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Mass evacuation in Australia as flood waters rise

Flood waters rose Monday in parts of Queensland but residents of a threatened town in the Australian state were thrown a lifeline with news that the levee on a swollen river might hold.

Thousands of Australians have been forced to abandon their homes as a record deluge sweeps through areas still reeling from last year's devastating flooding, with St George, in Queensland's south, under most threat Monday.
Many of its residents fled Sunday evening to evacuation centres in nearby Dalby or the state capital Brisbane, although some 400 stayed to help limit the damage despite a mandatory evacuation order.

Local mayor Donna Stewart said the Balonne River in St George, flooding for the third time in less than two years, had reached 13.48 metres (44 feet) and was expected to keep rising until at least Tuesday night.


Misery as Italy cold snap death toll rises to 17

© AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli
People skies in a street over the ancient forum on February 4, 2012 in Rome.
Snow and treacherous black ice caked the streets of the normally mild-weathered Italian capital Sunday, as snowed-in residents warned of food shortages and the cold snap's death toll rose to 17.

Following what was Rome's heaviest snowfall in 27 years, more than 400 members of the armed forces were called in to help clear the ancient city and surrounding areas.

Snow also fell in Milan and areas of northern Italy, and the bitter cold's toll rose to 17 after three homeless people were found dead, including one at Rome's main train station. The bitter cold that has gripped Europe for more than a week has claimed over 300 lives across the continent in total.

Fierce winds knocked over and killed an elderly woman who was walking to mass in Trieste in northern Italy, three men died shovelling snow and a 19-year-old man was killed in Florence when his car skidded off an icy road and into a river.


Deadly cold front continues as dam bursts in Bulgaria

The toll from Europe's killer cold snap kept climbing Monday with nine new victims found in Poland, most of them homeless, and at least three people died after a Bulgarian dam burst.

Torrential rains and snowstorms lashing southern Bulgaria broke through the dam early Monday, submerging the small village of Biser under 2.5 metres (eight feet) of water, emergency services said.
Biser mayor Zlatka Valkova told state news agency BTA three elderly men had drowned in their homes and a massive rescue effort was under way in the village of about 800 people.

"People are in panic," regional mayor Mihail Liskov said on national radio. "Ninety percent of the village is under water."


Death toll from Europe cold snap passes 300

The deadly cold snap that has gripped Europe for more than a week wrought more havoc across the continent Sunday, straining emergency services, grounding flights and pushing the death toll past 300.

The homeless population has borne the brunt of the suffering, with dozens of transients freezing to death in unheated apartments, fire escapes or in makeshift street shelters.
Swiss temperatures plunged to minus 35.1 degrees Celsius in the eastern Graubuenden canton on Sunday night
French authorities on Sunday found the body of a homeless man who had frozen to death, bringing to at least 306 the number of cold-related deaths reported across Europe.

With night-time temperatures plunging as low as minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit) in Finland, the grim winter toll also rose in other countries.

Bizarro Earth

6.8 quake in Philippines kills 43, buries homes

© AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
artolome Bautista, deputy director of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), points to the epicenter of the magnitude 6.8 earthquake which hit central Philippines on Monday Feb. 6
A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the central Philippines on Monday, killing at least 43 people and causing widespread panic, officials said.

The powerful quake hit in a narrow strait between the heavily populated island provinces of Negros and Cebu, causing buildings to collapse, cracking roads and bridges, and shutting down the power supply.

In Cebu city, a popular tourist destination and city of 2.3 million, hotel guests scrambled to higher floors as unfounded rumours that a huge tsunami was bearing down spread by text message.

At least 29 were killed by landslides while 10 others were crushed by collapsing buildings in the mountainous town of of Guihulngan in Negros, said regional military official Colonel Francisco Patrimonio.


The Littlest Ice Age: Europeans Beg for the Return of "Global Warming"

© Unknown
A man walks past an ice covered car on the frozen waterside promenade at Lake Geneva in Versoix, near Geneva, Switzerland, early Feb. 5. The death toll from the vicious cold snap across Europe has risen to more than 260, with the winter misery set to hit thousands of those seeking to escape it as air traffic was hit.
How cold is the Winter of 2010-2011 in Great Britain and Ireland? Well, it has been "referred to as The Big Freeze by national media. In the UK it was the coldest December ever, since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of -1°C. It broke the previous record of 0.1°C in December 1981."

And it obviously broke records for cold set before the "Met Office records began in 1910" as indicated in this souvenir:
© Unknown

Bizarro Earth

Philippines - Earthquake Magnitude 6.7

Earthquake Location
Monday, February 06, 2012 at 03:49:16 UTC

Monday, February 06, 2012 at 11:49:16 AM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

9.964°N, 123.246°E

46.6 km (29.0 miles)


72 km (44 miles) N of Dumaguete, Negros, Philippines

74 km (45 miles) WNW of Tagbilaran, Bohol, Philippines

80 km (49 miles) WSW of Cebu, Cebu, Philippines

569 km (353 miles) SSE of MANILA, Philippines


Japan: Record lows recorded at 38 locations

© Kyodo Photos
Ice fishermen cast lines Friday in Lake Yamanaka in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Well below zero from Kyushu to Hokkaido and more cold looms

The country experienced severe cold weather Friday and morning temperatures dropped to record lows at 38 locations nationwide, the Meteorological Agency said.

From Tohoku to Kyushu, 16 prefectures recorded their lowest temperatures ever, including the town of Kusu in Oita Prefecture, where the mercury fell to minus 14.7 degrees, and Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, where the temperature plunged to minus 8.4.

Temperatures were below zero early Friday at more than 90 percent of 927 observation points across Japan, the agency said.

The lowest figure was minus 32.6 in Esashi, Hokkaido.


UK: Snow Forces Heathrow to Cancel Half its Flights

© PA
Heathrow Airport has cut around half of the 1,300 flights scheduled for Sunday after snow and freezing temperatures hit much of England on Saturday.

"Heathrow is open. Our runways, taxiways and stands have been cleared of snow. Our snow plan has worked far better than in previous years, and the airport is getting back to normal. However, there will still be disruption for passengers, as indicated Saturday," Heathrow owner BAA said in a statement.

Around 10 centimetres of snow fell over Britain in 24 hours.

BAA was criticised in December 2010 after heavy snowfall led to the virtual shutdown of Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.


Snow Traps Thousands in Bosnian Villages

© The Associated Press/Amel Emric
A Bosnian man walks on snow-covered road in the village of Breteljevici, near Kladanj, 100 kilometers north of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.
Bosnia used helicopters on Sunday to evacuate the sick and deliver food to thousands of people left stranded by its heaviest snowfall ever, while Pope Benedict XVI donned an overcoat to bless the few pilgrims who braved Rome's unusually cold weather to visit St. Peter's Square.

"The snow is beautiful, but let's hope spring comes soon," the pope told the pilgrims, looking out over remnants of Rome's biggest snowstorm since 1986.

Across Eastern Europe, thousands of people continued to dig out from heavy snow that has fallen during a cold snap that struck more than a week ago and has killed hundreds of people.

In Ukraine, the hardest hit area, temperatures have fallen as low as minus 33 Fahrenheit (minus 36 Celsius). The government said Sunday the country's death toll now stands at 131, including many homeless people. About 2,300 other Ukrainians have sought treatment for frostbite or hypothermia.