The Latest: Typhoon death toll in China rises to 12

The Latest on Typhoon Hato (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

The death toll from Typhoon Hato has risen to 12 as the most powerful storm to hit the southern Chinese region around Hong Kong in more than half a century barreled west.

Macau says eight people were killed in the gambling enclave, including two men found overnight in a parking garage. Another 153 were listed as injured amid extensive flooding, power outages, and the smashing of doors and windows by the high winds and driving rain.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency says four more people were killed in the neighboring province of Guangdong and one person remains missing. Hato roared into the area on Wednesday with winds of up to 160 kilometers (99 miles) per hour.

Macau lawmaker Jose Pereira Coutinho called the typhoon destruction “a calamity,” adding that had heard from many people who still had no water or electricity.


11:20 a.m.

Authorities and state media say the death toll from powerful Typhoon Hato in southern China has risen to at least nine.

Macau’s Government Information Bureau said five people were killed and 153 injured in the gambling enclave.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday another four were killed in the neighboring province of Guangdong while one person remains missing. Hato was the most powerful typhoon to hit the area in 53 years, packing winds of up to 160 kilometers (99 miles) per hour on Tuesday.

Xinhua said that in southern China, almost 27,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters, while extensive damage to farmland and the loss of power to almost 2 million households was also reported.


4:25 p.m.

Officials say a powerful typhoon has caused at least three deaths in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

Macau’s Government Information Bureau said three men, aged 30, 45 and 62, were killed in falls and accidents Wednesday related to the heavy rain and gusting winds. At least two other people were listed as missing.

Typhoon Hato came within 60 kilometers (37 miles) of the nearby financial center of Hong Kong.

China’s weather service said the storm made landfall around noon in Zhuhai in the neighboring province of Guangdong, with winds gusting at 45 meters (147.64 feet) per second.

Flooding and power outages were also reported in Hong Kong and Macau, which lie across the water 64 kilometers (40 miles) from each other.

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Exploring the weather hazards behind 5 deadly, notorious plane crashes

Though many unfortunate factors can result in aviation accidents, among an aircraft’s greatest threats are ice, fog and wind shear, which is rapidly changing wind currents.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study shows more than two-thirds of all weather-related general aviation crashes have been fatal.

Microbursts: An invisible killer

According to NASA, phenomena known as microbursts, which are short-lived downdrafts that are often present during thunderstorms, can create forceful and dangerous wind shear.

The National Weather Service (NWS) defines downdrafts as small-scale columns of air that rapidly sink toward the ground, usually accompanied by rain.

Planes are particularly vulnerable during takeoff and landing.

On July 9, 1982, a microburst brought down Pan Am flight 759 from New Orleans International Airport, killing 153 people.

It caused decreasing headwind and downdraft, which the pilot would have struggled to recognize in time, the NTSB official report concluded.

A microburst also caused Delta Airlines flight 191 to crash in Dallas on Aug. 2, 1985.

While attempting to pass through rain beneath a storm, it crashed 6,300 feet north of its runway at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, hitting and killing a driver, according to the NTSB report.

Lack of training and real-time wind shear hazard information contributed to the deaths of 134 passengers, the NTSB reported.

Between 1970 and 1985, low-altitude wind shear caused crashes that killed 575 people, according to the NTSB.

In 1988, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated that commercial aircraft be equipped with wind shear detection systems by 1993.

“Wind shear accidents have become very rare in recent years thanks to better forecasting tools, pilot training and sophisticated onboard warning systems,” said Patrick Smith, an active airline pilot and air travel blogger.

“But the phenomena is still potentially dangerous,” he said.

Fatal fog risk

Foggy conditions are also often deadly for pilots, according to the Flight Safety Foundation.

They occur when water droplets suspend in the air at the Earth’s surface.

Hazards arise when visibility is reduced to a quarter of a mile or less, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

In 1977, upon takeoff from Los Rodeos Airport in the Canary Islands, KLM flight 4805 sheared the top off Pan Am flight 1736, which shared the same runway.

According to the official report, heavy fog enveloping the airport prevented both flight crews from spotting each other until it was too late.

It was the deadliest fog-related crash in history, killing 574 people.

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The control tower was unable to see the two planes, and at the time, the Los Rodeos Airport had no ground tracking radar.

A number of other factors, including poor communication, also contributed.

“The ultimate cause was the KLM pilot initiating takeoff without clearance and disregarding his crew’s inquiries about whether they were cleared for takeoff,” said aviation consultant Jim Goldfuss.

“Airport surveillance radars as well as taxiway and runway lighting technology has adapted to prevent accidents like this,” he said.

Icy aircraft dangers

Ice-covered planes pose another potentially deadly risk.

In 1982, 78 people perished when Air Florida flight 90 smashed into a bridge, collapsing into the icy Potomac River shortly after takeoff.

Air Florida 90 Crash, 1982

The tail section of the Air Florida jetliner that crashed in the Potomac River in Washington is hoisted by a crane onto a floating barge after being removed, Monday, Jan. 19, 1982 from the water. (AP Photo)

“Parked at the terminal, an aircraft collects precipitation the way your car does — via snowfall, sleet, freezing rain or frost,” Smith said.

Icing can disrupt airflow around a wing, which robs a plane of lift, he said.

Flight 90 departed Washington National Airport with icy wings during moderate to heavy snowfall, according to the crash report.

“[This] changes the wing’s shape, which can result in a stall at a higher-than-expected speed,” said Goldfuss.

The NTSB reported that the flight crew’s failure to use engine anti-ice before takeoff and their decision to depart with ice on the plane contributed to the crash.

A decade later, US Air flight 405 departed New York’s LaGuardia Airport, also with icy wings.

The plane lost lift just after leaving the runway and crashed into a nearby bay, killing 27.

It had been previously de-iced.

However, the NTSB concluded that the flight crew’s failure to check for ice accumulation on the wings 35 minutes after exposure to precipitation was a contributing factor to the crash, which occurred more than 20 years ago.

“We’ve come a long way with it as far as anti-icing and de-icing, as well as improved crew training and how to deal with icing conditions,” said Smith.

“Those [crashes] were tough lessons to learn,” said Smith, “but airliner crashes brought on by icing have become exceptionally rare.”

Author: Ashley Williams

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Court acquits Phinikoudes death crane operator

Larnaca District Court on Thursday acquitted the operator of a 200-tonne tower crane that fell on to Phinikoudes promenade in October 2012 – killing a 65-year-old woman, injuring three others and damaging five cars – after the prosecution failed to prove the case.

The crane operator, Christos Peristianis, had been charged with causing death through reckless or dangerous acts, omissions of persons responsible for dangerous equipment and negligent acts causing physical harm and serious bodily harm.

In its ruling, the court said was Peristianis was accused on October 10, 2012, by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act not amounting to culpable negligence, of not completely unlocking the crane brake, meaning strong winds caused its fall, resulting in the death of Christine-Marie Coleman and the injury of three other people.

Any person who by want of precaution or by by rash or careless act, not amounting to culpable negligence, unintentionally causes the death of another person is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years, or to a fine not exceeding one €170.

He was also accused of, while he was solely responsible for the crane, having neglected to take the necessary precautions against any possible risk arising from such a motorised machine.

The T-shaped crane- 44-metres in length and 80 metres in width – was part of a construction site managed by a contractor hired by Larnaca municipality to build an extra two floors on top of the town hall on Phinikoudes Avenue. It fell on to the promenade during strong winds averaging between 6 and 9 on Beaufort scale, crashing down on a moving car containing Victor and Christine-Marie Coleman, 65 and 67, who were permanent residents of Vrysoulles village.

The two had to be freed from the mangled car by emergency services before being rushed to hospital. Christine-Marie died at the hospital from multiple injuries including haemorrhages in her brain and lungs, while her husband sustained head and brain injuries and internal cranial haemorrhaging.

A 47-year-old Iranian man lost his finger trying to flee from the falling crane on foot, and a 60-year-old Cypriot pedestrian suffered a fractured hand.

Eye-witness accounts said the crane’s fall was broken by the cars underneath, which changed the direction of the crane as it hit the ground, narrowly missing a kiosk with seven people inside.

The court ruled that prosecution had failed to prove its case against the accused, since it could not prove that Peristianis “did not take all the appropriate action to unlock the crane to rotate with the wind’s direction”. The fact that he was the last person to operate the crane, the ruling said, “does not prove in itself, and especially in a criminal case, which should be beyond reasonable doubt, that he failed to take the necessary precautions, which resulted in the crane falling”.

The court also ruled that the operator had partially unlocked the crane brake and therefore took the appropriate action that requires full unlocking of the brake.

“The accused actually did what the police accused him of failing to do, namely to deactivate the brake”, the ruling said. It added that the operator is not considered responsible because the brake was not fully deactivated.

The court also raised questions over the checks carried out on the crane by its owner and the state electromechanical services on the remote control with which the break was released. It was reported that about 10 months before the accident, the remote control was destroyed by lightning and replaced by one from another machine that was not tested for compatibility.

The new remote control, the court said, did not have an operator’s notification function that the rotation brake was released, and this gap created a breach in the prosecution’s attempt to prove that the operator was guilty. It also said that it took into consideration that the crane was last operated by Peristianis at 10.30am that day, while the accident occurred at 8.30pm.

The court also said that after the accident the crane was stored in the premises of the construction company that owned it instead of being handed over to police. It said that this raised an issue with possible tampering.

Author: Evie Andreou

Original source & photo :

entertainment wind control

Safer Outdoor Events with Live Weather Monitoring

The weather is one of the most challenging aspects to manage when dealing with outdoor events. Usually, events involve large structures, massive crowds and a great deal of equipment.

Weather-related incidents in open fields where assets or property can be damaged have very little risk for human life. However, outdoor events, where hundreds or even thousands of persons may be present at once, have a much higher chance of injury or death from weather-related accidents.

Outdoor events are generally planned based on weather forecasts, but this comes with several limitations:

  • Weather forecasting has limited accuracy and provides no information on short-duration and high-risk events, such as wind gusts.
  • Several factors must be weighted before deciding to cancel an outdoor event. If the decision is taken based only on weather forecasts, there is no data measured on-site to justify it. The event organiser can handle claims more effectively if there is hard evidence that weather conditions affected the event.

Stages and Harsh Weather: A Risky Combination

Most stages are temporary structures, just like cranes, and therefore they are vulnerable to gusts. Stages have a combination of mechanical properties that make them very vulnerable to strong winds:

  • They use large fabric sheets as temporary walls and ceilings. Under the wind, sheets can become sails and are exposed to significant drag forces. The force may be capable of ripping them apart or bringing down the entire stage structure.
  • The canopy of concert stages is very heavy since it bears the weight of spotlights and audio equipment. Since the underlying structure is much lighter, the structure can only tolerate a small amount of deformation before collapsing.

A very simple solution is to lower the canopy in response to strong winds, and the structure can be designed to allow this without being fully dismounted. On-site wind monitoring can be used in conjunction to determine if local wind conditions are unsafe for a concert stage.

Lack of Standardisation in the Outdoor Event Industryoutdoor event

PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association, is an international organisation for companies who provide technology and services for outdoor events. They have offices in Europe and North America, with more than 425 members in total.

Although PLASA provides best practices and recommendations on how to conduct outdoor events safety, these do not always translate into government-enforced standards. If PLASA guidelines are optional, event organisers may overlook them to cut costs, makings outdoor events riskier. However, an accident is considerably more expensive than prevention: the outdoor stage may be destroyed completely, and the organiser may face lawsuits if there is human damage. In addition, the negative publicity after the incident can take the company responsible for it out of business.

Advantages of Live Weather Monitoring

A live weather monitoring system like WINDCRANE can make outdoor venues much safer, and there are many reasons why:

  • Event organisers get a real-time snapshot of weather conditions second by second, instead of relying on forecasts and warnings from the local meteorology service. Live data gathered on-site provides a better basis to take decisions.
  • WINDCRANE includes a mobile application with programmable alerts, which can be installed by key personnel on their smartphones. If dangerous weather conditions are detected they can act immediately, preventing accidents or minimising the damage in case they occur.
  • If an event was cancelled due to bad weather, the data logged by WINDCRANE lets the organiser handle claims more effectively. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid costly litigation with the data gathered.