of infrastructure as reasons why government couldn't respond

Responding to widespread public anger at his government’s handling of the recent Kashmir floods, chief minister Omar Abdullah said floodwaters paralyzed emergency services.

“My government couldn’t respond in the first 24 hours as we didn’t have a government,” Abdullah said in an interview with Indian news channel NDTV. “My secretariat, the police headquarters, the control room, fire services, hospitals, all the infrastructure was underwater,” he said, adding that he was only now able to get in touch with his ministers.

The New York Times had earlier reported widespread anger against the government as the floodwaters receded, with multiple instances of attacks on rescue services being reported.

More than 200 people have been killed over the past week in the worst floods the Kashmir region has seen in five decades, with an equal number perishing in neighboring parts of Pakistan. The Indian army and disaster response forces have collectively transported nearly 100,000 people to safety, but thousands more remain stranded on rooftops waiting for help.

In the state capital, Srinagar, meanwhile, people began taking advantage of receding water levels by looting abandoned homes, according to the Times of India.

More than 700,000 villagers in India and Pakistan have been forced to flee their homes as record flooding sweeps through their neighborhoods.

TIME India

Hundreds Now Dead in India, Pakistan Floods as Rescue Efforts Slammed

India's Central Water Commission in charge of issuing flood advisories has come under fire for not warning the state

Updated: 3:06 a.m. EST

The devastating floods resulting from Kashmir’s worst rains in half a century claimed more lives on Tuesday, with the total death toll now breaching 400 and local people decrying officials for failing to adequately deal with the catastrophe.

Several thousand people are still trapped on rooftops in the restive Himalayan region waiting to be rescued, reports Reuters, and local residents have criticized both the Indian and Pakistani authorities for a lackluster response to the crisis. Indian news channel NDTV reported that some rescue workers were even attacked by furious locals.

Although India’s metrological department had forecast heavy rains in Kashmir last week, the Central Water Commission in charge of issuing flood advisories apparently did not warn the local authorities.

“We were all caught off guard because there was not a single warning issued by the weather office. The flash floods took us by surprise,” an official from India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told Reuters in New Delhi on the condition of anonymity.

Mohammad Irfan Dar, a New Delhi-based independent filmmaker who originally hails from Srinagar, tells TIME that efforts to organize private relief donations have been thwarted by the authorities.

“In Delhi, most of us are focused on raising awareness, organizing relief and gathering supplies,” he said. “The biggest challenge we are facing is the lack of communication from the state.”

Dar’s says he knows of between 300 and 500 relief volunteers across the Indian capital, some of whom have been dispatched to Kashmir to coordinate efforts there. Air India has offered to take essential supplies for free but only has limited capacity. “Drinking water, especially, is a huge problem right now,” he adds.

India’s armed forces and the NDRF have commissioned 61 aircraft and helicopters along with 170 boats, 40 of which were flown to the affected area on Tuesday. Across the border, the Pakistani army and navy have 12 helicopters and more than 250 boats performing rescue and relief operations, according to local newspaper Dawn.

At least 217 Indians have been killed and more than 47,000 evacuated, say officials, while the Pakistani authorities report at least 231 fatalities.

Srinagar, the capital of both Kashmir and the north Indian state of Jammu, remains mostly submerged along with over 2,000 surrounding villages, although the Times of India has reported a few breakthroughs, such as the restoration of landline communications near the city’s airport and the clearing of the first road link since the floods began.

Several people are rescued from the high floodwaters in Srinagar, northern India.

TIME Military

Pilot Still Missing After Fighter Jet Crashes in Virginia

Preparations Ahead Of The Farnborough International Airshow 2014
Military personnel talk as they stand beside an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet, left, prior to the opening of the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, U.K., on Sunday, July 13, 2014. Bloomberg — Getty Images

Authorities have not yet confirmed if the pilot had ejected from the plane before it crashed Wednesday morning

The pilot of a fighter jet that crashed into the mountains of western Virginia Wednesday morning is still missing hours later, officials say.

Col. James Keefe, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, said that rescue crews were still searching for the pilot Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reports. It’s unclear whether the pilot ejected from the single-seat F-15C. The pilot reported an inflight emergency while flying the plane to New Orleans for routine maintenance and lost radio contact shortly thereafter.

Residents near the crash site reported hearing a loud explosion and feeling the ground shake from the force of the impact.

[AP]

TIME animals

You Will Barely Recognize This Abandoned Dog After His Much Needed Haircut

Ziggy the dog's road to recovery

When a clearly neglected Shih Tzu was dropped off at a Long Island animal shelter, rescuers were shocked. More than 25% of his body was covered in thick, matted fur — which inspired his new name: Ziggy.

Suffolk County SPCA

 

“I’ve only seen one worse in my 30 year career,” says Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County SPCA. “Even the fleas could get through the fur, that’s how bad it was.”

The 5 or 6-year-old pup could barely walk, and it took rescuers 3.5 hours to shave 4 pounds of hair from the now 11 pound dog. The change is jaw dropping:

Suffolk County SPCA

“He will be up for adoption, but not now,” Gross says. “He has a long road to recovery.”

Ziggy will have to undergo extensive physical therapy to retrain his walking muscle memory.

“There’s also a criminal investigation, and the dog could serve as evidence,” Gross says. “This is another horrible case of animal cruelty.”

A $2,000 reward is being offered to anyone who provides information about the dog’s owner if it leads to arrest and conviction. Call the Suffolk County SPCA at (631) 382-7722.

TIME rescue

WATCH: Officer Pulls Woman From Railroad Tracks

Police in Richmond, Texas released a dramatic dashcam video Monday that shows a police officer dragging a woman from the tracks moments before an oncoming train arrived.

Officer Ramon Morales was responding to calls about a woman sitting on the tracks on Sunday morning and he arrived just in time to save her. The footage shows the railroad crossing warning coming down as Morales’ car arrives. Moments after Morales drags the woman away, a train speeds by.

Morales was also able to prevent the woman from running back onto the tracks.

TIME animals

Kittens Survive Accidentally Being Boxed Up and Shipped

It remains a mystery how two kittens wound up in a box full of fiberglass equipment shipped from Hollywood to Chula Vista, California. They are being nursed back to health at San Diego Humane Society

Two feisty black kittens with their umbilical cords still attached survived a 130-mile journey packed up in a sealed box full of fiberglass equipment earlier this week.

A Cox Communications warehouse worker found the siblings while unloading a delivery in Chula Vista, California that had recently arrived from Hollywood. The kittens were quickly shuttled to the San Diego Humane Society, where they are being nursed back to health. “We’re actually one of the only around the clock kitten nurseries in the country,” says Humane Society worker Kelly Schry.

While no one knows for sure how the kitties wound up on the semi, Humane Society Nurse Jenny Bonomini offered a plausible explanation to KGTV: “What we think happened was the mom had the babies and she put them in a safe spot … and she left. Then they got boxed up and they got shipped.”

Now named Mouse and Wifi, the fluffy kitties will be moved to a foster home in a few weeks, spayed and neutered, then put up for adoption. We’re pretty sure they won’t be orphans for long.

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